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 Staff, board members and young artists of Youth Spirit Artworks have chosen to create a new partnership with Street Spirit. Photo by YSA
Staff, board members and young artists of Youth Spirit Artworks have chosen to create a new partnership with Street Spirit. Photo by YSA


THE EDITOR’S BACK FENCE: Social Notes from All Over

Becky O'Malley
Tuesday October 11, 2016 - 04:55:00 PM

That was the title of my mother’s favorite part of the New Yorker, alas now just about abandoned. I’ve been hoping to revive it—I’ve always thought the Planet should have a gossip column, and I guess if I want one I’ll just have to do it myself.

First item: In the ‘80s or ‘90s, could anyone have imagined that a fundraiser for a candidate for the Mayor of Berkeley would be co-hosted in the 21st Century by Mayor Gus Newport and Mayor Shirley Dean?

Next thing you know, the lion will be lying down with the lamb. 

For all you newcomers and youngsters, Gus was the Berkeley mayor from the Far Left, really from the institutional Far Left party, though in those days you Dared Not Speak Its Name. Shirley, who came later, represented the Militant Moderate Middle, as epitomized by the Berkeley Democratic Club, which was the reaction, if you will, to what was perceived by many as the Too Far Left, aka Berkeley Citizens' Action.  

But it’s happening, folks: old BCA and ex-BDC, joining hands to bring Danny Glover to town to support mayoral candidate Jesse Arreguin. Jesse is not beholden to any of their ideologies, he’s just a member of the current city council’s progressive faction, now in the minority.  

He has been endorsed by the Sierra Club, the Democratic Party, organized labor and Bernie Sanders, among others. Danny Glover was one of Bernie’s main men in the primaries, which is probably what brings him here. 

WHEN: Saturday, October 15, 2016 at 6:30pm - 8:30pm;  

WHERE:Le Bateau Ivre, 2629 Telegraph Ave. 

They’re asking for a $50 donation (it is a fundraiser, after all). 

For more information, write to jacquelyn@jesse.vote

• • • 

And then, for comic relief, another item which came in this afternoon as a press release [all spelling and punctuation sic] : 

Revival Bar + Kitchen is bringing you no cover charge Burlesque while you enjoy dinner and cocktails.  

Wednesday Oct 12th at 9:00 pm

Six of the areas top burlesque performers brought to you at no cover charge.
You can see live burlesques acts from the dining area or from the bar.
For October we will be celebrating Halloween (Of course)

The October line up will be hosted by Alexa VK with performances from:

Maggie Motorboat
Edie Eve
Gabriela Starchild
Hunny Bunnah of Hunny Bunny and Her Hot Toddies
May Yang
and a very special fire performance from Jain Dowe

Just what that chi-chi establishment on the corner of Shattuck and Addison in Berkeley’s fabled Arts District needs to perk it up, right? 



Protesters set up tent city on Adeline in Berkeley

Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Tuesday October 11, 2016 - 01:50:00 PM

A group of about 20 homeless people have set up a small tent city on a median in the middle of Adeline Street near the Berkeley Bowl grocery store to protest the way the city of Berkeley is allocating aid to people who live on the streets. 

Mike Zint of the advocacy group First They Came for the Homeless said he and other homeless people are upset with the services that are coordinated by the Berkeley Food & Housing Project, which is also known as The HUB. 

Zint said the center is disorganized, makes it too hard for people to get help and homeless people are being sent out of the area for housing. 

Zint said he and other people set up a protest camp outside the Berkeley Food & Housing Project's office at 1901 Fairview St. last week but the city raided the camp. Protesters set up a new camp on Sunday night on the median in the middle of Adeline Street between Ward and Stuart streets. 

The Berkeley Bowl and a Walgreen's store are about a block away to the south and a Sports Basement store is about a block away to the north. There are also several small businesses nearby, including a bakery and two Pilates and yoga clinics. 

Zint said protesters picked the site because it's near The HUB and the Ashby BART station. 

The protesters have set up a large sign that says, "Honk To Keep Affordable Housing in Berkeley" and Zint said they've been getting a lot of community support. 

Berkeley city officials haven't responded to requests for a comment on the homeless encampment. 

"They don't want the homeless to be in Berkeley," Zint said. "I'm seriously disabled and there are thousands like me." 

Zint said, "Tents are a step in the process of getting people off the streets because otherwise they'll be exposed to the elements and die." 

He said the next step would be to create "tiny homes" that would be like shacks, sheds or trailers and include a kitchen and a common area. 

Zint said he wants to keep the protest small for now but it would be possible to expand tents to three adjacent medians in the middle of Adeline Street so that up to 1,000 homeless people could be accommodated. 

He said the protesters are "mobile" and if the city moves them out of the Adeline Street site, they have "a target list" and will move on to Mayor Tom Bates' home and then to the homes of City Council members. 

"We'll be proper but we'll be annoying," Zint said. 

He said the homeless camp is drug- and alcohol-free and people at the camp provide their own security to keep everyone safe. 

"We won't tolerate criminal activity," he said.

THE PUBLIC EYE: The 2nd Debate: Hillary Stares Down A Bully

Bob Burnett
Tuesday October 11, 2016 - 12:48:00 PM

It was the presidential debate I expected but hoped wouldn't happen. In the October 9th St. Louis debate, Donald Trump was vicious. He threw the proverbial kitchen sink at Hillary Clinton; hurling insult after insult, lie after lie. But Clinton held her ground, managed to look and act presidential, and emerged victorious. 

A CNN poll found that 57 percent thought Clinton won, compared with 34 percent who thought Trump won. A similar YouGov found a smaller margin with 47 percent Clinton and 42 percent Trump. 

Five things stood out in the debate: First, as in the initial presidential debate, Trump lost the battle of optics. While Clinton seemed relaxed and focused, Trump seemed agitated and angry. When Clinton spoke, Trump prowled around the stage, sometimes looming behind her. At one point, Trump appeared so menacing that my wife gasped, "He's going after her!" 

Trump's appearance came on the heels of the release of his 2005 groping tape. This did not help his image with female voters. And this image was not improved by Trump's St. Louis debate performance where he came off as a stalker. 

Second, more than the first debate, this debate was tailored to appeal to Trump's base, particularly to that part that reads the far-right Breitbart News -- where today's Trump ad was, "It's us against the world!") It's difficult to imagine that Trump's performance appealed to truly Independent voters or that it changed the minds of those Republican women who had decided to vote for Clinton  

Third, Trump held nothing back. In an exchange about Clinton's handling of State Department emails, Trump promised that if elected President he would appoint a special prosecutor to reinvestigate this matter. Clinton responded, "It’s just awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law in our country." Trump snapped, "Because you'd be in jail." 

As expected, Trump brought up Bill Clinton's infidelities -- he prefaced the debate with a Facebook press conference featuring several of the Clinton accusers. Trump refused to apologize for the just-released 2005 groping tape: "That was locker room talk." And attempted to switch the subject to the Clinton's, "I will tell you that when Hillary brings up a point like that and she talks about words that I said 11 years ago, I think it’s disgraceful, and I think she should be ashamed of herself." Considering the circumstances, Hillary stayed remarkably calm, "So much of what [Donald] just said is not right, but he gets to run his campaign any way he chooses... I am reminded of what my friend, Michelle Obama, advised us all: When they go low, you go high." 

That's the theme Hillary tried to adhere to during the rest of the debate: when Trump went low, she went high. 

Hillary noted that Trump still has not apologized to the Gold-Star family of Captain Humayun Khan, a Muslim, who was killed in Iraq. Trump responded, "if I were president at that time, he would be alive today, because unlike her, who voted for the war without knowing what she was doing, I would not have had our people in Iraq." Even for Trump, this was remarkably insensitive. (There is substantial evidence that, before it started, Trump was not opposed to the Iraq War.) 

Fourth, Clinton made a strategic choice to not go after each Trump lie -- she tried to "go high." This often meant that a barrage of Trump lies went unanswered; Hillary responded with a general, "that's not true." For example, after a long riff on taxes, where Trump repeated the falsehood, "our taxes are.., about the highest in the world," Clinton responded: "Well, everything you’ve heard just now from Donald is not true. I’m sorry I have to keep saying this, but he lives in an alternative reality." 

Therefore there will be two debates. The first occurred on the evening of October 9th and the second will occur over the next few days when fact-checkers will pour over the debate transcript and tell us how truthful the candidates were.  

Initial findings from the non-partisan website, Politifact indicates that more than two dozen Trump assertions were inaccurate. 

Fifth, scattered throughout the verbal battlefield were intriguing policy differences. One was what to do about the humanitarian crisis in Aleppo, Syria. Clinton said, "I advocate today a no-fly zone and safe zones." 

At first, Trump avoided the question turning instead to supposed Clinton foreign policy miscues. After two minutes, the moderator, Martha Raddatz, had to remind Trump of the original question. Trump said he disagreed with his running-mate, Mike Pence, who suggested if the situation deteriorates, "the [US ]should be prepared to use military force to strike the military targets of the Assad regime." Raddatz asked, "What do you think will happen if Aleppo falls?" Trump replied, "I think that it basically has fallen. OK?" 

In other words, Clinton wants to do something to get civilians out of Aleppo. Trump has given up on them and wants the US to partner with Russia and the Assad regime. 

Summary: Before the debate, Trump's campaign was in free fall and many Republican politicians were abandoning him. The debate results ensured that Trump will limp on to the November 8th election. Trump did what he had to to energize his base. But he didn't add any new voters and at his current level of support -- about 40 percent -- he can't win. 

This wasn't the knockout performance that many of us hoped Clinton would provide. Nonetheless, it was a win.

Planet endorsements for south and west Berkeley

Phil Allen, West Berkeley
Tuesday October 11, 2016 - 01:46:00 PM

About the Planet's endorsement of Nanci for the District 2 council seat...

It was published after the candidates' sell-gathering at the lovely South Berkeley Community Church on Fairview on the evening of October 5, the one many attended.

If I had known nothing about either D-2 candidate who showed, I'd say that the first to speak--Cheryl Davila--made specific points from a focused platform. She got deserved applause--several times.

The second--Nanci Armstrong-Temple--impressed me as a civic figure in the making, a grande presence, almost Earth-motherly. Then she opened her mouth and nothing came out. Hesitation and gulps of silence at this stage of her campaign are not encouraging. And why she's never mentioned the Thomas Paine award presented her last March, I'll never know. She did receive applause, and should. The two progressives attempting to unhorse the incumbent have run mutually non-hostile campaigns for a key seat, without one being overtly hounded as a spoiler.  


Frankly, aside from all other races, and recalling the change that came over Warren Widener once he became mayor in '71, I'm holding my breath over Ben in D-3, who's noted he already has a collegial majority for his housing priorities on the Council. Could we see a conceivable 7-2 split on painful matters? 

Last, I've finally figured out who Capitelli reminds me of: Larry David.

October 14, 1066

Phil Allen
Tuesday October 11, 2016 - 12:36:00 PM

We are weeks away from a fateful day for both city and country. It could presage catastrophe. Healing could take generations, if there is time this time.

As we prepare, let us reflect upon another such moment, the one date every English-speaking schoolboy was once expected to know. On Friday, October 14, evening newscasts may conclude with a brief commemoration of that heated day-long battle. It too ended around supper time. It will be quietly observed around here, if at all, but look for an ad in The Times.

Because it lies in the peace of 950 years of distance, the Battle of Hastings reposes as indifferently in the modern mind as the shaded uphill field upon which it was fought. There is no nod to it in cinema, probably because the ‘knights in shining armour’ deal was centuries away. Shakespeare and Co. avoided it, despite its rich dramatic underpinnings. Hell, even the ceremonial kneeling cushions wondrously embroidered by the ladies of Exeter Cathedral omit the losing king’s presence—he alone of over 1000 years of English rulers. In 1950, Hope Muntz’ bardic The Golden Warrior redressed these oversights in an overlooked literary masterpiece.  

‘Dynasty’ and other TV big-family opera—much less political campaigns—have nothing on the potent engagements of the past for a vacated throne, when real knives let real blood. The story that ended at dusk on Caldbec Ridge concluded a 24-year gulf of peace from two centuries of Viking predation and rule in England. This placid era was limply overseen by the piously distant king Edward the Confessor. Raised in Latinized Normandy (also founded by Vikings who forsook their sea-faring ways) as a royal exile and finding it preferable to his own realm, he named its young martial and self-possessed Duke William –a contemporary of fellow blood letters El Cid and Macbeth--as his heir. This character would eventually rape the envy of Europe, as his fellow bored young nobles, in the early ‘biker’ stage of chivalry, felled nearby regions of ‘Francia’, then Sicily, and Jerusalem. William was not bored or distracted. 

When the Confessor died in January 1066, Saxon nobles elected Harold Godwinson to succeed him; they could do this, and this beau gallant ran Edward’s land anyway while the king dithered. The son of a self made commoner, Earl Godwin of Wessex, he had every quality of goodness and greatness as understood by men of his day, and some we can appreciate today. Both made him the ideal tragic figure, as fingers of fate set to loosen his brief grip on the crown. He was seen as a usurper, an upstart, a perjuror, the victim of a coordinated diplomatic offensive highlighted by Papal sanction—the U.N. Resolution of its day. Even God made a gesture: the Eastertide appearance of an usually bright Halley’s Comet. Something was about to happen. 

Many anguished sources exist on the subject, for those keen on it, but the prime reason we are who we are is that the wind misbehaved. Unseasonably blowing from the north, it allowed a lightning invasion of north England by the Vikings, which Harold met and defeated at Stamford Bridge (Sept. 25). Exit the Viking Age. Then the wind turned southerly, allowing William—who’d flipped when he heard he’d been passed over—and his host of seasoned men-at-arms to cross the Channel to southern England. Worlds collided outside Hastings at nine on October 14, as mounted ‘fascist banditti’ (Thomas Paine’s words) bought by promises of land and gold wore down a farmers’ militia shield wall, and that of the Saxon English was turned upside down. Pow. 

The Normans brought differences of a sudden binding and unpleasant finality. The erasure of identity has been likened to Nazi occupation and ethnic cleansing. Among them: the icy class system, which forbade interbreeding with the conquered (shortly overlooked); the Fitzgeralds (a Norman name) who subdued Ireland; the Domesday Book, a tax code source guide, and Robin Hood and Hereward the Wake as later Saxon guerillas and heroes of the dispossessed. The Normans also brought an ‘Urban Shield’ militarization of local legal authority, and erected tall castles and fortresses to show enduring power. What notable good they brought was set without popular consultation by an implacably grim S.O.B.: King William I, crowned on Christmas. 

Some English got even though, and in plain sight. David J. Bernstein’s The Mystery of the Bayeux Tapestry tells of the Canterbury designer and stitchers who told the English side in symbols sewn in throughout its 200 feet. That it was ordered by a Norman lord for his great hall and displayed over high-born guests also makes it one of the great works of subversive art. 

Soon, our forebodings will be answered, and not by invaders. However, possible aftereffects may make them feel to us as though they arrived from outside. Meanwhile, bring in the harvest, enjoy the playoffs, and visit your parish church and election booth. The Saxons gave us that.

