Full Text

Four mayoral candidates. Empty seats are for Bernt Wahl, no-show, and Kahlil Jacobs-Fantauzzi, who came after school let out at the Berkeley middle school where he teaches. Left to right: McCormack, Worthington, Bates, RunningWolf, George Lippman, forum moderator.
Ted Friedman
Four mayoral candidates. Empty seats are for Bernt Wahl, no-show, and Kahlil Jacobs-Fantauzzi, who came after school let out at the Berkeley middle school where he teaches. Left to right: McCormack, Worthington, Bates, RunningWolf, George Lippman, forum moderator.


Press Release: Measure S Campaign Heats Up — Supporters Urged to Call KQED Forum Tomorrow at 9

From John Caner, DBA
Thursday October 04, 2012 - 03:10:00 PM

The Downtown Berkeley Association has sent out this press release alerting supporters (and opponents?) to call the KQED Forum radio program regarding Measure S, which the DBA supports. 


Learn about Measure S - Berkeley Civil Sidewalks
The Measure S - Berkeley Civil Sidewalks campaign is gearing up. The ordinance on the November 6th ballot restricts sitting on sidewalks in commercial areas from 7am to 10pm. You can learn more about the pro and con sides of the measure as follows:
LISTEN: This Friday, 9-10am, KQED Forum with Michael Krasny is doing a one-hour discussion/debate on Measure S:  


Listen: www.kqed.org/radio/listen/ or 88.5FM on your radio 

Call in #: 866-733-6786 

Email: forum@kqed.org 



Berkeley Merchant Stand Up for the Right to Sit Down Poster
READ: The East Bay Express cover story this week profiling Downtown Berkeley:  


"Unfounded Fears - Why the controversy over a Berkeley measure that would ban sitting on sidewalks is overblown" 



VISIT: Both campaigns have launched websites where you can learn more about the pros and cons of Measure S:  







New: Those Booms Over Berkeley Are the Blue Angels Practicing--And The Noise Could Terrify Pets

By Sasha Lekach (BCN)
Thursday October 04, 2012 - 01:54:00 PM

The U.S. Navy's Blue Angels will be roaring over parts of the Bay Area starting this afternoon as San Francisco Fleet Week gets under way. 

The squadron will be rehearsing between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. to prepare for air shows on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. 

The annual aerial displays over the San Francisco Bay can be seen from San Francisco and parts of the East Bay, the Peninsula and Marin County. 

But as many Bay Area residents know, the Blue Angels are sometimes heard before they are seen -- the F/A-18 Hornets' startling rumble is often the first sign that they are nearby.  

While the noise can be scary to humans, it is terrifying to many animals.  

"On a weekend like this, Fleet Week, we advise people to keep animals indoors," San Francisco SPCA spokeswoman Krista Maloney said. 

Maloney said the sound of the fighter jets passing overhead makes dogs and other animals run and hide, and sometimes get lost. 

She advised those taking their dogs outside to keep them on a leash and equip the pets with an easy-to-track-down collar, tags, and a microchip in case they run off. 

"It's not a good time to go to the dog park when the Blue Angels are out," she said. 

Fleet Week officially started this morning with military personnel convening at Piers 30/32 to overview disaster preparedness, response and recovery in San Francisco. The air shows are part of a series of Fleet Week activities that includes a Parade of Ships sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge on Saturday morning and military ship tours along San Francisco's southern waterfront through Monday.

ASUC Rejects Anti-Sitting Law

By Carol Denney
Thursday October 04, 2012 - 12:22:00 PM

A politically motivated and almost universally discredited "push" poll almost sucked the juice out of the ASUC's nearly unanimous vote to oppose Measure S, Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates' anti-sitting law October 3rd, 2012, at the ASUC Senate meeting in Eshelman Hall. 

Only four people in the packed chambers spoke for the anti-sitting law, including Craig Becker, owner of the Caffe Mediterraneum on Telegraph, and Roland Peterson, who works for the Telegraph Merchant Association. Business Improvement District. 

Peterson begged the crowd to disassociate the word "homeless" from discussions about Measure S, a request the author of the ASUC's measure to oppose the anti-sitting law, Senator Nolan Pack, soundly rejected. The standing-room-only crowd of students and community members clearly agreed that the measure targeted homeless or poor people and criminalized peaceful behavior. 

The only disagreement seemed to be over the "survey", an on-line poll taken in 2011, which few seemed to realize was done at the behest of the Telegraph Merchants Association to lay groundwork for the anti-sitting law. Some students felt inspired to insert wording reflecting the poll's portrait of student opinion until someone in the crowd managed, through one of the senators, to inform the group that the poll had no scientific value. The motion failed. 

The anti-Measure S crowd celebrated outside Eshelman Hall after the vote with a unity clap traditional in farmworker organizing. 

[CORRECTION: Rae Cherones, writing on behalf of Telegraph Merchants' Association President Al Geyer, has informed the Planet that this article incorrectly identified "Roland Peterson as working for the Telegraph Merchant's Association (TMA), therefore saying the TMA is in support of Measure S." She said that "Although it is true Roland Peterson and Craig Becker are the main proponents from the Telegraph Area supporting this ballot initiative, neither Mr. Peterson nor Mr. Becker have any association with the TMA. Roland Peterson is the salaried executive director of the Telegraph Business Improvement District (TBID). Craig Becker is the elected president of the TBID Board of Directors.In fact, the TBID is not a merchant organization at all; you must be a property owner to fully participate. Al Geyer is the Chair of the TMA, which has taken no position on Measure S. It should be made known to the public that it was the TBID that was represented at the ASUC meeting, and the TBID that supports the initiative, not the TMA."


Assistant to Al Geyer

New: Watch the Debate at Home Now
Berkeley Mayoral Candidates Face Off

Captured By Paul Kealoha Blake
Wednesday October 03, 2012 - 04:10:00 PM

If you are watching the presidential debate at home today, and wishing it were that easy to see the candidates for mayor of Berkeley (surely you are), here's your big chance.

See five candidates in a face-to-face showdown, courtesy of the Gray Panthers and Paul Kealoha Blake.

Warning: each part is about an hour long, so it will take a few minutes to load. 

Updated: Fire At House on Benvenue Displaces Berkeley Family of 5

By Hannah Albaraz (BCN) and Planet
Wednesday October 03, 2012 - 10:18:00 AM

A three-alarm fire at a Berkeley home this morning displaced a family of five, a deputy fire chief said. 

Firefighters responded to the single-family home in the 2900 block of Benvenue Avenue, near Ashby Avenue, after the fire was reported at 12:18 a.m., Berkeley Deputy Fire Chief Gil Dong said. 

The blaze was under control by 3 a.m., Dong said. 

No one was injured in the fire, but five people were displaced, including a woman confined to a wheelchair who was rescued by two Berkeley police officers before firefighters arrived, Dong said. 

As of 9:30 a.m., a crew was still at the scene and investigators were looking for the cause, Dong said. 

Dong said the fire caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage to the house. Most of the damage was to the rear of the home, he said.  

The American Red Cross helped set up the family with temporary housing, he said.

Park Name Honors Berkeley's Sylvia McLaughlin

By Patricia Jones, CESP
Tuesday October 02, 2012 - 05:03:00 PM

Santa Monica, CA -- On Friday, September 28 the California State Park and Recreation Commission voted unanimously to rename Eastshore State Park as McLaughlin Eastshore State Park in honor of San Francisco Bay champion Sylvia McLaughlin. 

Citizens for East Shore Parks, the nonprofit organization instrumental in establishing the Eastshore State Park, spearheaded the campaign to rename the park after Sylvia McLaughlin. 

McLaughlin, the Sierra Club, and CESP led the charge to create Eastshore State Park, which runs 8.5 miles along the East Bay shoreline. The Park was established on December 6, 2002. 

Sylvia McLaughlin, a Berkeley resident now in her ninth decade, is the co-founder of CESP and Save San Francisco Bay Association (Save the Bay). Thanks to McLaughlin and hundreds of other activists, San Francisco Bay is now 40,000 acres larger than it was in 1961. More than half of it is ringed with public trails connecting a series of shoreline parks. An environmental activist all her life - Sylvia also helped establish the Bay Conservation and Development Commission the first coastal protection agency in the U.S. and climbed a tree at the age of 90 in an effort to save a grove of oaks from a proposed UC development.

Opponents of Berkeley's Measure S Sit and Kiss on Obamas' Anniversary

By Sasha Lekach (BCN)
Tuesday October 02, 2012 - 07:44:00 PM
Re-creation of the president and first lady's first date eating ice cream on a Chicago sidewalk.
Mike O'Malley
Re-creation of the president and first lady's first date eating ice cream on a Chicago sidewalk.

On the eve of President Barack Obama's 20th wedding anniversary, opponents of a ballot measure that would prohibit sitting on sidewalks in commercial areas of Berkeley are holding a curb-sit and kiss-in tonight, according to organizers. 

Measure S will be on the November ballot and if passed will prohibit sitting on commercial sidewalks between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. effective on July 1, 2013. 

Coinciding with the Obama's 20th anniversary Wednesday, tonight's protest at 6:30 p.m. in front of the Berkeley City Council meeting at 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way will recreate the president and first lady's first date eating ice cream on a Chicago sidewalk. 

"The most powerful human being on the planet used to sit on the sidewalk," event organizer B. Soffer said. 

Tonight's protest will include demonstrators sharing ice cream, then taking a seat on the curb and smooching -- much like the Obamas did in front of Chicago's Hyde Park Baskin-Robbins location, which is no longer an ice cream shop. 

The site of the presidential couple's first kiss has since been memorialized with a plaque. 

"The whole idea is to make a statement," Soffer said of tonight's Berkeley protest. 

Opponents have also written an anniversary card signed by measure detractors to send to the Obamas that informs the president that the city of Berkeley is telling its residents "your first kiss would be illegal in Berkeley." 

Soffer said the measure appears to support the merchants and commercial real estate owners and hurts the homeless. 

Osha Neumann, a lawyer at the East Bay Community Law Center, is part of the "No on Measure S" campaign and believes the proposed ordinance will not solve homeless issues or economic problems. 

"Although the law is targeted quite clearly against people who are homeless, it's written very broadly," he said. 

Neumann is concerned that, if passed, the ordinance would excessively punish residents. 

"Sitting on the sidewalk in a way that does not obstruct anything is an innocuous kind of activity," he said. 

Neumann said there is a fear of groups of homeless people, and that this law would criminalize homelessness -- which he believes will be ineffective. 

Instead, the city needs to provide homeless people with more resources, Neumann said. 

"Giving them these tickets is only going to give them tickets," he said. 

The city council voted 6-3 to put the ordinance on the ballot earlier this summer, with councilmembers Kriss Worthington, Jesse Arreguin and Max Anderson opposing the proposed sitting prohibition. 

City spokeswoman Mary Kay Clunies-Ross said the mayor's office first introduced the sidewalk restriction item before the council decided to put it on the ballot. 

Findings supporting the measure listed on election documents state that public spaces in commercial areas have become "increasingly inhospitable" with encampments blocking and littering sidewalks with waste and debris. 

This, in turn, measure proponents claim, affects the city's economic health with customers discouraged to walk past certain areas of downtown and business districts. 

The measure also asserts that public parks and other seating options, such as benches, are available throughout the city. 

Another finding lists that homeless services are available through the city as an alternative to sitting on the sidewalk. 

Under the ordinance, a warning would be issued before giving a citation, according to the measure's text. A first violation, which would be charged as an infraction, will run a $75 fine or community service. Subsequent violations would be charged as either an infraction or misdemeanor. 

Certain exemptions are written into the proposed ordinance, allowing those suffering a medical emergency, in a wheel chair or on a bench or bus stop or with permits to sit on the sidewalk.

Seagull Starts House Fire in Berkeley

By Sasha Lekach (BCN)
Tuesday October 02, 2012 - 12:47:00 PM

A seagull is being blamed for causing a high-voltage power line to fall in a Berkeley neighborhood this morning, sparking a fire that spread to a home, a Berkeley fire official said.  

The fire was reported at 8:14 a.m. in the 1100 block of Delaware Street, and was controlled around 9 a.m., Berkeley Deputy Fire Chief Gil Dong said. 

The blaze was sparked when a seagull somehow caused the 12,000-volt electrical line to fall onto a grassy area in front of the home, Dong said. 

The grass caught fire, and flames spread to the residence.  

The street was shut down, and nearby buildings were evacuated until PG&E secured the downed line in the street, Dong said. 

Residents have since been allowed to return home, Dong said. 

PG&E spokeswoman Tamar Sarkissian said around 10 a.m. that the 1100 block of Delaware Street was still closed as repair crews worked to restore service to two customers who lost power.  

The street, however, is secure and considered safe, Sarkissian said. 

She said that when the line fell, lights may have flickered for about 4,000 customers, but there was no major outage. 

The fire caused an estimated $50,000 in property damage, Dong said. 

