The Week



Re 2902 Adeline: A Letter to Berkeley Zoning Adjustments Board Members

Elisa Cooper
Tuesday November 01, 2016 - 01:02:00 PM

It was clear by the end of the 10/27 ZAB hearing regarding 2902 Adeline that most of the commission members had forgotten pertinent testimony. No one remembered the fraudulent parking studies submitted by Realtex; the uncertainty over how the community-driven Adeline Corridor plan would affect the "wide street" (the commissioner who rhapsodized about "infinite height" also seemed unaware of the South Berkeley Plan); the Terner Center Calculator which shows the project can pencil out at 4 stories so anything above that is pure profit; or the fact that tenants had been evicted so Realtex could option a residential property and extend their commercial mixed-use development down a severely parking-challenged residential street.

The Commission substitutes appointed by Councilmembers Droste, Moore, and Maio also may not have realized that there was a track record of Realtex political favors in play: from circumventing campaign contribution limits to attempt to oust Councilmember Worthington in 2014 to a $10,000 no-strings-attached gift timed to get the Habitot Children’s Museum out of the way of Mark Rhoades’ Harold Way deal, and their major donor support for Wozniak's PAC to promote Measure T1 ($100 million in “political machine” money for the General Fund). Needless to say, if Realtex does flip the property as they have a history of doing, it will be the Councilmembers, and not the hapless ZAB substitutes who will be accountable. -more-

Berkeley Mayoral Forum on Wednesday night

Berkeley Neighborhoods Council
Monday October 31, 2016 - 10:07:00 AM

The Berkeley Neighborhoods Council will be hosting a Mayoral Forum on WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 2nd from 7:30-9 pm at The Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar St. -more-

Money and Local Elections:
Developers Use Police PAC to Help District 5 Candidate Murphy

Rob Wrenn
Saturday October 29, 2016 - 12:00:00 PM

The Berkeley Police Association PAC, an independent expenditure committee, has now spent $37,443 to send mailers supporting District 5 City Council candidate Stephen Murphy. While most of the money in the police PAC has come from the member dues of police officers, $8000 was contributed by developers: -more-

TMI from the Ad Hoc Subcommittee on Homelessness

Carol Denney
Saturday October 29, 2016 - 05:17:00 PM

"Every time they evict us we get bigger." - Mike Lee, candidate for mayor. -more-

Updated: Election Back Stories

Thursday November 03, 2016 - 01:24:00 PM

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-



Beware: Berkeley's being barraged with dubious election propaganda, and it's only going to get worse

Becky O'Malley
Saturday October 29, 2016 - 01:54:00 PM

It’s the money, honey.

I’ve been watching Berkeley politics off and on for more than forty years, and I can count on the fingers of one hand (okay, maybe two hands) the number of times the less-financed candidate or ballot measure has won the local election.

A major reason for this is that that most people seem to make their voting decisions on the basis of the elaborate color brochures that flood mailboxes in the last week or so before the election. Now, ten days out from the election, you should starting watching your mailbox for expensively printed phony charges that cannot be easily refuted by their targets at this late date.

In all these years, Berkeley has never had a generally read news source to provide uniform information to all voters. There have been numerous attempts, including ours, to get the attention of Berkeley readers, but they’re stubbornly resistant to knowing what’s going on around them.

A certain class of Berkeleyans, among whom I number many of my favorite friends, pride themselves on reading only the New York Times, which they seem to regard as a badge of their urbanity.

Many even scorn the San Francisco Chronicle, which is admittedly a shadow of its former lusty self. Who would have thought to see the Chron’s front page dominated day after day by huge color photos lifted from the sports section, with only the occasional confused piece on Berkeley in the second section, written by a novice reporter from across the bay? -more-

The Editor's Back Fence

Don't miss this: Berkeley: Adeline Corridor real estate sparks global interestv

Tom Lochner
Wednesday November 02, 2016 - 09:37:00 PM

A company headed by a former Moscow redevelopment official has received approval for a mixed-use project in the Adeline Corridor from the Zoning Adjustments Board, as a majority embraced the view that Berkeley needs to build more housing for all income groups, including affluent newcomers from out of town.

