The Week

Some of the historic homes on the Berkeley Architectural Heritage May Tour
Daniella Thompson
Some of the historic homes on the Berkeley Architectural Heritage May Tour


Berkeley Suspect Accused of Pistol-Whipping Student

By Sasha Lekach
Saturday April 06, 2013 - 08:22:00 AM

Berkeley police are asking for the community's help to find a man who pistol-whipped a high school student during a robbery before getting on a bus last month. -more-

Press Release: Berkeley Police Department Seeks Help to Catch Robber

From Officer Jennifer Coates, Berkeley Police
Wednesday April 03, 2013 - 11:05:00 AM

The City of Berkeley Police Department (BPD) is seeking the community's help to identify an armed robber. -more-

Oakland Hit-and-Run Suspect Arrested In Berkeley

By Sasha Lekach (BCN)
Friday April 05, 2013 - 11:44:00 AM

A suspect in an Oakland hit-and-run early this morning was arrested several hours later in Berkeley, according to the California Highway Patrol and Berkeley police. -more-

Berkeley Basketball Team Leaves for Final Four

By Dan McMenamin
Thursday April 04, 2013 - 08:28:00 PM

The University of California at Berkeley women's basketball team left yesterday for its first NCAA Tournament Final Four trip in the school's history. -more-

Graffitirazzi – Facing Off with a Downtown Tagger

By Gar Smith
Friday April 05, 2013 - 10:10:00 AM

Graffiti can appear as swirls of coded letters or as an outburst of design. Sometimes graffiti artists leave behind watchful faces sprayed on urban walls and peeping from downtown allies.

Here is a selection, beginning with a graffitied face gracing the entrance to Herrick Hospital -more-



Arts Funding Drought Hits California

San Francisco Mime Troupe and others
threatened by 2013 grant shortfall

By Becky O'Malley
Friday April 05, 2013 - 08:44:00 AM

The good news this week is that Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian, who represents the area around Van Nuys in Southern California, is trying to revive the moribund California Arts Council. He’s asked fellow assembly members to join him in co-authoring Assembly Bill 580, which “restores funding to the California Arts Council (CAC) and creates a stable revenue source for art programs that will be enjoyed and taken advantage of by local communities throughout the state."

That’s a very worthy goal, and Californians all over the state should ask their representatives to get behind it. Beloved arts programs all over the state, even icons like the San Francisco Mime Troupe, are having trouble holding on in today’s shaky economy, and they need our help. -more-

The Editor's Back Fence

You Need to Know

Thursday April 04, 2013 - 09:03:00 PM

Here are a few important articles which ran this week in the commercial publications which cover Berkeley:

The Media News publications ran this story about the Berkeley City Council's handling of the city's chronic homeless population. It's noteworthy that reporter Judith Scherr not only covered the city council meeting, where all was mostly sweetness and light, but also covered the Chamber of Commerce meeting where Mayor Bates sang a different tune.

Sudden Oak Death is a very real problem for the East Bay. Berkeley Patch, the local manifestation of the Huffington Post/Yahoo empire, has a good story about a new UC project to track its spread.

Another UC Berkeley story that's not so upbeat is featured on the Big U's plan to build a lavish and probably ugly swim center on Bancroft which has been criticized by city planners and residents.

And finally, Berkeleyside's links section points to a press release from the Berkeley Public Education Foundation which oddly enough was not sent to the Daily Planet, reporting the appointment of longtime developers' flack Erin Rhoades, spouse of Mark Rhoades, another one of same, as the foundation's executive director. This should come as no surprise, since the BPEF chair is developer Chris Hudson. School district watchers might be alert to the potential expansion of the Berkeley Unified School District's edifice complex, which is now producing a wall of concrete along Milvia, with more in the works. -more-


Odd Bodkins: Not Afraid of the Dark (Cartoon)

By Dan O'Neill
Friday April 05, 2013 - 09:37:00 AM

Public Comment

New: Berkeley School Garden Program Threatened

By Beebo Turman
Monday April 08, 2013 - 01:45:00 PM

We have a crisis in our public schools: our beloved garden and cooking classes are loosing their federal funding as of Sept. 30, 2013. We have a committee looking for alternative funding. We are having a community meeting at Longfellow Middle School, April 11 (Thurs.), 7:00 - 8:30, where we hope parents will come to testify how much they and their children love these classes. There will be some film clips (from "LunchLoveCommunity") and a panel of 5 people (where Martin Bourque from the Ecology Center will direct questions to the panel), and we hope to have a discussion about "Next Steps." -more-

Finally, A Bill of Rights for the Homeless!

By Rita McKeon, Member of the BOSS Community Organizing Team (COT), a project of Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency
Thursday April 04, 2013 - 08:35:00 PM

Authored by Assembly Member Tom Ammiano, the California Homeless Bill of Rights, AB5, had its first hearing in Sacramento on April 1st, 2013.