An In-Depth Probe of Stravinsky by Esa-Pekka Salonen & London Philharmonia

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Tuesday October 11, 2016 - 12:34:00 PM

Cal Performances hosted London’s Philharmonia Orchestra led by Esa-Pekka Salonen for three concerts, October 7-9, at Zellerbach Hall. Two of the three concerts focused on works by Igor Stravinsky. Although the famed Le Sacre du Printemps/Rite of Spring was scheduled for Saturday, I opted for the Sunday afternoon concert featuring Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms and his opera-oratorio Oedipus Rex. Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring is performed quite regularly, and it is often danced, either in Nijinsky’s original choreography or in some new version. As this was a simple concert version of Rite of Spring, and because I was unable to schedule more than one concert this weekend, I chose to attend works by Stravinsky that are far less often heard. I was by no means disappointed with my choice. 

Stravinsky, like his friend Picasso, kept endlessly reinventing himself. After creating a scandal in 1913 with the fiercely pagan rhythms and human sacrifice of his Rite of Spring, which was deeply rooted in Russian folk music and dance, Stravinsky turned to a neoclassicism rooted in the mainstream of western music by composers such as Vivaldi, Telemann and J.S. Bach. Meanwhile, Picasso, who first met Stravinsky in 1917 when both men traveled to Rome to work with Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, followed his ground-breaking Cubist period by a neoclassicism of his own, inspired by Greek, Roman and Etruscan statues he saw in Rome and Naples. Later, both Stravinsky and Picasso went through many more stylistic changes and so-called ‘periods’. But both men were immensely fertile artists at every step along the way.  

Stravinsky’s opera-oratorio Oedipus Rex dates from 1929-27 and thus precedes his Symphony of Psalms of 1930. However, Sunday’s program began with the Symphony of Psalms, so I will treat it first in this review. This work marked a sudden, somewhat surprising return in 1926 by Stravinsky to the Russian Orthodox faith after many years of showing no outward signs of religiosity. By 1926, of course, Stravinsky had already spent many years outside of Russia, having left his native country in 1910. Nonetheless, Stravinsky clearly harbored affection for the rituals, icons, and observances of the Russian Orthodox religion. In fact, when he began composing the Symphony of Psalms, he initially set it not in Latin but in ancient Slavonic, the language of the Russian Orthodox Church. The subsequent decision to set the music to a Latin text from the book of Psalms is usually seen as a distancing device, a sign of the émigré who looks back with nostalgia on rituals and a faith he now sees fondly but from a distance.  

As a whole, Symphony of Psalms has a ritual quality, a depersonalized monumental feel emphasized by the vast size of the chorus, here performed by three choral groups – the San Francisco Conservatory of Music Chorus, led by Eric Choate, the Lund Male Chorus, directed by Andreas Lönnqvist, and the Young Women’s Chorus of San Francisco, led by Susan McMane. The opening E-minor chords emphasize this ritual quality, announcing some great collective statement of faith. However, the personal plea is also present in the words “quoniam advena ego sum apud te”/”for I am stranger with Thee,” words which may have had particular resonance for Stravinsky himself. Woodwinds and brass dominate, while the two pianos and a harp function mainly like percussion instruments. In the second of the three movements, a soft timpani motif is sustained almost as a heartbeat. Then a double fugue is heard, one in the instruments and the other in the choir. The third and final movement is one long, lovely hymn of praise, with the word “Laudate/Praise” being sung over and over, in delicate tones that speak of meditation and quiet devotion rather than loud, dramatic expressions of faith. Throughout this Symphony of Psalms, Esa-Pekka Salonen led the orchestra and the vast chorus in a sustained mood of quiet yet precise intensity that was breathtaking. 

After intermission the London Philharmonia Orchestra returned to perform Stravinsky’s opera-oratorio of 1926-27, Oedipus Rex, based on the ancient Greek tragedy by Sophocles. With a libretto by Jean Cocteau, Stravinsky decided to have it translated into Latin as a way of achieving “a certain monumental character by translation backwards, so to speak, from a secular to a sacred language.”  

Oedipus Rex opens with the chorus of citizens of Thebes bewailing the outbreak of a deadly plague that threatens to decimate the city. They call on Oedipus, their king, to free them from this plague. Oedipus, sung here by tenor Nicholas Phan, assures them proudly that he, illustrious Oedipus, loves them and will save them. From the outset, Oedipus is seen as arrogant and boastful, full of himself. The choice of a tenor voice for Oedipus is interesting, especially in light of the fact that all the other male roles are sung by a bass-baritone, the only exception being the rather small role of the shepherd, which is also for a tenor. As Oedipus, Nicholas Phan sang beautifully; but there was something almost effeminate in his tone, which contrasted sharply with the robustly masculine tone of bass-baritone Hadleigh Adams, who sang the roles of Creon, Tiresias, and the Messenger. Incidentally, it is somewhat surprising that the role of Tiresias, that aged seer who had lived part of his life as a woman, was sung by a husky-voiced bass-baritone. All told, Hadleigh Adams almost stole the show in his three roles while Nicholas Phan as Oedipus sang exquisitely but came off in Cocteau’s libretto and Stravinsky’s music as a rather vain and pompous fop. As Jocasta, mezzo-soprano Michelle DeYoung sang gloriously; and with her tall stature she loomed over her husband/son Oedipus as portrayed by the small-in-stature Nicholas Phan. The brief role of the Shepherd was ably sung by tenor Thomas Glenn. The narrator, a speaking role, was performed with eloquence by Carl Lumbly. Conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen led the orchestra and chorus in a performance full of conviction. This Philharmonia Orchestra of London, led by Esa-Pekka Salonen, does Stravinsky proud. It was a great pleasure to hear them in this program. 


After the second debate

Bruce Joffe
Tuesday October 11, 2016 - 12:27:00 PM

With all his sniffing and huffing and puffing, the Sexual Predator failed to keep his hot air balloon from deflating. He prowled the stage, pointing at Hillary, attacking her with the same old lies that have been debunked scores of times. He even threatened to have her jailed if he were to become president, oblivious to the irony that he himself may be convicted for bribing the Florida Attorney General, for bilking thousands of Trump University students, and for using his so-called charitable foundation for personal gain.  

Hillary reminded the audience to look at this man's exaggerated words and deceptions as indicative of his character, and then moved on to the "high road," explaining how her intentions and policies would address the critical problems our country faces. The Blustery Bully could do little more than repeat what is wrong with America, again and again, never saying how he would solve those problems.  

Should Hillary have been more combative, and respond to each and every spurious charge that the Donald was spewing? To most of the audience who came to hear what she stands for, that would have wasted their time. To a few, however, her lack of response may be interpreted as acquiescence. People often see what they expected to see. And voters vote for people to represent them who look like themselves. 

Press Release: Community: Carjacking ends with two in Custody

Berkeley Police Department
Tuesday October 11, 2016 - 01:52:00 PM

On 10/06/16 at 11:59pm, the victim parked her car on the 2100 block of Prince Street and exited when she was approached by three male adults, one armed with a handgun. They told her to get back into her car. The victim dropped her purse, cell phone, car keys, and ran. The suspects picked up her property and fled the area in her vehicle. 

A few minutes later, a BPD patrol officer spotted the vehicle driving in the south campus area. A vehicle pursuit ensued and ended at Halcyon Court and Prince Street when the two occupants of the vehicle ran. Both suspects were detained and arrested. A replica firearm was recovered in the vehicle. The third suspect was tracked to the Ashby BART station where some of the victim’s property was recovered. The third suspect was not located and remains at large. The suspect driver of the stolen vehicle is currently on parole. 

Arrested was 23 year old Terrence Holyfield and Charles Anderson 18, both Oakland residents. Holyfield and Anderson face charges including Robbery, Carjacking, and Felony Evading. Holyfield faces an additional charge for violating the terms of his parole.

DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE:Spain’s Turmoil & Europe’s Crisis

Conn Hallinan
Friday October 07, 2016 - 12:25:00 PM

While the chaos devouring Spain’s Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) mixed elements of farce and tragedy, the issues roiling Spanish politics reflect a general crisis in the European Union (EU) and a sober warning to the continent: Europe’s 500 million people need answers, and the old formulas are not working. 

On the tragedy side was the implosion of a 137-year old party that at one point claimed the allegiance of half of Spain’s people now reduced to fratricidal infighting. The PSOE’s embattled General Secretary Pedro Sanchez was forced to resign when party grandees and regional leaders organized a coup against his plan to form a united front of the left. 

The farce was street theater, literally: Veronica Perez, the president of the PSOE’s Federal Committee and a coup supporter, was forced to hold a press conference on a sidewalk in Madrid because Sanchez’s people barred her from the Party’s headquarters. 

There was no gloating by the Socialists main competitors on the left. Pablo Iglesias, the leader of Podemos, somberly called it “the most important crisis since the end of the civil war in the most important Spanish party in the past century.” 

That the party coup is a crisis for Spain there is no question, but the issues that prevented the formation of a working government for the past nine months are the same ones Italians, Greeks, Portuguese, Irish—and before they jumped ship, the British—are wresting with: growing economic inequality, high unemployment, stagnant economies, and whole populations abandoned by Europe’s elites. 

The spark for the PSOE’s meltdown was a move by Sanchez, to break the political logjam convulsing Spanish politics. The current crisis goes back to the Dec. 20 2015 national elections that saw Spain’s two traditional parties—the rightwing People’s Party (PP), led by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, and Sanchez’s Socialists—take a beating. The PP lost 63 seats and its majority and the PSOE lost 20 seats. Two new parties, the leftwing Podemos and the rightwing nationalist party Ciudadanos, crashed the party, winning 69 seats and 40 seats, respectively.  

While the PP took the most seats, it was not enough for a majority in the 350-seat legislature, which requires 176. In theory, the PSOE could have cobbled together a government with Podemos, Catalans and independents, but the issue of Catalonian independence got in the way. 

The Catalans demand the right to hold a referendum on independence, something the PP, the Socialists and Ciudadanos bitterly oppose. While Podemos is also opposed to Spain’s richest province breaking free of the country, it supports the right of the Catalans to vote on the issue. Catalonia was conquered in 1715 during the War of the Spanish Succession, and Madrid has oppressed the Catalans’ language and culture ever since. 

The Catalan issue is an important one for Spain, but the PSOE could have shelved its opposition to a referendum and made common cause with Podemos, the Catalans and the independents. Instead, Sanchez formed a pact with Ciudadanos and asked Podemos to join the alliance. 

For Podemos, that would have been a poison pill. A major reason why Podemos is the number one party in Catalonia is because it supports the right of Catalans to hold a referendum. If it had joined with the Socialists and Ciudadanos it would have alienated a significant part of its base.  

It is possible that’s what Sanchez’s had in mind, reasoning that Podemos’ refusal to join with the Socialists and Ciudadanos would hurt it with voters. Sanchez gambled that another election would see the Socialists expand at the expense of Podemos and give it enough seats to form a government. 

That was a serious misjudgment. The June 26 election saw PSOE lose five more seats and turn in its worst ever performance. Ciudadanos also lost seats. While Podemos lost votes—at least 1 million—it retained the same number of deputies. The only winner was the Popular Party, which poached eight seats from Ciudadanos for an increase of 14. However, once again no party won enough seats to form a government. 

The current crisis is the fallout from the June election. Rajoy, claiming the PP had “won” the election, formed an alliance with Ciudadanos and asked the PSOE to either support him or abstain from voting and allow him to form a minority government. Sanchez refused, convinced that allowing Rajoy to form a government would be a boon to Podemos and the end of the Socialists.  

There is a good deal of precedent for that conclusion. The Greek Socialist Party formed a grand coalition with the right and was subsequently decimated by the leftwing Syriza Party. The German Social Democratic Party’s alliance with the conservative Christian Democratic Union has seen the once mighty organization slip below 20 percent in the polls. England’s Liberal Democratic Party was destroyed by its alliance with the Conservatives.  

The ostensible reason Sanchez was forced out was that he led the Socialists to two straight defeats in national elections and oversaw the beating the PSOE took in recent local elections in the Basque region and Galicia. But the decline of the Socialists predated Sanchez. The party has been bleeding supporters for over a decade, a process that accelerated after it abandoned its social and economic programs in 2010 and oversaw a mean-spirited austerity regime. 

The PSOE has long been riven with political and regional rivalries. Those divisions surfaced when Sanchez finally decided to try an alliance with Podemos, the Catalans and independents, which suggests he was willing to reconsider his opposition to a Catalan referendum. That’s when Susana Diaz, the Socialist leader in Spain’s most populous province, Andalusia, pulled the trigger on the coup. Six out of seven PSOE regional leaders backed her. Diaz will likely take the post of General Secretary after the PSOE’s convention in several weeks. 

The Andalusian leader has already indicated she will let Rajoy form a minority government. “First we need to give Spain a government,” she said, “and then open a deep debate in the PSOE.” Sanchez was never very popular—dismissed as a good looking lightweight—but the faction that ousted him may find that rank and file Socialists are not overly happy with a coup that helped usher in a rightwing government. This crisis is far from over. 

In the short run the Popular Party is the winner, but Rajoy’s ruling margin will be paper-thin. Most commentators think that Podemos will emerge as the main left opposition. While the Socialists did poorly in Galicia and the Basque regions, Podemos did quite well, an outcome that indicates that talk of its “decline” after last June’s election is premature. In contrast, Ciudadanos drew a blank in the regional voting, suggesting that the party is losing its national profile and heading back to being a regional Catalan party. 

Hanging over this is the puzzle of what went wrong for the left in the June election, particularly given that the polls indicated a generally favorable outcome for them? It is an important question because while Rajoy may get his government, there are few willing to bet it will last very long. 

Part of the outcome was its dreadful timing: two days after the English and the Welsh voted to pull the United Kingdom out of the European Union. The “Brexit” was a shock to all of Europe and hit Spain particularly hard. The country’ stock market lost some $70 billion, losses that fed the scare campaign the PP and the PSOE were running against Podemos. 

Even though Podemos supports EU membership, the right and the center warned that, if the leftwing party won the election, it would accelerate the breakup of Europe and encourage the Catalans to push for independence. The Brexit pushed fear to the top of the agenda, and when people are afraid they tend to vote for stability. 

But some of the lost votes came because Podemos confused some of its own supporters by moderating its platform. At one point Iglesias even said that Podemos was “neither right nor left.” The Party abandoned its call for a universal basic income, replacing it with a plan for a minimum wage, no different than the Socialist Party’s program. And dropping the universal basic income demand alienated some of the anti-austerity forces that still make up the shock troops in ongoing fights over poverty and housing in cities like Madrid and Barcelona. 

Podemos was also hurt by Spain’s undemocratic electoral geography, where rural votes count more than urban ones. It takes 125,000 votes to elect a representative in Madrid, 38,000 in some rural areas. The PP and the PSOE are strong in the countyside, while Podemos is strong in the cities. 

Podemos had formed a pre-election alliance—“United We Can”—with Spain’s Unite Left (UL), an established party of left groups that includes the Communist Party, but made little effort to mobilize it. Indeed, Iglesias disparaged IU members as “sad, boring and bitter” and “defeatists whose pessimism is infectious,” language that did not endear IU’s rank and file to Podemos. Figures show that Podemos did poorly in areas where the IU was strong. 


The Galicia and Basque elections indicate that Podemos is still a national force. The Party will likely pick up PSOE’s members who cannot tolerate the idea that their party would allow the likes of Rajoy to form a government. Podemos will also need to shore up its alliance with the IU and curb its language about old leftists (which young leftists tend to eventually become). 

The path for the Socialists is less certain. 

If the PSOE is not to become a footnote in Spain’s history, it will have to suppress its hostility to Podemos and recognize that two party domination of the country is in the past. The Socialists will also have to swallow their resistance to a Catalan referendum, if for no other reason than it will be impossible to block it in the long run. Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont recently announced an independence plebiscite would be held no later than September 2017 regardless of what Madrid wants. 

