The Week

Marga Gomez and a "Librarian Stunt Double"
Rob Wrenn
Marga Gomez and a "Librarian Stunt Double"


New: Guerilla Theater Takes on Weeding of Books and Treatment of Berkeley Librarians (News Analysis)

Rob Wrenn
Tuesday August 18, 2015 - 02:00:00 PM
Ivan Arguelles, poet and retired UC Berkeley librarian reads a letter he sent to the Library Board. He later read one of his poems.

Upwards of 70 people rallied today in front of the entrance to the Main Library in downtown Berkeley to protest the "weeding" of over 39,000 books, CDs and other items from the library's collection and the treatment of librarians who have raised questions about the wisdom of current Library Director Jeff Scott's approach to this process.

Those in attendance were urged to return to the Main Library on August 26 at 5:30 p.m. to rally again before the August 26 meeting of the Board of Library Trustees which begins at 6:30 p.m. During the Closed Session portion of this meeting, the Board will evaluate the performance of the library director, who started work in November, replacing Donna Corbell who resigned on October 3. -more-

New: ECLECTIC RANT: Letter to Jeb Bush: Torture is Never Justifiable (Opinion Column)

Ralph E. Stone
Wednesday August 19, 2015 - 09:48:00 AM

Mr. Bush — or Jeb if you don’t mind — I was greatly disturbed to hear that if you became president you won't rule out the resumption of the use of torture arguing that brutal questioning methods might be justifiable and necessary in some circumstances. Jeb, torture is never justifiable. -more-

New: When Smart Growth is Actually Dumb Growth, It's Time to Re-Program (Public Comment)

James Shinn
Wednesday August 19, 2015 - 09:39:00 AM

Sometimes, so-called “Smart Growth” construction of residential, high-rise buildings is not smart at all. In fact, it actually can turn out to be “Dumb Growth”—and in some urban locales, such as much of the Bay Area, very dumb growth indeed. It is a complicated story:

The simple explanation for this comes out of an Economics 101 course—it is a phenomenon called “inelasticity of demand as it relates to price”. In an extremely land-scarce, highly desirable(climatologically and topographically) urban locale such as San Francisco, or even Berkeley, all we do when we build skyscrapers is, in effect, to provide more surface area for habitation in a given square yard of land.

Normally, in land-abundant, modestly desirable urban locales, this increase of supply, in the face of a constant LEVEL of demand for the commodity, will result in declining ability of the sellers of the commodity(in this case real estate) to maintain prior price levels, all other factors being equal. This means general purchasing power affordability levels for all real estate goes up. But what happens, in land-scarce, highly desirable locations, is that the very construction of these high-rise structures in itself creates a new, even more intense “vibe” that makes more and more people intensely want to live there. -more-

New: Can We Have Liberty and Justice for All?

Romila Khanna
Wednesday August 19, 2015 - 10:24:00 AM

Promise are made before elections by prospective candidates, but what happens in reality? After they are elected for public office, we suffer the effect of their broken promises. Mostly the poor and the needy suffer. -more-

New: Prominent Jewish Leader Speaks Out

Jagjit Singh
Wednesday August 19, 2015 - 10:21:00 AM

In a startling new development, Henry Siegman, the former executive director of the American Jewish Congress, stated recently that Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel is the main impediment to peace. He urged Palestinians to affirm Israel’s legitimacy, provided Israel is prepared to affirm the legitimacy of a Palestinian state along the pre-’67 borders." -more-

New: Confronting Our Fragile Economy (Public Comment)

Harry Brill
Wednesday August 19, 2015 - 10:19:00 AM

How would the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor statistics (BLS) report the following? Simple arithmetic would tell us that If employers convert, say, 1000 jobs into half time positions, the outcome would double the number of jobs even though not even a single hour of work has been added. Yet the BLS in its employment and unemployment reports would interpret this change without explanation as a 100% improvement. Although the new, part time jobs very likely will offer fewer benefits or no benefits at all, anyone reading just the reported numbers, which is only the number of new jobs created, would conclude understandably that things are getting much better. -more-

Updated: Earthquake Caused Pipe Breaks, Says EBMUD

Dan McMenamin (BCN)and Planet
Tuesday August 18, 2015 - 08:51:00 AM

Nine water lines broke in the East Bay on Monday following the 4.0-magnitude earthquake that struck in Oakland, an East Bay Municipal Utility District spokeswoman said. -more-

Earthquake, Aftershocks Felt This Morning in Berkeley and Elsewhere

Dan McMenamin (BCN) and Planet
Monday August 17, 2015 - 10:12:00 AM

Several small aftershocks have been reported following a 4.0-magnitude earthquake that struck in Oakland this morning, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. -more-

Updated: Fire in Berkeley Hills

Judi Sierra and Planet
Sunday August 16, 2015 - 08:19:00 AM

At 5:45 A.M. 6-8 trucks were responding to a fire a short bit south of junction of Centennial on the top edge of Strawberry Canyon. The fire was visible from the Space Sciences building back parking lot at the top of the Jordan fire trail. Smoke was still visible an hour later from the lower canyon area. Also Berkeley Police Department officers at the bottom of the fire trail were looking for a naked man who had been seen by others and may or may not be related to the fire.

