The Week



Flash: DBA Ambassadors Assault Homeless in Berkeley

Thursday March 26, 2015 - 02:04:00 PM

Anyone who is concerned about the way the Downtown Berkeley Association, aided and abetted by Councilmembers Arreguin and Maio, have proposed that Berkeley deal with homeless people should take a look at this story on It shows a couple of the DBA's "ambassadors" assaulting a homeless person.

The assault was captured on video by Bryan Hamilton and is posted on YouTube. -more-

Updated: Suspect in reported Berkeley hammer attack not arrested by police

Scott Morris (BCN)
Wednesday March 25, 2015 - 10:54:00 PM

A suspect detained after a reported attack with a hammer in Berkeley on Tuesday afternoon was not arrested and the reported victim was uninjured, a Berkeley police spokeswoman said today. -more-

New: Alta Bates Summit nurses allege workplace safety violation

Dave Brooksher (BCN)
Wednesday March 25, 2015 - 10:47:00 PM

Registered nurses from Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland held a news conference this afternoon to discuss what they say is the latest in a series of workplace safety violations by Sutter Health. -more-

New: Barred by New Berkeley Bar, Patron Hits (and Misses) the Roof (Public Comment)

David Blake
Wednesday March 25, 2015 - 10:18:00 PM

Today (5:00-7:00) is the opening of the new Tupper and Reed Bar, opening in the old Beckett's location on Shattuck (next to the beloved but shuttered music store they named themselves after). I heard that they were going classier than Beckett's, with an upstairs area a la Bourbon and Branch (with which they seem to be associated, by all accounts). Most people, including our fair Mayor, were outside being entertained by a bagpipe group in full regalia when I arrived, but I wanted to check out the inside to make sure the lovely roof (tied for best in downtown with the Fidelity Savings-now-Jim-Novosel-rebuilt ceiling) was undisturbed, and showed my (emailed) invite from the Downtown Berkeley Association to a guy barring the door. Odd, I thought, since I haven't been carded in years, but possible. Then he looked me up and down and just said, "No." That is, not you buddy. I said that the website said free and open to the public, but he was unfazed. So I left for Bobby G's Jazz Pizzeria, and passed the mayor's aide, Calvin Fong, and told him I couldn't get in. He leaped into action: "Try losing the backpack." So, VERY exclusive; bicyclists need not inquire. I can report, from my vantage point at the front door, that the ceiling, or at least part of it, is still intact. -more-

New: Berkeley Musters Foxtail Brigade

Toni Mester
Wednesday March 25, 2015 - 10:04:00 AM

Volunteers will gather on Saturday morning March 28 in an effort to abate the foxtail menace at the Cesar Chavez Park off-leash area. This first attack on the noxious weeds that endanger the health of dogs will be held from 9 AM to noon. -more-

New: Hammer attack suspect detained near Telegraph in Berkeley

Scott Morris (BCN)
Tuesday March 24, 2015 - 06:07:00 PM

Berkeley police have detained a suspect in a hammer attack this afternoon, police said. -more-

New: Two men suspected in robbery of woman at People's Park last Wednesday

Keith Burbank (BCN)
Tuesday March 24, 2015 - 06:09:00 PM

Police suspect two men robbed a 54-year-old woman at People's Park in Berkeley last Wednesday, University of California at Berkeley police said. -more-

New: Critics challenge accuracy of downtown model presented to ZAB and LPC by Mark Rhoades

Becky O'Malley
Monday March 23, 2015 - 11:38:00 AM

Last Thursday evening, March 19, at the Design Review Committee of the Berkeley Zoning Adjustment Board (DRC), Mark Rhoades, consultant on the 2211 Harold Way project being proposed for downtown Berkeley by Los Angeles real estate financier Joseph Penner’s Hill Street Realty, brought in a three-dimensional model of downtown Berkeley which included the proposed building. Project critics have charged that this model is not an accurate representation of the height of existing downtown buildings as compared to the one which is proposed. -more-

Press Release: Berkeley City Council Requests Guidance on Homeless Measures But Snubs Service Providers, Homeless People, Cal Researchers, Homeless Commission, Homeless Task Force…

From SAFEberkeley
Friday March 20, 2015 - 02:02:00 PM

[Tuesday] night, Berkeley City Council voted six to three to instruct the City Manager to produce recommendations on eleven different proposals concerning homelessness. Six of these would be criminal sanctions for everyday activities. No new law has been passed, or can be passed prior to a future City Council vote on the City Manager's recommendations.

