The Week



Press Release: Sit-in at Berkeley Redwood Gardens (Update)

From Eleanor Walden, Co-chair Redwood Gardens Residents’ Council
Tuesday October 14, 2014 - 07:21:00 PM

It is unusual to see octogenarians, wheelchair confined people, all extremely low income, stage a sit-in against the administrators of the only housing available to them. -more-

Watch 15th Assembly District Candidates Debate in Berkeley

Tuesday October 14, 2014 - 02:43:00 PM

The race for the 15th Assembly District is now hot and heavy. Last week the Berkeley Daily Planet videoed a Berkeley debate sponsored by the League of Women Voters between the two remaining candidates, Tony Thurmond and Elizabeth Echols, both Democrats. They're running against each other in the General Election because of a new California law establishing an open spring primary, which eliminated all non-Democrats and even some of the other Democrats who ran for this office.

We'll be posting a series of excerpts from this lengthy debate over the next week.

Click here to see and hear the candidates' positions on the major issues in this race. -more-

Student Robbed of Cell Phone at U.C. Berkeley Dorm

Jamey Padojino (BCN)
Tuesday October 14, 2014 - 12:55:00 PM

An 18-year-old man was robbed of his cellphone at a student housing complex in Berkeley early Sunday morning, University of California police said. -more-

Elderly Man Missing in Berkeley

Jamey Padojino (BCN)
Saturday October 11, 2014 - 11:48:00 PM

An elderly Berkeley man suffering from Alzheimer's disease has been missing since this afternoon, police said. -more-

Endorsement for This Election

Compiled by Rich Proulx
Friday October 17, 2014 - 07:45:00 PM

This table shows who's endorsed which candidates and/or ballot measures: -more-

Developers Aren't Going to Solve the Housing Crisis in San Francisco--or Berkeley (News Analysis)

Thursday October 09, 2014 - 09:38:00 PM

[Editor's note: Do you believe that giving developers free rein to build all and any skyscrapers they want downtown will end Berkeley's problems with the Bay Area's housing crisis? Do you plan to vote against Measure R2.0? You might change your mind after you read this piece on the Truthout web site which disproves common pro-building myths.]

It starts:

"Activists marauding Google buses, the hippie enclave turning into a playground for the rich, the threat of beautiful Victorians being plowed over for boxy condos. The housing crisis in San Francisco is capturing the world's attention, and it seems like every day there's someone putting forward the magic bullet to mow down the housing boogeyman. But many of these solutions are obsessively focused on saving the day with a build, build, build strategy.

"Affordability for working-class people in San Francisco isn't going to come from letting profit-driven developers have their way. After months of research and interviews by a journalist who has worked as a developer and on housing policy, this feature dismantles the arguments driving housing policy in the city and offers real solutions instead of "trickle-down" approaches.

"San Francisco is the epicenter of the changing US economy. The gap between rich and poor in the United States is growing as the middle class and manufacturing sector are being squeezed out. A recent study equated San Francisco's income gap with Rwanda's. City living is ideal for young professionals and, increasingly, the suburban elite. US cities need to look at smarter ways to thrive and not simply rely on the invisible hand to provide housing for working-class Americans.

See the whole piece here: -more-

Deirdre Eberly Lashgari

Lauren Coodley
Thursday October 09, 2014 - 10:18:00 PM
 Deirdre Lashgari, left, Judy Wells, right, 1986.

Deirdre Eberly Lashgari, Professor Emerita of English at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, died August 16, 2014 in Los Angeles. A specialist in ethnic and world literatures, Lashgari translated both classical and modern Iranian poetry, and wrote, published, and lectured on Iranian fiction and film as well as on women writers of fiction and poetry in Iran, China, India, Ghana, and the United States. At UC Berkeley in the sixties, she studied Farsi, Arabic, and French, and worked to translate unknown women’s poetry into English. -more-



A Berkeley Treasure Needs You--
Help Bail Out Le Bateau Ivre !

Becky O'Malley
Friday October 10, 2014 - 08:05:00 AM
Two of the Dazzling Divas, Eliza O'Malley and Kathleen Moss Miller, plus accompanist Alexander Katsman.

