The Week



Flash: Decision goes against Berkeley's Harold Way petitioners

Thursday October 20, 2016 - 12:28:00 PM

Kelly Hammargren, one of the petitioners (with James Hendry) who tried to stop the project approved by the Berkeley City Council for 2211 Harold Way, has informed the Planet that she's received word that their petition has been denied by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch. His opinion is posted here.

The project will result in the demolition of the building which now houses the Landmark Cinemas and the Habitot children's center. Developers have promised that both will be replaced in kind. Enforcement of these promises will be the purview of the Berkeley City Council, membership of which will change after the November election. -more-

Learn about the Save Holy Hill Movement (Public Comment)

Lisa Lum
Wednesday October 19, 2016 - 01:10:00 PM

We, the neighborhood surrounding Holy Hill,
have formed an opposition movement
to the proposed Mather LifeWays development.
We have committed ourselves to preserving
the spirit of Holy Hill and have committed
ourselves to making sure that Holy Hill
remains a beautiful and special place that
the people of Berkeley can be proud of —
for us now and for generations to come.
We know that the Pacific School of Religion
will sell their property to a party who wishes
to develop it. But we are determined
to be a part of that process.
The PSR campus is a unique, historic place
where people have come for the last
90 years to enjoy tranquility and natural beauty;
to meet friends, watch their children play,
and to spend peaceful time alone.
Times and needs change, but the need
to keep the unique charm and beauty
that is Berkeley is timeless.
Please check out our Quick Links Page
which will link you to:
*The City of Berkeley webpage for the Mather LifeWays application
*A video fly through of a 3D model of the proposed structure in Google Earth
*The Save Holy Hill Facebook page
*The Save Holy Hill GoFundMe page
*Letter from Neighbors to Carol Johnson, Director of Planning, Berkeley
*Article by Frances Dinkelspiel
*Op-Ed by Daniella Thompson
*Article by Fred Dodsworth
Please contact me
at any time if you should like
further information.
Lisa Lum

Tent City on Adeline in Berkeley

Marcia Poole
Tuesday October 18, 2016 - 10:47:00 AM

[Editor's Note: as this is being posted we have received word by email that residents of the tent city are being evicted by City of Berkeley employees. From a correspondent: "Just got word from a phone call from the camp that police have showed up with wrist-ties and are threatening arrests.Any and all support is requested at the site!! (Adeline & Stuart)." Later report from Nanci Armstrong-Temple: "Encampment has been moved across the street for now. No arrests." More information will be added as we get it.]

A tent city for the homeless has been established on the median in the middle of Adeline Street between Ward and Stuart streets. It is drug-free and alcohol-free.

If people wish to help, the organizers of the tent city have asked people to have blankets, sleeping bags, warm clothing and tents set aside in their houses so that when the call comes for these supplies, they can receive them readily. People could use me as their contact to the tent city organizers. They do not have accommodations to store the extra supplies - that is why they have asked people to store them in a corner in their own homes.

It would also be kind if people could bring over food and water to help the people who are living there. Just go to their camp and give them your support and food. -more-

New: Two sexual assaults reported at off-campus fraternities in Berkeley

Bay City News
Tuesday October 18, 2016 - 10:53:00 AM

Police are investigating two alleged sexual assaults at off-campus fraternities affiliated with University of California at Berkeley that reportedly occurred Friday night and Saturday morning. -more-

Berkeley Police Union spends $17,951.58 to support Stephen Murphy, along with outside contributions

Rob Wrenn
Saturday October 15, 2016 - 01:02:00 PM

The Berkeley Police Association has spent $17,951.58 for mailers in support of District 5 City Council Candidate Stephen Murphy.

Most of the money in the PAC comes from police officers, but there are three contributors listed in the Form 496, Independent Expenditure Report, who aren’t cops:

  • Patrick Kennedy, San Franciso, Housing Developer, Panoramic Interests, $1,000
  • Ali Kashani, Investor, Memar Properties, Inc., $500
  • Michael Alvarez-Cohen, Technology Transfer manager, University of California, $100

The City of Berkeley limits campaign contributions to candidates for local office to $250. But this doesn’t apply to independent expenditures. So the police PAC gives developers like Kennedy and Kashani and U.C.B. executives like Alvarez-Cohen a way to spend more than $250 for Murphy. -more-

How much do we pay our police in Berkeley?

