New: Legal Challenge to Berkeley's Harold Way Decision Filed Yesterday

Becky O'Malley
Thursday January 14, 2016 - 10:54:00 AM

Yesterday a Berkeley citizen activist filed a challenge to the Berkeley City Council’s December 8 approval of an 18-story project at 2211 Harold Way in Berkeley, on the landmarked site of the historic Shattuck Hotel, which occupies almost the full city block bounded by Shattuck, Kittredge and Harold.

The "Petition for a Writ of Mandate" alleges violation of the California Environmental Quality act as well as other City of Berkeley legal requirements. In particular, the petition alleges that the council on December 8 failed to even address the mandatory findings required by CEQA and therefore never adopted them as the law requires. It also charges that the 302-unit luxury apartment development proposed for the site would effectively result in increasing housing segregation in Berkeley.

The opening petition in the lawsuit was filed “pro per” in the name of a single person, Kelly Hammargren. She was an early participant in the Save Shattuck Cinemas protest, started because the original project plan would have eliminated the 10-screen film theater which is part of the Shattuck Hotel complex now on the site.

As opposition to the Harold Way project grew beyond the original focus on the loss of the film venues, Hammargren became a co-founder and convener of the Sustainable Berkeley Coalition, formed to support appropriate development of affordable housing for Berkeley. -more-

New Berkeley City College President Comes from Accrediting Commission

Keith Burbank (BCN)
Thursday January 14, 2016 - 08:42:00 AM

The Peralta Community College District Board of Trustees appointed an interim president of Berkeley City College last week as current president Deborah Budd leaves for a new job. -more-

New: San Francisco Measure Would Require 25% Onsite Affordable Housing or 33% Offsite

Sara Gaiser (BCN)
Tuesday January 12, 2016 - 10:29:00 PM

A San Francisco ballot measure introduced by Supervisors Jane Kim and Aaron Peskin today would double the amount of affordable housing developers are required to include in housing projects, and give the Board of Supervisors more power to adjust that requirement in the future. -more-

Berkeley Sanitation Worker Dies in On-the-Job Accident

Scott Morris (BCN)
Tuesday January 12, 2016 - 10:28:00 PM

A Berkeley sanitation worker was killed when he was apparently pinned between a garbage truck and a utility pole while on his regular route in the Berkeley Hills on Monday. -more-

New: Congresswoman Lee Reacts to the State of the Union

Congresswoman Barbara Lee
Tuesday January 12, 2016 - 08:41:00 PM

“This evening, the American people and the world had an opportunity to hear directly from our President about the important accomplishments that he’s achieved during his last seven years in the Oval Office. Domestically, President Obama has turned our economy around and generated the longest consecutive period of job growth in our nation’s history, after inheriting the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Through the Affordable Care Act, his policies have expanded access to lifesaving healthcare coverage for 18 million people. On the global stage, our President has restored relations with Cuba, advanced a global agreement on climate change and negotiated a deal that prevents Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. -more-

Page One

Four People Arrested after Leading CHP on Berkeley Chase

Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Friday January 08, 2016 - 04:16:00 PM

Four people who allegedly had drugs in their car have been arrested after leading California Highway Patrol officers on a chase from Berkeley to Oakland early today, police said. -more-

Public Comment

Israel’s Assault on Free Speech

Tejinder Uberoi
Friday January 08, 2016 - 02:00:00 PM

Israel’s fragile democracy is once again under fierce attack. Last month, an Israeli ultranationalist group released a video containing the mug shots of four Israeli human rights activists, depicting them as terrorists, ‘moles of foreign powers.’ Prime minister, Netanyahu and his fellow right wing ideologues failed to condemn the video for its outright slander and incitement to violence. Equally troubling, is the growing effort by the government, led by Justice Minister, Ayelet Shaked, to stifle free speech. -more-

Berkeley: Scenes of Corruption

Steve Martinot
Friday January 08, 2016 - 01:54:00 PM

Toward the end of 2015, we witnessed a degree of political corruption in the Berkeley City Council that was unprecedented – so much so that many commentators at city council meetings proclaimed, “this is not what Berkeley is all about; this is not who we are.” It was not a flagrant financial corruption, in which one could discern underhanded “benefits.” It was more a sense of dehumanization, a gap or disconnect that had opened between the government and the people. Insofar as it affected itself in three related political crises, a housing crisis, a crisis of homelessness, and a crisis of policing, this political disconnect appears to have widened to the point of a non-traversability marking the onset of a profound political crisis. In this article, I will spell out how this disconnect expressed itself with respect to the specific issues. I will give a more general portrait of the underlying structure in a sequel to this one.

The housing crisis

The housing crisis has been brought about by a plan for development for the entire Bay Area (called Plan Bay Area). Spawned by ABAG, and written into law as amendments to SB375 (which ironically concerned protection of the environment), this plan allots housing construction to bay area cities, ostensibly to cut down on commuter highway pollution. Over 2900 housing units have been assigned to Berkeley, to be built by 2020. The vast majority of these housing units will be “market rate” rentals. And because the very proposal for development has led to huge increases in “market rate” rent levels, these developments will be available for high income families only. -more-

Phony Patriotism in Oregon

Ron Lowe
Friday January 08, 2016 - 02:02:00 PM

Did you notice the anti-government hypocrites in Oregon were carrying American flags. The American government is why these militia types can protest. They wouldn't get away with their armed anti-government deception in any other countries. People talk about the terrorists in the Middle East; America has its own terrorists in the guise of white militias. Sheriff David Ward said that militia protesters came to Harney County, in southeastern Oregon with the express intent to overthrow county and federal government in hopes to spark a movement across the United States. Are these militia activists in Oregon, who are trying to force their will on the people, any different than terrorist everywhere else? -more-


What Is To Be Done about Do-Nothing Berkeley?