The right in Spain may have a government, but it is not one supported by the majority of the country’s people. Nor will its programs address Spain’s unemployment rate—at 20 percent the second highest in Europe behind Greece—or the country’s crisis in health care, education and housing. 

For the left, unity would seem to be the central goal, similar to Portugal, where the Portuguese Socialist Workers Party formed a united front with the Left Bloc and the Communist/Green Alliance. While the united front has its divisions, the parties put them aside in the interests of rolling back some of the austerity policies that have made Portugal the home of Europe’s greatest level of economic inequality. 

The importance of the European left finding common ground is underscored by the rising power of the extreme right in countries like France, Austria, England, Poland, Greece, Hungry, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Germany. The economic and social crises generated by almost a decade of austerity and growing inequality needs programmatic solutions that only the left has the imagination to construct. 

One immediate initiative would be to join Syriza’s and Podemos’ call for a European debt conference modeled on the 1953 London Conference that canceled much of Germany’s wartime debt and ignited the German economy. 

But the left needs to hurry lest xenophobia, racism, hate and repression, the four horsemen of the right’s apocalypse, engulf Europe.  


Conn Hallinan can be read at dispatchesfromtheedgeblog.wordpress.com and middleempireseries.wordpress.com 

Around & About--Music: Berkeley Symphony Opener on Thursday

Ken Bullock
Tuesday October 11, 2016 - 12:06:00 PM

Berkeley Symphony's season opener this Thursday, October 13, 7 p/ m., featuring Erich Korngold's Violin Concerto (1945) with soloist Philippe Quint, the world premire of Berkeley composer Paul Dresher's Crazy Eights and Fractured symmetries and Stravinsky's Petrushka (1910-11, revised 1947) at Zellerbach Hall on the UC campus (near Telegraph Avenue and Bancroft Way), will be conducted by Edwin Outwater of the San Francisco and Ontario's Kitchener-Waterloo Symphonies.  

Berkeley Symphony Music Director Joana Carneiro withdrew from the concert late last month, citing personal reasons. 

Tickets: $15-$74; $7 student rush ticket one hour prior to performance. www.berkeleysymphony.org; 841-2800, extension 1.

The campaign to save Street Spirit: Bay Area street newspaper suddenly threatened with termination

Jess Clarke
Saturday October 08, 2016 - 10:18:00 AM
On the day that Alliance Recycling Center was shut down by the City of Oakland, film-maker Amir Soltani (at right) listened intently as Ohio Smith showed him how much he earned by recycling on the final day.
Denise Zmekhol
On the day that Alliance Recycling Center was shut down by the City of Oakland, film-maker Amir Soltani (at right) listened intently as Ohio Smith showed him how much he earned by recycling on the final day.
Paul Boden, executive director of the Western Regional Advocacy Project, was also the co-founder of the Coalition on Homelessness in San Francisco, which published Street Sheet, one of the first homeless newspapers in the U.S.
Janny Castillo
Paul Boden, executive director of the Western Regional Advocacy Project, was also the co-founder of the Coalition on Homelessness in San Francisco, which published Street Sheet, one of the first homeless newspapers in the U.S.
 Staff, board members and young artists of Youth Spirit Artworks have chosen to create a new partnership with Street Spirit. Photo by YSA
Staff, board members and young artists of Youth Spirit Artworks have chosen to create a new partnership with Street Spirit. Photo by YSA

[Editor's note: This article first appeared in Street Spirit.]

The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) has announced that after 22 years of sponsorship, they will cease funding the operations of Street Spirit as of December 31, 2016.

Terry Messman, founding editor of Street Spirit, said, “The news came as a complete shock to all of us, especially since Street Spirit had just completed our most successful year ever, with an amazing outpouring of good writers, and our participation in some highly meaningful solidarity campaigns with activist groups. Also, the AFSC had just funded a $15,000 evaluation and planning process to guide the paper for the next 3-5 years.

“So it came completely out of the blue. We were given absolutely no advance warning that they were planning to shut down the program due to AFSC’s budget shortages. I was stunned to realize that more than 100 disabled, elderly and homeless vendors would lose their livelihood. And all the dozens of writers who have done such dedicated work for Street Spirit would be silenced, and all the activist groups we stand in solidarity with would lose their major media outlet.”  


Messman said he was still grateful that the AFSC had generously funded Street Spirit for the past 22 years, and made 20,000 copies of the paper available for free for homeless vendors every month for over two decades. “AFSC has done a tremendous amount of good during that period,” he said, “and I have been treated fairly as an AFSC staff. I have no complaints for myself.” 

But, he said, “The sudden abandonment of all the extremely poor vendors who depend on Street Spirit will cause terrible damage. And this casts aside all the writers and community activists who have given so much of their time and energy and devotion to Street Spirit and AFSC over the years.” 

AFSC’s announcement of the rationale for shutting down the program was terse. The AFSC West Regional Executive Committee, facing serious budget shortfalls across the organization, determined that the AFSC will no longer prioritize this poverty and homeless program and that it will “lay down” Street Spirit as of December 31, 2016, and stop funding it. 

AFSC’s farm worker program in Stockton and its American Indian program in Seattle will be terminated next year. All three of the terminated programs serve impoverished people from oppressed and marginalized communities. 

The Editorial Advisory Board of Street Spirit responded with a resounding and unanimous “NO WAY” to this decision and began planning to continue publishing Street Spirit as an independent voice of “Justice News and Homeless Blues.” 

AFSC has agreed to allow the paper to go independent. The Editorial Board has decided to launch a “Save Our Street Spirit Campaign” to raise the resources needed to keep the paper alive. 

Jennifer Friedenbach, executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness, the publisher of San Francisco’s Street Sheet said, “Street Spirit is essential in ensuring truthful, hard-hitting coverage that reflects the daily reality of the Bay’s poorest residents. The paper has played an essential role in ensuring East Bay residents are educated on poverty issues, and more importantly activated to forge solutions. The beautiful thing about the paper is that it not only does all that, but directly transfers hard cash into the hands of people who have no access to the traditional job market.” 

Street Sheet Editor Sam Lew echoes that last point, saying, “Street Spirit is invaluable means of employment for more than 100 homeless and low-income people who depend on the newspaper as a key source of income.” 

JC Orton, the vendor coordinator who actually delivers the Street Spirit newspapers to the vendors on the streets, pointed out, “The economic benefit of newspaper sales alone is over $250,000 in the pockets of some of the poorest people in the Bay Area.” In effect, every dollar that is contributed upstream results in two to three times more financial impact at the street level. 

So, the most immediate and tragic impact of losing the paper would hit the community least able to absorb the blow — an all too familiar story. But the loss of the paper would have an incalculable impact on many other issues as well. 

Advocacy and Education 

The investigative reporting, education, coalition building, and movement mobilization work of the Street Spirit has shaped public awareness and public policy on the most vital issues facing low-income and homeless people. Street Spirit has been a key voice in the battles to stop the criminalization of homelessness in San Francisco, Berkeley, Santa Cruz and Oakland. 

“I’m baffled by the AFSC’s decision not to fund Street Spirit, because it has been so effective.” said Carol Denney, one of Street Spirit’s Editorial Advisory Board members. As a writer, musician and community activist in Berkeley for decades, Denney has extensive first-hand knowledge of Berkeley politics. 

She said, “Street Spirit articles have been used in commission meetings, seminars, and national workshops to educate people about policy, especially as it relates to principle or the way things really play out for people on the street. But it’s more than that. People who have a chance to tell their own stories are transformed by the opportunity itself. I’ve seen this happen, and it’s compelling. It’s unforgettable.” 

Other social justice advocates also reacted with shock and dismay at the idea of losing one of the area’s most important platforms bringing issues of poverty and homelessness to the public. A sentiment commonly expressed by those that know the paper’s long history and parentage is “No way Street Spirit can be shut down.” 

“No way AFSC can’t afford Street Spirit,” said Paul Boden, Executive and Organizing Director of the Western Regional Advocacy Project (WRAP). “For American Friends Service Committee to allow this vital resource to cease to exist is a damn shame. I can only hope AFSC will look deep in its heart and decide that the massive positive impact Street Spirit has achieved with such a small budget is worthy of their continued support.” 

The Influence of Street Spirit 

Boden points out that Street Spirit’s influence spreads far wider than just the Bay Area. “The artwork, writing and investigative journalism in the Street Spirit is second to none when it comes to the voices, issues and lives of poor and homeless people in the Bay Area and beyond. Homeless street papers across the country look up to and work hard to reach the quality and integrity of Street Spirit.” 

Furthermore, Boden said, there couldn’t be a worse time to cut back on programs advocating for the rights of homeless people. “As we all know, gentrification and criminalization continue to grow under America’s neo-liberal economic and social policies. Street Spirit is needed today more then ever!” 

Daniel McMullan, a longtime advocate for homeless and disabled people, and a City Commissioner on Berkeley’s Human Welfare Commission, said, “When I heard about Street Spirit losing its funding, I was devastated. This was the last real paper that wasn’t completely suborned by big media or destroyed and pulled under by the tides of indifference and pure sabotage. Free speech is dying and free speech in print has been the biggest enemy of fascism the world has known. 

“But even beyond that, Street Spirit had the double edge of telling truth to power and empowering marginalized writers, homeless and poor street vendors and the reader who might be hearing the other side of the story for the first time ever. I, for one, am not willing to let this happen without a fight.” 

Peter Marin, the founder of the Committee for Social Justice in Santa Barbara, is a prolific journalist, former university journalism professor and the author of the book Freedom and Its Discontents. Marin wrote one of the most highly influential articles ever published about the national struggle over homelessness and human rights. His seminal essay, “Helping and Hating the Homeless: The Struggle at the Margins of America,” published in Harper’s Magazine, was passed around homeless advocacy circles all over the country. He has worked with and written for Street Spirit for nearly 20 years. 

Marin said, “I have tremendous admiration for Terry Messman and Street Spirit, and I know the homeless up and down this coast, and their advocates, are indebted to him and the AFSC. As for the work Terry does, and what Street Spirit achieves, there’s nothing like it anywhere I know. It is something of a miracle it’s kept alive this long, and an immense irreplaceable loss if it must come to an end.” 

Marin has spent over 30 years defending the civil rights of homeless people in Santa Barbara, organizing lawyers for their legal defense, and creating essential lifeline services for them. Fighting those struggles for human rights is how he first became involved with Street Spirit. 

“I think Terry Messman and his paper, Street Spirit, have for decades been essential to, and at the very heart of, the fight in this country for homeless services and rights and justice,” Marin said. 

“I know of no-one in the community of advocates who has sacrificed as much as Terry and his wife have for the ongoing struggle for those on the margins to be recognized as the democratic equals of those with power and money. Perhaps most important of all, Street Spirit has given the homeless a voice, an arena for speech, not only or even mainly for complaint, but for the celebration of all that remains beautiful and significant and perhaps even holy among those who struggle to survive among us and whose lives otherwise go unseen and voices unheard.” 

Marin said that Street Spirit also has given a voice and a home to the writers and advocates who work so hard to defend the rights of the poor — and whose deeply important work is ignored by the government and corporate media. 

Marin said, “Terry has also provided something of absolute importance to those who advocate for the marginal and the poorest of the poor; he has created a home for them too, has created a web of connection and a source of information without which many of us, who operate in certain kinds of isolation and without much sense of community, would lose much of our senses of hope and endurance. What Terry has done, which may not be recognizable at very first glance, is this: he has understood precisely what is missing at the failing heart of this culture, and he has spent his life in trying to provide it.” 

Amir Soltani, a human rights advocate and film director who fought the closure last month of a West Oakland recycling center, said that the losses of Street Spirit and the recycling center in the same month are a double tragedy for the poorest Oakland residents. “In both cases, we were creating jobs, employment, income and a sense of community,” he said. “I don’t think we can surrender or sacrifice all this if the recycling center goes down or if your funding dries up.” 

Street Spirit worked in close collaboration with the activists and film-makers who created the PBS documentary Dogtown Redemption to save the jobs of hundreds of poor and homeless shopping cart recyclers. 

Soltani added, “I understand that shock of losing a source of funding so suddenly, and at this moment. It is a terrible blow. How ironic, you have helped us so much with keeping the recycling center open and now you are threatened with closure, in almost the same month. I can’t let that happen. Not after what you have done for us.” 

When Soltani first learned of Street Spirit’s termination, he said, “Let me express my deep love and gratitude to you for Street Spirit. I think of you as a national treasure. What you have and can create is breathtaking, and beautiful. It is prayer in action, love in words. The community that you have nurtured is powerful and resilient.” 

Exactly why AFSC has chosen, after 22 years of continuous support, to cut off Street Spirit has not been explicitly explained by AFSC Executive Committee members, but several sources close to AFSC said the decision was caused by the organization’s serious budget shortages, which also will lead to the closure of the farm workers program in Stockton and the American Indian program in Seattle, and may result in further cuts next year in other regions of the country. 

Large nonprofit corporations increasingly are driven by bureaucratic decision-making and fundraising priorities that focus on gaining favor from the most affluent donors and largest funders. 

And while Street Spirit has very high visibility and is a highly successful program, under the AFSC’s new model of national fundraising implemented about ten years ago, it falls outside the organization’s focus areas. AFSC has spent a great deal of time and money in creating nationwide goals and centralized focus areas for the organization that can attract big foundations and wealthy liberal donors. 

And let’s face it, fomenting a radical, pacifist, direct action ethos, which strengthens the autonomous, self-directed political activity of extremely poor and disabled people who have been pushed to the margins of society, is not going to become the darling of corporate funders anytime soon. 

But deep education about the theory and practice of nonviolence and consistent advocacy and action for the human rights of homeless people are exactly what our society and our community needs. And we, in turn, need to develop alternative income models that don’t reduce our political and spiritual aspirations to a corporate cost-benefit analysis. 

In response to the decisions made behind closed doors that doomed Street Spirit, Amir Soltani said in a letter to the advisory board, “I know that this is a brutal and painful experience and transition. But, as an outsider who has had the benefit of working with you and Street Spirit, I think that what you have at Street Spirit is incredibly valuable. You have the content, the experience, the team, talent and networks to serve an incredibly important population. If AFSC does not see the value, that is their shortcoming. All I see is value. Sure some accountant looks at the books and thinks of you as a cost, but what do they know? Street Spirit is a magical organization. 

“I have deep respect and admiration for the extraordinary work and value you and your team at Street Spirit have generated. Honestly, Terry, when I hear you speak or the staff and other board members speak, I’m blown away by the passion, intelligence and commitment at the table. I understand that you have every right to experience this as an assault on yourself, the staff and vendors, but in my eyes, they can’t discount or slash the value of what you have here. There is a tremendous investment of time and labor of love in Street Spirit. You dignify the life and work of the poor, so both the vision and the voice are sublime, even if, until now, the market or the AFSC has failed to valorize Street Spirit.” 

The Legacy of Dr. King’s Poor People’s Campaign 

On the day he was told Street Spirit was to be terminated, Messman reminded AFSC that it had always venerated the legacy of Martin Luther King — who spent the last months of his life building a Poor People’s Campaign and marching in support of low-wage sanitation workers in Memphis. Messman reminded AFSC that Street Spirit was attempting to follow this same path by standing in solidarity with homeless people’s movements and supporting low-wage shopping cart recyclers in Oakland. The response from AFSC was that this kind of homelessness and poverty program was no longer their priority. 