Sunday October 16, 2016 - 04:40:00 PM

In case you ever wondered about how much the city of Berkeley pays our police force, you might want to take a look at this report on the website. -more-

Press Release: Advisory: Police Urge North End Residents to Raise Awareness Following Robbery Series

Berkeley Police Department
Thursday October 13, 2016 - 04:03:00 PM

[Editor's Note: We usually publish these notices, distributed using the Nixle program to anyone who signs up to get them. But this time we want to call your attention to the Berkeley Police Department's lack of awareness of problems with using only race as a descriptor. When race is the sole identifying characteristic, many others of the same race are subjected to racial profiling, both by officers and by citizens. The NextDoor people have take steps to prevent this, to their credit, and BPD should do the same. And by the way, I've never heard it called North End-- it's Northside.] -more-

It's not about the politics of the '70s, it's about the future of Berkeley

Shirley Dean
Friday October 14, 2016 - 12:17:00 PM

I'm pretty much known as a political middle-of-the-roader, so it didn't really surprise me when people began asking me Why have I gone to the 'other side' in supporting Jesse Arreguin for Mayor instead of Laurie Capitelli and am co-hosting with Former Mayor Gus Newport, a fund raiser for Jesse Arreguin featuring Danny Glover this Saturday, October 15th? Here's my answer. -more-

Updated: Measures U1 and DD
What’s the difference?

Rob Wrenn
Friday October 14, 2016 - 10:23:00 AM

Measure U1 and Measure DD would both raise the business license tax on landlords in Berkeley to generate funds for affordable housing. Measure U1 would raise the tax from its current 1.08% to 2.88%; and Measure DD would raise it from 1.08% to 1.5%.

How did they get on the ballot?

Measure U1 was proposed by affordable housing and homeless services advocates and placed on the ballot by a unanimous vote of the Berkeley City Council.

Measure DD was placed on the ballot by an initiative petition. Paid signature gatherers hired by a sponsored organization of the Berkeley Property Owners Association, collected the required signatures. Over $65,000 was spent in the process.

How much money would they raise for affordable housing

Measure U1 would raise between $3 million a year (landlord economic consultant estimate) and 3.5 million a year (Finance Department estimate) to start, though former Housing Director Stephen Barton, PhD, estimates it will reach $4 million within two years. The amount raised would increase as rents increase, and would also increase each year as rents from buildings that become more than 12 years old become taxable.

Measure DD would raise $1.4 million a year and would increase only as rents increase. -more-

Out of town real estate interests spend thousands to support Capitelli, Wengraf, Moore and Murphy

Rob Wrenn
Friday October 14, 2016 - 10:18:00 AM

The National Association of Realtors Fund, based in Chicago, has so far spent the following on mailers and online ads:

Laurie Capitelli for Mayor: $60,381.64

Darryl Moore for District 2 City Council: $9,011.76

Stephen Murphy for District 5 City Council: $13,018.26

Susan Wengraf for District 6 City Council: $10,074.13

These independent expenditures are reported on the City’s Web site, here:

Why is this special interest group spending money on candidates in a local Berkeley election? -more-

Updated: Who not to vote for, and what to do instead

Christina Tuccillo
Friday October 14, 2016 - 12:59:00 PM

Just like on the national level, the Berkeley election this year represents a watershed. Many seats are up for grabs, so there is the opportunity to make a real difference. Sometimes we can enthusiastically vote "for" someone, and unfortunately sometimes we have to be sure to vote "against" someone.

