The Week



New: Rent Board Slate Group Charged with Violating Berkeley Campaign Finance Laws (News Analysis)

By Rob Wrenn
Thursday October 25, 2012 - 04:23:00 PM

A slate mailer organization (SMO), Berkeley Tenants United For Fairness (TUFF), has used a major portion of the $25,000 in large contributions ostensibly given in opposition to Measure U, to finance two mailers largely devoted to support of the four rent board candidates on the TUFF slate that includes incumbent commissioner Nicole Drake. Berkeley law limits individual contributions to candidates to $250. -more-

Flash: Planet Endorsements Now Available Online

Thursday October 25, 2012 - 12:36:00 PM

Can't wait for the definitive list of Planet endorsements, due out in tomorrow's issue? Get a sneak preview by clicking here. -more-

New Complaint Filed about Yes on T Campaign in Berkeley

By Zelda Bronstein
Wednesday October 24, 2012 - 11:41:00 AM

On Tuesday, October 23, I amended my October 17 complaint to the City of Berkeley Fair Campaign Practices Commission about the Yes on T campaign to include a new complaint, this one dealing with the campaign’s violation of City law about mass mailings. -more-

Meeting Attendance an Issue in Rent Board Race

By Rob Wrenn
Friday October 19, 2012 - 02:44:00 PM

All four of the incumbent members of the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board whose four-year terms are up this year are seeking re-election. One of them, Nicole Drake, has a very poor attendance record.

The other three are running on the “Affordable Housing” slate selected at a convention of rent control supporters this summer. They are Asa Dodsworth, Judy Shelton, and Igor Tregub. They are joined on the Affordable Housing slate by Alejandro Soto-Vigil, vice chair of the City’s Housing Advisory Commission and a legislative aide to Councilmember Kriss Worthington.

The Committee for a Progressive Berkeley, an independent expenditure committee supporting the Affordable Housing slate, raised the issue of Nicole Drake's attendance in one of their mailers..What are the facts?

Here are the absentee rates for the four commissioners seeking reelection for the period beginning after the last election in 2010. The first table is for full Board meetings, both regularly scheduled and special meetings. The second is for attendance at meetings of the various committees that commissioners serve on, currently totaling nine.

Absentee Rates

Incumbent Rent Board Candidates

Regular and Special Board Meetings
Candidate Meetings Absent
Igor Tregub (AH) 0%
Asa Dodsworth (AH) 4%
Judy Shelton (AH) 4%
Nicole Drake (TUFF) 41%

Based on attendance at meetings from Dec. 2010 - Sept. 2012.
AH = “Affordable Housing” Slate; TUFF = “Tenants United For Fairness” Slate
Source: Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board,

Absentee Rates

Incumbent Rent Board Candidates

Committee Meetings
Candidate Meetings Absent
Igor Tregub (AH) 0%
Judy Shelton (AH) 0%
Asa Dodsworth (AH) 7%
Nicole Drake (TUFF) 64%

Based on attendance at meetings from Jan. 2011 – June 2012, the latest available online; does not include meetings with no minutes available
AH = “Affordable Housing” Slate; Tuff = “Tenants United For Fairness” Slate
Commissioners typically serve on 3 or 4 committees;
Source: Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board,

Nicole Drake, a legislative aide to Vice-Mayor Linda Maio, is running on a slate calling itself Tenants United for Fairness. Other slate members are Kiran Shenoy, an attorney and police review commissioner; Judy J. Hunt, a commissioner on the Alameda County Commission on Aging, and an owner of rental property; and Jay James, a mechanical engineer with no prior record of public service. The TUFF Web site, as of today, provides no information about how this slate was formed. -more-

Berkeley Mayoral Candidates Star in Neighborhood Forums

By Ted Friedman
Friday October 19, 2012 - 02:40:00 PM

The candidates have been honing their motivational speaking skills with each event.. Thursday at LeConte Elementary School was the fourth mayoral forum, and as far as anyone—including the candidates—knows this is the last. -more-

