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Election 2014 Wrap Up: Droste Wins District 8 Council Seat By 16 Votes; Record Low Turnout in Berkeley

Rob Wrenn
Wednesday November 12, 2014 - 07:18:00 PM

With all the absentee and provisional ballots now counted in Alameda County, Lori Droste finished ahead of George Beier by just 16 votes, 2072 votes to 2056 votes, or 50.19% to 49.81%.16 votes is a large enough margin that there is little chance that a recount would change the outcome.
Since she fell short of 50%, ranked choice voting determined the outcome. Beier was more popular than Droste among those who gave their first choice vote to Alvarez Cohen, but not by enough to overcome her lead in first choice votes.

Alameda County has until December 2 to certify the results of the election.


Turnout in Berkeley was the lowest of the last 35 years. Only 39,092 ballots were cast this year, compared to 60,559 in 2012 and 49,099 in 2010. The previous low was 41,363 in 2002, and the voting age population has certainly grown in the last dozen years. 


Countywide, ballots cast amounted to 45.04% of registered voters. In Berkeley, only about 50% of registered voters cast ballots. In every previous election since Berkeley local elections were moved from April of odd-numbered years and consolidated with November elections, at least 55% of registered voters had cast ballots. 

You have to go back to 1979, when Gus Newport was elected mayor, to find an election with a smaller number of votes cast. 

Turnout in Districts 4 and 7 was particularly low. In District 7 only 1786 votes were cast, though the number of votes counted after Election Day was more than double those reported election night; in District 4 3652 votes were cast. 

The population of District 7 south of the UC campus, is about 86% student-aged residents. District 4, which includes downtown and the neighborhoods to the north and east, is a majority tenant district with a significant student population. Student voters stayed away from the polls in droves. In two precincts east of Piedmont Ave. between Dwight Way and International House only 33 votes total were cast at the polls on election day. 

Turnout was also down in District 1 compared to 2010 and 2006 but not as drastically as in Districts 4 and 7. In District 8, 4964 votes were cast, the smallest number in at least the last 20 years, despite the fact that higher turnout precincts were added to District 8 and low turnout student precincts were removed as part of the redistricting process. 

District 8 

Lori Droste, chair of Berkeley's Commission on the Status of Women and a member of the Housing Advisory Commission, was endorsed by (among others) Assembly member Nancy Skinner and by Councilmembers Maio, Capitelli and Moore. George Beier was endorsed by Councilmembers Moore (dual), Wengraf and Arreguin, and also by the Berkeley Democratic Club and Assembly member Nancy Skinner (dual). Mike Alvarez Cohen was endorsed by outgoing council member Wozniak, by Mayor Tom Bates, and by Councilmembers Wengraf and Capitelli (dual). Jacquelyn McCormick was endorsed by Council member Arreguin (dual) and Anderson. 

Droste received more campaign contributions than any of the other candidates in District 8. She had raised about $35,000 compared to about $21,600 for Beier and $28,000 for Alvarez Cohen who came in third. 

Other Races 

As previously reported, 18-year incumbent Kriss Worthington has retained his District 7 seat despite the changes to District 7 boundaries resulting from redistricting. Worthington was outspent by Barry, who was endorsed by Mayor Bates and his allies on the City Council. 

Incumbent Julie Sinai lost her seat on the School Board, while incumbents Josh Daniels and Karen Hemphill were re-elected. Newcomer Ty Alper was the top vote getter. Sinai was appointed to the board last year to fill the seat of Leah Wilson, who resigned. 

In District 1, 22-year incumbent Linda Maio won re-election by a comfortable margin.The final count gives her 54.5% to 40.6% for Alejandro Soto-Vigil, a Rent Board commissioner, who has also worked as an aide to councilmember Kriss Worthington. This is the first time since the 1994 election that Maio has received less than 60% of the vote. Soto-Vigil won two of twelve precincts, one of them west of San Pablo. 

Unofficial Berkeley Final Results 

Note: undervotes (aka blank votes) are people who cast ballots but did not vote in the election in question. 

City Council District 1 

Linda Maio 3038 54.6% 

Alejandro Soto-Vigil 2270 40.8% 

Merrillee Mitchell 256 4.6% 

undervotes 530 


City Council District 4 

Jesse Arreguin 2473 100% 

undervotes 1175 


City Council District 7 

Kriss Worthington 833 55.4% 

Sean Barry 670 44.6% 

undervotes 281 


City Council District 8 First Choice votes 

Lori Droste 1318 29.2% 

George Beier 1198 26.5% 

Mike Alvarez Cohen 1165 25.8% 

undervotes 429 


School Board 

Ty Alper 20,379 

Josh Daniels 19,340 

Karen Hemphill 16,731 

Julie Sinai 16,207 

Norman Harrison 3,6779 


Measure D Soda Tax 

Yes 29,540 76.2% 

No 9243 23.8% 


Measure F Parcel Tax for Parks 

(two-thirds vote required for passage) 

Yes 27,573 75.0% 

No 9151 24.9% 


Measure P Corporations are not persons 

Yes 30,703 84.7% 

No 5,559 15.33% 


Measure Q Right to Request Part Time Work - Advisory 

Yes 27,347 78.8% 

No 7,363 21.2 


Measure R Downtown zoning 

Yes 9,345 25.9% 

No 26,726 74.1% 


Measure S Redistricting 

Yes 21,240 63.8% 

No 12,048 36.2% 


Note: With a little help from our friends, a number of typos in this hastily published piece have now been corrected. We are very grateful to Rob Wrenn for leaping into the breach so that readers could get the election results as early as possible, and for sticking with the lengthy count.,

Flash: Droste 2072, Beier 2056 in Berkeley's District 8 Race

Wednesday November 12, 2014 - 06:49:00 PM

At 6:36 tonight Lori Droste is ahead, 2072 to 2056 for George Beier in Berkeley Council District 8. An analysis will follow. 























































Exhausted by Over Votes 











Under Votes 









Exhausted Ballots 









Continuing Ballots 























*Tie resolved in accordance with election law. 

Kaiser Nurses on Strike

Keith Burbank (BCN)
Tuesday November 11, 2014 - 06:29:00 PM

Nurses working at Kaiser Permanente medical centers in the Bay Area walked off of the job today to protest what they say are eroding standards of patient care. 

The California Nurses Association said the strike, which started at 7 a.m., is planned to last until 7 a.m. Thursday. 

Kaiser medical centers remain open during the strike, though some elective procedures and appointments may need to be rescheduled, hospital officials said in a statement. A Kaiser representative will contact patients whose appointments will need to be rescheduled. 

Katy Roemer, a registered nurse and a member of the union's bargaining team, said there has been no significant movement on 39 proposals the union has placed before Kaiser during contract talks. 

Deborah Raymond, a registered nurse and senior vice president and area manager of Kaiser Permanente San Francisco, said management has responded to all of those proposals and is waiting for the union to respond. 

"We're a little perplexed" as to why the nurses are striking, Raymond said. 

Currently, the talks center around "operational issues" and pay and benefits haven't "even come across the table yet," Raymond said. 

She said patient care at the hospital is not eroding. Rather, the hospital is delivering high-quality care and its outcomes show that. 

Roemer said Kaiser did respond to its proposals, but said the company has not put forward any of its own. Nurses have been bargaining since the end of July, Roemer said. 

The lack of resources being offered to nurses at Kaiser hospitals for treating Ebola patients prompted nurses to demand more resources during a march last month. 

"The failure to properly meet the optimal safety protections for Ebola speaks volumes to the erosion of patient care standards in the U.S. generally," said RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of both National Nurses United and the California Nurses Association. 

Union officials said that Kaiser has not filled more than 2,000 nurses' positions lost at its Northern California facilities during the past three years and nurses are currently having trouble taking care of patients. 

At noon today, about 500 nurses rallied in front of Kaiser's new hospital at the corner of West MacArthur Boulevard and Broadway in Oakland to demand the additional resources. 

Roemer said nurses are highly skilled professionals, "but if we don't have the resources ... we are hobbled." 

Kaiser officials added a statement this afternoon that the union has recently changed the reason for its worker actions. 

"For weeks, union leadership has claimed to the public that this strike is about Ebola," the statement said. "In the last day or so, the union has changed its message and now says to the public that the strike is about 'staffing.' Just as the union's Ebola message is not sticking because it is not supported by the facts, this new reason for striking by the union also isn't true."

