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These Berkeleyans were in the group of ten whose entry into Berkeley's city administration building was barred by city employees during business hours last week. L to R: Moni T. Law, Tom Luce, Kyla Whitmore, Nanci Armstrong-Temple
These Berkeleyans were in the group of ten whose entry into Berkeley's city administration building was barred by city employees during business hours last week. L to R: Moni T. Law, Tom Luce, Kyla Whitmore, Nanci Armstrong-Temple


New: Jesse Arreguín is right to oppose Jerry Brown’s anti-democratic give-away to the real estate industry

Zelda Bronstein
Tuesday August 02, 2016 - 09:01:00 PM

In his July 19 op-ed on Berkeleyside.com, Garret Christensen slammed Berkeley City Councilmember and mayoral candidate Jesse Arreguín for opposing Governor Jerry Brown’s Trailer Bill 707. Christensen called the legislation “an important state affordable housing bill” that “Berkeley and its councilmembers, especially those with aspirations of becoming mayor should welcome…with open arms.” “[I]t is truly baffling to me,” he declared, “why anyone who calls themselves a progressive is opposed to the governor’s proposal.”

In fact, Trailer Bill 707 is opposed by many people besides Arreguín who call themselves progressives—for example, the representatives of the sixty-plus organizations, including Public Advocates, the Council of Community Housing Organizations, Jobs with Justice San Francisco, the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, and SEIU 1021, who signed a July 8 letter urging the state legislature to reject the bill.

Brown’s proposal, they wrote, “gives developers the power to force approval of projects “’by right’ without public or environmental review.”

For Christensen, the lack of public or environmental review is a boon that would eliminate “Berkeley’s extra layers of approval requirements.” What he deems “extra” is anything beyond the “objective zoning standards” specified in the bill.

The problem: zoning is an essential but limited land use planning tool. A development could meet a city’s zoning and still displace existing tenants, small businesses, and jobs. By removing the right to negotiate with developers over such issues, Brown’s bill puts communities, especially disadvantaged ones, at the mercy of the real estate industry. Meanwhile, as the letter cited above notes, “privileged communities…can merely maintain or redesign zoning restrictions to keep out affordable housing.”  


In any case, the amount of affordable housing created by Trailer Bill 707 is piddling, as Christensen himself intimated: “If a multi-family housing project includes a certain percentage of affordable units (the exact percentage depends on the level of affordability, but ranges from 5% to 20%) and meets the city’s zoning laws, the city must grant the permit.” In other words, as much as 95% of the new housing authorized by Brown’s proposal could be unaffordable. 

Moreover, a proposed development could meet a city’s zoning and still damage the environment. That’s why Trailer Bill 707 is also opposed by the Sierra Club

Christensen acknowledges that “[t]here is some environmental opposition to the bill…, since infill developments including the requisite amount of affordable housing would be exempt from CEQA [California Environmental Quality Act] review.” But in his view, “these concerns are misplaced, since any honest accounting shows much lower carbon and water impact from allowing people to live in a denser, transit-rich city like Berkeley instead of making them commute from a far-flung car-dependent suburb.” 

In fact, the UC Berkeley authors of the cited carbon impact study commented that “[a]s a policy measure to reduce GHG emissions, increasing population density appears to have severe limitations and unexpected trade-offs….[W]e suggest that population density has limited potential and call for more tailored solutions; which in our view are urgently needed.” 

The other study Christensen cited, conducted by the San Jose Mercury in February 2014, examined water consumption by jurisdiction in California. It tied the huge disparities in consumption to “the Golden State’s varied climate,” income distribution, amount of industry in a city, and use of water meters but said nothing about density. 

Christensen further contended that“[t]he bill…explicitly excludes development on wetlands, earthquake fault zones, hazardous waste sites, high risk fire areas, and other such environmentally sensitive areas from qualifying for by-right approval.” 

Yes, it does. But Trailer Bill 707’s by-right exemption from environmental review also applies to developments “on a site that is either immediately adjacent to parcels that are developed with urban uses or for which at least 75 percent of the perimeter of the site adjoins parcels that are developed with urban uses or is bounded by a natural body of water.” 

As San Francisco Sierra Club Group Chair Sue Vaughan and San Francisco Planning Commissioner Cindy Wu have observed, this means that “developments bordering a park or a wetland on the fourth side would be entitled to [the bill’s] exemptions. Even the Coastal Commission is at risk of losing its power to protect the coast.” Meanwhile, environmental detriments such as traffic congestion, shadowing, and toxic soils would be off the table. 

Attached to the budget, which had to be passed by June 15, Brown’s last-minute trailer bill moved through the legislature without a single public hearing or debate. With the support of the Realtors, the Bay Area Council, the Building Industry Association, SPUR, the Bay Area Council, and developer-friendly housing advocates, it was approved. The details, however, will be hammered out in August. Meanwhile, the governor is holding $400 million in affordable housing funds hostage to the legislature’s rubber-stamping his disingenuous deregulatory measure. 

Every candidate for Berkeley public office should be asked to state a position on Trailer Bill 707. Voters should consider supporting only those who, like Arreguín, oppose it. 

This opinion first appeared on Berkeleyside. com. Zelda Bronstein is a former chair of the Berkeley Planning Commission. 

New: Five robberies of Southside Berkeley pedestrians on Monday night prompt police warning

Daniel Montes (BCN)
Tuesday August 02, 2016 - 09:37:00 PM

Police are advising Berkeley residents to beware after five robberies were reported Monday night within minutes of each other in the city's Southside neighborhood, near the University of California at Berkeley.  

The first robbery was reported around 10 p.m. near the corner of Dwight Way and Piedmont Avenue. In that incident, two suspects threatened the victims with a gun, but did not brandish it, police said. 

A strong-arm robbery was then reported around 10:15 p.m. at Benvenue Avenue and Derby Street, according to police. 

Minutes later, at 10:19 p.m., a third robbery occurred at Channing Way and Dana Street. In that robbery a handgun was seen, but was not used during the robbery. 

At 10:30 p.m., another robbery occurred at Garber Street and College Avenue, followed by a fifth robbery reported at 11:41 p.m. at Benvenue Avenue and Parker Street. In those two incidents the victims also reported seeing a handgun, police said. 

Based on the descriptions given by the victims, detectives believe the cases are related. 

In all five instances, the suspects were described as two black males, both in their late teens or early 20s. The first suspect was about 5 feet 7 inches tall, with a medium build, wearing a gray sweatshirt. 

The second suspect was about 6 feet tall with a thin build, wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, according to police. 

Police are advising residents to take precautions when walking at night. Pedestrians should always pay attention to their surroundings and put their cellphone in a pocket while walking, police said. 

Additionally, pedestrians should try to walk in large groups when possible and attempt to travel in well-lit areas where there are people around, according to police. 

Anyone with information about the robberies is asked to contact police at (510) 981-5900. 


Statement on U.S. Airstrikes in Libya

Congresswoman Barbara Lee
Monday August 01, 2016 - 09:57:00 AM

I am deeply concerned about the expansion of U.S. airstrikes in Libya. The U.S. military continues to become more engaged in the Middle East, despite the lack of a Congressional debate or specific authorization. 

As our brave servicemen and women become increasingly involved in this war, Speaker Ryan and Congressional Republicans closed the House for a historically long summer recess. Instead of shutting down the House, Congress should be debating this nearly two year war. 

The American people and our brave men and women in uniform deserve a public debate on this war, including the costs and consequences to our national security and domestic priorities. They deserve a Congress with the courage to debate the war that we are asking them to fight. 