The sole occupant of the home that burned may be able to return to the residence later today, depending on whether the home's electrical system is deemed safe, Dong said. 

No injuries to humans were reported, but the seagull died, Dong said. 

As of 9:45 a.m., fire crews remained at the scene mopping up. 




More Than 12,000 in Berkeley Lose Power Tonight

By Bay City News and Planet
Monday October 01, 2012 - 11:36:00 PM

Thousands of PG&E customers in Berkeley lost power tonight, a PG&E spokeswoman said. 

The outage began at around 8 p.m. when 12,425 customers lost their power, PG&E spokeswoman Jana Morris said. 

PG&E crews responded to a substation in Berkeley believed to be where the outage began to try and determine the cause of the outage. 

By about 10:30 p.m. the number without power had dropped to about 642, Morris said. 

However at 11:30 pm PG&E reported on its web site that in the Berkeley area there were 10 outages affecting 9998 customers. 

Workers have not yet determined the cause of the outages, and no estimate for restoration was available.

Press Release: BCA Endorsements for Berkeley Measures, State Propositions

From Linda Godzi
Sunday September 30, 2012 - 10:35:00 PM

[Editor's update: A Planet reader called and asked what "BCA" stands for. A fair question-- oldtimers know, but most of our readers probably don't. It's "Berkeley Citizens' Action", Berkeley's seminal and still most prestigious progressive organization, which started in the early 1970s.]

BCA members met today and determined their endorsements on Measures and Propositions. Here are the results:

Berkeley Measures
Measure M – Repair Streets and Watershed YES
Measure N – Rebuild Willard and Warm Pools YES
Measure O – Maintain and Operate New Pools YES
Measure P – Continue to fund Parks, Libraries & Emerg. Svcs YES
Measure Q – Utility Users Tax YES
Measure R – Redistricting NO
Measure S – Sit/Lie NO
Measure T – West Berkeley Plan NO
Measure U – Sunshine Ordinance NO
Measure V – FACTS Initiative YES

Alameda County Measures
Measure A1 - Oakland Zoo NO ENDORSEMENT
Measure B1 - Transportation Sales Tax YES

State Propositions
Proposition 30 - Jerry Brown’s Tax Increase YES
Proposition 31 - Austerity Budget NO
Proposition 32 - Censors Unions & Workers NO
Proposition 33 - Auto Insurance Scam NO
Proposition 34 - End the Death Penalty YES
Proposition 35 - Attempts to Control Human Trafficking & Sex Slavery NO ENDORSEMENT
Proposition 36 - Revise “Three Strikes” Law YES
Proposition 37 - Label (GMO) Genetically Engineered Foods YES
Proposition 38 - Molly Munger’s State Income Tax NO
Proposition 39 - Income Tax Increase for Multi-state Businesses YES
Proposition 40 - Referendum on State Senate Redistricting Plan YES 


Ranked Choice Voting Comes to Berkeley: How It Works, How to Do It

By Lydia Gans
Friday September 28, 2012 - 02:52:00 PM

This November Berkeley will use Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) to elect city council members and, for the first time, the mayor. RCV is actually not a novel idea. A click on Wikipedia's entry for “instant runoff voting” (another name for the system) shows that RCV is used all over the world as well as in a number of U.S. cities. It is designed to do just what "instant runoff" implies: simulate a runoff between the top candidates if no candidate achieves a first round majority.

This is clearly a big saving in money and resources. It ensures that we can elect our leaders in the high turnout presidential election, so candidates don't have to raise and spend money in two separate elections. Berkeley voters cast RCV ballots for councilmembers in 2010, and seemed to use them very effectively.

Instead of having one column listing all the candidates for each office, there will be three separate columns, headed First Choice, Second Choice, Third Choice. Each column will have the identical list of candidates and divided arrows next to each candidate’s name. The voter marks his or her first choice by connecting the arrow associated with that candidate in column one, then a second choice in column two and third choice in column three.Casting a vote is that simple. 

However, it is important that the voter rank three different candidates. No matter how much you favor one of the candidates, giving your favorite candidate your second or third choice ranking doesn't help that candidate. You don't have to rank any other candidates, but doing so does not hurt your first choice. That's because RCV is not a points system. Instead, everyone has one and only one vote. Your ballot only counts for your first choice unless that candidate trails the field and loses. Then and only then does your ballot count for your next ranked choice. 

Leaving the second or third column empty means you are indifferent to all the other candidates. In other words, it means that if your first choice wasn't on the ballot, you would have skipped the race entirely. If you in fact do have an opinion about the other candidates, then you should use all three rankings. But be very sure not to mark any candidate that you’d never want to win, even if you have only two good choices. 

One clear advantage of RCV is that you can rank your favorite candidate first without any fear of "wasting" your vote. But given that our current machines only allow us to rank up to three candidates, then it is smart to use at least one of your rankings for a candidate you think has a chance to win, even though he or she is not your favorite. 

The process by which the votes are tallied helps explain why that's true. Here's how it works. The first step: all first choice rankings are counted as one vote for that candidate. If one candidate receives a majority (50 percent plus one) of votes, that person is the winner. If not, it's on to the instant runoff. 

In this second round, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. The votes that went to that eliminated candidate are added to the totals of each of those voters' second choice candidates. These additional votes might elect a majority winner. If not, the next candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and and those voters' ballots are added to the totals of the next candidate ranked on each ballot. 

If the field is narrowed to two, then the winner will be the candidate backed by a majority of the voters who ranked either of those top two candidates on their ballot. 

All this happens instantly as soon as election officials decide to run the RCV tally. They have the capacity to run the tally as soon as any ballots are scanned. They might choose to run the RCV tally on election night. If not, they will do so the next day. 

For candidates and their campaign committees this system poses important strategic decisions. In the Oakland mayor's race in 2010, frontrunner Don Perata did not ask for second and third choice rankings and did not suggest that his backers consider other candidates for second and third. But his leading challengers promoted use of the ranked choice ballot.  

In the instant runoff count, Perata led in first choice rankings, with about a third of the vote. But his top challenger Jean Quan did much better in earning votes from backers of other candidates. When matched against Perata one-on-one in the final round, a majority of voters ranked her ahead of Perata. 

In Berkeley, the campaign has some similarities: incumbent mayor Tom Bates is the favorite, with several challengers. The keys to the election likely will be whether Bates has first round majority support and whether voters are polarized in their views about him. 

There is a strong movement among progressive activists to change the status quo in city politics. Three mayoral candidates, Kriss Worthington, Jacquelyn McCormick and Kahlil Jacobs-Fantauzzi, while differing on some issues, are agreed on a common agenda to bring about a change in city hall. They have formed a loose coalition sharing office facilities and expenses and running some joint activities. 

Their pitch to the voters is to vote for all three, ranking them in any order. They stress the importance of making three choices, leaving no blanks. Their hope is that if Tom Bates doesn't get a majority of first choices, then the votes for the challengers will coalesce around the strongest challenger. Of course that strategy will only work if there is a majority of voters who strongly do not want Bates returned as mayor. 

Absentee ballots go out October 8. 

Rob Richie contributed to this article.

Is Three-Term Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates Vulnerable?

By Ted Friedman
Friday September 28, 2012 - 11:41:00 AM
You count them. Big crowd at Berkeley's first mayoral forum, at North side Senior Center Wednesday afternoon.
Ted Friedman
You count them. Big crowd at Berkeley's first mayoral forum, at North side Senior Center Wednesday afternoon.
McCormack in green, foreground,Worthington in blue, in background. Mayoral Candidates work the room, Wednesday.
Ted Friedman
McCormack in green, foreground,Worthington in blue, in background. Mayoral Candidates work the room, Wednesday.
Four mayoral candidates. Empty seats are for Bernt Wahl, no-show, and Kahlil Jacobs-Fantauzzi, who came after school let out at the Berkeley middle school where he teaches. Left to right: McCormack, Worthington, Bates, RunningWolf, George Lippman, forum moderator.
Ted Friedman
Four mayoral candidates. Empty seats are for Bernt Wahl, no-show, and Kahlil Jacobs-Fantauzzi, who came after school let out at the Berkeley middle school where he teaches. Left to right: McCormack, Worthington, Bates, RunningWolf, George Lippman, forum moderator.

Four opponents of Berkeley’s current mayor learned Wednesday, at a face-off with his honor, that there's strength in numbers, as they vied to stop his fourth term. 

With ranked-choice voting, Tom Bates’ opponents benefit from each other’s votes, which has led, possibly, to the first mayor's race ever in which the opposition can gang up on the mayor, and they’ve lost no time doing so, in Berkeley's first mayoral candidates' forum. 

The mayor came early and left thirty minutes before the forum ended—for another meeting, he said. This can't be documented, but a mood of glee came over the candidates, after the mayor's departure, as if a stern parent had left. 

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. On the ballot will be District Councilmember Kriss Worthington, Jacquelyn McCormick, who last ran for the District 8 seat, and previous mayor candidates Kahlil Jacobs-Fantauzzi and Zachary RunningWolf. 

The forum was a Gray Panthers-sponsored event at North Berkeley Senior Center, and the candidates directed their attentions to issues important to senior citizens. The organizers asked four questions which covered the main issues in this election (Measure T, Measure S, affordable housing and transportation), and used a randomizing method so that the 5 candidates all answered every question, but the first commenter rotated from question to question. Each also had an opening and a closing statement. 

After several candidates complained repeatedly about Bates’ allegedly high-handed management of council meetings, which they said force discussions into the wee hours and out of the reach of seniors, parents of young children and the disabled, the mayor seemed to be crafting a concession by the seat of his pants. 

Bates responded with the explanation that speakers were collecting the yielded minutes of other speakers, speaking four minutes each, and extending council meetings into the morning hours. 

He offered to address the complaints by adopting a pre-council "roundtable-like forum, similar to one I used in the legislature in Sacramento." Thus, people would have all their say, he suggested. 

Even if the challengers’ hopes to unseat the heavily entrenched incumbent were only a glimmer in their eyes and hearts, the 250 audience members who filled the center auditorium at 1:30 on a weekday afternoon may have seen early signs that the Bates machine is vulnerable, if not the man. 

Bates has taken many trips around the block, and it has started to show. He's no longer the fair-haired young progressive fighting for peace and justice and the Berkeley way, say his opponents. 

Speaking third in the opening statements after both Worthington and McCormick had said "it's time for a new mayor," Bates countered, "it's not that time yet." 

All candidates pitched the seniors. But only RunningWolf offered to "stage a sit-in in your foreclosed home..or in your tree," he added drawing a big laugh, referring to his tree-sitting fame as the organizer of the longest urban tree-sit in North America." 

"I'm a strong leader," the self-described Blackfeet tribe elder repeated often. 

Other candidates said they would improve senior housing and transportation. RunningWolf offered seniors free housing if he is mayor. Worthington would adjust present subsidy levels to lower rents. 

McCormick said she’d devote energy to improving middle class housing, requiring builders to provide two bedroom units for families as well as one bedrooms and studios. 

Even as the Big Four challenged Bates' present progressive standing, Bates said, "I was a progressive then [when he passed key progressive programs in Sacramento as a young assemblyman], and I'm a progressive now." 

Bates ticked off a list of accomplishments, bragging that Berkeley's AA+ credit rating was "the highest for a city our size." The Mayor claimed that Berkeley businesses had "done better in a down economy than most. In addressing climate change, we're in the forefront…best in North America. Electricity use is down. You see Priuses all over town." 

"I've been on the cutting edge of change," the Mayor said, citing the endorsements of his wife, state Senator Loni Hancock, a former Berkeley mayor who replaced him in the Assembly, and her replacement there, Assemblymember Nancy Skinner. 

As he has said, often, Bates claims he's brought "$100 million in contracts” to the city, and that Berkeley is generous to its needy citizens, laying out three million in outreach to the poor and disabled. 

McCormick noted that Berkeley’s senior services funding has suffered a 57% decrease. In the question period, it was noted that one Berkeley senior center has closed and that North Berkeley Senior Center, where we sat, had lost its social worker. 

Worthington characterized Bates' accomplishments as "trickle down development," that hasn't worked. 

Bates touted his five years on the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC). "If I'm not re-elected," the mayor threatened, "we'll lose our seat on the nineteen member board. None of these other candidates will ever get on this committee. They don't have my contacts," he said. 

Worthington responded that "I'm on a transportation committee," too, referring to the Alameda County Congestion Management Agency. 

RunningWolf: "I'm not on any committee, but I've done more than anyone else to control traffic. "We'll be asking young people to get out of their cars this year. I have a plan to help, not hurt." He called for closing Telegraph to cars, an idea long opposed by Teley property owners. 

Candidate Kahlil Jacobs-Fantauzzi, a Berkeley middle school teacher who’s a graduate of Berkeley public schools and U.C. Berkeley, offered a personal view, noting that his mother had raised him in Berkeley in subsidized housing while she earned a Ph.D. at Cal. 