Election 2014: Lori Droste Leads in District 8 City Council Race by Only Four Votes- Count Not Complete Yet (News Analysis)

Rob Wrenn
Tuesday November 11, 2014 - 09:42:00 AM

The Registrar of Voters has almost finished the count of absentee and provisional ballots and Lori Droste is still ahead of George Beier, but only by four votes, 2058 to 2054, or 50.05% to 49.95%, for the Council seat currently held by Gordon Wozniak. 

Droste has 29.04% of first choice votes to 26.55% for Beier. 

Today is a holiday and counting will resume and should be completed on Wednesday. Registrar of Voters staff had worked through last night in hopes of finishing the count. But as of their 1:34 a.m. report, there are still an unknown number of ballots to be counted. 

When the Election Day counting ended, Beier was ahead by 25 votes in Round 4 of ranked choice voting. In the counting since then, Beier's lead had dwindled and Droste had a 12-vote lead at the end of Sunday's count of late absentee and provisional votes. 

A total of 362,813 ballots have been counted countywide so far, including 15,186 counted yesterday, most of them provisional ballots. Last Thursday, Registrar of Voters Tim Dupuis had estimated that about 75,000 vote-by-mail and about 24,000 provisional ballots remained to be counted. Since then, 107,915 ballots have been counted. 

Turnout countywide totals 44.57% so far. Turnout figures for Berkeley are not yet available though it was definitely higher than 45%. In the last 35 years, turnout has always been at least 55% in Berkeley in November elections. 

The Registrar will conduct a 1% manual tally next Monday to verify the accuracy of the vote count. In the event of a very close final vote in District 8, the losing candidate, or anyone else, could request a recount, but would have to pay for it, providing a deposit in advance of each day's count. The County's Guide To Requesting a Recount states: "If upon completion of the recount the results are reversed, the deposit shall be returned". "Set-Up and Day One Cost with One Recount Board - $5000." 

In 2012, The Alameda Transportation Commission requested a recount of votes on Measure B1, the transportation sales tax measure (similar to Measure BB which passed this year) which fell just .14% short of the required two-thirds vote. After a partial recount, costing under $8000, the Commission called off the recount after it failed to produce hoped for additional votes in areas of Berkeley with sizable undervotes and strong support for the measure. 

As of 1:34 a.m. today (numbers in parentheses are votes as of 5:05 p. m. Sunday) 

Berkeley City Council District 8  

First Choice Votes 

Lori Droste 1304 (1263) +41 

George Beier 1192 (1154) +38 

Mike Alvarez Cohen 1162 (1129) +33 

Jacqueline McCormick 824 (790) + 34 

There are slightly higher numbers in the Ranked Choice Voting table on the County Web site: Droste - 1308; Beier -1197; Alverez Cohen - 1164; McCormick - 831. 

For all the City Council races, the count in the Ranked Choice tables seem more up to date than the count in the other tables on the Registrar's Web site 

Flash: Droste Ahead by Four Votes in Berkeley's District 8 Cliffhanger

Tuesday November 11, 2014 - 07:01:00 AM

The Alameda County Registrar of Voters issued a new report of votes in Berkeley's Council District 8 election at 1:34 a.m. which showed Lori Droste now leading by only four votes at 2058 votes (50.05%) to George Beier's 2054 votes (49.95%) after allocation of second and third choice votes using the ranked choice method. The Registrar's office is closed for Veterans' Day, but the count is not yet complete, it appears. Analysis will follow.

Updated: Alameda County Vote Results Delayed but Imminent

from Tim Dupuis, Registrar
Monday November 10, 2014 - 06:08:00 PM

UPDATE: The Registrar's Office has informed the Planet in an email that they don't expect to be finished counting before 12:30 or 1 a.m. 

The Alameda County Registrar of Voters Office has decided to delay its daily update of election results until later this evening, at which time it is anticipated that elections staff will have completed the processing of all ballots Countywide from the November 4 general election. 

Updates will be posted to the Registrar’s website, http://www.acgov.org/rov/, as soon as staff assigned to ballot-counting duties completes its work for the day. 

Under State law, Alameda County has until December 2 to certify its election results.

New: How the GOP Bought, Rigged, Stole and Lynched the 2014 Election (News Analysis)

Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman
Monday November 10, 2014 - 08:22:00 PM

Since the Bush-Cheney-Rove theft of the 2000 election in Florida, the right of millions of American citizens to vote and have that vote counted has been under constant assault.

In 2014, that systematic disenfranchisement may well have delivered the US Senate to the Republican Party. If nothing significant is done about it by 2016, we can expect the GOP to take the White House and much more.

The primary victims of this GOP-led purge have been young, elderly, poor and citizens of color who tend to vote Democratic. The denial of their votes has changed the face of our government, and is deepening corporate control of our lives and planet. 

There’s no doubt the Democrats have alienated their core constituency and given millions of their former supporters little reason to vote. Perpetual war, blank checks for mega-banks, stiffing the working poor while giving away the planet to the rich----these are all part of the malaise. Our political landscape is currently defined by corporate personhood and its gutting of the Democratic Party.

Part of that is the destruction of our electoral rights, and the refusal of the Democrats to even face the issue, let alone do something about it. Our voting system is, to put it mildly, bought and rigged, further feeding the deadening sense of public futility and frustration.

As the GOP moves toward total control of our governance---the media, the internet, the Supreme Court, the Congress, local government and, in 2016, the presidency---our future depends on knowing the nuts and bolts of how the destruction of our democracy proceeds, and what we can do to stop it.

In this year’s takeover of the US Senate and many statehouses, barely more than a third of the eligible citizenry was credited with having voted. Official vote counts gave the GOP a consistent “bonus” of about 5% over pre-election polls. In the US Senate race in North Carolina and the Governor’s race in Florida, that margin clearly gave the Republicans their victories, and probably did the same in many other close races.

The GOP’s Jim Crow disenfranchisement campaign has outright robbed millions of citizens of their right to vote. It’s deliberately created an air of confusion and doubt that’s further suppressed the turnout.

Greg Palast, for example, has reported extensively on the Kansas-based “cross-check” technique, used in 28 states, where Republican secretaries of state denied voting rights based on arbitrary judgements that allowed them to eliminate several million potential Democratic voters. (Greg will discuss this on the Solartopia Show at prn.fm Tuesday, 11/11, 5pm EST; the show will be archived for later listening).

Deliberate (and often illegal) disinformation campaigns, destruction of voter registration forms, outright intimidation, repressive photo ID requirements and other suppression techniques made things worse. It’s by design, not accident, that America’s voter turnout is ranked 120th among all nations.

In evaluating the actual vote count, manipulation of untrackable electronic voting machines must also be accounted for.

Over the years, Bev Harris, Brad Friedman, Jon Simon, Richard Charney and many others have added vital research leading to the inevitable conclusion that the 2014 election---like 2000 and 2004---was essentially bought, rigged, stolen and lynched.

We do not believe the Republican Party legitimately won the US Senate or many of the statehouses they’ve been granted, any more than George W. Bush should have been handed the White House in 2000 and 2004.

Unless we finally face the core issues of election protection, history could repeat itself in 2016 as both tragedy and farce.

Because the dust is still settling, many of the specifics about 2014 remain hidden. In the coming weeks we’ll present as much of the evidence as we can gather.

In the meantime, we welcome President Obama’s new statements supporting net neutrality. There’s no more important foundation for what shreds of democracy remain to us than the ability to freely communicate. Handing control of the internet to mega-corporations, as proposed by the current (Democratic) head of the Federal Communications Commission, would be catastrophic. As with reclaiming our elections, our future on this planet demands an open global highway for unfettered communication. We must do everything we can to preserve and expand it.

We also congratulate US Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) for proposing that election day become a national holiday. After the 2004 debacle, we proposed a four-day election holiday to cover the first Saturday, Sunday, Monday & Tuesday in November. (The Constitution requires that voting happen the first Monday after the first Tuesday in November). This four-day stretch would help enshrine access to our election process as the sacred ritual it should be.

We also propose universal automatic voter registration, universal hand-counted paper ballots, abolition of the Electoral College, and a massive reform of the role of money in politics.

We hope Sen. Sanders’ initial proposal opens the door to a bottom-up remake of our electoral system. Without it, our democracy is nothing more than a hollow shell.

Over the coming weeks, we’ll explore how that shell was cracked yet again in 2014.

All indicators are that it could be definitively crushed in two years if we don’t act now.

first in a series 

to be continued....

Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman have co-authored six books on election protection, which are at www.freepress.org, along with Bob’s FITRAKIS FILES. HARVEY WASSERMAN’S HISTORY OF THE US is at www.solartopia.org, along with his SOLARTOPIA! OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH. 