In recent years several cities have enacted or attempted to enact “broken window” lawslaws designed to criminalize homeless people and remove them from public view. The California Homeless Bill of Rights and Fairness Act is a first step to de-criminalize homelessness and grant equal rights protection to ALL: housed and un-housed.

This legislation would be a major public statement recognizing the basic human and civil rights of people without homes. It will help shift our discussions from the characterization of homeless people as vagrants or service-resistant to the reality in our society that there are not enough homes that are affordable on very low incomes, not enough jobs for people with low skills, not enough care for people with serious physical and mental health needs. Our discussions can then shift from blaming the victims to solving the problems: this is what AB5 will do—publicly validate the dignity of people without homes so we can direct our attention and resources to fixing the problems they face. -more-

Antisocial Bullying for Some is not Hospitality for All 0n North Shattuck ((An Open Letter)

By Jennifer Mary Pearson
Friday April 05, 2013 - 06:17:00 PM

Dear Ms. Dana Ellsworth of the Board of Directors of the North Shattuck Association Business Improvement District:,

Yesterday I received this disturbing quote:

"Heather has been sending around street cleaners who are attempting to bully musicians and panhandler out of the area which she has no authority to do, arousing indignation at the French Hotel."

People are told this is from the City yet the 'cleaners' do not show City I.D. Have you voted on the NSA/BID Board for the Executive Director to commit resources for this antisocial bullying? A few of us have called your Executive Director Hensley--we learned she knows nothing about this? Enraged citizens are photographing evidence of this illegal and cruel 'cleansing of the poor' that is underway on the Rose to Cedar blocks of Shattuck Avenue.

Today I spoke with a nice polite elderly man who panhandles by the Bank of America. This morning around 10 he was threatened by 'ambassadors' that they would call the police and have him arrested if he didn't move off. That Bank's armed security guard (who often chats with him} said he could stay as did the management person at the bank and re-assigned him a spot. In a sense he 'backs up' the security guard with watching the flow--important because that bank has been held up several times per year. Imagine how his blood pressure went dangerously up! Many of us who everyday look out for each other in this shopping district are angered (again). For milennia our religious practices advocate for giving alms to the poor on the public street. To deny such is another violation of our Constitution, isn't it?

Do you know anything about 'ambassadors' hired by the BID to harasses and threaten good people who are NOT blocking the right of way? Instead, why is no one improving the path of travel for pedestrians, wheelchairs and baby carriages by the pizza shop line?Please visit and see for yourself. -more-

If Corporations Are People, I'm All for DOMA

By Gar Smith
Thursday April 04, 2013 - 07:49:00 PM

Under the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling, corporations are now granted the rights of living people -- specifically the right to make unlimited financial contributions to political campaigns. all in the name of "free speech." -more-

Medicare -- Obama's Disastrous Proposal

By Harry Brill
Friday April 05, 2013 - 03:34:00 PM

President Obama is proposing an astronomical increase in Medicare deductibles for doctor care and outpatient services from the current $147 to $1,331 for the year, which is an eight fold increase!!!! Moreover, this increase is in addition to the mandatory co-payments for many services. -more-

The Daily Show Misinformation on Egypt

By Haroon Abdelrahman
Friday April 05, 2013 - 11:14:00 AM

US wise, he is unmatchable. Too bad this statement about Jon Stuart cannot be extended to describe the Daily Show's grip on Egypt.

In his segment about Egyptian president Mohammad Morsi on 04/01 episode, Stuart made plausible arguments only if you don’t know enough, or deliberately choose to ignore the facts. As much as he is smart and encyclopedic talking about American issues, when it came to Egypt Jon showed typical western unawareness of the region and the culture, and yet insisted on sharing his wisdom and teach Morsi quite a few lessons. -more-

When Restraining Orders Fail: Arm the Women!

By Gar Smith
Thursday April 04, 2013 - 08:10:00 PM

On March 23, 2013, 29-year-old Sandra Cruzes-Gonsalez was stabbed to death by her ex-boyfriend Juan Ramirez.

Police officers responding to phone calls found the victim lying in the parking lot of her San Jose apartment complex. She died in a nearby hospital from multiple stab wounds.

What struck me about the story was this line: "The victim had an active restraining order against the suspect at the time of the homicide, according to police."

How many times have we read or heard of women dying at the hands of angry ex-boyfriends/husbands who had been placed under a "restraining order"?

In this case, as in too many others, the restraining order offered little to no protection for the individual under threat.