Calling for new blood (younger? he's 36) in city government, Jacobs-Fantauzzi, a hip-hop performer and producer told me he has scheduled several concerts at Cal to get out the student vote. 

Jacobs-Fantauzzi announced his candidacy on August 10 on the steps of City Hall. with Worthington and McCormick at his side. "Three Amigos," we dubbed them then. RunningWolf, although a lone wolf, makes four amigos trying to knock off a powerful mayor. 

Bates' opponents are younger, bolder, and knocking at the door of city government, in a campaign, which District 3 councilman Max Anderson has called, "a battle for Berkeley's soul."

Press Release: Cal Berkeley Democrats Endorse 2012 Local Candidates Worthington, Anderson, and Progressive Rent Board Candidates

From Sofie Karasek
Friday September 28, 2012 - 02:31:00 PM

The Cal Berkeley Democrats endorsed ten candidates for the congressional, state, and local elections at their endorsement meeting this Thursday night, including current Berkeley City Councilmember Kriss Worthington for the mayoral race, Max Anderson for District 3 and the Progressive slate for the Berkeley Rent Board. 

“We had some great discussions and our membership is more informed about local politics,” said Daniel Tuchler, President of the Cal Berkeley Democrats. “More groups on campus need to have these discussions, and I'm thankful that all the candidates who attended care about the student voice. Students do have power in politics.” 

Over 40 chapter members and 12 candidate representatives attended the endorsement meeting, which was the first of two endorsement meetings to be held this election cycle. 

“Candidates were able to present the policy goals they would strive to achieve if elected,” said junior student and first-year Cal Berkeley Democrats member JJ Wertz. “The candidates demonstrated that they would make sure students’ interests would continue to be recognized in the city.” 

The students also endorsed Congresswoman Dianne Feinstein for U.S. Senate, Congresswoman Barbara Lee for U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Skinner for the California State Assembly, and Loni Hancock for the California State Senate. Chapter students will vote to endorse state propositions and local measures next Thursday, October 4th.

Press Release: Berkeley No on S Campaign Grabs Three Democratic Club Endorsements

By Christopher Cook, No on S coalition
Friday September 28, 2012 - 12:35:00 PM

Three prominent Berkeley Democratic clubs endorsed a "No on S" position this week, lending new momentum to the campaign to defeat the "sit-lie" measure on this November's ballot. 

The UC Cal Berkeley Democrats, East Bay Young Democrats, and East Bay Stonewall Democratic Club all voted to endorse No on Measure S, sending a signal of widening opposition to the proposal among Berkeley Democrats. Four of five Berkeley Democratic clubs have now voted No on S. 

"We are grateful and excited to have this growing support," said Bob Offer-Westort, coordinator for the No on S campaign. "The more people learn about Measure S, what it will do and how flawed it is, the more they are saying no. Opposition is clearly growing." 

The endorsements follow a No on S position earlier this week by the National Lawyers Guild Bay Area Chapter, the country's largest with more than 600 members. 

The No on S coalition includes numerous Berkeley merchants, city councilors, social service organizations, faith leaders, the ACLU, National Lawyers’ Guild, and many community leaders throughout the city.

Press Release: Dr. Ami Bera Comments on New Misleading Chamber of Commerce Ads

Friday September 28, 2012 - 04:19:00 PM

Editor's Note: Many Berkeley residents are supporting Democrat Dr. Ami Bera's campaign for Congress against Republican Dan Lungren in the Sacramento area. 

ELK GROVE, CA - Today, the Chamber of Commerce started airing $484,000 worth of misleading ads on behalf of Congressman Dan Lungren. The ads make the same lies about Medicare and the Affordable Care Act that Congressman Lungren and Republicans nationwide have repeated all year. 

Dr. Ami Bera offered the following comment: 

“While I’m not surprised that out-of-state special interest groups have come in to aid Dan Lungren with fictitious ads, I didn’t expect the absurd irony of blaming national economic uncertainty on a local doctor, instead of on Washington insiders like Dan Lungren, who got us into this mess in the first place. Attacking me for the Medicare savings that Congressman Lungren voted for twice, and for the uncertain tax situation that Lungren helped create, reveals their desperation to hide Lungren’s votes to privatize Medicare and devastate the middle class.” 

The ad is deliberately misleading: 

1. 1. Congressman Lungren voted for the Washington deals that created the year-end uncertainty of the ‘fiscal cliff’ [HR 4843, Vote #467, 12/17/10; S 465, Vote #960, 8/1/11; CRS, 8/19/11; Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta’s Remarks on Major Budget Decisions, 1/26/12; Los Angeles Times, 11/21/11] 

2. Dr. Bera has always made it clear that the health care law doesn’t do enough to control costs and that addressing healthcare costs is an absolute priority. In Tuesday’s debate with Lungren, Dr. Bera said: “There is no way for us to get our economy going until we’ve addressed the cost of healthcare." 

3. Both Republicans and Democrats supported the same Medicare savings, the difference is Lungren voted for the Ryan budget that turns Medicare into a voucher system. [SacBee, 8/21/12; Bloomberg, 8/13/12]. 

Dr. Bera’s jobs and small business plan includes: 

• expanding access to capital for small businesses that are trying to create jobs • incentivizing businesses to keep jobs here, rather than ship them overseas • investing in vital infrastructure projects, like our local levees, to create jobs immediately and attract and keep businesses in the district • reducing health care costs, not by passing them on to our seniors, but by negotiating drug and healthcare costs, investing in prevention, and spending less money on bureaucracy 

Dr. Bera is a lifelong Californian. He and his wife Janine and their daughter reside in Elk Grove. According to the Wall Street Journal and other major publications, his campaign is "seen by political experts as one of the nation's most competitive." For more information about Dr. Bera, or the Bera for Congress campaign, please visit www.BeraforCongress.com

Earthquake In Berkeley This Morning

Friday September 28, 2012 - 10:28:00 AM

Another quake in Berkeley on the Hayward fault. About 9:25 a.m., magnitude 2.7, depth about 4.5 miles. Did you feel it? Here's where it was:  

View Larger Map

20 Years Later--The Origins of Indigenous Peoples Day
Excerpts of a Conversation between Dennis Jennings and John Curl

From John Curl
Friday September 28, 2012 - 03:41:00 PM
Head lady dancer Leslie Deer
Head lady dancer Leslie Deer
Head man dancer Dennis Jennings
Head man dancer Dennis Jennings

The 20th anniversary Berkeley Indigenous Peoples Day Powwow and Indian Market will be celebrated on Saturday, October 13, between 10 AM and 6 PM at Martin Luther King Civic Center Park. 

Both Dennis Jennings and John Curl were original members of the Indigenous Peoples Day Committee twenty years ago. Dennis Jennings will be Head Man Dancer at the 20th anniversary powwow, and was also the coordinator of the first Indigenous Peoples Day in 1992. A member of the Sac and Fox Nation of Oklahoma, he returned to his homeland in the mid-1990s, where he has lived since. John Curl has worked on the project in Berkeley these 20 years. 

JC: Dennis, I'd like to ask you a few questions about Indigenous Peoples Day, your participation in making it happen back then, and what you think of it now 20 years later. 

DJ: My memory of 1990-1991 and Indigenous Peoples’ Day is all about the thirty to thirty five Indian organizations around the Bay Area. Out of thousands of Indians in the Bay Area, there were only a few dozen of us who had been thinking about this for a decade. My memory goes to Betty Cooper, chairperson of the Bay Area American Indian Alliance, a loose coalition of Indian organizations, mostly government-funded agencies concerned with the social welfare of Native peoples. Betty Cooper was progressive and far thinking, an Alcatraz veteran from the 1960s. Betty recruited and stood firmly behind Millie Ketcheshawno. 

JC: Millie was the coordinator of our second Indigenous People Day in Berkeley in 1993, when we held our first powwow. And of course, her daughter, Leslie Deer, is our Head Lady Dancer this year, and her son, Gino, is now our powwow coordinator. 

DJ: Millie was an organizer of first order. She herself talked about how she had come out of Oklahoma on the government sponsored relocation program, how she arrived on the train with no support services. All those Native Peoples who had been removed and depopulated from their own homelands in the 1950s had arrived in various big cities with no support services, no community organizations. Betty and Millie and my own Wahpepah relatives had fought tooth and nail for services away from the land, for help with training and jobs and employment and health and school books and clothes. Now it was that thirty plus Native American organizations could have an alliance after decades of organizing and fighting for their rights. Betty said at least once in those days that Dennis was my left hand and Fred Short was my right hand. To me it was Betty Cooper who sent us to Berkeley. 

JC: I didn’t really know Betty. I heard that the Bay Area Indian Alliance was holding a conference at DQ University near Davis, and when they moved the conference to Laney College on its last day and opened it to non-Native people, I and a lot of other nonIndians joined in. I brought Mark and Nancy Gorrell to that conference, whom I knew from local politics, BCA. I believe that was also the first time I met you, as well as Lee Sprague and many other people. And out of that we organized the Berkeley chapter of Resistance 500. Our group became an official City task force with the mission of reporting on what the City should do for the Quincentennial. 

DJ: In the rest of the Bay Area there was a lot of confusion and chaos about how to proceed, but there appeared in Berkeley an organized group of people who genuinely wanted to accept some ideas of what could be done with the old worn out concept of Columbus Day. To my knowledge, this was an outgrowth of the Berkeley Citizens’ Action. They had even sent a representative to Quito, Ecuador to the meeting of all meetings on the whole continent to discuss this question. Personally I did not go to Ecuador, but I had helped raise money and make decisions on who should go and how to make decisions on who should go. It was in Quito that a multinational decision was made to change Cristobal Colon Day into Indigenous Peoples Day. In Berkeley we met non-Indians who did not have to be taught this concept. We met and appreciated political people who were experienced, brainy, down to earth, and organized. 

JC: Actually, I was the representative who went to Quito. Here’s how it happened. In 1990 was receiving a little newsletter from the South American Indian Information Center, which was run out of Oakland by Nilo Cayuqueo, a Mapuche man from Chile. In the newsletter was a small notice about the upcoming conference in Ecuador. I went down to the Oakland office and explained to Nilo that I was interested in getting involved with counter-quincentennial activities locally. Together he and I came up with the idea that I would go to the Berkeley mayor, Loni Hancock, whom I knew from working on her election campaigns, and ask her to send me to the conference as her representative, to gather information about how Berkeley should commemorate the quincentennial. I would pay for everything myself. And that is what happened. When I got back, we had a meeting of Loni, Nilo, and Tony Gonzales of the International Indian Treaty Council, whom I had met in Quito. Tony brought Millie Ketcheshawno to the meeting. That was the first time I met Millie.  

DJ: After much planning and after the decision of the City Council, we were prepared to work! What really helped is that Millie and the Mayor Loni Hancock seemed to me not just on the same page but like good friends. Because of Millie and Betty and the Berkeley Committee, I got to work in City Hall, an office overlooking the park for several weeks. My memories of those fast moving days and weeks in 1991 and 1992 are now a haze with brilliant flashes of highpoints jumping out. I know that much argument and debate preceded our primary slogan, our preeminent concept, “Tell the children the truth!” 

JC: Right, we studied the true history for a long time, debated it, then went back to the city council again and presented research showing how Columbus sent shiploads of enslaved Indians back to Spain, and invented the transatlantic slave trade. Under Columbus’s leadership, over a hundred thousand Taino Indians on the island of Hispanola were killed and the survivors were enslaved in mines and plantations. So the task force proposed to the City Council to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day. And in October, 1991, that is what they did, unanimously. 

DJ: We knew we did not just want one day to do this so we planned for the whole year. We worked on exhibits for all the public and private galleries of art for the visual public aspect of anticipation. We had school programs in various local schools to promote reading about the true history of this land. Some of us were contracted to work on exhibits in the Livermore Museum, which were then copied and shipped to six other major educational museums elsewhere, including the Smithsonian. A group of us with the help of a Berkeley resident and professional theater artists, produced a play from oral histories available to us from UC about a fishing struggle case that twenty years earlier had gone to the US Supreme court. Many other efforts occurred far and wide. I promoted a public speaking activity called “Soapbox-Chautauqua,” which I recorded and edited and put on KPFA. I am very thankful that I got to work in and for the City of Berkeley and for my brand of people. 

JC: And now it’s twenty years later. Of course, besides the 20th anniversary of Indigenous Peoples Day, this is also the 520th anniversary of Indigenous resistance and survival in the face of European colonialism. 

DJ: I am exceptionally proud that twenty years later somebody remembered me well enough to ask me to come back and be a Head Dancer in an activity that I had but a small part in starting.

Election 2012 in the Planet Archives

Saturday September 29, 2012 - 05:50:00 PM

Are you confused about the upcoming election? Below you'll be able to find all the articles about the November 2012 election that have appeared to date in the Planet, in reverse chronological order, except that the editorial endorsements are at the top so they’re easier to find. We’ve pretty much abandoned the idea of publishing election-related articles in this separate section every week because there are just too many of them, but here’s where to search if you’re looking for something about the election in back issues.


