The Nose on Berkeley's Yes on T Committee Grows Even Longer

By Becky O'Malley
Friday October 26, 2012 - 01:24:00 PM

Oy veh, as the wise men used to say in my old neighborhood. The election news just gets more and more annoying. A friend quotes her late father, complete with old country accent: “The shtupids, they’re everywhere.” Around the nation and even (or especially) here in Berkeley.

What’s even more annoying this week is how some participants in the political process have taken to making things up. At least in the last debate President Obama called out what’s-his-name on that big whopper about the non-existent apology tour.

Whoppers abound, there, here and everywhere this season. In Berkeley we have the coyly named Coalition for a Sustainable West Berkeley (listed in city filings as Coalition for a Sustainable West Berkeley for Measure T, hereinafter CSWBMT). They’ve been sending expensive glossy products to my house on a regular basis.

As documented here and also on berkeleyside.com, CSWBMT has claimed on a couple of their shiny mailers that they’re endorsed by Service Employees International Union 1021, the union local that represents public employees throughout Northern California.

And that was—a Giant Whopper, Berkeley-style.

How could this happen? Curiosity got the better of me last night, and I dropped in on a special meeting of Berkeley’s Fair Campaign Practices Commission, where I witnessed a remarkable performance which I might previously have thought could happen only in Chicago. -more-

The Editor's Back Fence

Planet Endorsements Now Online

Thursday October 25, 2012 - 10:40:00 PM

Okay, okay, okay, thanks for the emails and the calls asking where the short-form summary was--the last one was from my mother. The organized version of the official Berkeley Daily Planet endorsements can be found by clicking here. And thanks Jesse, Daniella and Mom for catching mistakes even before the Next Issue was officially published. -more-

Public Comment

New: Zoo Executives’ Backroom Deals on Measure A1

By Ruth Malone
Wednesday October 31, 2012 - 09:50:00 AM

Good government requires transparency and open public debate of the issues. The Brown Act was passed in 1953 to address concerns that governing bodies were avoiding public scrutiny by holding secret meetings. In 1968 the California Public Records Act furthered open government by requiring that records be disclosed to the public upon request. When open government is sidestepped and discussions and decisions occur in secrecy, bad public policy decisions may result. The placement of Measure A1 on the November 6 Alameda County ballot reveals how backroom negotiations are employed by politically connected players to try to suppress dissent-- at the expense of good government.

Measure A1 is a 25-year, irrevocable parcel tax measure apparently first discussed by the Alameda County board of supervisors at a retreat meeting on May 8th. However, neither the Agenda nor the Minutes of this meeting, which Zoo executives apparently attended, mention anything about the Oakland Zoo or a parcel tax measure, so the public would have no way to know such a measure was contemplated or to attend the discussion, much less to organize opposition. However, an article in the San Jose Mercury News (an out-of-county newspaper) reported on the tax measure discussion. After reading this article, Friends of Knowland Park repeatedly attempted to obtain copies of the materials discussed by the supervisors. They were told that no one knew anything about a Zoo parcel tax measure.

No mention of the measure ever appeared on any agendas or minutes until the July 24th meeting when the measure was approved for the ballot at the last possible moment, right before the summer recess. Because Measure A1 was likely to elicit strong public opposition, given the fact that the measure allowed the funds to be used to pay for a highly controversial Zoo expansion into unspoiled Knowland Park, it appears that the measure’s proponents hoped to get it on the ballot without opponents’ knowledge, thus increasing the chance that there would be no ballot argument against it. The plan would have succeeded, were it not for that article. (Thank goodness for what remains of our free, independent press!) -more-

New: Why I'm Voting for Max Anderson

Jane Stillwater
Wednesday October 31, 2012 - 08:14:00 AM

I love South Berkeley's new farmers' market location and look forward to shopping there every Tuesday -- but this last Tuesday? Not so much. Why? Because as I was happily browsing among the vegetables, a campaign worker for Dmitri Belser came up and verbally harassed me.

"Vote for Dmitri," she ordered me at first.

"Er, uh, sorry, but, er, actually I want to vote for Max Anderson..." Wrong thing to say! -more-

For the record: a message from your firefighters and police officers:

By James Geissinger President, Berkeley Fire Fighters Association
Monday October 29, 2012 - 03:17:00 PM

Time is short now to clear up some misinformation that’s crept into Berkeley’s political scene since the Berkeley Fire Fighters’ and Police Officers’ Associations both enthusiastically endorsed Sophie Hahn for District 5 councilmember: -more-

New: Support Change: Voting Recommendations

By Tim Hansen, with the help of friends
Wednesday October 31, 2012 - 10:20:00 AM

Many of us feel uneasy about the direction Berkeley is going. We believe it is time for a change. If one looks, the signs are everywhere:

New: Romney's Sense-Defying Proposals

By Jack Bragen
Monday October 29, 2012 - 03:32:00 PM

Having watched Mitt Romney on television including during the presidential debates, I believe he is a good person. It is noteworthy that President Obama and Governor Romney have both been civilized campaigners; and there does not appear to be any real animosity between the two. This is different than how it was when George W. Bush ran, both for election and re-election. The campaigns for and against George W. Bush did not refrain from nastiness, including the time in which the Supreme Court was involved. -more-

New: Vote NO on Measure A1? How could I ask you to vote against Animal Care?