Freepress.org Solartopia.org

Dead Man at Berkeley Fraternity Identified as Lafayette Resident

By Bay City News
Monday November 10, 2014 - 12:53:00 PM

Berkeley police today identified a man found dead at a fraternity house near the University of California at Berkeley campus early Sunday morning as 20-year-old Vaibhev Loomba of Antioch. 

However, according to Loomba's Facebook page he lived in Lafayette and attended the University of California at Davis. 

Berkeley police said they don't yet know what caused the death of Loomba, who was found unresponsive at the Zeta Psi fraternity at 2728 Bancroft Way at about 12:09 p.m. on Sunday. He was declared dead at the scene. 

Lt. Ed Spiller said on Sunday that Loomba is not a UC Berkeley student and didn't live at the fraternity house.  

Spiller said Loomba's death is currently classified as "suspicious" and police haven't ruled out drugs or alcohol as possible factors in the man's death. 

Loomba had 1,043 Facebook friends and many of them are expressing their sadness about his death. 

Dana Stormes wrote, "To the most fun loving man I've known. I will miss you always. There is so much sadness in my heart." 

Kathryn Lucida wrote, "I can't think of a more genuinely amazing person than Vaibhev. Even with people he just met, he was so sweet and caring." There have been no formal citations issued to Zeta Psi for parties at the fraternity house, but Spiller said Berkeley police have responded to the location in the past.

Flash: Election 2014: Droste takes slim 12 vote lead in District 8 Council Race

Rob Wrenn
Sunday November 09, 2014 - 06:49:00 PM

Lori Droste took a slim 12 vote lead in the District 8 City Council race after an additional 3762 vote-by-mail votes and about 6400 provisional votes were counted countywide.

The Registrar had previously estimated that there were 24,000 provisional ballots. The remaining provisional ballots will determine the outcome of this race and a recount can be expected if the margin remains as small as it has been since the counting began.

In Round 4 of ranked choice voting, Droste now leads Beier 1995 to 1983 or 50.15% to 49.85%. 

District 8 includes the area east of Telegraph and south of Dwight, except for one Willard neighborhood precinct were District 7 incumbent council member Kriss Worthington lives. It also includes 3 precincts north of Dwight that include Panoramic Hill and one precinct west of Telegraph south of Russell. 

Since the 2010 election, a majority of Berkeley voters have cast vote-by-mail ballots, though a substantial number of these ballots are are not mailed but dropped off at the polls. In 2012, 51.7% voted absentee. This year it looks like absentee ballots could total over 60% of ballots cast in Berkeley. 

Students have historically been the group least likely to vote absentee, but this year even a majority of students may have voted absentee. 

Late absentees, those received on election day, were more numerous this year than early absentees. Almost 112,000 absentees have been counted since election day, more than had been predicted by the Registrar of Voters. 

As of 5:05 p.m. today (numbers in parentheses are votes as of 4:55 yesterday) 

City Council District 7 

Kriss Worthington 669 (656) +13 

Sean Barry 533 (527) + 6 

City Council District 8 First Choice votes 

Lori Droste 1263 (1210) +53 

George Beier 1154 (1118) +36 

Mike Alvarez Cohen 1129 (1088) +41 

Jacqueline McCormick 790 (746) +44 

BUSD School Directors 

Ty Alper 19,356 (18,848) +508 

Josh Daniels 18349 (17,824) +525 

Karen Hemphill 15912 (15,486) +426 

Julie Sinai 15427 (15,026) +401 

Norma Harrison 3473 (3366) +107 

To see key ranked choice voting results, click here.

Updated: Non-student, 20, Found Dead in UC Berkeley Frat House

Erin Baldassari (BCN)
Sunday November 09, 2014 - 06:48:00 PM

UPDATE: The Planet has received this email from Ofc. J. Coats of the Berkeley Police Department:

On Sunday, November 9, 2014 at approximately 12:09 p.m. BPD responded to 2728 Bancroft Way, (Zeta Psi Fraternity) for a welfare check on an unresponsive male. BPD and Berkeley Fire personnel arrived within minutes and discovered a 20 year old male, identified as Vaibhev Loomba, deceased. The Homicide Detail was contacted and this incident is still under investigation. The victim was not a resident of the fraternity or a UC Berkeley student.

We are asking anyone with information regarding this incident to contact the Berkeley Police Department’s Homicide Detail at 510-981-5741.

Police are investigating the death of a 20-year-old man at a fraternity house near the University of California at Berkeley campus early this morning. 

Police said they responded to a report of an unresponsive man at 12:09 a.m. at 2728 Bancroft Way. The address is listed as the home of the Zeta Psi fraternity on Facebook, just outside of the Berkeley campus. 

Lt. Ed Spiller said they found the man unresponsive, and he was declared dead at the scene. The man is not a UC Berkeley student, and Spiller said he does not live at the house. 

The death is currently classified as "suspicious," and Spiller said homicide detectives are investigating the incident. 

"We're erring on the side of caution," Spiller said of the classification. He said police haven't ruled out drugs or alcohol as possible factors in the man's death. 

Spiller said they were not able to say how long the man had been dead before police arrived. 

There have been no formal citations issued to the fraternity for parties at the house, but Spiller said Berkeley police have responded to the location in the past. 

The man's body was transferred to the Alameda County Coroner's office, which will release the man's identity once next of kin have been notified, Spiller said. 



Copyright © 2014 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited. 


New: Election 2014 Update:
Beier's District 8 Margin Now Only 2 Votes in Low Turnout Berkeley Election

Rob Wrenn
Sunday November 09, 2014 - 12:35:00 AM

George Beier has only a two vote lead over Lori Droste in the District 8 City Council race after the Registrar counted an additional 47,045 vote-by-mail ballots. Droste continues to lead with first choice votes, but would lose to Beier in the fourth round of ranked choice voting by just two votes, 1910 to 1908, or 50.03 % to 49.97%. Provisionals may determine the outcome and a recount is possible if this razor thin margin is the final margin when all votes are counted. 

The Registrar had initially estimated that 100,000 absentee ballots remained to be counted countywide after election night. With 108,204 ballots counted so far, that would suggest that few if any absentee ballots remain to be counted. An estimated 24,000 provisional ballots countywide must also be processed. 

In the School Board race, Karen Hemphill holds a comfortable 460 vote lead over Julie Sinai for third place. In the post-election count of absentees to date, Sinai has failed to narrow Hemphill's election day margin. I'm calling this election for third place for Hemphill. 

In the District 7 Council race, Kriss Worthington's lead over Sean Barry grew a bit from 114 votes to 129 votes. Kriss now leads 55.4% to 44.6% in the very low turnout District 7 race. 

We won't know what the official turnout was in Berkeley this year until the Registrar releases the official Statement of Vote, which is due by December 2, but indications are that it could be one of the lowest turnouts of the last 35 years. Countywide turnout this year is well below that of previous election years. Student turnout in Berkeley appears to be even lower than usual. 

As of 4:55 today (numbers in parentheses are votes as of 4:52 yesterday) 

City Council District 7

Kriss Worthington 656 (559) +97 

Sean Barry 527 (445) +82 

City Council District 8 First Choice votes

Lori Droste 1210 (1044) +166 

George Beier 1118 (958) +160 

Mike Alvarez Cohen 1088 (1004) +84 

Jacqueline McCormick 746 (680) +66 

BUSD School Directors

Ty Alper 18,848 (15,481) +3,367 

Josh Daniels 17,824 (14, 749) +3,075 

Karen Hemphill 15,486 (12,729) +2,757 

Julie Sinai 15,026 (12,429) +2,597 

Norma Harrison 3366 (2910) +456

Election 2014: Worthington, Beier, Hemphill still ahead after second day of counting absentee ballots.

Rob Wrenn
Friday November 07, 2014 - 05:04:00 PM

In the District 7 City Council race, incumbent Kriss Worthington increased his lead over challenger Sean Barry. While the initial vote-by-mail ballots counted on election night favored Barry, he is so far not winning the ballots dropped at the polls on election day.

In District 8, the race tightened a bit. While George Beier is running third with first choice ballots, he leads Lori Droste by just 19 votes in the ranked choice vote by 1692-1673; at the end of yesterday's count, he had a 28 vote lead. Lori Droste still leads with first choice votes and widened her lead in today's count. Neither McCormick or Alvarez Cohen have any real chance of winning.

