The Week



New: Tree cutting and poisoning by EBMUD

Wanda Warkentin
Wednesday September 14, 2016 - 12:42:00 PM

I recently read some articles about glyphosate use. One referred to New York City's liberal use on city parks and children's playgrounds!! Another referred to the spraying of all Northern California wildlands with unknown quantities of glyphosate, (ostensibly to eradicate native species!!!!!). Another referred to the takeover of our federal regulatory agencies by Monsanto and biotech industry. Another referred to the press aiding these practices by not reporting it. Any person involved in this practice needs to think hard about what you are engaging in. Some scientists (UC scientists?) are making a lot of money. Why are those who purport to be concerned about climate change and CO2 abundance the same people (i.e., Sierra Club and Norman la Force) who are advocating for tree cutting and spraying when it is common knowledge that large trees take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere? This story doesn't ring true and climate change activists, and protectors of our environment need to start routing out those who could only be engaging in some kind of purposeful (human population reduction?) poisoning of our land and waterways.

EBMUD is cutting down healthy trees, including Eucalyptus and Monterey Pine, and spreading pesticides on lands near public reservoirs that store our drinking water. they are accepting public comment about their master plan until the end of the business day September 16, 2016. Please submit comment to

To find out more about how to act on this issue go to Hills Conservation Network.


Berkeley shooting this morning

Bay City News
Wednesday September 14, 2016 - 12:47:00 PM

One man opened fire on another this morning in the southern part of Berkeley, according to police. -more-

New: Lessig and Olson debate Berkeley's cellphone law in federal court

Julia Cheever (BCN)
Tuesday September 13, 2016 - 10:22:00 PM

Judges on a federal appeals court panel in San Francisco today questioned two prominent lawyers about whether a Berkeley cellphone warning law is unfairly alarming.

The 2015 Berkeley law, called the "right to know" ordinance, requires retailers to warn cellphone customers that wearing their device next to the body could result in exposure to radiofrequency radiation exceeding federal guidelines.

An industry group represented by Washington, D.C., attorney Theodore Olson claims the warning is misleading and violates the free speech rights of retailers by forcing them to provide a message they don't agree with.

Berkeley, represented by Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig, contends the message is factually accurate and gives consumers information they need to make a choice about how to use their cellphones. -more-

East Bay earthquake reported this morning

Allison Levitsky (BCN)
Tuesday September 13, 2016 - 10:19:00 AM

A magnitude-3.5 earthquake struck near Piedmont this morning, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. -more-

Three sexual assaults reported in Berkeley at Greek Theater concert

Allison Levitsky (BCN)
Tuesday September 13, 2016 - 10:02:00 AM

Three female victims reported being sexually assaulted while attending a concert at the Greek Theater on the University of California at Berkeley campus on Saturday night, university police said Monday. -more-

New: Victim of robbery near Berkeley's I-House knocked out

Scott Morris (BCN)
Monday September 12, 2016 - 03:53:00 PM

University of California police are looking for two suspects who knocked a victim unconscious and stole his briefcase early this morning near UC Berkeley's International House. -more-

League Candidate Forums Begin

Toni Mester
Friday September 09, 2016 - 01:30:00 PM

Meet the Candidates forums begin on Monday September 12 from 7-9 pm at the Berkeley Community Media Studio, 2239 Martin Luther King Way near Allston Way. Sponsored by the local chapter of the League of Women Voters, these free and informative panels are open to the public, but because of the limited space in the studio, attendees are asked to get their tickets through Eventbrite.

At the Eventbrite website, register if you don’t already have an account, which will allow you to print up tickets to all the forums you wish to attend. If the website shows that tickets are available, the League encourages people to just show up. The forums held at the studio will be videotaped and broadcast on cable channel 28. At this time, we don’t know if the forums will be simulcast live, but on the day of the each forum at the BCM studio, you can check the Channel 28 daily schedule. -more-

Press Release: Bernie Sanders endorses Jesse Arreguin for Mayor of Berkeley

From Noah Finneburgh
Thursday September 08, 2016 - 10:20:00 AM

Senator Only Endorsing 100 Local Candidates Throughout the Country

Today, in a remarkable development that is sure to shake up the Berkeley mayoral race, United States Senator and former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders announced his endorsement of Jesse Arreguin for Mayor. -more-

Palo Alto and the tech shop of horrors

Zelda Bronstein
Saturday September 03, 2016 - 11:04:00 AM

Legislature passes contractor oversight responding to Berkeley balcony collapse

Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Friday September 02, 2016 - 02:32:00 PM

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-



Cutting down the East Bay eucalyptus forests:who speaks for the trees?

Becky O'Malley
Friday September 09, 2016 - 02:14:00 PM

There is always a well-known solution to every human problem — neat, plausible, and wrong.