Fire Damages Berkeley's Good Shepherd Church

By Dan McMenamin (BCN) and Planet
Sunday October 21, 2012 - 10:57:00 AM

A two-alarm fire damaged the historic Good Shepherd Episcopal church in Berkeley on Saturday night, a fire dispatcher said. -more-

Updated: Who's Endorsing Whom and What in Berkeley and Elsewhere

By Linda Franklin
Sunday October 21, 2012 - 05:44:00 PM

Having trouble deciding how to vote? Here's an update to our chart showing which organizations have endorsed which candidates and ballot propositions and measures. -more-

Election News Elsewhere: New York Times Takes Up Sitting Ban

Saturday October 20, 2012 - 08:29:00 AM

There was a pretty good piece in the New York Times about attempts around the country to ban homeless people from city streets. Berkeley's Measure S was prominently featured, but there was a small but significant error in the story:

"The City Council and mayor have put a measure on the November ballot that would ban sitting and lying on commercial sidewalks from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., at the risk of a $75 citation." [emphasis added].

A major complaint of the Anti-S camp is that almost everything anyone could object to is already banned, including lying down, so Measure S is just a superfluous slap at the down-and-out. We've reported the error to the Times--let's see if they post a correction. -more-

Election News Elsewhere: Fraud Complaint Filed against Yes on Berkeley Measure T

Friday October 19, 2012 - 04:17:00 PM

Congratulations to Frances Dinkelspiel at for doing a thorough investigative followup on Zelda Bronstein's complaint against the Yes on T campaign for using fraudulent endorsements. -more-

Watch the Berkeley Election on Video

Friday October 19, 2012 - 03:53:00 PM

Previous Election Articles

Friday October 19, 2012 - 03:46:00 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, with editorial endorsements at the top of the stack. -more-

Who's Financing Berkeley Campaigns? A Easy Way to Find Out

By Thomas Lord
Friday October 19, 2012 - 03:43:00 PM

If you wonder who's paying for all the Berkeley campaign information you've been seeing around town lately, now it's easy to find out.

Here's where the council and mayoral candidate campaign finances stood as of 9/30, in an easy-to-browse format created for The Berkeley Almanac:

This link will get the same kind of information regarding Berkeley ballot measures, and more:

The information comes from the city of Berkeley campaign finance web site. -more-



Berkeley Can Be Better, but Some Voters Missed the Memo

By Becky O'Malley
Friday October 19, 2012 - 01:30:00 PM

The newsies (as we used to call them back when I was managing campaigns instead of reporting on them) are all excited right about now about what the “low information voters” are going to do in the presidential election.

That’s the new name for what have also been called “swing ” or “ independent” or “undecided” voters, and it’s a better choice. When I was doing what we used to call “door-to-door” campaigning (now militarized as “the ground game”) I learned that all of these terms usually meant “unlikely to show up at the polls”, so we concentrated instead on making sure that Our Guys showed up on election day.

But now I’ve met the newsies, and they is us. And for us newsies, now that election day is little more than a dozen days away, the poll action is around the dwindling number of “who me?” low information voters.

In Berkeley, as in many other places in the country, some people know exactly what they’re doing when they vote, and these sophisticated voters often take the option of voting early with absentee ballots. Unfortunately, Berkeley is also the home of an unusual number of voters who know an awful lot about a lot of things, but pride themselves on not knowing much about Berkeley—and they vote too, early and often, whether they need to or not. -more-


Odd Bodkins: Some Dead Guy (Cartoon)

By Dan O'Neill
Monday October 22, 2012 - 11:51:00 PM

Odd Bodkins: Whales (Cartoon)

By Dan O'Neill
Monday October 22, 2012 - 11:48:00 PM

Bounce: Ohm...... (Cartoon)

By Joseph Young
Monday October 22, 2012 - 11:55:00 PM

Public Comment

Complaint Filed with Berkeley’s Fair Campaign Practices Commission Regarding Yes on T’s Illegal/Fraudulent Endorsements

