The Week

This Berkeley brown shingle is slated for removal for a new construction project.
Bill Woodcock
This Berkeley brown shingle is slated for removal for a new construction project.



Berkeley Police Department
Thursday September 29, 2016 - 01:13:00 PM

Today’s scheduled Safer Streets March has been cancelled by its organizer, who is guiding concerned community members to consider attending another community event, entitled “Power of Faith 2016 – Together We Serve”, which will be held at the Ed Roberts Campus from 4 PM -7 PM. The march had been scheduled to begin tonight at 5:00pm from the parking lot of the Sweet Adeline Bakeshop. -more-

South Berkeley Families March Against Violence Thursday at 5 PM

Heather Zadig (mother and resident of South Berkeley
Wednesday September 28, 2016 - 03:45:00 PM

I'm reaching out to announce the above Family March for Safe Streets that some mothers and I have planned for tomorrow evening:

I'd love if you (and everyone you know!) would join local family residents tomorrow (Thursday the 29th) at 5:00PM in front of Sweet Adeline Bakeshop for a community march in solidarity against the recent violence in our neighborhood. The march is not affiliated with any organization, it is just mothers who've come together and want to demonstrate a positive community tone in defiance of and in contrast to the recent violence (we've created a Facebook Group called Berkeley Citizens & Families for Safe Streets for updates). The chief of Berkeley PD will be marching with us in solidarity, along with several officers and city council members and candidates. -more-

Lots of research supporting removing excess traffic signs

Chris Gilbert
Wednesday September 28, 2016 - 01:58:00 PM

 Re: “The city of Berkeley plans to remove a hundred or more stop signs as a "traffic calming" measure” 
There’s been lots of research about the disadvantages of too many stop and other traffic signs. The Netherlands and other countries have been at the forefront of getting rid of “excessive” signs. What researchers have found is that “[d]rivers will force the accelerator down ruthlessly only in situations where everything has been fully regulated. Where the situation is unclear, they're forced to drive more carefully and cautiously.”(1) ‘"When you don't exactly know who has right of way, you tend to seek eye contact with other road users,'' he said. ''You automatically reduce your speed, you have contact with other people and you take greater care."’ (2) -more-

Stop sign removal should be based on auto traffic

David Friedman
Wednesday September 28, 2016 - 01:55:00 PM

This is a response to the 9/27 article about city plans to remove stop signs, apparently to spare bicyclists the inconvenience of stopping. -more-

Stop sign removal in Berkeley: another view

Charles Siegel
Wednesday September 28, 2016 - 01:52:00 PM

Steve Finacom is much too alarmed about the draft Bike Plan’s proposal to remove stop signs. The response of transportation manager Farid Javandel makes a lot of sense to me. Let’s look at it again: -more-

New: Man stabbed at Berkeley bus stop

Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Wednesday September 28, 2016 - 12:44:00 PM

A man suffered lacerations to his forehead and right arm when another man stabbed him for unknown reasons at a bus stop in West Berkeley on Monday night, police said.

The victim and his girlfriend were sitting at a bus stop at the northeast corner of San Pablo and Ashby avenues at about 9 p.m. Monday when the suspect unexpectedly attacked him with a knife by slashing him across his forehead then striking his arm, according to police. -more-

Updated: The city of Berkeley plans to remove a hundred or more stop signs as a "traffic calming" measure

Steven Finacom
Tuesday September 27, 2016 - 09:41:00 AM

No, that headline is not an April Fool’s joke or something from the “Onion” satirical paper.

It’s the consequence of a serious proposal on the verge of being adopted by the City of Berkeley that may very well mean large numbers of stop signs will disappear throughout Berkeley in coming years.

That’s a real possibility if the current draft “Berkeley Bike Plan” isn’t changed in the next few months.

The bicycle plan proposes removing at least one hundred and possibly more existing stop signs in Berkeley. At least fifty-two intersections are specified for this “treatment”. You can see them as red “x” marks on a map, here:

If you live on or near more than a dozen key streets, there’s quite likely stop sign removal proposed near you. Virginia, Hearst, Addison, California, Channing, Ninth, Mabel, King, Hillegass, Fulton, Russell and Woolsey are the streets that would be most altered. (At the end of this article there’s a list of the intersections).