This year there seem to be two people to vote "against" in Berkeley for reasons having to do with ethics and character, as well as people to vote "for." -more-

Cheryl Davila for Berkeley City Council District 2

Dorothy P. Wonder
Friday October 14, 2016 - 12:21:00 PM

In my Berkeley District 2, there is a candidate for City Council I am enthusiastic about. I first became aware of Cheryl Davila because of her human rights record. Human rights are universal. One cannot be truly committed to human rights here in Berkeley and not be concerned when our actions and decisions may be part of how other people are denied human rights. -more-

Your Vote Matters in Berkeley’s Election

Pedro Hernandez Deputy Director, FairVote California
Friday October 14, 2016 - 11:47:00 AM

How Ranked Choice Voting Works - and Why It Matters

Berkeley is one of four Bay Area cities that will use ranked choice voting to elect its officials this November 8. This means Berkeley voters will have the freedom to rank their favorite candidates in order of preference and elect a new mayor and council in one efficient trip to the polls.

The way ranked choice voting works is as easy as 1-2-3: Voters rank the candidates using the three columns on the ballot to indicate their first choice candidate, second choice candidate, and third choice candidate. In elections with many choices -- like Berkeley’s election for mayor -- it’s wise to use all three of your rankings. Let me explain. -more-

Election Back Stories

Friday October 14, 2016 - 10:35:00 AM

Here are previous Planet articles about the November election:

Election endorsements in the works 10-07-2016

Berkeley Daily Planet Endorsements for the Berkeley City Races Becky O'Malley 10-08-2016

Berkeley Democratic Caucus endorses Jesse Arreguin for Mayor Elisa Cooper 10-08-2016

Endorsements for state ballot measures Tim Redmond, San Francisco Bay Guardian 10-08-2016

Measures and Propositions: Progressive endorsers Margot Smith 10-07-2016

East Bay state Senate District 9: Sandré Swanson Becky O'Malley 10-08-2016

What's beyond Reich's endorsement? (Public Comment) Joanna Graham 10-07-2016

New: About Robert Reich: Things Are Seldom What They Seem!!! Harry Brill 10-08-2016 -more-


The Editor's Back Fence

Don't Miss This

Tuesday October 18, 2016 - 10:32:00 AM

Op-ed: Why is the Berkeley City Council so right-wing?

By Keith Johnson

Keith Johnson is a resident of Berkeley and a professor of linguistics at UC Berkeley. This article appears on

You would think in a left-leaning city like Berkeley – a bastion of free speech and the home of one of the soda tax – that the City Council would be a pretty liberal group. So, it came as a surprise to me to learn that this liberal town has a right-wing City Council.

We’re used to thinking of right-wing politics in terms of social issues – anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage, pro-gun, pro-fossil fuels, etc. But this misses the point. The right wing is the business party. In right-wing politics, big business seeks to influence government decisions by backing candidates who will tilt the regulatory and taxation playing field their way. Some of our local council members are pretty clear about this. For example, Susan Wengraf (District 6) said, in effect, at a candidates’ forum that “what’s good for business is good for Berkeley.” A more effective approach, taken by Laurie Capitelli, is to find a wedge issue to distract ordinary voters from the favors that are being granted to big campaign contributors.This year in the presidential race the wedge issue is immigration. In past years it has been gay rights or abortion. The fact that a new wedge issue can be swapped in for an old one, tells you that these issues aren’t the main show. What really counts for the big contributors is whether the levers of government can be used to increase profits.

See more on

And here's another good one:

Op-ed: Laurie Capitelli? Progressive leadership? By Nicky Gonzalez Yuen


Same old same old

Becky O'Malley
Friday October 14, 2016 - 04:45:00 PM

This Friday, for now at least, I'm just going to leave up what I posted last week, because the information is still current. Our citizen commenters this week have done a great job of highlighting key issues in the local elections, and I don't have much to add at the moment. Frankly, I'm suffering from election exhaustion, and I suspect many readers are too. If I recover (it's only mental, not physical) I'll let you know. Meanwhile, see above for what you need to know to get your oar in the water. -more-

Public Comment

New: Write in Norma J F Harrison for Berkeley School Board Director

Norma Harrison
Monday October 17, 2016 - 10:20:00 AM

I have studied ‘education’ for 70 years. I’ve seen over and over the futility of the constant, always unsuccessful reform efforts. We’re still left with school. The reforms do not, cannot! begin to rectify the inadequacy that school is, the role it plays in our singly-minded society directed at continuing our Owners’ profiteering by our labor. -more-