Messman said, “When I began this homeless organizing project, the most highly respected national staff of the American Friends Service Committee, including Barbara Moffett and Jane Motz, told me that they considered homelessness, poverty and housing issues to be the most important and vital social justice issues of all for the AFSC.” 

When Messman emphasized the sacred historic commitments and the central values of the AFSC, and the mission of the civil rights struggle, he was told that the AFSC of today is a very different organization from the one he joined back then. 

Lynda Carson, a prominent tenant rights activist and journalist in Oakland, said, “The decision of the American Friends Service Committee to terminate Street Spirit is a great loss to the homeless, and also to our spirit, and the community at large. Fascism is at our door, and the homeless are cold, hungry and dying in the streets. 

“They have been victimized, criminalized, brutalized and are being run out of cities throughout our country. Never-ending rent increases, poverty wages and mass evictions are creating more homeless families by the moment. Street Spirit is the voice of the people.” 

A New Day for Street Spirit 

In the coming days and weeks, we will be reaching out to Street Spirit’s readers, allies and homeless rights activists to pull together a comprehensive solution so that our advocacy journalism can not only survive this crisis but be strengthened so it can continue to work with the new generation of activists whose passions for justice are rekindling movements across the country. 

On Sept. 22, 2016, as a first step in this journey, the Youth Leaders and Board of the Berkeley-based Youth Spirit Artworks (YSA) voted to invite Street Spirit to build a new home under their auspices. 

Executive Director Sally Hindman said, “The Youth Leaders of Youth Spirit Artworks are passionate about making this work. We think we can make a difference here for the betterment of the whole community so we are stepping up to lend our help.” [See the accompanying story about the new partnership with YSA on page 2 of this issue.] 

Hindman is a Quaker who began developing her social justice ministry with poor and homeless people more than 20 years ago. After graduating from seminary at Berkeley’s Pacific School of Religion, Hindman approached Messman, the director of AFSC’s Homeless Organizing Project, and suggested that he create Street Spirit. In 1995, Hindman organized the first team of Street Spirit vendors by reaching out to homeless shelters in the East Bay and served as the director of the vendor program for its first few years. 

Hindman said, “Spirit has been at work in this process in exciting and creative ways. We believe this new collaboration between Street Spirit and Youth Spirit Artworks has the potential to utterly benefit and empower homeless and other underserved youth.” 

She said, “The most important thing in my life is serving God through this ministry of fighting for justice, and facilitating a means for the voices of those on the margins to be heard through faith-based art for liberation — art for social justice!” 

Save Our Street Spirit (SOS) 

As news of the shutdown is filtering out to the community, many others are also standing up to be counted. 

Amir Soltani, co-director of the film Dogtown Redemption, has been working with recyclers in the Dogtown neighborhood of West Oakland. Earlier this year, he started providing Street Spirit vendors with hundreds of copies of the Dogtown film on DVD to sell to the public. 

Soltani has pledged to support the newspaper in its new home, saying, “I’m deeply moved by what Street Spirit has done for more than 20 years, by what it represents, and ultimately, by the deep humanity, the sense of justice and witnessing. Street Spirit is a jewel, an incredibly valuable source of community and connection.” 

Soltani has volunteered to head up a fundraising committee for the Save Our Street Spirit campaign, and having raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to make Dogtown Redemption, a movie celebrating the dignity of homeless shopping cart recyclers, he has some great experience and a wide range of contacts he will be mobilizing for this effort. 

JC Orton, Street Spirit Vendor Coordinator, reports that vendors aren’t going to take this sitting down either. They have been discussing a strategy of vendors turning in 5 cents per paper starting in October and raising that to a dime in November (with plenty of compassionate exceptions as needed). This is estimated to raise over $600 a month almost immediately. Vendors are the bedrock of the paper’s ability to communicate its mission. 

Their willingness to invest in its continued publication is one more example of just how important this paper is to so many different people. For 22 years, 20,000 issues of Street Spirit have been given for free every month to its poor and homeless vendors, who sell it to the public and keep 100 percent of the proceeds. 

Street Spirit is one of the very few street newspapers in America, Canada and Europe that has been given to vendors without any charge. Most street papers charge vendors 25 cents or more per issue, up to half the purchase price. 

Editorial Board members have also started discussing hosting benefit concerts, reaching out to parish social justice groups who can provide matching funds for printing costs, and launching an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign. 

This is a strong beginning to a campaign to continue the legacy of the AFSC Homeless Organizing Project, the parent program of Street Spirit, that under Terry Messman’s direction has been advocating for the rights of homeless people for more than 30 years. 

Messman, who built the paper from nothing starting 22 years ago, is confident that Street Spirit will pull through this crisis. “Street Spirit has literally never been a stronger program,” he said. “We have received lots of great media coverage lately, radio interviews, accolades for our articles and stronger community response to our work than ever before. We have built a dedicated team of writers and activists and a stronger team of vendors than ever in our history.” 

Amir Soltani said the crisis faced by Street Spirit carries the seeds of its own renewal. “My thinking is that maybe we don’t have to absorb these blows or let them land on the communities we serve,” Soltani said. “Maybe now is the time to turn to that community and its allies and friends for support and solutions — so that we are not necessarily thinking in terms of endings, but new beginnings.” 


You are invited to help this community institution stay alive and thrive. The campaign will announce next steps in coming weeks. More information will be posted at http://www.thestreetspirit.org. where you can also sign up for email alerts.

Youth Spirit Artworks Launches Campaign to Build a New Home for Street Spirit

Jess Clarke
Saturday October 08, 2016 - 10:17:00 AM
Sally Hindman (at right) organized a sleep-out at Old City Hall last winter in protest of Berkeley’s anti-homeless laws. A longtime homeless advocate and an original co-founder of Street Spirit, Hindman is now involved in the campaign to save the paper
Sally Hindman (at right) organized a sleep-out at Old City Hall last winter in protest of Berkeley’s anti-homeless laws. A longtime homeless advocate and an original co-founder of Street Spirit, Hindman is now involved in the campaign to save the paper

“Please join the Save Our Street Spirit Campaign. We can’t afford to lose this essential platform for human rights and social justice, and we can’t let down the 100-plus vendors for whom this is a literal lifeline.”

-- Sally Hindman, executive director, Youth Spirit Artworks

When the members of Youth Spirit Artworks (YSA) heard the devastating news that Street Spirit could be shut down, these youthful leaders immediately began brainstorming ways to support the Save Our Street Spirit Campaign. 

Like Street Spirit, YSA also has a vendor component in its program that creates income opportunities for low-income and homeless youth. Each week, YSA youth sell their art at local businesses and farmers markets in Berkeley, and receive half the proceeds of their sales. 

They understand firsthand the incredible importance of Street Spirit to the hundreds of vendors for whom it has provided income for the past 22 years.  

“What I love about Street Spirit is that voices of the displaced are being heard that otherwise would not be,” says Sean McCreary, YSA Peer Support Leader. “Without Street Spirit these voices would be unheard, marginalized, ostracized.” 

Essence Richardson, YSA Aspirant and Special Projects Leader, says that, “Street Spirit provides an income when times are hard.” She is excited by the idea of working to strengthen both YSA and Street Spirit by bringing the two projects together under one roof. “I plan to be a youth writing trainer, to write for the paper and to sell the paper,” she says. 

“I think Street Spirit will provide an opportunity for Youth Spirit Artworks to get publicity out and communicate with many more people, and to spread the word,” says Khalil Kelly, Social Media Junior Artist.  

Kelly and Richardson are not alone in their enthusiasm. At a packed meeting of the YSA Board of Directors on Sept. 22, 2016, the whole organization took up the challenge of finding a new home for Street Spirit. Following up on a decision earlier in September to become the fiscal sponsor of the project, the board approved an 18-month plan to transition Street Spirit into a project of Youth Spirit Artworks. 

YSA artists currently design and sell T-shirts, tote bags, hand-crafts and fine art to the public and are looking forward to the broader opportunities that Street Spirit’s presence will bring to the group. 

Malina King, Community Organizing and Outreach Leader, is inspired by Street Spirit’s “unique purpose focused on poverty and homelessness,” and plans to “write articles, poems and cover events.” 

In just a few sessions, the group developed some great ideas for integrating the work of the two organizations and submitted them to the YSA board in winning approval for the new collaboration. 

They are planning a four-fold approach to the partnership with Street Spirit. 

1) Youth leaders will serve on the Street Spirit Advisory Board, providing content ideas for the paper. 

2) They will work with the editor creating content for the paper, including stories, comics, poetry, and artwork.  

3) Youth vendors involved in Youth Spirit’s art sales will include the paper as their lowest priced item when they are out in commercial areas selling their art. 

4) Youth leaders will use the paper as a vehicle for mobilizing the community around social justice campaigns. 

YSA and Street Spirit, Connected at the Roots 

The common ethos of Street Spirit and Youth Spirit Artworks is not a coincidence. Sally Hindman, the founder of Youth Spirit Artworks, also had a hand in the inception of Street Spirit. Twenty-two years ago, she approached Terry Messman, who was the director of the AFSC Homeless Organizing Project (HOPE), with the idea of creating a street newspaper for the East Bay modeled on the groundbreaking work of the San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness’ Street Sheet.  

She had first met Messman when they were both seminary students at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley and they had both had independently been organizing homeless advocacy work in Oakland. 

Despite many on-the-ground successes in the organizing and civil disobedience he was doing at the time, Messman felt the mainstream media wasn’t doing the job when it came to fairly presenting the issues of poverty and homelessness. 

“We got a lot of positive media attention for those actions, but I grew more and more concerned that corporate media outlets were completely denigrating poor and homeless people.” said Messman in a recent interview about the paper’s origins. So when Hindman came to him with the idea, the time was ripe. 

The two co-founders worked together to launch the first issue of Street Spirit in March 1995. Messman served as editor — as he has ever since — and Hindman organized the first team of homeless vendors who sold the newspaper on the streets of Berkeley and Oakland. The vendor program has had a number of coordinators since then, and is currently managed by JC Orton of the Night on the Streets Catholic Worker in Berkeley. 

In 2007, Hindman founded Youth Spirit Artworks after having worked for almost 20 years in a variety of poverty rights advocacy and service organizations. 

The YSA organization provides studio space, art supplies and programs for creating art; a community arts program that creates murals and public art; and the burgeoning vendor program that in addition to providing income, teaches business and money management skills to low-income and at-risk youth. 

Hindman very much sees her work with Youth Spirit Artworks as a ministry. When reflecting on just why she is taking on this new mission at a time when her own organization is already facing enormous fundraising challenges of its own, she looks to her faith. The first thing she did upon receiving YSA board approval for her new venture in partnership with Street Spirit was to post a prayer request to her Facebook page. 

As a Quaker social justice minister, she believes she is “serving God through this ministry of fighting for justice,” and by helping people on the margins of society to be heard by facilitating and encouraging “faith-based art for liberation.” 

In understanding why she is taking on this partnership with Street Spirit now, she says, “Spirit has been at work in this process in exciting and creative ways. We believe this new collaboration has the potential to utterly benefit and empower homeless and other underserved youth.” 

Her thoughts and prayers are echoed by others in the faith community. David Vasquez-Levy, President of the Pacific School of Religion, says of the renewed partnership, “I am excited to see this collaboration, including the fact that it brings the work and commitments of two of our alums together in powerful ways!” 

But Hindman also points out that this is not going to happen without concerted support from the communities that are served by Street Spirit and Youth Spirit Artworks. 

“Please join the Save Our Street Spirit Campaign,” she says with urgency. “We can’t afford to lose this essential platform for human rights and social justice, and we can’t let down the 100-plus vendors for whom this is a literal lifeline.” 

For more information about Youth Spirit Artworks visit www.youthspiritartworks.org

Protestors' Tents Raided

Carol Denney
Friday October 07, 2016 - 04:52:00 PM
Rob Williams agreeing with the "Where are we supposed to go?" question chalked on the shattuck sidewalk after the raid.
Carol Denney
Rob Williams agreeing with the "Where are we supposed to go?" question chalked on the shattuck sidewalk after the raid.
 Displaced protesters collected on Shattuck Avenue in front of the Downtown Berkeley Association offices.
Carol Denney
Displaced protesters collected on Shattuck Avenue in front of the Downtown Berkeley Association offices.

The dozen or so tents in front of the Berkeley Food and Housing Project protesting the housing crisis were raided at dawn Friday morning, October 7, 2016, by the City of Berkeley according to several activists now collected in front of the Downtown Berkeley Association's (DBA) headquarters on Shattuck Avenue. 

"We were ready," stated Mike Zint, one of the demonstrators, who had been told only a couple days earlier that the group was not in violation of any laws at the Fairview and Adeline location by police. "There were no arrests." 

The DBA crews that confiscate belongings are out in force all over the downtown, according to the demonstrators, who are attempting to assist each other with human needs such as clothing and food. 

"We could use a licensed driver," said protester Barbara Brust, noting the piled belongings hastily saved that morning from the city workers. The striped tent canopy rescued from the previous location is decorated with "Mike Lee for Mayor" signs. A slogan asking "Where are we supposed to go?" extends the length of the displaced group's belongings and caught the eye of passerby Rob Williams, who applauded the sentiment. 

"In Mexico they have portable bathrooms with attendants," he said, gesturing in support of the group and the chalked question on the sidewalk. 

Zint stated flatly that several elderly, disabled people with nowhere to go are in danger of dying in the coming cold. A call to the mayor's and city manager's office for comment was not returned.

Berkeley Daily Planet Endorsements for the Berkeley City Races

Becky O'Malley
Saturday October 08, 2016 - 11:48:00 AM

Okay, I know, it’s kind of cheating. But anyone who reads what I write knows that I’m not an armchair commentator, but someone who’s been a political activist all my life. I’m a quasi-founding (joined but did no work) member of the Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club, started by stalwart community members who had decades of experience in the muddy trenches of the Left, who wanted to give the Democratic Party one more chance. They’ve done a good job—a notable success was their winning endorsement of outsider Tony Thurmond for the state legislature as a counter to the stodgier Democratic Party establishment (also called The Machine, though that’s an insult to the first Chicago Mayor Daley).

So, without further ado, I’ve simply posted a file of the whole glossy and handsome Wellstone endorsement flier with my personal blessing on its recommendations. If you have that kind of printer, you can even print it out at home and distribute it to your neighbors, or hand it out downtown, or whatever. A one-page cheat sheet with all the Wellstone choices to take to the polls can be found here.

Here are the Wellstone Democrats' choices for the Berkeley City Council, followed by my own version of the options:  


Mayor: Jesse Arreguín  

Council District 2: Nanci Armstrong Temple  

Council District 3: Ben Bartlett  

Council District 5: Sophie Hahn  

Council District 6: Fred Dodsworth  

School Board (vote for two): Judy Appel, Beatriz Leyva-Cutler  

Rent Board (vote for four): Christina Murphy, Leah Simon-Weisberg, Alejandro Soto-Vigil, Igor Tregub  

The only caveat I have is that the Wellstones haven’t yet gotten with the program as far as ranked choice voting is concerned. I think it’s very important that Berkeley voters choose not only their #1 candidate for each office, but also #2 and even #3 if there’s a good choice. This year we have a wealth of good progressive candidates who would do a fine job if elected. With that in mind, here are my additional choices for each Berkeley office: 

Mayor: I think Councilmember Jesse Arreguin would make a great mayor. But so would Kriss Worthington. Personally, I still haven’t decided between them. The interesting wrinkle here is that Kriss has been enthusiastically endorsed by the East Bay (formerly Contra Costa) Times, the first progressive that I can remember who’s gotten this endorsement—with Arreguin their second choice. 

