The Week



UC Berkeley Student Accused of Filming Women in Co-Ed Dorm Showers

By Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Thursday May 15, 2014 - 01:44:00 PM

A 19-year-old University of California at Berkeley student has been charged with six misdemeanor counts of invading privacy for allegedly shooting several cellphone videos of women showering in dormitories in recent months, campus police said. -more-

Flash: Berkeley Group to Petition for Minimum Wage Ballot Initiative (Press Release)

From Berkeley Citizens for a Fair Minimum Wage
Wednesday May 14, 2014 - 05:56:00 PM

Our group, Berkeley Citizens for a Fair Minimum Wage, will deliver a notice to the Berkeley City Clerk at 10 AM Thursday, May 15th. This action will begin our petition campaign for a ballot initiative establishing a new Berkeley Minimum Wage at $15/hour, along with annual CPI-adjusted increases and paid sick leave. -more-

Forward of "Minimum Wage Betrayal by the Berkeley City Council! We're ready to fight back!" (Public Comment)

By Rob Wrenn
Wednesday May 14, 2014 - 06:08:00 PM

Below is an e-mail I received from Nicky Gonzalez Yuen via Credo Mobilize. I urge people to turn out to the Council meeting, as he suggests, to protest and to ask the Council to reconsider the higher minimum wage suggested by the Labor Commission. And please contact the mayor and your council member.

In San Francisco, the minimum wage rose to $10.74 on Jan. 1 of this year. A poll shows that a sizeable majority of San Francisco voters support raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, which would take place by 2017 under a measure proposed for November's ballot. In Oakland, activists have been gathering signatures for a Nov. measure that would raise the minimum wage to $12.25 next May.

Yet our City Council rejected all the good work done by the Labor Commission, and with Bates, Maio and Capitelli leading the retreat, agreed only to go to $10.75 an hour, and not until 2016. Clearly they listened to the special-interest pleading of Berkeley's Republican-minded Chamber of Commerce. It appears that we have a majority of Corporate Democrats on our City Council, who are ignoring the difficult situation of low-wage workers in an area with soaring housing costs. I have no doubt that if it was put to the voters, a $15 minimum would pass easily in this city. Maio is up for re-election this year and she should be held accountable for how she votes on this issue. -more-

Berkeley Police Rescued Two Men in Fire

By Scott Morris (BCN)
Friday May 09, 2014 - 11:20:00 PM

Three Berkeley police officers made a daring rescue of two men who were trapped by a fire near the University Avenue off-ramp to Interstate Highway 80 in Berkeley Wednesday afternoon, the Berkeley Police Association said. -more-

Car Plows Through Apple Store Window on Berkeley's 4th Street; Merchandise Stolen

By Laura Dixon (BCN)
Friday May 09, 2014 - 11:17:00 PM

A suspect drove through the glass windows of an Apple store in Berkeley early this morning and made off with store merchandise, police said. -more-

Union Files Safety Complaint About UC Berkeley Worker's Death

BY Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Friday May 09, 2014 - 11:23:00 PM

Union leaders said today that they've filed a complaint with the state Division of Occupational Safety and Health about the death of a custodian at the University of California at Berkeley on April 7.

Leaders of American Federation of State Local and Municipal Employees Local 3299, which represents 22,000 service and patient care technical workers at the 10 UC campuses, said 45-year-old Damon Frick fell from a 20-foot lift at the International House on campus on April 7 and died days later from the injuries he sustained. -more-



Sign Up Now for Berkeley Ballot Measures, or Forever Hold Your Peace

By Becky O'Malley
Friday May 09, 2014 - 01:07:00 PM

All right, the initiative petitions for measures to be placed on the November ballot are down to the wire. This weekend will see the last big push to qualify measures to be offered to voters for their approval. The hysteria among certain members of the Berkeley City Council has reached fever pitch—they’re SHOCKED, SHOCKED that voters, finally fed up with a do-nothing legislative body, seem to be taking matters into their own hands.

Mayor Tom Bates has used his official voter-funded newsletter to play Paul Revere. In a recent “Bates Update” he claimed that the Green Downtown initiative would “cripple the voter-approved downtown plan”. Actually, the reverse is true. -more-

Public Comment

Berkeley’s Green Downtown & Public Commons Initiative

From Jesse Arreguin, Sophie Hahn and Austene Hall
Friday May 09, 2014 - 11:18:00 AM

In November of 2010 Berkeley’s citizens approved a “Green Vision” for the Downtown that promised preservation of historic and cultural resources; green buildings and environmental features; affordable and family housing; safe, lively and enhanced public space; good jobs; enhanced public transit; public parking and more.

More recently, in response to threats to privatize public assets such as the Post Office, the need to designate Berkeley’s Civic Center core as an area dedicated to civic and community uses has gained urgency.

This Initiative provides specific provisions to implement Berkeley’s Green Downtown Vision and to preserve our Civic Center as a Public Commons.

Protection for Public, Historic and Cultural Resources & Civic Center Overlay to Preserve the Heart of Downtown as a Public Commons -more-

Tax the Rich to House the Poor

By Katherine Harr & Jesse Townley, from the Robin Hood Committee
Friday May 09, 2014 - 11:06:00 AM

The most exciting and innovative campaign this year in Berkeley is reaching its first milestone. The Windfall Profits Tax on High Rents measure- which slightly increases an existing fee paid by large landlords- would work with the Affordable Housing Initiative to dedicate at least $3.5 million a YEAR to fund affordable housing in town by boosting the anemic Affordable Housing Trust Fund!

This weekend is the FINAL weekend for Berkeley voters to place BOTH measures on the November ballot. We'll be at the Saturday Berkeley Farmers Market from 10am to 2pm, among many other places. Come on by, sign on, and become a part of history!

