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Hundreds gathered at Martin Luther King, Jr. Civic Center Park at 7:00 AM today, November 18,  to greet the dawn and show Berkeley solidarity after the national election results by forming a giant peace symbol.  Mayor elect Jesse Arreguin and Councilmember Linda Maio and incoming Councilmember Sophie Hahn spoke, and joined with other elected officials in a line behind noted Berkeley folk singer Gary Lapow who sang his own version of "Hallejah" for and with the crowd.
Steven Finacom
Hundreds gathered at Martin Luther King, Jr. Civic Center Park at 7:00 AM today, November 18, to greet the dawn and show Berkeley solidarity after the national election results by forming a giant peace symbol. Mayor elect Jesse Arreguin and Councilmember Linda Maio and incoming Councilmember Sophie Hahn spoke, and joined with other elected officials in a line behind noted Berkeley folk singer Gary Lapow who sang his own version of "Hallejah" for and with the crowd.


Flash: Berkeley Raids Tent Group One Day Before Peace Event

Carol Denney
Thursday November 17, 2016 - 10:26:00 AM
Homeless evictees rest briefly on the Post Office steps before postal police evict them again.
Carol Denney
Homeless evictees rest briefly on the Post Office steps before postal police evict them again.
Local organizer Barbara Brust stands beside the newly fenced park grass after protesters are routed.
Carol Denney
Local organizer Barbara Brust stands beside the newly fenced park grass after protesters are routed.
Berkeley City Hall staff Tony Benado and Yvette Gan speak with Barbara Brust about how to contact city officials.
Carol Denney
Berkeley City Hall staff Tony Benado and Yvette Gan speak with Barbara Brust about how to contact city officials.

The tent city which had relocated to Civic Center park after being evicted from near the Berkeley Food and Housing Project (BFHP)on Fairview at Adeline was raided again early Thursday, November 17, 2016, one day before the progressive victors in Berkeley elections will convene in the same park to create a human peace sign. 

Organizer Mike Zint was arrested along with "First They Came for the Homeless"'s communications equipment and a large quantity of belongings. None of the approximately 25 people in the group who huddled on the Post Office steps appeared to be injured, although the 5:00 am raid, which took place in the dark, shook people up. 

Jim Hynes, assistant to Berkeley's city manager, assisted city police and staff in the eviction and fencing of the southeast area of the park which had served as a brief harbor for people with nowhere to go. This 200 x 20 foot section joins the permanent fence at the Post Office, the old City Hall lawn area, the plaza near BFHP, and the underpasses at Gilman Street in a growing amount of territory literally fenced off to eliminate all physical settings people might use to stop and rest. 

Barbara Brust, a local homeless advocate, walked to City Hall after it opened and tried to find someone to speak with about the raid. The fifth floor office specialist Tony Benado and staff Yvette Gan were polite as they checked for available staff and offered Brust descriptions of how to make a complaint and suggestions of whom to contact later in the day. 

Greg Daniel of the codes and enforcement division stepped out of the elevator during this discussion and immediately raised his voice to Brust, stating that nobody without an appointment could see anyone. Brust noted aloud his abrupt, aggressive tone, but returned to the elevator and left the building. 

The group on the Post Office steps was there for only 45 minutes before postal police arrived to evict them from the steps. Mike Lee, one of the group, explained patiently to reporters that they had three demands; legal space, an end to criminalization of homelessness, and "housing that we can all afford."

New: On the Berkeley elections: "hello darkness, my old friend"

Thomas Lord
Wednesday November 16, 2016 - 01:52:00 PM

At the end of the movie "The Graduate", Benjamin stands in the vestibule of the church pounding a single demand on its grand glass entryway: "Elaine!"

As Elaine abandons the altar, her eyes fixed on Ben, she takes her hypnotic walk back down the aisle. We see arrayed around her an older generation's bondage: middle class conformity, consumerism, patriarchy, sex (furtive and transgressive) as a social weapon, a business world distilled to a single word - "plastics".

For a moment, the soundtrack mutes the angry voices of those who came to see her wed. There are only red faces, teeth bared in awful grimaces. We see them shouting but their words are gone. The sound returns only as anger turns to violence when the soldiers of the social order try to snatch back the youths from the brink of terrible freedom.

In one of the most overwrought visual metaphors in cinema -- striking in an otherwise low-key film -- Ben drives back the angry mob by swinging wildly at them with a cross from their own church. As Ben and Elaine flee, they bar the door with that very cross, trapping inside the society they reject.

The pair make their getaway in the back of a public bus -- the closest the 1967 film comes to acknowledging the existence of Black people. As the wistful music swells before the final credits roll we see in their young faces a progression of emotions. The moment settles in and weighs upon them: giddy excitement, laughter, and romance give way first to uncertainty and then -- is that fear? "What next?", we see them think in unison.


Two eras ended in Berkeley last week:

On the political scene, 25 years of rule over City Council by a so-called moderate faction came to a decisive end as moderates lost all but one race they entered. Local wonks are calling it the first progressive sweep of an election in as long as anyone cares to remember. 

And on the mytho-poeic side, Cafe Mediterraneum ("Cafe Med") announced that its 60th year of business will be its last. It is among the least, yet most widely mentioned, significances of the Cafe that it is featured briefly in the "The Graduate"; Benjamin (Dustin Hoffman) sits at a table and stares out the front window. ("The Dustin Hoffman table," the regulars call it.) 