Read the rest at . -more-

New: Don't miss this! Daily Cal endorsements for Berkeley City Elections

Tuesday November 01, 2016 - 10:54:00 PM

Wow, am I impressed! The Daily Cal has endorsed all of the Berkeley Progressive Alliance candidates. And not only do they agree with us, their endorsement essays are very intelligent, well written and well reported. See their editorials here: Berkeley Election

By the way those of us with long memories will recall that when they endorsed Tom Bates' opponents he stole and threw in the trash a bunch of Daily Cals--didn't even recycle.

Will he do this again because the paper rejected his hand-picked successor? Who, by the way, seems not to mention Bates on his campaign propaganda. Will it happen again? Keep an eye on those Daily Cal free boxes near you! -more-

New: Berkeley Councilmembers offer election opinions using city email

Tuesday November 01, 2016 - 06:24:00 PM

Both Councilmember Linda Maio and Mayor Tom Bates have used their city-paid email to solicit readers for their election slates. The latest, from Bates:

"Several people have asked for my recommendations. If you'd like to see my local and Loni's state suggestions, you can contact me at and I'll be happy to send those to you. I cannot send them directly as City officials and staff are not permitted to use constituent email addresses for ballot purposes."

Is this legal? City Attorney Zach Cowan seems to have told them it is, but even though it's one remove from directly promoting candidates with their city mail it adds up to the same thing in my analysis. What is this letter but "using constituent email addresses for ballot purposes"? You'd think they would have learned from Hillary Clinton's unfortunate mismanagement of her own email.

If you agree that it's illegal, or think that it should be, you might just send your own comments to Mayor Bates at the above address. Or, you could file a complaint with the city's Fair Campaign Practices Commission, which might be addressed in, oh, maybe 2018 or so. -more-

More to come

Friday October 28, 2016 - 09:58:00 AM

As usual, and as time permits, there will be more in this "current issue" eventually, but we're going to post it early before it's really finished, to see if that works. Don't forget, you can always click on "Previous issue" if you have finished reading that one. -more-

Public Comment

Campaign 2016

Arthur Blaustein
Friday October 28, 2016 - 09:57:00 AM

As if the country doesn't have enough problems a new malady has hit the American public--ESD, "election stress disorder" has affected more than half the voters in the nation. According to a new report by the American Psychological Association the symptoms are headaches, nausea, sleeplessness, light headedness and spiking of blood pressure. Small wonder given the sordidness and tawdriness of the past political year. It began with the Republican primary debates, not unlike 8th grade food fights in the school cafeteria and transitioned into "boy talk" in the locker room. And as we head into the final weeks Trump has said the election is rigged and called for vigilantes to monitor voting "in neighborhoods you know where." History will say that this election cycle, like none in our history, demeaned public discourse, denigrated the public good and diminished the democratic process.

As we head down the home stretch I think I can sum up the over-arching stakes in a nutshell. Hillary Clinton is an imperfect person in an imperfect world. She will not lead us into an ascent to heaven but she can prevent Donald Trump from leading us into a descent into hell. And it would serve the nation well for the following groups-- millennials, white male working-class , moderate Republicans, the undecided, and those planning to stay at home on election day-- to reflect upon their choices. -more-

Former Mayor Shirley Dean Supports
Sophie Hahn for City Council

Shirley Dean
Saturday October 29, 2016 - 04:09:00 PM

Dear Neighbor,

I am writing to invite you to join me in supporting an outstanding representative for Berkeley City Council’s 5th District: Sophie Hahn.

I was honored to serve District 5 and the City of Berkeley for 23 years, on the Council and then as your Mayor. I can’t think of anyone better qualified to represent us than Sophie.