Some of the proposed removals are absolutely non-sensical. -more-

Rent control issues and platforms in Berkeley

Thomas Lord
Tuesday September 27, 2016 - 11:56:00 AM

​ Big news in Berkeley: Bernie endorsed the so-called CALI slate for rent board. "CALI" is an acronym standing for Christina Murphy, Alejandro Soto-Vigil, Leah Simon-Weisberg and Igor Tregub.

We know that Alejandro was active in Bernie's campaign -- is this endorsement just a quid pro quo? Or is there substance to it?

What did Bernie endorse? What platform does this rent board slate hold? What can landlords, tenants, and others expect?

To find out, I tried to figure out what this slate stands for. -more-

New: THE PUBLIC EYE: Ten Thoughts About the Presidential Debate

Bob Burnett
Tuesday September 27, 2016 - 10:32:00 AM

Whew! Even though I expected Hillary Clinton to win the first presidential debate with Donald Trump, watching it was a nerve-wracking experience. Here are my first thoughts about the debate:

1.Hillary had the best demeanor. In general, Clinton came across as composed and cheerful. Trump came across as angry and, occasionally, disdainful.

2.Trump interrupted Clinton either by talking over her or by making snide comments such as, "that's called business,by the way" -- when she noted that Trump "was one of the people who rooted for the housing crisis."

3.Although the Trump campaign has made a lot of fuss about Clinton's supposed "stamina" problem, it was Trump who wilted in the last half of the debate. -more-

New: Is this the Berkeley we want? (Public Comment)

Charlene Woodcock
Sunday September 25, 2016 - 10:45:00 PM

These Berkeley brown shingles are victims of the Downtown Plan pushed on us by Tom Bates and Laurie Capitelli, both of them funded by outside developers and real estate investors, and the Bates-Capitelli majority on the city council.

Our graceful, beautiful older buildings are being displaced by monstrous, utilitarian structures, such as the university is putting up on the right, at Berkeley Way and Shattuck. The whole block will be made lifeless by an out-of-scale institutional building (though earlier generations of university leaders succeeded in building beautiful buildings on our UC Berkeley campus). And of course another outrage is 2211 Harold Way, both out-of-scale and inappropriate in our historic downtown and irretrievably ugly as well. No new buildings should go up in Berkeley unless they actually meet rigorous energy efficiency and aesthetic standards.

This election will decide the future of our city. I hope people will realize that. -more-

Two Berkeley shooting victims expected to survive

Keith Burbank (BCN)
Sunday September 25, 2016 - 11:09:00 PM

Police said two people were shot tonight in Berkeley.

The shooting was first reported at 8:23 p.m. at King Street and Alcatraz Avenue, police spokeswoman Lt. Alyson Hart said.

The victims were a man and a woman who are expected to survive.

No arrests have been made, Hart said. -more-

Flash: Berkeley Police investigate shooting report at King and Alcatraz

Berkeley Police Department
Sunday September 25, 2016 - 08:42:00 PM

Berkeley Police Department is currently involved in a police activity near King St/Alcatraz Ave. Please avoid this area for the next hour. Police Officers are investigating reports of a shooting. -more-

Open Letter to U.C. Berkeley Professor Robert Reich

Charlene Woodcock
Saturday September 24, 2016 - 08:53:00 PM

Your endorsement of Laurie Capitelli for Berkeley mayor is a betrayal of progressive principles. This man represents a very scary future for Berkeley should he be elected—as it is, the Bates machine and city council majority including Capitelli have invited developers to come to Berkeley to make profits, not to provide the low and middle income and student housing we so desperately need. They support the demolition of our greatly loved and very successful Shattuck Cinemas, a part of the landmarked Shattuck Hotel block, and the disruption of our city center for years, so that an LA developer can profit from more market rate housing and further the gentrification and loss of diversity our city is already suffering. -more-

Southwest Berkeley shootings may be related, police say

Keith Burbank (BCN)
Friday September 23, 2016 - 11:11:00 PM

Berkeley police said they have increased patrols and investigations this week near Sacramento and Ashby streets in response to a number of recent shootings in the area.

One took place at about 5:40 p.m. Wednesday, injuring a 16-year-old boy who lives outside the city.

A man who was shot and killed Thursday evening in Berkeley has been identified by police as 19-year-old Berkeley resident Ignacio Francis Jr. Other shootings have injured other people, according to police.