Becky O'Malley
Friday January 08, 2016 - 01:20:00 PM

Cold, isn’t it? For those readers who are in Berkeley, it would be good to try to imagine what it would be like to sleep outside, what it’s been like for the last few nights. On nights like these, Berkeley has nowhere near enough indoor sleeping places (note that I did not say beds) to offer shelter to those who need it. Or even those who want it, a smaller number than one which includes those who need it but don’t know that they should want it.

What is to be done? That’s the perennial question, isn’t it? Lenin raised it. (Russian: Что делать?, transliterated: Shto delat'?). Trotsky answered it, starting a fight which is still going on, at least here in Berkeley in the common room at Redwood Gardens. Let’s not linger over the details, but just stop to note that whatever the right answer is, we haven’t done it.

Good people in Berkeley, ironically not old lefties but for the most part Church Ladies and their gentlemen allies, are doing what they can, collecting warm coats, serving meals in parks, and other noble but not sufficient tasks. For both Trotsky and Lenin despite their differences, the answer still seems to me to be analyzed as political, not charitable. -more-


THE PUBLIC EYE: Computer Security: 10 tips

Bob Burnett
Friday January 08, 2016 - 04:18:00 PM

I’ve been reading a very disturbing book about computer security, http://www.futurecrimesbook.com/“ >Future Crimes and decided to share what I’ve learned.

(Full disclosure: I’m a retired computer scientist and one of the executive founders of Cisco Systems.)

1. Expect to be hacked. There’s one point made over and over n “Future Crimes:” there are a bunch of crazed hackers out there that are constantly trying to make $$ by hacking the computer systems of the first world. Almost daily, I check the charges on my credit cards and bank accounts. About once a year, I discover a problem. For example, last January when we were in Colorado for a birthday party , my AMEX account data was stolen at the Four Seasons! -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Barriers to "Compliance"

Jack Bragen
Friday January 08, 2016 - 01:28:00 PM

It would be easier for doctors, family, mental health workers and society as a whole if persons with mental illness would just be cooperative with treatment, right? It seems that way.

This presupposes that we were correctly diagnosed, and that there is no clear and viable alternative to participating in conventional treatment. For many of us, this is true.

Let's use me as an example. Despite the fact that I am good at writing and can think independently when I am well, I must participate in conventional treatment. This entails medication and meetings with counselors.

It is primarily medication to which many mentally ill people object. We are being given a substance that affects mind and body, we are not being given a choice about it, and taking the stuff can be pretty darned uncomfortable, as well as having health risks. The fact that something like this is forced on us can be very upsetting. -more-

Arts & Events

Last Weekend for 'Sisters of Invention--45 Years of Book Art' Exhibition at the Center for the Book Featuring Three East Bay Women Artist-Designers

Ken Bullock
Friday January 08, 2016 - 02:06:00 PM

Three East Bay women artist-designers, longtime associates as artists and teachers, are featured in an exhibition closing this weekend at the San Francisco Center for the Book: Sas Colby of Berkeley, Betsy Davids (who teaches at California College of the Arts in Rockridge) and Jaime Robles of San Leandro (longtime contributor to the Planet) present a very dense show of books and ephemera, showing a remarkable range of invention indeed, including innovative techniques of bookmaking craft and combinations of literary and visual art that also document much of the experimentation and innovative styles of the past half century in this very contemporary art form. -more-

Around & About--Music & Theater--Marion Fay's New Music & Theater Classes

Ken Bullock
Friday January 08, 2016 - 02:03:00 PM

Marion Fay's unusual, highly participatory adult education classes in music and theater are starting up again this month. The 9-week Music Appreciation class, 10 a.m till noon every Thursday, will start January 14th. No previous classes or experience in music required. Concerts and classical music events will be attended, with discounted tickets and post-performance discussions, and composers, conductors and musicians from the Berkeley, San Francisco and Oakland Symphonies will come to the classes, which will also feature special events such as a St. Patrick's Day performance by a piano-cello duo, a program on the Habanera and a performance by two professional French Horn players. $90, not including discounted concert tickets. Register at the first class. -more-

Theater Review: 'Dying City'--Anton's Well at the City Club

Ken Bullock
Friday January 08, 2016 - 01:59:00 PM

"I'm interrupting your 'Law & Order' ... "

In Christopher Shinn's play 'Dying City,' a Bay Area premiere of a Pulitzer finalist script by Anton's Well Theater Company, the twin brother of a soldier who died in Iraq shows up unannounced, ringing the doorbell to see his brother's widow, almost a year after the tragedy. He's an actor, who'd been appearing onstage in a NYC production of 'Long Day's Journey Into Night'--though as he puts it, "It was not true" and "It turned out more like 'Long Day's Journey Into the Hamptons' "--and has just walked offstage and out of the production in the middle of a show, in part because of being hazed for his very open gayness.

The wife is a therapist who's dropped out of her practice after her husband's death, watching TV all day on the couch, hugging a pillow. As the conversation with her brother-in-law develops, culminating in him reading aloud from emails sent from Iraq, a Family Romance of sorts begins to appear, the kind of ghostly menage that's hinted at when the younger brother of a combat victim marries his brother's fiancee. And there's also the constant play of theater, personal drama and the theater of war--including as much absence of truth in war reports as in stage productions, though the stage is the only theater in this case easily walked out on. -more-