Full Text

Carol Denney, before she was cited for obstructing the walk. Her band, "Failure to Disperse,"  accompanies her. Left to right, Jim Nelson, Denney, Hali Hammer, who wrote Kriss Worthington's campaign for mayor song.
Ted Friedman
Carol Denney, before she was cited for obstructing the walk. Her band, "Failure to Disperse," accompanies her. Left to right, Jim Nelson, Denney, Hali Hammer, who wrote Kriss Worthington's campaign for mayor song.


Flash: Berkeley's Measure T is All Tied Up

Thursday November 08, 2012 - 04:33:00 PM

Can you believe it? Now Berkeley Measure T, special planning for several large landholdings in West Berkeley, is totally tied, with Yes and No each getting almost exactly 50% of the vote. More votes still outstanding, of course. At the Alameda County Registrar of Voters' office, Phillip (he didn't want to give his last name) said that they hope to be finished counting, including thousands of provisional ballots "before Thanksgiving". Jeff, another worker there, said that they need to enter all the vote by mail ballots first, and then check the provisional ballots to make sure the voter hadn't already voted by mail. He thinks there will be another update tomorrow. 


Contest # of Votes % of Total
Yes 16640 50.00
No 16639 50.00

Many Votes Yet Uncounted, But Turnout Lower than 2008

By Sasha Lekach (BCN)
Thursday November 08, 2012 - 12:24:00 PM

Although many vote-by-mail and provisional ballots have yet to be counted, Bay Area counties are projecting strong voter turnout for Tuesday's presidential election, however numbers are expected to be below those from the 2008 race. 

In Alameda County, 78 percent of voters cast their ballots in 2008 when President Obama faced Arizona Sen. John McCain. 

As of mid-afternoon today, voter turnout for this year's presidential race in that county was almost at 50 percent, but election officials anticipated that number to jump to about 70 percent. 

The Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters has yet to release completed voter turnout information, but as of this afternoon the county counted 53 percent of registered voters had marked a ballot. 

The 2008 election saw more than 85 percent voter turnout in that county. 

With more than 35,000 vote-by-mail and provisional ballots left to count, Solano County was at a 56.9 percent turnout for this year's election. 

Voters came out in droves in 2008, reaching nearly 85 percent turnout. 

Marin County election officials said they are expecting anywhere from 80 to 85 percent turnout after all the vote-by-mail and provisional ballots are accounted for. 

As of mid-afternoon, an election official said there about 46,000 more of those types of ballots to process with voter turnout standing at just more than 55 percent. 

Voter turnout was high in 2008 at more than 90 percent, which a Sonoma County election official said this afternoon was a number unlikely to be reached in this election. 

Sonoma County voters had high voter participation in the 2008 election with 93.4 percent casting a ballot. Unofficial results for this year have turnout at 68.2 percent. 

San Mateo County election officials expected turnout to be slightly below 2008's nearly 79 percent participation. 

Today, 56.5 percent voter turnout was recorded, however officials expected the number of voters to jump up to more than 70 percent. 

California Secretary of State Debra Bowen said in a statement today that ballots would be processed for about the next month, with official results, including turnout, pending. 

"It's understandable some people want election returns immediately, but it's more important than ever to get results right rather than get results fast," Bowen said. 

The chief elections official also noted an increase of vote-by-mail ballots, which require more time to be processed. 

For more information about election results visit vote.sos.ca.gov.

UC Berkeley Announces New Chancellor

By Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Thursday November 08, 2012 - 12:17:00 PM

University of California President Mark Yudof announced today that he has chosen Nicholas Dirks, Columbia University's executive vice president, to serve as the new chancellor of UC Berkeley. 

If the UC Board of Regents approves the appointment at a special meeting later this month, Dirks will succeed Chancellor Robert Birgeneau on June 1, 2013, and will become the university's 10th chancellor. 

Birgeneau, 70, who has been chancellor since September 2004, announced in March that he would step down at the end of the year but he has agreed to serve through next May. 

UC officials said Dirks, 61, who is the Franz Boas Professor of Anthropology and History at Columbia, the dean of that university's faculty for Arts and Sciences and the author of three books on India, emerged as the top candidate after a six-month search. 

The candidate screening and interview process involved an advisory committee of UC faculty, students, staff, regents, alumni and foundation representatives. 

Yudof said in a statement, "Nicholas Dirks is a highly accomplished leader with the sensibilities and knowledge of a humanist, as well as extensive fundraising, academic and administrative expertise. I'm confident he will be a great fit for UC Berkeley." 

"His global perspective, leadership of diversity efforts at Columbia and experience with both public and private universities will serve him and the campus well," Yudof said. 

UC officials said that as executive vice president for Columbia's Arts and Sciences since 2004, Dirks has overseen the academic administration, operational and financial management and overall direction of 29 departments for the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences and six schools. 

Dirks said in a statement, "This is an opportunity I embrace with both excitement and humility. I have immense respect for the countless accomplishments of faculty, students and staff at what I consider to be the premier public research university in the world." 

"I look forward to becoming part of the UC community and to contributing all that I can to the further evolution of a campus that is a beacon of excellence, innovation and aspiration for California, the nation and the world," he said. 

Dirks went to Columbia in 1997 to chair its Department of Anthropology. Before that, he taught history and anthropology at the University of Michigan. He also taught Asian history at the California Institute of Technology for nine years. 

Dirks' late father, J. Edward Dirks, served as vice chancellor and dean for humanities at UC Santa Cruz in the 1970s, and his mother is a longtime California resident, according to UC officials. 

Dirks graduated with a bachelor's degree in African and Asian Studies from Wesleyan University in 1972, then earned a master's degree in 1974 and a Ph.D. in 1981 from the University of Chicago in the Department of History, focusing on South Asian history. 

He was born in Illinois but grew up in North Haven, Conn. He and his wife, Columbia history professor Janaki Bakhle, have a 13-year-old son. He also has a grown daughter from a previous marriage.

Fate of Berkeley Measure T Is Still Not Sealed;
No on S Maintains Lead

By Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Wednesday November 07, 2012 - 09:40:00 PM

The fate of a ballot measure that would allow more flexibility in the development of large parcels of land in West Berkeley remained up in the air in updated election results released late this afternoon.

Measure T, which would amend the West Berkeley Plan and the city's zoning ordinance for areas west of San Pablo Avenue, is trailing by only 26 votes, or 50.04 percent to 49.96 percent.

The gap in the results posted by the Alameda County Registrar of Voters shortly after 4 p.m. is smaller than the 123-vote margin in the results announced shortly after midnight.

It will take several more days to count additional vote-by-mail and provisional ballots, voting officials said.

Countywide, about 85,000 vote-by-mail ballots and 40,000 provisional ballots still need to be tabulated. Voting officials don't have a breakdown of how many of those are from Berkeley. 

Measure T would allow buildings 75 feet high on six large parcels in West Berkeley. However, projects couldn't be built until the City Council adopts rules requiring developers to provide some sort of undefined community benefits, such as affordable housing or job training requirements. 

Supporters say the measure would create jobs and allow property owners to develop unused lots with the potential to generate millions of dollars in revenue to the city to pay for enhanced amenities and services to the community. 

But opponents say big new buildings would create an eyesore in the area and force rents to increase, making it less affordable for artists who currently work in the area. 

The gap also narrowed slightly today in the margin against Measure S, which would ban sitting on sidewalks in the city's commercial areas from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. 

The measure trailed by 1,055 in the results announced just after midnight but the margin decreased to 1,101 votes in the updated tally late this afternoon. However, Measure S still faces an uphill battle because it trails by 51.4 percent to 48.6 percent. 

Supporters say the measure is needed to reduce the number of street people who loiter in front of stores because they scare customers away and hurt business. 

But opponents say the measure discriminates against people who happen to be poor and the city already has an ordinance that prohibits people from lying on the sidewalk during daytime hours.

Outcome of Measure S, Measure T and Rent Board Still in Doubt as Many Votes Remain to be Counted (News Analysis)

By Rob Wrenn
Wednesday November 07, 2012 - 08:58:00 AM

It appears that many votes in Berkeley have yet to be counted. A quick comparison with 2008 election results shows that either there was an extraordinary drop in turnout in Berkeley or as many as 25,000 votes have yet to be counted.

For instance, the final results from 2008 show at total of 56,270 votes cast for mayor. So far the results from Berkeley show only 32,661 votes cast for mayor.

Votes remaining to be counted would include absentee ballots dropped at the polls and provisional votes cast at the polls. It probably also includes some other absentee ballots, perhaps those that arrived at the county closer to the election. 

Voters who voted at the polls rejected both Measure S and Measure T. Initial absentees favored both measures. When all the votes are counted, both Measure S and Measure T may pass. The initial absentees favored Measure T by a relatively narrow 53.41%, but Measure T is now losing 15,867 to 15,744. That 123 vote edge could disappear when all the votes are counted. 

Similarly, Measure S is now losing 17,411 to 16,356; Measure S was favored by about 58% of the initial absentee votes reported at the beginning of the count last night. 

In the Rent Board race, Judy Shelton and Asa Dodsworth from the Progressive Affordable Housing slate are in first and third place with 12,373 votes and 10,874 votes respectively. In second place is Judy Hunt from the TUFF slate with 11,525. They are all likely to win when all the votes are counted. 

Alejandro Soto-Vigil, of the Affordable Housing slate, is in fourth place with 10,370 votes, followed by Igor Tregub, on the same slate, with 10,248, and incumbent TUFF slate member Nicole Drake with 9799. Further behind are Kiran Shinoy and Jay James of the TUFF slate with 8386 and 7122 votes respectively. It’s possible that Nicole Drake will garner fourth place, which would result in two members of each slate being elected. But Soto-Vigil or Tregub might also win the fourth slot when all the votes are counted. 

There is also a slim chance that the bond measure for the pools, Measure N, might pass when all the votes are counted. Right now it is at 19,901 yes to 12,134 no. That's 62.12% yes, but the measure needs two-thirds. 

Stay tuned for updates. Hopefully county officials will, sometime today, be able to estimate the number of votes remaining to be counted in Berkeley.

Berkeley Measure T in Narrow Loss?

Wednesday November 07, 2012 - 07:23:00 AM

Final results posted at the office of the Alameda County Registrar of Voters seem to show Measure T, which attempted to re-zone several large property holdings in West Berkeley, losing by a narrow margin. 


No 15867 [50.19%] 

Yes 15744 [49.81%]

Flash: Berkeley Measure S Seems to Be Defeated

Wednesday November 07, 2012 - 07:16:00 AM

Based on totals supplied by the Alameda County Clerk's office early this morning, Berkeley voters, by more than a thousand votes, rejected an attempt to make sitting down on the city's commercial sidewalks illegal. The measure was backed by more than $110,000, largely supplied by big commercial property interests. The "No on S" campaign was carried by citizen volunteers on a much lower budget of contributions from private individuals. 

The final vote report: 

No: 17411 (51.56%) 

Yes: 16356 (48.44%)

Berkeley Rejects Change on City Council:
All Incumbents Re-Elected
Tenants' Slate Ahead for Rent Board

Wednesday November 07, 2012 - 07:31:00 AM

Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates garnered a majority vote to secure his long-held position for another term, and all the other incumbents on the city ballot were also re-elected. Three of the tenant-backed slate candidates appear to have won seats on the Berkeley Rent Board.  

The mayoral results: 

Tom Bates 18057 55.29 

Kriss Worthington 6956 21.30 

Jacquelyn McCormick 3681 11.27 

Bernt Rainer Wahl 1383 4.23 

Kahlil ''Da Mayor'' Jacobs-Fantauzzi 1370 4.19 

Zachary Runningwolf 1211 3.71 

Write-in 3 0.01 

For final tallies in all local races: 

Rent Stabilization Board Commissioners - Berkeley 


School Directors - Berkeley 


Mayor - Berkeley (RCV) 


Member, City Council, District 2 - Berkeley (RCV) 


Member, City Council, District 3 - Berkeley (RCV) 


Member, City Council, District 5 - Berkeley (RCV) 


Member, City Council, District 6 - Berkeley (RCV) 

Flash: Up-to-the-Minute
Berkeley Election Results

Tuesday November 06, 2012 - 11:20:00 PM

Use these links to get all the official up-to-the-minute Berkeley election results from Alameda County.

Be warned: these early results are primarily from permanent absentee ballots.

Results from polling places are almost never available until 11 p.m. at the earliest, sometimes even later.

Refresh your browser to make sure you've got the latest results, but don't be surprised if nothing much has changed.



Flash: Berkeleyans in Ohio
Report Obama Victory

By Becky O'Malley
Monday November 05, 2012 - 08:38:00 PM

Berkeley's Jackie DeBose, temporarily living in Akron, Ohio, has been working hard for Obama there for the past few months. She reports that in her area there have been long lines in the predominantly African-American precincts all week--so local Democrats are sure they've carried the state. It's been a hard struggle, with extensive voter suppression efforts by the Republican-dominated state government. Early voting has been proceeding under court order, but Jackie says that opening and closing hours have changed every day, making it hard for voters to know when they could vote. Nevertheless, when I talked to her at 6 o'clock, she and her husband, CSU Emeritus Professor Charles DeBose, were on their way out the door to a couple of victory parties. And Ohio is the key swing state that Obama needs to win nationally.

UPDATE: She's right, he won!