US-Saudi War Crimes in Yemen

Jagjit Singh
Thursday October 13, 2016 - 03:49:00 PM

Human rights activists are accusing the U.S. of being complicit in war crimes in Yemen. Thousands of Yemenis gathered at the United Nations building in Sana’a calling for an international investigation into the U.S. - backed Saudi assault on a funeral last week. The exploded munitions have clear U.S. markings which have intensified the anger and is fueling anti-American sentiments and radicalizing many of the local residents. -more-

It's Not the Word

Carol Denney
Thursday October 13, 2016 - 04:02:00 PM

it's not so much the "pussy" word that grinds -more-

dead ender

Barry Levine
Thursday October 13, 2016 - 03:40:00 PM

the Party's over; Donald stands alone
atop the rubble of the GOP
the rhetoric no father could condone
provoked the party stalwarts' mutiny
the Southern Strategy that's built on hate
had kept poor Whites' votes sync'ed up with the Rich
they recognized their peril far too late
Trump rolled the whole machine into the ditch
a yawning vacuum on the power stage
like Whigs left just before the Civil War
could usher in a new Progressive Age
ironic tribute to the Orange boor
Trump's isn't the U.S. for which we yearn
a Perfect Union's heart swells with the Bern -more-


New: THE PUBLIC EYE:The Election’s Tipping Point

Bob Burnett
Monday October 17, 2016 - 10:21:00 AM

Months from now, as we look back at the 2016 presidential election, we'll argue about several possible tipping points that moved voters towards Hillary Clinton. Was it when she survived FBI Director Comey's speech about her emails? Was it when Hillary decisively defeated Donald Trump in the first presidential debate? Was it one of Trump's tweet-storm fugues? It was Michelle Obama's speech on October 13th. -more-

THE PUBLIC EYE: Trump’s October Surprise

Bob Burnett
Friday October 14, 2016 - 11:53:00 AM

With less than a month before the November 8th election, the tone of the presidential race is so acrimonious that many voters are turned off. Nonetheless, everyone who is serious about US democracy should pay attention because there are daily revelations, mostly about Donald Trump.

On October 1st, the New York Times revealed that it had received the first few pages of Trump's 1995 tax returns. They revealed that Trump had taken a $916 million write off -- which likely allowed him to not pay taxes for twenty years. Then, on October 7th, the Washington Post revealed the existence of a 2005 "Access Hollywood" tape where Trump made lewd comments about women.

Meanwhile, also on October 7th, Wikileaks revealed thousands of emails hacked from the account of Hillary Clinton campaign chair, John Podesta.

Many observers believe that between now and election day there will be dueling revelations: details of Donald Trump's behavior with women -- Trump has the profile of a sexual predator -- and emails from Podesta and other Clinton campaign insiders. Nonetheless, the ultimate "October Surprise" is likely to be the details of Trump's relationship with Russia.

In August, I wrote a column predicting that before the election Trump's tax returns would be hacked: "They’ll likely show zero taxes paid, no charitable contributions, and scary ties to Russian oligarchs." Today we know that Trump paid no taxes and has next to zero charitable contributions. But we still don't understand his ties to Russian oligarchs. That shoe is about to fall. -more-

ECLECTIC RANT: the only choice--Hillary Clinton for President

Ralph E. Stone & Judi Iranyi
Thursday October 13, 2016 - 03:26:00 PM

We cast our absentee ballots for Hillary Clinton for president and here's why:

Hillary Clinton is the most qualified. She had eight years experience in the U.S. Senate; four years experience as the nation's Secretary of State; and eight years as First Lady. Clinton has laid out in detail her positions on the issues. All we have heard from Trump on the issues is that he is going to make America great again, which we take to mean sending the country backward to a time when discrimination and hate were not only accepted but celebrated. -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Some of the Hardships

Jack Bragen
Thursday October 13, 2016 - 03:52:00 PM

Being mentally ill, aside from the fact that many people treat you like a scapegoat due to their bigotry, aside from living with a disability that, for some of us, prevents working (and this causes poverty), and aside from us having a shorter lifespan in comparison to non-afflicted people, comprises a hard condition to live with. Simply living with the symptoms of a mental illness and the side effects of medication is difficult. -more-