The shootings appear to involve two groups shooting at each other. Police did not name the groups. -more-

Berkeleyan on The Moth Radio Hour this weekend

Becky O'Malley
Friday September 23, 2016 - 02:05:00 PM

A Berkeley resident, Tony Cyprien, has scored a spot on public radio’s popular story-telling show “The Moth Radio Hour”.

Tony joined his wife in Berkeley about 5 years ago, finally paroled after spending the years between ages 17 and 43 in prison for a gang-related conviction which carried a sentence of 26 years to life.

His personal story of his incarceration and salvation, as he recounts it, will be included in the latest Moth episode, "GrandSLAMS Coast to Coast," which is going out to public radio stations across the United States and will air according to local schedules through next Monday. It will be on KQED-FM on Saturday night at 10, and on KALW-FM on Sunday at 6pm.

The full episode which contains his story, which starts about 30 minutes from the beginning, can be heard online here.

Since Tony came home, he’s been earning a living with the welding trade he learned while he was incarcerated, fabricating and assembling custom metal products. But he’s discovered that his real love, and eventual career goal, is performing. -more-



As corporate transgressions go, Citizens United is chump change

Becky O'Malley
Friday September 23, 2016 - 03:26:00 PM

The recent brouhaha over the Wells Fargo corporation’s sleazy behavior, with hundreds of petty and major executives participating in opening phony accounts for unsuspecting customers and reaping hundreds of millions of dollars in fees has been covered in the local media as an OhMyGod moment. Well, not to put too fine a point on it, not to toot our own horn too loudly, we told you they were crooks, way back in 2005.

That’s when our homeless and disabled friend Betty Bunton died after an asthma attack, and also after her meager SSI check was shamelessly stolen through a type of Wells Fargo account (they call them “products”) which provided her with an ATM card which encouraged her to run up astronomical fees at interest rates up to 90%, which not surprisingly left her pennyless. -more-

The Editor's Back Fence

Public Comment

Why has Robert Reich endorsed a conservative for Mayor of Berkeley?

Harry Brill
Friday September 23, 2016 - 12:28:00 PM

In Berkeley nine candidates are running for mayor to replace Tom Bates, who is retiring. The two top contenders, who are on the Berkeley City Council, are politically worlds apart. Laurie Capitelli tilts in a conservative direction, and Jesse Arreguin is among the most progressive council members. Because Capitelli is an ardent supporter of development projects, he receives substantial contributions from real estate interests. In fact, his habit of favoring developers and landlords as well explains why he raises more money than any other member of the Council. Also, despite Capitelli's recent support for a minimum wage law,-- elections are around the corner -- he has for a long while obstructed efforts to increase the minimum wage.

Although Jesse Arreguin is not opposed to development, he is infinitely more sensitive to the impact of development on small business and residents. Particularly important, Arreguin strongly supports labor legislation that benefits working people. Unlike Capitelli, he has never wavered on minimum wage and any other labor issues. It is no surprise, then, that among his significant endorsers are Bernie Sanders and the Alameda Labor Council, AFL-CIO.

Very surprising to progressive activists, however, is that among Capitelli's endorsers is Robert Reich. Reich is among the nation's most progressive intellectuals. He has no problem criticizing big business, and exposing how they have stacked the deck. Clearly, Reich is many light years away from the politics of Capitelli and also from his close ally, Tom Bates, who Reich had said is "the best mayor in the country".

Just as startling is Reich's comment about Capitelli: "Laurie is a serious progressive, one that doesn't just talk about progressive values but who demonstrates them." The Progressive Student Association, which is based on the UC Berkeley campus, disagrees with Reich's endorsement, because Capitelli has "repeatedly voted to reduce funding for affordable housing and has opposed campaign finance reform". -more-

Israel’s Shift to the right

Jagjit Singh
Friday September 23, 2016 - 03:43:00 PM

Israel has made a dramatic shift to the right after the recent elections. -more-

Massive Bank Fraud – again!

Tejinder Uberoi
Friday September 16, 2016 - 03:47:00 PM

Responding to intense high pressure tactics to meet unreasonable targets, bank officials illegally transferred funds from existing customers’ accounts to open new fraudulent accounts. When the seedy activities were finally exposed, Wells Fargo agreed to pay restitution to customers who were charged for these sham accounts. -more-

City of Berkeley “entrapping” drivers with poorly designed and placed street sweeping signs?