Updated: Berkeley Council Candidate Capitelli's Aide Accused of Trespassing at Home of Rent Board Candidate in Search for Signs

By Becky O'Malley
Monday November 05, 2012 - 10:09:00 PM

Alejandro Soto-Vigil, a candidate for the Berkeley Rent Board and aide to Councilmember Kriss Worthington, charged last night that an aide to Councilmember Laurie Capitelli violated state law by entering his private property without permission while Capitelli waited at the site in a car. 

California Penal Code Section 602(k) defines criminal trespassing as entering any property without the owner’s consent with the intent to agitate or intimidate the owner. Conviction of criminal trespassing is a misdemeanor and is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000. 

Soto-Vigil said that his wife told him that she saw Councilmember Capitelli, running for re-election against challenger Sophie Hahn in District 5, sitting in a car watching while his aide and campaign manager Pam Gray searched the contents of the Soto-Vigil family’s recycling bin at the side of the house and took photos of the contents. Soto-Vigil said that his wife confronted Gray who then left the premises. 

Soto-Vigil said that he later called Capitelli, who admitted to him that he and Gray had entered the Soto-Vigil property looking for damaged signs. 

Soto-Vigil explained that there were a number of torn-up paper campaign signs in the bin, including some belonging to his allies in the rent board race and to other candidates in various races, which he’d found on the ground while picking up the metal wire holders left after signs were destroyed. He said he re-uses the wires to save a dollar when he replaces his own signs. 

Soto-Vigil filed a police report with the Berkeley Police Department regarding the trespassing incident, but he told the Planet that he doesn’t want to press charges, but is just asking for an apology from Capitelli. 

He said that during this campaign he’d come to regard signs on public property as a public nuisance, and that as a Sierra Club-endorsed candidate he thought he should oppose their use after this election is over. 

Capitelli told the Planet on Tuesday morning that he and Gray were delivering materials to Soto-Vigil's neighbor when they noticed what looked like campaign signs spilling out of the family's recycling bin. He said they'd walked over to take a look, and confirmed that what they saw were indeed signs. He said that they'd decided "for a variety of reasons" not to file a stolen property report accusing anyone of stealing the signs.

In Berkeley, Standing Up For Your Right to Sit Down Is Already a Crime

By Ted Friedman
Sunday November 04, 2012 - 11:00:00 PM
Musician Carol Denney is cited Sunday at Telegraph/Haste, for obstructing walk.
Ted Friedman
Musician Carol Denney is cited Sunday at Telegraph/Haste, for obstructing walk.
Sgt. Mary Kusmiss, watch supervisor, shows up to supervise.
Ted Friedman
Sgt. Mary Kusmiss, watch supervisor, shows up to supervise.
Carol Denney, before she was cited for obstructing the walk. Her band, "Failure to Disperse,"  accompanies her. Left to right, Jim Nelson, Denney, Hali Hammer, who wrote Kriss Worthington's campaign for mayor song.
Ted Friedman
Carol Denney, before she was cited for obstructing the walk. Her band, "Failure to Disperse," accompanies her. Left to right, Jim Nelson, Denney, Hali Hammer, who wrote Kriss Worthington's campaign for mayor song.

In Berkeley Standing Up For Your Right to Sit Down may be a crime, and it becomes a crime if a cop says it is.

In this case, the police incident was just the latest in a series of continuing crackdowns, since a two-man telegraph foot/bike patrol set out to "set parameters, and establish protocols." Most street kids understand: they cooperate.

Carol Denney is no street kid. She went to the streets Sunday, as one last protest against Measure S, which would ban sitting (even on chairs) on sidewalks in commercial districts She got a ticket (BMC ch.14.48.020, obstructing foot traffic) for sitting on Teley.

You could say Denney, of “Failure to Disperse," an acoustic road show band, the event organizer, sat down for her right to sit down at Telegraph and Haste performing music 

She was first asked to move, then was cited for obstructing the sidewalk. At first it seemed Denney, would, implausibly, comply with officers’ requests, but then she got that satiric gleam in her eye, and said, "You know what, I’m taking that ticket. Cite me." 

The police just give out the tickets and write the incident report—a district attorney decides whether to charge. Denney was not detained after she was cited. 

At one time, two Berkeley police officers and a shift supervisor went into action against the musicians. 

Next door to the protest, and in the empty lot where the Berkeley Inn used to be, volunteers were cleaning and repairing the 1996 "Let a Thousand Parks Bloom," mural. They widened the grates of the heavy iron fence to get onto the property. We haven't yet asked the owner of the lot whether they had permission. And who cares anyway? Not the cops. 

A man behind a small table who was passing out Oscar Grant Coalition information (which accuses Oakland police of murder) was warned (obstruction) but not cited, he told me, because he had convinced police he had the right to distribute his info. 

We have seen officers watching from across the street as sitting-ban protesters lay in the street. But that was last year, before the crackdown. 

Osha Neumann, Berkeley's acclaimed muralist (co-credit, world-renowned Peoples Park mural) and civil liberties attorney could not get the officers to back down. His famous mural was behind him as he spoke with police on behalf of the demonstrators' civil liberties.. 

There were jeers from a crowd which had gathered, saying, "there was no crowd until the cops came" In fact, I have some photos corroborating their observation. 

Nevertheless, it's the cop's call anywhere but Berkeley where disrespecting cops is the local sport . 

I talked, later in the evening, to one of the three officers in the crackdown. She said that she commutes daily from the South Bay and loves working in Berkeley. She said the bust earlier in the day, was just routine. "You've seen us out regularly writing people up," she said. 

And I have. 

By evening Denney was saying that we have Officer Cole to thank for demonstrating so beautifully today that the police don't need any new laws. When they want to shut down a constitutionally protected demonstration or target a well-known activist, any law, creatively used, will do. 

That's just what they do. 


Where Do I Vote?

By Harry Brill
Monday November 05, 2012 - 08:54:00 AM

If you come across anyone (in California) who doesn't know where to vote, the Yes on Prop 30 Campaign has made it easy.. Click the web address below, write in the address where the person lives, and then click right below.


Updated: Berkeley Mayoral Candidate Running Wolf Jailed for Stickering a Garbage Can

By Ted Friedman
Sunday November 04, 2012 - 11:11:00 PM
Garbage can electioneering, or how to get busted?
Ted Friedman
Garbage can electioneering, or how to get busted?

Blackfeet Indian elder Zachary Running Wolf Brown, 49, a notorious Berkeley/Oakland protester with more than ninety scalps on his arrest belt, was busted last week for stickering a city-owned garbage can. 

Brown, a dark horse candidate for mayor of Berkeley, showed us his official-looking arrest document, and charged that the Berkeley Police Department had targeted him for his unrelenting campaign stumping, which in turn targeted Berkeley Police Chief, Michael K. Meehan and his department. 

Brown said his latest bust took him off the campaign hustings for days, and that an Alameda superior court judge released him on his own recognizance Thursday, saying, according to Brown, that it was "un-American" of BPD to interfere with a political candidate. 

The cops asked the D.A. for a warrant, which could have severely restricted him. According to Brown, the judge didn't go for it. 

Brown has, at six mayoral forums, called for firing the chief, and reducing the force. Brown has said that the Chief "killed that guy in the hills," and that the chief is "unpopular with the troops." 

The guy in the hills was Peter M. Cukor, 67, who was killed February 18 outside his hillside home overlooking S.F. Bay by a mentally-ill young Alamedan. 

Cukor's family filed a wrongful death suit, June 20, against the city of Berkeley for allegedly neglecting to protect Cukor after he called for police assistance. The accused murderer has been ruled incompetent to stand trial. 

According to Brown, he was handcuffed last week a full block from the garbage can displaying the offending sticker.  

"Anyone could have put it there," Brown told me. "They targeted me for my criticisms of the department," he charged. 

This will be a difficult charge to prove, according to anyone who has ever tried to prove anything in a court of law. 

We asked Sergeant Jenn Coats, BPD public information officer, whether the decisions to arrest law-breakers were by command of a superior or made at the crime scene. She wrote: 

"Berkeley Police Officers can decide to make arrests without supervision. Officers have the authority to arrest individuals if they have probable cause to believe a criminal act has been committed in their presence." 

"Occasionally, supervisors will respond to locations based on the incident. Supervisors also provide guidance, as needed by the officer. Arrest reports are later reviewed by supervisors for approval." 

Brown was arrested at Dwight Way and Fulton, near his boyhood Berkeley home. 

But who is targeting whom, as Brown takes the warpath against Berkeley police? 

Brown was back on the warpath Sunday at what seems to be the last mayoral forum, this one at a Cal student dorm. As campaign 2012 breathes its last, what's next a forum in a tea cup? 

Friday, Brown was preparing to claim his bicycle at BPD, so he could chalk-up "Oscar Grant Plaza" in front of Oakland City Hall, in what he called a "chalk-a-thon." 

He also sought the return of four-hundred half-postcard-size campaign stickers and some spray paint BPD took from him, he said. 

Brown told me he will sue BPD. 

Although Brown was not represented in court, Thursday, he has been represented as recently as two years ago by the San Francisco civil-liberties attorney, Tony Serra, or Serra's associate, Omar Figoaura. Serra represented Brown during his Memorial Stadium three-year tree-sit from 2006 to 2008. 

Brown said he had spent the better part of Wednesday and Thursday in the Berkeley jail, where he said they called him "mayor," and boasted of the bust, awaiting a hearing at Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse in Oakland. 

According to Running Wolf, as he is known on Berkeley's Southside, a crime scene van arrived to photograph the crime scene in a possible replay of Arlo Guthrie's bust, near Alice's Restaurant. 

Now-incumbent Mayor Tom Bates survived stealing onethousand Daily Californians which endorsed his opponent in 2002, with his election intact. 

Ted Friedman, the Voice of the South side, is scratching his head over this latest Running Wolf legend-in-the-making.  



The Planet's November 6 Ballot Recommendations

By The Berkeley Daily Planet Editorial Board
Friday November 02, 2012 - 09:59:00 AM

Below you'll find a list of the Planet's endorsements for the November 6 election. 

State Propositions:

30 Temporary Taxes to Fund Education. Guaranteed Local Public Safety Funding. Initiative Constitutional Amendment. YES. Jerry Brown’s Last Chance: badly needed and the best choice if you only vote for one.

31 State Budget. State and Local Government. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute. NO. Would cripple government at all levels

32 Political Contributions by Payroll Deduction. Contributions to Candidates. Initiative Statute. NO. An anti-union move

33 Auto Insurance Companies. Prices Based on Driver’s History of Insurance Coverage. Initiative Statute. NO. Benefits companies, hurts drivers.

34 Death Penalty. Initiative Statute.YES, YES, YES. Saves money, saves lives, avoids errors which can’t be reversed.

35 Human Trafficking. Penalties. Initiative Statute. No position—evidence is unclear.

36 Three Strikes Law. Repeat Felony Offenders. Penalties. Initiative Statute. YES, YES, YES on financial grounds alone, plus humanitarian considerations.

37 Genetically Engineered Foods. Labeling. Initiative Statute. YES. “Send the chemical companies a message”.

38 Tax to Fund Education and Early Childhood Programs. Initiative Statute. YES. Prop. 30 is better. If voters split their votes between the two, both might lose. Vote for both if you vote for this one at all, but be sure to vote for Prop. 30.

39 Tax Treatment for Multistate Businesses. Clean Energy and Energy Efficiency Funding. Initiative Statute. YES, though it probably has some pork in it.

40 Redistricting. State Senate Districts. Referendum. YES. It seems to be working. 

Local Measures:

A1: Oakland Zoo Parcel Tax NO. A boondoggle construction scheme by the Zoo’s unelected board which would Disneyfie a large part of Knowland Park with little or no benefit to the animals.

B1: Alameda County Transportation Sales Tax Increase YES. This will go for both streets and public transit, both in bad shape.

M: Berkeley Streets and Watershed bond NO. Too vague, a blank check—no guarantee it will actually be spent for desperately needed watershed measures. Try again next time. Meanwhile, support Alameda County Measure B1 for transportation needs, including both roads and transit..

N: Berkeley Pools bond YES. This N and O pair, a bond (for repair and construction) and a tax (for operation) of public pools is realistic and specific, scaled back appropriately from the previous attempt at passage. If properly managed, the warm pool could not only pay for itself but be run at a profit. Kids who grow up by the bay need to learn to swim—it’s not just recreation.

O: Berkeley Pools parcel tax YES. See Measure N.

R: Berkeley Redistricting Charter Amendment NO Gives councilmembers the power to shape districts to suit their political goals, could lead to return of gerrymandering. Some are pitching this as a path to an all-student council district, but that’s not guaranteed and might actually reduce student influence on local government.

S: Berkeley Anti-Sitting Ordinance NO, NO, NO—Expensive and ineffectual, does nothing to solve problems of indigent people on Berkeley streets.

T: Zoning for the West Berkeley Plan NO, NO, NO..Spot zoning for 5 big properties, harmful to existing residents and businesses.

U: Berkeley Sunshine Ordinance YES. Won’t hurt, might help.

V: Berkeley FACTS Initiative YES. Won’t hurt, might help. 

Berkeley City Council (Ranked Choice Vote—Choose Three):

Mayor: Kriss Worthington/Jacquelyn McCormick as 1-2 or 2-1, Kahlil Jacobs-Fantauzzi as 3

District 2: Denisha DeLane/Adolfo Cabral as 1-2 or 2-1.