Elisa Della-Piana, Chair of the Homeless Commission, was disappointed by the lack of community process. "Berkeley has a Homeless Commission that was formed to vet and produce such proposals. The hours spent in Tuesday's meeting were a waste of time that showed no respect for the expertise available in this city from our service providers, the Homeless Commission, the Homeless Taskforce, or one of the best schools of social work in the state. We hope that the City Manager will consult with these bodies so that City Council has better information and more rationally formed proposals in front of them when they give this matter its second consideration." -more-

White power, white culture, white wash

Steve Martinot
Friday March 20, 2015 - 02:43:00 PM


An incident concerning race occurred in Berkeley at the end of January 2015. It was a momentary event involving a black man, a white woman, and several truckloads of symbolism. The black man, a Berkeley resident named Kamau Bell, wrote about it in his blog. Then Berkeleyside wrote an article about the incident (1/29/15). During the following seven days, well over 700 comments appeared in Berkeleyside -- an average of 100 a day. Those comments are the subject of this article.

Berkeleyside lends itself to this project because it permits anonymous comments; most commenters avail themselves of this anonymity. In this analysis, all the comments will be considered as anonymous, even those that had names. It is in their anonymity that they become cultural expressions, unfettered by any concern with being personally associated with what they have written. For this very reason, however, it remains unknown exactly how many people actually participated in this flood of commentary. If the average thread consisted of roughly five exchanged comments, we can assume that perhaps a total of 140 people were involved in the discussions. The volume of comments thus constitute a database, a motherlode of cultural ore from which certain aspects of what makes this society tick can be refined. Most references will be by paraphrase, but a directly quoted statement will be in quotation marks.

The mass of commentary breaks down into several clear categories: those who attack Bell, those who defend the waitress, those who instruct Bell as to what he should have done, those who suggest what the waitress should have done. Rarely will whole comments be quoted in this article – only what exemplifies the category of comment. A variety of questions concerning racism itself, however, are raised: namely, what racism is, and the relation between white anti-black racism and black anti-white racism. -more-



It's Groundhog Day Again in Berkeley

Becky O'Malley
Friday March 20, 2015 - 01:28:00 PM

The most colossal waste of time for many people who have better things to do took place at the Berkeley City Council meeting on Tuesday. I include myself among them. -more-


Bounce: Heartbreaking Rescue (Cartoon)

By Joseph Young
Sunday March 22, 2015 - 01:32:00 PM

Public Comment

Press Release: Downtown Berkeley Ambassador Fired for Assaulting Homeless Man;
DBA Apologizes to the Berkeley Community

Downtown Berkeley Association
Thursday March 26, 2015 - 03:22:00 PM

This morning the Downtown Berkeley Association was made aware of a video that is posted on YouTube showing a Downtown Berkeley Ambassador assaulting a citizen, who appears to be a member of the city's street population. The DBA was shocked by this totally unacceptable egregious behavior, that runs completely contrary to the extensive training, protocols, and mission of hospitality and outreach of our Ambassadors, Block-by-Block (our contractor / service partner), and the Downtown Berkeley Association. -more-

New: Dallas police and the deadly screwdriver

Jack Bragen
Friday March 20, 2015 - 06:17:00 PM

In the news there was a recent story of two Dallas policemen encountering a mentally ill man, Jason Harrison, holding a screwdriver. The officers commanded Jason to drop the screwdriver, and within a few seconds of that, shot the mentally ill man five times. There are many more examples of police killing mentally ill people without provocation. There are also numerous examples of police brutality in which excessive force is used to apprehend a mentally ill person.

I am not seeing news of African American people rallying to condemn the shooting, even though the victim in this case was African American. I am not seeing any persons with mental illness getting out and demonstrating. This is probably because we are too sedated by medication and controlled by the treatment system to organize and produce demonstrations.