It’s a noisy world out there these days. Although we’ve lived on Ashby Avenue for more than 40 years, I’m still not used to it, and it’s getting worse. As neighboring streets have gradually barricaded themselves from traffic, parking restrictions have popped up almost everywhere except in front of our house, it seems. But where we live, U.C. commuters from over the hill can park all day long, and they do.

Since they’re basically exurbanites, leaving their oversized and ugly SUVs on a Berkeley street makes them nervous, so they invest in the loudest car alarms money can buy. And since we get a lot of very noisy truck traffic all day long, the street shakes, and that sets off the alarms, all day long. LOUD!

What can those of us who are trying to work at home do about it? Exactly nothing. Yesterday, I called the city of Berkeley’s vaunted 311 number, supposed to provide answers to all problems civic, to see if any law was being broken by having a hypersensitive car alarm blaring for a quarter of an hour.

Of course, quelle surprise, there was no one available to answer the phone. “Press 1 to leave a message and we’ll get right back” the nice recorded person said (or something like that). So I pressed, but the next not so nice recorded person said the office was closed (at 2 in the afternoon). I dutifully left a message anyway, but no one has called me back.

Of course, deep in my heart of hearts I know that Berkeley tolerates any amount of noise, including the illegal gasoline-powered two-stroke engine blower that the gardener down the block uses early on Sunday mornings, the power tools which are building a possibly-legal addition around the corner and the occasional loud parties at the big house across the street which seems to be rented to students. Mostly, I’ve gotten used to it, but the car alarms are slowly driving me even madder than I must already be to live on Ashby.

Which is why (after that long preamble) I value a quiet evening at Le Bateau Ivre. In a town where restaurants seem to be competing to see who can split the patrons’ eardrums first, “The Bat,” as its fans call it, is blessedly quiet, with just a faint undertone of well-selected classical music in the background to muffle any sound escaping from Telegraph Avenue. If you go with friends, you can converse. I used to go to Peets for the music chosen by founder Alfred Peet, but the last time I was in the Domingo branch the ambient loud sound reflected instead the taste of the teenagers behind the counter.

At The Bat (or The Drunken Boat, if you don’t have any French) you can even hear live music, increasingly rare or expensive in a corporate and digitized world. Real people play real instruments and sing with real voices from 7 to 9 every Wednesday night.

I’ve heard Mal Sharpe playing jazz, Irish music both traditional and modern, an old-timey fiddle band, and my personal fave, the Dazzling Divas, three lovely singers and their accompanist who fill the intimate space with opera’s top hits.

You can even indulge in a gourmet French dinner or tasty snacks with a glass of wine or beer while you listen. And it’s free, no cover charge, though the sign on the tables says “tips are the performers’ only compensation”, and you’d have to be pretty broke or pretty churlish not to drop something in the basket when it’s passed.

Which brings us to the uncomfortable but necessary subject of money.

Proprietor Arlene Giordano started Le Bateau Ivre 42 years ago with her husband, known to most only by one name, Cooper. They ran it together, with Cooper onsite most of the time and Arlene working by day at a demanding technical profession. In 2008 he died suddenly, and since then Arlene has been struggling to keep the boat afloat. She’s retired from her day job, and now works day and night to preserve what has become a valued community institution.

But inevitably after all this time stuff wears out, stuff needs to be fixed and even improvements are needed. So, prompted by customers who have now become friends, Arlene has launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise capital for urgent fixes. And if you’ve never experienced the Bat’s warm European ambiance, this Wednesday, October 15, would be the perfect opportunity to see what you’ve been missing.

The Dazzling Divas will be back. (Full disclosure: I’m related to one of them.) If you get there about 6:30, you can choose your favorite table in the cozy room where the live shows take place and order dinner before the music starts at 7.

If you’ve never heard Puccini or Mozart up close and personal you have a real treat in store—they always rock the room. It’s the opposite of quiet, of course, but once in a while some glorious noise is welcome, isn’t it?

Le Bateau Ivre is located in a delightful old house a few blocks south of the U.C. Berkeley campus, in the quieter residential section of Telegraph in Berkeley at 2629 Telegraph Avenue.