I have called for and will continue to use every available legislative lever to force a full congressional debate and vote on any military action, as required by the Constitution. We must stop relying on an outdated and overly broad authorization that was passed nearly 15 years ago. 

Our military experts are clear: there is no military solution to this crisis. Only a comprehensive, regionally-led strategy that addresses the underlying political, economic, humanitarian and diplomatic challenges will be effective in ultimately degrading and dismantling ISIL.” 

Congresswoman Lee is a member of the Appropriations and Budget Committees, the Steering and Policy Committee, is a Senior Democratic Whip, former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and co-chair of the Progressive Caucus. She serves as chair of the Democrat Whip Task Force on Poverty, Income Inequality and Opportunity

Berkeley city employees deny citizens' right to petition by blocking entry to civic center building

Nanci Armstrong-Temple
Friday July 29, 2016 - 03:31:00 PM

Last week some concerned citizens in Berkeley decided to petition the council to have a special meeting to put the issue of the police commission, by-right development, and the minimum wage on the agenda to be heard before the council went on vacation. We understood that by the time the council returned from vacation it would be too late to meet the deadline for the ballot.

We were incensed at the callous disregard that the council showed in putting off the police review commission issue for the fourth time. In order to highlight the injustices perpetrated by the Berkeley police department, as well as to participate in the national call for actions in support of the Movement for Black Lives, we called on other community members to join us.

As it turned out, three of our elected representatives agreed with our proposal and believed we could get additional signatures.

A hearty group of 10 folks came to the Martin Luther King, Jr. building and expected to have a meeting with those representatives as well as interns from the CORO project.

There was no covert or dangerous behavior.

We talked with two additional council members outside of city hall who indicated their willingness to talk with us about our petition.

When we arrived at the city administration building it was clear that the police were waiting for a demonstration. The gate that is usually open was closed; people were told that they had to have an appointment to enter the building.

But despite our appointment, despite our constitutional rights to gather to petition our elected officials for a redress of grievances, the City Managers office refused to let us enter into the building. Despite the fact that it was obvious that there was no threat and that the people present were there in good faith, we were blocked from entering the building.  

I was physically barred from entering the building, despite my request to talk with the police and with the City Manager. Personally, I was infuriated at being treated in the manner that I was. As a candidate for office, I was incensed that citizens and elected officials were ignored by city employees. And, as an activist, I was again shown why it is so important to continue to organize nonviolent direct action in the face of suppression and oppression.  

The City is currently under investigation for the actions of the Berkeley Police department during the 2014 protests; the last City Manager resigned from the city. Many believe it was due to their incompetent handling of that situation and their inability to side with the people of Berkeley in the face of injustices committed against them.  

This is not the way to treat your citizens. The people are the legal determinants of what happens here. The manager is supposed to uphold the values of the city and make sure that its affairs are managed properly, not prevent its citizens from having access to due process.  

There seems to be an idea in our country and in Berkeley that compliance to authority is the preeminent value. Those who disrupt business as usual are treated as dangerous or even criminal.  

I object to this characterization on two fronts.  

First of all, we disrupters of business as usual in the face of widespread and terrible violence and injustice help to push our country, and our city, ever toward the values that we espouse in our constitution. As a candidate for office, I am required to make an oath that I will uphold the Constitution of the United States. Is it not reasonable to expect that city employees would also be beholden to those values, even if not required to make such an oath? 

Secondly, the people of Berkeley are the ultimate authority and those in power are representatives who are accountable to the people. It is the job of the people to call city council to accountability, and for the officials and employees to answer that call.  

Not only did the City Manager's office not respond to that call for accountability, but they also blocked the council members who were willing to hear that call.  

This is out of line and cannot go unchallenged. I demand an apology from the city manager’s office, and a letter to the people of Berkeley that makes it clear that our rights will be respected by the current city manager.  

My hope is that the city of Berkeley can learn from this incident and move forward with better practices. The current City Manager has executed excellent judgement with a number of issues and seems, before this point, to be of good intention and action.  


We Came in Peace: City Staff Banned us from Building

Moni T. Law, Nanci Armstrong-Temple, Tom Luce,Kyla Whitmore
Saturday July 30, 2016 - 10:00:00 AM
These Berkeleyans were in the group of ten whose entry into Berkeley's city administration building was barred by city employees during business hours last week. L to R: Moni T. Law, Tom Luce, Kyla Whitmore, Nanci Armstrong-Temple
These Berkeleyans were in the group of ten whose entry into Berkeley's city administration building was barred by city employees during business hours last week. L to R: Moni T. Law, Tom Luce, Kyla Whitmore, Nanci Armstrong-Temple

A few Berkeley citizens met a guy named "Justice" recently on the steps of the city's government building. Ironically, we were ten peaceful residents participating in a BlackLivesMatter inspired gathering who were banned from entering the building. We were forced to talk with Justice outside on the steps. On Thursday, July 21, 2016, we experienced a shocking lock down of the City of Berkeley's Administration building on Milvia Avenue. We were a small group of ten people comprised of a faith leader, Cal students, Cal alumni and a new Bay Area resident. On a National Day of Action called by groups concerned about Black and Brown lives, a small group decided to create a Berkeley event for Black Lives.  

We wanted to follow up on a Berkeley City Council meeting from two days prior when the Council recessed for summer vacation without addressing public accountability for livable wages, housing development and police reform. We were extremely disappointed that members of Cal Berkeley's Black Student Union and others were granted only one minute to speak after waiting until almost 11:30 pm. As the students were speaking, Mayor Tom Bates stood up and left. At least the other council members remained when we asked "Don't Black Lives Matter?" 

We discovered that a special meeting can be called either by the Mayor or five council members. We planned to meet on Thursday in an effort to petition for a special meeting to finish urgent business on passing a minimum wage ordinance, making developers accountable and reforming a 43 year old Police Review Commission. Although our city formed the first PRC in the nation, we will not be able to have it updated and reformed until 2018 if the City Council fails to call a special meeting.  

As we gathered in the Civic Center Park behind the City Administration Building before our meeting time, four of us grew to seven people, and two more individuals joined us as we walked to the front of the City Hall building. We found it odd and unsettling that someone decided to lock down the back of the building, and police officers were posted in the back and front of the building. As we approached the front doors of the building at 2pm, we were suddenly told by three high ranking city officials that the council members' staff confirming our appointment was not enough, so Councilmembers Arreguin and Worthington came outside and told the door keepers that we were approved with an appointment. Then the posted 'security' staff would not let us in because there were allegedly no rooms available. Almost two hours later after the booked rooms were continually cancelled, a councilman aide showed us that he confirmed a conference room. However, 8 of our 10 people had to leave as it was approaching 4pm. 

We want to thank Councilmember Susan Wengraf for talking with us outside in the parking lot, Lori Droste for speaking with us briefly in the parking lot and being willing to listen (but we couldn't get inside to discuss in depth as we planned to do), Councilmember Max Anderson speaking with us on the phone in support, and Councilmembers Arreguin and Worthington coming outside to the cold steps to speak with us in an effort to get us inside for our scheduled meeting. 

Again, on this day of National Solidarity for Black Lives, it was disappointing that the city of Berkeley, a city that we love and cherish was harsh, rude and unwelcoming. Our reasonable and simple demands were printed on a handout. The city's response was excessive, resulting in the wrongful exclusion of peaceful citizens from accessing The People's House. The City's actions chilled the exercise of freedom of speech, and denied a productive conversation from occurring for advancement of the common good. The City will hopefully learn to recalibrate their response when they can clearly see that a small group of people seeking to 'sit in' and communicate with their council members during scheduled appointments is not a threat to the city's business, but instead is the heart and soul of the city's business. Indeed, according to the city's website, "The residents of Berkeley are the highest level in the City's organization chart." "Berkeley Residents" is printed in large, bold letters at the top of the chart -- above the council, mayor and City Manager. Unfortunately, we were pushed to the bottom of the council's meeting agenda (for the third time on the PRC reform issue) and to the outdoor steps. Increased security protocols should not block citizens from being able to engage in their government's business.


