The Week

Patricia Jones


New: Citizens for East Shore Parks Honors
the Life of Sylvia McLaughlin,
Grande Dame of Environmentalism,
who Advocated for Parks, Open Space and the SF Bay

Sally Douglas Arce
Thursday January 21, 2016 - 01:59:00 PM

Sylvia McLaughlin died at her Berkeley home on Tuesday, Jan. 19. She was the co-founder of Citizens for East Shore Parks (CESP) and served on its board of directors since 1985.

“We are deeply saddened by Sylvia’s passing and send our well wishes to her family,” says Robert Cheasty, president of the board of Citizens for East Shore Parks. “She has left us an inspiring legacy of parks, open space and environmental activism. She was an inspiration to us all and would want this important work to continue for future generations.”

This past November, McLaughlin was honored at CESP’s 30th Anniversary Brunch. McLaughlin Eastshore State Park, which is uniquely citizen-inspired, was named after her in 2012. CESP galvanized the opposition to commercial development of the shoreline, championing public access and a single shoreline park on the remaining open space along the east shore of San Francisco Bay from the Bay Bridge into Richmond. The Park runs 8.5 miles through five cities: Oakland, Emeryville, Berkeley, Albany and Richmond. -more-

New: The Lady in the Van—A Playwright's Driveway Is a Lot to Be Thankful For

Gar Smith Opens January 22 at
Thursday January 21, 2016 - 02:03:00 PM

Opens Friday at the Landmark Clay and Century 9 in San Francisco
Opens January 29 at the Landmark Albany Twin in Berkeley

Maggie Smith is British acting royalty. At the age of 81, she is a multiple Oscar-winner and has been honored as a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire -- the female equivalent of a knight. Best known as Professor McGonagall in the Harry Potter films and as Downton Abbey's dirk-tongued Dowager Countess of Grantham, Smith's title role in The Lady and the Van has won her nominations from both the Golden Globe and British Film Academy.

The latest honor for her stint as a proud and beleaguered vagrant is well deserved. It's quite a stretch from the corsets and courtesies of Downton Abbey to the Uptown Alleys of London's Camden Town—the unlikely one-time haunt of the irascible homeless rascal known as "Miss Shepherd"—but Dame Maggie inhabits her role as a daft, defiant street queen. She hoists her soiled skirts and runs away with the picture. -more-

North Berkeley BART Station Closed to Check for Person on Tracks

Scott Morris (BCN)
Tuesday January 19, 2016 - 02:32:00 PM

Some trains are moving through the North Berkeley BART station this afternoon but the station remains closed as crews investigate reports of a person on the tracks nearby, a BART spokeswoman said. -more-

Flash: Alert: Panoramic Way still closed to vehicle traffic, shelter in place lifted.

Berkeley Police
Tuesday January 19, 2016 - 02:30:00 PM


The shelter in place has been lifted for Panoramic Way. While PG&E works to restore power, vehicle traffic is still restricted. Panoramic Way is closed at Canyon Road and Prospect Street.

Emergency Traffic is able to access the area, but normal traffic is still prohibited until further notice. If you have a medical or police emergency dial 911.

For more information regarding the outage you can call PG&E at 1-800-743-5000 or visit their website at WWW.PGE.COM.

We will continue to provide updates as information develops. -more-

Press Release: Downtown Berkeley Business Association Promotes "No More Sick Leave" Policy at Tonight's Council Meeting

John Caner
Tuesday January 19, 2016 - 09:56:00 AM

Dear Downtown Employers:

The Berkeley City Council needs to hear from you TODAY. At tonight's meeting the Council will be deciding whether to adopt a new paid sick leave ordinance, OR "Postpone adoption of the Ordinance until businesses have had a chance to assess the impact of the news state Paid Sick Leave law on business operations".