Berkeley Heats Up For the Fall Election Season 08-29-2012

ENDORSEMENT SPECIAL: Yes on Berkeley Measures U, V, N, O. No on Berkeley Measure M. 09-28-2012

ENDORSEMENT SPECIAL: Measure T is a Trojan Horse 09-21-2012

ENDORSEMENT SPECIAL: Sitting Down Should not be Banned in Berkeley 09-14-2012

ENDORSEMENT SPECIAL: Berkeley Mayor and City Council 09-05-2012


Berkeley's Measure U: $1 million for sunshine? That’s a stretch! And it would still be a bargain! By Richard Knee 09-28-2012 

Measure R: The Name of the Game is POWER by Former Berkeley Mayor Shirley Dean 09-28-2012 

No on Berkeley Measure T By Sam Greyson 09-28-2012 

Is Three-Term Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates Vulnerable? By Ted Friedman 09-28-2012 

Ranked Choice Voting Comes to Berkeley: How It Works, How to Do It By Lydia Gans 09-28-2012 

Press Release: Cal Berkeley Democrats Endorse 2012 Local Candidates Worthington, Anderson, and Progressive Rent Board Candidates From Sofie Karasek 09-28-2012 

Press Release: Berkeley No on S Campaign Grabs Three Democratic Club Endorsements "Clean Sweep" of 3 Berkeley Democratic Clubs Marks Growing No on S Momentum
By Christopher Cook, No on S coalition 09-28-2012 

Berkeley Mayor and Council Candidates Debate on Sundays From Nigel Guest 09-28-2012 

CENA Candidates' Night is Monday 09-28-2012 

Berkeley For All Candidates' Forum
McGee Avenue Baptist Church in Berkeley, Thursday

Measure S is a Hate Crime By Carol Denney 09-21-2012 

New: Grey Panthers Host Berkeley Mayor Candidates in Forum By Helen Rippier Wheeler 09-26-2012 

New: Vote No on Alameda County Measure A1 (Opinion) By Laura Baker,East Bay Chapter of the California Native Plant Society 09-26-2012 

Press Release: Bookmark and Share Curb-Sit and Kiss-In Protest Against Anti-Sitting Law-- Re-Creation Of Barack And Michelle Obama's First Kiss While Sitting On The Sidewalk By B Sofer 09-26-2012 

Press Release: Celebratory “Sitting Olympics” To Highlight Measure S Concerns
Berkeley celebs headline Sept. 30 “Starry Plough Olympiad 2012”
From Christopher Cook 09-26-2012 

Election Information 09-21-2012 

MapLight's Voter's Edge: A Graphic Guide to Election Information 09-24-2012 

THE PUBLIC EYE:Campaign 2012: Playing the Israel Card By Bob Burnett 09-21-2012 

But of Course, It Could Never Happen in Berkeley--or Could It? By Osha Neumann 09-14-2012 

Letter to Berkeley Mayor and City Council Regarding Brown Act Violations in Placing Measure S on the November Ballot By Michael T. Risher, Staff Attorney, ACLU of Northern California 09-13-2012 

Romney Follows His Own Rules By Bruce Joffee 09-14-2012 

"The Fight for Berkeley's Soul" Sunday Downtown By Ted Friedman 09-17-2012 

Walk will Reveal Problems of Berkeley’s Aquatic Park By Toni Mester 09-14-2012 

Press Release: Berkeley Standing Up Coalition Kicks Off Campaign to Defeat “Sit-Lie” Measure S From Christopher Cook 09-16-2012 

Community Campaign Center Opening 09-14-2012 

Election Information 09-14-2012 

Press Release: BCA Endorsement Meeting Results From Linda Godzi 09-16-2012 

THE PUBLIC EYE: Welcome to Romneyland By Bob Burnett 09-14-2012 

ECLECTIC RANT: Making it Harder For Some to Vote: Restrictive Voting Laws By Ralph E. Stone 09-14-2012 

Odd Bodkins: The Terrorist (Cartoon) By Dan O'Neill 09-08-2012 

Whatever Happened To "Republican Women for Choice"? By Ron Lowe 09-08-2012 

An Open Letter to Jacquelyn McCormick and Adolpho Cabral; By Norma J F Harrison 09-08-2012 

Where in the World is West Berkeley? (News Analysis) By Toni Mester 09-07-2012 

New: Unfunded Liabilities And The New Berkeley Police Contract (News Analysis) By Shannon Brown 09-08-2012 

Planning Commission Special Workshop On MUP Community Benefits to Be Held on Wednesday From WEBAIC 09-07-2012 

Election Update 09-07-2012 

THE PUBLIC EYE:Obama vs. Romney: The Popularity Contest By Bob Burnett 09-07-2012 

Odd Bodkins: Fred for Prez (Cartoon) By Dan O'Neill 08-28-2012 

Romney's Vision for the Future: An Uninhabitable Earth By Jack Bragen 08-29-2012 

Press Release: Bates and Berkeley Council Violated Brown Act in Measure S Process, Says ACLU in Letter From Bob Offer-Westort, Berkeley Standing Up for the Right to Sit Down; Michael T. Risher, Staff Attorney, ACLU of Northern California: 415 621 2493 09-06-2012 

There's Something About Tom Bates (News Analysis) By Ted Friedman 09-01-2012 

Got Free Speech in Berkeley’s Constitution Square? (First Person) By Carol Denney 08-29-2012 

New: Berkeley Election News in Other Media 09-04-2012 

Profiles of the Candidates for Berkeley Office in the November Election From the Berkeley City Clerk 08-28-2012 

Election Information: 2012 Berkeley Ballot Measures 08-29-2012 

Berkeley's General Election Calendar From the Berkeley City Clerk 08-29-2012 

Jacquelyn McCormick for Mayor (Opinion) By Martha Nicoloff 08-29-2012 

THE PUBLIC EYE: Mitt Romney: The Great White Hope 08-31-2012 

AGAINST FORGETTING: Voter Suppression: The "Schurick Doctrine" and the Unravelling of American Democracy By Ruth Rosen 08-29-2012 

ECLECTIC RANT: The GOP and the John Galt Factor By Ralph E. Stone 08-29-2012 



ENDORSEMENT SPECIAL: Yes on Berkeley Measures U, V, N, O. No on Berkeley Measure M.

By Becky O'Malley
Friday September 28, 2012 - 10:17:00 AM

Today we’re going to try to make some sense out of a passel of ballot measures which address attempts to specify how the city of Berkeley should raise and spend its funds. Really, the best way to figure out what’s going on is to look at all the information which will be on the ballot, and which is now on the city’s website. To make this possible, a full set of links is posted at the bottom of this piece in alphabetical order.

But for a quick take on what’s happening locally, we’ll look at these measures in a different sequence. Voters are being asked by the City Council majority to vote to raise money with two bonds and one tax, which we’ll get to in a moment, but first let’s talk about a pair of initiative measures which reflect citizens’ desire to know more about what the city government is doing with their money before they vote to provide it. 

Measure U is the “Sunshine Ordinance”. In the ten years or so that I’ve been involved with reporting on local government, and even before that, sunshine ordinances have been passed in most of the major cities around the bay: San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, and many of the smaller ones as well. Journalists, of course, love them, as do others who value open government and civil liberties. A quick search of the Planet archives reveals a huge number of articles, opinions and editorials on the topic, most of which document Berkeley’s pressing desire for more transparency in government. 

If you read some of these pieces, you’ll see that over this decade various commissions, task forces and the like were set up by Berkeley’s city staff and elected officials to ponder the problem, but the labor of an elephant produced a mouse, the timid and ineffectual Open Government Ordinance passed by the council a couple of years ago. To use another animal metaphor, the problem was that the fox was asked to produce a set of rules to guard the henhouse, with predictable results. 

Citizens who’d been working on the proposal then put their own, much more comprehensive version of a Sunshine Ordinance on the ballot for this November by initiative petition. Some have criticized the result for being too long, but it’s a lot better than anything we have now. It’s well past time for Berkeley to join its sister cities in passing a sunshine ordinance. Vote Yes on the Sunshine Ordinance, Measure U. 

Measure V, branded by proponents as the FACTS (Fiscal Accountability, Clarity, Transparency, Sustainability) ordinance, is another citizen-written attempt to find out what’s going on in city government. It’s simple, criticized by some for being too simple, but it can’t hurt and might help. It requires the administrators to produce biennial certified reports on the city’s unfunded liabilities and to specify what reserves are available to meet them. The penalty, if the report doesn’t appear, is that taxes can’t be passed or increased. With cities all over the country facing bankruptcies, one would hope that the Berkeley city staff already has this information, so that producing the report wouldn’t be hard, but it would be nice to be sure. Vote Yes on Measure V. 

However...then we come to the FACTS committee’s recommendations on the revenue measures on the November ballot, and here I think they’ve gotten off track. They’ve come out against the bond issue (Measure N) and special tax (Measure O) intended to provide Berkeleyans with public swimming pools. Their argument is disingenuous: “Berkeley already has nine+ pools”. Well sure, but only two of them are public pools, the number down by half since the pool at Willard Middle School was filled with dirt and the warm pool at Berkeley High demolished to make way for more construction. 

Kids growing up around the bay need to learn to swim, and swimming is one of the healthiest forms of exercise for adults. Richmond has put Berkeley to shame by restoring its glorious historic Municipal Natatorium, accompanied by a program to make sure their children can all swim before they leave the third grade. We need to do at least as well. 

And shame too on people who say that they don’t want to pay for making one of our pools a warm pool because warm pools are mostly used by disabled people. In the first place, any of us might benefit from the proven therapeutic effect of swimming in warm water at some point. Years ago I injured a shoulder lugging around heavy equipment when I was in the hi-tech business, and Kaiser’s best efforts couldn’t fix it—but three months in Berkeley’s warm pool did the trick. 

A properly managed warm pool could actually be a profit center which would attract users from all over the Bay Area—it could even be some sort of a joint venture with Kaiser and Sutter Health paying to use it. All that’s needed is a little initiative on the part of city staff. 

Both N and O are very specific about intent and execution, and they support a single easily understood agenda. Vote Yes on Measures O and N. 

Measure M (for Money) unfortunately, is a horse of a different color. Here criticism from both the FACTS committee and the Sunshine Ordinance backers, that we don’t know enough about how city funds are spent, is on target. 

Berkeleyans, by and large, are liberal in all senses of the word, including the old-fashioned one of “generous”. They seldom meet a bond issue or a special tax that they don’t like. We do have our share of the other kind, the local equivalent of deficit hawks, people who are deeply suspicious of the possible consequences of unbridled local spending—they’re behind FACTS and a couple of similar groups. 

Another sub-set of Berkeley voters was mightily annoyed when they voted for restoration of Berkeley’s branch libraries and discovered that two of them were instead demolished and rebuilt. They’d like to ban all finance measures because they think the money will be spent for other purposes. 

I tend to be on the liberal side of these equations, but I find the way Measure M was placed on the ballot profoundly disconcerting—as did the three true progressive councilmembers (Worthington, Arreguin, Anderson) the night the Mayor’s captive majority placed it on the ballot over their objections. It was a typical I-have-the-votes strong-arm session by the mayor which rivaled the one which resulted in Measure S, another bad idea. 

Simply put, it creates a slush fund. The council can effectively spend the $30 million in proceeds on almost anything, and you can be pretty sure that most of the money will go to big-time building contractors who make their money from street repair, needed or not. And worse, it's the kind of basic street repair that should be done routinely from the general fund. 

Here’s the official ballot question: 

“Shall the City of Berkeley issue general obligation bonds not exceeding $30,000,000 for street improvements and integrated Green Infrastructure such as rain gardens, swales, bioretention cells and permeable paving, to improve roads, reduce flooding and improve water quality in the creeks and Bay?” 

And here are the weasel words: such as. The measure creates absolutely no obligation to carry out any of the “Green Infrastructure” projects ( and even that name is weaselly). 

Max Anderson was particularly concerned that flooding in South and West Berkeley would continue to be ignored. Kriss Worthington also worried that long-delayed fixes to the way the city handles waste water and storm runoff would yet again be postponed, causing further pollution of Aquatic Park, and that almost all the money would go into potholes, leaving the more crucial “such as” items out of the picture. 

The difference between the pools measures and this one is that O and N are specific, but Measure M is much too vague. It would be better to skip M and ask for a later bond issue, if one is needed, that is much more upfront about how the proceeds would be spent. Berkeley citizens don’t need to sign another blank check. Vote No on Measure M. 

If you’re still confused, look below for links to the wealth of pro-and-con opinion which you’ll see on your ballot, which will be available in print for early voters on October 8. Just don’t believe everything you read there. In particular, the “impartial” city attorney’s analyses have been challenged by a variety of advocates, so look before you leap. 



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 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 




The Editor's Back Fence

Should This Be Against the Law in Berkeley?

