Both houses of the California Legislature have unanimously passed a bill that would bring more oversight to the construction industry by requiring contractors to disclose felony convictions for shoddy work.
State Sens. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, and Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, wrote the bill, SB 465, in response to the collapse of a crowded balcony at a Berkeley apartment building during a party in the early morning hours of June 16, 2015, in which six young people died.
Five of the six were visiting from Ireland and the sixth was 22-year-old Ashley Donohoe of Rohnert Park.
On Wednesday, the state Senate passed the bill 37-0 and the state Assembly passed it 74-0. Gov. Jerry Brown has until the end of the month to decide whether to sign it.
Hill said in a statement that the bill "ensures that the state agencies tasked with overseeing the construction industry are taking appropriate steps to identify bad actors and improve building standards." -more-
Use of publicly owned land by car dealerships in the C-SA District:
An Open Letter to Berkeley City Officials
TO: Dee Williams-Ridley, City of Berkeley City Manager; Zach Cowan, City Attorney;
Carol Johnson, City of Berkeley Acting Planning Director; Phil Harrington, City of Berkeley Director of Public Works; AnnMarie Hogan, City of Berkeley Auditor
As South Shattuck neighbors and participants in area plans for our community, we request immediate clarification of City policy concerning dealership use of the public right-of-way and green space in the Commercial-South Area (C-SA) District.
The City refuses to issue parking citations to South Shattuck auto dealers, despite repeated complaints and extensive documentation from residents over a period of many months. Dealership use of the public right-of-way to conduct auto sales and to display inventory violates numerous City ordinances and constitutes a public nuisance. Selective parking enforcement results in lost ticket revenue, a shortage of convenient short-term parking spaces for customers of local businesses, and spillover traffic in the surrounding neighborhoods. This is prohibited in every other District in the City; why is it allowed in South Berkeley?
Photo 1, from January 2015, shows the parking bay in front of 2700 Shattuck, which is regularly filled with display vehicles. Allowing the use of limited public parking spaces as extended commercial gross floor area by South Shattuck dealerships eliminates numerous parking spaces (2-hour and 30-minute) in the area at any given time. -more-
The Mather LifeWays project proposed for the Pacific School of Religion campus and its surroundings has the potential to do great harm to the Northside neighborhood and to Berkeley as a whole.
The overscaled senior housing development would do away with the beloved historic PSR campus, an oasis on the hill. Gone will be the beautiful open space, the western vista, and all but one of the campus’s architecturally significant buildings.
The Mather development would tear the fabric of a residential neighborhood, demolishing an unprecedented number of buildings, constructed mostly in the 1920s, along Virginia Street, Le Conte Avenue, and Arch Street. -more-
The Republican nominee for President talks making America great again. He has a great plan to make America debt-free if he wins the election and goes to the White House. But he forgets the needs of the most neglected people. I do not share his vision of making America great by hurting the poor and lower middle class people. -more-
The Berkeley City Council just unanimously enacted a minimum wage ordinance of $15 an hour beginning in October of 2018. Often reported in the media are complaints by small business owners that raising the minimum wage would be disastrous for their business. If the media included interviews with the heads of families working for poverty wages, the complaints would be far more disturbing. The narratives about their difficult lives, as well as the problems poverty causes their spouses and children, is cause to shudder. FDR, who recognized the adverse consequences of poverty wages commented "No Business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country". This moral principle applies today as well.
But although higher wages may mean lower profits, very few if any establishments will be forced out of business. In fact, the business community as a whole will benefit because higher wages means more purchasing power. Yes, it is simple as that! Consumers make up about 70 percent of our gross national product. The vast majority of consumers are working people. The dismal shape of our economy is due in part to their declining purchasing power. That MUST change to save the economy, which in turn will save jobs AND businesses. -more-
Donald J. Combover tried to paint all undocumented immigrants in this country as violent criminals. He didn't call them "immigrants" although most of them have risked their lives coming to this country because the places from where they've come threatened them with starvation, violent death, or worse. He called them "illegal aliens," a term that denigrates the humanity of the millions of law-abiding, hard-working people who take the lowest paying jobs and try to get by, raising their children to have a better life. Lumping all undocumented immigrants as "aliens" and "criminals" is a big step toward fascism and despotism. We've seen this before in Hitler's Nazi Germany, in Mussolini's Fascist Italy, in Franco's Authoritarian Spain. Where does it lead? First the undocumented immigrants, then the liberals and political opposition, then racial minorities, then religious minorities, and then ... and then poor folk who get conscripted into fighting foreign wars for the "glory of the Homeland," dying and suffering disfiguring wounds for the satisfaction of the despot's pride. -more-
We continue to coddle brutal autocratic regimes around the world guilty of the most horrific human rights violations. Consider our latest transgression in Yemen, one of the most impoverished nations in the world. We have sold Saudi Arabia over $110 billion of weapons which it has used in carpet bombing neighboring Yemen. In a grotesque effort to inflict more pain and misery, the Saudis have enforced a blockade, cutting off supplies of food, fuel, and medicine. -more-
According to the Islamic scriptures, the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha commemorates the willingness of Ibrahim, or Abraham, to sacrifice his son, Ishmael as an act of supreme submission to the will of God.