Please come and speak at Council Council meeting TONIGHT to voice your opinion (7pm at Longfellow Middle School Auditorium, 1500 Derby Street) , and/or write the Mayor and Council TODAY at, and or call the Mayor and Council also. -more-

Updated: Bay Bridge is Open Again

Scott Morris (BCN)
Monday January 18, 2016 - 04:57:00 PM

Three westbound lanes of the Bay Bridge have reopened about 30 minutes after protesters shut down all lanes just east of Treasure Island this afternoon, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Protesters announced just before 4 p.m. they had shut down Bay Bridge traffic heading into San Francisco. They posted photos of several protesters chained to cars stopped across the bridge. -more-

Press Release: Black Queer Liberation Collective Black.Seed Shuts Down Bay Bridge

From Mia Birdsong
Monday January 18, 2016 - 03:54:00 PM

For the second year in a row, the Anti-Police Terror Project (APTP) put out a call for 96 Hours of Direct Action to reclaim Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s radical legacy and take a stand against anti-Black racism and terrorism. In a courageous display of solidarity and the spirit of MLK, Black.Seed, a Black, queer liberation collective, has shut down the Bay Bridge as a show of resistance to a system that continues to oppress Black, Queer, Brown, Indigenous and other marginalized people throughout the Bay Area.

Today, January 18th, Black.Seed has shut down the west-bound span of Bay Bridge. Cars are blocking lanes and individuals are chained across lanes to demand investment in the wellbeing of Black people. Motorists on the Bay Bridge can follow the action by tuning their radio to 107.9, a temporary radio station broadcasting the event. The action can also be followed on Twitter: @APTPaction

New: Has the NRA Targeted the President for Assassination?

Gar Smith
Monday January 18, 2016 - 03:28:00 PM

The NRA's response to the President's emotional January 5 plea for increased background checks on gun sales was to be expected. But the statement posted on the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) website later that same day raises serious concerns about how far the NRA is willing to go to protect the country's lucrative gun industry. -more-

Updated: Second Challenge to Downtown Berkeley Harold Way Development Filed

Becky O'Malley
Friday January 15, 2016 - 02:27:00 PM

On Wednesday a Berkeley citizen activist, Kelly Hammargren, 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. Now a second petitioner, Berkeley resident and BART commuter James E. Hendry, has filed another challenge to the same project .

Both plaintiffs have filed, “pro per”, i.e. as individuals not represented by an attorney. -more-

New: Get Ready for BAMPFA: UC's New Art Museum and Film Archive Set to Open in January

Gar Smith
Monday January 18, 2016 - 01:26:00 PM

The Berkeley Historical Society is currently offering an exhibit entitled "Art Capital of the West: Real and Imagined Art Museums and Galleries in Berkeley" (running through April 2, 2016). This made the BHS the perfect spot to host a presentation by Lawrence Rinder, the incoming director of the spanking-new, soon-to-open Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA). Rinder recently appeared at the BHS's exhibition room in the Veterans Building (1931 Center Street) to offer an insider's peek into the architecture and mission of the stunning new downtown venue. -more-

Martin Luther King Speaks on Inequality

Quotes Selected by Harry Brill
Friday January 15, 2016 - 02:50:00 PM

King's American Dream: "A land where men will not take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few." -more-

Richard Lerner, 1939-2015

Friday January 15, 2016 - 11:50:00 AM

Richard “Dick” Lerner, anthropologist, political organizer and gardener, died Dec. 16 surrounded by family and friends. -more-



Updated: Welcome to Speculation City (Formerly Known as Berkeley)

Becky O'Malley
Sunday January 17, 2016 - 01:38:00 PM

Welcome to Speculation City. Berkeley has bullseyes painted all over it, and it’s only just begun. Today’s Chron has a front page story about how priced-out San Franciscans are moving to the East Bay, and while it spotlights Oakland, you can be sure that wannabe developers and their faceless LLCs are gobbling up Berkeley properties as we speak. Berkeley's become another one of those great places to drop in, make a buck and leave town.

An eagle-eyed reader has directed my attention to an under-the-radar Christmas Eve submission by something called Mill Street Residential. This seems to be an enterprise which hopes to erect yet another building of at least 18 stories, cheek-by-jowl with the impending Colossus of Rhoades, the hideous Residences at Berkeley Plaza, which is slated to be right across the street on the site of the Shattuck Hotel. Read all about their plans here.