Chris Gilbet
Friday September 23, 2016 - 04:07:00 PM

Who hasn’t seen hand-painted signs haphazardly attached to trees in various neighborhoods warning unsuspecting drivers to be careful: today is street sweeping day. Everyone seems to accept that this is a proper and neighborly use of residents’ time. But it’s only because of poor design that this is necessary. Whether it’s intentional – to drive up city revenues through issuing as many tickets as possible, or to cut costs by not installing enough, or big enough, signs – or just negligence through incompetent design, citizens should not have to take over a job that the city is charged with doing. -more-


What Happened to Hillary’s Lead?

Bob Burnett
Friday September 23, 2016 - 12:17:00 PM

After the Democratic convention, many Democrats breathed a sigh of relief because it appeared that Hillary Clinton had an "insurmountable" 8-point lead over Donald Trump. Two months later, that lead is almost gone and Dems are worried. What happened?

The latest Huffington Post Poll of Polls shows Clinton with a 4.0 percentage point lead over Trump. The latest Five Thirty Eight summary shows Clinton with a projected 60.5 percent chance of winning, a 2.3 percentage point victory, and 288 electoral votes. Over time, Trump's ceiling has stayed about the same, 42 percent of the likely vote; however, Hilary's numbers have gone up and down -- sometimes getting as high as 49 percent and as low as 42 percent. -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: The Inexactitude of Prescribing Medication

Jack Bragen
Friday September 23, 2016 - 12:34:00 PM

If you are mentally ill and seeing a psychiatrist for medication, the psychiatrist should be evaluating the medication he or she is prescribing. A psychiatrist will try to find out if the dosage(s) are appropriate, will check to make sure that you aren't having an adverse reaction to the meds, and that you are "responding" well to the medication(s). -more-

ECLECTIC RANT: Kaepernick and police unions poles apart on racism

Ralph E. Stone
Friday September 23, 2016 - 12:29:00 PM

Everyone now knows that San Francisco 49ers quarterback took a knee instead of standing during the national anthem before a game was played as a protest against racism in America and the police killings of blacks. -more-

Arts & Events


Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Monday September 26, 2016 - 10:15:00 AM

Alameda’s Island City Opera combined forces with Opera Academy of California to produce a single performance on Sunday September 25 at Alameda’s Elks Lodge of Francis Poulenc’s short operatic monologue La Dame de Monte Carlo and Maurice Ravel’s one-act opera L’Heure Espagnole. This was a felicitous pairing; and although both works were performed with only a piano as accompaniment for the singers, nonetheless, the excellence of the singers brought out all the nuances of these compositions sung in French. Opera Academy of California’s Artistic Director Yefim Maizel was responsible for the staging of both works on this program. -more-

World Premiere of DREAM OF THE RED CHAMBER at San Francisco Opera

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Friday September 23, 2016 - 12:37:00 PM

Among former General Director David Gockley’s many accomplishments, he will probably be best remembered, not without reason, for the many new operas he commissioned. Though their quality varied, as one might expect, Gockley’s commissions exemplified his bold commitment to opera as a living, vibrant art form that had an important place in our contemporary musical world. Dream of the Red Chamber, by Chinese-American composer Bright Sheng, which just received its world premiere at SF Opera, was only the last of Gockley’s commissions as SF Opera’s General Director. But it no doubt will gain a place in the 21st century operatic world. -more-

Movies in the Margin

By Gar Smith
Friday September 23, 2016 - 12:40:00 PM

Not every film makes it to the Big Screen. Not every film makes it into a local movie house. It takes a lot of promotional money to secure a spot on a commercial screen. Exhibitors must pay to promote the films with print ads. Without the promise of this publicity, theatre owners will not commit to showing a film. That is why, with hundreds of commercial screens in the Bay Area, the weekly viewing menu is dominated by fewer than 12 Big Studio films. -more-

Snowden: Whistles Are Blowing over Oliver Stone's Newest Film

Review by Gar Smith
Friday September 23, 2016 - 12:49:00 PM

I just saw Oliver Stone's Snowden, a film that Los Angeles Times movie critic Kenneth Turan characterized as an "unashamed mythologizing of Edward Snowden." NPR's David Edelstein, seeming to begrudge director Stone's history as a "gonzo conspiracy theorist," offered diminished praise, calling the film a "textbook political conversion narrative." Time magazine dismissed Snowden as "lifeless," which, I assume, refers to the fact that the film contains no car chases, fistfights, or bloody shootouts.

No body count? How ho-hum. -more-