Click below on the poster to learn more about that Indiegogo campaign. -more-

The Editor's Back Fence

Planet Endorsements; Mail Ballots Now

Friday October 10, 2014 - 11:59:00 AM

After the previous election some readers complained that they couldn't locate the Planet's endorsements when they went to vote. To make it as easy as possible, between now and the election we're going to maintain this corner of the front page where you can always find our endorsements along with links to editorial material with more detail about specific candidates and issues.

Measure D: no endorsement

Alameda County Measure BB: Yes

Yes on Berkeley Measure R.

Then, click here for the candidates: Which Berkeley City Council Candidates Should You Support?

Short Answers: District 1, Alejandro Soto-Vigil; District 4, Jesse Arreguin (unopposed); District 7, Kriss Worthington; District 8, Jacquelyn McCormick (rank her first, followed by George Beier, second, and Lori Droste, third. Skip fourth place. )

Finally , check out this May editorial with a self-explanatory title: Tony Thurmond is the Best Choice for California Assembly ...

We're pleased to see that Berkeley Councilmember Jesse Arreguin has added his endorsement to Tony's long list of fans.

In this video you can see Tony explain his campaign in person at a Berkeley house party: -more-


Odd Bodkins: That Cat is Dead. (Cartoon)

By Dan O'Neill
Thursday October 09, 2014 - 09:46:00 PM

Public Comment

New: Parker Place — Shame on Everyone (except the Neighbors)

Peter Schorer
Tuesday October 14, 2014 - 12:15:00 PM

Parker Place is the name of a monstrous residential/commercial development planned for the corner of Shattuck and Parker Street, extending to Carleton Street, in South Berkeley. From its birth some six years ago, it was almost universally opposed by neighbors because of the excessive traffic it would bring onto already overcrowded streets, the known toxic materials in the soil that would be spewed into the air by excavations, and many other reasons. -more-

How Margot is Voting

Margot Smith
Thursday October 09, 2014 - 09:43:00 PM

[Editor's Note: If you're still confused about how to vote, now that mail ballots are out, you should pay attention to Margot Smith. She's been an activist throughout her long life, currently working with groups like the Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club, Save the Post Office and the Gray Panthers. She knows from experience what she's talking about!]

Margot's recommendations: -more-

New: Alameda County Green Voter Guide for November 4, 2014:
15th Assembly District:
Don’t Vote for Echols

Tuesday October 14, 2014 - 03:02:00 PM

Even though Greens and other third parties have been disenfranchised by “top two” in the other state races, Assembly 15 voters have a real choice in this race. Emerging from the pile of the eight-candidate primary are two Democrats, former Richmond City Councilmember and former West Contra Costa School Board member Tony Thurmond, and Elizabeth Echols, the local democratic party machine’s handpicked successor to Nancy Skinner, with no elected experience. -more-

New: Lori Droste & Jacquelyn McCormick for District 8 City Council!

Nancy Carleton & Susan Hunter, Halcyon neighborhood activists
Sunday October 12, 2014 - 11:26:00 PM

Neighbors have been asking which candidate(s) Susan Hunter and I are supporting in the District 8 election. As some of you know, despite a referendum and with little time remaining before ballots were to be printed, a judge ordered our Nov. 4 election to be held based on the mayor’s majority redistricting plan. That gerrymandered plan was designed to get rid of progressive Councilmember Kriss Worthington, our longtime District 7 representative, under the guise of creating a “student-majority district,” where a UC student would presumably run. This would rid the mayor’s majority of an inconvenient progressive with integrity (Kriss, who’s willing to say when the emperor has no clothes — i.e., when the Council is assuming the guise of being progressive while acting otherwise — watering down a much stronger new minimum wage ordinance, as just one recent example). -more-

New: Message from The Rent Board Campaign

Katherine Harr and Jesse Townley
Tuesday October 14, 2014 - 03:19:00 PM

We call our Slate for the November 4 election the Pro-Rent Control Slate for a reason: voting for James Chang, Paola Laverde-Levine, John Selawsky, Katherine Harr and Jesse Townley is voting to keep active enforcement of Berkeley’s strong rent ordinance. -more-