And soon, when these twin towers and their inevitable successors are lined up on Shattuck, it will be Welcome to the Concrete Canyon, the new normal for what we used to call Downtown Berkeley. -more-

The Editor's Back Fence

Don't Miss This

Monday January 18, 2016 - 01:32:00 PM

More ‘Progressive’ Than Thou

This year’s Democratic primary season has become a contest to claim this label — but in American politics, it has always had a slippery definition. -more-

Public Comment

New: MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.’s Timeless Vision

Michael Nagler
Monday January 18, 2016 - 01:22:00 PM

He came out against the war. Against all advice. -more-

The Structure of Our Political Disconnect

Steve Martinot
Friday January 15, 2016 - 11:34:00 AM

Institutions vs. constituencies

A structural disconnect has made itself evident between the Berkeley City Council and the people of the city. Three major crises face the people of the city – a crisis in housing (dislocation), a crisis of homelessness (criminalization of poverty), and a crisis of policing (racial profiling and militarization). In each, an institutionality has risen against constituencies (aka real people), and in each, council has sided in both comportment and policies with institutionality. Indeed, it is council’s focus on strengthening institutionality rather than in protecting the people affected by those institutions that has generated these crises.

Though council has not been unanimous in this, it evinces a disturbing consistency – the same six voting for institutionality and three voting for constituency. As a constant element, it indicates a disturbing ethical corruption among the six (aka machine behavior). But it also reflects a disturbing acquiescence (to council’s own institutionality) by the three – disturbing because any crisis requires extreme imagination and audacity as a response. Both the six and the three abandon constituency by hiding in their respective institutionalities. With many twists of logic in their discussions, they all pretend that there is a symbiosis between the two (institutions and constituencies). As a political crisis, it marks a profound disconnect of governance.

But the disconnect does not just emerge from ill-advised choices. It is produced by an underlying structure that is itself corrupt, and which imposes its own exigencies. To see the political crisis as conditioned by an underlying structure does not excuse the council. Instead, it highlights the council’s inability or refusal to resist that more profound structural corruption. And too often, that refusal expresses itself in a preference for disparagement, scorn, and procedural machinations against those facing these crises without protection and calling for justice and fairness.

Let us briefly outline these crises, and then examine their underlying structure. -more-

Saudi Arabia

Tejinder Uberoi
Friday January 15, 2016 - 02:34:00 PM

In yet another blatant attempt to stifle free speech, Saudi Arabia executed a much revered Shia cleric, Sheikh Nimr and 46 other dissidents. Nimr had been arrested multiple times, including his involvement in protests after the Arab Spring uprising. His activism dates back to his grandfather who long stood in opposition to Saudi oppression of the Shia minority. Nimr promoted a rare new democratic model calling for the support of the oppressed against the oppressor, no matter their religion, their sect and their ethnicity. He was a unifying voice who won the admiration of many young Sunni men and women. -more-

Comment re: Legal Challenge to Berkeley's Harold Way Decision filed yesterday

Al Murray
Friday January 15, 2016 - 01:53:00 PM

I have read the article pertaining to the aforementioned. The issues with the EIR have been explained and are very important for the reader to understand. However, there is another important area the article does not address, which is that the development has not plans in the project for those individuals with disabilities. This project does not confirm and address any units that will provide for Seniors and/or individuals with disabilities. The Berkeley Commission on Disability addressed this issue at one of their Commission meetings concerning the need for disabled units. I know you will be following up on this topic. If you are able to investigate this aspect also it will be very beneficial to those who have those Disabilities. -more-

Glad to See a Civic-Minded Citizen Step Forward

Sheila Goldmacher
Friday January 15, 2016 - 11:58:00 AM

A big thank you to Kelly H for continuing to hold the city accountable for its poor job done with regard to the Harold Way project. She shows us by her action what true citizenship requires - not greed - but indeed caring for the needs of all the citizens of the city. Time for the rest of us to join her and others in this effort to clean up the project entirely and helping the members of the city council to find the exit doors. They have not served us well at all. -more-


Jagjit Singh
Friday January 15, 2016 - 02:43:00 PM

In flip/flop movements, the arc of the universe seems to be bending towards and away from social justice.

Much like the other unsung hero, Nelson Mandela, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, has languished in jail for decades only to emerge from the shadows helping her party win the November election by a landslide. Unfortunately, the rise of democracy has been accompanied by a racist and xenophobic demagoguery against the Rohingya (Muslim) minority. -more-

Promises. Promises?