Perhaps it's time to consider a different approach. -more-


Keystone XL: Obama the Pragmatist

By Bob Burnett
Friday April 05, 2013 - 08:41:00 AM

On April 3rd and 4th, President Obama spoke at several San Francisco fundraisers. While he didn’t specifically mention the Keystone XL pipeline, the tenor of his remarks indicated that he’s likely to approve the controversial project. Obama seems to be most influenced by his inherent political pragmatism.

I’ve heard Barack Obama speak on several occasions. The first was February 19, 2007, at a San Francisco ore-election fundraiser with a lengthy question and answer session. Towards the end of the event a woman asked then presidential-candidate Obama what his position was on same-sex marriage. For an instant, Obama seemed surprised; then he gathered himself and responded he was aware of strong feelings on both sides of this issue and his position was evolving. Five years later, in May of 2012, President Obama announced his support for same-sex marriage.

What took Obama so long to make up his mind? No doubt he needed to clarify his own moral position – although the Protestant denomination he was baptized into, the United Church of Christ, announced its support for same-sex marriage in 2005. But I’m sure the President carefully weighed the political consequences and, last May, thought the timing was right.

Over the last six years I’ve realized Barack Obama has several personas. On occasion he moves us with stirring oratory; that’s Reverend Obama, the rock star. Once in a while, he turns philosophical; that’s Professor Obama, the student of American history. On April 3rd, I saw Politician Obama, the pragmatic leader of the Democratic Party. -more-

DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE: Syria: A Multi-Sided Chess Match

By Conn Hallinan March 31, 2013
Thursday April 04, 2013 - 07:56:00 PM

In some ways the Syrian civil war resembles a proxy chess match between supporters of the Bashar al-Assad regime— Iran, Iraq, Russia and China—and its opponents— Turkey, the oil monarchies, the U.S., Britain and France. But the current conflict only resembles chess if the game is played with multiple sides, backstabbing allies, and conflicting agendas. -more-

ECLECTIC RANT: Roe v. Wade: Still Controversial After 40 Years

By Ralph E. Stone
Thursday April 04, 2013 - 08:52:00 PM

On January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade legalized abortion. In this case, Jane Roe, a pseudonym for Norma Leah McCorvey (née Nelson), brought a class action suit challenging the constitutionality of a Texas criminal abortion laws, which forbids procuring or attempting an abortion except on medical advice for the purpose of saving the mother's life. The Supreme Court stated that state criminal abortion laws "that except from criminality only a life-saving procedure on the mother's behalf without regard to the stage of her pregnancy and other interests involved violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which protects against state action the right to privacy, including a woman's qualified right to terminate her pregnancy." -more-

SENIOR POWER Five matzohs for Nora!

By Helen Rippier Wheeler,
Thursday April 04, 2013 - 08:14:00 PM

I recommend Nora’s Will, a 2011 DVD about death, family, love, mental health, Passover, and suicide. -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Buddhist-Style Mindfulness Applies

By Jack Bragen
Thursday April 04, 2013 - 08:26:00 PM

Buddhist ideas and some Buddhist practices are extremely applicable to people who have found themselves in the predicament of being mentally ill. Buddhist ideas of nonattachment and acceptance are potentially a lifesaver for people who experience numerous hardships. -more-

Arts & Events

Press Release: Little Ones, Latinos and Labor Celebrating Cesar Chavez in Berkeley with a Community Forum on Immigration

From the offices of Councilmembers Kriss Worthington and Jesse Arreguin
Tuesday April 09, 2013 - 09:11:00 PM

On Thursday, April 11th, the City of Berkeley will be holding a community forum on immigration.

The event features little ones (fourth graders), Berkeley’s three Latino elected officials and a labor leader who served in the White House.

The event starts at 7:00pm and will be held at the Berkeley Adult School at 1701 San Pablo Ave. There will be live music, food and guest speakers, including Maria Echaveste, the former White House Deputy Chief of Staff on Federal Immigration Policy Reform, Rodrigo Guzmán, the young Berkeley boy who found that he was unable to return home after a family vacation to Mexico, Alejandro Soto Vigil (Rent Board), Jesse Arreguin (City Council), and Beatriz Leyva-Cutler (School Board). -more-

The Revolutionary Optimists: Indian Slum Kids Overcome the Odds--Opens at the Rialto Elmwood on April 5

By Gar Smith
Thursday April 04, 2013 - 07:49:00 PM

Can a bunch of underage slumdogs from the Indian state of Kolkata find the inner strength to become internationally recognized community activists? You bet! But it's not easy. -more-

Claremont Hills: Historic Homes Above the Claremont Hotel Open on May 19 for BAHA Tour

By Daniella Thompson
Friday April 05, 2013 - 10:21:00 AM

The Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association (BAHA) will hold its 38th annual Spring House Tour and Garden Reception on Sunday, May 19, 2013, from 1:00 to 5:00 pm. -more-