Tuesday October 02, 2012 - 10:17:00 PM
Becky O'Malley
Becky O'Malley

These sidewalk-sitters were enjoying the warm weather on Tuesday at Berkeley's South West Farmer's Market. Tyler, seated with his back to the side wall of Sweet Adeline's Bakery at the corner of 63rd and Adeline, is a tourist, in town from San Diego. We didn't get the name of the family resting on the curb in the same block, but they were clearly having a good time too. If Measure S passes, all of these satisfied market patrons would be subject to citation and possible arrest for the crime of sitting on the sidewalk in a commercial district. Some measure backers claim that such a law would be enforced selectively, but guess what? That's probably unconstitutional, and would certainly provoke lawsuits to test it.

On the Berkeley Election: Two Good Pieces in One Day

Tuesday October 02, 2012 - 04:31:00 PM

Here are two good stories about the upcoming Berkeley City Council election: 

One is on the Claremont-Elmwood Neighborhood Association forum for mayoral candidates, the other on a District 2 Berkeley City Council forum. 

You have no excuse not to be well-informed! 



Public Comment

New: Berkeley Street Renaming Hearing this Week: A Proposal with Troubling Implications

By Steven Finacom
Tuesday October 02, 2012 - 09:45:00 PM
Dharma College, a private institution recently moved to Downtown Berkeley, is asking the City of Berkeley to change the name of the street in front of its facilities to “Dharma Way”.    “Harold Way”, has been the name of the street for almost a century.
Steven Finacom
Dharma College, a private institution recently moved to Downtown Berkeley, is asking the City of Berkeley to change the name of the street in front of its facilities to “Dharma Way”. “Harold Way”, has been the name of the street for almost a century.

This Thursday night, the Public Works Commission of the City of Berkeley is holding a public hearing, and discussion, on the proposal to rename Harold Way in Downtown Berkeley to “Dharma Way”, at the behest of the adjacent Dharma College, which owns one side of the block.

This proposal should be turned down. It violates an informal, but long, tradition against giving names directly associated with a religious or spiritual tradition to public facilities in Berkeley; it would remove a historic name, nearly a century old, from the heart of Downtown Berkeley; and it creates a really troubling precedent that an institution can move into a new space and almost immediately expect the City to rename adjacent public facilities in its honor. 

The Public Hearing will be at 5:30 pm on Thursday, October 4, at the North Berkeley Senior Center (corner of Hearst and MLK, Jr. Way). The hearing will be followed by a regular meeting of the Public Works Commission at 7:00 pm, at which the name change proposal will also be discussed. 

The agenda packet for the Public Hearing can be found here: 

The agenda for the regular meeting, immediately following, can be found here: 

Harold Way—however obscure to some—is a 99-year-old name that is part of Berkeley’s heritage. Renaming a street—any street—should not be done lightly, and it should especially not be done at the request of a newly arrived institution / business on that street that proposes a name similar to their institutional name. 

The name change, if adopted, would place “Dharma Way” prominently on street signs almost in front of the Berkeley Central Library, and just up the block from the Main Post Office. 

City policy on naming currently in effect says the City’s objective should be “to ensure that naming public facilities…will enhance the values and heritage of the City of Berkeley and will be compatible with community interest.” 

It adds: “…the preferred practice is to give City-owned property a name of historical or geographical significance and to retain these names” and “existing names are presumed to have historic significance; and historic names give a community a sense of place and identity, continuing through time, and increases the sense of neighborhood and belonging.” 

Harold Way is such a name. So that should be it, in my view: case closed. The City should politely decline to rename the street for the institution, as if it’s a private driveway.  

The Dharma College people that I’ve listened to, and talked to very briefly, at previous public meetings on this issue are very polite and nice. They are, presumably, exemplars of Tibetan Buddhism, or at least its Westernized offshoots. But I wish they would have realized the inherent hubris of this proposal from the beginning. 

Berkeley has been home to hundreds of institutions over the years, from churches, to private schools and colleges, to religious seminaries, and community organizations. To my knowledge, never in Berkeley history has any one of those institutions proposed to change the street name in front of it to a form that essentially privatizes the identity of the street and gives it a religious overtone. 

Every institution, until now, seems to have instinctively known that the streets and their names are public. Or, if any such proposals have been made, and are now lost in history, the City of Berkeley at least had the good sense to turn them down. 

This proposal, on the other hand, nearly got adopted on the City Council consent calendar until a few individuals (including this writer) raised objections. It was treated in the press as a fait accompli, no more controversial that approving a routine contract for street repaving. 

I believe that some City staffers were tone deaf on this issue. Renaming a street is fundamentally a public policy issue, not simply a matter of the adjacent property owners submitting a request and paying some fees. But the staff report which went to the Council in June blandly recommended accepting the renaming proposal, treating it almost as if it were an application to build an uncontroversial backyard deck or in-law unit. The main issues to the staff were whether fees had been paid ? They had. Had the properties with addresses on the street approved? (Of course they had, since they were one and the same with the applicant). Had the City sent a letter to the Police and Fire Departments and, of all places the Alameda County Planning Commission? Yes it had. No one in Berkeley was notified, beyond police and fire staff. 

After the proposal somewhat inexplicably sat somewhere on a City desk for nearly a year without action, it was suddenly rushed to the Council because—according to the staff report—“the applicants informed the City that they are having a ribbon-cutting ceremony for June 28, 2012, and would like to have the street name change implemented in time for their event.”  

And the proposal was initially placed on the Council “Consent Calendar”, the location of items that are presumed to be routine and uncontroversial and can be adopted as a group, without discussion. 

Fortunately the Council saw fit to emphasize policy, not partying, and voted unanimously to refer the application to the Public Works Commission, where it now awaits a hearing. 

There is a second, troubling, aspect to this proposal. It introduces a religious element into what should be a secular realm in Berkeley—the identity of streets.  

While Berkeley once proudly called itself “a city of churches” and remains today a community filled with religious institutions and “people of faith” of all sorts, Berkeley has never, to my knowledge, given a name with religious overtones to a public street or facility. 

And every religious, or spiritually based, organization in Berkeley—until now, at least—seems to have been content to continue with historic street names that provide Berkeley with an eclectic, secular and ecumenical character.  

Newman Hall—the Roman Catholic parish serving the UC campus—sits on Dwight Way, a street named for a prominent Congregationalist minister; Temple Beth El fronts on Oxford Street, named for the university that, until 1866, required membership in the Church of England as a condition of receiving a BA degree; the Pacific School of Religion is at the intersection of Ridge Road and Scenic Avenue, names that emphasize Berkeley’s natural, not spiritual, attributes. 

The “Dharma Way” proposal would break decisively with this tradition. The City would be implicitly choosing spiritual sides in what should be a community of all religions, and none. 

As Lynn Milliman, one letter writer to the City Council, wrote: “Dharma is a Sanskrit word and a concept of eastern religions. Simply explained, it is the way of the higher Truths, a lifestyle that leads to a minimum accumulation of karma is therefore the fastest path to personal liberation.” 

Milliman added: “I seriously doubt that if this was a Baptist, Catholic, or Jewish community holding the property on Harold Way that Berkeley would be agreeing to such a change. For example such possible changes as Salvation Way, Commandment Way…” 

Another letter writer, Corey Limbach, added, “I urge you to consider the precedent that this would set regarding the implicit endorsement of religion this would convey. Regardless of the nuance of the definition of the word in English, there is no doubt that it is fundamentally a religious term, and approving it as part of a Public space would open up the interpretation that the City supports Buddhism.” 

(Both the Milliman and Limbach letters can be found in full in the Commission packet.) 

I urge all readers to come to the Public Hearing on Thursday and ask the Public Works Commission to politely decline this misguided and inappropriate naming request.

Measure R: The Name of the Game is POWER

by Former Berkeley Mayor Shirley Dean
Friday September 28, 2012 - 03:41:00 PM

With some twenty-four ballot measures to consider on November 6th, you probably are feeling a bit overwhelmed. At least Berkeley Measure R is easy to connect the letter with what the measure is about. “R” stands for “Redistricting,” but after that, it’s not so easy! You’ll be told that Measure R is just a matter of drawing fair and up-to-date district boundaries. Not so!! Be very, very careful!  

Redistricting is the basic political strategy game with a goal of building voting districts ensuring the election of one side while decreasing the chances of opponents. The mind-numbing details of redistricting usually put most people to sleep so that those in power get to do what they want. Needless to say, it’s incredibly important for everyone to keep a close eye on the process.  

In 1986, because District elections were fiercely opposed by the then self-described progressive Council majority, the issue went on the June ballot as a citizens’ initiative Charter Amendment. It set specific boundaries for eight nearly-equal-in-population Council Districts, and provided that these lines be retained as much as possible after each future ten-year census adjustment.  

The day after the election, Mayor Newport and Vice Mayor Fukson appeared in a photo on the front page of the Daily Cal giving the finger to the community when they learned the measure had been approved. Stating that students had been denied a chance to vote on the issue because they leave Berkeley to go home in May, Council action followed by placing a measure on the November ballot repealing district elections entirely. 

For most of that year, the issue was hotly debated. Then-Councilmember Nancy Skinner led the campaign against district elections, arguing that boundary lines were arbitrarily drawn resulting in disenfranchising students, and that the influence of all residents would be diminished because they would be able to vote for only one person on the Council.  

Supporters of district elections countered that district elections would break the power of political groups who put together slates and actively discourage others from running, and that the proposed predominantly student population district would result in a councilmember responsive to student concerns and possibly a future successful student candidate. 

In November 1986, the voters soundly rejected the council’s repeal measure. Since then, there have been two adjustments to those boundaries in response to census changes with no complaints. The 2010 census showing 9,000 more people now requires a third adjustment. Enter Measure R. 

In 2011, the original boundaries were challenged as being unconstitutional because there is no predominant Asian District. The City Attorney paid an outside specialized law firm to investigate and no constitutional issue was found to exist. However this argument is still being used by some as a reason to vote for Measure R.  

By May 2012, proving it was possible, six different redistricting maps, moving as few as 26 blocks, had been submitted for consideration. City staff found all six met census requirements and were in compliance with the existing charter. The council could have accepted or tweaked any one of those proposals, but it didn’t.  

Instead, the Council, led by Mayor Bates and Councilmembers Capitelli and Wozniak, went along with presentations from Assembly Member Nancy Skinner and a group called The Berkeley Student District Campaign to stop redistricting now and empower the Council to draw completely new boundaries because the original boundaries intentionally discriminated against students.  

Fully knowing it wouldn’t be in compliance, the Student District Campaign had submitted a map completely changing all districts, showing a total disregard of neighborhoods particularly in Districts 3, 4, 5, and 8. They portrayed this as long overdue “reform” that would result in at least two student districts designed to give students a real voice in City matters. If Measure R passes such a map may or may not be enacted. Who knows? 

However, it is clear, Measure R gives the Council the power to change district boundaries any way they want, and to do it every ten years, leaving residents completely out with no way to change anything. Don’t be fooled by statements that districts have to be nearly equal in population—that’s the law in any event—or that certain factors like major streets have to be considered—that’s discretionary standard practice—or that compliant boundaries aren’t possible—that’s simply false. The Council could have selected one of the compliant maps, or drawn a compromise map of their own devising, or completed redistricting under the current rules and THEN put new boundaries on the ballot for voter approval. They didn’t.  

Remember, the name of this game is POWER with the added provision that no two sitting councilmembers can end up in the same district. Vote NO on Measure R and keep the power with the people where it belongs. 









Berkeley's Measure U: $1 million for sunshine? That’s a stretch! And it would still be a bargain!

By Richard Knee
Friday September 28, 2012 - 03:32:00 PM

Opponents of Berkeley’s proposed Sunshine Ordinance (Measure U) claim it would increase the cost of city government by between $1 million and $2 million annually.

They don’t itemize that estimate; they just want you to take their word for it.

Even if it were accurate, the cost for each of Berkeley’s 130,000 residents would be at most about $15.40 a year or just under $1.30 a month.

But if San Francisco’s experience is any indication, the estimate is way off the mark. 

After surveying city departments, San Francisco’s Budget and Legislative Analyst said compliance with local and state sunshine laws carried “identified” costs of about $4.27 million in calendar 2011 – just over 0.6 percent of that city’s fiscal 2011-12 budget of $6.83 billion – of which Sunshine Ordinance Task Force operations accounted for $997,676. 

Bear in mind that the task force has a full-time administrator, while Measure U would mandate only a part-time secretary for Berkeley’s Sunshine Commission. 

The San Francisco analyst’s report also pointed to a likelihood that without the task force, “some portion of complaints would be directed to other public bodies, such as the courts, which would in turn incur costs.” 

So the task force has saved the city untold hundreds of thousands of dollars in court expenses. And who knows how many millions of dollars the local and state sunshine laws have saved San Francisco by enabling the exposure or prevention of backroom deals? 

Likewise, Measure U would likely bring a net cost savings to Berkeley’s taxpayers. It’s a bargain! And it deserves your “Yes” vote. 