In the School Board race for third place, Karen Hemphill pulled further ahead of Julie Sinai, and now has a 300 vote lead, up from a 244 lead yesterday. 

The Alameda County Registrar of Voters announced last night that counting would continue during the weekend. 

As of 4:50 today (numbers in parentheses are votes as of 4:52 yesterday.) 

District 7

Kriss Worthington 559 (475) + 84 

Sean Barry 445 (375) + 70 

Kriss' margin before latest update: +100; after the update: 114. He has 55.7% of the votes counted so far. There is virtually no chance that Barry will get enough votes from the remaining absentees and provisionals to overcome Kriss' lead. 

District 8

Lori Droste 1044 (883) + 161 

Mike Alvarez Cohen 1004 (866) +138 

George Beier 958 (817) +141 

Jacqueline McCormick 680 (579) + 101 

BUSD School Directors

Ty Alper 15481 (12,668) 

Josh Daniels 14749 (12207) 

Karen Hemphill 12729 (10511) 

Julie Sinai 12429 (10267) 

Norma Harrison 2910 (2565) 

At the beginning of election night, Julie Sinai was ahead of Karen Hemphill on the strength of the initial vote-by-mail count, but Hemphill took the lead when votes cast at the polls were counted. 

Countywide, 25670 vote-by-mail ballots, about a quarter of the outstanding ballots were counted on Monday; today an additional 35,489 were counted. After the Registrar's Office finishes with the vote-by-mail ballots, they will then process the provisional ballots which number about 24,000 countywide. 

The Registrar's office does not post information about which precincts the absentee votes counted after election day came from. 

Updates will be posted on the Planet Web site as results are released.

BART Stopped at Berkeley Station to Search for Robbery Suspect

Dennis Culver (BCN)
Friday November 07, 2014 - 05:03:00 PM

BART officials this afternoon are reporting delays due to police activity at the downtown Berkeley station. 

BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost said a train was held due to a search for a robbery suspect. 

The major delays are impacting the Richmond line to and from Fremont and Millbrae.

Election Update: City Council Districts 7 and 8 and School Board (News Analysis)

Rob Wrenn
Thursday November 06, 2014 - 05:00:00 PM

With 89 more votes counted in the District 7 City Council race, Kriss Worthington's lead widened from 81 to 100 votes. In District 8, 399 more votes were counted, and Mike Alvarez Cohen inched closer to frontrunner Lori Droste, but the ranked choice vote continues to give a narrow lead to George Beier, 1449-1421.

As of 4:52 p.m. today (numbers in parentheses are votes as of 12:44 a.m.yesteday)

District 7:

Kriss Worthington 475 (421) +54

Sean Barry 375 (340) +35

Kriss' margin before latest update: +81

Kriss' margin after latest update: + 100

District 8: Lori Droste 883 (775) +108

Mike Alvarez Cohen 866 (741) +125

George Beier 817 (711) +106

Jacqueline McCormick 579 (519) + 60 

In the initial count reported late on election night, Alvarez Cohen led in the area east of College and south of Dwight, especially in hills precincts above Claremont Ave. Lori Droste and George Beier led in one precinct each east of College. 

George Beier was the vote leader in all but one Willard Neighborhood precinct; Beier has been involved with the Willard Neigbhorhood Association for many years. Droste was leading in one precinct in Willard. 

Droste led overall and was ahead in two south of Ashby precincts, including the Halcyon and Bateman neighborhoods. Jacquelyn McCormick led in the area north of Dwight way including Panoramic Hill and adjacent student areas. 

While Droste leads in first choice votes; Mike Alvarez Cohen led in the initial vote-by-mail ballot count with 30% to Droste's 23%, and may gain more ground as more absentee votes are counted. The Registrar of Voters has not posted information to show which precincts the votes counted today came from. 

In the School Board race, Julie Sinai is still trailing Karen Hemphill (10267 to 10511) in the race for third place. Ty Alper and Josh Daniels are way ahead with 12,688 and 12,207 votes respectively.



Despite the Best Efforts of the Democratic Party, Some Good Candidates Won in Berkeley and Richmond

Becky O'Malley
Friday November 07, 2014 - 08:44:00 AM

Well, the election’s over, and I’ve already spent the better part of two days on mutual condolence calls with friends who are bent out of shape over the many losses suffered by the Democratic Party around the country. I feel their pain, don’t think otherwise.

From what I read in the mass and left-leaning media, it looks like the Dems once again have managed to shoot themselves in the foot on the national level by being too timid in claiming Obama's real achievements. During this election I’ve learned more about the Democratic Party, nationally and especially right here in Alameda County, than I ever wanted to know.

Basically, I come from the Molly Ivins tradition: you hold your nose and pull the Democratic lever most of the time. I’ve participated in my share of insurrections against the party, notably in dumping a pro-Vietnam-war Democratic congressman in Ann Arbor in the sixties, but I’ve never seen a probability-based viable alternative to the Democrats which lasted for the long haul.

I’m not talking about an ideological alternative here. Various manifestation of SDS, the Greens, the Democratic Socialists, and dinner table conversations with my own friends have offered inspiring ideas that I’d love to see adopted in an ideal universe. But when it came to voting in elections, it has most always seemed prudent to try to get people elected to office as a prerequisite to change, though I’ve tried other paths from time to time. And mostly, that’s meant voting for Democrats, some of them real stinkers.

The Green Party in Richmond is currently a shining counter-example to this theory. They’ve now managed to win control of their city council in multiple elections, and they’ve also cooperated with an independent but politically congenial mayoral candidate to counter 3+ millions of Chevron dollars which were hurled at them. 

Their Richmond Progressive Alliance slate managed to beat two “official Democratic candidates” for the (supposedly non-partisan) Richmond city council, who also just happened to be Chevron’s candidates. Since the Green slate had identified themselves as a different party, it’s not too shocking that the Dems chose others to endorse. However, the new Mayor-elect, Tom Butt, is a registered Democrat, but despite that his party didn’t endorse him either. 

But what I did find deeply shocking, outside my experience, though I had paid little attention to the California Democratic Party in the last 20 years, was the “official” endorsement in the 15th Assembly District in this election.  

This is the first general election after the “top two” primary system went into effect. This innovation, Congressman-elect and current State Senator Mark DeSaulnier told me, is the bastard child of a late night compromise in the legislature over a different matter entirely, and it’s made a mess of things.  

The state legislative districts were redrawn by a supposedly impartial commission after the last census, and one result is that some districts (not as many as there used to be) are irrevocably single-party. The top-two system was pitched as a remedy for that.  

Formerly parties had separate spring primaries, with turnout even less than in the general election, in which voters who had registered as members of parties could vote to choose their candidates. With the new system, voters can choose among all candidates regardless of party affiliation—which is how here in the 15th District we ended up with two Democrats on the November ballot.  

That would be fine, wouldn’t it, except that we ended up with piles of election junk mailers bearing the legend “Elizabeth Echols is the only candidate endorsed by the Democratic Party”.  

What? Who asked me, or any of the rest of us registered Democrats, who the Democratic Party should endorse? 

Echols’ opponent, Tony Thurmond, is a lifelong Democrat and an excellent progressive candidate, which his eventual election on last Tuesday by the rank-and-file voters proves. So who is this “Democratic Party” which endorsed against Thurmond? Is it too much to ask that they could remain neutral if two respectable Democrats make the final cut? 

A bit of inquiry produced other examples of bad outcomes from endorsements by the “Democratic Party”. In the city of Santa Cruz, the “Democratic Party” hacks endorsed the right wing slate, and since it was an at-large election conservatives now control this formerly progressive council. 

I’m still trying to figure out what’s going on. It seems that in the June primary we voted for—delegates, central committee members for the parties, endorsement czars…? Who knew? Did non-Dems get to vote to choose these people? 

This whole system turns out to be Byzantine, arcane enough to need a book to explain it, or perhaps a fully footnoted Ph.D. thesis. Berkeley Councilmember Kriss Worthington tried to explain it to me, with examples drawn from his experience as president of the Stonewall Democratic Club when he tried to make some modest clarifying changes to the process, but I still don’t come even close to getting it.  

It appears that some elected officials, around here notably the Bates/Hancock entourage, can put heavy thumbs on the scale in the decision process, but on the other hand Thurmond was endorsed by Senator DeSaulnier and Congressman George Miller. Regardless, “the Democratic Party”, whoever that might be, endorsed against him in both Alameda and Contra Costa counties.  