Thomas Lord
Friday January 15, 2016 - 01:55:00 PM

Governor Brown says that if his ecologically ruinous peripheral tunnel project is denied, water might be cut-off to Silicon Valley.

But he's not making any promises. -more-

Parking for the Ruling Class, but not for the Working Class!

Russ Tilleman
Friday January 15, 2016 - 12:03:00 PM

The Berkeley City Council recently voted to allow for-profit developers to remove parking spaces from their new buildings. But the Council did not require developers to pass the cost savings on to the buyers or renters of the units in those buildings. This giveaway to developers will increase their profits and will also increase the difficulty of finding a parking space on the already-jammed streets. -more-

A Proposal For Campaign Finance Reform

Thomas Ulatowski
Friday January 15, 2016 - 11:57:00 AM

Even JFK complained about the high cost of running for elected office! To try to get elected our political system requires candidates to spend so much for media adds that it practically forces them to take bribes from multinational corporations and special interest groups. So it is no wonder that our politics are in disarray. -more-

Finally Reject The Trans Pacific Partnership

Glen Kohler
Friday January 15, 2016 - 02:50:00 PM

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is blatantly anti-America and anti-American Citizens. Our laws are here to protect us from the likes of big national and foreign corporations, which have shown again and again that they will always act against public interests if there's a buck to be made by doing so. -more-

Flint, Michigan

Tejinder Uberoi
Friday January 15, 2016 - 02:46:00 PM

There has been growing concern in Flint Michigan of lead contamination in the drinking water. The poisoning of the water began after an unelected emergency manager appointed by Governor Snyder switched the city’s water source to the heavily polluted Flint River in a bid to save money. Lead is an extremely hazardless contaminant that can cause permanent health damage including memory loss and developmental impairment. Tests at Virginia Tech reported that the water could have been treated for as little as $100 a day. The mayor of Flint revealed that it would cost $1.5 billion to fix the city’s crumbling water infrastructure. State officials have ignored residents’ complaints for over a year. Last February, tests showed alarming levels of lead but officials told residents there was no cause for concern. -more-



Jack Bragen
Friday January 15, 2016 - 02:36:00 PM

I have heard it said that the main issues people deal with in their twenties are work and relationships. Yet, there are plenty of people in their forties who continue to have these struggles. A television show called, "The Girlfriend's Guide to Divorce" (while this particular show fails to maintain the "suspension of disbelief" that fiction is supposed to have) points to the idea that, for many people, these are issues keep coming back. -more-

ECLECTIC RANT: GOP Fiddles While Earth Burns

Ralph E. Stone
Friday January 15, 2016 - 12:00:00 PM

There a scientific consensus on global warming. In the scientific field of climate studies, which includes many disciplines, the consensus can be demonstrated by the number of scientists who have stopped arguing about what is causing climate change. So a consensus in science is different from a political one. There is no vote. Scientists just give up arguing because the sheer weight of consistent evidence is too compelling, the tide too strong to swim against any longer. “...the debate on the authenticity of global warming and the role played by human activity is largely nonexistent among those who understand the nuances and scientific basis of long-term climate processes.” In other words, more than 95% of scientists working in the disciplines contributing to studies of our climate, accept that climate change is almost certainly being caused by human activities. Global warming is no longer about science -- it is now a political, economic, social debate. -more-

Arts & Events

Alexander String Quartet’s Final “Mozart in Vienna” Program

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Friday January 15, 2016 - 02:41:00 PM

My routine of playing tennis every Saturday morning was disrupted by the ongoing rainstorms of El Niño, and as a result I was able to attend the Alexander String Quartet’s final “Mozart in Vienna” program at 10:00 am on Saturday, January 9, 2016 at St. John’s Presbyterian Church in Berkeley. These “Mozart in Vienna” programs have been presided over each Saturday by music historian-in-residence Robert Greenberg, who introduces the works to be performed and lectures on their salient musical attributes. Brooklyn-born Greenberg, who was referrred to by The Bangor Daily News (Maine) as “the Elvis of music history and appreciation,” treats his lectures as a kind of stand-up comedy routine, and he comes off at times almost as a carnival barker. Nonetheless, Greenberg knows his music, and he is at his best when, as he did on January 9, he coaxes the Alexander String Quartet to play the very phrases the lecturer wishes to call to our attention. -more-