This year Eid al-Adha – the feast of sacrifice, will be observed on 9/11.The precise day is determined by Muslims around the world by observing the phases of the moon. The strange coincidence has invoked fears that Americans may mistake the Eid festivities as rejoicing to the tragedy of 9/11. Muslims around the country have experienced serious hate crimes fueled by incendiary comments by our high-profile politicians. This also comes on the heels of the killing of an imam and his assistant in Queens last month. Imams around the country have reached out to law enforcement agencies requesting extra security and vigilance. Many imams have decided to hold Eid festivities indoors in contrast to the customary tradition of holding the celebrations in public parks. However, Shamsi Ali, the imam of Jamaica Muslim Center in Queens still plans to host his prayer service outdoors which is expected to attract 20,000 people. As a gesture of inclusiveness he plans to invite non-Muslims to the service. -more-
Georgetown University is doing the right thing by apologizing for its past support of slavery. There are other schools, corporations, political parties, governments, and families that used to support slavery. When are they going to apologize? -more-
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! -more-
“What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
.Weed: a wild plant growing where it is not wanted and in competition with cultivated plants.”
“A weed is a plant considered undesirable in a particular situation, "a plant in the wrong place".
Last weekend I had two more lessons in how powerless the California Environmental Quality Act is to inform politically-based decisionmaking. One was at the Wellstone Democratic Club's endorsement meeting and the other was the Superior Court hearing on the EIR for 2211 Harold Way. -more-
One of the strangest aspects of the 2016 presidential campaign has been the mainstream media’s decision to spend equal time criticizing Trump and Clinton. This has created a false equivalence. Imagine a political contest between Godzilla (Trump) and Bambi (Clinton). Because of the equal time rule, the nightly news would report, “Godzilla destroys Los Angeles,” and then, “Bambi ravishes community garden.” -more-
As the dust begins to settle from the failed Turkish coup, there appear to be some winners and losers, although predicting things in the Middle East these days is a tricky business. What is clear is that several alignments have shifted, shifts that may have an impact on the two regional running sores: the civil wars in Syria and Yemen.
The most obvious winner to emerge from the abortive military putsch is Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his campaign to transform Turkey from a parliamentary democracy to a powerful, centralized executive with himself in charge. The most obvious losers are Erdogan’s internal opposition and the Kurds in Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran. -more-
On August 26, before the preseason football game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Green Bay Packers, backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand during the national anthem. He explained his action later saying he didn’t want to “show pride” in a country that “oppresses black people and people of color,” citing a number of shootings of black people by white police officers. Kaepernick is half black. In a classic case of shooting the messenger, rather than dealing with the issue of racism in America, Kaepernick is being lambasted for his protest. -more-
Remember please that this is an opinion column only, and I am not here to give expert advice.
FYI: Statins such as Lipitor to treat high cholesterol could be harmful to mental sharpness when taken over a period of months or years. Research ought to be done concerning the combination of statins with psychiatric medications, and it is possible that such research hasn't been done. -more-
Arts & Events
In a world facing global warming and worsening problems of urban transportation and affordable housing, are architects still relevant? The Berkeley City Club Conservancy is presenting an exciting lecture series featuring Bay Area design leaders whose work promotes sustainability, historic revitalization and urban planning. All are women in a field still dominated by men. All are leaders in their field. All have exciting and insightful stories to tell about how architects respond to today’s environmental and social challenges -more-