District 3: Max Anderson;

District 5: Sophie Hahn;

District 6, Phoebe Sorgen (write-in)

Berkeley School Board: Judy Appel

Berkeley Rent Board

Berkeley Tenants Convention Candidates: Alejandro Soto-Vigil, Judy Shelton, Igor Tregub, Asa Dodsworth. 



The Berkeley Daily Planet takes no position on propositions, measures or candidates not mentioned above in this document. 

Click here for a printable PDF of these recommendations

Berkeley in the News

Thursday November 01, 2012 - 10:29:00 PM

Berkeley's "S" Conflicting Findings

By Ted Friedman
Friday November 02, 2012 - 09:36:00 AM

The Daily Californian reported Monday that a U.C. Berkeley School of Law student study had concluded, last month, that key yes on "S" (sitting-ban) claims were false. 

The study contradicted pro-"S" claims that sitting on business district sidewalks had hurt Berkeley businesses, and that a sitting-ban would encourage homeless youth to seek Berkeley support services. 

The law-student study is a possible set-back for such pro-"S" advocates as Craig Becker (president) and Roland Peterson (executive officer), of the Telegraph Avenue Business Improvement District, who drafted the measure. 

The report concludes that "S" is a poorly written law with no provisions for providing social services in return for compliance with the sitting-ban. The study was conducted by three Berkeley law students for the Berkeley Law Policy Advocacy Clinic. 

According to the report's "executive summary:" 

"A coalition of community groups and individuals opposed to Measure S asked the Policy Advocacy Clinic to research and analyze the economic, and social service impacts of Sit-Lie laws in other jurisdictions and the potential for such an ordinance to deliver on its promises in Berkeley. 

"To prepare this report, we reviewed data on economic activity and homeless services in other Sit-Lie jurisdictions nationally, statewide and locally. 

"We surveyed community organizations, municipal human services and economic development agencies, business groups and police departments in more than a dozen Sit-Lie jurisdictions, including seven in California. 

"Finally, we consulted local stakeholders about implementation challenges and opportunities. 

“Although there are limits to the data gathered – and more research needs to be done to answer these questions with more precision – we find no meaningful evidence to support the arguments that Sit-Lie laws increase economic activity or improve services to homeless people," the study acknowledges. 

Becker told us Monday, that a U.C. Berkeley graduate student survey, two years ago, "was a better study." This is the survey the TBID often cites, to make its case for "S.". 

The student shopping survey, nearly two years old, concluded that students might dine downtown more frequently, if panhandlers would leave them alone. 

The law student study admitted its general flaws: "there are limits to the data gathered, and more research needs to be done to answer these questions with more precision". 

However, methodological problems in the student shopping survey were not discussed. Sixty-five percent of the respondents to its shopping questionnaire were women--a major bias. Moreover, many of these respondents were already opposed to shopping in Berkeley 

Their responses to some questions are tainted with contempt for the Berkeley shopping scene. Becker and Peterson concluded that these students and some faculty would shop on Telegraph, if only panhandlers would go away, but the study presents no specific evidence for this conclusion. The disdainful students were asked what would get them to dine downtown, not under what conditions they'd frequent Telegraph Avenue.

The Mittmobile: Imagining a Nuclear-powered Car

By Gar Smith
Friday November 02, 2012 - 09:29:00 AM
Gar Smith

In his campaign speeches, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney has made it carbon-clear: if you live on his planet, you're going to be consuming "good, old-fashioned American power"—the kind produced by coal, oil and uranium. "You can't drive a car with a windmill on it," Romney scoffs. 

Well, sure: a windmill bolted atop a car is a zany image. But what would a car look like if it were powered by one of Mitt's preferred fuels? 

An oil-powered car would have a metal derrick rising from its rooftop and it would be pinned to the ground by a mile of drilling infrastructure. Adding to the inconvenience, it would most likely be parked some distance from your front porch. Say, in Saudi Arabia. 

If Mitt's ride were a coal-powered sedan, it would be a real clunker. In the US, the "latest model" would be 20 years old, there would only be 600 on the road and it would take 2.2 billion gallons of water and 2,333 tons of coal to run one for a year. The tailpipe would puff arsenic, sulfur, radioisotopes, soot, and greenhouse gases. Acid rain from your exhaust would probably kill your neighbor's begonias. 

If a car were built like a nuclear reactor, you probably wouldn’t want to buy one. (You'd have to wait at least eight years between ordering and final delivery, the original purchase price would double and, without billion-dollar government loans, it might never get built.) 

A nuclear reactor is like a high-performance sports car built to go 600 miles per hour in a world where the speed limit is 60. To run it safely, you'd need to keep one foot on the brake pedal—all the time. (And “game over” if the brakes fail.) 

If a reactor were like a car, the radiator would no longer fit under the hood. With 33% thermal efficiency, your car would spew clouds of superheated steam visible from 20 blocks away. Every 17 months or so, you'd need to stop and replace the engine. Instead of a gas station, you'd need to visit a specialized garage where a team of highly paid mechanics would spend two months completing the refueling process. 

If a car was nuclear-powered, you could never walk off and leave the engine running. With a regular car, the engine eventually runs out of gas and stops. With an unattended reactor, the engine eventually runs out of control and explodes. 

And when it reaches its mandatory retirement age, there won’t be any junkyards for your car. You'd need to encase the radioactive hulk in concrete and store it in your backyard—for 25,000 years. 

On the other hand, imagine if a reactor was treated like a car: If three Ford Explorers parked side-by-side suddenly exploded—one after another—the government would surely order a recall. 

All things considered, I'd rather take my chances on a car with a wind turbine on the roof. 

Gar Smith is editor emeritus of Earth Island Journal and author of Nuclear Roulette: The Truth about the Most Dangerous Energy Source on Earth (Chelsea Green).

Election Coverage in Review: See what You Missed in Past Issues

Friday November 02, 2012 - 10:48:00 AM

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. 


Editorial Endorsement:

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 

ENDORSEMENT SPECIAL: Avoid R, and the Rest of the Story 10-04-2012 

Following the Money Behind Berkeley Ballot Measures 10-12-2012

Myth-Busting 101: Street-Sitting Ban Does NOT Work for Santa Cruz Either 10-12-2012 

Berkeley Can Be Better, but Some Voters Missed the Memo 10-19-2012 

The Nose on Berkeley's Yes on T Committee Grows Even Longer 10-26-2012 


News and Opinion

For the record: a message from your firefighters and police officers: By James Geissinger President, Berkeley Fire Fighters Association 10-29-2012 

New: Why I'm Voting for Max Anderson Jane Stillwater 10-31-2012 

New: Zoo Executives’ Backroom Deals on Measure A1 By Ruth Malone 10-31-2012 

West Berkeley Thrives as a Manufacturing Ecology By Bernard Marszalek 10-25-2012 

No on Berkeley Measure S: Sitting on the Sidewalk is a Time-Honored Tradtion By ChristopheRobin Byers 10-28-2012 

New: Vote NO on Measure A1? How could I ask you to vote against Animal Care? By Anita Wah 10-29-2012 

New: Romney's Sense-Defying Proposals By Jack Bragen 10-29-2012 

New: Support Change: Voting Recommendations By Tim Hansen, with the help of friends 10-31-2012 

Yes on Measure V: Let’s avoid the fate of California’s bankrupt cities By Priscilla Myrick 10-25-2012 

The City of Berkeley's Borrowing By Ted Edlin 10-26-2012 

“We Can’t Allow the People to Steal This Election!” By Barb Weir 10-25-2012 

New: Election Year 2012 By Romila Khanna 10-31-2012 

Updated: Real Estate Committee Pays for Mailers and Ads for Berkeley Council Candidates Moore and Capitelli By Becky O'Malley 10-31-2012 

New: Councilmember/Realtor Capitelli and the Police Chief’s $500,000 House Loan from the City of Berkeley By Zelda Bronstein 10-31-2012 

New: What is the California Real Estate Independent Expenditure Committee, and What Are They Doing in Berkeley? By Thomas Lord 11-01-2012 

Rent Board Slate Group Charged with Violating Berkeley Campaign Finance Laws (News Analysis) By Rob Wrenn 10-25-2012 

New: UC Law Clinic Report Says Sit-Lie Prohibitions Don't Work as Promised by Sponsors By Bob Offer-Westort 10-28-2012 

New: Former Berkeley Mayor Dean Charges Candidate Capitelli with Violating State Campaign Law By Becky O'Malley 10-30-2012 

New: Who Manages the Economy Better, Republicans or Democrats? (News Analysis) By Arthur I. Blaustein 10-31-2012 

New: THE PUBLIC EYE: Four Keys to an Obama Victory By Bob Burnett 10-29-2012 

THE PUBLIC EYE: Obama Finds Mojo, Wins Final Debate By Bob Burnett 10-25-2012 

AGAINST FORGETTING: US Presidential Debate: America’s National Insecurity By  

Religious Leaders Speak Out Against Berkeley’s Measure S By Sally Hindman and 52 Signers 10-19-2012 

Complaint Filed with Berkeley’s Fair Campaign Practices Commission Regarding Yes on T’s Illegal/Fraudulent Endorsements By Zelda Bronstein 10-22-2012 

Berkeley's Asinine Sitting Ban Measure By Michael T. Pachovas 10-19-2012 

Press Release: Solution to Berkeley's Homeless Problem: Number the Homeless (A Modest Proposal) From Karen Able 10-19-2012 

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 10-22-2012 

Berkeley Measure T's Misleading Ads By Christopher Adams 10-19-2012 

Monsanto & Dupont Spend Big Money to Defeat Prop 37 By Glen Kohler 10-19-2012 

Oakland’s Knowland Park Worth Saving: Vote NO on Measure A1 By Jane Molnar 10-18-2012 

Lies in Political Campaign Material By Tree Fitzpatrick 10-19-2012 

Flash: Planet Endorsements Now Available Online 10-25-2012 

New: Rent Board Slate Group Charged with Violating Berkeley Campaign Finance Laws (News Analysis) By Rob Wrenn 10-25-2012 

New Complaint Filed about Yes on T Campaign in Berkeley By Zelda Bronstein 10-24-2012 

Meeting Attendance an Issue in Rent Board Race By Rob Wrenn 10-19-2012 

Berkeley Mayoral Candidates Star in Neighborhood Forums By Ted Friedman 10-19-2012 

Election News Elsewhere: New York Times Takes Up Sitting Ban 10-20-2012 

Updated: Who's Endorsing Whom and What in Berkeley and Elsewhere By Linda Franklin 10-21-2012 

Election News Elsewhere: Fraud Complaint Filed against Yes on Berkeley Measure T 10-19-2012 

Who's Financing Berkeley Campaigns? A Easy Way to Find Out By Thomas Lord 10-19-2012 

Watch the Berkeley Election on Video 10-19-2012 

Measure T’s Deceptive Mailers Falsely Claim Union Endorsement, Funds for Community Benefits (News Analysis) By Rob Wrenn 10-17-2012 

Measure M: Investing in Streets and Green infrastructure - Providing Multiple Benefits Now and Saving Money in the Future By Larry Henry, Past Chairperson and current Vice-Chairperson of the Berkeley Public Works Commission 10-12-2012 

Can We Elect A President Who Will Help Us All? By Romila Knanna 10-12-2012 By J. Muir 10-12-2012 

Creative Protests Blanket Berkeley By Carol Denney 10-12-2012 

A Curmudgeonly Potpourri by The Occasional Curmudgeon 10-12-2012 

Mayoral & District 3 Candidates’ Night Sponsored by LeConte & Williard Neighborhood Associations 10-12-2012 

New: Yes,the Fiscal Sky May Be Falling: Moody's is Examining Berkeley for a Rating Downgrade By Barbara Gilbert 10-09-2012 

Quakers Oppose Berkeley Measure S By Berkeley Society of Friends 10-04-2012 

Vote Yes on A1 By Dr. Joel Parrott, Veterinarian and Executive Director, Oakland Zoo 10-04-2012 

New: Who's Spending on Berkeley Ballot Measures? The First Filing of Expenditures, and More By Thomas Lord 10-09-2012 

New: Santa Monica has a Plan for Growth and It’s Better than Berkeley’s (News Analysis) By Toni Mester 10-06-2012 

Hometown Online Resources for Berkeley Voters
from The Berkeley Almanac
By Thomas Lord 10-04-2012 

Election Stories in Back Issues of the Planet 10-05-2012 

SENIOR POWER: A Senior Moment By Helen Rippier Wheeler 10-04-2012 

NEBA Holds Two Berkeley Election Fairs and Forums 10-05-2012 

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 

New: Complaint Filed with Berkeley’s Fair Campaign Practices Commission Regarding Yes on T’s Illegal/Fraudulent Endorsements By Zelda Bronstein 10-17-2012 

Measure M: Investing in Streets and Green infrastructure - Providing Multiple Benefits Now and Saving Money in the Future By Larry Henry, Past Chairperson and current Vice-Chairperson of the Berkeley Public Works Commission 10-12-2012 

Creative Protests Blanket Berkeley By Carol Denney 10-12-2012 

New: Puppets Come to Council Meeting By Carol Denney 10-17-2012 

A Curmudgeonly Potpourri by The Occasional Curmudgeon 10-12-2012 

New: Sunday Streets Proves Sitting and Business Go Together By Carol Denney 10-16-2012 

THE PUBLIC EYE: Obama vs. Romney: Jobs By Bob Burnett 10-12-2012



Berkeley's Rent Board Election Degenerates Into Farce

By Becky O'Malley
Friday November 02, 2012 - 07:39:00 AM

Trying to keep up with the last days of the Berkeley Municipal Election 2012, I feel like I’ve landed in the middle of a French bedroom farce. For those of you too young to remember when sex could be silly, that would be, per Wikipedia, a “light comedy centered on the sexual pairings and recombinations of characters as they move through improbable plots and slamming doors.”