This is the important point the paper made in its endorsements: 

“We passed over Councilman Laurie Capitelli from District 5 despite his more moderate political perspective. Capitelli’s declaration that the city shouldn’t aim to fully pay off its retirement debt and his past ethical transgressions eliminated him from our list.”  

Exactly my opinion—and I don’t often agree with the Media News empire. 

For number three, you might want to check off Mike Lee, a true eccentric in the best Berkeley tradition who’s been articulate and persistent in raising important points in the election forums. 

District Two: Nanci Armstrong-Temple is an excellent option—but so is Cheryl Davila. It’s hard to choose, but either would be better than the incumbent, who’s strayed many times from the progressive agenda he supported when he first ran for office. He’s been an eager part of the ineffectual Moderate Majority, and he should be replaced. 

District Three: Ben Bartlett is a good choice for #1, except that he makes me feel old, since I’ve been friends with his father, Dale Bartlett, progressive icon Maudelle Shirek’s longtime aide, for many years. I also, however, like Mark Coplan for #2—a good man with good politics. I dealt with him often in the many years he did press relations for the Berkeley Unified School District. The unacceptable candidate is Deborah Matthews, a real estate industry spokesperson who never met a developer she didn’t like in her time on the zoning board. 

District Five: Sophie Hahn is outstanding, superbly qualified for the job, a proud product of the Berkeley public schools and Stanford Law. She was the choice of the EB Times as well, but oddly enough they forgot to link to the ethical transgressions of her opponent, which were also revealed in their paper. 

District Six: Here’s the place I’d really like to vote for two. An ideal candidate would combine Isabelle Gaston’s financial acumen with Fred Dodsworth’s articulateness and imagination—luckily I don’t live there, so I don’t have to choose between them. You can’t go wrong with either of them in the one-two slots. Avoid the incumbent in any slot—she’s been for too long a part of the do-nothing faction on the Berkeley City Council. 

I’ve seen most of these candidates in person at various forums, but last week I got an especially good look at them at the forum sponsored by the newly-minted Berkeley Democratic Caucus. This group is being spearheaded by residents of South and West Berkeley who are concerned with displacement of long-term residents, especially low-income renters. Their nucleus is participants in Friends of Adeline, people who are concerned about how development proposals will affect their area.  

Candidates for the Berkeley Rent Board were given plenty of time to make their points, and they were all impressive. The CALI slate (Christina Murphy, Leah Simon-Weisberg, Alejandro Soto-Vigil, Igor Tregub) the choice of the Berkeley Tenants Union and the Wellstone Club, looked smart and lively, though Judy Hunt seemed alert and thoughtful too. I’m not sure how ranked choice works in this race, but I could see adding her as an alternative to the first four if that’s possible. 

At this point I must confess that I don’t know enough about the school board race to endorse, but I’d gladly accept Public Comments from those who do, particularly current parents of students in BUSD. 



Berkeley Democratic Caucus endorses Jesse Arreguin for Mayor

Elisa Cooper
Saturday October 08, 2016 - 12:58:00 PM

The October 5th launch of the Berkeley Democratic Caucus, which took place at the South Berkeley Community Church, brought the power of local engagement to South Berkeley in the 2016 election season.

The audience of over 40 Berkeley residents packed the small church for the opportunity to hear the platforms of the candidates, and, after the campaign speeches, mingle with them in a warm and friendly space. Former Berkeley Mayor Gus Newport was in attendance and asked the candidates some challenging questions! 

“This meeting created opportunity for the community to come together,” said 30-year resident of Berkeley Charles Austin, “The issues discussed were on target. People were mainly talking about housing.” 

The following candidates addressed the audience and sought the endorsement of the Caucus: Jesse Arreguin, Naomi Pete, and Mike Lee (for Mayor); Cheryl Davila and Nanci Armstrong-Temple (for City Council District 2); Al Murray and Ben Bartlett (for City Council District 3); Sophie Hahn (for City Council District 5); Fred Dodsworth (for City Council District 6); and Judy Hunt of the FAIR slate versus Christina Murphy, Alejandro Soto-Vigil, Leah Simon-Weisburg, and Igor Tregub of the CALI slate (Rent Stabilization Board). 

While the Berkeley Democratic Caucus sponsored the event for the entire community, the gathering also served as the Caucus’s endorsement meeting. After the ballots were counted, the Caucus made the following endorsements. 

Mayor: Jesse Arreguin (Kriss Worthington second on the ranked choice ballot)
District 2:Nanci Armstrong-Temple (Cheryl Davila second on the ranked choice ballot) 

District 3: Ben Bartlett 

District 5: Sophie Hahn 

District 6: Fred Dodsworth 

Rent Stabilization Board: CALI slate (Christina Murphy, Alejandro Soto-Vigil, Leah Simon-Weisberg, Igor Tregub) 

The goal of the Berkeley Democratic Caucus is to promote equity and inclusion for all Berkeley residents, to highlight neighborhood disparities in City policy, and to reach out to engage the entire community in the democratic process. To this end, the Berkeley Democratic Caucus endorses candidates for political office that embody Berkeley’s great spirit of community empowerment. 

For further information or to join, please contact: Elisa Cooper:berkeleydemcaucus@gmail.com

Endorsements for state ballot measures

Tim Redmond, San Francisco Bay Guardian
Saturday October 08, 2016 - 03:08:00 PM

Editor's note: We've asked our friend Tim Redmond, former editor of the old San Francisco Bay Guardian, now editor of 48hills.org and steward of the SFBG's current endorsement venture, for permission to reprint his gloss on which state ballot measures to vote on, and why.  

Prop. 51 

School bonds 


The need for funding for K-12 and community college facilities is dire. There’s no way to argue against $9 billion in state bonds to help local communities upgrade ebonds come out of the overall general fund, in this case to the tune of $500 million a year, and while everyone in Sacramento wants to borrow money for good causes, it’s hard to find many who want to raise taxes on the wealthy to pay for it. Still: Vote yes. 


Prop. 52 

Medi-Cal hospital fee 


Complex, technical, but the bottom line is that private hospitals would pay a fee to pay for uninsured and Medi-Cal patients. If you think that private hospitals in CA are just charities, go check out the financials of the likes of Kaiser and Sutter Health. They make billions. Vote yes. 


Prop. 53 

Revenue bond vote 


This is part of the same agenda that brought us Prop. 13. The anti-tax folks want to make it harder for government to raise money. Revenue bonds aren’t backed by taxpayers; they’re backed by, say, the income from an airport or a public-power agency. The reality is that this is funded by a rich Central Valley farmer who doesn’t like the governor’s plans for new water tunnels or high-speed rail. We don’t like the tunnels, either; we do like the trains. Either way, this is a really stupid way to make policy. Vote no. 


Prop. 54 

Legislative sunshine 


This is going to pass with about 70 percent of the vote, and it should. The state Legislature has a habit of introducing new elements to bills at the last minute, just before a session ends. Rotten special-interest riders hike onto unrelated bills; legislator voting on hundreds of measures don’t get a chance to scrutinize what’s going on. Prop. 54 also mandates that all sessions of the Legislature and its committees be streamed on video. Vote yes. 


Prop. 55 

Tax extension on the rich 


In 2009, in the middle of the Great Recession, the state imposed a modest increase in taxes on the most wealthy, people with incomes of more than $250,000 a year. That tax is set to expire in 2018. The rich are even richer, the needs are even more serious, and drop of as much as $9 billion in state revenue would be devastating. Yes, yes, yes. 


Prop. 56 

Cigarette tax 


The state’s tobacco tax is only 87 cents a pack. Prop. 56 raises it by $2. The evidence is pretty clear that smoking costs the state billions in health-care costs, and that higher taxes reduce use (particularly among young people.) Vote yes. 


Prop. 57 

Earlier parole 


Prop. 57 – Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature measure for this fall — is a significant step toward reforming the state’s crazy, racist, inhumane criminal justice system. The measure would allow the possibility of parole for some 30,000 nonviolent felons who are now stuck in long sentences. It would also require a judge – not just a prosecutor – to decide whether a juvenile should be tried as an adult. And it allows prison authorities to allow inmates “good time” – that is, a reduction in their sentences for good behavior. In reality, only a few thousand would likely be set free any single year, and while this won’t solve the prison overcrowding problem, it will help. Vote yes. 


Proposition 58 


English language learning 

The description of this measure is a bit confusing, but its impact would be simple: It would guarantee that public schools in California have the right to use bilingual or immersion education as part of the curriculum for English learners. It would overturn outdated and ineffective “English only” rules. Every credible education group supports it. Vote yes. 


Proposition 59 

Overturning Citizens United 

Prop. 59 is one of those policy statements that we often see on the ballot in San Francisco but not so much at the state level. It has no immediate impact; it doesn’t change any laws. But it would put California voters on record urging Congress and the courts to overturn the Citizens United decision that allows for unregulated campaign spending by corporations. The momentum to overturn that decision is growing – and for California, the nation’s largest state, to take a strong position would send a national signal. Vote Yes. 


Proposition 60 

Condoms in porn films 

This is one of those measures that sounds sensible – until you stop and think about it. Prop. 60 would mandate that adult film performers use condoms “during filming of sexual intercourse.” Sure, public health and workplace safety, right? 

Except that the performers themselves are opposed. Public health organizations are opposed. Because this makes no sense and shows no comprehension of how the porn industry actually works these days. 

There are still big outfits like Vivid Studios and Kink.com, but a lot of the industry is now pretty homegrown – performers make and produce their own videos. Under Prop. 60, if they aren’t using condoms, they could be sued anytime. Their real names and addresses could become public. 

And it seems to be a solution in search of a problem: There isn’t one documented case of a person getting infected with HIV on a porn set in California. Performers are tested regularly. 

There’s no question that the state regulators who handle workplace safety – that is, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration – is behind the times on creating rules for porn studios. There may be instances when a performer who wants to use a condom is told not to – and that’s a problem. But Cal-OSHA should be writing the regulations – and this measure will likely either drive porn films out of state or underground, in either case encouraging less, not more, regulation. Both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party are against this. So are we. 


Proposition 61 

Drug prices 

This one also sounds confusing and bureaucratic. What it really does is mandate that the state pay no more for prescription drugs than the federal Veterans Administration. It’s part of a national movement that says Big Pharma charges too much for medicine. The state has bargaining power, the VA generally gets way better deals than the state does, and the California Nurses Association supports it. So does Bernie Sanders. That’s good enough for us. 

Proposition 62 

Death penalty repeal 


The death penalty is barbaric. Most civilized countries have long since abolished it. It’s also hugely expensive and doesn’t work. 

Prop. 62 is the latest effort to get California out of the state-sponsored killing business. The last time around, the voters narrowly rejected a death-penalty repeal, but the vast cost (hundreds of millions of dollars), the growing evidence that innocent people have been sentenced to death, and the understanding that the death penalty has no deterrent effect, is imposed overwhelmingly on poor people of color, many of them with serious mental-health issues, is starting to turn the public around. This should be the year. Please: Vote yes. 


Proposition 63 

Ammunition sales 


California has better gun laws than a lot of states, and this will make the rules even tighter by focusing on two problems: It’s still relatively easy to buy ammunition (even over the Internet) and it’s hard to get guns out of the hands of people who are legally banned from owning them (felons and people convicted of domestic violence). Yes, Prop. 63 is a vehicle for Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who proposed it, to get his name out on a hot issue while he prepares his campaign for governor. But that doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea. 

The measure would require background checks for people who buy ammo and create a court process for removing guns from people who aren’t supposed to have them. Vote yes. 


Proposition 64 

Marijuana legalization 

This isn’t the law we would have written; it’s complex and has all sorts of rules that might not be needed. But still: Legalizing pot is about, oh, 50 years overdue. The measure allows local communities to set regulations around sales, sets licensing standards, and will bring the state hundreds of millions of dollars in new tax money. Oh, and save millions in wasted law-enforcement time. We all know prohibition is silly and doesn’t work. Vote yes. 


Proposition 65 

Carry out bags 


The plastic-bag industry, which sells something like a billion bags a year in the state, put this on the ballot to confuse voters and prevent the kind of real regulation that is in Prop. 67. It’s not an environmental issue; the real environmental groups are all against it. Vote no. 


Proposition 66 


Death penalty enforcement 


This one’s the opposite of Prop. 62. It’s devious and potentially terrible. The measure would seek to speed up the death-penalty process by eliminating Constitutional protections and imposing unrealistic timelines on prosecutors, defense lawyers, and the courts. It’s impossible for this to work without seriously risking the execution of an innocent person. It would overload local courts with work they aren’t prepared or funded to do. It’s a cynical attempt by the death-penalty lobby to confuse voters. No, No, No. 


Proposition 67 

Plastic bag ban 


San Francisco phased out single-use plastic bags years ago – and we seem to be doing fine. The idea of reusable shopping bags has caught on, the economic and consumer consequences are zero – and the environmental impacts of getting rid of a few billion plastic bags, which don’t decompose, aren’t recyclable, and kill fish and wildlife are huge. Vote yes.

Measures and Propositions: Progressive endorsers

Margot Smith
Friday October 07, 2016 - 04:13:00 PM

Editor's Note: We're eternally grateful to Margot Smith for all the good work she volunteers to publicize all sorts of good causes in both politics and the arts. Here are some excellent charts she's compiled of the recommendations of groups with a progressive bent for the local and state measures and propositions. Click on the pictures to enlarge them if the print's too small for you to read.  


Big Landlords Raise Big Bucks to Fight Measure U1

Rob Wrenn
Friday October 07, 2016 - 01:40:00 PM

A group sponsored by the Berkeley Property Owners Association (BPOA) has already spent more than $497,000 this year to defeat a common-sense measure to fund affordable housing. Measure U1, endorsed by every member of the City Council, would increase the business license tax paid by landlords who own five or more rental units in Berkeley from 1.08% to 2.88% of their gross receipts.

With rents soaring, landlords in Berkeley now collect $82 million more a year than five years ago. Measure U1 would collect an estimated $4 million in year one, with revenues gradually increasing over time. The median rent for new tenancies in two bedroom apartments in rent controlled buildings increased by 53% between 2011 and 2015.

The BPOA group sponsored an alternative measure, DD, which would raise the tax to only 1.5% and which does not exempt owners of fewer than five units from the increase. Measure DD is projected to raise only about $1.4 million each year. 


Record Campaign Spending 

The more than $497,000 spent so far this year by BPOA’s “Committee for Real Affordable Housing” already dwarfs previous spending on local ballot measures. Only Measure D, the 2014 soda tax, saw higher spending than this year’s assault against U1, with Big Soda spending $2.4 million that year. 

Spending on local ballot measures campaigns has usually been in the range of 25 cents to $1.25 per registered voter, with a few exceptions like Big Soda, but big landlords this year have already spent over $6 per voter. 

Proponents of U1 had, as of September 24, spent only $1,163 out of $43,647 contributed. Their contributions come from affordable housing developers such as Bridge Housing, with smaller contributions from individuals such as a BUSD teacher, UC professor, and an economist. 

Who is contributing to defeat Measure U1? 

The money to oppose Measure U1 is coming almost exclusively from large landlords and individuals identifying themselves as real estate investors. About 36% of the contributors to Measure DD report addresses outside Berkeley. 