Richard Knee is *Member and past chairman, San Francisco Sunshine Ordinance Task Force 

*For identification purposes only. The foregoing is intended strictly as a conveyance of personal knowledge and opinion.

No on Berkeley Measure T

By Sam Greyson
Friday September 28, 2012 - 03:57:00 PM

My West Berkeley mechanic alerted me to the danger of ballet measure "T" some time ago. He has been in west Berkeley since the seventies employing a dozen or so people and believes that if Measure "T" passes there will be no room in Berkeley for a business like his. 

Politicians love the idea of throwing a large swath of the city open to the highest bidder (waiving height and size restrictions) because they think it will bring in lots of money. The problem is that big industrial parks do not necessarily equate with a good quality of life or the kind of mixture of small businesses, artists, entrepreneurs and working middle class families that we want for the future. 

Do you really want a West Berkeley dominated by a couple of monstrous several block sized industrial sites owned by multi-national pharmaceutical corporations (like Emeryville)? Or do we want to retain the one place in the city where small businesses and artists can afford to set up shop? It seems to me the last thing we need is another part of Berkeley affordable only to multi-national corporations and gazillionaire developers.. 

The city needs to have a REAL discussion of the vast and permanent impact of these changes before making them, a discussion we have not really had. Please consider your vote carefully and vote NO on "T".  

P.S. If measure "T" passes I suggest we rename West Berkeley the " Tom Bates Industrial Park". (He likes to get his name placed on things.)

Please Help “Ruby”; Limited Equity Tenants Need Help

By Carol Denney
Friday September 28, 2012 - 04:00:00 PM

“Ruby” never believed our building manager’s personal animosity toward her roommate could result in her own eviction. Neither did I. We live in a “limited equity co-op”, where limited income tenants are supposed to have more safety and security than ordinary renters. But it doesn’t work out that way. 

Although we are low-income, we’re considered a co-op, so we’re excluded from Berkeley’s Rent Stabilization Board’s counselors and resources even though we help pay for them with our taxes. We can’t afford lawyers to help us if we’re treated unfairly, but the building itself is represented by an expensive landlord attorney we end up paying for through our rent. We end up paying for the unfair evictions of our neighbors, our friends, and ourselves. 

It wasn’t always this bad; we once had a large board that knew the whole community of people in the building and had a lot of common sense about, for instance, one tenant’s tendency to exaggerate about another. We had a shared experience of having been treated unfairly by landlords for years, and had successfully bought the building with sympathetic investors after a five year rent strike. 

We did most of the work ourselves as volunteers so that we could keep costs low, so a large percentage of the building had a very clear sense of maintenance costs and naturally felt connected. We struggled at times to work together well, but we had a real sense of working together to protect real homes for each other. 

These days we are forced to pay for health insurance, vacation, and ever-increasing administrative costs for paid staff with no oversight unless you count a board of directors so small, disinterested, and divided that the staff essentially satisfy their own needs at the tenancy’s expense. If the staff wants your apartment for a friend of theirs, as in Ruby’s case, you’re out of luck. 

One staff member estimated the amount of unlawful detainers (evictions) issued per year in our building at about five, with no use of mediation to resolve issues. That’s in a building with about 26 units which rents to a local mediation group. A lot of people here get threatened with eviction on a consistent basis, while the work which could provide “sweat equity” for those who have difficulty paying the ever-increasing rent is mostly done by highly paid staff with so much power over our lives we’re terrified to honestly report a maintenance issue or question the way the building is run.  

Our rent was raised at three times the rate of the recommended rent board increase last year, while the commercial property renters’ rents were decreased. And the board is planning to raise the rent again this year. 

Ruby’s still in shock over having to suddenly pack, sort out what she might store with a friend, and try to hang on in a world where most people often dismiss you for having no address. Ruby is African-American, an older woman with severe disabilities. The building manager and all of the staff is white. Can they do this in Berkeley? They just did. 

Ruby’s lack of legal representation probably played a role in her eviction. Few of Berkeley’s rent board commissioners or city council representatives know about the difficulties and lack of resources in limited equity co-ops for low income renters. And Ruby has her hands full trying to reorganize a life in boxes.  

If you try to talk to the board members in our building they will say that it’s a legal matter and refer you to the county website, where you can read a laughably petty list of the complaints about Ruby’s unit, including dishes left in the sink, the noise of a family argument, and a broken window (which she fixed at her own expense). 

Please help the Rent Stabilization Board, the Berkeley City Council, and the City Manager recognize that wonderful model for cooperative living for low-income tenants is turning into a nightmare if you are the wrong race, or get on the wrong side of an all-too-human staff.


New: AGAINST FORGETTING: Behind the Scenes of the First Debate

By Ruth Rosen
Tuesday October 02, 2012 - 09:48:00 PM

UPDATE: A new version of this column, written after the debate, is now online in the Planet's next issue.

For weeks, President Obama and former Governor Mitt Romney have sparred with partners, immersed themselves in piles of position papers, practiced remaining cool, and in the case of Romnney, memorized unforgettable zingers.

Their strategy and goals were necessarily different. Mitt Romney had to blame President Obama for everything that was wrong with America. For Obama, the goal was to justify his record, to sound like a president rather than a professor, and to explain the economic crisis was implemented by the same Republican policies advocated by Mitt Romney and conservative Republicans. 

Although debates can make or break an election, President Obama enjoyed a substantial lead of 3-5% in most polls a week before the debate began. His big mistake before the election was to fail to publicize the considerable accomplishments achieved by his administration. These included saving the auto industry, preventing a depression and bank run by helping the financial industry, creating thousands of jobs through government-sponsored programs, promoting the rights of American-born children of immigrants from deportation, supporting the rights of same-sex marriage, signing legislation that guaranteed women’s pay equity with men, promoting legislation, commonly called “Obamacare,” that will provide health care for almost all Americans, ending the “gag rule” that prevented funds for family planning around the world, supporting women’s reproductive choices and health, providing federal funds to Planned Parenthood, and promoting fairer loans to college students. 

Unfortunately, too few American knew about these accomplishments. Nor are they aware that those that failed were blocked by ideological Senate Republicans who fought his agenda of creating a greater stimulus, more assistance for students, protection for the children of immigrants, and dozens of other issues. 

But will the American people understand that Obama inherited an economic crisis and yet managed to steer the country from sliding into a full-blown depression? Or will they focus on the fact that he failed to help enough people who lost their homes, which gave many people the legitimate sense that this is an administration that doesn’t care about their lives. 

Mitt Romney, for his part, was busy practicing zingers, possibly because he has seemed so muddled and contradictory in the last months. In order to win the primary, he had to move to the far right, even criticizing the universal health care program he created in Massachusetts, promising to repeal Obamacare, and changing his view from supporting women’s reproductive choice to denouncing abortion. 

Now that he has to appeal to the entire country, as opposed to the Tea Party, he has begun to soften his attacks on Obamacare, even suggesting that some parts might be worthwhile. At the same time, his big mistake was to choose a vice-presidential candidate, Congressman Paul Ryan, Republican from Wisconsin, who famously wrote a budget that would replace Medicare—health care for Seniors-- for a private voucher plan, and whose tax plan would cut the taxes of the wealthy or, as they both call them, the “job creators.” 

Now, Mitt Romney must try to convince Americans that he feels their pain and cares about the middle class and “working families,” an American euphemism for the working class and the poor. But it’s probably too late. He has repeatedly said that people must take individual responsibility for their lives, even if they’re disabled or ill and that they should not expect the government to assist them. 

And viewers will easily detect any change in policy. Just recently, Mother Jones, an investigative magazine, released a video of Mitt Romney addressing wealthy donors at a $50,000-a-plate dinner. The video revealed Mitt Romney’s candid lack of concern or compassion for half the population. The GOP presidential nominee said that that forty-seven percent of Americans who support Obama are “victims " who are "dependent upon government" and "pay no income tax." He added, "My job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives." The video instantly went viral and undermined his last-minute efforts to describe himself as a candidate concerned with the problems of ordinary Americans 

As the debate began and the candidates started to spar, they carried all this baggage on to the stage. At stake were two views of which values should shape American society. Obama explained that government should be used to help the vulnerable and when the nation is in crisis. Mitt Romney, on the hand, has said people should not expect the government to provide them with health, food or shelter. Those words, of course, were meant for the Tea Party, not for the nation. At the debate, he instead tried to convince viewers that he’s a businessman who knows how to run a country, and that he would lower the debt, shrink the government, and protect the security and health of Seniors. Having chosen Paul Ryan as his partner, his words seemed disingenuous and deceptive. 

Most importantly, he did nothing to persuade women—who have given Obama a generous gender gap in the past---to vote for him. More women have consistently supported Obama because he has made it clear that every one of his policies seek to help families, support women’s rights, and educate their children. 

Among the expected 50 million people who watched the first debate were many men and women who have lost their jobs and homes, and live with anxious uncertainty about the future of their families. Mitt Romney said nothing that would reassure that he would help these people, the young or the elderly. 

Perhaps he will do better when the topic is not about the domestic security of the nation. 


Ruth Rosen, a former columnist for the Los Angeles Times and San Francisco Chronicle, is a Professor Emerita of History at U.C. Davis and a scholar in residence at the Center for the Study of Right-Wing Movement at U.C. Berkeley. Her most recent book was “The World Split Open: How the Modern Women’s Movement Changed America.” 


THE PUBLIC EYE: Why is Romney Losing?

By Bob Burnett
Friday September 28, 2012 - 02:33:00 PM

Thirty-nine days before the Presidential election, Mitt Romney doesn’t appear to be the formidable challenge to President Obama that many expected. Indeed, Romney’s ineptness has turned the tide in Obama’s favor. What happened? 

A year ago, when the slate of Republican presidential candidates formed, it was Mitt Romney versus the “seven dwarfs:” Bachmann, Cain, Gingrich, Paul, Pawlenty, Perry, and Santorum. Many observers believed Romney would roll over his opponents and quickly garner the Republican nomination. Instead, Rick Santorum won the Iowa caucuses and Newt Gingrich won in South Carolina. For an instant it appeared Mitt might not be the nominee; then he turned on his money machine and swamped the others. At the end of April the Republican National Committee declared Romney the presumptive nominee. 

Romney is a reengineered George W. Bush. Both men are the sons of successful Republican politicians; George Romney was Governor of Michigan; George H.W. Bush was President of the United States. Both were educated at elite schools and attended Harvard Business School. Both had a stint as entrepreneurs; Mitt being much more successful than Dubya. Both were governors; Dubya of Texas and Mitt of Massachusetts. And both fit the modern Republican profile of a successful candidate: millionaires with business experience and overt religiosity. 

Initially Romney’s campaign leveraged American dissatisfaction with the tepid economy by using the slogan, “Obama isn’t working.” Several polls showed Mitt leading the President. Then the wheels began to come off the Romney express. 

There are three explanations for the implosion. The first is that the Obama campaign was able to define the Republican candidate before Mitt could introduce himself to voters. Before the conventions, Democrats began running The Man from Bain commercials that explained how Mitt Romney actually made his fortune as a “vulture capitalist.” This heighted the perception that Romney’s business experience was not the sort needed to help out the middle class; the message was, “Mitt is a job destroyer not a job creator.” 

The Obama strategy caused the Romney campaign to go on the defensive. Mitt fought one media fire after another: the correct date for his departure from Bain Capital, his role there, his tax returns, and on and on. Then Romney selected Congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate. This move could have boosted the campaign but didn’t because Mitt was so vague on policy specifics, voters assumed the notorious Ryan Budget represented Romney’s thinking. 

Next came a string of epic gaffes. Romney went on a European tour and insulted the British security at the 2012 Olympics. On the home front, he claimed, “corporations are people,” and noted, “I like to be able to fire people who provide services to me.” On September 18th, MOTHER JONES magazine published a < href= http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/09/watch-full-secret-video-private-romney-fundraiser >tape of a private Romney fundraiser where Mitt observed, “There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what… who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them… my job is not to worry about those people.” 

Some believe Romney’s implosion reveals psychological problems. On the PBS News Hour New York Times columnist David Brooks observed, “And with Mitt Romney, he's faking it. I think he's a non-ideological guy running in an ideological age who is pretending to be way more ideological than he really is. And so he talks like he has this cartoon image of how [he’s] supposed to be talking. And, as a result, it is stupid a lot.” Political columnist Robert Kahn agreed, “…Mitt Romney's campaign has been so inept… Because the guy is acting, in the old style… He's trying so hard… to appeal to the increasingly repressive right wing, and their irrational arguments - that he can't do simple things, such as think.” Mitt comes across as inauthentic because he’s lost touch with his moral center. 

Writing in the NEW YORKER, journalism professor Nicholas Lemann noted a Romney character flaw: “[Mitt] combines an utter confidence in his ability to fix any problem with an utter lack of confidence that he can explain to people what he intends to do.” 