Not, of course, that sex itself has much to do with most of the Berkeley elections, with the possible exception of the endorsement of one of the mayoral candidates by a state senator. Oh, and perhaps with one of the Rent Board candidates

But “pairings and recombinations” with “improbable plots and slamming doors’? Sure, we’ve got those in spades. 

I have right here on my desk a small pile of glossy large postcards sent my way by…who sent them, anyhow? There’s a new addition to the Berkeley Election Reform Act proposed by the city’s Fair Campaign Practices Commission that will require such documents to list not only the fanciful name of the committee which pays the bills, but the top four contributors to said committee. 

But guess what? The Berkeley City Council majority in its infinite wisdom decided to delay implementation of this laudable change until after the election. Makes sense to me…who wants to be held accountable? 

So here, as Exhibit A, we have an 8 ½ by 11 color piece headed “Reform the Rent Board.” A box in the upper left corner tells us that something called Berkeley Tenants United for Fairness has “prepared” it. Or rather, specifically, it says: 

“NOTICE TO VOTERS: THIS DOCUMENT WAS PREPARED BY BERKELEY TENANTS UNITED FOR FAIRNESS, SMO #1352400, NOT AN OFFICIAL POLITICAL PARTY ORGANIZATION. Appearance in this mailer does not necessarily imply endorsement of others appearing in this mailer, nor does it imply endorsement of, or opposition to, any issues set forth in this mailer. Appearance is paid for and authorized by each candidates and ballot measure which is designated by an *.” 

Well, then, that seems perfectly clear, doesn’t it? 

What about those “pairings and recombinations”? Let’s take a look. 

Asterisks (*) appear after the names of four featured candidates. Three out of the four are identified as tenants, all claiming to be endorsed in various combinations (with no internal logic) by some of the majority incumbent non-progressive councilmembers, including ex-Progs Bates, Maio, Moore and consistent Mods Wengraf, Capitelli, Wozniak. 

Is it significant that not all of these honchos endorse all four candidates? How would we know? 

Candidate Nicole Drake, who’s already on the rent control board though she’s missed many meetings, is described as a “10-year Berkeley tenant”. However, Drake, Councilmember Linda Maio’s city-paid aide, reportedly cohabits with Darryl Moore’s city-paid aide Ryan Lau, who is listed on one web site as owning the single-family home that they are both listed on another site as living in together. 

If this is true, is she exactly his “tenant” or something else? This should not be taken as a covert hint that they practice heterosexuality (shocking!) when they’re at home, but it certainly comes under the heading of “pairings”. 

And also: there’s a separate section on this mailer devoted to “No on Measure U”. What was Measure U again? Oh yes, the Sunshine Ordinance. 

Why should these rent board candidates be so strongly opposed to a sunshine law, which many cities including Oakland, San Jose and San Francisco already have? Here we see the “slammed doors”—what’s behind them? What do all these people, candidates and endorsers both, have to hide? 

It turns out, as former Planning Commission Chair Rob Wrenn has documented here, that No on Measure U has become a handy device for laundering money to support unrelated candidates and issues. In fact, the East Bay Rental Housing Association PAC (that would be landlords) appears in Berkeley’s campaign finance reports as an “independent expenditure committee” which gave TUFF about $19,000 to pay for “appearance on slate mailer in opposition to Berkeley Measure U.” 

But this information doesn’t appear in the report of the only official opposition to Measure U listed on the city’s campaign finance website—a committee called “Vote Berkeley Coalition - Yes on M, No on U.” 

So, in case you’re keeping score on combinations, we have the anti-tenant rent board slate in bed with the landlords and also with No on U, and we have another, different, No on U group in bed with Yes on M, which is supposed to be promoting issuing bonds to repair streets. (I can’t even begin to explain this last pairing, unless Measure M can’t stand sunshine either.) 

And then there are the council candidates. Darryl Moore, who was once the aide for progressive Councilmember and mayoral candidate Kriss Worthington, was originally elected in District 2 as a progressive, but in this election he’s come up with some strange new bedfellows himself. He stars in a different mailer, also financed by TUFF, headlined New Progressive Leadership Supported by Darryl Moore, but this one turns out to be flogging those same landlord-backed rent board candidates. 

Landlords, the new progressives! Who knew? 

Finally, someone has sent me a mailer with the imprimatur of California Real Estate Independent Expenditure Committee, an organization also documented previously on this site. This piece features a couple of toothy photos of Realtor®/Councilmember Laurie Capitelli. These must have been surreptitiously sucked off the internet, since independent expenditure committees aren’t legally supposed to be working with candidates at all, right? It also has some remarks in quotation marks, seemingly quotes from Capitelli—perhaps also acquired without his knowledge? Now there’s an “improbable plot” for you, isn’t it? 

Another one of these “independent” mailers from CREIEC, this one on behalf of Darryl Moore, has surfaced, though I haven’t been able to see one yet. There’s a rumor is that all of CREIEC’s Capitelli mailers were sent to Moore’s district and all Moore mailers were sent to Capitelli’s district, according to people who called me when they got the wrong one. The only person I’ve talked to who got the Moore version does in fact live in District 5, not District 2, so it could be true. 

It seems that CREIEC hired Associated Campaign Consulting & Election Services, LLC, of Washington, DC, to spend the money on mailings and online ads—and it looks like someone there got the districts transposed. A staunch opponent of Measure T, beloved of both Moore and Capitelli, who lives in Moore’s District 2, reports that her Google account is being deluged with Capitelli ads. And Zelda Bronstein in District 5 is getting online Moore promotions. 

If this is what’s happening, it would be the “farce” part of this campaign. The CREIEC spent $40k on Berkeley councilmembers and they can’t even find the right voters? Maybe they should look behind some of those slammed doors.. 

But the tragedy underlying this farce is that it’s Berkeley that’s going to suffer if all these shenanigans produce just more of the same. The progressive leaders whom we admired in their youth have degenerated into surly guardians of the entrenched power structure, rearranging the deck chairs while the city sinks . 

Measure T is nothing more than spot zoning for private profit, not planning for a sustainable future. Measure R sets the stage for council gerrymandering. Measure S supporters, especially its champion Tom Bates, remind me of nothing so much as the stereotypical old white guy yelling “You damn kids get off of my lawn!” 

Now they’re even trying to sabotage rent control by getting in bed with the landlords to promote their deceptive “New Progressive” slate. 

Berkeley should do better, but if incumbents are re-elected and progressives are kicked off the rent board things will just get worse. 



The Editor's Back Fence

A Personal Plea from a Neighbor to Vote No on Berkeley Measure T

Tuesday November 06, 2012 - 08:10:00 AM

This morning on our doorstep we found a letter from a neighbor asking us to vote against Measure T. I won't use his name because I don't have his permission, but here's part of what he says: 

"For the sake of our beloved city, I urge you to vote NO on T! 

"[Measure] T would allow more and larger developments right along side the Aquatic Park. Many Berkeley residents go to Aquatic Park to get away from the hustle and bustle of our city. Now huge developments will loom over this beautiful, tranquil refuge for people, animals and birds. 

"I also believe [Measure] T will create a second mini-downtown, which will cause our Shattuck Avenue downtown to become like a step-child, ignored and dilapidated." 

It's impressive that someone would take the time to write and copy his own personal letter and to distribute it to neighbors (not in West Berkeley) in the early morning on election day--a refreshing change from the expensive anonymous color mailers supporting T that have flooded our mailbox in the last few weeks. 

Voting for School Board?

Monday November 05, 2012 - 09:21:00 AM

I've punted on endorsing school board candidates until now because I really don't know much about school board politics, since the Planet no longer has a reporter to assign to covering education. I did get the idea that current school boards members, whoever they are, and some of whom I've supported in the past, were badly misinformed in a variety of ways in their recent attempt to find a superintendent. But on Saturday I encountered candidate Judy Appel campaigning at the Farmers' Market, talked to her for a long time, and decided to vote for her. She's smart and has had a variety of experiences which should improve her perspective on the information she'll have to process, and she has kids in school now. You can vote for one more candidate, but you're on your own for that one.


Odd Bodkins: A Wish (Cartoon)

By Dan O'Neill
Friday November 02, 2012 - 10:28:00 AM


Dan O'Neill


Public Comment

New: Why Should Berkeley Have Another Law Banning Sitting?

By Russ Tilleman
Sunday November 04, 2012 - 10:58:00 PM
Berkeley Police Cite Protesters for Demonstration Against Measure S on Sunday
Russ Tilleman
Berkeley Police Cite Protesters for Demonstration Against Measure S on Sunday

On Telegraph Avenue at Haste, around 2:10pm today [Sunday], the Berkeley Police ticketed Measure S opponents for having a campaign event outside of a "designated free speech zone". 

Kind of ironic and sad that across the street from People's Park in Berkeley, where the Free Speech Movement was so strong, it is now illegal to say anything against a ballot measure except in specific zones specified by the backers of that ballot measure. 

[This picture shows] the BPD forcing the Measure S opponents to take down their sign. 

Thomas Jefferson must be rolling over in his grave, I don't remember reading anything about "free speech zones" in the Declaration of Independence. 

Measure S will make it illegal to sit on the sidewalk, so it is reasonable that people want to campaign there. I think the ticket was written for "blocking the sidewalk", and if that is already illegal why do they need another law banning sitting?

New: Ballot Recommendations From Berkeley City Councilmember Jesse Arreguin*

By Councilmember Jesse Arreguin
Sunday November 04, 2012 - 10:15:00 PM

People have asked me which local candidates and ballot measures I am supporting. With the election just 2 days away, I want to share with you who I am supporting and why.

Here are my recommendations (please see explanation below): 


PRESIDENT and VICE PRESIDENT: Barack Obama and Joe Biden 


U.S. CONGRESS: Barbara Lee 


BERKELEY MAYOR: Kriss Worthington (Rank First) 

Jacquelyn McCormick (Rank Second) 


BERKELEY COUNCIL DISTRICT 2: Denisha DeLane (Rank First) 

Adolfo Cabral (Rank Second) 






BERKELEY RENT BOARD: Support the progressive pro-tenant slate – 

Alejandro Soto Vigil, Judy Shelton,  

Igor Tregub, Asa Dodsworth 


BERKELEY SCHOOL BOARD: Judy Appel and Beatriz Leyva-Cutler 




AC TRANSIT, WARD 1: Yelda Bartlett 


BART BOARD, DISTRICT 3: Rebecca Saltzman 


BART BOARD, DISTRICT 7: Maria Alegria 



Measure M (Street Repair Bond) – No Position 

Measure N (Pools Bond) – YES! 

Measure O (Pools Tax) – YES! 

Measure P (Reauthorize existing taxes) – YES 

Measure Q (Update Utility Users Tax) – YES 

Measure R (Redistricting) – YES 

Measure S (Ban on Sitting on Commercial Sidewalks) – NO! 

Measure T (West Berkeley rezoning) – NO! 

Measure U (Sunshine Ordinance) – No Position 

Measure V (Getting Needed Financial Reports) – YES! 



Measure A1 (Zoo Tax) – No Position 

Measure B1 (Transportation Funding) – YES! 



Prop 30 – YES! 

Prop 31 – NO 

Prop 32- NO! 

Prop 33 – NO 

Prop 34 – YES 

Prop 35 – YES 

Prop 36 – YES 

Prop 37 – YES 

Prop 38 – NO 

Prop 39 – YES 

Prop 40 - YES 


Background on my recommendations: 


This election is critical not only for the future of our country but also for Berkeley’s future. 


Wall Street, corporations, and SuperPACs have spent millions trying to get Mitt Romney elected. Unfortunately in Berkeley, the bastion of liberal politics, the same is happening. Tens of thousands of dollars have been spent by large landlords and corporate interests in local races. Berkeley is at a crossroads and this is an election that will define the future of the City. Will we move in a direction of transformative change guided by the needs and values of our citizens, or will it be defined by politicians and corporate interests? 


This is what is at stake. So its no wonder landlords, real estate interests and business are spending so much bankrolling campaigns. 


Who are they backing? They’re backing a deceptively named slate called “Tenants United For Fairness”, who is really a pro-landlord slate (two of the candidates are landlords, and only one is a rent controlled tenant). They are running on a platform of attacking the Rent Board using a discredited Grand Jury Report, claiming something is wrong with how the Rent Board is being run. Their platform of lowering registration fees will result in less enforcement and pave the way for more evictions and rent increases. We saw what happened when a landlord slate took control of the Board in 1990 - rents increased 33% in just one year! Big landlords and business interests have already pumped $40,000 into the TUFF slate with the goal of electing candidates who will undermine important protections for renters. 


Big developers, landlords and corporations have also given thousands of dollars in contributions to support City Council candidates Laurie Capitelli and Darryl Moore and have supported two divisive ballot measures. Measure S, the proposed ban on sitting on commercial sidewalks has been bankrolled by over $100,000 in contributions from commercial landlords, developers and businesses.Measure S would criminalize sitting on sidewalks, without providing any increase in shelter, services or Ambassadors. 