Moni T. Law, J.D.
Berkeley resident, UC Berkeley Alum


Nanci Armstrong-Temple 

Candidate, Berkeley City Council District 2; UC Berkeley Alum 


Tom Luce 

Liaison, Berkeley Fellowship 

of Unitarian Universalists 


Kyla Whitmore 

New Berkeley Resident 

Intern at local nonprofit  

Updated: Suspected Berkeley gang members among those arrested in homicide investigation

Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Friday July 29, 2016 - 03:08:00 PM

Four reputed gang members and associates,including Berkeley residents, have been arrested for the fatal shooting of a 24-year-old man in East Oakland earlier this month, police said today.  

Oakland police Lt. Roland Holmgren said at a news conference this morning that a total of five suspects confronted Anthony Stevens and shot at him in the 1400 block of 92nd Avenue at about 10:30 a.m. on July 9 "without regard for the safety of anyone."  

Stevens, who had addresses in both San Leandro and Oakland, was pronounced dead at the scene.  

The five suspects are allegedly members or associates of the Five Kingdom Mafia, which Holmgren said is a "hybrid gang" that conducts operations in Berkeley and Oakland and commits a lot of street robberies.  

Police arrested four of the suspects in Vallejo and Berkeley on July 21 but one suspect, Tyrone Anthony Terrell Jr., 23, who's originally from Berkeley and has ties to Sacramento, remains at large, Holmgren said.  

Alameda County Chief Assistant District Attorney Kevin Dunleavy said the four suspects who were arrested have all been charged with murder: Anthony Roy Wilson, 25, of Vallejo, Aoderi Qwai Samad, 23, of Berkeley, Derrick Lee McFadden, 20, of Berkeley, and Kermit Daryl Tanner, 20, of Richmond.  


Dunleavy said Wilson, Samad and McFadden have also been charged with the enhancement of personally discharging a firearm to cause Stevens' death, which could add 25 years to their state prison terms if they're convicted of murder. 

Wilson and Samad have also been charged with possession of a firearm by a felon because both have prior criminal convictions. 

Wilson has been convicted of second-degree robbery and Samad has been convicted of second-degree commercial burglary and unlawful firearm activity. 

In addition, Tanner has been charged with carrying a concealed firearm. Wilson is scheduled to return to Alameda County Superior Court on Aug. 15 to enter a plea but authorities said they don't know when the other defendants will return to court. 

Joining Dunleavy and Oakland police officials at a news conference at police headquarters, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said, "I'm pleased that through these challenging times, Oakland police have remained laser-focused on fighting crime and their efforts are paying off." 

Schaaf said homicides and shootings in Oakland have decreased in recent years. She also said Oakland police have had an 11 percent increase this year in their clearance rate for solving homicides compared to last year. 

The Oakland Police Department has been rocked by a sexual misconduct scandal stemming from allegations that several officers had sex with the underage daughter of an Oakland police dispatcher. 

Former police Chief Sean Whent resigned under pressure on June 9 and two temporary chiefs resigned shortly after that. The department is now being run by City Administrator Sabrina Landreth, with Acting Assistant Chief David Downing in charge of tactical and operational matters. 

Schaaf said she is conducting "a robust national search" for a new permanent chief but declined to estimate when a new chief will be hired, saying the process "will take time and can't be rushed."



Change gonna come, oh yes it will

Becky O'Malley
Friday July 29, 2016 - 02:52:00 PM

So there I was in the car, on my way to the Farmers’ Market, radio on as usual, with NPR covering the Democratic convention, and I heard Bernie Sanders’ booming voice moving the nomination of Hillary Clinton by acclamation. To my enormous surprise (and luckily I wasn’t driving) I felt tears coming to my eyes and rolling down my cheeks.


No way, I thought, did I care all that much who the nominee was going to be, since the Republican primary the week before had made it clear to all rational political beings that the job at hand for the next 100 days would be defeating Donnie Twimp, no matter who the Democrats backed.

At the market, just as I was trying figure out if the tomatoes were really ripe, I got a call from my sister on my cell phone. Yes, she’d been crying too (I had stopped by that time) and she pinpointed why we were both so affected: What a shame our mother didn’t live to see this day. 

My mother spent the last 20 or so years of her long life following Congress on C-Span the way some men obsessively watch the sports channel. She knew the names and stats of all the players, and when Hillary Clinton began her 2008 run for the presidency she was enthralled. 

It wasn’t that she’d been a lifelong militant feminist. Like most women of her generation, her work after she married in her 20s was at home, and she made a good job of it. But in her relatively brief pre-marital job working as a “salesgirl” in a department store she’d gotten an idea of what was wrong with what the world offered working women in those days, and she wasn’t pleased with it. When she saw Anita Hill’s revelations about Clarence Thomas’s sexual harassment on her C-SPAN screen, she told me for the first time about being harassed on the job by her bosses in the ‘30s. 

She was more than ready for a woman president by 2008. But she’d also been conscious for a great part of her life of the unjust treatment of Black Americans, so when Barack Obama’s star began to rise she made her peace with that, not the least because her adored great-grandaughter was African-American. And of course she was crazy about Michelle. 

But still, too bad that she didn’t live to see this day. She would have been 102, seemingly too old to party, but one woman at the Democratic Convention was indeed 102, born when women weren’t even allowed to vote. 

It’s been a long time coming. 

I’ve never been under any illusion that a candidate was good just because she was a woman. Some of the worst politicians, both candidates and electeds, that I’ve ever known have been women. But some of the very best have been among the very few women who have had their chance at public office. 

Barbara Lee, for example, who is always leading the way in Congress, is one of them. In 1972 both Barbara and I were part of the campaign for Shirley Chisholm. We didn’t know each other—I was in Michigan and Barbara was in California, but we both believed that the time for a woman president had come. We didn’t realize that we would have to wait 44 years even to come close to the finish line. (Wise woman that she is, Barbara stayed out of the messy primary this time.) 

It’s not that Hillary Clinton is perfect. It’s been mighty hard to sing her praises around Berkeley these days, since the economic determinists who dominate the discourse around here rightfully recognized that Bernie Sanders’ income inequity analysis, as far as it went, was accurate. But his stump speech was predictably vague about childcare and pre-K and education and the myriad other “women’s” issues which HRC and women like her have been pushing during my adult life with little help most of the time from male colleagues. 

All too many self-styled progressives when they considered this primary seemed to have bought into the false dishonesty narrative first advanced by a minion of Richard Nixon’s. For a good historical analysis of how that happened, I strongly recommend this piece by Michael Arnovitz, forwarded to me today from Daily Kos: The most thorough, profound and moving defense of Hillary Clinton I have ever seen. 

I’ve also detected more than a whiff of what my friend George Lakoff has written about extensively as the tension between the strict father and the nurturant parent models of political participation. George attributes the former to political conservatives and the latter to liberals in the main, though he recognizes that they are often blended in the real world. 

Once you think of George Lakoff, it’s hard not to think about metaphors (or elephants. See his new revision of his book Don’t Think About an Elephant for details.) In this election, both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders functioned like cowbirds. 

Cowbirds lay their eggs in nests of other species. When they hatch, often the rowdy cowbird hatchling will push the other offspring out to die, though sometimes the nesting parents catch on and destroy the cowbird eggs first. 