But there’s a fourth reason, Mitt’s egotism. A key difference between the first George W. Bush presidential campaign and the current Romney campaign is that Karl Rove managed Dubya, but no one manages Mitt. According to the New York Times Romney chose to have Clint Eastwood give his incoherent endorsement speech at the Republican National Convention. And, after the deaths of the US ambassador to Libya and three American staffers, Mitt decided to respond, “It’s disgraceful that the Obama administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.” 

Karl Rove managed Dubya’s decisions and public statements. Mitt doesn’t believe he needs that level of supervision. The parade of errors over the last five months shows that he was wrong. Romney’s hubris has subverted his campaign. Bob Burnett is a Berkeley writer. He can be reached at bburnett@sonic.net

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Prospects vs. Limitations

By Jack Bragen
Friday September 28, 2012 - 06:12:00 PM

When a person with mental illness, their family, or their treatment practitioners anticipate few prospects toward a career or other goal, it may be unnecessarily pessimistic. It can also become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Persons with mental illness and their families should have hope tempered with realism of a possible good outcome. Having optimism and the preparedness to try increases a person's chances that they will do something good in life. 

For those who hoped to do work of some kind and make a future for themselves, maybe encouragement would be better than premature hopelessness. For those who merely want some relief from their illness and to whom success doesn't matter as much, they should not be pushed into excessively hard work. 

If someone with a mental illness does not feel a pressing need to prove something in the world, and would rather focus on his or her recovery, they should not feel pressure to "do something" coming from this manuscript. The idea of "accomplishing something" (such as a job, a hobby, volunteer work, school) is only a suggestion and comes from an agenda that not everyone needs to follow. 

Depending on the severity of someone's illness and the level of his or her recovery, a person with mental illness can end up relatively capable or relatively limited. This sometimes translates into limited prospects in life. 

It can be depressing to face a disability that removes you from an arena in which you were once successful, or that prevents you from, in the first place, competing. It is not easy to face having limited prospects. 

A person who faces a major mental illness undoubtedly must live with some restrictions. Trying to act "as if" there were no disability could lead to a relapse. For example, adequate sleep for a person with mental illness is a must. Most persons with mental illness seem to also require more idle time than others. The things we must do to maintain wellness may draw on a considerable amount of time and energy. 

I had problems maintaining work in my twenties, and I realize in retrospect that it was largely a psychological problem rather than a limitation from the illness. I found myself in a negative pattern that I did not know how to escape. Not grasping the realities of work situations and not having enough clarity were factors. 

For one thing, I was choosing the wrong jobs. In my twenties it was relatively easy for me to get hired, but it was hard to do the work. I was unclear about the fact that in order to work at a job, I had to tolerate a significant level of discomfort. My emotional equipment wasn't working well enough to do that. 

When trying to gain success in the face of obstacles it is important to have clarity about what one is up against. A person can accomplish so much more when they do mental exercises or meditation to get the mind on the right track. This allows one's efforts to be grounded in reality. Thus you are working with people, places or things not as you imagine them, but instead, as they are. 

Numerous persons with a mental illness can do an honest self-assessment to determine where they have talent, and to determine in what areas they are more limited. Success is more likely to come from pushing the envelope in the areas that seem to work better. Had I not chosen writing, I would doubtless be doing or trying to do some kind of electronics or technical job. Most likely I would be self employed at this because the regular jobs in that industry are nearly all full-time, which is beyond my limit. 

If a person with a disability does not feel able to work at a nine-to-five job, and feels unprepared for several years of going to college, it does not rule out all accomplishment. A person could start a small business in an area within their forte. 

Becoming self-employed may be a better situation than regular employment for many people who follow a different drummer. In self-employment, it's good to pick a type of business that seems worth doing, even without the anticipated money. In today's economy, self employment is less promising than in the past and should perhaps be done with a goal of breaking even, and for the purpose of obtaining other benefits of being in business. 

The good thing about self employment for persons with disabilities is that you can tailor the structure of the business to suit your strengths and weaknesses. 

As an example of small business; starting a computer services business can be a very low overhead situation, since you do not have to rent a space, and you are only paying for advertising plus administrative costs. Unfortunately, a lot of people are doing this job; consequently you may need some kind of additional angle to get customers. Even getting one customer per week could make a significant augment to an SSI budget. 

It helps not to take success or failure too seriously. Excessive work ethic is bad for persons with mental illness (and those without) and can create illness or other problems related to stress. A person with mental illness should not be pushed to their extremes in the hope of excellence. Many persons with mental illness, if pushed excessively in the name of work ethic, end up having a meltdown rather than delivering more work. 

When dealing with a person with mental illness who has goals it's important not to make remarks that detract. It is hard enough for a disabled person to try to achieve their goal without needing to be discouraged on top of it all.

DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE: Syria and the Dogs of War

By Conn Hallinan
Friday September 28, 2012 - 02:39:00 PM

“Cry ‘Havoc,’ and let slip the dogs of war;

That this foul deed shall smell above the earth

With carrion men, groaning for burial”

Julius Caesar

Act 3, scene 1

William Shakespeare

“Blood and destruction,” “dreadful objects,” and “pity choked” was the Bard’s searing characterization of what war visits upon the living. It is a description that increasingly parallels the ongoing war in Syria, and one that is likely to worsen unless the protagonists step back and search for a diplomatic solution to the 17-month old civil war. From an initial clash over a monopoly of power by Syria’s Baathist Party, the war has spread to Lebanon, Turkey, and Iraq, ignited regional sectarianism, drawn in nations around the globe, and damaged the reputation of regional and international organizations.

Once loosed, the dogs of war range where they will. 

While the regime of Bashar al-Assad ignited the explosion by its brutal response to political protests, much of the blame for the current situation lies with those countries, seeing an opportunity to eliminate an enemy, that fanned the flames with weapons and aid: the US, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, plus a host of minor cast members ranging from Jordan to Libya. 

The results are almost exactly what Russia and China predicted when they warned about trying to force a regime change without a negotiated settlement: an opening for radical Islamists, a flood of refugees, and growing instability in a region primed to erupt. 

The war has claimed between 20,000 and 25,000 lives and wrecked havoc on a number of cities, including the country’s largest, Aleppo. Just who those casualties are is in dispute. While it is undoubtedly true that the Damascus government’s use of heavy weapons in urban areas has killed and wounded many civilians, the opposition has carried out extra judicial executions of Syrian soldiers and Assad supporters as well. 

“This is an asymmetrical war, and there is a degree of expansion of violations of international law by both sides that seems to be escalating,” says Kristalina Georgieva, UN commissioner for crisis response. 

The Damascus government has developed its own spin on the casualties, claiming they are not Syrians, but “foreign fighters.” There is no question that “foreign fighters” are involved, mostly Islamic jihadists from Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Libya, Jordan and Turkey, but most of the insurgents are Syrians. Truth is always the first casualty in a war, particularly a civil one in whch the protagonists are not always easy to define. 

The fighting has produced a refugee crisis, that while no where near the catastrophe generated by the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq—when four million fled their homes—it has still sent hundreds of thousands of people into neighboring Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. At last count the UN had registered almost 250,000 refugees, some 80,000 in Turkey, 70,000 in Jordan, close to 57,000 in Lebanon, and over 16,000 in Iraq. 

The uprising has also become increasingly sectarian. Syria has one of the most complex mélanges of ethnicities in the Middle East, although religion-wise it is mostly Sunni Muslim. There are, as well, Druze, a variety of Christian sects, and Alawite Muslims. The Alawites, who have dominated the Syrian military since French colonial days—the Assad family hails from the sect—is associated with Shiism, although it has a pre-Islamic history and is deeply rooted in the country’s western mountains. 

According to reporting by foreign media, jihadists are playing an increasingly powerful role in the fighting. “The Islamist groups, which are superbly financed and equipped by the Gulf states, are ruthlessly seizing decision-making power for themselves,” Randa Kassis, a member of the opposition Syrian National Council told Der Spiegel. “Syrians who are taking up arms against the dictator but not putting themselves under the jihadists’ command are being branded as unpatriotic and heretics.” 

While the Syrian National Council and the Free Syrian Army disavow the more extreme jihadists, the latter hold the whip hand because of their support from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the main source of weapons and funding. The rising number of car bombings is the signature of such al-Qaeda affiliated groups as the Al-Nusra Front. Speaking in Jordan Sept. 9, Al-Qaeda leader Abu Sayyaf called for a jihad against the secular Assad regime. 

French surgeon Jacques Beres, a founder of the humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders and recently returned from treating wounded in Syria, told Reuters that 60 percent of his patients were foreign fighters. “It’s really something strange to see. They are directly saying that they aren’t interested in Bashar al-Assad’s fall, but are thinking how to take power afterward and set up an Islamic state with Shariah law to become part of the world emirate.” 

The surge of extremism is not restricted to Syria. Iraq has been convulsed by bombings aimed at the Shiite community, killing over 300 people between July 21 and Aug. 18. On Sept. 9, almost 400 people were killed or wounded in 13 Iraqi cities. Alawites have been targeted in Turkey and Shiites in Lebanon, the latter a re-play of sectarian attacks five years ago in Tripoli by the Saudi-funded Fatah al-Islam. 

While Turkey’s Islamist prime minister, Recep Erdogan, is playing a key role in the war by supplying the rebels, Ankara is discovering that the dogs of war are ranging uncomfortably close to home. Iraqi-based Kurds, who have long fought for an independent state made up from parts of Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Iran, have stepped up operations against the Turkish military, and the Turks are apprehensive that Syria’s Kurds might join in. Turkey’s concern with its “Kurdish problem” might explain why Erdogan has toned down his rhetoric against Syria, though the explanation might be simple politics—Ankara’s involvement in the Syrian civil war is not popular with the average Turk. 

The conflict has also damaged the UN, though that is mainly the fallout from the organization’s role in the overthrow of the Gaddafi government in Libya. Moscow and Beijing backed UN Security Council intervention in Libya because they were assured that there would be an attempt to negotiate a political solution. The African Union (AU) had already begun such talks when the French started bombing and the war went full-tilt. 

The AU is still unhappy at the US, France and Britain over Libya, and the African organization’s warning that the collapse of Libya might fuel instability in other areas of the continent appears to be coming true. The current war in Mali is a direct result of the massive number of weapons that poured into the rest of Africa following the Libyan war, as well as the empowering of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, an extremist groups that played a role in overthrowing Gaddafi. 

As intractable as the Syrian war looks, there is room for a political resolution, but only if the protagonists and their supporters stand down. The Damascus government will have to recognize that one family rule went out with feudalism, and that its opponents have real grievances. On the other side, the opposition will have to drop its insistence that there will be no talks until the Damascus government resigns. A zero-sum approach by either side will simply translate into a continuing war. 

But this will also mean countries fueling the opposition with guns and supplies will have to back off as well. And those nations that constantly talk about the threat of “terrorism” need to confront the extremists’ financers. 

“The US and Israeli obsession with Iran has led Washington to turn a blind eye to the dangers posed by Saudi policy,” writes Anatol Lievan, a War Studies professor at King’s College, London, which “has helped lay the basis for Islamist extremism in Pakistan and elsewhere.” 

Other countries affected by the war, including Lebanon and Iran, need to be brought into the process as well. 

And, lastly, the role of regional and international organizations needs to be reconfigured. The Libya war damaged the AU, the Arab League and the UN because the political process was hi-jacked by NATO and Gaddafi’s enemies. The UN can play a key role in bringing peace, but not if it serves the interests of one side over the other. 

“The Western powers would be well advised to unite with Russia and China in putting maximum pressure on both sides to put up their arms and come to the table. Diplomacy, rather than war, is the only way to preserve what is left of Syria for its hard-pressed citizens,” says Patrick Seale, a leading British expert on the Middle East. 

The alternative is death and destruction, floods of refugees, religious extremism, restive minorities, and a divided international community. Such ground makes rich hunting for the dogs of war. It is time to bring them to heel. 

Conn Hallinan can be read at dispatchesfromtheedgeblod.wordpress.com and middleempireseries.wordpress.com

Arts & Events

Press Release: Neighborhood Informational Berkeley Candidates' Forum

From Laura Menard, South Berkeley/Lorin Neighborhoods
Wednesday October 03, 2012 - 10:59:00 AM

There will be a candidates' forum on Monday, October 15th, 2012 from 7—9 PM at the MALCOLM X SCHOOL AUDITORIUM at King and Ashby in South West Berkeley [enter from King Street]. 