Twenty largest contributors  

to NO on U1, Yes on DD 

As of September 24, 2016 


Vero Properties  




Durant Berkeley Partners  




KLS Associates  




Kasa Properties  




Prasad Lakireddy Property Mgt  




Seven Hills Investments, Corp  




Genirberg Siblings LLC  




2025 Durant Ave. LLC  




K&N Estate LLC  


$ 9,266.66  


M/B Apartments  


$ 8,821.50  


Key Route Partners LLC  


$ 8,626.70  


Everest Properties  


$ 7,882.16  


B&G Enterprises LLC  


$ 7,500.00  


Virginia College Associates  


$ 7,313.71  


Venkateswara Lakireddy  


$ 7,243.17  


Balaji Equity Management  


$ 5,431.50  


Square One Management  


$ 5,430.00  


2322 Shattuck Ave LLC  


$ 5,326.17  


Channing Partners LLC  


$ 4,946.40  


2501 Benvenue LLC  


$ 4,771.20  


Total 20 largest contributors  





The largest contribution to defeating Measure U1 comes from Vero Properties. A google search produces business listings that name Jay Lakireddy, 2278 Shattuck, as the principal at Vero Properties. 

If you’d like to see all the landlords, LLCs and “real estate investors” who have contributed to defeating Measure U1, you can find the reports on the City’s campaign finance disclosure page here

Big Lies from Big Landlords 

Where’s all this landlord money going? According to the form 460 campaign statements filed with the city, some of it is going to campaign consultants, lawyers, polling. And some is going to pay for deceptive mailers and doorhangers that have begun to turn up in local mailboxes and on local doorkobs. 

They claim that Measure U1 will hurt “mom and pop Berkeley landlords” even though it’s Measure U1, not Measure DD, that exempts small landlords from the tax increase. 

They cynically claim that the money raised by the increased tax won’t be used for affordable housing. But Measure U1 directs the city’s Housing Advisory Commission to make specific affordable housing recommendations to the City Council. Berkeley’s affordable housing developers support Measure U1 because they are confident that the additional revenue will be used for affordable housing. 

As with the soda tax measure in 2014, the City Council opted for a tax that only requires a simple majority to pass. To earmark funds so that Council could not even consider spending the money for something other than affordable housing would require a two-thirds vote. But affordable housing supporters knew that Big Landlords would borrow from the Big Soda playbook and would throw a lot of money into a campaign to defeat the measure. Last year the BPOA announced that their new organization would raise at least a half a million. It should be noted that Big Landlord-backed DD also only requires a simple majority to pass. 

DD’s backers distort why U1 temporarily exempts new housing from the tax. The real purpose of the exemption is to avoid discouraging new housing by adding additional costs in the first years after construction. Proposition 13 already taxes new housing more heavily than older housing and housing developers also have to pay local affordable housing fees. U1’s exemption is only temporary, so after 12 years this newer housing will be taxed as well, bringing in still more revenue for affordable housing. 

It is ironic that Berkeley’s landlords, who always tell us the solution to the housing crisis is to build more housing, now attack a temporary exemption for new housing as a “give-away”. But of course if Measure U1 didn’t have such a temporary exemption they would attack it for discouraging new housing. 

You can find a full response to the deceptive statements made by the YES on DD/No on U1 campaign in the first round of their literature here

East Bay state Senate District 9: Sandré Swanson

Becky O'Malley
Saturday October 08, 2016 - 03:14:00 PM

We’re supporting Sandre Swanson because he’s not beholden to the statewide Democratic establishment, reflected in Berkeley as the Bates/Capitelli Moderate Majority on the Berkeley City Council.

My own personal reason for liking Sandré is that he got his start working to support Shirley Chisholm for President in 1972, as did the superb Barbara Lee. I loved working on that campaign myself in Michigan, and am happy that we’ve all lived long enough to see an African-American and probably a woman elected to the presidency, though Ms. Chisholm would have been both at the same time. This district is one of the few in the state that can provide an African American voice at the state level, and we should just do it.  


Sandré's been endorsed by State Representative Tony Thurmond (who won himself as an upstart candidate) and the Wellstone Club, among others, as well as Bates’ wife, incumbent State Senator Loni Hancock. This last endorsement is puzzling to some, but insiders say she agreed to endorse Sandré in this race if he withdrew from a previous one against her, and isn’t that politics?

What's beyond Reich's endorsement? (Public Comment)

Joanna Graham
Friday October 07, 2016 - 01:34:00 PM

I have a pretty simple explanation for Robert Reich’s endorsement of Laurie Capitelli. Robert Reich worked for the Bill Clinton administration. So did Loni Hancock. Might they not have crossed paths at that time? If so, the Hancock-Bates crowd may be the crowd (or at least a crowd) that Reich hangs with now that he is in Berkeley. Dinner parties and all that. 

By the way, in Thomas Frank’s Listen Liberal, which I highly recommend, Frank explains that in the early 1990s, long before Reich became our most progressive mainstream economist, the guy who worries out loud about inequality, he wrote a book, The Work of Nations, that envisioned us Americans becoming knowledge workers, “symbolic analysts,” in a world in which mere labor would be outsourced to the poor in Mexico, China, Vietnam, etc. This was the world that the Clintons, with Reich as labor secretary, implemented, setting off the very processes that have gotten us to where we are today (including in Bates/Capitelli Berkeley, where homeless people beg in front of all those construction sites where million dollar condos for the rich are rising). Scratch Robert Reich and I suspect one finds under the surface a guy who’s happiest in the company of the comfortably well-off new Dems, whether Clintons or Bateses. 

New: About Robert Reich: Things Are Seldom What They Seem!!!

Harry Brill
Saturday October 08, 2016 - 09:15:00 PM

In 1993, when Robert Reich was head of head of the U.S. Department of Labor, he supported President Clinton's notorious NAFTA legislation, which decimated about 700,000 domestic jobs. In other ways as well, the law was harmful to working people and their families. He denied that there would be any major net job loss despite the evidence. Later on he acknowledged the damage NAFTA caused. 

Has Reich changed course since then? Rhetorically, yes. But in reality, not quite. Currently Reich is supporting Laurie Capitelli for mayor of Berkeley although Capitelli is among the most conservative members of the City Council. In fact, Reich attributes the recent victory of the minimum wage to Capitelli's work on the issue although the very opposite has been true. As among the most active participants in obtaining an improved minimum wage, I can say with certainty that this is false. Instead, among the key players were Jesse Arreguin, a latino, and Kriss Worthington, both progressive candidates, who are running against Capitelli for mayor. Arreguin is a very progressive latino who is serving on the city council. On labor issues, he is many light years ahead of Capitelli. 

Reich does not seem to be enthusiastic about local activists. Several years ago he had written critical comments about Berkeley's Tax the Rich group, which contained observations that were untrue. Reich lives in the same area where the Tax the Rich group rallies. Yet during our five years rallying on Solano Avenue he never stopped by even once to engage us. We are not beyond criticism but nor are we beyond reach, although Reich apparently thinks so.



Election endorsements in the works

Friday October 07, 2016 - 05:24:00 PM

AAND they’re OFF!

The ballots formerly known as “absentees”, for the use of those who will vote by mail, or by hand delivery to the county clerk, will be mailed out next week. When registered voters have them in hand, they can vote at home right away (even though it’s only October) and mail them back (don’t forget that stamp) or take them to the Alameda County Registrar of Voters Office, 1225 Fallon Street, Room G-1,Oakland, CA 94612. Or they can just show up at that office and vote there.

And if they forget to do any of these things, they can hand deliver their ballots to their local polling place on Election Day, November 8.

There is still time to register in a variety of ways, right up until 15 days before the election. Look here for the details.

It’s customary for publications of various sorts to endorse candidates, and since some of our readers will be voting next week, we should get down to brass tacks.

This weekend I’ll be working on a roundup of all credible endorsements, to be posted in the "Election Section" in this issue as fast as I can get around to it. Stay tuned.  




Public Comment

Objections to Mather LifeWays/PSR demolition and development plans, #ZP2016-0165, 1798 Scenic Avenue

Berkeley neighbors of Pacific School of Religion (see below)
Saturday October 08, 2016 - 06:32:00 PM

An open letter to Carol Johnson, Acting Director, Berkeley Planning Department, Berkeley City Council

Berkeley is a unique city, blessed with numerous historic resources. Unfortunately, some of the most iconic architectural heritage sites throughout Berkeley have not been designated as city landmarks owing to a state-mandated religious exemption. Currently, many local religious institutions are experiencing financial difficulties and considering alternative uses of their buildings and lands. The key issue is whether an alternative use will respect the heritage of the site or desecrate it.

We would like the leaders and managers of the City of Berkeley to work to ensure that religious exemption does not become systemically used as a loophole for destroying historic resources in Berkeley, and to see to it that reuse occurs in a manner that respects and retains their historic fabric and character and that of the neighborhoods in which they are located.

A prime example of this issue is the proposed project at the Pacific School of Religion’s campus, located on what is commonly known as Holy Hill. This project represents a worst-case scenario in terms of balancing reuse with preservation of historic character and open space. The project would demolish, rather than incorporate, many buildings of architectural significance; it would cut down redwood groves and live oak stands; reduce and enclose open space; and block off one of the most iconic bay vistas available to the public. Beyond the damage done to the Pacific School of Religion campus, this project would destroy the fabric of the surrounding residential neighborhood through the introduction of density that is totally out of scale with the area and cannot be supported by existing single-lane road access.

The PSR/Mather proposal will be a testing ground for Berkeley: Do we intend to allow development to destroy the elements that make our city unique, or shall we cultivate our development to preserve our historical treasures? Do we want to follow the architectural sameness found in every suburb, or can we take a stand to retain those unique spaces and buildings that fill Berkeley’s residents with civic pride and spiritual uplift? We choose the latter.  


1. Increased congestion: Being adjacent to one of the largest universities in California, the neighborhood is extremely inappropriate for a large retirement condominium/nursing home complex spanning the whole block bounded by Scenic Avenue, Virginia Street, and Arch Street. Thousands of university students, professors, and staff converge on this area every morning and flow down Euclid, Hearst, and Virginia streets every evening as they come and go from the University. Already food delivery trucks block the area between Hearst and Ridge Road on Euclid every weekday morning. To add to this daily congestion the delivery trucks, emergency vehicles, and resident, staff, and visitor vehicles associated with this project would make the area impassable both mornings and evenings and at times throughout the day. 

2. Unsuitable site and location: Parts of this neighborhood are too steep for people with mobility problems and present serious challenges for a large housing complex and senior longterm care facility. Such a facility is incompatible with this neighborhood of apartments, homes, and educational institutions. A proposal to place elderly people in a high cost residential/geriatric care institution at this location a block from the University of California does not serve the Berkeley community, nor the Northside neighborhood, nor the geriatric, end-of-life care community. 

3. Neighborhood preservation: The houses and apartments along Virginia Street, in conjunction with the apartment buildings on Arch Street and Scenic Avenue, are part of the Daley’s Scenic Park tract, subdivided in 1889 and the oldest residential neighborhood in the North Berkeley hills, representing an important time and style of architectual design and neighborhood construction in our community. The existing buildings on Virginia Street, threatened with demolition by this proposal, were constructed in the late 1920s, following the 1923 fire which destroyed much of the Northside. During the current housing crisis the destruction of any housing is absolutely inappropriate, but it is especially unacceptable to destroy housing with historic character that contributes to neighborhood fabric and cohesiveness.  

4. Inadequate transit access: Adding a high density residential/nursing care complex to the neighborhood would intensify the congestion already present here. The complicated intersection of Ridge Road, Scenic Avenue, and Le Conte Avenue at the top of the hill on the east side is already a difficult, dangerous area for traffic and pedestrians. Given the steep uphill approach to this intersection from three of the five converging streets, the idea of a roundabout is simply ludicrous and would create a dangerous pedestrian situation in the middle of the Graduate Theological Union complex. To add 500 new residents and another one or two hundred staff, their cars, their visitors’ cars, delivery vehicles, and emergency vehicles is clearly untenable. On the west side of the proposed development, Arch Street is a very narrow street with no visibility of oncoming vehicles, always dangerous as one faces unseen oncoming uphill traffic. Such a site for a dense new residential/geriatric care development would guarantee accidents and pedestrian casualties. 

5. Loss of historic resources: The PSR campus is an important historic resource, both as a whole and in its components. Among the architecturally notable buildings slated for demolition are Benton Hall (Walter H. Ratcliff, 1925); d’Autremont Hall (Ratcliff, Haymond, and Ratcliff, c.1950); the Chapel of the Great Commission (Herbert J. Powell, 1955-56); and the Seeley G. Mudd Bldg. (Charles Stickney, 1980).  

6. Loss of open space: Open space is rare on the Northside. The city of Berkeley owns the right-of-way known as Ridge Path that traverses the PSR campus from the corner of Le Conte Avenue and Scenic Avenue to Arch Street. It is 1.7 acres, 75,000 square feet of public space. Ridge Road was a street across the top of the hill which the Pacific School of Religion turned into a “path,” but it continues to be a public passageway. This right-of-way would be effectively eliminated by the MatherLifeWays/PSR project, setting a bad precedent for all right-of-way paths in Berkeley. The public right-of-way on Holy Hill, as it’s affectionately called by the neighborhood, has long been a special gathering place for community members for its magnificent view of Berkeley and the Bay, unmatched by any other Northside public location except the Rose Garden. It is used by the neighborhood as a place to walk and to view the sunset, to walk dogs, a safe place for children to ride bikes, accessible by the Arch Street steps or the entrance at Scenic and Le Conte. The dense Mather development would displace this invaluable community amenity by crowding large buildings into the open space and funneling access on the west side through an archway in an institutional building.  

7. Inappropriate scale: the monster scope of the project would permanently warp the nature of our North Berkeley neighborhood. The massive demolition and construction required over a three or more year span would be a major disruption not only for the immediate neighbors, but throughout the entire area of Berkeley north of the UCB campus. 

8. Fire Zone: Berkeley General Plan Land Use Element 7C advises careful review and regulation of any additional residential development in the Hill Fire Hazard Area. PSR/Mather Lifeway's proposal is by far the highest density residential development in the Hill Fire Hazard Area, including one of the largest private parking garages in the city and the largest in the Hill Fire Hazard Area. Many of the residents will have limited mobility and will be unable to flee on foot. To add cars exiting a 285-car parking garage to a limited number of escape routes could spell gridlock and disaster.  



9. Consequences of the loss of PSR/Graduate Theological Union student housing: The housing units owned by the Pacific School of Religion house not only the school’s own students but also many students from other member schools in the Graduate Theological Union (GTU) consortium. Especially in view of Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary’s recent decision to sell its residential property on Marin Avenue, the demolition of PSR’s housing units would drastically reduce affordable housing options open to PSR and other GTU students. Seminarians and graduate students are generally low-income and would therefore not be able to afford market-rate housing in the area, one of the most expensive real estate markets anywhere in the nation. If PSR is allowed to demolish its student housing, all its largely low-income residential students will be displaced, and Northside will lose the unique gifts and contributions that seminarians bring to the wider neighborhood. Indeed, without the ability to provide affordable housing to its students, the GTU as we know it could very well fold, striking an axe-blow to the character our Northside community. 


When PSR acquired the majority of properties on the south side of the 2300 block of Virginia Street in the 1960s, it made implicit promises that the properties would be used solely for their student housing as written in the use-permits. Their selling of the properties to an out-of-state real estate developer appears to renege on those promises. The alternative of selling the properties as-is to the market is far less disruptive and is consistent with the preservation of the neighborhood. 