Sophie grew up in District 5 and is raising her own family here. Dedicated to core Berkeley values, she has been an effective leader for our schools, libraries and community. On the Zoning Board, Sophie has a reputation for being the most prepared and reasoned member, respectful of the public and fellow Board Members. She cares deeply about the people and neighborhoods of Berkeley.

My support for Sophie is wholehearted, and is based on her exceptional qualities. Reinforcing my choice, I recently learned of her opponent’s history of misconduct, which I believe renders him unfit to serve on the Council. -more-

The Erosion of Democracy

Harry Brill
Saturday October 29, 2016 - 05:10:00 PM

Donald Trump has been widely criticized for attacking the foundation of American Democracy because he threatened to refuse to accept the legitimacy of the presidential election. He insisted that the election will be rigged. But like many of his claims, he presented no evidence. However, fraud has invaded other presidential elections. When Bush was running against Gore, voter fraud was extensive. To cite one instance, 12,000 registered voters in Florida, who were disproportionately African American, were purged from the rolls because they were wrongly labeled as felons. There was evidence that the majority of voters in Florida actually supported Gore. To assure a fair election the State Supreme Court ordered a recount. But in a five to four decision the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against allowing a recount of the vote. The close split decision suggests that the court made a political rather than a judicial decision. -more-

November 8th , Election year 2016

Romila Khanna
Saturday October 29, 2016 - 05:08:00 PM

We need to pay attention to our Presidential nominees.Republican nominee and Democratic nominee have different views on bringing peace, security and economic stability in the Country. I paid attention to Presidential candidates, their policies and their thoughts on ending terrorists activities etc.I also learned about their public and private life. Secretary Hillary Clinton has done a lot to help the communities to improve their lives. I also believe that who have translated their words into actions are more trust worthy to hold the highest official chair.I believe that there will not be any reason to feel that the most qualified candidate lacks any quality to be the President if elected on November the 8th 2016. -more-

New: November Pepper Spray Times

By Grace Underpressure
Tuesday November 01, 2016 - 11:36:00 PM

Editor's Note: The latest issue of the Pepper Spray Times is now available.

You can view it absolutely free of charge by clicking here . You can print it out to give to your friends.

Grace Underpressure has been producing it for many years now, even before the Berkeley Daily Planet started distributing it, most of the time without being paid, and now we'd like you to show your appreciation by using the button below to send her money.

This is a Very Good Deal. Go for it! -more-

New: WRITE IN Norma J F Harrison for Berkeley School Board Director

Norma Harrison
Monday October 31, 2016 - 10:03:00 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-


THE PUBLIC EYE:Why Trump Lost the Debates

Bob Burnett
Friday October 28, 2016 - 09:36:00 AM

The 2016 election has been defined by Hillary Clinton's performance in the three presidential debates. Snap polls indicated she defeated Donald Trump in each encounter. And since the first debate, Clinton's lead over Trump has expanded both in terms of estimates of the popular vote and share of the Electoral College. Clinton's decisive victory was due to her talent and preparation. Trump lost because of obvious defects. -more-

ECLECTIC RANT: In fairness, FBI must quickly reveal facts
about newly discovered emails

Ralph E. Stone
Saturday October 29, 2016 - 04:11:00 PM

On October 28, 2016, FBI Director sent a letter to Congress "in connection with the Secretary Clinton email investigation." The emails were found on a computer used by Huma Abedin, former deputy chief-of-staff to Secretary of State Clinton, and backed up on her husband's (disgraced Congressman Anthony Weiner) computer. -more-

ECLECTIC RANT:Philippines drug war in brief

Ralph E. Stone
Friday October 28, 2016 - 09:37:00 AM

In his inaugural State of the Nation Address on July 25, newly-elected Philippines' President Rodrigo Duterte declared that there were 3.7 million “drug addicts” in the Philippines. But according to a 2015 survey by the Office of the President’s Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB), the main drug policy and research unit, the Philippines has fewer than half that many drug users.

