The Week



Flash: Shooting in South Berkeley

Wednesday June 11, 2014 - 05:33:00 PM

A caller text message reports that there has been a shooting this afternoon between 4:30 and 5 near the intersection of Russell and California in Berkeley. According to the Daily Cal, two people were injured, neither fatally. Police are on the scene, and have asked that no one enter the area at this time.

UPDATE, 7:45 pm Wednesday: Our text correspondent says that her workplace, the South Berkeley YMCA, located at that intersection, was locked down until after 7 p.m. The children in the Head Start program inside the center were cleared to go home about 5, but the adults were asked to stay. The Daily Planet has received no information from the Berkeley Police Department's public information officer about what happened.

UPDATE, 8:45 am Thursday, from BPD Officer Jennifer R. Coats: -more-

The Minimum Wage Ordinance is Coming to Berkeley (News Analysis/Opinion)

Harry Brill
Wednesday June 11, 2014 - 10:53:00 AM

On Tuesday (June 10) the Berkeley City Council voted unanimously to enact Berkeley's first minimum wage law that covers the vast majority of employees who work in Berkeley. There is a much narrower living wage ordinance enacted in the year 2000, but it benefits a very small number of employees -- no more than 200 -- who work for businesses contracting with the City or that are located on Berkeley City property. The current measure, to become law, requires a second vote by the City Council members, which will be on June 24.

Here is what working people gain. On October 1 of this year, the minimum wage will be $10 an hour. It will rise on October 1, 2015 to $11 an hour, and will peak on October 1, 2016 at $12.53. It is an immensely important victory because it establishes the principle that the City of Berkeley, and not just the State or federal government, has a responsibility to improve the standard of living of working people. It will certainly put more bread on the table for the City's low wage workers and their families. But although we are delighted about our victory, we are also mindful that the minimum wage measure is short of what we wanted. After a year of hard work the City's Labor Commission, whose members are all appointed by the City Council, submitted a proposal that would include an annual cost of living increase along with an annual wage increase that would eventually exceed $15 an hour. Moreover, a higher minimum wage would apply to large firms, which could afford to pay more. None of these recommendations were accepted by the majority of Council members. -more-

Berkeley Passes Minimum Wage Law

Harry Brill
Wednesday June 11, 2014 - 10:47:00 AM

It's official. Last night the Berkeley City Council passed, at first reading, a moderate minimum wage law, on the consent calendar, which means it passed unanimously without discussion or public comment. Minimum wage advocates wanted more, but this is a start. -more-

New: Two Shot in Berkeley at La Quinta Inn on University

Dennis Culver (BCN)
Sunday June 08, 2014 - 12:11:00 PM

Berkeley police are investigating a Saturday night shooting that sent two teenagers to the hospital. -more-

Environmental Group Sues Air District over Permitting on Chevron Project

Laura Dixon (BCN) and Planet
Friday June 06, 2014 - 05:21:00 PM

A California environmental group sued the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) in federal court today over the district's permitting of a $1 billion modernization project at Chevron's Richmond refinery. Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates is a member of the BAAQMD board. -more-

Updated: Berkeley Homes Evacuated, Road Closed, HazMat Suspected

Jeff Shuttleworth/Drew Himmelstein (BCN)
Friday June 06, 2014 - 11:40:00 AM

Several homes were evacuated on Oregon Street in Berkeley and a block was closed for part of this morning due to suspected hazardous materials found by Alameda County sheriff's deputies while serving a search warrant. -more-

Officer Who Killed Woman Felt His Life Was in Danger

Joan Dentler (BCN)
Friday June 06, 2014 - 09:51:00 AM

An 18-year-old woman shot and killed by a San Mateo County sheriff's deputy near Half Moon Bay Tuesday night was wielding a kitchen knife and came at the deputy in a threatening manner, according to San Mateo County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Dep. Rebecca Rosenblatt. -more-

Press Release: Report outlines benefits of proposed minimum wage hike in Oakland

By Kathleen Maclay, UC Berkeley Media Relations
Friday June 13, 2014 - 10:26:00 AM

A boost in Oakland’s minimum wage to $12.25 an hour that voters will decide on in November would mean a pay raise for 25 to 30 percent of workers in the city and would boost their yearly earnings by about $2,700, according to a new study by the University of California, Berkeley’s Institute for Research on Labor and Employment. -more-

New: Intersection: Ashby and Sacramento

Video by Zach Franklin
Sunday June 08, 2014 - 12:22:00 PM

Here's a lively corner of Berkeley you might not know about. The intersection of Ashby and Sacramento, in the most southwesternly part of Berkeley, is home to four interesting local institutions. Featured: former Councilmember Carole Kennerly and others, in a video created by Zach Franklin. -more-



Tasers for Berkeley Police? Not the Best Way to Deal with Most Crisis Situations

By Becky O'Malley
Friday June 06, 2014 - 11:02:00 AM

Another week, another mentally ill person killed by peace officers.