When a mentally ill person is beaten or killed, even when this gets a lot of publicity, people will go "Ah well, that is unfortunate…" But the outrage is missing.

That was a human life cut short. After the police killed Jason, his mother wailed with grief. The parents are filing a wrongful death suit, but that will not bring back their son. I ask you, where is the public outrage? I personally am outraged. That man Jason could have been me. -more-

Time to Ban the Bomb Trains

Lucymarie Ruth
Friday March 20, 2015 - 02:16:00 PM

Transportation of crude oil by trains is dangerous for our planet, and public safety. In the last few months, there have been more spills than in the previous four decades combined.

Most of the accidents have occurred with trains that were going below the speed limit and using the "safest" cars available. Even if some more safety changes are made, it´s only a matter of time before one of these bomb trains goes off in our town. -more-

Israel’s Election

Jagjit Singh
Friday March 20, 2015 - 03:04:00 PM

Israel’s election exposed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s duplicity by rejecting a Palestinian state repudiating the promise he made in 2009. His race baiting rant against Arab voters demonstrated that he would stop at nothing to get re-elected. There is little doubt that Israel will now face growing international isolation as it expands its settlements and maintains its brutal occupation. The boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign (B.D.S.) has accelerated under Netanyahu’s polarizing leadership; he has repeatedly demonstrated his callous insensitivity to advance basic Palestinian human rights. His ‘wag the dog’ appearance before the Congress was a blatant effort to torpedo US efforts in reaching a peaceful accommodation with Iran and enhance his persona before Israelis that he was the savior of existential threats. He has repeatedly clashed with President Obama and has contributed to the partisan political gridlock in Washington. -more-

Track Discrimination at its Source

C. Denney
Friday March 20, 2015 - 02:26:00 PM

Ever tried it? Not cigarettes – have you ever tried to get the city’s help with the people who constantly smoke in the smokefree areas? Maybe the smoke is coming in your house, yard, or workplace, and it is affecting your health. Maybe there’s a group that always smokes in your favorite park, so you can’t bring your kids. Maybe the employees at your favorite watering hole or restaurant smoke right out front despite the smokefree commercial districts law, filling up the place with smoke so you can no longer patronize the business. Buckle your seat belt if you try.

Be prepared to wait for hours for an officer to show up if they show up at all. Be prepared to get a boatload of attitude from the officer about how the law you’re trying to get enforced doesn’t exist (“that’ll be the day” is one officer’s direct quote). Be prepared to have to describe the offender’s height, weight, age, race, and clothing in great detail even though by the time the officer shows up (if he or she does) the cigarette is out and the violator is long gone. But the majority of those who violate the law are not homeless.

Please take short survey re future of Downtown Berkeley

John Caner, CEO of DBA
Friday March 20, 2015 - 02:19:00 PM

Please take a few minutes to complete this survey and join us in guiding the future of Downtown Berkeley! -more-

The Republicans: Leadership Without Empathy

Harry Brill
Friday March 20, 2015 - 02:59:00 PM

Our nation is engulfed in a major - in fact, a catastrophic - moral crisis. The majority of our elected officials lack any empathy for those who are suffering most. The current situation for the poor is dismal. Families, including young children, are deprived of many of the necessities of life so that the rich can enjoy luxuries. Those who are committed to a humanist perspective, and recognize that human beings are not just means to enrich others but ends in themselves, are appalled with the Republican Agenda. Politically speaking, we are living now in a RAW DEAL period. -more-

The Upside of the New Anti-Poor Laws

Carol Denney
Friday March 20, 2015 - 03:02:00 PM

1. At least we can finally dismantle the peculiar façade Berkeley likes to wave around that it’s the “home of free speech” or whatever it is people fooled by Berkeley’s skin-deep liberalism like to say. The Free Speech Movement happened in 1964 because of the repression of free speech information tables and fliers, not because the University of California or the City of Berkeley embraced free speech principles. The university has a vice chancellor sitting on the board of the Downtown Berkeley Association that wrote and promoted these new laws. Nothing has changed. -more-