Neither Trump nor Sanders were members of the parties they tried to take over. Trump has succeeded in dislodging the original Republicans from their nest, but since Sanders has been pushed out by the Democrats’ nurturing mama bird he can now go back to being the honorable outsider he’s been for his whole career. 

In the Lakoff-style paradigm, Candidate Sanders seemed more like the strict father, the self-proclaimed embodiment of revealed truth from which there could be no deviation. You might call him the conservative progressive, telling you for your own good what’s on the standard left to-do list, like it or don’t. 

Hillary on the other hand was roundly criticized, in my presence, for apparently changing her mind on various specifics, notably trade policy, as the campaign unfolded. Could you call her the liberal progressive? 

I can hear the outraged roars coming from left field already. But what’s wrong with learning from experience? 

Let’s riff on some more prosaic metaphors here, just to stir the pot. Bernie’s election persona looked like a blend of Santa Claus and Colonel Sanders. Both grandfather figures promise to bring you all the goodies you want, just turn in your order, though in most of the real life families I know Mom does most of the gift shopping and fries up most of the chicken, even in some enlightened Berkeley families. (My sons-in-law are both good cooks, however.) 

And the nurturant parent? The best embodiment of that style I’ve ever heard was the orphaned punchline of a long-forgotten Jewish Mother joke which has lingered affectionately in our family: “That’s nice, don’t fight, have a piece of fruit!” Hillary Clinton’s acceptance speech had that one down. 

It’s still good advice which my mother would have applauded. Now, kiddies, it’s time to stop bickering and get down to work dumping Trump—it’s been a long time coming, but the time has come to elect a woman president. 








The Editor's Back Fence

She's in the money, honey

Tuesday August 02, 2016 - 08:57:00 PM

If you’re the kind of person who wants to vote for the candidate with the most money, Nancy Skinner’s your kinda gal. The Planet received this press release from one Parke Skelton in her campaign organization:

“Skinner with huge fundraising advantage over Swanson as campaign heads into November general election.

Nancy Skinner, who finished in first place by a wide margin in the June primary election for State Senate District 9, holds a massive fundraising edge over Sandre Swanson as the campaign heads to the general election.

The just released 6/30/16 filings in this race showed Nancy Skinner with $936,369 COH and $34,469 in debt. Swanson had just $76,448 on hand with a staggering $98,559 in debt. Swanson’s campaign is more than $22,000 in the red.

Skinner made the strategic decision to spend very little in June to preserve cash for the run-off. Swanson spent everything he had – and more. Swanson was forced to loan himself $67,000 on 6/28 just to keep the lights on in his campaign office.

Skinner’s filing can be found here: http://goo.gl/gdQkRx

Swanson’s filing can be found here: http://goo.gl/RYRxDs

You might want to click on those links to check out who contributed what to which campaign. One caught my eye up top: Skinner got $1,000 from Pepsico,Inc. Does that make Pepsi her Sugar Daddy?


Read this

Sunday July 31, 2016 - 10:54:00 PM

The very first story I wrote for the Bay Guardian, in 1974 (??), and possibly the first story I ever wrote for publication, was an expose of the political schemes surrounding the desire to tear down the old Transbay Terminal and replace it with something more profitable for someone. With the help of Lowell Bergman I found a bit of Mafia involvement in that one, which earned me a credible threat that if I said anything else like that in print I'd be sorry. Unfortunately, I didn't know anything else, and they tore it down without my permission, but now, ha-ha, this is the I-told-you-so moment:

That sinking feeling in San Francisco

This moment doesn't belong to you.

UC Berkeley student struggling to pay tuition is facing homelessness

Water main breaks on Cornell Street











Public Comment

New: “Will the Democratic Party Ever be the Same After the 2016 Convention?”

Chris Krohn, Special to The Planet
Sunday July 31, 2016 - 11:23:00 AM

Democracy can be messy. And it was in Philadelphia this past week, a week that saw Hillary Clinton supporters going head to head on policy with Bernie Sanders delegates. It was likely good for the party and good for the American political system. When a democratic socialist garners almost thirteen million votes and wins twenty-two primaries in a presumably capitalist country, there’s going to be some fireworks at the national political convention and we were not disappointed. 

Days before the convention was set to begin, the chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, resigned under pressure following disclosure of a stream of unflattering emails which had circulated among DNC members. They appeared to smear Bernie Sanders and to corroborate what his supporters have claimed for months: that the DNC disproportionately favored the other candidate, Hillary Clinton. 

The Democrats convened at yet another corporate-named sports arena, the Wells Fargo Center, in Philadelphia, and the corporate sponsorship of multiple dinners, breakfasts and parties was not lost on Sanders delegates, who brought it up at every opportunity. 

During the week there was a constant stream of discussions and demonstrations held by Sanders’ supporters, and although it was reminiscent of Chicago in 1968, it was perhaps a more organized and serious effort by the left flank of the party to push back hard on the center-rightward leaning establishment. This convention was surely unrulier than the past two, especially with the presence of delegates wearing buttons and stickers reading, “Bernie or Bust.” 

It was clear to this reporter that the political hierarchy felt threatened by the newcomers. Were they really Democrats? they asked. Is Bernie really a Democrat? And it was true that some delegates said they had even taken a pledge before being elected that they would only support Sanders for president, and no one else. 

It was remarkable as the week unfolded to see a few of these same “Bernie or Bust” delegates honestly wrestle with that pledge as they gained insights into the the process of political sausage-making. After all, it was clear that the vast majority of Bernie delegates simply do not want to see a Donald Trump presidency. While few vocalized support for Trump, many anti-Hillary delegates said they are considering voting for Green Party candidate Jill Stein, who was conspicuously seen campaigning heavily in the halls of the convention and doing multiple interviews on Radio Row. Stein was polling at 3% in a July pre-convention CNN poll, while Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson was at 7% in the same poll. 

What occurred this week was perhaps akin to the 1968 Democrat convention in Chicago in terms of the shockwaves it sent through the party, and possibly America. But this time there were few broken heads and no authoritarian boss in the form of Richard J. Daley telling his police to beat up protesters. There were hard fought policy battles, rule challenges that were often than met with the usual staid ‘big D’ Democratic Party arrogance and intransigence, and sensitive and insensitive delegate discussions as first-timers for Bernie made their presence known. While street demonstrations and marches occurred all week long, the news media seemed to set only one day aside, Sunday, to fully cover those events. 

By the end of the week it was hard to miss the fingerprints of Bernie Sanders’ “political revolution” not only all over the party’s platform, but firmly acknowledged in speeches by President Barack Obama and vice presidential nominee, Tim Kaine. The rallies, marches, and sign waving inside and out resulted in some honest conversation between the various sides of the party and made for a lively, more democratic, and, I would argue, a more inclusive national forum. 

One thousand eight hundred and forty-seven Bernie Sanders delegates were met by many in the DNC like unwelcome guests at a garden party. But there they were, Sanders delegates in suits and dresses, but also in tie-dye t-shirts, yoga pants, shorts and blue jeans. It was an epic moment for the party. A real youth movement was making itself known. Comfortable, older and perhaps too complacent party elders were forced to commingle with new twenty- and thirty-somethings on their terms and their ideas. As much as some DNC staff, likely directed by a party official or two, wished to squelch dissent by young Bernie-istas, there were just too many and too many media outlets needing content. Also, I received several reports of incidents of DNC staffers harassing Sanders delegates. The main objective by the establishment seemed to be to try and keep the insurgents out of national TV shots and make sure only Hillary posters and symbols were shown. 