Berkeley readers might wonder why this week’s issue includes a Bay City News story about an 18-year-old woman who was shot to death in Half Moon Bay last week. I’ve reprinted it here because I think it’s pertinent to a question which was briefly addressed in an “Editor’s Back Fence” entry about the Isla Vista tragedy which appeared early last week, before the young woman was killed.

This is the gist of what I said there, which I think bears repeating since many readers only check in once a week:

On this site we’ve hosted an excellent pertinent discussion between regular columnists Ralph Stone and Jack Bragen about the advisability of laws requiring involuntary treatment, the “Laura’s Law” category. There are two points which I think were not fully addressed in their thoughtful essays, however. -more-

The Editor's Back Fence

Jean Quan is Pilloried in Press Because??

Tuesday June 10, 2014 - 10:09:00 AM

Just in case you happen to be teaching a journalism class (as I'm sure many Planet readers are) you might just google stories about "Jean Quan" which have appeared this week. I don't have a favorite among the many (17+ ??) candidates for Oakland mayor, but the stories about Mayor Quan being rear-ended are so obviously biased that I might be tempted to give her a sympathy vote if I lived in that city. The wicked newsies are fully aware that since the Mayor is a public figure they can drop the customary "allegedly" for unproven charges without fearing a libel suit. The Chron is the worst, but today's story on KQED radio was also dreadful.

The Mayor was once spotted answering her cell phone while driving, and once cited for sliding through a red light, okay? No newsy ever did that, nosiree. And since she did it before, you can be sure she's done it again, right? QED! If and when she's cleared by the phone records she's offered to place in evidence, you can also be sure that the story will be small, on the back page,no photo. -more-

Target Berkeley

Monday June 09, 2014 - 08:24:00 PM

In case you wonder what targets are currently being painted on downtown Berkeley by the development industry, take a look at this "refined" design which appears in an industry blog. This is the super high rise project which will demolish the Shattuck theater in the old Hink's building—the one fronted by former Berkeley City Planning Department honcho Mark Rhoades. -more-


Odd Bodkins: The Squaw (Cartoon)

By Dan O'Neill
Thursday June 05, 2014 - 01:45:00 PM

Public Comment

Berkeley Minimum Wage Vote On June 10

Harry Brill
Friday June 06, 2014 - 10:51:00 PM

To enact an ordinance in Berkeley requires the majority of the Berkeley City Council to approve the proposal at two different meetings. On this coming Tuesday, June 10, the first vote on the proposed minimum wage ordinance will take place. If passed, hourly wages will peak at $12.53 by October 2016. Although we had proposed a higher hourly wage that includes a annual cost of living increase, we did not succeed. Nevertheless, the current proposal is not only a step forward. It will be a tremendous achievement. For the first time in history, the City of Berkeley will mandate a minimum wage for the vast majority of Berkeley workers. -more-

Veterans' Care

Jagjit Singh
Thursday June 05, 2014 - 04:37:00 PM

General Shinseki’s departure is unlikely to solve the VA’s broader problems — a bloated bureaucracy that had been taught, over time, to hide its problems from Washington. The festering problem predates the Obama administration. No decisive action has been taken and President Obama continues to remains distant and aloof, periodically feigning outrage when the media reports frustrating delays encountered by veterans desperately seeking help. -more-

June Pepper Spray Times

By Grace Underpressure
Thursday June 05, 2014 - 01:55:00 PM

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. -more-

Press Release: Lawsuit Filed - Chevron Refinery Permit to Pollute Exposed

From Roger Lin, CBE
Thursday June 05, 2014 - 04:39:00 PM

Today Communities for a Better Environment (CBE) filed suit against the Bay Area Air Quality Management District for the District’s illegal permitting of the Chevron (“Modernization”) Expansion Project. CBE had previously requested the District to revoke the permit that allowed Chevron to build a Richmond refinery expansion that could increase air pollution from one of the state’s biggest industrial climate polluters without required emission prevention and environmental reviews. -more-


THE PUBLIC EYE: Class Warfare: The 2014 Election

Bob Burnett
Friday June 06, 2014 - 12:46:00 PM

As we head into the midterm national election, it’s clear that voters are unhappy. But it’s uncertain how their displeasure will affect the November 4th outcome. We’re seeing class warfare, where the interests of the 1 percent are competing with those of the 99 percent. -more-


Conn Hallinan
Thursday June 05, 2014 - 04:26:00 PM

British Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery had three laws of war:

One, never march on Moscow;

Two, never get in a land war in Asia;

Three, never march on Moscow.