Measure T, the measure to rezone a large part of West Berkeley has been primarily funded by one developer who would like to change existing rules for his benefit. This illustrates what Measure T is all about - changing the rules allowing for out of scale development that will overwhelm Aquatic Park and harm existing residents and business - all for the benefit of a few corporate developers. 


We cannot let big business buy this election. We need to support candidates who will put the needs of residents first and defend Berkeley values. Please support these candidates and measures when you cast your absentee ballot or at the polls next Tuesday. For more information on my endorsements please email me at this address. 




Inline image 1 


Jesse Arreguin 



*Not written or sent using government resources

Bruce Love's Ballot Measure and Mayoral Recommendations

By Thomas Lord
Friday November 02, 2012 - 07:26:00 AM

Measure M:  

General Obligation Bond for Street and Reltated Watershed Improvements 

The City, having for years neglected to adequately fund road repair and watershed management, with special disregard to the city's least affluent neighborhoods, now kindly requests additional funds to continue their work. Everything is more expensive these days, don't you know. 

Vote "NO" and demand to see the real plan. 

Measures N and O:  

General Obligation Bond for Pools and Associated Facilities;  

Special Tax to Fund Operation and maintenance of the Replacement Warm Water and Willard Pools 

Last election cycle the City put forward a needlessly expensive plan for our pools and the voters, unsurprisingly declined. 

Now we have a compromise. We meet half-way. The city has kindly lowered the price by asking for less money and raised the cost by trashing some pools. So they've split the middle. Are we even? 

Vote "YES". Even at this price the pools are a good investment in community and property values. And the price ain't gonna go down from here. 

Measure P: Ballot Measure Re-Authorizing Expenditures of Voter-Approved Taxes for Parks Maintenance, Library Relief, Emergency Medical Services, Emergency Services for Severely Physically Disabled Persons and Fire Protection and Emergency Response and Preparedness, Under Article XIIIB of the California Constitution (Gann Limit)  

Thank you, 1970s tax reform cranks. The clarity and nuance you brought us in California governance continues to serve well. 

Vote "YES" because otherwise something vital will probably quickly fall apart. Don't look so smug: you don't understand it either. 

Measure Q: An Ordinance of the City of Berkeley Amending Chapter 7.70 of the Berkeley Municipal Code to Modernize the Application of the Utility Users Tax (UUT) 

Council wants to expand the applicability of a regressive tax on telephony services. A sleeper, sneaky tax raise -- disguised as just "modernizing" the code. No, it doesn't raise the tax rate, as the city assures us, but it does raise the number of services to which the tax applies. 


Measure R: Charter Amendment to Allow City Council to Adopt Decennial Redistricting Plan 

Some students want to notch their politics belts by campaigning for a charter amendment to allow drawing a "student district". And they also actually want a "student district", I presume. Somewhere between that starting point and the ballot, their project turned into a measure to grant council almost entirely unencumbered "freedom to gerrymander" with or without much regard for students per se. 

Vote "HELLA NO". It's a teaching moment. (For council.) 

Measure S: An Ordinance of the City of Berkeley Adopting New Section 13.36.025 of the Berkeley Municipal Code to Prohibit Sitting on Sidewalks in Commercial Districts 

In a desperate, last-gasp attempt to justify the taxes imposed for the Downtown Business Improvement District a handful of Berkeley real estate moguls offer to pass an ineffective and divisive law in pursuit of socially un-challenging ice-cream for all (who have enough money). As a free thank you gift, they'll throw in years of legal challenges, protests, and other excuses abuse one another in blog comments. 

Vote "NO." It's not even funny. 

Measure T: Amendments to the West Berkeley Plan and Zoning Ordinance 

Vote "NO," because if you ask any two Berkeleyans what the measure does you'll get at least 3 and possibly 5 opinions. It's a dumb, poorly constructed measure born of a lot of bitter Berkeley in-fights. Oh, and it's a bunch of big money trying to bully/bluster the electorate around -- there's that, too. 

Measures U and V:  

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);  

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) 

Vote "YES," and let the sunshine in. 

For Mayor: 

Please vote for Kriss Worthington. I think he has the intellectual honesty and the will to work with the whole community. The whole can exceed the sum of the parts.


By Arthur Blaustein
Friday November 02, 2012 - 10:52:00 AM

The stakes are high.

These issues matter to me and they should matter to you!  


1. Voter Suppression  

2. Women's Choice  

3. Global Warming  

4. Public Education and Student Loans  

5. Decent Jobs at Livable Wages  

6. Medicare and Medicaid  

7. National Health Insurance  

8. Campaign Finance Reform  

9. Separation of Church and State  

10. PBS and NPR  

11. The Supreme Court and Federal Judges  

12. Increasing Poverty, Hunger and Homelessness  

13. Assault Weapons on the Street  

14. Social Security  

15. Consumer Protection  

16. Immigration Reform  

17. Preemptive War and National Security  

18. Disaster Preparedness  

19. Mal-distribution of Wealth  

20. Fair and Progressive Tax Reform  

21. Basic research in Science, Health and Technology  

22. Renewable Energy and a Sustainable Environment  

23. National Endowment for the Arts and The Humanities  

24. Cronyism, Manipulation and Incompetence in Government  

25. Infrastructure Development: Mass Transit, Energy Grid, Schools, Bridges, Roads, Airports  

"After careful analysis of the issues listed above, one can safely conclude that Obama's positions are mainstream, moderate and reasonable; whereas Romney's positions are ideological, opportunistic and dangerously radical.... The choices are stark and the stakes are high. The consequences could be devastating." *  


It is suggested that you forward this email to at least 20 family and friends, especially those living in battleground states. Ask them to forward these "25 Reasons..." to another 20 people and help get the word out. Eleven Battleground or Swing States: Colorado, Florida, Iowa,,Ohio, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Wisconsin 

*Excerpts from a recent article by Professor Arthur Blaustein who teaches Community and Economic Development and Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley. 

Blaustein's latest book is DEMOCRACY IS NOT A SPECTATOR SPORT.... 

He was chairman of the National Advisory Council on Economic Opportunity under Presidents Carter and Reagan; and served on the board of The National Endowment for the Humanities under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W.Bush. 

November Pepper Spray Times

By Grace Underpressure
Friday November 02, 2012 - 10:21:00 AM

Editor's Note: The latest issue of the Pepper Spray Times is now available.

You can view it absolutely free of charge by clicking here . You can print it out to give to your friends.

Grace Underpressure has been producing it for many years now, even before the Berkeley Daily Planet started distributing it, most of the time without being paid, and now we'd like you to show your appreciation by using the button below to send her money.  

This is a Very Good Deal. Go for it! 

Who Manages the Economy Better--Republicans or Democrats?

By Arthur I. Blaustein
Friday November 02, 2012 - 09:25:00 AM

Most Americans have one eye on the nation’s economic crises and the other on the presidential election. And they are asking themselves, “Are the Democrats or the Republicans better for the economic health of the country as well as for my own financial well-being?” That is the defining question of this election. 

A businessman who voted for Bush twice and Obama in 2008, told me, “The goals of Barack Obama’s social programs—particularly health care, education and the environment —seem good. But I’m worried the Democrats can’t manage the economy as well.” 

Many voters agree, and a recent poll shows that an overwhelming majority (70 percent) cite the economy as their top concern. For years the pollsters have found that most voters believe the Republicans do better with the economy. I’ve heard the businessman’s basic point—that the Democrats have better social policies but the Republicans are better managers of the economy—more often than I’ve heard Judy Garland sing “We’re Off to See the Wizard.” But is it true? Don’t count on this question being examined and answered in a full, open and honest debate. 

Thirty-two years ago¾with the election of Ronald Reagan—we entered an entirely new phase of presidential politics. The focus since then has been who can raise the most money and package the best media image, rather than who can demonstrate the most competence and capacity to govern. Our country’s political, economic and social life has been reduced to a battle of 15-second sound bites and 30-second commercials¾most of them negative attack ads—with results reported like a football score. TV news has turned democracy into “duhmocracy.” 

Fortunately, we don’t have to depend on campaign slogans or advertising bucks to frame the debate. We can look to the record. Here’s the Economic Sweepstakes Quiz. The rules are simple. Guess which president since World War II did best on these eight generally accepted measures of good management of the nation’s economy. You can choose among six Republicans: Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bushes I and II; and six Democrats: Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, Clinton, and Obama. (No peeking.) 

  1. The highest growth in the gross domestic product?
  2. The highest growth in jobs?
  3. The biggest increase in personal disposable income after taxes?
  4. The highest growth in industrial production?
  5. The highest growth in hourly wages?
  6. The lowest Misery Index (inflation plus unemployment)?
  7. The lowest inflation?
  8. The largest reduction in the deficit?
The answers are 1.Harry Truman, 2.Bill Clinton, 3.Lyndon Johnson, 4.John F. Kennedy, 5.Johnson, 6.Truman, 7.Truman, 8.Clinton. In the Economic Sweepstakes, Democratic presidents trounce Republicans eight times out of eight! 

If this isn’t enough to destroy the myth that economy has performed better under Republicans, the stock market has also done better under the Democrats. The Dow Jones Industrial Average during the 20th century rose 7.3 percent on average per year under Republican presidents. Under Democrats, it rose 10.3 percent—which means investors gained a whopping 41 percent more. And the stock market during George W’s two terms took a nosedive while it recovered handsomely under Obama. Moreover, since WWII, Democratic presidents have increased the national debt by an average of 3.9 percent per year and Republican presidents have increased it an average of 10.3 percent. During the same time period, Democratic presidents produced, on average, an unemployment rate of 4.9 percent; Republicans 6.4 percent. That’s the historical record. 

What about economic policies over the past 20 years? The Clinton administration presided over the longest peacetime economic expansion in our history. The national debt was reduced dramatically, the industrial sector boomed, wages grew and more Americans found jobs. How did the Bush-Cheney team fare? In their eight years, we experienced the weakest post-recession job creation cycle since the Great Depression, record deficits, record household debt, a record bankruptcy rate, and a substantial increase in poverty. We went from being the nation with the biggest budget surplus in history to becoming the nation with the largest deficit in history. 

When Obama took office in January of 2009, this was the America that he inherited from Bush¾one that was reeling from the economic fallout from the Great Recession and the worst environmental disaster in our history; a housing mortgage meltdown, with families losing their homes; skyrocketing health-care costs; unacceptable levels of unemployment and underemployment; and an aging and broken infrastructure. If this were not bad enough, local governments, states, and cities¾some close to bankruptcy and others already bankrupt¾were faced with massive layoffs of teachers, police, firefighters, and human-service professionals. These were hard times, and a growing majority of Americans have been telling the pollsters, for the past twelve years, that “our nation is headed in the wrong direction” and that “their children will be the first generation to do worse than their parents.” 

Bush and his economic team allowed the banks, Wall Street wheelers and dealers, and real estate speculators to drive the country into near-bankruptcy. And when Obama proposed economic stimulus legislation to get us out of this financial ditch; the Republicans in Congress opposed it and complained about the size of the tow truck. From the first day Obama took office Republican leadership in Congress dusted off their old Nancy Reagan “Just Say No” buttons and purposefully and cynically obstructed any effort by Obama to get the economy back on the right track and to create more jobs. 

In spite of this political reality Obama’s critics¾in the media and the Republican Party--never let up attacking and blaming. They behaved like we live in the unreal world of television commercials, where a problem gets resolved in sixty seconds. You buy a new car and mysteriously, the guy or gal of your dreams suddenly appears. You switch stock brokerage firms, and you suddenly make a bundle of money. You take a pill, and all your sexual problems are resolved. All this happens with the snap of a finger. In the real world, especially politics, nothing works that way. There are no quick or painless fixes. I am reminded of an admonition from the Old Testament prophet Isaiah: “Judge us not by the heights we have achieved but by the depths from which we have come.” Considering the absolutely dire circumstances of the economy and the total opposition of the Republicans, Obama has done a better than decent job. His American Recovery and Reinvestment Act¾the economic stimulus package¾spurred economic growth, created and saved 2.6 million jobs and prevented the unemployment rate from climbing to over 12 percent. 

What is downright frightening is that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan seem to still believe that an unregulated free market will solve America’s economic problems. They want to privatize Medicare and water down Social Security. They want to return to the very same failed “trickle down” economic policies of Reagan and both Bushes. 

In 1980, Bush I called supply-side policies “voodoo economics.” But he embraced these “trickle-down” policies in order to become Vice-President and then President. 

Reagan’s and both Bushes’ royalist economic policies were failures¾fool’s paradises built on the sands of borrowed time and borrowed money. The consequences were staggering debt, industrial decline, shrinking wages, six painful recessions, increased poverty and structural unemployment. The reckless Reagan-Bush-Bush spending and borrowing brought us to the brink of social chaos and economic catastrophe. 

With Romney and Ryan, (as Yogi Berra observed) “it’s déjà vu all over again.” Just like in “The Wizard of Oz,” when we finally get to see who is operating the smoke puffing machine, we find a consummate pitchman. If his overall Etch A Sketch campaign policies are dictated by holding a finger to the wind, the economic policies of the Wizard of Bain defy the basic rules of math and gravity. When you get beyond the smoke and mirrors it is essentially the same economic game plan of George W. Bush: cut taxes and reduce regulation to jump-start the economy. It’s the new-old “trickle down” potion; and as grandpa always said: “snake oil sells but it doesn’t cure.” Beyond that, Romney’s deficit reduction scheme, tax plan, and proposal for creating 12 million new jobs are all based on vague pledges and bogus numbers that are seemingly plucked out of thin air. 