— H.L. Mencken

The NextDoor network has hosted a long and very valuable discussion of a proposal to cut down a substantial percentage of the eucalyptus trees in the East Bay hills, unfortunately not accessible unless you’re a member. Close to a hundred posts on the site have highlighted criticisms of the rationale behind the plan, as well as attracting those who'd like to get rid of the trees. -more-

Public Comment

New: Critical? Mass?

John Herbert
Friday September 09, 2016 - 01:12:00 PM

I just witnessed, tonight, what appears to be a "socially conscious" event of something called a Critical Mass Bike Ride on Gilman Street Berkeley. Could someone PLEASE explain, to me, the logic of people attempting to deliberately cause deadly accidents on the road ways? Out of the hundreds of bicyclists, at least 25 percent of these superior minded individuals swerved deliberately into on-coming traffic. -more-

Keystone Kops Redux: Why they want you to vote no on those minimum wage iniatives: an attempt to explain

Friday September 09, 2016 - 02:01:00 PM

Sometimes the difference between incompetence and conspiracy is a timeline and just one last puzzle piece. I can explain why the City Council meeting on 8/11 was aborted, and why Capitelli and Droste were most likely asked to make sure that that meeting didn't happen. It all starts with the fact that the City of Berkeley hates ballot initiatives and will go to any length to keep them from the voters. This is because ballot initiatives actually become law, while a City Council generated Ordinance can be adopted, changed, or eliminated with a simple majority at a hastily called special meeting, even when they are officially "closed for business" (I'm sure that even Saturdays, Sundays and Monday holidays are not safe from such a special request). Heck, unless a proposed Ordinance held some meaning for John Caner and the DBA, the rest of us would probably never hear about it. -more-

NBC’s Trump-Clinton Forum: Some Questions That Were Not Asked

Gar Smith
Friday September 09, 2016 - 01:33:00 PM

On September 7, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump appeared on the same stage in a broadcast NBC dubbed the "Commander-in-Chief Forum," an event devoted to "national security, military affairs and veterans issues."

For an event that marked the beginning of one of the most critical presidential debates in US history, NBC produced a disturbing preamble -- two back-to-back interviews conducted on a mothballed aircraft carrier. Instead of focusing on the full range of domestic issues that are roiling the electorate -- lack of good jobs, declining wages, rising housing costs, failing schools, crumbling infrastructure, mass incarceration, and the tandem proliferations of gun possession and police violence -- the theme selected by the National Broadcasting Corporation was focused on a narrower target: preparing for and fighting wars.

Under NBC's marching orders, the two candidates vied for the allegiance of "an audience consisting mainly of military veterans and active service members."

The evening was sponsored by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, an organization that has received a respectable 86% Charity Navigator rating and whose mission is to "connect, unite and empower post-9/11 veterans."

Agnos's Shelter Ship

Carol Denney
Friday September 09, 2016 - 02:11:00 PM

Former Mayor Art Agnos's idea of putting hundreds of people on a ship offshore is overdue. Just make sure the people on board are the failed leadership robbing poor people of tents and blankets while the city builds luxury hotels and condos. -more-

My Problem With Exxon Mobile

Jack Bragen
Friday September 09, 2016 - 01:58:00 PM

In television ads, oil and energy companies are beginning to promote the idea of capturing greenhouse gases as opposed to abandoning use of fossil fuels. I saw an article on the Greenpeace website opposed to this, stating that the idea is essentially bogus and that we need to simply switch to renewable energy. -more-

Call the Shifty Huckster to Account

Bruce Joffe
Friday September 09, 2016 - 03:28:00 PM

The Wannabe Bully-in-Chief said "we should take Iraq's oil" during the Commander-In-Chief Forum. It's a terrible, dangerous, and immoral idea. It says our nation should be a thief. How would we look to the entire Muslim world? It's is a call for enmity and disaster. And the logistic difficulty and cost, in human life and treasure, of such a nasty endeavor reveals the Nasty Narcissist's profound ignorance. The Combover Candidate's statement was a much more serious disqualification than his stated admiration for Vladimir Putin. He is making us out to be a nation of thieves. Hillary, and the legitimate news media, must call the Shifty Huckster to account for his thoughtless bluster. -more-

Use of publicly­ owned land by car dealerships in the C-­SA District:
An Open Letter to Berkeley City Officials

69 South Berkeley Residents
Friday September 02, 2016 - 05:12:00 PM
Photo  1, from January 2015, shows the parking bay in front of 2700 Shattuck, which is regularly filled with display vehicles.

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-

Why the PSR/Mather Holy Hill project is bad for Berkeley

Daniella Thompson
Friday September 02, 2016 - 10:07:00 AM
Pacific School of Religion Campus

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-

Politicians deliver talk, not action

Romila Khanna
Friday September 02, 2016 - 10:30:00 AM

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 minimum wage victory -- a path to better times

Harry Brill
Friday September 02, 2016 - 10:07:00 AM

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-

Is this how democracy ends?