On Sunday before the convention kicked off, an estimated more than 7,000 people, mostly Bernie Sanders supporters, marched through downtown Philadelphia highlighting the twin concerns of climate change and Sanders’ “political revolution.” The Philadelphia convention was vastly different than the one Republicans held in Cleveland. In Philadelphia there were a lot fewer police and a lot more protesters, and there was also more discussion, disagreement, and compromise on policy and the future of the party. As the street call and response chant goes, so went these past five days: “Tell me what democracy looks like. This is what democracy looks like!” Bernie delegates had pried an “establishment” door open and now they were rushing in as if it were the backdoor to a sold out concert. 

During Monday morning’s California breakfast for example, Sanders delegates chanted, “count our ballots,” as California Secretary of State, Alex Padilla tried to speak, yelling at him to tally the more than a million ballots from the June primary that they claim haven’t been counted yet. At the same breakfast event San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and Berkeley Congresswoman Barbara Lee were also met with deafening chants of “Bernie, Bernie” when they endorsed Hillary Clinton during their speeches.  

Most of the more than thirty Sanders and Clinton delegates I interviewed agreed that Bernie’s campaign has shaken the very foundations of the Democratic party. It’s even in writing in the DNC platform.  

Former California Governor Gray Davis told me in an interview, “Bernie Sanders and his followers have already changed the face of American politics. Sanders and Clinton have come up with the most progressive (party) platform in my lifetime.” He was referring to platform planks that include abolishing the death penalty, instituting comprehensive immigration reform, banning private prisons, demands for greater scrutiny of Wall Street, and expanding social security.  

Long-time progressive members of the House, Barbara Lee representing Oakland and Berkeley and Maxine Waters of Los Angeles, both welcome an opening inside the party to a more left of center approach. For a long time, Lee and Waters have supported overturning Citizens United, stronger climate change regulation, and abolishing the death penalty (all in the new platform). They are also opposed, like Sanders supporters, to the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal. Both also supported allowing Bernie supporters to be given a forum at this convention to air progressive grievances regarding TPP and single-payer health insurance. Waters told the Planet, “In a setting like this, they get a chance to to do that.” Lee added, referring to the progressive party platform , “If it had not been for Senator Sanders we would not have gotten here”. 

When Bernie addressed his delegates on Monday in a closed door meeting he was booed for over a minute, mainly because they believed he had endorsed Hillary Clinton before the official delegate roll call vote that was to take place on the floor of the convention the following day. One supporter told me it was true, so the booing was “appropriate.” She said Bernie’s always been clear, it’s not about a man, it’s about a movement. One of Hillary Clinton’s jobs Thursday night was to reach out to many disaffected Bernie delegates and try, as Obama and Kaine had, to unite the party before moving into the general election phase of the campaign. 

The good news is it took her only less than a minute into her speech to acknowledge the significance of Bernie Sanders and his supporters in this election. “You’ve put economic and social justice issues front and center, where they belong,” she said. “Your cause is our cause.” 

Maybe the bad news is that her words, twelve lines total, is not the apology Bernie delegates were looking for, but they were from the potential future president of the United State who conceded that a movement had swept over America. 

Many questions still remained. Will most Bernie voters come over to Hillary? Will Clinton pursue the progressive party platform voted in at the convention? Because there’s nothing that says she has to. 

Can she be trusted not to support TPP? Politico.com and the Washington Post reported this past week that an old Clinton ally, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, said that she would support the trade agreement after becoming president. Later, he backed off on that statement. 

And finally, can Hillary Clinton appeal to Bernie’s army of youthful supporters for both votes and campaign work? 

For now, it looks like Sanders supporters will be campaigning for Clinton while promoting their agenda, and that may go a long way toward some healing and actually bringing some unity to an otherwise fractured post-convention Democratic Party.

Lock Him Up!

Bruce Joffee
Friday July 29, 2016 - 03:47:00 PM

At the Democratic convention, Representative Joe Crawley recounted how, after 9/11, the Republican Congress refused to vote for recovery funds for New York. Senator Hillary Clinton fought for, and obtained $20 billion for New York. What did Donald Trump do? He applied for and received some of those funds, even though none of his buildings were damaged. That is fraud. What should be the consequence for his greedy, illegal action? As the Republicans are fond of saying, "lock him up."

Candidate Trump

Romila Khanna
Friday July 29, 2016 - 03:47:00 PM

It was encouraging to hear at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland that the presidential nominee Donald Trump will make America great again. But our multilingual and multicultural society wants to know exactly how presidential candidate Trump will make America great again. 

Candidate Trump says the US has lost prestige in the world. How does he wish to restore American prestige? I know that we badly need to turn our enemies into friends.  

Many countries do not like our constant interference in their domestic affairs. They don't want democracy imposed from the outside. They wish to chart their own path to democracy. I don't think a tit for tat approach will help us to halt terrorist activities in our world. Bombarding other nations will only add to the number of the sick and disabled on the earth. 

The lands we bomb will become barren. The inhabitants of these nations will become homeless in their own land.
 Apart from our prestige in the world, there is the question of well-being among our own people . Thirty seven million Americans live below the poverty line today. How will candidate Trump make the poor capable so they can climb higher in society? Will candidate Trump donate his own wealth to the poor and needy? Will he provide free college education? Will he guarantee health care for the poor? 

Without specific plans to lift the lower classes into the middle class, the promise of America's greatness trumpeted from the Republican National Convention sounds hollow.

Has UC Berkeley become an Academic AirB'n'B?

Gar Smith
Friday July 29, 2016 - 03:16:00 PM

I admit it: I derive a perverse pleasure from listening to the radio ads on KCBS. 

They are generally so odd and déclassé—i.e., plugs for money management, investment assistance, tips on how to become wealthy by flipping houses, special exercise packages that will turn your fat to muscle in just two 20-minute workouts a week. 

One of my favorites began with an exasperated woman proclaiming, "I'm a professional behavioral psychiatrist!" and then proceeding to admit that she hasn't a clue about how to control her abusive, door-slamming teenage son. That's why she turned to a patented lifestyle intervention program guaranteed to completely change her son's behavior "within minutes." 

While the promised transformation was miraculous, the mechanism remained unexplained. (The only theory I could come up with involved a hulking thug named "Vinny" who shows up on the doorstep when called, and threatens to punch the kid senseless if he doesn't obey his parents.) 

Recently, a new KCBS promotion caught my attention. It highlighted an intensive summer education session hosted by Landmark College and focused on the needs of students with learning disabilities—or, as the current politically correct phraseology would have it, "students who learn differently." 

The radio spot announced that the intensive summer session would be held on the UC Berkeley campus from August 1-5. 

A "Workshop for Success" college-prep immersion that lasts only five days? I thought I had misheard the broadcast. However, a check of the landmark.edu website confirmed that the session (open to students from across the country) was, in fact, designed last less than a week. 

For students with the money and means to rent their own apartments (or hotel rooms), the cost would be $1,900. For students who wished to live on the UCB campus, Landmark was offering a $2,500 package that included single-room housing in UCB residence halls and two meals a day (10 meals in all for the entire five-day workshop). Now you might assume that these two meals would be breakfast and dinner but, with a bit of searching, a single mention on Landmark's website reveals that the two meals are breakfast and lunch. You want a good dinner? You're on your own. 

For on-campus participants, enrollment amounts to $500 per day. As tuition goes, that's pretty steep. 

What is Landmark College?  

Landmark is a small liberal arts college located in Putney, Vermont. Established in 1985 and accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Landmark describes itself as "the first institution of higher learning to pioneer college-level studies for students with dyslexia." Landmark has since expanded its services to include students with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and autism spectrum disorders. Landmark boasts an academic staff of 80 serving a student body of 500. Landmark awards associate and bachelor level degrees. 