But here’s the good news: in both Alameda and Contra Costa counties, the—I suppose we’d be tempted to say—machine candidates lost in a bunch of places. For example, in Berkeley an endorsed former Bates aide running for Berkeley Unified School District seems to have lost. The Alameda County Democratic Central Committee didn’t endorse Worthington, who has devoted many hours to party work, but he won anyway.  

And Tony Thurmond, also unendorsed by the party honchos, will be our new State Assemblymember. Ironically, he might owe a good part of his margin to Chevron. The obscene amount of money the corporation spent opposing Tom Butt and the Richmond Progressive Alliance ensured that every last progressive voter in the city of Richmond turned out to vote on Tuesday, and while they were at the polls they probably voted for Tony (who used to be on the Richmond City Council). We won’t know for sure until the precinct votes are certified, but it seems likely. 

In the next couple of years, we really have to try to figure out where the gears of this machine reside. I could explain to you how the College of Cardinals chooses a Pope, but not what “endorsed by the Democratic Party” means in California. As a result, my new mantra is simply “watch out for those Dems”.  

On election night, I spoke briefly with Tony Thurmond, and he told me that figuring out this endorsement policy and doing something about it is high on his agenda. The rest of us can do our part by documenting how it works now and how it can be fixed before the next election. Input from knowledgeable readers would be welcome. 







The Editor's Back Fence

New: The Berkeley Student Vote: Analyzing Why the District 7 Numbers Turned Out That Way

Monday November 10, 2014 - 08:35:00 PM

My correspondents have forwarded to me links to two cogent analyses of the District 7 vote:

Citizens Speak


Students on Camera

Isn't it great that the council majority finally gave students their very own district?

Public Comment

New: Pressure on Israel Grows

Jagjit Singh
Sunday November 09, 2014 - 01:58:00 PM

The British House of Commons vote to endorse diplomatic recognition of a Palestinian state is a vitally important gesture. Israel and the US should not ignore the message which is a sign of the growing frustration and anger over Israel’s settlement expansion. Ignoring stated US policy, Israel announced it plans to build 1,000 new housing units in areas of Jerusalem which the Palestinians claim encroaches on their independent state. Richard Ottaway, a Conservative lawmaker and chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee voiced the frustration of many of Britain’s lawmakers when he stated “such is my anger over Israel’s behavior in recent months that I will not oppose the motion. I have to say to the government of Israel that if they are losing people like me, they will be losing a lot of people.” Sweden’s new left-of-center government recently announced that it would become the first major Western European nation to recognize Palestine. Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, has urged the United Nations Security Council to set a specific deadline for Israel to end the occupation

The European Union has imposed restrictions on loans to Israeli scientific institutions that operate in the West Bank and has plans to label products made in Jewish settlements. Much like apartheid South Africa the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions program is increasing exponentially.  

Finally, the United Nations Film Festival hosted a superb documentary on Palestine which captured the essence of the Israeli – Palestinian conflict (see http://www.unaff.org/2014/f_people.html).  

American Red Cross

Jagjit Singh
Friday November 07, 2014 - 01:48:00 PM

The second anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, which pummeled the New York City region, comes on the heels of a joint investigation by ProPublica and NPR who contend the American Red Cross diverted critical resources away from those in need and instead launched a massive PR campaign to buttress its image.  

According to a ProPublica reporter Justin Elliott and Richard Rieckenberg, former disaster expert with the Red Cross, 30% of the meals it was producing for the Sandy victims were wasted. The investigation was based on Red Cross’s internal documents, post disaster reports and talking to disaster officials. The collective conclusion was the Red Cross failed in its mission of providing adequate relief after the storm.  

For example, emergency vehicles were diverted away from the disaster area to serve as backdrops at press conferences in photo ops. The investigation drew on a Red Cross internal "Lessons Learned" presentation titled, "hindrances to service delivery." The first bullet point stated that national headquarters were "diverting assets for public relations purposes."  

In an earlier disaster, Hurricane Isaac, Red Cross ordered 80 trucks and emergency response vehicles to leave the lot empty, drive around Mississippi, to make it appear as though they were actively engaged in disaster relief. The senior mass care chief in the country, Bob Scheifele, reminded charities that it was far more important to feed disaster victims than it was to squander resources telling the world you fed them. 

Dangerous Sidewalk in Berkeley

Romila Khanna
Friday November 07, 2014 - 01:52:00 PM

I wanted to bring to your attention the condition of the sidewalk at the corner of Hopkins and Sutter. Part of the sidewalk is covered with pebbles dumped there from the corner house. I have seen elderly people slip as they picked their way through the uneven pebbles strewn over the sidewalk. Can the City of Berkeley oversee clearing of the pebbles before some pedestrian suffers a dangerous fall on the sidewalk at Hopkins and Sutter?


ECLECTIC RANT: Global Warming Deniers in Congressional Driver's Seat

Ralph E. Stone
Friday November 07, 2014 - 02:36:00 PM

Following the midterm elections, Republicans remain firmly in control of the U.S. House of Representatives and now enjoy a majority in the U.S. Senate. Senator James Inhofe (R-Ok) is expected to become Chairman of the Environmental and Public Works Committee (EPW). 

The EPW controls the Environmental Protection Agency, which is charged with addressing climate change and what to do about it. Inhofe is probably the most idiotic global warming denier in Congress, who has called it a hoax. Given the evidence of global warming, we can only shake our heads at Inhofe’s likely chairmanship of this important committee. 

The midterm elections came just after the publishing of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, which concluded, among other things, that “Human influence on the climate system is clear, and recent anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are the highest in history. Recent climate changes have had widespread impacts on human and natural systems,” concluding that “If left unchecked, climate change will increase the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems. However, options are available to adapt to climate change and implementing stringent mitigations activities can ensure that the impacts of climate change remain within a manageable range, creating a brighter and more sustainable future.” 

For years, global warming deniers have engaged in an effective disinformation campaign to undermine efforts to pass a clean energy bill to curb our addiction to oil and other fossil fuels, resulting in cleaner air, more renewable energy, a stronger dollar, and more innovative industries. Even if 999 scientists out of 1,000 agreed that the main cause of the increase in global average temperatures in recent history is not because of any natural cycle — although natural cycles do exist — it is because of man, the deniers, of course, would seize on the minority of scientists who do not agree. 

Inhofe and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R. Cal) probably represent the views of global warming debunkers. Inhofe called “the threat of catastrophic global warming the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.” Rohrabacher called the science behind global warming “emotional junk science.” 

The disinformation campaign has had its effect on public opinion. According to an April 2014 Gallup poll, one in four polled is not worried about global warming much, or at all. 

Clearly, the danger to our planet is real. According to the IPCC report, coastal cities will become inundated by sea-level rise, storms and wildfires will wreak havoc on land, food shortages will cause widespread famine and starvation, and plants and animals will die off in droves. This is the kind of world we may come to live in if we do not eliminate global greenhouse gas emissions by the end of the century. 

Denying global warming and its causes threatens all of humanity with slow, painful, untimely deaths. Will the IPCC report change Senator Inhofe and his fellow Republicans' view on global warming and get them to do something about global warming? I somehow doubt it, but hope springs eternal 


Republicans won a majority in the U.S. Senate and increased their majority in the House. According to exit polls, the economy was a major issue for voters this midterm election. Yet, voters chose Republicans to "fix" the economy, the very party who under George W. Bush put the economy in the dumpers in the first place. And the irony is, the economy is recovering albeit not fast enough for many. Go figure.

THE PUBLIC EYE: None Dare Call It Treason: Why Republicans Won

Bob Burnett
Friday November 07, 2014 - 09:03:00 AM

Democrats have offered many excuses for their devastating losses in the 2014-midterm election, but they failed to include the most obvious: they were weak. Starting with President Obama and extending through most of the Party leadership, Democrats didn’t fight back. Democrats routinely let Republicans get away with actions that, were the roles reversed, Republicans wouldn’t stand for. 

In 2014 Republicans bullied Democrats. Republicans proved, once again, they will say and do anything to win. Republicans don’t care if they scuttle our democracy along with the fragile economy, to them winning is all that matters.  

Let’s begin the 2016 campaign season by calling Republican politicians by their true name: traitors. Enemies of the United States of America. 

The Republican descent into treason began with Ronald Reagan and his deplorable “Reaganomics.” At the forefront of this philosophy were three big lies: helping the rich get richer would inevitably help everyone else; markets were inherently self correcting and therefore there was no need for government regulation; and the US did not need an economic strategy because that was a natural consequence of the free market.  