So why are the U.S., the European Union (EU), and NATO on the road to the Russian capital? And exactly what are they hoping to accomplish?

Like all battlefields on the Eastern front, this one is complicated. -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Dealing with Low-Level Paranoia

Jack Bragen
Thursday June 05, 2014 - 05:38:00 PM

Medication to treat schizophrenia and other mental illnesses does not completely alleviate all symptoms. Thus, people on medication to treat paranoid psychosis still live with low-level symptoms. Someone with paranoid illness or other illnesses may need to receive psychotherapy and perhaps cognitive therapy to deal with residual problems. -more-

SENIOR POWER : On questionnaires and surveys

Helen Rippier Wheeler,
Thursday June 05, 2014 - 05:25:00 PM

There are too many questionnaires and surveys. Furthermore, I question the validity and reliability of most of them. I try to keep off of mailing lists. A questionnaire is a form containing a set of questions, especially one addressed to a statistically significant number of subjects as a way of gathering information for a survey. A survey is a gathering of a sample of data or opinions considered to be representative of a whole.

In April 2014 I received an undated Dear Medicare Beneficiary letter informing me that “In a few days, you will receive a questionnaire in the mail called the “Medicare Provider Satisfaction Survey. …The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is the federal agency that administers the Medicare program … The questionnaire…asks about your experiences with health care in the last 6 months. … thinking about your experiences with a named doctor or other health care provider. Your name was selected at random by CMS from among Medicare enrollees. …You help is voluntary…” Sounds OK, if not great.

The questionnaire has arrived. Clearly, its creation and interpretation have been generated by a vendor, the Center for the Study of Services, with whom Medicare has contracted. According to its website, the Center was founded in 1974 as a nonprofit corporation. Its location is a PO Box in Manchester, Connecticut. It appears to [sell?] “offer economical ‘off-the-shelf’ reports as well as customized reporting tools developed in collaboration with you to meet the needs of your target audience.” -more-

Arts & Events

Berkeley Early Music Festival Offers Myriad Delights

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Friday June 06, 2014 - 06:58:00 PM

The twelfth Berkeley Festival and Exhibition of Early Music got under way Sunday, June 1, 2014, with a 4:00 pm concert in St. Mark’s Episcopal Church by the group CIARAMELLA. Praised for performing intricate 15th century counter- point “with the ease of jazz musicians improvising on a theme,” CIARAMELLA specializes in extemporized polyphony over monophonic melodies and songs. As the concert began, three bagpipe players entered from the rear of the hall and marched solemnly through the audience, just as 15th century strolling players would have paraded through a village, gathering an audience along the way. -more-

AROUND AND ABOUT THEATER: Theatre of Yugen Stages ‘This Lingering Life’

Ken Bullock
Thursday June 05, 2014 - 05:20:00 PM

Theatre of Yugen has produced plays for 35 years based on the techniques of traditional Japanese theater, especially Kyogen comedy and Noh lyrical tragedy (to us, a contradiction in terms) and plays celebrating legend and myth. The actors employ rigorous physical techniques based in Japanese dance, patterns and movement often reminiscent of the martial arts. This San Francisco company is in many ways unique in its pursuit of both the practice of an ancient art—Nohgaku, as Noh and Kyogen are jointly referred to, is the oldest continuously staged theater form in the world—and experimenting at marrying these techniques to what’s written today.

In the past, great European playwrights like W. B. Yeats and Bertolt Brecht have turned to Noh, in particular, for inspiration when writing plays; Yukio Mishima also produced a series of plays based on Noh, but re-set in the contemporary world. New York-based playwright Chiori Miyagawa has written ’This Lingering Life,’ premiered by Yugen this Friday in a two-week run, with 28 characters in 24 scenes, the intersecting, overlapping stories based on nine classic Noh plays re-imagined as contemporary, or in a timeless world, today and the past blended together. -more-