Bruce Joffe
Friday September 02, 2016 - 09:53:00 AM

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-

Stop Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia

Jagjit Singh
Friday September 02, 2016 - 10:36:00 AM

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-

September 11

Tejinder Uberoi
Friday September 02, 2016 - 10:24:00 AM

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-

Apologies in Order

Chuck Mann, Greensboro, NC
Saturday September 03, 2016 - 01:01:00 PM

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-

September Pepper Spray Times

By Grace Underpressure
Friday September 02, 2016 - 01:06:00 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! -more-


THE PUBLIC EYE:Trump’s Traps

Bob Burnett
Friday September 09, 2016 - 01:27:00 PM

As the 2016 presidential election enters its final phase, Hillary Clinton has a slight lead over Donald Trump. While it’s still possible for Trump to win, this is unlikely to happen because of four traps he has set for himself. -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: New Restrictions, New Perils

Jack Bragen
Friday September 09, 2016 - 01:58:00 PM

Some of the fiascos and foibles of mentally ill people, that twenty or thirty years ago wouldn't have many repercussions, in today's climate we could no longer produce without serious consequences. Society has become more tightly restricted concerning what is acceptable and what isn't. -more-

THE PUBLIC EYE: False Equivalence: Trump=Clinton, Godzilla=Bambi

Bob Burnett
Friday September 02, 2016 - 09:51:00 AM

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-

DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE: Turkey’s Coup: Winners & Losers

Conn Hallinan
Friday September 02, 2016 - 10:15:00 AM

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-

ECLECTIC RANT: Kudos to Colin Kaepernick

Ralph E. Stone
Friday September 02, 2016 - 10:35:00 AM

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-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Cholesterol Meds in Combination with Psychiatric Medications; Is There a Risk?

Jack Bragen
Friday September 02, 2016 - 10:12:00 AM

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

New: ANDREA CHÉNIER: A 1st Rate Cast in a 3rd Rate Opera

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Saturday September 10, 2016 - 10:59:00 AM

Umberto Giordano’s Andrea Chénier premiered at Milan’s Teatro alla Scala on March 28, 1896 and enjoyed a smashing popular success. Ever since, however, Andrea Chénier has received far more critical barbs than accolades. Giordano’s music has been skewered as “a score of the third class – music of shreds and patches, bombastic and crude, fueled by hot air.” I would have to agree with this evaluation. Nonetheless, Andrea Chénier does contain a few lovely musical numbers, and these were splendidly sung by San Francisco Opera’s Opening Night cast. All told, this Andre Chénier offered a first rate cast in a third rate opera. -more-

Around & About Theater: Theater Explorations Classes

Ken Bullock
Friday September 09, 2016 - 01:31:00 PM

Marion Fay's excellent, highly participatory Theater Explorations classes for theatergoers & theater lovers is about to start for the Fall. Two sections: Mondays & Thursdays, both 1-3 p. m., starting this coming week--Monday the 12th, Thursday the 15th--at Northbrae Community Church, 941 The Alameda (just south of Solano, the end of the shopping district & the tunnel). -more-

San Francisco Symphony’s Opening Night Gala

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Friday September 09, 2016 - 02:06:00 PM

Opening Night Galas are not my thing. I find something cloyingly self-congratulatory about these events, a trait that was markedly evident on Wednesday, September 7, in Michael Tilson Thomas’s opening remarks in which he shamelessly fished for applause from the opening night audience, which predictably gave him what he so gracelessly asked for. Then MTT led the orchestra in The Star-Spangled Banner.” Do we really need to hear this patriotic pap before every single sports event and opening night musical event, as if we needed to wrap ourselves in the American flag in order to give ourselves a veneer of self-righteousness? I found myself longing for a Colin Kapernick to refuse to stand for the National Anthem in protest against all that is wrong and needing reform in our nation.

As for the Opening Night musical program, the first half was wonderful. The second half was dreadful, but we’ll deal with that later. To open the concert, MTT conducted Gioachino Rossini’s overture to Guillaume Tell/William Tell. This, of course, is a well-worn chestnut, familiar to everyone from commercials using this overture’s famous last section. However, few people are familiar with this overture’s soft, solemn opening music for five solo cellos, accompanied very discreetly by the basses and contrabasses. Nor are they familiar with the pastoral music that follows, with a poignant melody played on English horn while a flute solo soars ravishingly above. In this music, Principal Horn player Robert Ward and Principal Flutist Tim Day performed admirably. Following the last dying note of the English horn, trumpets enter with a fanfare that precedes the well-known final section’s impetuous and all-too rhythmically repetitive theme. Despite the rather vulgar insistence of the bass drum, this final section brings the William Tell Overture to a resounding and ultimately satisfying climax. -more-

Press Release: Women Speak: Four Architects on Design and Urbanism

Tuesday September 06, 2016 - 10:24:00 AM

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-