In 1981, the Republican Party embraced plutocracy and ushered in a thirty-year period where America’s working families were abandoned in favor of the rich. Inequality rose as middle class income and wealth declined. As corporate power increased, unions were systematically undermined. As CEO salaries soared, fewer families earned living wages. Reaganomics produced a warped and brittle US economy, where more than two-thirds of our GDP was housing related: building, buying, and furnishing new homes or borrowing against existing homes in order to maintain a decent standard of living. In 2008, when the credit bubble burst, the debt-based consumption model failed, taking down first the housing sector and then the entire economy, resulting in catastrophic job losses. 

That’s the mess President Obama inherited – the dreadful consequences of failed Republican policies. In 2009, there was a brief honeymoon period and (some) Republicans worked with Democrats to pass the Economic Stimulus Act. Then Republicans dug in their heels and reverted to character. On the even of the 2010-midterm election, Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said

We need to treat this election as the first step in retaking the government… The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.

From that point on, Republicans did everything they could to prevent economic progress. Republicans became “the Party of No” and blocked every Democratic proposal to boost the economy, lower the unemployment rate, protect the longtime unemployed, and reduce inequality. In the face of this, President Obama with the support of the Federal Reserve nursed the economy back to health: the stock market boomed and unemployment was reduced below 6 percent. In 2013, the federal budget deficit was a reduced to a third of the size it had been in 2009. 

However, for many Americans, the economic recovery was illusive because their wages were flat. Businesses recovered but workers didn’t. Republicans blocked Democratic efforts to raise the minimum wage and otherwise improve the lot of working families. 

On October 1, 2013, to make a political point, Republicans forced a government shutdown that lasted 16 days. This cost the economy $24 Billion, cost taxpayers $2.5 Billion, and eliminated 120,000 jobs. 

Indeed, since the passage of the 2009 Economic Stimulus Act, there’s hasn’t been one thing that Republicans have done that improves the lot of working families. They don’t care because it was never their agenda. 

On August 29th, President Obama called the Republican political strategy:

There has been a certain cynical genius to what [Republicans] have done in Washington. What they’ve realized is, if we don’t get anything done, then people are going to get cynical about government and its possibilities of doing good for everybody… And the more cynical people get, the less they vote. And if turnout is low and people don’t vote, that pretty much benefits [the Republicans] who benefit from the status quo.
That’s what happened in 2014. Republican voters turned out but Democrats were depressed about the prospects for change and didn’t vote. 

President Obama knew what was happening but for whatever reason he didn’t call out the Republicans as obstructionists, as enemies of democracy. In 2014, Democrats were weak and didn’t fight back. Democrats didn’t blame Republicans for an economy that while growing is only working for the rich. (Indeed, Democrats didn’t have any consistent message in 2014.) 

But liberals don’t have to hold back. Playing nice has cost Democrats control of the House of Representatives and the Senate.  

Liberals can fight back. We can call Republicans on their immoral plan to ruin democracy. Liberals must call Republicans by their true names: traitors. 

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

SENIOR POWER In behalf of old, disabled, and old disabled library patrons

By Helen Rippier Wheeler, pen136@dslextreme.com
Friday November 07, 2014 - 09:29:00 AM

Welcome, Jeff Scott! Jeff Scott is the new Director of Berkeley’s Library Services. He commences his new role this month, November 2014.  

The American Library Association refers to people with disabilities as a large and neglected minority and a community severely underrepresented in the library “profession.” In addition to numerous personal challenges, many face economic inequity, illiteracy, cultural isolation, and discrimination in education, employment and the broad range of societal activities. (ALA Policy B.9.3.2 , “Library Services for People with Disabilities”)  

The ALA also recognizes “older adults,” another large and neglected minority. For purposes of the Guidelines for Library and Information Services to Older Adults, an “older adult” is defined as a person who is at least 55 years old. Many disabled persons must also acknowledge ailments and limitations associated with old age.  

Libraries should use strategies based on principles of universal design, which would ensure that library policy, resources and services meet the needs of all people. The term was coined to describe the concept of designing all products and the built environment to be aesthetic and usable to the greatest extent possible by everyone, regardless of their age, ability, or status in life. The preamble to the Library Bill of Rights states, “all libraries are forums for information and ideas.” By removing the physical, technological, and procedural barriers to accessing those forums, libraries promote the full inclusion of persons with disabilities into our society. To ensure such access, libraries should provide individuals with disabilities or who are homebound with home delivery service

The Guidelines commend several action approaches that include reaching out to older adults in the community who are unable to travel to the library. This might include assistance to older adults who are confined to private residences or who are unable to carry library materials home, innovative approaches to delivery of materials, and establishment of a volunteer delivery system.  


In June 2010, I had watched and listened as Peter Warfield tried to get Council’s attention and was ultimately turned off. I had already discovered that the power structure sustaining the City of Berkeley Board of Library Trustees (BOLT) eschewed the presence on the Board, or among the public attending meetings, of professional librarians experienced with buildings and collection development. Many mobile elders preferred North Branch because: they could park there, there was an albeit limited Large Print books collection, they grew up there, they were comfy with the accessible professional librarian at an Information/Reference desk that had a seat right next to it, they weren’t necessarily computer-literate, etc. Berkeley senior centers and senior housing vans do not regularly schedule visits to or stop at libraries.  

The renovation plan displayed outside the North Branch library showed no consideration for universal design. My main concern was about space for collections – mainly books and other printed materials. The shelving of the traditional basic fiction and nonfiction collections was already “tight.” I anticipated provision designated for continuance plus expansion of Large Print books in all genres, reference books, mysteries, books-in-Japanese, science fiction, New Books, folios, etc.  

Sylvia Pastano pointed out that “There are no longer any medical reference books (as we boomers age!), no encyclopedia or dictionary in reference (what kind of reference collection is that?) … went to check something in the Bay Area Consumer Checkbooks and they had all been tossed. That information is not online. The Current Events bulletin board that I relied on to see what was happening in Berkeley has been gone for months. There is no longer a community feel there. The selection of interesting new books seems to be dwindling and the older books on the shelves are also getting pretty thin… There must be other North Branch patrons who are also upset about what is happening…” 

Today, North’s New Books space is still small, and they are jammed into dark, unlit shelves. The location for returning books, DVDs and magazines is about as far away from the main entrance as it could be. Universal design would have suggested having the return locale as close as possible to the main entrance, as it was pre-renovation. There is less space for Large Print books. NOTE: Recently, some of North Branch Library’s collections were temporarily relocated to the basement meeting room. I very much liked the make-do set-up: New Books, DVD’s, and Holds were much more accessible! 

The Berkeley Public Library recruits volunteers but does not utilize them for home deliveries. The Volunteer Application does not query whether the applicant has a vehicle and is willing to use it in volunteer service delivering books to family-less (without a proxy) homebound persons. It does ask the applicant’s age, computer skills and languages. The Library Van appears to be underused.  

The assumption that they all have computers and proxies renders senior citizens disabled. Public libraries appear to be unaware of the facts of seniors’ lives All homebound senior citizens do not have access to public libraries collections, books in particular. In announcing her retirement, Berkeley Public Library Director Donna Corbeil referred to the Branches as lively and exciting neighborhood destinations for all ages - accessible, safe, well-lighted and welcoming!  



"State inadequately investigates nursing home complaints, audit finds," by Adolfo Flores (Los Angeles Times, October 31, 2014). 


Plans for the 2015 White House Conference on Aging — the first in 10 years — are beginning to take shape, writes Liza Kaufman Hogan in "The White House Plans An Aging Conference." (Forbes, October 30, 2014). Organizers are setting the agenda, reaching out to interest groups and gathering ideas from the general public through a new website and social media. The conference website was launched in October with preliminary plans, a blog and an invitation for visitors to share thoughts and ideas. 

White House Conferences on Aging are decennial events held to engage with and hear from stakeholders and individuals interested in issues that are important to older individuals and people in the aging field. The first WHCoA was held in 1961, with subsequent conferences in 1971, 1981, 1995, and 2005. These conferences have been viewed as catalysts for development of aging policy over the past 50 years. The conferences generated ideas and momentum prompting the establishment of and/or key improvements in many of the programs that represent America’s commitment to older Americans-- Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and the Older Americans Act. The dates and location have not been announced, although they are likely to be December 2015 in Washington, D.C. The 2015 conference will focus on four broad policy areas: retirement security, healthy aging, long-term services and supports, and elder justice


Nora Super has been named Executive Director of the conference. She has a public policy background and has been traveling the country, holding listening sessions with groups like the California Commission on Aging.  