Landmark College claims a student-faculty ratio of 6:1 and offers a range of instructional tools including: "integrated assistive technology elements, individualized attention, and multi-modal teaching strategies." 

The enrollment process is a bit conflicted. Landmark's online introduction states that the college is looking for students who share two "essential criteria: Average to superior intellectual potential, and Diagnosis of dyslexia, ADHD, ASD or other specific learning disability." But on page 4 of the online application, one reads: "Please note: A diagnosed learning disability is not required for admission into the Intensive Workshop." Apparently, the rules for attending academic workshops differ from those for students seeking regular admission to Landmark. 

Applicants must sign an agreement requiring that, in exchange for "an intensive, rigorous academic program," students must pledge to attend all meetings with teachers, complete all written assignments, participate in required workshops and must agree with the statement that "students not prepared to work intensively, or who have other issues that require their attention, may have difficulty in achieving the program's learning outcomes." 

A Range of Reviews 

Naturally, there is a range of opinion about the success of Landmark's educational services. A quick scan of comments on YELP provides reviews that are both glowing and scathing. 

"Landmark College provided a truly transformative experience for our son. . . . The work was challenging at times, but made manageable by the extraordinary teachers, who genuinely cared about our son's educational success. . . . Also highly impressed with the college counseling services." 

"We were blessed to find Landmark. . . . My twin sons, both with Asperger's, ADHD and NVLD . . . . took 5 semesters but they both grew so much, gained such confidence, loved their professors, tried new things. Landmark had the necessary balance between support and freedom. . . . Worth every penny." 

"Many LMC students have tried to swim at other colleges and ended up being pulled from the water and redirected to LMC. . . .very accepting of all sorts of emotional and intellectual diversity." 

"VERY expensive alternative for kids who learn differently. Expense increased exponentially each semester. . . . [My son] left with barely a freshman year's worth of transferrable classes after 3 $$$ semesters." 

"Landmark helped me somewhat academically . . . there are some really good teachers and counselors." 

"Some teachers were awesome; yet a few were lacking on communication and organizational skills." 

"My daughter attended the summer transition to college program . . . . It was poorly run and poorly organized—not the best thing for LD [Learning Disabled] kids. . . . [T]hey were taught one way of doing things. When [my daughter] told them that this way didn't work and asked for other suggestions . . . they told her just to do things this way and then she could do her own thing when she went to college. That's not why we sent her there." 

"This place is a professional con-job. It convinces families that this is their only option for their children with LD to get a college degree. . . . [T]he school milks them for tuition." 

"Serious shortage of girls—that and the severe winters were too much for this California kid." 

This last complaint is not surprising. As Landmark's webpage notes, "The male-to-female student ratio is about 3:1, which reflects the higher number of males who are diagnosed with conditions that affect learning." 

For those students who "meet conventional behavior expectations in a college setting," the five-day course at UC Berkeley promises to be rewarding but an unanswered question lingers: how rewarding is this "educational airbnb" for UC Berkeley? Does the University profit from making its taxpayer-funded facilities available for un-enrolled out-of-state students? 

Is Landmark College an isolated experimental case or is there an established program that has hung a virtual banner across Berkeley's historic Sather Gate: one reading, "Campus for Rent"?

August Pepper Spray Times

By Grace Underpressure
Sunday July 31, 2016 - 01:35:00 PM

Editor's Note: The latest issue of the Pepper Spray Times is now available.

You can view it absolutely free of charge by clicking here . You can print it out to give to your friends.

Grace Underpressure has been producing it for many years now, even before the Berkeley Daily Planet started distributing it, most of the time without being paid, and now we'd like you to show your appreciation by using the button below to send her money.

This is a Very Good Deal. Go for it! 


THE PUBLIC EYE: 5 Takeaways from the Democratic Convention

Bob Burnett
Friday July 29, 2016 - 09:55:00 AM

The 2016 Democratic convention concluded with Hillary Clinton’s paean to American exceptionalism. She contrasted “morning in America” with Donald Trump’s “the barbarians are at the gates.” In addition to the stark contrast in the vision of the two candidates, we learned five things at the conventions. 

1. Hillary Clinton was able to unite Democrats.Republicans came to Cleveland promising to unite around Trump. That didn’t happen. Cruz, Kasich, and the Bush family didn’t endorse Trump and he denounced them all. 

The Democratic convention started on low note with the DNC email scandal followed by the resignation of Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. For a few hours on Monday it looked as if Democrats would battle on the convention floor. Then the Monday program started and comedian Sarah Silverman – previously a Bernie Sanders supporter – ad-libbed, “Can I just say, to the Bernie-or-Bust people, you are being ridiculous.” Her mocking words punctured the Bernie-or-Bust balloon. While a few Bernie supporters continued to be disruptive, the vast majority got behind Hillary Clinton. ( A Washington Post poll indicated that 90 percent of Bernie backers would support Clinton.) By Thursday night, the Democratic Party was unified. 

2. Clinton did a much better job organizing the Democratic convention than Trump did organizing the Republican convention. Each day of the Republican convention saw some epic screw up such as Melania Trump’s plagiarism or Ted Cruz failing to endorse Trump. 

In contrast each day of the Democratic convention worked well. Speakers kept to the script and stayed within the allotted time. As a result, the TV ratings for each night of the Democratic convention exceeded those of the Republican convention. 

The success of the Democratic convention is another indication that Hillary Clinton is a better manager than Donald Trump. 

3. If Trump doesn’t get the attention he wants, he will do something crazy. After the Republican convention, I wrote, “The GOP convention may give Trump a modest ratings bounce but it won’t last because he can’t stop acting crazy.” 

On Wednesday – evidently starved for attention – Trump asked Russia to hack Clinton’s emails. On Thursday, Trump said he felt like hitting convention speakers who disparaged him. (He followed this with a fundraising email begging recipients to not watch Hillary’s acceptance speech.) 

Clinton denigrated Trump’s character in her acceptance speech: “Imagine [Donald Trump] in the Oval Office facing a real crisis. A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons.” 

4. Hillary has the credentials for the job, Trump doesn’t. During the Republican convention, the New York Times reported that Trump’s son, Donald Junior had approached Ohio Governor John Kasich about being Trump’s running mate. Trump Junior reported that, if he accepted, Kasich would be “the most powerful vice president in history;” Trump Junior explained that Kasich would be in charge of domestic and foreign policy. When queried what job “President” Trump would do, Trump Junior explained, “Making America great again.” 

Wednesday night at the Democratic convention, billionaire and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg observed: ““Trump says he wants to run the nation like he’s running his business? God help us.” Bloomberg went on to recommend voting for Hillary Clinton, “a sane, competent person.” 

5. Democrats have become the Party of Reagan. The conventions witnessed an unexpected role reversal: Republicans became the party of godless pessimism. Democrats became the party of hope and optimism; the party that believes, like Ronald Reagan, that “it’s morning in America.” 

Unique to a modern Republican presidential speech, Trump never mentioned God. Instead he mentioned himself, over and over; notably “Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it.” 

At the Democratic convention, participants chanted, “U-S-A! U-S-A!” Clinton and her running mate, Tim Kaine, touted their religious background and their lifelong commitment to public service. Michelle Obama reminded us all America “is the greatest country on earth.” Barack Obama reintroduced the “audacity of hope.” And Hillary said Americans face a choice, “We have to decide whether we all will work together so we all can rise together.” 

It was a stark contrast: Republican gloom and authoritarianism versus Democratic optimism and community spirit – “Let’s be stronger together.” 