What? You want to know what the heck we're gushing about? Read on: -more-

Berkeley City Council Votes for a Flawed Minimum Wage Ordinance

By Harry Brill
Friday May 09, 2014 - 10:12:00 PM

In the year 2000, the Berkeley City Council voted for a living wage law that benefits workers employed by businesses contracting with the city or on Berkeley owned property. The Council on Tuesday (May 6) approved a much more modest, and unquestionably, a rather miserable minimum wage ordinance that extends to almost all workers in Berkeley. Here is all there is to it. There is no minimum wage increase this year. On January 1, 2015 the minimum wage will be $10 an hour, which will be only a dollar more than the State minimum wage law. In January 1, 2016, the minimum wage would rise to $10.75. So it will be two years before it reaches the current minimum wage in San Francisco. No further increases have been enacted for the following years even though the City's Labor Commission, whose members are appointed by Council members, submitted a proposal that would increase the minimum wage by 2020 to $15.25. It also included an annual cost of living adjustment (COLA). -more-

Too Little

By Ted Rudow III,MA
Friday May 16, 2014 - 01:31:00 PM

Thousands of fast-food workers in the United States and around the world are staging a one-day strike today to demand a livable wage. A recent report found fast-food CEOs make 1,200 times as much money as the average fast-food worker, a disparity that maximizes short-term profit while harming worker security and the overall economy. -more-


THE PUBLIC EYE: Saving the 2014 Election

By Bob Burnett
Friday May 09, 2014 - 11:11:00 AM

Six months out from the midterm election, Democratic prospects appear grim. A ABC News / Washington Post poll found President Obama’s approval rating at a new low (41 percent). 53 percent of respondents said they preferred to have Republicans in charge of Congress, “to act as a check on Obama’s policies.” But there’s still time for Democrats to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: The Mentally Ill Subculture

By Jack Bragen
Friday May 09, 2014 - 11:16:00 AM

Persons with mental illness can usually relate to each other on a common wavelength. To illustrate this, I will bring up the analogy of my dog and cat. They are of different species, and yet, when the dog was introduced, my wife and I taught them to get along with each other. -more-

Arts & Events

OPERA REVIEW: Cherubini's MÉDÉE: A Rare Operatic Gem Performed in Berkeley

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Monday May 12, 2014 - 10:40:00 AM

As a part-time opera critic and full-time opera lover, I have attended some 750 opera performances throughout the world. Yet never until now, and in my home-town of Berkeley no less, have I had the opportunity to hear a live per-formance of Luigi Cherubini’s fabled Médée. The story of this opera is well known in Greek myth, from which source Euripides fashioned a searing tragic drama. Jason, a mainland Greek, has voyaged to the far shores of the Black Sea, to a land called Colchis where the princess Medea, (Médée in French, the original language of Cherubini’s opera), falls in love with Jason, helps him steal the Golden Fleece, and sails off with him, bearing Jason two sons during his long voyage home to Corinth. Once in Corinth, however, Jason is feted by King Creon, who offers Jason betrothal to the king’s lovely daughter Dircé, (Glauce in the Greek tale and so-named in the Italian version of Cherubini’s opera). Jason accepts Creon’s offer and urges Médée to give him custody of their children and accept lonely exile for herself.

Cherubini’s opera picks up this classical tale at the moment when Médée (or Medea) first expresses her horror at Jason’s betrayal and begins to plot her monstrous revenge against her wayward husband. Performed in Berkeley on May 4, 2014, by a group called The Handel Opera Project, Cherubini’s Médée featured soprano Eliza O’Malley in the demanding title role. The chamber orchestra was conducted by William G. Ludtke; and the fine supporting cast sang in the original French, with spoken recitatives in English.

Cherubini was an Italian composer, born in 1760, who settled in Paris in 1788, where his opera Médée was first performed on March 13, 1797, at the Théâtre Feydeau. Cherubini quickly followed up the success of Médée with a comic opera, Les Deux journées (1800), that also became enormously popular. Critics took note of Cherubini’s harmonic and orchestral richness as well as his highly original style. Beethoven admired Cherubini and considered him to be the greatest of his contemporary composers.

Where Médée is concerned, although its premiere took place only six years after Mozart’s death, Cherubini’s music looks forward rather than back, and prefigures a Romantic like Berlioz as much as (or more than) it reflects the classical influence of Mozart. There is considerable chromaticism in Cherubini’s Médée, and its writing for the title role is notoriously challenging for singers. In fact, so difficult is this role that the opera dropped out of the repertoire until Maria Callas famously re-introduced Cherubini’s Medea (sung by Callas in the Italian version) with live performances in the early 1950s and a famed studio recording in 1957. Callas’s fiery interpretation of the vengeful Medea became an early triumph of the great diva’s career; and the intensity of Callas’s stage presence inspired Italian film-maker Pier Paolo Pasolini to cast Maria Callas in the non-singing role of the lead character in his 1970 film Medea.

In The Handel Opera Project’s Berkeley performance of Médée, the fire-breathing title role was splendidly sung by Eliza O’Malley, who has performed previously with various Bay Area groups such as Verismo Opera, Berkeley Opera, and Oakland Opera Theatre, as well as Capitol Opera, Sac- ramento. When I asked Ms. O’Malley what trepidations she might have had in taking on this notoriously difficult role, she replied as follows. “I knew nothing of this opera when I was first approached about singing the title role. Then when I began studying the score, I found it quite daunting, because the tessitura [or general pitch level] moves rapidly from one register to another in different vocal numbers, and it was generally lower than in the roles like Violetta in La Traviata, Gilda in Rigoletto, and Leonora in Il Trovatore I had previously sung. But the more I studied the role of Médée, the more excited I became about singing Cherubini’s amazing music.” -more-