The Week



New: Alta Bates Hospital to Close by 2030

Lucy Smallsreed, President, Bateman Neighborhood Association
Wednesday April 08, 2015 - 04:52:00 PM

Recently, rumors have been flying about the possible closure of Alta Bates Hospital. Unfortunately, they are not just rumors. According to Stacey Wells, ABSMC’s Director of Public Affairs, Sutter Health has decided to close Alta Bates Hospital by January 1, 2030. The 2030 date is driven by State law, which sets out strict seismic standards for medical facilities that all hospitals in California must meet by 1/1/2030.[1] Alta Bates currently does not meet the 2030 standards, and Sutter has decided not to incur the enormous expense of retrofitting to those standards. -more-

New: Berkeley Interfaith Religious Coalition Organizes “Night Out on Streets” in Solidarity with Homesless Thursday Night (Media Advisory)

From Bob Offer-Westort and Sally Hindman
Wednesday April 08, 2015 - 05:45:00 PM

An interfaith coalition representing over 40 Berkeley religious congregations is organizing “Interfaith Actions in Solidarity with Homeless” people Thursday April 9 5pm to 6:15am Friday--at Downtown Berkeley BART Plaza, Center and Shattuck Street, Berkeley. -more-

Recent Development Misses Berkeley's Real Housing Needs (News Analysis)

Tom Hunt
Saturday April 04, 2015 - 10:21:00 AM

For years we've been hearing that Berkeley needs all the new housing that can be built, at whatever price point the developers choose. But a quick review of the data confirmed my suspicion that developers have built way too much expensive housing and much too little housing for those whose income is moderate and below. It's even worse than I had previously thought.

First let's look at the last 8 years. 84% of the new housing in Berkeley was for households with greater than $92,566 yearly income (the orange top of the bars). -more-

Updated: Oakland Police shut down streets on Berkeley border seeking assault suspect

Scott Morris (BCN)
Wednesday April 08, 2015 - 06:44:00 PM

Oakland police have shut down streets along the Berkeley border in North Oakland as they search for a suspect wanted for assault with a deadly weapon, police said.

The search is happening in the area of 65th to 66th streets and Herzog to Idaho streets, Oakland police said at about 5:15 p.m.

The suspect is described as a black man in his 30s standing 5 feet 7 inches tall, weighing 175 pounds and wearing a black beanie cap, a gray jacket and blue jeans, police said. -more-

Free Film and Berkeley Planning Forum

Toni Mester
Saturday April 04, 2015 - 10:09:00 AM

The Berkeley Neighborhoods Council will show The Vanishing City in a free forum on Wednesday April 8 at the East Bay Media Center, 1939 Addison Street from 7:15 to 9:30 PM.

The film documents how New York City destroyed vibrant neighborhoods and displaced diverse low and middle income residents by promoting the development of luxury high rises through a series of tax and zoning initiatives. Following a municipal fiscal crisis in the early 1970’s, tax exemptions for new housing and rezoning for density ignited a building boom that was accelerated in later decades by the use of eminent domain and mass evictions. Interviews with neighborhood organizers, academics, and politicians on the local and state level provide personal takes on the political narrative.

Jacquelyn McCormick, the President of the Claremont Elmwood Neighborhood Association, will introduce the film, which will be followed by a discussion with Stephen Murphy, Chair of the Planning Commission and its role in planning the future of Berkeley. Topics may include affordable housing, community benefits, and the priority development areas (PDAs). -more-



Berkeley LPC Follows Orders as Predicted

Becky O'Malley
Saturday April 04, 2015 - 09:40:00 AM

So, I went myself to Thursday night’s meeting of Berkeley’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, and not to unduly prolong the suspense, they voted to do the will of Berkeley’s corporate masters, as expected. That is to say, they declined to designate Campanile Way on the University of California campus as a historic resource worthy of preservation, neither the road itself which is on campus nor the view from the Campanile out to the Golden Gate, which encompasses a fraction of the middle of the city of Berkeley and sweeps out over the Bay.

This account is much too long, so unless you’re interested in gory details you could stop reading now. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

I went not as a news reporter, which most often I’m not at this phase of my life, but wearing another hat, as one of the several former LPC commissioners who were present to express their opinion. (That would be a metaphorical hat—the best physical hat in the room was the flowered bonnet worn by a designation opponent who identified him/herself as Alfred, and who wore a lovely ‘60s prairie dress to go with it.) -more-

The Editor's Back Fence

New: Just BARFin’ Along With Berkeley Mayor Bates and his staff

Becky O'Malley
Wednesday April 08, 2015 - 11:18:00 AM

If it wasn’t such a cliché, I might say that you can’t make this stuff up. How could it be ethical for Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates, who will eventually be reviewing variances sought by 2211 Harold Way in his quasi-judicial role, to lobby himself using the services of his taxpayer-funded aide, who seems to be organizing “a special Berkeley sub-group” of the now notorious SF BARF group which fronts for developers?