Bob Burnett is a Berkeley writer. He can be reached at bburnett@sonic.net 

ECLECTIC RANT: I'm Voting for Hillary, and Here's Why

Ralph E. Stone
Friday July 29, 2016 - 09:41:00 AM

I will vote for Hillary Clinton no matter what happens between now and November. I figure a vote for a third-party candidate or not voting at all is really a vote for Trump. I am not only voting for Clinton, but I am also voting for the democratic platform, which is not perfect, but is, thanks to Sanders, the most progressive Democratic Party platform in history. True, if Clinton wins, she is not beholden to follow it. But then again, there will be a lot of pressure for her to adopt some or all of it. 

For disgruntled Sanders’ supporters, I say let’s focus on what is, not what you hoped would be. It is now Clinton versus Trump. It is time to look at the big picture. 

I will vote for Clinton because I cannot imagine a president Trump representing me at home and abroad. I recoil at the thought. In my opinion, whatever Sanders movement achieved would not survive a four- or eight-year Trump presidency. To me, even the status quo would be better than a Trump presidency, which would send the country backward to a time when discrimination and hate were not only accepted but celebrated. 

In short, my choice is simple: I am a sure vote for Hillary Clinton, who on July 28, 2016, became the first woman to accept a major party’s nomination for president of the United States.

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: More About Mindfulness

Jack Bragen
Friday July 29, 2016 - 03:02:00 PM

Since I have a severe psychotic disorder and significant mood issues, mindfulness, for me, is an essential adjunct to medication and talk therapy. However, if I am not careful, mindfulness can downgrade into negative rumination. 

The mindfulness techniques I use are loosely based in Buddhist principles, but I don't do formal Zen meditation. My methods of self-observation and remediation are self-invented or perhaps reinvented.  

What I do would be hard for me to teach to someone else, yet I can give you a general description. My techniques address two problems that are related: emotional pain (including chronic anxiety and the whole gamut of unhappy emotions), and delusional thought.  

Readers should realize that thoughts, emotions, and perceptions, (for everyone, not just for those who suffer from mental illness) are often inaccurate.  

To combat emotional pain, paradoxically, what works is to accept the pain. This could include acceptance of an event about which pain is generated. (Yet sometimes there isn't an event connected to the pain, and instead I just feel badly for no apparent reason.) Secondly, acceptance of the "body" part of emotional pain can include changing how I perceive painful emotions.  

Acceptance of painful emotions and changing how they are perceived can be done by realizing that pain and suffering are merely sensations. Pain and suffering are objectionable because we object to them. If we didn't object to pain, it would no longer have the ability to make us suffer. When this exercise is performed, often the upset emotion releases--I may feel a release of tension in the abdomen or elsewhere. This method can also be used to alleviate minor to moderate physical pain. (It may not be very effective against extreme physical pain because of how the human body is designed. Furthermore, it isn't an effective tool for getting over a preexisting substance abuse problem.)  

Just to give a note of caution, you should never inflict pain on yourself to test these ideas, or for any other reason! 

Concerning pain relief from negative or painful emotions, another piece of the puzzle is to produce the idea that you are "okay" and to refute thoughts of being "not okay."  

The essence of emotional pain is the perception of distress. It is the perception that something is bad or that something threatens to be bad. If you can overrule such a perception and decide, at least on an emotional level, that everything is okay, this will alleviate emotional pain.  

I also use a number of other cognitive methods for pain relief, but I do not have space here to describe them all. 

This isn't to say that there aren’t problems that we need to address. On the other hand, and this is paradoxical, being calm and undisturbed is a far more effective space for dealing with actual problems. When addressing problems, being excessively upset is counterproductive.  

To combat delusions, some of the techniques I use are similar to the ones for pain relief, but not all of them. To begin with, I have learned maintain the awareness that my mind is subject to errors, small errors and big ones.  

A big help in overcoming delusions is to observe how they happen, observe their patterns, and observe the types of delusions I get. If I have an area of unresolved emotion, this is fertile ground for delusions to arise. The delusions nearly always have an emotional charge connected to them, and that is one reason why they can be hard to get rid of and why, if I am not careful, they could have influence over me. Since delusions gain power through hijacking the emotional system in the brain, it is one reason why having more power to resolve emotions gives more power to resolve delusions.  

In observing delusions, I have seen where they present themselves in my mind as reality. Delusions, when they gain a foothold, present a false picture of the world that, at the time, can appear very real. Delusions can become assumptions. These assumptions can then generate entire patterns of thought that seem real but that are a massive false picture. This is where the term "delusional system" applies.  

Taking the time to learn anti-delusional methods is not a waste of time. This can entail using more parts of the brain to learn to recognize a delusion. Scanning for delusions is analogous to doing a virus scan on a computer. I also use the memory of how delusions took over in the past, the "strategies" that the delusions used, and what some of the themes were.  

And there are more methods, more techniques. Exploration of how your mind works is a good effort, as long as this doesn't degrade into an even worse episode of delusional thought. If you cannot stay on task, and if you find things are deteriorating, it is time to stop.  

However, if you can remain on task and constructive with explorations of the mind, this can pay off big in your future quality of life.  

And, if in doubt, it is always good to ask someone reliable, someone who you know very well, if they think a particular thought is nonsense or if it sounds reasonable. (You do not want to try this with just anyone, with someone who doesn't know you very well, or with someone who may not understand much about mental illness.)  

Learning more about your mind, and learning methods to deal with symptoms, can make a big difference in quality of life, and serves greatly as an adjunct to conventional treatment.  

Arts & Events

New: Janáček’s CUNNING LITTLE VIXEN at West Edge Opera

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Sunday July 31, 2016 - 10:50:00 AM

Kicking off their 2016 Summer Season, West Edge Opera opened with Leoš Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen on Saturday, July 30, at West Oakland’s abandoned train station. Coming on the heels of San Francisco Opera’s beautifully sung Jenufa by Janáček, The Cunning Little Vixen shows us another side of this erstwhile composer whose musical and cultural roots lie deep within his native Moravian soil. Whereas Jenufa explores Moravian peasant culture, Vixen examines the fertile life of the animals and humans who live in the Moravian forests. Vixen is thus a kind of Aesops fable, in which animals have human characteristics, and the humans, well, they take on quite a few animal characteristics.  

With Set Design by Sarah Phykitt, Vixen evokes the forest. Large trees frame either side of the stage, their branches reaching high into the sky and seeming to reach even higher by means of the shadows cast upwards from imaginative lighting on the branches from Lighting Designer Kevin August Landesman. As the opera proceeds from one scene to the next, the lighting frequently changes hue, offering now bright Summer sunlight, now again somber shade. These changes in coloration also seem to evince both the changing seasons and the changing moods of the opera’s action, from lively, light-hearted joy in summer to the somber reality of the Vixen’s sudden death when shot by a hunter, then back again, cyclically, to life-affirming joy in Spring when the Vixen’s young cub frolics at the close of the opera. In Vixen, Janáček celebrates nature and renewal. 

After a brief orchestral prelude conducted by Music Director Jonathan Khuner, the opera opens on a forest alive with activity. Musically, Janáček evokes the croaking of frogs, the buzzing of a mosquito, the chirping of a cricket, and the whirring of a dragonfly. Choreographer Liz Tenuto, who dances the part of the dragonfly, whirls about the stage, her wings suggested by a long white train billowing out behind her. Various animals played by children bustle here and there, wearing imaginative costumes from Costume Designer Christina Crook and her assistant Alice Ruiz. The human presence in the forest is represented by the Forester, beautifully sung by veteran bass Philip Skinner. The Forester, as drawn by Janáček, is simply a symbiotic partner of the animal life in the forest. Although he carries a gun and eventually succeeds in trapping the Vixen, the Forester clearly appreciates the animals. Indeed, when he traps the Vixen, he seems to fall in love with this foxy female, though he already has a wife, sung here in a minor role by Rachel Rush, who doubles as an owl.  