So, while the Romney-Ryan ticket composes hymns to patriotism, rugged individualism, “trickle-down” economics, “staying the course” on Bush’s tax cuts and family values, they are also embracing the very economic policies that both undermine the middle class and subvert the security of American family life. American families need less pious rhetoric, and more policies geared toward a healthy economy, secure jobs, decent health care, affordable housing, quality public education, renewable energy and a sustainable environment. 

Romney seems unable, or unwilling, to grasp that the government has an important leadership role in this. In fact, providing tax giveaways for the rich and for corporate America is the only policy that seems to energize Romney and the Republicans in Congress; while Obama has pledged to repeal those very same giveaways. And contrary to the G.O.P. rhetoric, 90 percent of Americans¾people making under $112,000 a year in individual income¾would pay less taxes under Obama’s tax plan. Moreover, according to research from Professor Larry Bartels of Princeton, real middle class wage growth when a Democrat is President is double that of when a Republican is President. 

With four years of Romney continuing Bush’s failed policies, we could well wake up one morning on “the economic endangered nations” list. Deficits and debt could strangle our economy for the next generation, and all but the wealthy will have a tough time making ends meet because of a shredded social safety net. On the other hand, Obama has demonstrated a willingness to confront these painful realities. On overall economic policy, he offers qualities indispensable to genuine leadership for America¾patience, fairness, candor, and vision. At this critical time we need an administration that understands and believes in coherent, comprehensive and equitable policies that promote sustainable and healthy economic growth—and, on that count, Democrats have a winning record. 

In this election, our nation is facing a brutal political struggle for control over the levers of power. This struggle threatens democracy as we know it. Not only does Obama face the political challenge of repairing our struggling economy and strengthening our social structure, but he must also overcome the hostile attacks and raw power of an unholy alliance—the Republican Party, the Tea Party, the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, Fox News, the brothers Koch, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, and Glenn Beck. This juggernaut has unlimited amounts of private and corporate cash to oppose Obama’s and the Democrats’ policies, thanks to the Roberts-led reactionary 5-4 Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case. And they are determined to bust Obama. The stakes are very high in this struggle, as it gets to the core issue of the very role of government in a democracy. The right-wing Axis of Greed cannot be allowed to destroy the safety net that protects the economic security of 98 percent of Americans. This safety net prevents our nation from being turned into a “banana republic,” where a plutocracy pulls all the strings. 

The naked truth is that the Republican Party has been pandering to, colluding with, and exploiting the most regressive and antisocial tendencies in our national character. It is undermining trust in the ability of the one force¾government¾that has the potential to balance, secure, and protect the freedoms and liberties of all our people and to balance public and private interests. A vital and healthy federal government is indispensable to the well-being and sovereignty of a self-governing people. That is, after all, what democracy is all about. Without this protection, whole segments of our society¾especially those who can least afford it—will give up hope and become more frustrated and alienated, and this can only serve to further polarize our discourse and undermine the very social fabric of our communities. 

Abraham Lincoln was a Republican who advocated the opposite of the contemporary notion of private interest for selfish personal gain being peddled by today’s Republican Party. Lincoln reminded us that our primary task as a nation should be to continually teach and re-teach American political and social history. He was deeply concerned lest we forget the pain and struggle that are so much a part of our unique historical experience. For Lincoln, there was no higher calling than that of striving to preserve a public liberty that would promote the common good. 

Our political and civic history provides us with a commonsense vision of the American Promise¾one that the founding fathers and Lincoln understood¾that calls for justice, freedom, equality, and opportunity. We may forget or deny our historical legacy, but we cannot change it. The uniqueness of our nation is that the “noble experiment” was a quest to enhance the human condition, enrich democratic values, ensure the general welfare, endure against adversity, and preserve our national resources. 

We do have a genuine choice this year. There are fundamental and profound differences in the candidates’ vision of government. Put in its blankest terms: under Obama we’ll have a democracy run as a government of and for the people and remain the land of opportunity; and under Romney we’ll have a government run as a corporation, ruled by and for plutocrats and become a land of opportunists. It’s your choice! 

Professor Arthur Blaustein teaches Community and Economic Development at the University of California, Berkeley. His most recent books are Democracy Is Not a Spectator Sport… and The American Promise¾Justice and Opportunity. He served as chairman of the National Advisory Council on Economic Opportunity under Jimmy Carter and on the board of the National Endowment for the Humanities under Bill Clinton.


Dispatches From the Edge: Turkey Haunted by Hubris

By Conn Hallinan
Friday November 02, 2012 - 09:33:00 AM

Two years ago Turkey was on its way to being a player in Central Asia, a major power broker in the Middle East, and a force in international politics. It had stepped in to avoid a major escalation of the 2008 war between Georgia and Russia by blocking U.S. ships from entering the Black Sea, made peace with its regional rivals, and, along with Brazil, made a serious stab at a peaceful resolution of the Iran nuclear crisis. 

Today it is exchanging artillery rounds with Syria. Its relations with Iraq have deteriorated to the point that Baghdad has declared Ankara a “hostile state.” It picked a fight with Russia by forcing down a Syrian passenger plane and accusing Moscow of sending arms to the regime of Bashar al-Assad. It angered Iran by agreeing to host a U.S. anti-missile system (a step which won Turkey no friends in Moscow either). Its war with its Kurdish minority has escalated sharply. 

What happened? The wages of religious solidarity? Ottoman de’je vu? 

There is some truth in each of those suggestions, but Turkey’s diplomatic sea change has less to do with the Koran and memories of empire than with Illusions and hubris. It is a combination that is hardly rare in the Middle East, and one that now promises to upend years of careful diplomacy, accelerate unrest in the region, and drive Turkey into an alliance with countries whose internal fragility should give the Turks pause. 

If there is a ghost from the past in all this, it is a growing alliance between Turkey and Egypt. 

Population-wise, the two countries are among the largest in the region, and both have industrial bases in an area of the world where industry was actively discouraged by a century of colonial overlords (the Turks among them). Ankara recently offered $2 billion in aid to cash-strapped Egypt, and both countries have moderate Islamic governments. Cairo and Ankara have also supported the overthrow of the Assad regime. 

“Apparently now Egypt is Turkey’s closest partner in the Middle East,” Gamel Soltan of American University in Cairo told the New York Times. But while Egypt was once the Ottoman’s wealthiest provinces, 2012 is not the world of sultans and pashas, and, in this case, old memories may well be a trap. 

Egypt is deeply mired in poverty and inequality. Indeed, it was as much the economic crisis gripping the region as issues of democracy and freedom that filled Tahrir Square. Cairo is in serious debt and preparing a round of austerity measures that will sharpen that inequality. The government of President Mohamed Morsi announced it will slice gas subsidies, which will fall particularly hard on the poor, especially given a jobless rate of over 12 percent and youth unemployment running at more than double that. 

At first glance, both governments have a lot in common, particularly because Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) and Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood are considered “moderately” Islamic. But many in the Brotherhood consider the AKP and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan far too “moderate”—in Turkey it is still illegal to wear a head scarf if you run for public office or work in a government office. While the West considers Morsi’s and Erdogan’s government “Islamic,” some of the jihadists groups Cairo and Ankara are aiding in their efforts to overthrow the Assad regime in Syria consider the Egyptian and Turkish government little more than non-believers or apostates. As Middle East expert Robert Fisk puts it, the jihadists are a scorpion that might, in the end, sting them both, much as the Taliban has done to its Pakistani sponsors. 

Turkey apparently hopes to construct a triangle among Ankara, Cairo, and the wealthy oil monarchies of the Gulf Cooperation Council—Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates (Jordan and Morocco, two other monarchies, have been asked to join). The combination of population, industry, and wealth, goes the thinking, would allow that alliance to dominate the region. 

The Council does have enormous wealth at its disposal, but how stable are autocratic monarchies in the wave of the democratic aspirations raised by the Arab Spring? Bahrain’s king rules through the force of the Saudi Army. Saudi Arabia itself is struggling to provide jobs and housing for its growing population, while weighed down by inequality, high unemployment, rampant corruption, and a restive Shia minority in its eastern provinces. Jordan’s monarch is wrestling with an economic crisis and a political opposition that is pressuring king Abdullah II for a constitutional monarchy. 

How this new alliance will affect the Palestinians is not clear. Turkey had a falling out with Israel in 2009, and Egypt and Qatar have been sharply critical of Tel Aviv’s treatment of the Palestinians. So far, however, it appears the Islamic group Hamas in Gaza will benefit more than the secular Palestinian National Authority in the West Bank. 

With the exception of Bahrain, all the countries involved have large Sunni majorities that, at first glance, would put them on the same page religiously. But most the Gulf monarchs are aligned with radical Islamic groups, some of which have morphed into al-Qaeda-like organizations that have destabilized countries from Pakistan to Iraq. On occasion, these groups have turned on their benefactors, as Osama bin Laden did on Saudi Arabia. 

Such Islamic groups are increasingly active in the Syrian civil war, where Turkey finds itself in a very similar role to the one played by Pakistan during the 1979-89 Soviet-Afghan war. Some of the groups Pakistan nurtured during those years have now turned on their patrons. Will Turkey become the next Pakistan? In an interview with the Financial Times, one Syrian insurgent said that many of the rebels were stockpiling ammunition for “after the revolution.” 

Bulent Alizira of the Center for Strategic and International Studies told the Financial Times that Turkey is in danger of becoming “like Pakistan, which became the forward base for the Afghan rebels. If that were to happen, it could confront all the pressures that Pakistan faced and from which it has never recovered.” 

And why would the Erdogan government pick a fight with Russia? Russia is a major trading partner, and Turkey is keen on establishing good relations with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) founded by Russia and China in 2001. The organization includes most of the countries in Central Asia, plus observers from India, Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan. The SCO accounts for 75 percent of the world’s energy resources and population, and coordinates everything from trade to oil and gas pipelines. Why would Ankara irritate one of the major players in the SCO? 

Might it be pique at Moscow for blocking more aggressive measures by the UN Security Council to intervene in the Syrian civil war? Russia, along with China, has consistently called for a political resolution to the Syria crisis, while Turkey has pursued a strategy of forcible regime change. Erdogan has a reputation for arrogance and letting his temper get the best of him. 

“His personal ambitions and overweening certainties may be eclipsing his judgment,” Morton Abramowitz of the Century Foundation told UPI, “and affecting Turkish interests.” Abramowitz served in the Carter and Reagan administrations and was appointed ambassador to Turkey from 1989 to 1991. He is also a director at the National Endowment for Democracy. 

Relations between Turkey and Iran have also cooled, in part because of the U.S. anti-missile system, but also because Ankara is trying to overthrow one of Iran’s few allies in the region. In any case, backing Sunni jihadists against the Alawite Assad regime is hardly going to go down well in Shia Iran, or for that matter, in Shia Iraq. The Alawites are a branch of Shism. 

Why, too would Turkey alienate major trading partners like Iran and Iraq? It is possible that the wealthy monarchies of the Gulf—who are anti-Shia and view Iran as their greatest threat— made Ankara an offer it can’t refuse. Whether the monarchies can deliver in the long run is another matter. 

In the meantime, the Syrian war has unleashed the furies. 

*Car bombs have made their appearance one again in Lebanon. 

*The Kurds have bloodied the Turkish Army. 

*Hundreds of thousands of refugees have poured out of Syria, and the fighting inside the country is escalating. 

*Anti-aircraft missiles—the Russian SAM-7, or Strela, most likely “liberated” during the Libya war—have made an appearance. The hand-fired missiles may indeed discomfort Syrian aircraft, but if they get into the hands of the Kurds, Turkish helicopters will be in trouble as well, as will any number of other air forces, from Lebanon to Jordan. A Strela was fired at an Israeli aircraft in the Gaza Strip Oct. 16. 

Turkey’s role in the Syrian civil war finds little resonance among average Turks. Some 56 percent disagree with the policy, and 66 percent oppose allowing Syrian refugees into the country. 

“We are at a very critical juncture,” journalist Melih Asik told the New York Times. “We are not only facing Syria, but Iran, Iraq, Russia and China. Behind us we have nothing but the provocative stance and empty promises of the US.” 

Four years ago Turkey set out to build strong ties with other countries in the region—“zero problems with the neighbors”—and decrease its dependence on the US. Today those policy goals are in shambles. But that is where illusion and hubris lead. 

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

THE PUBLIC EYE: Obama vs. Romney: The Bottom Line

By Bob Burnett
Friday November 02, 2012 - 07:30:00 AM

While national presidential polls show a dead heat between President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney, roughly five percent of likely voters remain undecided. Their perception of which candidate can best address America’s problems will decide the election.  

The latest Gallup Poll indicates the economy and unemployment remains the number one concern of most Americans. While both Obama and Romney have promised to create millions of jobs if they are elected President, there are stark differences between their proposals. 