It appears that the Berkeley activities of the pro-development San Francisco Bay Area Renters Federation are being coordinated out of the office of Berkeley Mayor Bates, or at least by one of his city-paid staffers. A reader who lurks on the San Francisco BARF list-serv forwarded this communication to us: -more-

Public Comment

New: Who's Schwartz?

Bennett Markel
Thursday April 09, 2015 - 09:11:00 AM

I disagree with this Paul Schwartz (I never heard of him. What business is he in and what is he doing on The Landmark Preservation Commission? Who appointed him?). My friend Becky O'Malley knows about such matters, and I trust her judgment. -more-

New: Whose Tantrum? (Paul Schwartz's Complaints)

Glen Kohler
Thursday April 09, 2015 - 08:44:00 AM

LPC member Paul Schwartz's literary hissy fit is replete with vague complaints and accusations leveled at Becky O’Malley for her critical review of the Landmark Preservation Commission meeting about the view of the Golden Gate from the U.C. Berkeley campus. -more-

New: Dear Vaccination Objectors: an open letter

Margot Smith
Wednesday April 08, 2015 - 04:51:00 PM

How soon you forget our history! Vaccinations stopped the spread of many noxious diseases. My grandmother lost 5 children in one week to diphtheria. When I went to school, many children were absent at times because of scarlet fever, mumps and measles, and their families were quarantined. Warm pools were built in many cities, including Berkeley, to treat children paralyzed because of polio. I saw faces scarred by small pox and chicken pox. Pregnant women who caught rubella had children who were deaf, retarded and otherwise damaged. Boys who had mumps were unable to father children. -more-

New: An open letter to the Berkeley City Council: A civil streets proposal

Tom Lord
Monday April 06, 2015 - 03:58:00 PM

It now appears that a City Ambassador unlawfully attacked two men in Downtown Berkeley and moreover the Ambassador and the Berkeley Police misled both the public and the court as to what had transpired. -more-

New: Harold Way Project Reveals Deceptions in Berkeley's Planning

Rick Spaid
Monday April 06, 2015 - 03:37:00 PM

One of the political truisms of our times is that for every inconvenient truth, there always arises a plethora of convenient myths to confuse and mislead the public by obfuscating the real issues at stake, and nowhere is this more evident than in the recent debate over the future of development in Berkeley occasioned by the 2211 Harold Way Project. -more-

New: A Case Study in Tantrum Journalism; Op-ed piece by Becky O’Malley in the Saturday April 4, 2015 issue of the Berkeley Daily Planet.

Paul M. Schwartz, member of the Landmark Preservation Commission of the City of Berkeley.
Wednesday April 08, 2015 - 10:20:00 AM

Ms. O’Malley attended the Thursday April 2, 2015 LPC commission meeting as an advocate of a view on a particular zoning issue. She stated she was not there in a role as a reporter. The vote did not go her way. -more-

New: California’s Drought

Tejinder Uberoi
Monday April 06, 2015 - 04:19:00 PM

Governor Brown’s executive order imposing mandatory water use reductions of 25 percent on California’s cities and towns is certainly a step in the right direction. But why has California’s giant agriculture industry, which accounts for 80 percent of the state’s water use, been given a free pass? There is little incentive for California’s agricultural farmers to conserve and make the hard choices eliminating water intensive crops such as alfalfa and rice in favor of water sustainable crops. Almonds use about 10% of California’s water and alfalfa about 12%. Almonds are an export cash crop funded by ‘eastern banks’ at high profit margins but contribute little to the local economy. Each almond requires about 1 gallon of water. -more-

Literature and Drama Classes Help

Romila Khanna
Saturday April 04, 2015 - 10:34:00 AM

Literature and drama classes help students to find emotional balance. They open doors to how other people live. By entering in imagination into other people’s lives, students become friendly and more open to others. They see their own pain and difficulty as part of the process of becoming adult. They see their own happiness as part of the process of giving praise. -more-

Ultimatum to Netanyahu's Government Long Overdue

Jagjit Singh
Saturday April 04, 2015 - 10:33:00 AM

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in his pre-election racist diatribe against Arabs, pledged unequivocally, “there will never be an independent Palestinian State.” In recent interviews, rabbis, scholars and Jews from across the country and a range of denominations said that his campaign tactics had further divided American Jews and alienated even some conservatives, who had already suspected that he was more committed to building settlements than to building peace with the Palestinians. -more-