This is the schedule:

7—8 pm: District 3 City Council


Max Anderson [incumbent]—has served for 8 years, www.re-electmaxanderson.org

Dmitri Belser---Executive Director, Center for Accessible Technology, Ed Roberts campus www.dmitri4council.com

8—9 pm: Mayor of Berkeley


Tom Bates [incumbent]---has served as Berkeley Mayor for the past 10 years www.tombates.org

Kriss Worthington—Berkeley City Councilmember for District 7 since 1996 www.krissworthington.com

Jacquelyn McCormack—Berkeley Budget SOS & founder of Berkeley Council Watch www.mccormick4mayor.com

Kahlil Jacobs-Fantuzzi—Oakland Middle School Teacher www.kahlil4mayor.org

Zachary RunningWolf—Native American Tribal Elder and Community Activist www.runningwolfformayor.org 

Make your VOICE heard. Bring your questions to ask the candidates. There will be an open mike for the widest possible participation.
[Keep each question to 1 minute in length, please]

Sponsored by South Berkeley/Lorin Neighborhoods

Berkeley Mayor and Council Candidates Debate on Sundays

From Nigel Guest
Friday September 28, 2012 - 05:22:00 PM

The Berkeley Neighborhood Council (BNC) is a recent off-shoot of the long-established Council of Neighborhood Associations. They are inviting the Berkeley mayoral candidates to a debate at the Community Campaign Center, 1551 University Avenue on Sunday, September 30th, and Councilmember candidates at the same venue on October 7th. 

The plan is to ask the mayoral candidates to explain their positions on each of the ballot measures as well as the Downtown Area Plan, the amount that UC pays to the City annually, the City's overall financial health and the West Berkeley Project in its entirety. If time allows, questions would then be taken from the audience in attendance. BNC will make a table available for each candidate to participate in an open-house from noon until 5 pm, and would hold the formal debate from 2-4 pm. 

The Councilmember debate will follow a different format. Each candidate will be given 3 minutes to introduce themselves and state why they are running for a council seat. That will be followed by the question period and finally they will be given 2 minutes for a closing statement. It will start with District 2 at 2:00pm, then move on to District 3 at 2:50pm, and finally end with District 5 starting at 3:25pm. Each candidate for Councilmember has received a list of questions they may be asked. The first question is obligatory and requires a simple answer, and any one of the others may be asked by the person who is chairing the debate. The rest of the questions will come from the floor in written form. 

Any questions should be emailed to Nigel Guest at neighbors@sufb.org .

Sarah Cahill in Berkeley Arts Festival Concerts Saturday, Tuesday

By Bonnie Hughes
Friday September 28, 2012 - 02:41:00 PM

The Berkeley Arts Festival has a treat in store for music lovers. In the space of four days this week Sarah Cahill will perform two piano concerts. 

At 8 pm on this Saturday, September 29, Sarah plays a program of rarely-heard and unpublished works by the great Californian trailblazer Henry Cowell and his students John Cage (in celebration of his 100th birthday) and Lou Harrison, including Cowell’s Hilarious Curtain Opener, Chaconne, Rhythmicana, and High Color, Cage’s In a Landscape, One, and Two Pieces from 1946, and Lou Harrison’s Summerfield Set, Tandy’s Tango, and Dance for Lisa Karon, among other works. 

At 8 pm on Tuesday, October 2, Sarah performs a classical program including Beethoven’s Sonata in E major opus 109, Bach’s English Suite No. 3 in G major, Debussy’s Pour le Piano, and works by Brahms. 

Berkeley Arts Festival, 2133 University Avenue, Berkeley. 

For more information: www.berkeleyartsfestival.com.

AROUND AND ABOUT MUSIC: Berkeley Symphony Opens With Dresher, Beethoven and Ives

By Ken Bullock
Friday September 28, 2012 - 03:26:00 PM

Berkeley Symphony will open its new season next Thursday, October 4, at 7 in Zellerbach Hall with Joana Carneiro conducting the premiere of noted Berkeley composer Paul Dresher's Concerto for Quadrachord and Orchestra, featuring his invention, a stringed instrument that can be plucked or bowed; Beethoven's 7th Symphony (1813) and Charles Ives' The Unanswered Question (1946)--as so often with Joana, a mix of the Romantic, the Modern and the contemporary. The Symphony's celebratory season opening dinner with Carneiro and Dresher will follow the concert. 

Tickets: $15-$48. 841-2800 ex. 1;  


Don't Miss This!

By Dorothy Snodgrass
Friday September 28, 2012 - 02:50:00 PM

As summer wanes, the autumn season brings with it the full beauty of October. The liquid amber trees in the bay area are now ablaze with red leaves. Ah, yes -- October has to be the most beautiful month of the year! But enough rhapsodizing -- with it comes a staggering line-up of musical and educational features that will make your head spin. 

Let's start with Cal. Performances, a day of free performances on the U.C. campus, starting Sun. Sept. 30th (so you'll have to act fast.) Concerts start at 10:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. and are held at Zellerbach Hall, Wheeler Hall and lower Sproul Plaza. 

"Top Dog", by Susan-Lori Parks. winner of the 2002 Pulitzer Prize, is playing at the Marin Theatre Company in MIll Valley. "An utterly mesmerizing evening of theatre", according to Variety. Brothers Lincoln and Booth are forever locked in a sibling sparring match by poverty, race and their names. 

The Mill Valley 35th Film Festival, featuring more than 200 films with bay area connections will be shown at 14 Throckmorton Theatre in Mill Valley and other Marin venues. Dustin Hoffman will be honored at the Festival as well as Billy Bob Thornton. Ben Affleck will be on hand on Oct. 5th for the premiere of "Argo" tense, real life thriller about Americans trapped in post-revoluionary Iran. (877) 874-6833. 

"The Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival", a free performance expected to draw more than 500,000 over the weekend. l0 a.m.- 7 p.m. Oct. 5 and 11 a.m. - 7 p.m. Oct. 6 and 7. www.strictlybluegrass.com

The William S. Paley Collection: A Taste for Modernism, de young Museum, Golden Gate Park, S.F. through Dec. 30. (415) 750-3600. 

"Rambling Reckless Hobo: A Tribute to Woody Guthrie," Oct. 7 & 8, Z Space, 450 Florida St., S.F. 

"Two Guys from Chicago: Dave Eggers and Daniel Clowers, Oct. 9, Z Space, 450 Florida St. S.F. 

"Berkeley Ramble", Brower Center, Magnes Museum, Berkeley. 1:00 - 5:00. 

Berkeley Symphony Opening Concert, Thur. Oct. 4, 7 p.m. Gala Dinner. Tickets start at $15. (510) 841-2800. 

"The Bride of Death", a one-act play starring Nancy French, set in a creepy mansion with unsuspecting visitors. The Hypnodrome, 575 10th St., S.F. through Nov. 17. www.thrillpeddler.com. 

"Lola: Berlin and Beyond." Castro Theatre, through Oct. 4th. Two important films of German cinema. www.berlinandbehond.com. 

Fourth Annual Underground Film Festival (full program of 50 films available on-line. www.oakuff.org 

Treasure Island Music Festival, Oct. 13 - 14. Facebook.com.Treasureisland.) 

"Central Nigeria Unmasked: Arts of the Benhue River Valley", sculpture, photographs and video. Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University, through Oct. 14. (650-723-4177), 

(Hope some of the above attractions strike your fancy!)

CENA Candidates' Night is Monday

Friday September 28, 2012 - 04:28:00 PM

Berkeley's Claremont-Elmwood Neighborhood Association is holding a candidates' night on Monday, October 1, from 7 to 9:30, at St. John's Church, 2727 College, in the Fireside room. Journalists from a number of publications, including the Berkeley Daily Planet, have been invited to question candidates for Mayor of Berkeley,

Berkeley For All Candidates' Forum
McGee Avenue Baptist Church in Berkeley, Thursday

Friday September 28, 2012 - 04:31:00 PM

On Thursday, October 4, 2012, Berkeley residents are expected to pack the sanctuary of McGee Avenue Baptist church in Berkeley. They will come to hear from candidates running for public office in the city of Berkeley. Much is at stake and every Berkeley voter must make an informed decision when they come out to vote on November 6. 

Confirmed Mayoral Candidates:
Mayor Tom Bates, Kahlil Jacobs-Fantauzzi, Jacquelyn McCormick, Zachary Running Wolf and Kriss Worthington.
Confirmed City Council District 2:
Adolfo A. Cabral, Denisha DeLane and Darryl Moore.
Confirmed City Council District 3:
Maxwell Anderson and Dmitri Belser.
Confirmed City Council District 5:
Laurie Capitelli and Sophie Hahn.
City Council District 6:
No show.
Confirmed School Board Directors:
Judy Appel, Norma J. F. Harrison, Tracy Hollander and Beatriz Leyva-Cutler.
Each candidate will have the opportunity to answer questions drafted by the community. At the end of the forum the candidates will have time to interact with the audience.
Who: Berkeley Organizing Congregations for Action (BOCA).
What: Community candidate's forum for Berkeley voters to make an inform decision on the November 6 elections.
Where: McGee Avenue Baptist Church
1640 Stuart Street, Berkeley, CA 94703
When: Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 6:00 p.m.
Why: There is much at stake at the local and state level. Important ballot measures that will decide the prosperity of our community. Berkeley voters must make an inform decision when they vote on November 6.
# # #
Berkeley Organizing Congregations for Action (BOCA) is a non-profit, faith based organization of 18 member congregations representing over 10,000 Berkeley families. We are a multi-Ethnic, cross-cultural, inter-faith and inter-racial group of ordinary people learning to become "leaders" in our community by putting our faith into action. We provide training in community organizing in order to empower our leaders to become activists for positive change in the areas of parent engagement in the public schools, health insurance for all Berkeley and California residents, fair and affordable housing for our families, just immigrant policies, and community safety.Trained BOCA leaders work to deepen relationships with public officials in order to achieve and uphold justice, Equality and dignity for every member of our community.

THEATER REVIEW: Theatre of Yugen's Remarkable Mystical Abyss

By Ken Bullock
Friday September 28, 2012 - 04:24:00 PM

In its 35th year, Theatre of Yugen has been bringing Japanese classical theater (Noh, the classical tragedy, and Kyogen, classical comedy, Noh's complement--together, as Nogaku, the oldest continuous theater form in the world) during that time to the Bay Area, and busy adapting modern plays to those rigorously physical styles and fusing them with other, sometimes radically different methods to come up with something new.  

Yuriko Doi, Yugen's founder, has cultivated her vision of the ancient and modern, a veteran of the "underu" underground Tokyo theater of the 60s, and longtime student of Kyogen master Mansaku Nomura and Noh principal Shiro Nomura. She has produced Yeats' 'Pugatory' as a kind of Noh play, Sophocles' 'Antigone' in a mixture of old Japanese styles, taken Garcia Lorca's 'Blood Wedding' and married it to both flamenco and Kabuki (with a Kabuki actor playing the ill-fated Bride in a deadly dance with a female flamenco Groom), as well as many other cross-cultural gratings on the branches of world theater, which have borne strange and delicious fruits indeed.

Now Doi, who stepped down as artistic director some years ago, is staging her valedictory piece, after years of work on it with an array of collaborators from all over--and it's only on through this weekend: the remarkable 'Mystical Abyss,' a combine of Japanese and Native American creation myths, with A Noh actor from Japan (splendid Masashi Nomura, son of Shiro, who devised his choreography, playing both a wrathful female spirit and the sun goddess, who recluses herself, taking light from the world), Noh musicians, a Mohawk musician-activist (steadfast Kenny Perkins), dancers from Ballet Folklorico in Mexico City, as well as old Yugen hands Lluis Valls (extraordinary as the turtle on whom the world rises from the primordial waters, morphing into a leather-jacketed narrator, reeling out Blake Street Hawkeyes co-founder John O'Keefe's delirious, slangy retelling of the old tales, and Yugen artistic director Jubilith Moore as an otter presiding over the Sky Woman's fall to earth at the beginning of things)--surrounded by a swirling, truly psychedelic (has that word its original meaning lately, outside of this?) scenographic display of animated shapes and colors, animal spirits and the movement of powers, by a team of animators from Japan.
It's like nothing, exactly, I've ever seen before--not a pageant, not "performance" or ritual art, though drawing in part from both, as well as wildly different styles of theater, dance and visual arts ... Something of its impulse and attack may be glimpsed in what Doi told me she was trying to say to the performers in rehearsal: to dance without meaning ... just in celebration of creation itself, I gather--the story and meaning of it would take care of itself, as these stories have since time immemorial.
The costumery, the lighting, the very rapt atmosphere in the ODC Theater all contribute to the wonderful feeling of something from the past projected forward into the future, taking us along with it as witnesses to what Jubilith Moore, in a reception after opening, said in honor of Doi--that she has a vision ... and here it is, for us to share.
I hope you will share it--but the run is short, the performers must leave for other commitments. 'Mystical Abyss' ends on Sunday.
(On Saturday, after the matinee and before the evening show, there's a Japanese crafts fair in the lobby at ODC, with interactive-participatory activities.)
Theatre of Yugen, 'Mystical Abyss,' Friday-Saturday nights at 7; Saturday afternoon at 3, Sunday afternoon at 2. ODC Theater, 17th Street at Shotwell, just off South Van Ness. $17-$45. (415) 863-9834; (415) 621-04507. theatreofyugen.org