Traditionally, the conference has hosted hundreds — sometimes thousands — of delegates who convened over several days to discuss and draft policy recommendations for the president and Congress. It has been funded through the Older Americans Act, but with OAA renewal in limbo, it is not clear whether there will be a 2015 conference. The Obama Administration has requested $3 million in the Fiscal Year 2015 budget to fund the effort. The last conference received $7.3 million in federal funding. Private organizations may assist as federal laws permit. Some sort of gathering will take place next year, scaled back from 2005 when 1,200+ delegates came to Washington to attend a real four-day conference. 








































ON MENTAL ILLNESS: The Power of Written, Spoken, and Thought Words

Jack Bragen
Friday November 07, 2014 - 09:02:00 AM

Words are more than mere vibrations of the vocal cords. The words we speak change us and affect those around us, and the words we think may determine who we will become. Words can heal, or they can be used as weapons.  

The U.S. Constitution is more than ink on an old piece of paper. Those words determine the mechanics of how our government operates. And while it is subject to interpretation by judges and violation by some government officials (usually in the name of national security) it is a set of words that we have agreed to follow.  

When heads of state deliver warlike rhetoric, the consequences could include whole countries becoming enemies of one another, and could result in the deaths of millions. Governments on our planet are made of words and of people acting upon those words. A business contract defines the actions and finances of companies and people.  

People on our planet have universally agreed to follow the spoken, written and enacted word. Since nearly everyone agrees to follow this system, it becomes something from which we cannot escape.  

Thoughts are made of words, too. What we think about ourselves shapes us. What we think about others shapes our behavior; whether we will show kindness or cruelty, whether we treat someone with deference or haughtiness.  

There are some Zen monks who have given a vow of eternal silence. I do not understand the full reasoning behind this commitment, but it is clear that they believe words have an impact and are sometimes counterproductive. It seems that, according to Zen Buddhists, words get in the way of the perception of truth.  

Unfortunately, most of us must speak and do not have a choice about this. We are not at liberty or disposition to live silently in a monastery. We must use the commonly accepted means of relating to others in society, and if we fail to do that, there are negative repercussions.  

If parents who raised you told you every day that you're worthless, it could ruin your development. I was never told that by parents. I was lucky to be raised by parents who nurtured my abilities.  

However, my schoolmates were very unkind, and said detracting things to me on a constant, daily basis. (This was accompanied by physical attack upon me by other students in school. This didn't happen every day, but happened enough.) Thus, it is a wonder that I didn't turn out a lot worse than I did.  

When someone is a prisoner, whether this is through a court process or through a kidnapping, the words of oppressors become a sinister weapon.  

Words become thoughts, thoughts become a person's composition, and thoughts create speech and action. Our thoughts are greatly influenced by words we hear, and our thoughts construct our character.  

When someone becomes psychotic or depressed, there is a malfunction in the thoughts. In the case of depression, the words that you think, namely, you thoughts, have negative, painful and gloomy content. In the case of psychosis, the words of the internal dialog have become split off from the commonly held beliefs of society, the words may be bizarre, grandiose, and will not make sense to anyone else. Depression, bipolar illness and schizophrenia all include changes to the thoughts, and this is apparent partly through the words that are spoken.  

Talk therapy, even though it doesn't contain something chemical (as opposed to a medication) can have a great deal of impact. Improperly done talk therapy can damage the recipient, while talk therapy done with finesse and gentleness can be of great benefit

Arts & Events

THEATER REVIEW: 'Redwolf'--Ragged Wing at the Flight Deck

Ken Bullock
Friday November 07, 2014 - 02:17:00 PM

A classroom of students chanting the lesson as the Teacher points to a right triangle—and in the corner, wearing an intense frown, is Red, "bored," as the Teacher later puts it, though her malaise—or wish—is more intense than any boredom ... 

'Redwolf' is Ragged Wing Ensemble's first full-length show in the black box theater at their new, self-built performance center, The Flight Deck, on Broadway at the western end of Uptown Oakland, across the street from the start of Telegraph Ave. A collaborative effort between Ragged Wing co-founder Amy Sass (who also directs) and noted playwright Anthony Clarvoe, 'Redwolf's' billed as a young woman's "journey from girlhood to wolfhood," including awakenings both sexual and to the world of "growth," the constant development that shuts out, obliterates the Wild. 

If there's a map, there's no wild there anymore, one character says. And the surveying crew is aimed at Red's house, where she lives alone, a "default adult," demolition in preparation for constructing The Beltway. 

The biggest breakthrough for Ragged Wing with the new script is the character of Red—and Carlye Pollack's playing the part. By turns smoldering (with boredom? rage? indignation?), playfully teasing, defensive, lost, responsive, Pollack plays Red as a fascinatingly elusive but well-rounded character. Ragged Wing's decade-long string of productions has—as their name implies in one sense—been often fixated on what Sherwood Anderson called The General, the situational, even the symbolic (Amy Sass has a penchant for fleshing out fairytales in modern guise)—in 'Redwolf,' a kind of schematic satire of the schematic drudgery and repression of modern life. 

But with Red as focal point the play takes on a kind of carousel motion—Red in this or that situation, as the schema works its way through ... 

The rest of the cast—Jaime Lee Currier, Cecilia Palmtag, David Stein, Keith Davis, Dan Kurtz—are all equal to the occasion, do function as an ensemble, including some good physical theater, especially during the first half of the play. 

Right before intermission is the best of several particularly good scenes, when Wendell—well-played by Keith Davis—the engineer who's envisioned the Beltway, visits Red in her house and after playing games, gets literally entangled with her. It's a red-hot scene, two actors playing it up perfectly—which makes a later nude scene, well enough played, look tame by comparison, in this exploration of the Wild, and the thought of it. 

Fridays at 8, Saturdays at 2 & 8, Sundays at 7 through November 8, The Flight Deck, 1540 Broadway, Oakland, $25-$40 (student-senior rush, $15, 1/2 hour before curtain): raggedwing.org

THEATER REVIEW: A. R. Gurney's 'What I Did Last Summer' by Piedmont-Oakland Repertory Theatre (PORT)

Ken Bullock
Friday November 07, 2014 - 02:15:00 PM

A middle-aged writer (Brett Mermer) introduces himself to tell us what he did last summer: he wrote a play about what he, as a 14 year old, did one summer years before,July, 1945, in fact, a war year—a summer that changed his life. This is the slender framing device for A. R. Gurney's coming of age play, which demonstrates both charm and pith in this production by Piedmont-Oakland Repertory Theatre (PORT). 

But first director John McMullen chooses an excellent alternative to what's become by now an old cliché, playing recorded music of a not-so-long bygone era before a show and during the intermission. Instead, Elizabeth Jane introduces and sings well several songs from the times, songs that figure in the play, though there just as a line quoted, a verse thrown back and forth: "Straighten Up & Fly Right," "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree" and so on. A nice touch. 

The cast—Cameron Dodd, Nathan Zabala, Melanie Marshall, Alison Whismore, Rosie Fry and Susannah Wood—make a neat ensemble for the often quick scenes with sharp dialogue and a few direct expositions to the audience by characters, about Charlie and his mother and sister—his father's fighting in the South Pacific—and their somewhat dyspeptic stay at "the lake" near the Northeast US-Canada border, and Charlie's experience with "the Pig Woman," a local character, an independent art teacher with a place down by the lakeshore, a nay-sayer to all that's bright & shiny & "progressive." Susannah Wood's performance is a high point, a character like a radicalized Auntie Mame—if that's not too much an oxymoron!—or like Anna Lee's hardboiled Bohemian artist character Mac in sam Fuller's 1959 film 'The Crimson Kimono'—and there's an old connection between her and Charlie's mother; the scene where that comes out is maybe the real center of the story ... 

It's a fine Fall entertainment—and hopefully PORT has a long run of its own on Piedmont Avenue. 