Arts & Events

New: Takács Quartet Opens A Beethoven Cycle at Hertz Hall

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Tuesday October 18, 2016 - 11:18:00 AM

On Saturday-Sunday, October 15-16, the Takács Quartet, now in its 41st year as an ensemble, opened a cycle of Beethoven’s complete string quartets under the aegis of Cal Performances at Hertz Hall. Plaudits to Cal Performances for scheduling these concerts in Hertz Hall and not Zellerbach Hall. One of my most disappointing musical experiences was hearing the Takács Quartet perform Beethoven’s Op. 130 Quartet in 2014 from a seat two-thirds of the way back in cavernous Zellerbach Hall, where the sound was thin and totally lacking in both warmth and immediacy. In reviewing that regrettable experience, I stated emphatically that chamber music concerts should not be held in Zellerbach Hall. I don’t know, of course, if my insistence on this point, which I restated in subsequent reviews of chamber music concerts held in smaller, more intimate venues, did any good; but it is certainly gratifying to hear the excellent Takács Quartet in the lively and intimate acoustic space of Hertz Hall. -more-

New: Around and About: Trio Brillante at Berkeley Chamber Performances on Tuesday

Ken Bullock
Saturday October 15, 2016 - 03:45:00 PM

Trio Brillante--Betty Woo, piano; Emily Onderdonk, viola and Tom Rose, clarinet--will perform next Tuesday, October 18, 8.p. m.,for Berkeley Chamber Performances at the ballroom of the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant Avenue, between Dana and Ellsworth. -more-

New: Around & About--Theater, Dance: 'Kathakali Ramayana in Berkeley' Monday through Wednesday at Hillside Club

Ken Bullock
Saturday October 15, 2016 - 03:41:00 PM

A remarkable, highly unusual performing arts event at the beginning of the week, at 8 p. m. Monday through Wednesday October 17-19, in the wonderful rustic intimacy of Berkeley's Hillside Club: 'Kathakali Ramayana in Berkeley,' with Kalamandalam Manoj in performance, presented by Graeme and Eve Vanderstoel, co-sponsored by SACHI. -more-

Command and Control: How a Socket Wrench and a Nuclear Missile Nearly Destroyed Arkansas

Gar Smith
Friday October 14, 2016 - 11:41:00 AM

Opens October 14 at the Landmark Shattuck

Director Robert Kenner (Food, Inc.) and writer Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation) have combined their proven story-telling prowess to create a film of unimaginable true-life horror that will have you gripping the seat upholstery at the local cinema.

Based on an incident reported in depth in Schlosser's book, Command and Control, this film recreates a nearly forgotten incident that demonstrates the folly of pretending nuclear weapons are subject to human "command."

Incidents of "friendly fire" have become such an embarrassment that the military had to invent this euphemism to make self-inflicted mayhem sound semi-cuddly. But there is no comfort to be had in the phrase "nuclear friendly fire."

In 1980, the Pentagon poseurs who claim it is their job to "Keep America Safe" nearly blew Arkansas off the US map when a freak accident created an explosive situation well beyond anyone's ability to "control."


New: THE MAKROPULOS CASE at San Francisco Opera

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Saturday October 15, 2016 - 03:40:00 PM

Marking the 50th Anniversary of the American Premiere in 1966 at San Francisco Opera of Leoš Janáček’s The Makropulos Case, this opera has again been staged at the War Memorial Opera House. Based on a play by Czech writer Karel Capek, with a libretto written by Janáček himself, The Makropulos Case explores the pitfalls of a quest for eternal youth. Capek, who in his earlier play R.U.R., had punctured the notion that artificial intelligence will achieve human perfection, here expressed his belief in human limitations by showing how a woman who drank an elixir that kept her young for 337 years eventually found her life meaningless. Upon seeing Capek’s play in Prague in 1922, Janáček asked the author for permission to write an opera based on Capek’s The Makropulos Case. This opera premiered in Brno in 1926. -more-