Soda Tax

Carol Denney
Thursday October 09, 2014 - 10:21:00 PM

"No one is quite willing to claim that adding some cents to the wholesale price of a can of soda pop will guarantee to reduce consumption enough to cause a statistically significant reduction in the incidence of diabetes, or even in the incidence of obesity. " - Editorial, Berkeley Daily Planet

With all due respect to your Coke-drinking ancestors, it was no accident that schools which used to have working drinking fountains to satisfy children's thirst began to sprout vending machines full of sugary drinks. And there is no question, as the tobacco industry and the sugary beverage industry (which are sometimes the same corporation) know, that young people's willingness to spend money on items like tobacco and sugary drinks takes a precipitous nosedive when such products get more expensive. -more-


ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Self-Encouragement But Not Self-Punishment

Jack Bragen
Thursday October 09, 2014 - 10:09:00 PM

Most people in general and not just those with mental illness are hard on ourselves, and often think we should be doing better or doing more—especially in relation to work, but also concerning other obligations. This is a form of guilt which can make us work harder or, surprisingly, can cause people to avoid tasks altogether. -more-

THE PUBLIC EYE: It’s Still the Economy, Stupid!

Bob Burnett
Friday October 10, 2014 - 09:57:00 AM

A month before the November 4th mid-term elections, the competition for control of the Senate is neck-and-neck. The improving US economy hasn’t increased Democratic prospects. What explains this? -more-

New: DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE:Shanghai Cooperation Organization:
“Let A Thousand Poles Bloom”

Conn Hallinan
Monday September 29, 2014 - 09:21:00 AM

At the very moment that the Americans and their allies are trying to squeeze Russia and Iran with a combination of economic sanctions and political isolation, alternative poles of power are emerging that soon may present a serious challenge to the U.S. dominated world that emerged from the end of the Cold War. -more-

ECLECTIC RANT: Time to End the Abuse and Exploitation of Animals

Ralph E. Stone
Thursday October 09, 2014 - 10:16:00 PM
Tommy is the subject of a NonHuman Rights Project lawsuit.

An article in The New York Times Magazine (July 6) "Zoo Animals And Their Discontents" by Alex Halberstadt, raised this question: do animals think and feel? A number of scientific studies has shown that animals are far closer to us than recently believed. In fact, the Cambridge Declaration of Consciousness in Human and Nonhuman Animals, signed by a group of leading animal researchers, asserts that mammals, birds and other creatures posses consciousness and, in all likelihood, emotions and self-awareness. -more-

Arts & Events

San Francisco Opera Unveils A New Star in UN BALLO IN MASCHERA

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Thursday October 09, 2014 - 11:08:00 PM

In Giuseppe Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera, soprano Julianna Di Giacomo made her San Francisco Opera debut on Saturday, October 4, 2014; and a sensational debut it was! Sounding like a young Beverly Sills, Di Giacomo, a Santa Monica native and Merola alumna, has a very bright and focused soprano, which was heard to wonderful effect in the role of Amelia in Un Ballo in Maschera. From the moment she came on stage, in Act I’s scene in Ulrica the soothsayer’s den, Di Giacomo thoroughly dominated every scene in which she appeared. Only veteran baritone Thomas Hampson, who sang the role of Count Anckarström, Amelia’s husband and friend of King Gustavus, managed to hold his own vocally with Julianna Di Giacomo. Unfortunately, as King Gustavus, tenor Ramón Vargas sounded thin and lacking in power in a role I heard him perform here in far better voice back in 1999. -more-

AROUND AND ABOUT MUSIC: Steven Isserlis, Cello, with Philharmonia Baroque at First Congregational Church, Saturday & Sunday

Ken Bullock
Thursday October 09, 2014 - 10:05:00 PM

"He must have been the gentlest composer. The most gorgeous texture ... for me the music of angels," said virtuoso cellist Steven Isserlis before playing Boccherini's Concerto for Violincello No. 7 in G major (probably from the 1760s) with Philharmonia Baroque under Nicholas McGegan's direction on Wednesday night at SFJAZZ in San Francisco--the second of two concerti he played with brilliance and great feeling. The same program will be performed this Saturday at 8 and Sunday at 7:30, First Congregational Church in Berkeley. -more-