New: DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE: Greece: Fascists At the Gate

Conn Hallinan
Monday March 23, 2015 - 04:22:00 PM

When some 70 members of the neo-Nazi organization Golden Dawn go on trial sometime this spring, there will be more than street thugs and fascist ideologues in the docket, but a tangled web of influence that is likely to engulf Greece’s police, national security agency, wealthy oligarchs, and mainstream political parties. While Golden Dawn—with its holocaust denial, its swastikas, and Hitler salutes—makes it look like it inhabits the fringe, in fact the organization has roots deep in the heart of Greece’s political culture -more-


Jack Bragen
Friday March 20, 2015 - 02:05:00 PM

Medication doesn't usually fully address the problems of a psychotic person. I find that as I get older, I have a lot of residual symptoms that continue, despite taking a generous amount of meds. when the medication may not be working as well it is important to try to be aware of that. And during those times, caution must be used, activities may need to be restricted (preferably voluntarily, by the mentally ill individual) and extra care may need to be taken. -more-

Updated: ECLECTIC RANT: Netanyahu Wins, Peace Loses

Ralph E. Stone
Friday March 20, 2015 - 01:46:00 PM

Benjamin Netanyahu has probably retained power in Israel as his Likud party won 29 seats in Parliament while the center-left Zionist Union had 24 seats. The Likud Party is likely to form a coalition to put together a 61-seat majority. -more-

SENIOR POWER: Once upon a time…

Helen Rippier Wheeler,
Friday March 20, 2015 - 02:51:00 PM

A moral conveys a lesson or message to be learned from an event or story. The moral may be left to the hearer, reader or viewer to determine or it may be explicitly encapsulated in a maxim. Is there a moral to this story? Once upon a time in 19th century New York City, as Manhattan Island was known, there lived three sisters: Charlotte, Elizabeth, and Mary Dodge. Their once-upon-a-time lives had more than their share of sickness, poverty and loneliness as they aged. -more-

Arts & Events

Living Is Easy with Eyes Closed--
Roxie Theatre in San Francisco and the Christopher B Smith Rafael film Center in San Rafael

Gar Smith
Friday March 20, 2015 - 02:42:00 PM

Spanish director David Trueba's award-winning film, Living Is Easy with Eyes Closed, draws its title from the lyrics of John Lennon's "Strawberry Fields Forever." The famous song was written while Lennon was in Spain playing the role of Private Gripweed in Richard Lester's Film How I Won the War. Like any road picture, Looking Is Easy unspools a lot of scenery and a fair number of roadside characters—some are welcoming; others are overbearing bullies. All three lead actors are wonderfully naturalistic, relaxed and lovable. It's an absolute pleasure to be in their company. The landscape and scenery is as wide open and promising as the trio's expectations. -more-

The Greatest Films of Mario Monicelli: From Lowbrow Farce to High Drama
Playing through April 19 at the Pacific Film Archive

Gar Smith
Friday March 20, 2015 - 02:31:00 PM

The films of Mario Monicelli—a beloved Italian director whose work is little known in the US, despite his six Oscar nominations—are enjoying a welcomed renaissance thanks to a major digital restoration undertaken by the Italian film industry. Seven of Monicelli's classics currently are being screened at venues across the United States. Locally, UC Berkeley's Pacific Film Archive is screening a mix of Monicelli's comedies and dramas through April 19. The series opened on March 5 with The Passionate Thief, a 1960 caper comedy that proves Monicelli can be even wilder than Billy Wilder. -more-

LA CLEOPATRA: A Venetian Opera Never Seen Since Its Premiere in 1662

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Friday March 20, 2015 - 02:08:00 PM

Composer Daniele da Castrovillari’s La Cleopatra premiered in Venice’s Teatro San Salvatore (also called Teatro San Luca) in 1662. A week earlier the Council of Ten, Venice’s top governing body, prohibited the opera from being performed and barred its prima donna, Anna Maria Sardelli, from singing in it. However, a week later a newspaper article declared the opera a success at Teatro San Luca. Why this opera was banned, at least temporarily, is a mystery. -more-