If this out-of-state developer gets approval to place an unwanted large-scale project in our north Berkeley neighborhood, it will set a precedent. All neighborhoods in Berkeley will then be subject to unwanted developments without the protections that the people of Berkeley expect from their city government. If it can happen here, it can happen anywhere in Berkeley. 

The undersigned fully appreciate the need for affordable senior housing in Berkeley as well as student housing. Our concern with this project is its inappropriate location and its high cost for senior housing and its intent to demolish all the residential buildings along the south side of the 2300 block of Virginia Street except a privately-owned house, that currently provide housing for PSR students and other GTU students, with no provision for replacing them. 


Doug & Andrea Arnstein  

Sebastian Chouillet & Peggy Chu 

Mishell & Kiki Erikson 

Fred Dodsworth 

Nancy Feinberg 

Jeanne Foster 

Linda Franklin 

Christian & Erinn Geideman 

The Hamilton Rubin family – Mike, Jennifer, Roxanne & Ben 

Hawley Sterling Holmes 

Jill Israel & William Karp 

The Kibby Donaldson family – Robin Brian, Ben & Albert 

The Lum Hohnmeyer family – Lisa, Michael, Inigo, Dane & Linus  

Patricia Malmstrom 

Chunyi & Jeff McIver  

Dean Metzger 

Elvira Orly 

Jessica Parker, Peter Molnar, Eszter & Gabriel Molnar 

Michael Parman 

Jim Sharp 

The Steeley/Shapiro family – Tara, Jay & Lyla 

Carol Stone & Steven Jepsen 

Judy Sui & Bruce Bernhard 

Daniella Thompson  

Monique Webster & Jon Kerry-Tyerman, Kailani & Indio 

Kathleen Weaver & Bob Baldock 

Helene & Bill Whitson 

Charlene & Bill Woodcock  

The Housing Crisis in Berkeley

Michael Diehl
Saturday October 08, 2016 - 10:17:00 AM
 Housing activists speak to a local reporter about the little tent city they set up near the Berkeley Food and Housing Project in early October. Activist Michael Diehl (at right) is shown taking part in the demonstration.
Carol Denney
Housing activists speak to a local reporter about the little tent city they set up near the Berkeley Food and Housing Project in early October. Activist Michael Diehl (at right) is shown taking part in the demonstration.

Every day I hear the desperation of people on the street. We need a revival of street action and protest in Berkeley.

Fences everywhere. Construction everywhere. Berkeley, driven in part by the expansion policies of the University of California, is developing big time. During the week of September 17, many members of the houseless community and residents found a large section of downtown Berkeley fenced off with “no trespassing” signs put up as the public commons is once again taken away from us. 

As the Downtown Plan development is kicking into gear, we have already seen that homeless services are being driven out of the downtown area, and Business Improvement Districts with their ambassadors are trying to move the houseless people out. The latter have no place to go, since every other city in the Bay Area is also gentrifying and pushing people out. 

Down at the Gilman Street overpass on Second Street, fences keep going up and then are torn down again as homeless people keep moving there in opposition to Caltrans and the City of Berkeley trying to push them out. Some of the homeless residents were injured by the roughness of the eviction this summer. 

On Durant and Dana Street in front of Trinity Methodist Church, fences have gone up to prevent homeless people from hanging out and sleeping there. The Food Project no longer serves meals there and the Berkeley Free Clinic will soon be gone too. A rich developer would like to buy up the block from the Methodist Church and St. Mary’s to build more of the student housing we have seen built on the corner of Durant and Ellsworth. 

On Saturday, October 15, starting at 1 p.m. there will be an event calling attention to the Housing Crisis in the East Bay. In the afternoon, there will be speakers on the issue from Homes not Jails and music. At 6 p.m., be ready for some kind of housing action. 

Last March, the Berkeley City Council passed an ordinance sponsored, ironically enough, by developer and mayoral candidate Laurie Capitelli, to use eminent domain to take over empty abandoned houses in the city for housing the houseless. 

According to the City, there are 120 empty multi-units in Berkeley, but even Capitelli cannot get hold of the list showing where these units are. On October 15, I intend to tell you where some of those empty buildings are, and if you come to the housing action, to show you where they are. 

Meanwhile, Berkeley has moved to cut back on homeless services in the name of Housing First. The problem is that Berkeley is doing a very poor job of providing that housing. The Hub has received so much of the money available for homelessness in Berkeley, yet it is getting very poor results since its implementation at the start of the year. 

Homelessness has greatly increased in Berkeley from a low of about 500 just before the 2008 housing bust and recession, to 1200 people in last January’s count — and it is probably higher now. 

Rather than things getting better in terms of housing availability, they have gotten considerably worse since the passage of the still-to-be implemented anti-homeless laws back in December 2015. One of the leaders of the Liberty camp, Mike Lee, is seeking to keep this issue front and center by running for mayor as a way of raising homeless issues. 

The City of Berkeley is moving to begin implementing its anti-homeless laws, with storage units being prepared in the basement of the building where the City Council has its meetings. This is to justify the increased confiscation of homeless people’s belongings, which is already occurring, and will be implemented further under the new law. 

Meanwhile, while strengthening the enforcement of public urination and defecation laws, the availability of public restrooms has gotten worse with the loss of the Center Street bathrooms. 

Four of the five mayoral candidates I am aware of opposed the anti-homeless laws. Only City Councilmember Laurie Capitelli supported their implementation. 

There are important initiatives on the November ballot in Bay Area cities to create more funding for affordable housing, with Berkeley’s Measure U! taxing developers who are benefiting from the housing boom. Oakland’s Measure JJ will strengthen the Just Cause laws in the face of more people being pushed out of their residences during the recent gentrification housing pressures. 

Alameda County has a measure that will provide more funding for Housing First efforts and it needs a two-thirds vote to pass. Other Bay Area counties also have similar measures on the ballot.  

This year, Berkeley city planner Michael Caplan talked to the City Council about putting housing up in People’s Park; but outgoing Mayor Tom Bates objected to it being brought up. Now there is talk that there are secret meetings being held to discuss putting student housing on the northeast corner of People’s Park. I know the University of California has other places it could house students. The Village off of Telegraph is being torn down for such a use, and there is an empty building on Clark Kerr campus that could house approximately 60 people. 

In the 1960s, many people in Berkeley opposed UC’s expansion plans. But now we are seeing a much bigger expansion push by the university which is taking over much of downtown Berkeley, and still wants to expand into the Southside and grab parts of West Berkeley. 

We have a city government that has sold itself out to this university development. Where is the outrage? 

We People’s Park activists do want to reach out to students in our common cause of housing issues. But it must be done in such a way that we, the dispossessed, are not further pushed out of Berkeley and criminalized and labeled as having some kind of mental problem, or stigmatized for being the victims of capitalist developers and new tech industries. We are not “with it,” but tragically unhip — or, in the case of some of the talented street youth, maybe too tragically hip. Hell, we cannot collect and sell cans any more. 

At present, there is a court case by the Alameda County district attorney against Land Action for using adverse possession laws to claim empty houses. There are still at least seven empty living units for every homeless person in Alameda County, which is why the system wants to shut down the squatters movement that I urge people to join. Homes Not Jails meets weekly in north Oakland’s Omni, if you want to get involved. 

Go to candidate forums leading up to the election and let them know that the present housing situation is unacceptable. I urge you not only to support this paper but get involved and let the people in power know they cannot just give lip service to this issue, and that their present track record is miserable. 

Many of the people I have known were barely hanging on before and are now losing their housing. That has also happened to me, personally. I worked as a community organizer and peer street outreach worker for 14 years for BOSS, but now I am jobless and have been homeless for three months. 

As a client of homeless services myself, I see how desperately ineffective our current housing policies are and how they have failed to address the unfortunately growing problem of houselessness — a problem that cannot just be swept out of sight and out of mind. 

Because I am still seen as the mayor of the streets, every day I hear the desperation of others who are living on the street, and I keep hoping somehow I can do something to help. I have helped get people off the streets over the years, and I was relatively good at it. 

But now I feel I must appeal to your humanity and ask you to join us on October 15 in saying, “Enough is enough.” It will take a revival of street action and protest to improve the lives of those hit hard by this housing crisis. 

Given my present circumstances, I am afraid there is very little that I can do but put together this housing crisis event, write this article, and try to give a voice to people very much threatened with losing what little voice they have.

Send vibration of love and peace

Romila Khanna
Friday October 07, 2016 - 05:57:00 PM

Americans have always thought and debated to find the best solutions to address their problems. More recently, over the past seven years, Congress has not paid attention to the dire need of poor and needy people to have safety and security. Our failed immigration system, our inability to control the drug trade, and guns in the hands of insane people, is making our own country a miniature war zone where innocent people die from gun violence. We pay more attention to the other countries and their terrorists attacks but we forget to screen and remove terrorist networks here. 

We have tried to link all gun violence and bombardment to terrorists and attacked some other countries that harbor terrorists. We created war zones and lost many brave men and women who fought to save us from terror creating monsters.  

In my opinion, we must change. Invasion and war will not bring peace and prosperity. It is easy to mend relationships with those who hate us by sending vibrations of love and peace. Just by sending armed forces will not restore our friendly relations with other nations. We will have the fear of attacks, forever. We will not be able to stop the train of terrorists.


THE PUBLIC EYE: Is It Possible to Reconcile with Trump Voters?

Bob Burnett
Friday October 07, 2016 - 01:30:00 PM

The last question asked in the October 4th vice-presidential was on a subject all Americans should worry about: "It has been a divisive campaign... if your ticket wins, what specifically are you going to do to unify the country and reassure the people who voted against you?" Democrat Tim Kaine replied that he was confident that Hillary Clinton could unify the US because she is a proven conciliator. Republican Mike Pence asserted Donald Trump would unify the country by making "America great again." 

If Clinton wins, is unity possible? 

The latest Huffington Post Poll of Polls shows Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump 48.4 percent to 41.6 percent. Probably the hard-core Trump base is around 30 percent of voters. 

Two years ago, Pew Research released a "Typology of American politics." The Pew typology distinguished between three classes of voters: the general public, registered voters, and the “politically engaged.” In the category “politically engaged” there were three categories of Republicans: “Steadfast Conservatives: socially conservative populists” at 19 percent; “Business Conservatives: Pro-Wall street, pro-immigrant” at 17 percent; and “Young Outsiders: conservative views on government, not on social issues” at 11 percent. The hard-core Trump base is probably composed of “Steadfast Conservatives” and “Young Outsiders” for 30 percent -- roughly the size of the Tea Party movement. 

In March, Bill Moyers interviewed Dr. Robert Jones, whose organization conducted the “American Values Survey.” Dr. Jones said that Trump voters: “… are best understood not as values voters, not even as Tea Party voters, but as nostalgia voters, these voters that are looking back to — they’re culturally and economically disaffected voters that are anxious to hold on to a white conservative Christian culture that’s passing from the scene.” The Trump voters are united by their skepticism about government: both the perceived failings of the Obama Administration (and, by association, Hillary Clinton) and their negative feelings about immigration. 

Berkeley Professor Lawrence Rosenthal, , Executive Director of the Center for Right-Wing Studies,has amplified this description. Rosenthal says Trump supporters are a new form of right-wing populism -- a blend of the Tea Party plus the "alt-right" ("a rebranding of classic white nationalism.") They are united by their disdain for immigrants and "elites," including Wall Street, Washington, and Hollywood. They feel "their" country slipping away and believe their children will have a tougher life than they do. (Rosenthal observed that, before Trump, the model for these voters was Sarah Palin, who during her 2008 campaign for Vice President, expressed the same anger and disdain for political correctness.) 

In an August 15th study for the Gallup organization, Jonathan Rockwell offered a more nuanced view of Trump voters: "His supporters are less educated and more likely to work in blue collar occupations, but they earn relatively high household incomes... no other presidential candidate from either party received greater support from places with high white mortality, high segregation, and low mobility." In other words, the Trump voters live in segregated failing communities. They are angry and Trump has channeled this anger. 

The New Yorker’s George Saunders observed the Trump campaign: "From the beginning, America has been of two minds about the Other. One mind says, be suspicious of it, dominate it, deport it, exploit it, enslave it, kill it as needed. The other mind denies that there can be any such thing as the Other, in the face of the claim that all are created equal... The first mind has always held violence nearby, to use as needed." Trump voters are those who hold the first mind; who are extremely fearful of "the Other." 

Trump has ruthlessly exploited this base and amplified their fear. New Yorker contributor Saunders characterized Trump as "a fan of winning by any means necessary, exploiting our recent dullness and our aversion to calling stupidity, stupidity." 

Hillary Clinton will likely become the 45th president. Her biggest challenge will be unifying the country, particularly the hardcore Trump voters. It will be a daunting task. 

Writing in the Huffington Post , liberal commentator Robert Kuttner lamented that Trump has unloosed "the forces of real hate... Trump will have goons as poll watchers. He will find ways to insist that the election was stolen. He will continue to make more mischief, impeaching the legitimacy of our institutions." 

All voters should hope that Hillary Clinton is as good at reconciliation as her running-mate, Tim Kaine, says she is. After the election, Hillary will reach out to Trump voters but they won't take her seriously. To bridge the social chasm between her advocates and the Trump folks, Hillary will have to provide real economic change (good jobs and a lessening of inequality). Hillary will have to give them a reason to be hopeful, convince that America really is great. 

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

DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE:U.S. Diplomacy: A Dangerous Proposal

Conn Hallinan
Friday October 07, 2016 - 02:00:00 PM

While the mainstream media focuses on losers and winners in the race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, there is a largely unreported debate going on over the future course of U.S. diplomacy. Its outcome will have a profound effect on how Washington projects power—both diplomatic and military—in the coming decade. 

The issues at stake are hardly abstract. The U.S. is currently engaged in active wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, Yemen and Somalia. It has deployed troops on the Russian border, played push and shove with China in Asia, and greatly extended its military footprint on the African continent. It would not be an exaggeration to say—as former U.S. Secretary of Defense William Perry has recently done—that the world is a more dangerous place today than it was during darkest times of the Cold War. 

Tracking the outlines of this argument is not easy, in part because the participants are not always forthcoming about what they are proposing, in part because the media oversimplifies the issues. In its broadest framework, it is “realists,” represented by former National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger, Harvard’s Steven Walt, and University of Chicago’s John Mearsheimer, versus “humanitarian interventionists” like current UN Ambassador Samantha Power. Given that Power is a key advisor to the Obama administration on foreign policy and is likely to play a similar role if Clinton is elected, her views carry weight. 

In a recent essay in the New York Review of Books, Power asks, “How is a statesman to advance his nation’s interests?” She begins by hijacking the realist position that U.S. diplomacy must reflect “national interests,” arguing they are indistinguishable from “moral values”: what happens to people in other countries is in our “national security.” 

Power—along with Clinton and former President Bill Clinton—has been a long-time advocate of “responsibility to protect,” or R2P, behind which the U.S. intervened in the Yugoslav civil war and overthrew the Muammar Gaddafi regime in Libya. Hillary Clinton has argued forcibly for applying R2P to Syria by setting up “no fly zones” to block Syrian and Russian planes from bombing insurgents and the civilians under their control. 

But Power is proposing something different than humanitarian intervention. She is suggesting that the U.S. elevate R2P to the level of national security, which sounds uncomfortably like an argument for U.S. intervention in any place that doesn’t emulate the American system.  