Saturdays at 8, Sundays at 2:30 & 7, 4137 Piedmont Avenue—across from Barney's—Oakland. $22 advance, $25 at the door. www.PORT4137.info

AROUND AND ABOUT MUSIC: Countertenor Andreas Scholl with Philharmonia Baroque

Ken Bullock
Friday November 07, 2014 - 02:13:00 PM

—Renowned countertenor Andreas Scholl will sing arias from Handel and selections from Bach with the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, led by Julian Wachner—who just made his San Francisco Opera debut, brilliantly conducting Handel's 'Partenope'—this Saturday night at 8, Sunday afternoon at 4 at the First Congregational Church, Dana between Durant & Channing. Bach: Sinfonia to Cantata No. 42, Cantata No. 170, Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 in F major; Handel operatic arias; Teleman: Concerto in F major for violin, oboe & two horns. $25-$100. philharmonia.org

AROUND AND ABOUT THEATER AND FILM: East Bay Media Center Film Festival; Golden Thread Presents 'Dear Armen' from Toronto; Indra's Net Premieres 'Delicate Particle Logic'

Ken Bullock
Friday November 07, 2014 - 02:11:00 PM

—The excellent folks at the East Bay Media Center are once again hosting the Berkeley Video & Film festival in its 23rd edition, already underway with the Student Film Marathon, featuring in part work by the outstanding students of the famed USC Cinematic Arts program, several documentaries on Tibetan Buddhism & Bön, often shot in situ; Peter Yost's documentary on Mt. Tamalpais, narrated by Peter Coyote; a doc on poetry—and short comedies, drama, all kinds of new film and video, shown in the Center's well-refurbished Performance Space. 7 pm Hallowe'en through November 8, various times. $10; students/elders $5; Berkeley High students free with id—& wear a Hallowe'en costume or mask for 50% off. 1939 Addison, between Milvia & MLK. http:/berkeleyvideofilmfest.org/ or 843-3099 

—After the success of Tara Grammy's 'Mahmoud,' Golden Thread's presenting another show that originated in Toronto, 'Dear Armen,' an audience-interactive one, written and performed by Kamee Abrahamian & lee williams boudakian, about the research of a student and writer, Garo, into the life and work of Armen Ohanian, performer and survivor of the anti-Armenian pogroms in Baku, bringing up issues of cultural and gender identity—"their poetic search for self-exploration, artistic innovation and cultural connection blends into a poetry of words, movement and music." Thursdays through Saturdays at 8, Sundays at 3 though November 9, Thick House, 1695-18th Street, between Connecticut & Carolina Streets on Potrero Hill, San Francisco. $25; student/senior/TBA $20. goldenthread.org
—Indra's Net Theater is premiering the fourth in their series of productions of plays dealing with modern physics, Jennifer Blackmer's new play, 'Delicate Particle Logic,' concerning scientist Lise Meitner, the "Mother of Nuclear Fission," and painter Edith Hahn, during the rise of the Nazi Party and concurrent male domination in society. Directed by Bruce Coughran, Indra's Net's co-founder and artistic director. Thursdays through Saturdays at 8, Sundays at 5 through November 23 at the Osher Studio, 2055 Center Street, near Shattuck. Tickets: $20-$28 (Pay what you can at the preview November 1.) www.indrasnettheater.com or (415) 613-9210
—Oakland-Piedmont Repertory Theatre (PORT) is staging A. R. Gurney's 'What I Did Last Summer,' directed by John A. McMullen II Saturdays at 8, Sundays at 2:30 and at 7, through December 13 at 4137 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, across from Barney's, between 41st Street & Ridgeway Avenue. $22 in advance, $25 at the door, $19 at previews, 8 p. m. November 1 & 2:30 p. m. November 2. www.PiedmontOaklandRep.org
—"An empty theater, a bare stage, no need to pretend. Or rather. yes. It is the very issue of pretense that is raised here." So begin the notes by director Emmanuel Demarcy-Mota, artistic director of the Théâtre de la Ville of Paris' production of Pirandello's great 'Six Characters in Search of an Author' at Zellerbach Hall for two performances next weekend, thanks to Cal Performances. Pirandello, awarded the 1934 Nobel Prize for Literature, is one of the greatest modern playwrights and thinkers about the theater, is identified by his idiosyncratic, penetrating sense of humor, which he defined in an important essay and letters before he (a fiction writer of renown) took to the stage as "a sense of the opposite" and as "what you find instead of what you expect to find."
Théâtre de la Ville staged a remarkable production of Ionesco's 'Rhinoceros' here a few years back. Their exploration of Pirandello's most famous play is an event of the first order. "This is a unique opportunity to seek to exceed the limits of theater, not by denying them, but by bringing them to paradoxical consequences." (For the full text of Demarcy-Mota's notes: calperformances.org/learn/program_notes/2014/pn/theatre-de-la-ville-pdf
Other events include a panel discussion, November 7, 12-2 p. m. in Dwinelle 370 on staging 'Rhinoceros'—which UC Department of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies will perform November 14-23. On saturday the 8th, assistant director Christian Lemaire will discuss 'Six Characters' with Shannon Jackson, director of UC-Berkeley's Department of Art Research at the Alumni House on campus, 6-7 p. m. Both events are free to the public.
Friday and Saturday, November 7 & 8, 8 p. m. at Zellerbach Hall, on campus near Telegraph Avenue and Bancroft Way, $30-$68 (discounts for students & seniors). calperformances.org

—The Aurora Theatre unveiled the Barbara Oliver Bas Relief, a bronze sculpture in honor of its late founder by Fred Parhad, donated to the theater by Venus and Narsai David, on October 28. It will be permanently on view in the entrance lobby to the theater on Addison Street near Shattuck. Barbara Oliver founded the Aurora in 1992. She died this past June, age 85.

THEATER REVIEW: 'Delicate Particle Logic'--Indra's Net at Osher Studio

Ken Bullock
Friday November 07, 2014 - 02:04:00 PM

In the late 1930s, Lise Meitner, an emigre German Jewish physicist in Sweden received a letter from her longtime collaborator, chemist Otto Hahn in Berlin, detaailing a problem: an experiment involving unranuim the two had been pursuing with their collaborators before Meitner's escape from Nazi Germany, was not, as expected, given the knowledge and theorizing of the cutting edge of then-contemporary physics, producing heavier elements ... on a walk with her nephew, Robert Frisch, a scientist living in Copenhagen, Meitner hit on the answer: without knowing it, they had split the atom. Hahn would receive the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for the discovery. Meitner was mentioned, but did not share the prize. 

Jennifer Blackmur's new play, premiered by Indra's Net with its founder Bruce Coughran's direction, approaches this discovery (maybe the key scene in the play), its prehistory and all that took place around and after in the lives of the principals, with an unusual device, making it a dialogue between Meitner--or an apparition of Meitner, an appearance--and Hahn's painter wife, Edith, who's an inmate in an asylum. Is it all in Edith's head? The two give a great deal of exposition of this fascinating story over flashbacks, tableaux from their lives, which also contain much in the way of exposition ...  

(Some similar situations in late 30s Germany were staged brilliantly by Bertolt Brecht in his one act, 'The Jewish Wife.) 

The ensemble is very good, clearly committed to its task of illumination: Janet Keller as Edith, Teressa Byrne (a nice choice for playing Meitner; better-known as an operatic actor-singer), Michael Kern Cassidy as Hahn--and playing various roles, two actors bringing a lot of juice to the production: Darek Burkowski and well-known Jeff Garrett. Several have collaborated before with Indra's Net in its program of staging plays about modern science. ScottAlexander supplies the original muic during the action.  

The story's fascinating; Blackmur's play is ambitious, but doesn't develop a consistent stylization; its back-and-forth (and deliberately "random") repetition of tableaux-to-dialogue slip back into what it seems to try to avoid: melodrama. But Meitner's tory is so rich--and seemingly fraught with ambiguities, of its personalities, of the times--it could fuel any number of plays, like the release of great forces of energy from a small, if volatile, mass--the nucleus of the Bomb which Meitner refused to get involved with in development ... 

Thursdays-Saturdays at 8, Sundays at 5 through November 23, Osher Studio, 2055 Center Street, near Shattuck. $20-$28. (415) 613-9210; www.indrasnettheater.com

AROUND AND ABOUT CABARET AND VAUDEVILLE: Subterranean Variété Lounge Show at the Marsh

Ken Bullock
Friday November 07, 2014 - 01:47:00 PM

A new designation for a novel set of acts, coming to the Marsh's Cabaret Room next week for one night only, under the mighty aegis of Subterranean Shakespeare—but The Bard it ain't, exactly ...  

Subterranean Variété, "an evening of music, theatre & comedy," consists of acts by Karen Penley, The Sunz of Rude Mechanical Serfs, (there's the SubShakes rub!)a "theaterock quintet," The Fools of Mercury comedy improv and Tin Sandwich—San Francisco's only harmonica trio. 

A week from this Saturday, November 15 at 8:30 only, Marsh Cabaret Room, 2120 Addison near Shattuck. A mere $10 at the door.