By Anita Wah
Monday October 29, 2012 - 03:29:00 PM

Over the past three weeks, my mailbox has been inundated with glossy flyers and giant postcards exhorting me to vote YES on A1 for Animal Care, the 25-year parcel tax that would benefit the Oakland Zoo. One four-page flyer describes the pitiful state of the zoo’s infrastructure, including “plumbing and drainage systems [that] are over 40 years old” and “leaking reptile exhibits.” A second flyer exhorts me to “Help Our Animals & Kids” and features a handwritten message from Maya, age 10, who likes “going to the zoo” and pleads with me to “help take care of my friend Leonard.” It’s followed by a third flyer with a lovely photo of the majestic lion himself, detailing Leonard’s history of abuse before coming to the Oakland Zoo, and explaining the need for my tax money to buy him “milk & raw eggs.” A giant postcard arrives, with a cute lion cartoon assuring me that A1 will “provide animals with food & fresh water.” By the time the last postcard comes through the door, crying, “Leonard & Sandy Need You!” and reminding me that the money from A1 “Buys Lion treats,” I am wondering whether the folks from the Oakland Zoo inhabit an alternate universe. I can’t imagine how the Zoo could afford this expensive mail campaign when they are so financially strapped that they need a parcel tax to fund basics such as food, fresh water, and plumbing repair. -more-

No on Berkeley Measure S: Sitting on the Sidewalk is a Time-Honored Tradtion

By ChristopheRobin Byers
Sunday October 28, 2012 - 12:21:00 PM

One decision Berkeley voters will be making in the upcoming election is whether to make the simple act of sitting on the sidewalk illegal. Proponents of Measure S say it is needed, because people sitting on the sidewalk in Berkeley’s retail areas are discouraging people from patronizing local shops. They go so far as to suggest this is one of the main reasons why many local businesses cannot afford to hire new employees. I would argue that most of the troubles that both local merchants and the homeless experience have more to do with the current recession than anything else. -more-

West Berkeley Thrives as a Manufacturing Ecology

By Bernard Marszalek
Thursday October 25, 2012 - 05:19:00 PM

A house does not make a home. In the same way, only homes make a neighborhood. In both cases, human agency transforms the material into the social. -more-

Yes on Measure V: Let’s avoid the fate of California’s bankrupt cities

By Priscilla Myrick
Thursday October 25, 2012 - 04:59:00 PM

Recently two major California cities, Stockton and San Bernardino, have declared bankruptcy. Other cities are following suit. Maybe Stockton and San Bernardino needed a Measure V. -more-

The City of Berkeley's Borrowing

By Ted Edlin
Friday October 26, 2012 - 09:44:00 AM

Ever since the housing collapse the news outlets have been telling us about the bad behavior of people who refinance their mortgages and then take out a larger mortgage at a lower interest rate and take the difference in cash and go on a vacation. -more-

New: Election Year 2012

By Romila Khanna
Wednesday October 31, 2012 - 08:17:00 AM

Why are fact checkers not providing accurate information to the public regarding the candidates standing for election? We need to be very careful with our votes on November 6, 2012. If we don’t pay attention to electing the right President at this critical time, we will see the downfall of middle and low-income people. We need a President who speaks for the underprivileged and worries about their access to healthcare. We need a President who supports each citizen’s right to improve her or his situation, particularly through skills training, community colleges and four-year colleges. It is well-known that those who have the skills to make a living are not likely to take up lives of crime. The ultimate wealth of a nation consists of the spirit of all its people. Let’s elect a President who speaks for us all. -more-

“We Can’t Allow the People to Steal This Election!”

By Barb Weir
Thursday October 25, 2012 - 11:12:00 PM

Plucky megacorporations Chevron and American Beverage Association take on powerful grassroots activists Marilyn Langlois and Eduardo Martinez in Richmond, California. -more-

New: The Nobel Peace Prize for War

By Michael Parenti
Thursday October 25, 2012 - 05:29:00 PM

Those who own the wealth of nations take care to downplay the immensity of their holdings while emphasizing the supposedly benign features of the socio-economic order over which they preside. With its regiments of lawmakers and opinion-makers, the ruling hierarchs produce a never-ending cavalcade of symbols, images, and narratives to disguise and legitimate the system of exploitative social relations existing between the 1% and the 99%. -more-