A spokesperson in the East Bay office of the state fire agency, CalFire, confirmed that there was a fire in a pile of chips from eucalyptus trees which had been cut down, and said that Oakland and Berkeley firefighters and other departments were on the scene. -more-

Man Shot in Berkeley Near San Pablo Park

Keith Burbank (BCN)
Saturday August 15, 2015 - 11:35:00 PM

A man has been shot near Berkeley's San Pablo Park this evening, according to police. -more-

LIBRARYGATE: Protest of Berkeley library book disposal

Lydia Gans
Saturday August 15, 2015 - 08:13:00 AM

Over 100 people held a rally in front of the Berkeley Public Library on Wednesday protesting the destruction of large numbers of library books. There are a number of issues arising in the administration of library director Jeff Scott which inspired using the term LIBARYGATE in calling for the protest action. Pat Mullan, former head of Art and Music department organized and chaired the event. -more-



As Expected, Berkeley's Landmark Preservation Commission Declines to Preserve Berkeley Landmark

Becky O'Malley
Friday August 14, 2015 - 01:43:00 PM

It might be time to give up on Berkeley. Last night’s meeting of the Landmark Preservation Commission was profoundly depressing, a graphic demonstration of how the city is slipping into the clutches of the corporate capital which is now taking cities around the world away from their citizens.

Just to get the bad news out of the way quickly: the Landmarks Preservation commission voted 6-3 to rubberstamp the recommendations of the City of Berkeley’s hired planning staff, the very same department that was trained and managed by Mark Rhoades, who’s now stepped through the revolving door to promote RatBP (The Residences at Berkeley Plaza, aka 2211 Harold Way). And so it goes. Cynics among you can stop reading here.

There were two things remarkable about last night’s meeting. First, the number and quality of the citizens who spoke in opposition to demolishing the structures on the landmarked site, which was the putative principal decision before the commission. Large, and impressive.

Second, the number and quality of the project's supporters, including and especially the commissioners who supplied the needed votes in lockstep with their City Council appointers. Let’s just say minimal and I wasn’t impressed. -more-

The Editor's Back Fence

Click on These Links

Sunday August 16, 2015 - 09:42:00 AM

Why am I not surprised?


There's an excellent account of Thursday's LPC meeting from Tom Lochner of the Contra Costa Times:Berkeley: Downtown high rise gains key approval despite criticism

And there's been some pious whining in other media about how opponents of the 2211 Harold Way proposal hissed the tiny handful of proponents at the LPC meeting. Here's a historical perspective:

In Defense of Heckling: Some History Past and Present


Public Comment

Attack of the Stepford Planners

Elisa Cooper
Saturday August 15, 2015 - 08:15:00 AM

Berkeley is an iconic city because of its bohemian ambiance: people dwell in Berkeley instead of elsewhere because they want to identify as intellectuals, artists, spiritual seekers, social activists, quirky, creative, and diverse. Just as we sought Berkeley to embrace those identities, we are collectively responsible for protecting the city as the place that makes those identities possible. -more-

This is How Homelessness Happens

Carol Denney
Friday August 14, 2015 - 09:48:00 AM

Around 75 people piled in to the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) to stop the latest jumbo scoop of brassy luxury housing from being poured on top of a Berkeley city landmark on a recent Thursday (August 13, 2015), and it was both thrilling and sad. -more-

Israeli Settler Terrorism

Jagjit Singh
Saturday August 15, 2015 - 08:55:00 AM

The latest settler terrorist attack occurred when a Palestinian home was firebombed, killing an 18-month-old baby and severely injuring other members of the family. Graffiti scrawled on walls near the homes read "Revenge" in Hebrew. -more-


THE PUBLIC EYE:What Do Republican Candidates Stand For?

Bob Burnett
Saturday August 15, 2015 - 08:10:00 AM

The August 6th debate among ten Republican presidential contenders was a ratings winner for Fox News . Out here on the left coast, we learned two things: Donald Trump isn’t going away and the Republicans lack a plan for America. -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Cognitive Exercises as Augment to Treatment

Jack Bragen
Saturday August 15, 2015 - 08:05:00 AM

One of the reasons that I have been fairly successful at some things in spite of being mentally ill, and have been able to stick with treatment most of the time, is that I have used cognitive techniques to combat much of the suffering that has come up. -more-


Ralph E. Stone
Sunday August 16, 2015 - 09:54:00 AM

In conjunction with Bob Burnett's astute analysis of the Donald Trump phenomenon, here is my take on last Thursday's top-ten Republican debate.

The audience probably learned more from the excellent, pointed questions put to the GOP presidential wannabes than their rambling non-answers. But then this was really a beauty pageant rather than a debate. We got to put faces to names and whether the wannabes could speak coherently. None of the candidates looked particularly presidential. That's probably why Trump is leading in the polls and seems to be featured in the post-debate media. It will be a challenge for the wannabes not named Trump to separate his or herself from the pack. Will Trump falter in future debates and in the Republican primaries? -more-

Arts & Events

A Sumptuous French Opera: Marin Marais’ SÉMÉLÉ

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Saturday August 15, 2015 - 08:08:00 AM

As the centerpiece of its Versailles Festival, American Bach Soloists presented on Thursday evening, August 13, a concert performance of the 1709 opera Sémélé by Marin Marais. This opera, which preceded Handel’s rendering of the same story by several decades, was a huge undertaking for ABS’s Music Director, Jeffrey Thomas. The musical forces involved were monumental: a 53-piece orchestra, 17 chorus members, and 12 solo singers, amounting to 83 persons onstage counting Jeffrey Thomas who conducted. The results were well worth the effort, for this was a lively, musically rewarding performance of a French Baroque opera that long languished in oblivion. In fact, Marais’ Sémélé was neglected for almost 300 years until the French group Le Concert Spirituel, led by Hervé Niquet, presented the work at the Festival International de l’Opéra Baroque in Beaune, France, in 2006, the 350th anniversary year of Marin Marais’ birth. The current ABS presentation of Marais’ Sémélé at San Francisco Conservatory of Music, which repeats on Friday, August 14, is believed to be the first this opera has received outside of France. -more-