Whether the drug problem in the Philippines is as drastic as Duterte makes out, since assuming the presidency of the Philippines in June, more than 3,000 suspected drug dealers and traffickers have been killed in his war on drugs. Many of those executions have been carried out via the Philippine National Police (PNP), who have aggressively worked to locate and punish all individuals linked to the movement of drugs under the president’s new anti-crime agenda. But vigilantes, empowered by Duterte’s rhetoric and call for citizen action, have also taken matters into their own hands, with staggering results. While the PNP have been responsible for approximately 712 deaths, individual citizens have been linked to 1,067. -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: "Comfort Zone" Necessary for People with Schizophrenia

Jack Bragen
Friday October 28, 2016 - 09:44:00 AM

People suffering from schizophrenia, depression, or bipolar are not as able to gain benefit from stretching our limits compared to someone not afflicted. The old saying that you should "lift yourself by your bootstraps" should not be generously applied to persons with severe mental disabilities. "Tough love" does not always work for mentally ill people.

It is said that for a number of persons with mental illness, including some suffering from "dual-diagnosis" (which is a substance abuse problem combined with a psychiatric disorder) death may happen before a person "hits bottom."

But today's column isn't really about substance abuse. I am talking about, in general, how people are expected to sink or swim, or where a bird is shoved out of the nest and expected to fly. This strategy shouldn't necessarily be applied to persons with psych disabilities. -more-

Arts & Events

Movies in the Margin:
The 25th Annual Berkeley Video and Film Festival 2016

Gar Smith
Friday October 28, 2016 - 03:42:00 PM

It's time, once again, to roll out the red carpet on Addison Street and get ready for six days of Small Screen glory with The Berkeley Video and Film Festival (BVFF), the East Bay's one-and-only, week-long celebration of film and video from around the block and around the world.

As Mel Vapour, one of the visionary EBMC honchos behind this cinematic superfest, recently put it: "What film festival in the East Bay screens the most current and cutting-edge indie cinema? Year after year, it's the Berkeley Video & Film Festival."

The 25th edition of the BVFF opens for business this Friday, offering six full days of films and videos in two distinct sessions—the first runs from October 28-30 followed by another that extends from November 4-6. It all takes place at the East Bay Media Center's intimate performance space in Berkeley's Downtown Arts District (1939 Addison Street).

This year's BVFF features more than 50 indie documentaries, features, film school shorts, experimental cinema and works from Russia, Spain, Hong Kong and Sweden. Filmmakers will be on hand for Q&A's following screenings of The Return (Tribeca Winner), Hearing Is Believing, and Ghost Town to Havana. -more-

Company Town: Celebrating a wild progressive win by Berkeley native over big money politics in the big city

Gar Smith
Friday October 28, 2016 - 08:35:00 AM

Opens at the Rialto Elmwood and the Roxie Theatre on October 28; Opens at the San Rafael Film Center on November 6.

With a testy November election ahead of us, the last thing you might be looking forward to watching would be a documentary about a contentious city election back in November 2015. But don't let that discourage you. Company Town is a sassy, intimate, and engrossing retelling of a David and Goliath battle for control of San Francisco's Board of Supervisors. (Spoiler alert for out-of-towners: This is a "downer doc" with a certified "feel-good" finish.)

Company Town is the work of two award-winning Berkeley-based filmmaker-journalists—Deborah Kaufman and Alan Snitow. The star of this "little guy"-vs.-the-corporate-Godzillas tale is Aaron Peskin, a Berkeley High graduate. A former SF Supervisor, Peskin rises to the comeback challenge as a pint-sized contender with a gallon-sized wallop. His enemy is the misnamed "sharing economy"—Airbnb, Uber, Lyft—an upstart, entrepreneurial force that has no room for the poor and marginalized.

There's a lot at stake in the race for District 3—a major tourist destination that includes Chinatown, North Beach, Coit Tower, and the asphalt slalom-course known as Lombard Street. District 3 also is a neighborhood plagued by forced evictions spurred by the economic disruptions of Tech Company cash. An unlikely Peskin upset would return the board's progressive majority.