As the Vixen, soprano Amy Foote was outstanding. Her voice rang forth clear and bright, and she moved about the stage with bouncy agility, suggesting the quickness of a fox. Aware of her attractiveness, the Vixen cozies up to the forester after he traps her. She also fights off the attempts of the Forester’s dog, Lapák, who tries to mount her. The Vixen also has to endure the attempts of the Forester’s young sons, Pepík and Frantík, to poke her with sticks. Using her cunning, and only baring her teeth occasionally, the Vixen adjusts to life among the humans. When she observes the rooster lording it over the hens in dictatorial fashion, mating with each hen one after another, the Vixen becomes indignant at this blatant patriarchy. Director Pat Diamond stages the interactions between the rooster and hens quite imaginatively, with the rooster strutting proudly about while the hens abruptly thrust their heads forward or to the side as chickens invariably do. Incensed by the hens’ subservience to the cock of the run, the Vixen intercedes, as a fox in the henhouse will do, and kills the cock. Then she escapes, having dreamt of a male fox who unties the rope which has limited her movement in captivity. Her dream thus becomes reality, and henceforth she lives free and wild. Needing a home, the Vixen uses her proverbial cunning to trick a badger, sung here by baritone Nikolas Nackley, into abandoning his burrow, and she moves in.  

The scene switches to a forest tavern where the Forester drinks with his friends, the schoolmaster, sung by tenor Joseph Raymond Meyers and the parson, sung by baritone Nikolas Nackley. The friends regale themselves with tales of past hijinks, though the Forester gets ribbed about losing his Vixen. Meanwhile, the Vixen meets a handsome male fox, who courts her quite respectfully. On their second meeting, the fox, eloquently sung by mezzo-soprano Nikola Printz, tells the Vixen she is beautiful, and that he has fallen in love with her. At first, the Vixen is confused. “Am I beautiful?” she asks herself. Turning to the fox, she asks, “What about me do you find beautiful?” The fox, in an ironic touch by Janáček, replies, “I love you not for your beautiful face or your body but for your soul.” With this assurance, the Vixen agrees to go off with the fox for lovemaking in the depths of the forest. A bit later, when she whispers that she is pregnant, the fox insists that he will marry her immediately to legitimize their union. A wedding ceremony is presided over by the badger/parson with all the animals in attendance.  

Now a new character enters, a hunter, Harašta, robustly sung by baritone Carl King. The hunter stalks the forest seeking the Vixen. She espies Harašta and decides to taunt the hunter, confident in her cunning and quick agility. She dodges him several times until, finally, she shows herself once too often, and he manages to shoot her. The Vixen falls dead on the spot.  

The scene shifts to the forest tavern, where the schoolmaster is drunk. The Forester, drinking heavily, acknowledges sadly that with the Vixen’s death he has lost his girlfriend. The innkeeper’s wife comments that Harašta’s wife now sports a new muff of fox fur. Seeking comfort, the Forester retreats to the forest, where he falls asleep. Before falling asleep he marvels at the light and notes that Spring is here to renew the forest life. Awakened by the rustling movements of a fox cub, the Forester immediately sees the resemblance of the cub to the Vixen, and he smiles with pleasure at this cyclical renewal of nature and the life of the forest, as Leoš Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen closes on this joyful note. As performed by West Edge Opera in an excellent production, this Janáček fable was utterly delightful. 

Theater Review: 'The Tempest' at John Hinkel Park

Ken Bullock
Friday July 29, 2016 - 09:52:00 AM

'The Tempest,' Free Weekend Afternoon Performances, at John Hinkel Park Amphitheatre

Miranda: Oh wonder!/How many goodly creatures are there here!/How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world,/That has such people in 't!

Prospero: Tis new to thee.

Prospero the Magician's admonition to his daughter's gushing, on the verge of their return from the exile of an isle like Bermuda was imagined to be, back to Milan, is as quietly telling as Hamlet's raucous self-rebuke carried out to the race, 'What a piece of work is a man! ... The beauty of the world! The paragon of animals! And yet to me , what is this quintessence of dust?"

Inferno Theatre's free, plein air weaving of 'The Tempest' 's spells in John Hinkel Park's old New Deal CWA Amphitheatre, dedicated to "cultural recreation" in 1934, hits so many of the "Coincidentia Oppositorum," the opposites of mood and humor on earth that coincide in the infinite, a Renaissance ideal, that picnickers may halfway imagine themselves on The Bard's island of spirits, tamed by Prospero's magic ... 

Or is Prospero himself a bit enraged like a beast over his exile, after having lost his dukedom, made a little inhuman by misanthropy, loneliness and a savage communion with animals and spooks? There are unsettling instants in Inferno's production that register his super-ironic bitterness in Michael Needham's dry, explosive laughter as he goes about his sorcery, those who did evil to him having washed ashore on his paradise jail, including his scheming brother Antonio (Ian Wilson), usurper of his throne. 

His daughter, Miranda (Karina McLoughlin), raised in the wild, keeps his humanity alive, and her budding romance with the castaway Ferdinand ((David James Silpa) shows Prospero's hand in what seems magical aggrandisement of who or what's in his power to be the means to wake up their own humanity, once out of palace, society, shipboard, as he's been himself for twelve years ... 

Another parallel tale, of the shipwrecked aristocrats—Antonio, Alonzo (Thomas Busk, who also strums a guitar), Sebastian (Trevor Guyton) and Gonzalo (Tenya Spillman, in one of several neat "gender-blind" castings)—who are "shrived" of their greed and murderous scheming by Prospero's feisty indentured spirit tricksters (Simone Bloch, Angela Ciandro, Fiona Melia—excellent all—assisted by musician-singer Vicki Victoria, who doubles as the Boatswain and as the ghost of Caliban's witch mother, Sycorax, a novel touch), rotates to the fore— 

As do the moments, almost asides, between Prospero and his spirit chief-of-staff Ariel—Emily Stone in a memorable, nuanced performance, including The Bard's songs beautifully sung to her own tunes), the other—almost!—human relationship he's conjured up on his island ... a magical forerunner to Robinson Crusoe ... 

And the clowns with Caliban—Jack Nicolaus, a brilliant, vaudeville Trinculo with Benoît Monin as Stephano, bawdy in a more redblooded way to balance Trinculo's Pierrot-like moments—and Valentina Emeri, a unique performer and marvellous mover onstage, as an androgynous, outrageous Caliban, who falls in perfectly with the other two in choreographed mayhem that's hilarious, yet verges on polyphony of skewed movement, as good or better as any take on this justly famous menagerie of zanies as I've seen. 

The ensemble's splendid together as the intersecting stories weave in and out, finally uniting in harmony, all with the direction of Inferno's founder, Guilio Perrone, whose expertise in Commedia is one of the underpinnings of this show's virtue, another being his design skills, a coefficient to his direction of movement and expression. (The storm itself, which opens the play, first indicator of Prospero's sublime anger, even before he reaches the stage, is played out by the company as a crazy ballet with sails, staggering bodies as if on a windswept deck, and the sound of thunder and whistlng wind.) 

It's a wonderful way to spend a late afternoon outdoors in summer, with something for Shakespeareans, slapstick fans, students of magic, poetry and romance lovers-and picnickers who like a good story. 

(Free. Saturdays and Sundays at 4—amphitheatre opens at 3 for picnicking—through August 7. About two hours and a quarter long, and an intermission. John Hinkel Park, end of Somerset Place, off Arlington, north from Marin Avenue roundabout. www.infernotheatre.org )