The Republicans Have Abolished Empathy

Harry Brill, East Bay Tax The Rich Group
Saturday April 04, 2015 - 10:18:00 AM

As you know, both Republican dominated houses of Congress have approved a morally outrageous budget that will, in effect, deprive millions of Americans of necessities so that the very rich can enjoy more luxuries. It seems that the Republicans have abolished empathy. Yet incredibly, the Republicans feel morality is on their side. The writer, Upton Sinclair made an excellent observation that explains the moral blindness of the greedy --- "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding". As Paul Krugman observed, many of those with very high incomes are concerned that adequately funding social programs will increase their taxes. -more-


THE PUBLIC EYE: Jeb Bush: The Return of “Compassionate” Conservatism

Bob Burnett
Saturday April 04, 2015 - 10:16:00 AM

Sixteen months before the Republican convention, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush is a slight favorite to win the GOP presidential nomination. Given that Hillary Clinton is the overwhelming favorite to win the Democratic nomination, Bush vs. Clinton should be an interesting race. Although Jeb Bush is a typical right-wing Republican, he will attempt to soften his image and portray himself as a “compassionate” conservative, as did his brother in 2000. -more-

ECLECTIC RANT: San Francisco Sheriff on the Hot Seat Again

Ralph E. Stone
Saturday April 04, 2015 - 10:14:00 AM

It has been widely reported that the San Francisco Sheriff's deputies are accused of forcing inmates to fight "gladiator-style" to entertain guards who bet on the outcome and even forced the inmates to train for future fights. What has not been widely discussed, is, if the allegations are true, what responsibility does San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi have for the misconduct? What did he know and if he did not know, why not? -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Real Versus Imagined Threats

Jack Bragen
Saturday April 04, 2015 - 10:06:00 AM

It is important for people with schizophrenia to distinguish imagined threats versus real ones. Psychosis can take over the mind and can make us feel threatened, anxious, and frightened. This emotional upset can then snowball into worse symptoms of psychosis. It is important for us to prevent getting excessively upset over things. Once we become excessively upset about real or imagined problems, it opens the door for a possible relapse. -more-

SENIOR POWER: Old age comes on suddenly; forever is composed of nows-- Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

Helen Rippier Wheeler,
Saturday April 04, 2015 - 10:22:00 AM

Two new (2014) books:

Atul Gawande (1965- ). Being Mortal: Medicine and what matters in the end.

Donald Hall (1928- ). Essays After Eighty.

Frontline’s Feb. 10, 2015 program was based on Dr. Atul Gawande’s book, Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters In The End. Gawande’s fields are journalism, public health, and surgery.

He must have been in his late forties when he wrote this book about the modern experience of mortality. Born in Brooklyn, New York, he went to Stanford for his B.S., Oxford for his M.A., and Harvard Medical School. He has been both a MacArthur Fellow and Rhodes Scholar.

“Mortal” is an adjective relating to human beings subject to death. It is also used to mean deadly, fatal. Gawande writes, this is a book “…about what it’s like to be creatures who age and die, how medicine has changed the experience and how it hasn’t, where our ideas about how to deal with our finitude have got the reality wrong.” When doctors and patients talk death, hope is not a plan. The goal of medicine should not be a good death, but rather, a good life to the very end. -more-

Arts & Events

New: A Sparkling L’ELISIR D’AMORE at San Francisco Conservatory of Music

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Monday April 06, 2015 - 04:20:00 PM

Donizetti’s comic opera L’Elisir d’Amore is a perennial crowd-pleaser, full of rustic exuberance, well-delineated characters, and a brilliant vocal and instrumental score. This opera has captivated audiences ever since its première on May 12, 1832, at Milan’s Canobiana Theatre, where it was an instant success. Recently, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music gave two fully staged performances of L’Elisir d’Amore on Thursday, April 2, and Saturday, April 4 in their Hume Concert Hall. -more-

West Edge Opera’s Concert Version of Donizetti’s POLIUTO

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Saturday April 04, 2015 - 10:40:00 AM

Gaetano Donizetti’s opera Poliuto, now rarely performed, experienced a difficult delivery at birth. Donizetti, who was appointed director of the Naples Conservatory in 1837, originally prepared Poliuto for an 1839 première in Naples. However, when Neapolitan censors gave him trouble over Poliuto, Donizetti resigned his post in Naples and took off for Paris, where he produced in quick succession Poliuto, La Fille du Régiment , and La Favorite. -more-