In the first presidential debate, Mitt Romney promised , “If I’m president I will create… 12 million new jobs.” A Romney campaign policy paper The Romney Plan for Economic Recovery, Growth, and Jobs contains no specific proposals for job creation but instead four assertions: (1) “Stop runaway federal spending and debt,” (2)”Reform the nation’s tax code to increase growth and job creation… Reduce individual marginal income tax rates across-the-board by 20 percent, while keeping current low tax rates on dividends and capital gains.” (3)”Reform entitlement programs to ensure their viability.” (4) “Make growth and cost-benefit analysis important features of regulation… Remove regulation impediments to energy production… Repeal and replace the Dodd-Frank Act and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.” This isn’t a plan. 

In his acceptance speech at the Democratic Convention Barack Obama highlighted his plan to create more jobs: “a million new manufacturing jobs... [and because of his green energy policy] more than 600,000 new jobs in natural gas alone. Reporting for NPR, John Ydstie observed that Obama’s plan is based upon the American Jobs Act that the President proposed to Congress September 8, 2011. Obama has a plan to create millions of jobs

Nonetheless, the Washington Post “Factchecker” observed, “In recent months, the economy has averaged about 150,000 jobs a month… Moody’s analytics, in an August forecast, predicts 12 million jobs will be created by 2016, no matter who is president.” 

Gallup found American’s second concern is the Federal budget deficit. In the first presidential debate, Mitt Romney promised, “my number-one principal is, there will be no tax cut that adds to the deficit.” He went on to outline his approach: cut non-critical Federal programs (he gave the examples of Obamacare and support for PBS); send some programs back to the states; and “make government more efficient and to cut back the number of employees, combine some agencies and departments.”  

Obama responded, “Governor Romney’s central economic plan calls for a $5 trillion tax cut -- on top of the extension of the Bush tax cuts -- that’s another trillion dollars -- and $2 trillion in additional military spending that the military hasn’t asked for. That’s $8 trillion. How we pay for that, reduce the deficit, and make the investments that we need to make, without dumping those costs onto middle-class Americans, I think is one of the central questions of this campaign.” Obama continued “We’ve got to [reduce the deficit] in a responsible way by cutting out spending we don’t need, but also asking the wealthiest to pay a little bit more.”  

Most independent observers agree that Romney’s plan doesn’t add up. Economist Robert Reich observed, “Romney says he’ll close loopholes and eliminate deductions used by the rich so that their share of total taxes remains the same as it is now, although he refuses to specify what loopholes or deductions. But even if we take him at his word, under no circumstances would he increase the amount of taxes they pay…. Just about everyone who’s looked at how to reduce [the budget deficit] — the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, the bi-partisan Simpson-Bowles Commission, and almost all independent economists and analysts — have come up with some combination of spending cuts and tax increases that raise revenue.” 

Voters’ number three concern is dissatisfaction with government. The Gallup pollsters framed this is as “Dissatisfaction with government/Congress/politicians; Poor leadership/Corruption/Abuse of power.” Ultimately, undecided voters will vote for the candidate they trust the most. 

Voters know President Obama, but coming into this election they did not know Mitt Romney. The Republican has usurped the President’s 2008 “change” slogan and cast himself as someone from outside Washington, “who can reach across the aisle and fashion important legislation with the input from both parties.”  

Romney has campaigned for five months since securing the Republican nomination for President. This process revealed him to be a craven politician, the ultimate partisan insider; someone who will say and do anything to win. Politifact reported two-thirds of Romney’s statements range from “half-true” to blatant lies. Think Progress stated that most of what Romney said in the first presidential debate was a distortion or lie. This week The Republican was caught running an extremely deceptive ad in Ohio. 

Romney’s bottom line is grim. He doesn’t have a real plan to improve the economy or reduce the deficit. And worst of all, he’s proven he cannot be trusted. 

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

SENIOR POWER… a balancing act

By Helen Rippier Wheeler
Friday November 02, 2012 - 09:18:00 AM

When my uncle latched on to sweet Aunt Pearl, she was merely “hard of hearing.” She carried a black box hearing aid that I, as a child, thought was a Brownie camera. She was a skilled teletype operator, employed throughout the Depression, bringing home the rent money and the groceries. He made no bones about being irritated by her handicap. Half a century later at their sister’s funeral, my mother and uncle briefly conversed. Pearl had long since lost all her hearing. In December 1953, we sat next to each other in a limousine on the way to bury my aunt. It was a spring-like day as we drove through the bucolic Green-Wood Cemetery grounds with the windows open, and Pearl asked me, “Are there birds singing?”  

I had my annual mammogram at the same place I’ve gone for years. (A recent study claims that mammography's benefits outweigh harms for older women.) This time there was a new and unfamiliar document in my packet of things to review and forms to complete-- an “ADA Alert” for my signature. 

I should have asked for a copy of my complete “ADA Alert” but I was engrossed in reading one of its three sections-- the one that was “mine:” Hearing impairment. (The other two sections related to sight and physical handicaps.) 

Possible “Accommodations” for hearing impairment were listed. Presumably they were accommodations that landlords, developers, managers, employers, and mammographers could and should make or provide. I quickly copied them: 

Closed caption TV 

Sign language interpretation 

Communication board/photos 

Use of relay service (9-711) 

Volume control 

Visual alarm 

Assistive listening device (pocket talker)
Use speech to speech relay service (9-711) 

Simple language 

Written words 

Use of a service animal 

Other accommodation (specify) 


The U.S. Census News Bureau reports that 50% of adults age 65+ live with a disability.  

The Americans with Disabilities Act is wide-ranging civil rights law that prohibits, under certain circumstances, discrimination based on disability. The ADA defines disability as “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity." Effective January 2009, the interpretations were broadened, and examples of "major life activities" were added. They include "caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working."  

Title II of the ADA of 1990 prohibits discrimination based on disability in programs, services, and activities provided or made available by public entities. HUD enforces Title II when it relates to state and local public housing, housing assistance and housing referrals. In addition to complying with the rules and requirements of all funding sources for a low-income senior/disabled housing building, including the HUD federal rules and regulations, the developer/landlord is required to comply with state, city and/or county landlord/tenant laws. 

Health, housing and transportation continue to be vital life aspects. Railings on both sides of public corridors throughout senior housing buildings are essential supports, and yet many buildings, even those recently rehabilitated, do not have railings on both sides of corridors on every floor to accommodate several disabilities.  

Balance disorders and hearing impairment contribute to seniors’ falling. The frequency of balance disorders increases with age. They are one of the most common reasons people age 70+ seek medical help. Dizziness may be related to ear and hearing problems because the balance center – the vestibular system – is directly connected to the inner ear. They share the same nerve leading to the brain. (Vertigo refers to a problem of the vestibular system-- feelings of spinning or turning rather than a sense of unsteadiness. )  

Falls are the leading cause of injury death for older Americans. Falls threaten seniors’ safety and independence and generate enormous economic and personal costs. One third of Americans aged 65+ fall each year. Every 15 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall; every 29 minutes, an older adult dies following a fall. Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults. 

With or without injury, falls also carry a heavy quality of life impact. A growing number of older adults fear falling and, as a result, self-limit activities and social engagements. This can result in further physical decline, depression, social isolation, and feelings of helplessness. 

ADA does not require Medicare to provide hearing aids. Title IV of the ADA requires telecommunications companies to take steps to ensure functionally equivalent services for consumers with disabilities, notably those who are deaf or hard of hearing and those with speech impairments. It led to creation, in all 50 States and the District of Columbia, of what were called dual-party relay services, now known as Telecommunications Relay Services (TRS). 

California Telephone Access Program provides free amplified telephones. Contact the CTAP Berkeley Service Center, located inside the Ed Roberts Campus at 3075 Adeline, located directly above Ashby BART and accessible from within the BART Station.  

Many turn signals are difficult to hear over the sound of traffic, engine noise and the radio. Check your turn signal indicator occasionally to make sure it is not blinking needlessly and misleadingly.  


MARK YOUR CALENDAR: November 2012, December 2012, and January 2013. Be sure to confirm. Readers are welcome to share by email news of future events and deadlines that may interest boomers, seniors and elders. Daytime, free, and Bay Area events preferred. pen136@dslextreme.com.  

Monday, Nov. 5. 6:30 P.M. "Castoffs" - Knitting Group. Kensington Library, 61Arlington Avenue. Free. 510-524-3043. 

Tuesdays, Nov. 6 and Dec. 4. 5 P.M. 5366 College Ave. Oakland Public Library Rockridge Branch. Lawyers in the library. Free. 510-597-5017. 

Wednesday, Nov. 7, 12:15-1 P.M. UC,B Hertz Concert Hall. UNIVERSITY BAROQUE ENSEMBLE. Davitt Moroney, director. (note program change) Music by Bach, Telemann, Brade, Rameau. Free. 510- 642.4864 

Wednesdays, Nov. 7, 14, 21 and 28. 12 noon-1 P.M. Playreaders at Central Library, 

2090 Kittredge. Read aloud from great plays, changing parts frequently. Intended for adult participants. Free. 510-981-6100 

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

Thursday, Nov. 8. 7-8:45 P.M. Café Literario at North branch Library. 1170 The Alameda, Berkeley. Facilitated book discussions in Spanish. November title: Marcela Serrano’s Diez Mujeres. Free. 510-981-6250 

Thursdays, Nov. 8 and 15. 6-7:30 P.M. Lawyers in the Library at Claremont Library. 2940 Benvenue Ave., Berkeley. Free. 510-981-6280 

Friday, Nov. 9. 12:15-1 P.M. UC,B Hertz concert hall. CHAMBER MUSIC (note program change): 

W.A. Mozart: Duo for Bassoon and Cello in B flat Major K.292 (196c) Movements 1, 2, 3. Mosa Tsay, cello; Bryson Cwick, bassoon. Johannes Brahms: Piano Trio in B Major, op. 8 First movement. Casey Nosiglia, violin; Lukas Whaley-Mayda, cello; Andrea Wu, piano. Philip Glass: String Quartet No. 5 Movements 1, 2, and 5 Jason Wu, Michael Hwang, violins; Andre Garrett, viola; Melody Huang, cello. Free. 510-642-4864 

Saturday, Nov. 10. 10 A.M. – 4 P.M. Big Book Sale. Sponsored by the Friends of the Berkeley Public Library, at the Central Library, 2090 Kittredge. All items are priced at 50 cents each. Such new categories as Sexuality, Humor, and Vintage books have been 

added. This year there will also be a retro media 'corral' with book trucks filled with vinyl phonograph records, cassettes, CDs, and DVDs. And, of course, there will also be the usual free stuff to take home with your purchases. BART or AC Transit. 510-524- 


Tuesday, Nov. 13. 6-7:30 P.M. Tenants’ Rights Workshop. Berkeley Rent Stabilizaiton Board. At Central Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge. A crash course on tenants’ rights and covers topics from rent control and eviction protections to getting security deposits back, dealing with habitability problems, breaking leases, dealing with roommate problems, landlord/tenant mediation, and petitioning for rent reduction/refund through the Berkeley Rent Board. For more information, contact (510) 981-RENT. 

Saturdays, Nov. 17 and Dec. 15. 1 P.M. Oakland Public Library Rockridge Branch,5366 College Ave. Free. Writers’ Support & Critique Group. 510-597-5017. 

Monday, Nov. 19. 7:00 P.M. Stress Relief Strategies for Busy Lives, with Holistic Health Coach, Jamie Duvnjak. Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Ave. Free. 510-524-3043. 

Wednesday, Nov. 21. 1:30 P.M. Berkeley Commission on Aging. North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst. Free. 510-981- 5190. 

Monday, Nov. 26. 7 P.M. Kensington Library Book Club. 61 Arlington Av. Lost Memory of Skin by Russell Banks. Free. 510-524-3043.  

Wednesday, November 28. 1:30-2:30P.M. Great Books discussion group. Sunday Morning, by Wallace Stevens. Rosalie Gonzales, group facilitator. Albany Library, 1247 Marin Av. 510-526-3720.  

Wednesday, Nov. 28. 1:30 P.M. Berkeley-East Bay Gray Panthers meeting. North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst. Free. 510-548-9696 or 486-8010. GrayPanthersBerk@aol.com.  

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

Friday, Dec. 7, 2012. 6:30P.M. UC Botanical Garden. Gorgeous Gifts from the Garden Holiday Soiree, a special holiday shopping affair. From the sublimely simple to the ultra-chic there is sure to be a plant or Garden-inspired gift item to delight everyone on your holiday gift-giving list. Add tasty seasonal refreshments and extra discounts and the experience is complete! The Garden Shop and special local vendors will feature eco-friendly and handmade items. While you're here, don't forget to pick up a plant for yourself or a beautifully packaged gift membership for someone special. Free. UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley - 200 Centennial Drive.10-643-2755  

Wednesday, Dec. 19. 7:00 - 8:00 P. M. Alameda County Library, Albany branch, 1247 Marin Av. The Adult Evening Book Group will read Primary Colors; A Novel About Politics by Anonymous (Joe Klein) A behind-the scenes look at modern American politics with characters and events that might seem familiar. Rosalie Gonzales facilitates the discussion. Come to one meeting, or all meetings. Books are available at the Library. Free. 510-526-3720 

Wednesday, Dec. 26. 1:30 - 2:30 P.M. Alameda County Library, Albany branch, 1247 Marin Av. Great Books group meets for a Holiday Luncheon. Call 510- 526-3720 for information. 

Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013. 10 A.M.-4 P.M. UC Botanical Garden. Plants Illustrated Exhibition. The Garden is pleased to announce its fourth annual botanical art exhibition, Plants Illustrated. The exhibition, held in conjunction with the Northern California Society of Botanical Artists, invites viewers to explore the relationship between scientific study and fine art. The exhibit presents original artworks in watercolor, graphite, colored pencil and pen & ink and explores the many styles, forms and approaches unique to botanical art and illustration. Free with Garden admission. UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley - 200 Centennial Drive.| 510-643-2755.

ECLECTIC RANT: Consumer Action Has Launched a "Know Your Card" Website to Help Consumers

By Ralph E. Stone
Friday November 02, 2012 - 09:31:00 AM

Consumer Action (www.consumer-action.org) launched its new website (www.knowyourcard.org) to help consumers understand the new laws and other changes regarding credit, debit, prepaid, and gift cards. The website's homepage presents key payment card changes, explains how they could affect cardholders and offers tips to help consumers make better decisions. Sidebar links to the At-a-Glance Card Rulebook provide more detailed information and an overview of changes for each type of payment card.  

Who is Consumer Action? Consumer Action is a nonprofit organization that has championed the rights of underrepresented consumers nationwide since 1971. Throughout its history, the organization has dedicated its resources to promoting financial literacy and advocating for consumer rights in both the media and before lawmakers to promote economic justice for all. With the resources and infrastructure to reach millions of consumers, Consumer Action is one of the most recognized, effective, and trusted consumer organizations in the nation. I am a volunteer with Consumer Action providing information and resources to people with consumer complaints and problems. 

The website's homepage presents key payment card changes, explains how they could affect cardholders and offers tips to help consumers make the right moves. Sidebar links to the At-a-Glance Card Rulebook provide more detailed information and an overview of changes for each type of payment card.  

The areas discussed on the website: 

* Credit card surcharging; 

* Debit card routing; 

* Payment steering; 

* Credit card minimum purchase requirements; 

* Interchange fees; 

* Credit card minimum age requirements; 

* Interest rate increase; 

* Credit card fees; 

* Card payments; and  

* Gift cards; 

Finally, a search box allows consumers to access an extensive database of questions and answers (Q&As) and find what they are looking for fast. Visitors can access the Q&As by using the search box or by browsing Q&As by category, or even by asking Consumer Action a question via a form on the site. They can then rate the Q&As, and their ratings will provide feedback on how helpful the answers are.

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Medication is Not Always the Magic Bullet

By Jack Bragen
Friday November 02, 2012 - 09:14:00 AM

Taking medication is important for most people who suffer from a psychiatric illness. Since these illnesses are usually caused by a brain malfunction, they (the psychiatric illnesses) must be addressed by addressing the problem. Mental illnesses are believed to be caused by an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain. Psychiatric medication changes the balance of neurotransmitters. 

It may be impossible with current medical technology to fix the balance of neurotransmitters perfectly. However, if the medication is functioning ideally, it gets the person's brain into the "ballpark" of normal functioning. 

Psychiatric medications are currently not developed enough to be site specific. This means that in order to correct a problem in one area of the brain, you're introducing a change to the entire brain with the medications. For example, if a person is psychotic, there is a specific area near the middle of the brain that is believed to have excessive dopamine and/or serotonin. The antipsychotic medication lowers the effect of these neurotransmitters in the entire brain. Thus, you have a lot of side effects. Sometimes, one of them is depression. 

Antidepressants and mood stabilizers, in comparison with antipsychotics, will have other side effects. Prozac and some other antidepressants can trigger a manic episode, and can affect someone in a similar manner to a stimulant. Mood stabilizer medication, which is used to treat bipolar illness, has the effect of not letting a person get up too high (and hopefully not too low) on the mood scale. These medications can also directly slow a person down. This could be part of the reason that mood stabilizers can cause weight gain. 

None of the medications that today are used to treat persons with mental illness are without some kind of significant side effect. Drugs haven't been invented that exactly replace a missing brain enzyme. Some day, we hope that such drugs will be invented. 

Synthroid, for example, used to treat hypothyroidism, is produced by a strain of bacteria that has been genetically engineered using human genes to secrete something that exactly mimics the human thyroid hormone. The same goes for today's insulin-it is no longer extracted from cow livers. It is manufactured in a lab with genetically engineered bacteria. 

Why can't the same technology be used for psychiatric illnesses? I don't know how close we are to scientists being able to exactly replace a missing brain enzyme to treat mental illness. I do know that the latest round of antipsychotic medications leave much to be desired. While these medications may work to alleviate much of a person's psychosis, the new medications have severe health risks, and worse side effects compared to the older generation of medications. 

When "atypical antipsychotics," as they're called, were first discovered, they were promoted as not having the same life-ruining side effects as the older medications, one side effect being "Tardive Dyskinesia." This refers to involuntary movements of the mouth, face, and upper body which are disfiguring and disabling. 

The new generation of medications, contrary to the exaggerated claims of their enthusiasts (the drug companies and some psychiatrists), do sometimes cause Tardive Dyskinesia. It was originally assumed that they did not, but the substances had just been invented. It takes several years of being on a medication for the Tardive Dyskinesia to appear. The medications originally had not been tested on humans long enough to know. 

Imagine trying to shave, brush your teeth, drive a car or carry on a conversation when your face is moving and twitching all over the place. People see that and they automatically think "weirdo" and will shun that individual because of the disfigured appearance produced by this problem. 

Medication will do some things to help you if you have a mental illness. While you may be sedated or have other side effects, the medication may restore you to a workable state of mind. Medications do not do a perfect job of restoring the mind. But once you have a foothold on "normal" you may potentially be able to use cognitive exercises to get to an emotional state that is more acceptable. Otherwise, life could at least be tolerable if on medications other than ones that (it varies from person to person) have unbearable side effects. 

A person with mental illness should not rely on medication to solve all emotional problems. With medication, there will always be some level of discomfort, unless a person is sedated into oblivion. A certain level of discomfort should be tolerated before looking for a change. If things are completely unbearable, then yes, medication ought to be changed. This would entail addition of a new medication and/or getting off an existing medication, or could entail changing dosages. 

However, it is clear that the right medications for persons with mental illness, while they may be a prerequisite to getting well, are not the entire answer. As an adjunct to medication, some type of techniques of mindfulness ought to be used. This could be Zen meditation, it could be Neuro-Linguistic Programming, or it could be some other type of non-chemical therapeutic treatment that helps the mind let go of what is not needed. 

I find that the meditation that I do, which is my own brand of acceptance of emotions, can also be helpful with the side effects of medication. Physical exercise can also help to alleviate some side effects. Although I don't exercise, even though I should. 

Medication is a necessary evil for most people with mental illness and can not be depended upon to fix everything. Once stabilized on medication, the journey to wellness has only begun.

Arts & Events

FILM REVIEW: The Loneliest Planet: Trek Stars and Zen Sum-Opens November 2 at the Shattuck Cinema

By Gar Smith
Friday November 02, 2012 - 09:17:00 AM

If I had to assign one word to the experience of viewing this film, that word would be: interminable. 

The folks who publish the Lonely Planet guides might be tempted to take legal action against director Julia Loktev for turning an innocent mountain trek into chamber of emotional horrors. Two young lovers, Alex (Gael García Bernal) and Nica (Hani Furstenberg) set out on an adventure. They hire a local mountaineer (Bidzina Gujabidze, a real-life mountain-climbing legend) to guide them through the majestic Caucasus Mountains of Georgia (Note: we're talking Eastern Europe here, not the US state). 

This film was based on a short story. It must have been a very short story. Unfortunately, the film version goes on — and on — for 113 minutes. I had it easy though. Unlike members of a theater audience, I was able to fast forward. I hit that button no less than 20 times. 

Clearly this was not an easy film to make. The actors, the director, and small film crew had to rough it through some of the most beautiful and demanding terrain on Earth. Bernal and Furstenberg prove themselves to be superb athletes. (In one scene they compete in side-by-side headstands on a mountaintop.) Cast and crew alike shivered in the mountains' icy heights and were blasted by a "historic heat wave." 

It would be fair to say that the geography becomes the "fourth character" in this film. The trekkers are little more than specks in the backdrop of the vast mountains. The grass-covered slopes are treeless and their confining peaks interrupt the sky, signaling that there is no place to hide; no place to escape. 

The cinematography is exceptional and the landscapes are stunning. Unfortunately, the viewing experience threatens to become literally stunning as the camera stares fixedly at these sprawling plains and towering peaks for the better part of a minute. Sometimes there's nothing happening onscreen — except for the barely visible images of the three trekkers moving—slowly, steadily, relentlessly—across a quarter mile of mountain trail. What would be an "establishing shot" in any other movie becomes a can't-blink-contest in this film. If there's a stark panorama of a mountain with a trail on it, be prepared for the camera to linger until the last ant-like trekker has entered stage right and exited stage left. 

There is almost no music in the film. Instead, there is the constant background noise of plodding boots, stamping feet, clinking rocks, and rustling underbrush. 

And there is little dialogue. Half of the film's few conversations are spoken in foreign tongues and half of the English that is spoken is broken English. 

There is one critical scene (and just one). It hinges on a four-way conversation that is unintelligible to Western ears. At one point, a gun is inexplicably pointed at an individual's face. The gunman holds position and no one moves—for 30 seconds (I timed it). 

The trailer and the publicity fliers let us know that Something Happens mid-way through the trek. "A momentary misstep—a gesture that takes only two or three seconds, a gesture that's over almost as soon as it begins. But once it is done, it can't be undone." 

This is the guessing game going in: Does someone die? Will someone be gravely injured. Every time the trekkers cross a rocky outcropping or ford a raging stream, the audience is prepared for the worst. 

But when the Something Happens, it turns out to be both less-and-more than one would anticipate. In another movie, it might provoke laughter. (As a matter of fact, in Woody Allen's To Rome with Love, it does.) 

Something Happens and, well, the film moves on. More trudging. More silence, but now it's a "troubled silence." There is moral failure and betrayal in the air and no words can explain it (and, worse, no one even tries). Director Loktev has expressed the hope that this unresolved angst "might lead to some interesting date conversations." 

If I'm not mistaken, the last line of the script is: "I'm starting to feel pukey…." And then it ends, with another Vast Scene of the Trekkers, still in the middle of the all-encompassing wilderness, slowly —ever so slowly — breaking camp, unzipping their tents, folding their tents, stowing their tents. And it's over. Except for the credit-scroll and the sound track's inescapable, extended toll of plodding, scraping boots, labored breathing, and noises of three people preparing to strap on their backpacks for another day of aimless, brooding walking.

Around & About Music: Conlon Nancarrow Centennial Events at UC this Weekend (Some Free!)_

By Ken Bullock
Friday November 02, 2012 - 07:33:00 AM

Conlon Nancarrow, that unique American composer, best-known for his dense, complex compositions on piano rolls for player piano that date from the late 1940s to his death in the late 90s, will be celebrated in style this weekend at events within a two-block radius at the University of California. 

Other Minds, Cal Performances & the Pacific Film Archive (PFA) have teamed up for this exciting venture, which will feature live performances, films & panel discussions with Nancarrow's widow & son, his biographer & music publisher, musicians from all over, as well as Charles Amirkhanian, Other Minds founder, who played Nancarrow's music on KPFA-fm & made pioneer recordings for Berkeley's 1750 Arch label during the 70s.  

Friday, 5:30: Free --Berkeley Art Museum, 2626 Bancroft Way near College Avenue: MATRIX exhibit of Trimpin's 'Nancarrow Percussion Exhibit' & a conversation with Trimpin. 

7 p. m.: PFA $5.50-$9.50--James Greeson's new film, 'Conlon Nancarrow: Virtuoso Player Piano' & short films by Alban Wesly of Nancarrow works. 

Saturday 11 a. m.: Free--Hertz Hall (UC campus) Panel discussion, including performances of Nancarrow's Piano Studies nos. 12 & 25. 

2 p. m.: Hertz Hall $20--Performances by Trimpin, Rex Lawlor (on mechanical piano) Studies nos 5, 6, 11, 26, 37--& 41c, for two pianos, plus music by Rachmaninoff & the pianola music from Jean Gremillon's lost documentary film on fishing boats, 'Un tour au large' (1926) 

8 p. m.: Hertz Hall $30--Calder Quartet playing music by Thomas Ades, Nancarrow's String Quartets nos. 1 & 3, Paul Usher's arrangement of NC's Study no. 33 & Bartok's (a seminal influence on NC) String Quartet no. 5. 

Sunday, Noon: Free--Hertz Hall "Eyeballs Out!"--panel with musicians on playing Nancarrow, including performances of Piece for Tape, Study no. 32 & others. 

4 p. m.: PFA $5:50-$9:50--'Nancarrow: Music For 1000 Fingers,' (Hanne Kaisile/Uli Anmuller), including footage of Nancarrow explaining his methods & techniques. Short films of Nancarrow pieces by Alban Wesly, Tal Rosner & Sophie Clement. 

7 p. m.: Hertz Hall $20--Performances by Rex Lawson & violinist Graeme Jennings, percussionist Froh Jennings, piano duo Helena Bugallo & Amy Williams : Piece for Tape, Toccata for Piano & Violin, piano duets of transcriptions of NC pianola music for piano duo, NC piano rolls of 'Rite of Spring.'. 

Info: calperformances.org (& see Joshua Kosman's excellent preview on sfgate.com)