By Zelda Bronstein
Monday October 22, 2012 - 08:34:00 AM

In an effort to stem the rampant dishonesty of the campaign to rezone West Berkeley to profit a few big developers, as reported in the Berkeley Daily Planet and on, on October 17 I filed two complaints with the City of Berkeley Fair Campaign Practices Commission (FCPC). -more-

Religious Leaders Speak Out Against Berkeley’s Measure S

By Sally Hindman and 52 Signers
Friday October 19, 2012 - 04:03:00 PM

As religious leaders of diverse faith traditions, we stand united in opposition to the November 2012 ballot initiative in Berkeley, “Measure S,” making it illegal to sit on sidewalks in commercial areas.

Measure S violates deeply held religious convictions that call us to seek justice and compassion for all living beings. We must respect the humanity of our brothers and sisters and honor their dignity. Thus, we oppose the criminalization of homeless people.

Measure S will increase the persecution, ticketing and arresting of homeless people. If this inhumane law is passed, homeless people will be forcibly driven from one street corner to another by cruel threats and citations, when their urgent needs for shelter, housing, jobs and other resources go unmet. -more-

Jody London, Sankofa Academy and the Mysteries of the Oakland Unified School District, and a BILLION (Yes a Billion!) in Assessment Tax Bond Money from B and now J

By Robert Brokl
Monday October 22, 2012 - 10:48:00 AM

Maybe it was the $7,000 illuminated "monument" sign that did it. Trying to figure out how that appeared like a toxic mushroom on the lawn at Sankofa Academy, with its newly minted McDonald's color scheme of bright red and gold, led down the proverbial rabbit hole, leaving more questions than answers. The quest led to unsatisfying interactions with Dist.1 Oakland School Board member/Board President Jody London (of the thousands of lawn signs), disturbing conclusions about the apparent lack of much state oversight even for a school district just emerging from bankruptcy and state takeoever, and the mystery of how 10.1 million (and counting) can be spent on a "green tier" neighborhood school, as those nearby either close or get all the gold stars. Not to mention the questions about whether to support more money (Measure J and another $475 million) for the Oakland schools when we're not convinced the Measure B funds are being wisely spent or even monitored at Sankofa. And since understanding the Big Picture may only happen after analyzing the little one—Is the Sankofa story emblematic of bigger problems with schools and their funding in general in Oakland? (Sankofa Academy is not even mentioned regarding Measure J in the official Voter Information Pamphlet for the upcoming election, only its former incarnation as "Washington Elementary.") -more-

Press Release: Solution to Berkeley's Homeless Problem: Number the Homeless (A Modest Proposal)

From Karen Able
Friday October 19, 2012 - 11:19:00 PM

The “Measure S” campaign has morphed into a brutal back and forth pitting bleeding hearts against business buffs, but really is just a facade to deny homeless people their rights on both sides. Citizens for the Numbering of Homeless People calls for a return to the original purpose of the measure and announces a write-in campaign:

“Vote No on Measure S, Write-In for Measure #S!” -more-

Berkeley's Asinine Sitting Ban Measure

By Michael T. Pachovas
Friday October 19, 2012 - 03:15:00 PM

Once again the mayor and a majority of our esteemed city’s councilmembers have adorned themselves with their tiny pointed dunce caps in order to enact a ballot measure that would, if passed by the voters, ban Berkeley citizens and visitors from sitting on the “public” sidewalks. Obviously, well-dressed, pleasant, well-to-do folks who might bother to stop and sit down on a sidewalk will likely not be harassed by our civic minded boys-in-blue. Should you look like you can’t afford $4 to sit in one of our many cafes however, it will cost you $50 and considerable discomfort to do the same. -more-

Monsanto & Dupont Spend Big Money to Defeat Prop 37

By Glen Kohler
Friday October 19, 2012 - 04:12:00 PM

Are we going to allow the two largest contributors to the No on 37 campaign, Monsanto and Dupont -- who told us Agent Orange and DDT are safe -- convince us that we don't have a right to know what they're doing to our food? -more-