What is most telling about where all this leads is her choice of examples: Russia, China, and Venezuela, all currently in Washington’s crosshairs. Of these, she spends the most time on Moscow and the current crisis in Ukraine, where she accuses the Russians of weakening a “core independent norm” by supporting insurgents in Ukraine’s east, “lopping off part of a neighboring country” by seizing the Crimea, and suppressing the news of Russian intervention from its own people. Were the Russian media to report on the situation in Ukraine, she writes, “many Russians might well oppose” the conflict. 

Power presents no evidence for this statement because none exists. Regardless of what one thinks of Moscow’s role in Ukraine, the vast majority of Russians are not only aware of it, but overwhelmingly support President Vladimir Putin on the issue. From the average Russian’s point of view, NATO has been steadily marching eastwards since the end of the Yugoslav war. It is Americans who are deployed in the Baltic and Poland, not Russians gathering on the borders of Canada and Mexico. Russians are a tad sensitive about their borders, given the tens of millions they lost in World War II, something that Power seems oblivious of. 

What Power seems incapable of doing is seeing how countries like China and Russia view the U.S. That point of view is an essential skill in international diplomacy, because it is how one determines whether or not an opponent poses a serious threat to one’s national security. 

Is Russia—as President Obama recently told the UN—really “attempting to recover lost glory through force,” or is Moscow reacting to what it perceives as a threat to its own national security? Russia did not intervene in Ukraine until the U.S. and its NATO allies supported the coup against the President Viktor Yanukovych government and ditched an agreement that had been hammered out among the European Union, Moscow, and the U.S. to peacefully resolve the crisis. 

Power argues that there was no coup, but U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and the U.S. Ambassador to the Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt were caught on tape talking about how to “mid-wife” the takeover and choosing the person they wanted to put in place. 

As for “lopping off” Crimea, Power had no problem with the U.S. and NATO “lopping off” Kosovo from Serbia in the Yugoslav War. In both cases local populations—in Crimea by 96 percent—supported the takeovers. 

Understanding how other countries see the world does not mean one need agree with them, but there is nothing in Moscow’s actions that suggests it is trying to re-establish an “empire,” as Obama characterized its behavior in his recent speech to the UN. When Hillary Clinton compared Putin to Hitler, she equated Russia with Nazi Germany, which certainly posed an existential threat to our national security. But does anyone think that comparison is valid? In 1939, Germany was the most powerful country in Europe with a massive military. Russia has the 11th largest economy in the world, trailing even France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy and Brazil. Turkey has a larger army. 

Power’s view of what is good for the Russian people is a case in point. While one can hardly admire the oligarchy that dominates Russia—and the last election would seem to indicate considerable voter apathy in the country’s urban centers—the “liberals” Power is so enamored with were the people who instituted that so-called economic “shock therapy” in the 1990s that impoverished tens of millions of people and brought about a calamitous drop in life expectancy. That track record is unlikely to get one elected. In any case, Americans are hardly in a position these days to lecture people about the role oligarchic wealth plays in manipulating elections. 

The Chinese are intolerant of internal dissent, but the Washington’s argument with Beijing is over sea-lanes, not voter rolls. 

China is acting the bully in the South China Sea, but it was President Bill Clinton who sparked the current tensions in the region when he deployed two aircraft carrier battle groups in the Taiwan Straits in 1995-96 during a tense standoff between Taipei and the mainland. China did not then—and does not now—have the capacity to invade Taiwan, so Beijing’s threats were not real. But the aircraft carriers were very real, and they humiliated—and scared—China in its home waters. It was that incident that directly led to China’s current accelerated military spending and its heavy-handed actions in the South China Sea. 

Again, there is a long history here. Starting with the Opium Wars of 1839 and 1860, followed by the Sino-Japanese War of 1895 and Tokyo’s invasion of China in World War II, the Chinese have been invaded and humiliated time and again. Beijing’s view of the Obama administration’s “Asia pivot” is that it is aimed at surrounding China with U.S. allies. 

While that might be an over simplification—the Pacific has long been America’s largest market— it is a perfectly rational conclusion to draw from the deployment of U.S. Marines to Australia, the positioning of nuclear-capable forces in Guam and Wake, the siting of anti-ballistic missile systems in South Korea and Japan, and the attempt to tighten military ties with India, Indonesia and Vietnam.  

“If you are a strategic thinker in China, you don’t have to be a paranoid conspiracy theorist to think that the U.S. is trying to bandwagon Asia against China,” says Simon Tay, chair of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs. 

As for Venezuela, the U.S. supported the 2002 coup against Hugo Chavez and has led a campaign of hostility against the government ever since. For all its problems, the Chavez government cut poverty rates from 70 percent of the population to 21 percent, and extreme poverty from 40 percent to 7.3 percent. Infant mortality fell from 25 per 1,000 to 13 per 1,000, the same as for Black Americans.  

And the concern for the democratic rights of Venezuelans apparently doesn’t extend to the people of Honduras. When a military coup overthrew a progressive government in 2009, the U.S. pressed other Latin American countries to recognize the illegal government that took over in its wake. While opposition forces in Venezuela get tear-gassed and a handful jailed, in Honduras they are murdered by death squads. 

Power’s view that the U.S. stands for virtue instead of simply pursuing its own interests is a uniquely American delusion. “This is an image that Americans have of themselves,” says Jeremy Shapiro, research director of the European Council on Foreign Relations, “but is not shared, even by their allies.” 

The “division” between “realists” and R2P is an illusion. Both end up in the same place: confronting our supposed competitors and supporting our allies, regardless of how they treat their people. While she is quick to call the Russians in Syria “barbarous,” she is conspicuously silent on the U.S.’s support for Saudi Arabia’s air war in Yemen, which has targeted hospitals, markets and civilians. 

The argument that another country’s internal politics is a national security issue for the U.S. elevates R2P to a new level, sets the bar for military intervention a good deal lower than it is today, and lays the groundwork for an interventionist foreign policy that will make the Obama administration look positively pacifist. 

It is impossible to separate this debate from the current race for the White House. Clinton has been hawkish on most international issues, and she is not shy about military intervention. 

She has also surrounded herself with some of the same people who designed the Iraq war, including founders of the Project for a New American Century. It is rumored that if she wins she will appoint former Defense Department official Michele Flournay Secretary of Defense. Flournay has called for bombing Assad’s forces in Syria. 

On the other hand, Trump has been less than coherent. He has made some reasonable statements about cooperating with the Russians and some distinctly scary ones about China. He says he is opposed to military interventions, although he supported the war in Iraq (and now lies about it). He is alarmingly casual about the use of nuclear weapons. 

In Foreign Affairs, Stephen Walt, a leading “realist,” says Trump’s willingness to consider breaking the nuclear taboo makes him someone who “has no business being commander in chief.” Other countries, writes Walt, “are already worried about American power and the ways it gets used. The last thing we need is an American equivalent of the impetuous and bombastic Kaiser Wilhelm II.” 

The Kaiser was a major force behind World War I, a conflict that inflicted 38 million casualties. 

Whoever wins in November will face a world in which Washington can’t call all the shots. As Middle East expert Patrick Cockburn points out, “The U.S. remains a superpower, but is no longer as powerful as it once was.” While it can overthrow regimes it doesn’t like, “It can’t replace what has been destroyed.” 

Power’s framework for diplomacy is a formula for a never- ending cycle of war and instability. 


Conn Hallinan can be read at dispatchesfromtheedgeblog.wordpress.com and middlemepireseries.wordpress.com 











SMITHEREENS: Reflections on Bits and Pieces

Gar Smith
Friday October 07, 2016 - 01:50:00 PM

"Equity Permits": from Oaksterdam to Wall Street

SF Chronicle columnist Otis R. Taylor Jr. recently ripped the "equity program" that some Oakland community members want to see incorporated into the city's new laws legalizing the cultivation and sale of marijuana ("Half-baked Oakland Pot Plan a Buzzkill," September 30, 2016). Taylor noted that established weed-dealers fear the compensatory codicil could "bottleneck the city's pot trade." 

What would it do? Well, for starters, councilmembers Delsey Brooks, Larry Reid, and Noel Gallo want all potential pot-venders to hand the city 25 percent of their profits and give the city a seat on each company's board of directors. The money would be used for small business loans, neighborhood beautification projects and job training programs. 

Even more controversially, "equity" would require that half of all new business permits be set aside for community members who (1) have been convicted and jailed for drug offenses over the previous decade or (2) live in East Oakland neighborhoods with the highest rates of drug busts. These new entrepreneurs also would need to be majority owners, controlling at least 50 percent of the business. 

Meanwhile, if California's pro-pot Initiative passes in the November 8 vote, new businesses would be required to hire at least half of their employees from local neighborhoods and set aside 25 percent of the new jobs for people living in the city's poorest neighborhoods. 

Taylor fears this unique business model could prove a major bummer—a cumbersome process that would drive business away from Oakland. 

It occurs to me that Taylor—and the "equity"-conscious councilmembers—aren't thinking big enough. 

This business model actually makes some sense. It's just that it isn't being targeted at the right sector of the economy. 

Instead of mom-and-pop pot pop-ups, the concept of "equity" permits should be applied to America's too-big-to-fail corporations. I'm thinking, Wells Fargo. 

If Wells (or Bank of America or CitiBank or JPMorgan Chase) wants to continue doing business in Oakland (or Berkeley or San Leandro or San Francisco) they could be required to 

(1) hire at least 50 percent of their workers from the local community, 

(2) hire at least 25 percent of those workers from the poorest sectors of the local economy, 

(3) fork over 25 percent of their capital earnings to the city and 

(4) place a voting member of the local community on their board of directors. 

In the second quarter of 2016, Wells Fargo reported a net income of $5.6 billion. If Oakland were the only city to require an "equity permit" for Wells to continue operating in the city, Oakland's share of that quarterly take would factor out to $1.4 billion. That could pay for a lot of beautification. 

And, in the spirit of the "equity" movement, the ownership and management of Wells would have to change so that at least 50 percent of the company would be owned by a new CEO who (1) had been victimized by Well Fargo's predatory banking practices over the past 10 years and/or (2) lives in a neighborhood adversely affected by "redlining" and persistent poverty. 

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How the Minimum Wage Has Diminished Over the Years 

President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Labor Secretary, Frances Perkins, was the country's first female cabinet member. "Fannie" Perkins was a defender of the working class who called for fair labor practices, safety regulations, child labor laws and Social Security. 

In mid-1930s America, Perkins imposed the first national "minimum wage." It stood at 45 cents per hour. Adjusted for inflation (an adjustment of 1,638 percent), that would be $7.82 in today's devaluated dollars. 

This is a pretty shabby sum, considering that today's Federal minimum wage is only 7.25 per hour—57 cents less than the comparable minimum wage for a worker in 1936. 

The Federal minimum wage hasn't even kept up with inflation!  

This is a good reminder why it's duplicitous to propose an incremental rise to $15 per hour by 2020. Inflation could erode (or completely eclipse) the "increase" over those years. 

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Taxing Social Security 

Social Security checks saw no cost-of-living adjustment for 2015. Instead, in my case, the monthly allotment was actually decreased by $20. The Social Security Administration explained the $20 was deducted to help pay for the rising cost of MediCare. 

This is a troubling trend. Social Security money represents a portion of wages American workers forfeited over their working lives with the expectation that the money would provide a "nest egg" in their retirement years. 

Traditionally, Social Security earnings have not been taxable. Now, this money is, for the first time, being subjected to a health care "tax." 

If the cost of profit-driven corporate medical care continues to rise, the actual benefits of Social Security could diminish in lockstep. 

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The US Constitution Needs to Be Adjusted for Inflation 

The rising cost of living has left the US Constitution in the dust. While this cherished document was conceived and written "for the ages," there is one section that remains locked in the past. 

Article 7 of the Bill of Rights reads: 

"In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law." 

But that was in 1776 dollars. 

The federal government's CPI Inflation Calculator only goes back to 1913. But that's long enough to tell us that, over the past 103 years, $20 has decreased in value more than 24-fold. (It now takes $487 to buy what $20 could purchase in 1913.) 

Other sources estimate that, in 2015, one 1776 dollar would have been worth $27.78. 

It looks like the "twenty dollars" enshrined in our hallowed Constitution could be worth more than $555 in today's devalued bucks. 

Anyone up for amending the Constitution to account for inflation? 

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Continued Improvement with Time

Jack Bragen
Friday October 07, 2016 - 01:19:00 PM

My condition, and being heavily medicated for it, over time, has caused me to have fewer capabilities in some areas of life. It is harder for me to drive a car than it once was. (Albeit, some of this difficulty stems from increased unpredictability of other drivers, who are talking on the phone and/or texting while driving, or perhaps they got their driver's license out of the proverbial Cracker Jack box.)  

Nonetheless, I don't even get behind the wheel if there is a chance my driving will be compromised by fatigue, being too stressed, or other. I have stopped driving to Oregon to see in-laws. At some point, if I can be on less medication and have improved stamina, I will resume doing that. 

My ability to do certain things is "shot," no longer available, because of the effects of medication, weight, age, and multiple phobias.  

However, in some areas of life, I am better off than I was. In my past, the effects of my illness combined with not having a good source of advice, one to which I would actually listen, caused me to think and behave with a lack of clarity. I had a deficiency of common sense. People would sometimes tell me things that I was doing wrong, and I wouldn't hear it.  

Today's environment is harder in a number of ways to adapt to, yet in many ways I am adapting. The longer I remain in treatment, the more I am able to learn from my experiences.  

I wasn't born wise. Other people had a lot more sense than I at a much younger age. Thus, they were not subject to as many errors in their life path, and the result is that people who were once my peers are better off than I am in their life circumstances.  

Yet, I haven't given up, and I continue to learn new things. Somehow, I've made it this far, and many persons with my condition by my age are deceased, incarcerated, or are at least under supervision in outpatient institutionalization.  

Paranoid Schizophrenia is a major psychiatric condition. Yet, I am learning more things about how to survive in an increasingly complex environment.  

I have more limitations than in my past concerning going places and doing things. Notwithstanding, I have achieved what I believe to be clarity of thought. I owe a lot of this to good influences in my life. The foremost of these is my wife, who doesn't hold back her opinion, and this includes things I may not want to hear.  

An ongoing commitment to being compliant with treatment, for me, has been essential and non-negotiable, and has allowed me not to have any psychotic episodes since 1996, and this might wrongly introduce doubt about whether I really do have paranoid schizophrenia.  

Sanity for someone with my condition, takes a very long time to construct, yet it can become obliterated in a very short time.  

The only way to "beat the system," for someone with mental illness, is to cooperate with it. This doesn't mean you must believe everything counselors tell you. They may try to tell you who you are. If you accept that and become a passive recipient of treatment, you could be rewarded with some chocolate cupcakes or a slice of pizza on occasion. If that is good enough for you, go for it; believe what they're telling you.  

Staying in treatment and doing nothing else doesn't guarantee improvement. Some type of effort toward doing better, doing something constructive, or doing something interesting, is necessary. The brain's condition will get better if we exercise the mind.  

Since many psychiatric medications have a tendency to shut things down, extra effort at challenging activities is necessary. Taking heavy psychiatric medications, if combined with not doing very much, could possibly cause the brain to atrophy.  

It could be an uncomfortable emotion to want something more for yourself than what is offered by the mental health system. Yet, what are we here for?  

Look me up on Amazon for my books, including a self-help manual, a memoir, and a collection of great science fiction shorts. Thank you to those who have recently bought copies of my self-help manual "Instructions for Dealing with Schizophrenia."