Berkeley Measure T's Misleading Ads

By Christopher Adams
Friday October 19, 2012 - 03:10:00 PM

Last week's mail brought a flyer asking for a yes vote on Measure T. It contains a picture of the West Berkeley Branch Library, now under construction on University Avenue next to a picture of children presumably in that library. The West Berkeley Library has absolutely nothing to do with Measure T. As someone who worked many hours to get the bond measure passed for the new branch libraries and who has worked many additional hours to raise additional private donations for the branch libraries, I find it appalling that the backers of this misguided measure would attempt to use the library for such purposes. -more-

Lies in Political Campaign Material

By Tree Fitzpatrick
Friday October 19, 2012 - 03:22:00 PM

Thanks for the story about the lies printed on material sent on behalf of folks supporting Measure T. This is a shameful, sickening story. -more-

Oakland’s Knowland Park Worth Saving: Vote NO on Measure A1

By Jane Molnar
Thursday October 18, 2012 - 05:05:00 PM

My children and I first discovered Knowland Park in the spring of 2009 when they were six, nine, and eleven. They were amazed that there was such a place – a pristine, beautiful space that felt boundless to them. Their first reaction was to run full-speed until they finally tired out. -more-


DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE: Japan’s Right: Going Nuke?

By Conn Hallinan
Friday October 19, 2012 - 03:25:00 PM

Behind the current impasse among China, Japan and Taiwan over five tiny specks of land in the East China Sea is an influential rightwing movement in Japan that initiated the crisis in the first place, a crisis it is using it to undermine Japan’s post-World War II peace constitution and, possibly, break the half-century taboo on building nuclear weapons. -more-

ECLECTIC RANT: Remembering the 1983 Bombing of the Marine Barrack in Beirut

By Ralph E. Stone
Friday October 19, 2012 - 03:30:00 PM

October 23 is the 29th anniversary of the 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, by Lebanese terrorists directed and controlled by Iran. The attack killed 241 American servicemen (220 Marines, 16 Navy personnel, and 3 Army soldiers). It was the deadliest single-day death toll for the Marines since the World War II battle of Iwo Jima. -more-

THE PUBLIC EYE: Obama Revives, Wins Second Debate

By Bob Burnett
Thursday October 18, 2012 - 04:58:00 PM

Thirteen days after the initial presidential debate, the candidates faced off again. The same Mitt Romney showed up but his opponent was a transformed Barack Obama. At the October 3rd debate the President was listless and defensive; on the 16th he was energized and positive. As a consequence, Obama won decisively. -more-

SENIOR POWER … Here's to The Ladies Who Lunch

By Helen Rippier Wheeler
Friday October 19, 2012 - 02:56:00 PM

Here's to The Ladies Who Lunch. Everybody laugh. Off to the gym, Then to a fitting, Claiming they're fat. And looking grim,

And here's to the girls who play smart-- Aren't they a gas? Rushing to their classes In optical art, Wishing it would pass. Another long exhausting day, A matinee, a Pinter play,

And here's to the girls who just watch-- Aren't they the best? When they get depressed, It's a bottle of Scotch, Plus a little jest. Another chance to disapprove, Another brilliant zinger, Another reason not to move, Another vodka stinger.

So here's to the girls on the go-- Everybody tries. Look into their eyes, And you'll see what they know: Everybody dies. A toast to that invincible bunch, The dinosaurs surviving the crunch. Let's hear it for the ladies who lunch-- Everybody rise!

Stephen Sondheim, now eighty-two, drank to all that and more for Company, his brilliant 1970 musical comedy. Yes, I abridged it a bit. -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Definition of "Recovery"

By Jack Bragen
Thursday October 18, 2012 - 05:02:00 PM

When we hear the word "recovery" we probably think of a state in which a disease is gone. For example, recovery from cancer implies that someone has gone through chemo, surgery, or perhaps radiation, and the tumor is gone-the person is cancer free. If someone has recovered from a case of the flu, we expect that the person no longer has flu symptoms, and that the flu virus in their system has been subdued by their immune system. -more-