The local election was widely portrayed as an epic clash between two forces. On one side, an old guard who was (depending on who you ask) either pragmatic and hard-nosed or else corrupted by big development money and cruel towards poor people. On the other side (depending on who you ask), either bold new leadership for a greener, more humane Berkeley for Everyone or else a clumsy gang of bleeding-heart idealists who are now poised to bankrupt the city and fill parks and sidewalks with homeless encampments. 

Whatever else may be said about the election, the voters ran away from the altar of the past in no uncertain terms. As Berkeleyans, we now sit on the back of the only bus that happened to be passing, headed to points unknown, wondering to ourselves: "What next?" 


With the hindsight of 50 years we have some idea what came next for Benjamin and Elaine, or at least the society for whom they were avatars. 

In '68, a year after they fled the church, cities burned in youthful rebellion around the world. The war and body count in Asia escalated. The Democratic National Convention ended in bloodshed after police and city powers rose to the bait, taking up arms against hippies. After the famous trial, the one Black defendant who alone was put in chains and prevented from speaking by the judge would be all but erased from popular white history, reducing the Chicago 8 to just 7. 

Nixon was the One that year. Two years later, when the country came within days of defaulting on its national debt, Nixon would briefly accomplish for Berkeley (and the nation) something Berkeley radicals had struggled for without success: a freeze on rent increases. 

For a decade, young people who were Ben and Elaine's age hit a brick wall as they tried to enter the economy: Massive unemployment (underplayed in the official numbers) combined with relentless inflation. Middle class life began its long, slow slide into history. 

I tend to imagine that after Ben and Elaine inevitably went their separate and disillusioned ways, Ben wound up somehow as Herman Blume in the film "Rushmore" (1998). Ben/Blume middle aged, looking like his mustachioed father in more ways than one: unhappy marriage, unenjoyable pool in the back yard which serves as a nihilist refuge from unlikable friends and incomprehensible children. Ben/Blume himself a worn out industrialist overseeing a tedious factory that, no doubt, cranks out something made of plastic. 


In hindsight the future is always clearer than the past, but in the present: "What next?" 

We live in dark times. An avowed white nationalist will take his seat at the right hand of an operatically charismatic con artist in the nation's highest office. We are promised an increase in the scope and capacity of the police state, a rush to develop environmentally ruinous production, a polarization of the working class into silos of mutual hatred and suspicion. We already have an economy in ruins for the working class, with falling wages, inflation, and high unemployment that official figures lie about. 

Perhaps the damnedest kick in the teeth -- speaking only on the political front -- is that what the losing candidate promised, in her fine print, may have been different from what we're getting -- but it wasn't wildly different. Larger forces are at work than any one politician. 

The new regime in Berkeley, meanwhile, is a loose coalition at best; collectively they have no more of a plan or vision of the future than Ben and Elaine did when they boarded that bus. We know what we've rejected perfectly well. It's where we're headed that leaves us in the dark.

Berkeley USD students sue district re Felarca case

Kiley Russell (BCN)
Wednesday November 16, 2016 - 11:28:00 PM

Eight Berkeley Unified School District students filed a class-action civil rights lawsuit in federal court today alleging they were targets of racial targeting and intimidation by district officials. 

The suit names several district employees, including Superintendent Donald Evans, district lawyer Marleen Sacks and all five members of the Board of Education, among others. 

The suit claims that between Sept. 21 and Nov. 2 of this year, district staff pulled aside 21 students from Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School and Berkeley High School who are either current or former English language development students of Yvette Felarca.  

The students were asked about their immigration status, the languages they spoke at home, their political activities outside of school hours and their association with Felarca, according to the suit.  

Felarca, a teacher at Martin Luther King, was placed on leave for six weeks by the district after a YouTube video surfaced of her attacking a demonstrator at a neo-Nazi rally in Sacramento in June. 

While she was on leave, the district "interrogated and intimidated" her students, either without notifying or inadequately notifying their parents, in an effort to "send a hostile message to immigrant and Latina/o students and parents that they would be targeted and driven out of BUSD if they acted against racism and defended immigrant rights," according to the suit.  

"This is connected to the district's political witch hunt against me," Felarca said. "They asked (the students) questions about their own political activities and beliefs and their families' national origins, the languages that their families spoke and whether they had brothers and sisters who were born in the U.S. or not." 

Felarca is a member of the activist group By Any Means Necessary, a group that says it was formed to, in part, defend affirmative action, public education and immigrant rights.  

She said the students' lawsuit was critical in light of the city of Berkeley's status as a sanctuary city that refuses to prosecute undocumented immigrants solely based on their immigration status. 

"That status needs to mean something more than just words," Felarca said. "We have to actively protect immigrant students and families." The suit seeks damages for intentional infliction of emotional distress, violations of the students' right to free speech and equal protection under the U.S. Constitution and racial discrimination, among other claims. District officials haven't had enough time to review the suit so they could not comment on its allegations today, according to BUSD spokesman Charles Burress.  

Burress did provide an email statement reiterating the district's policy of non-discrimination.  

"The Berkeley Unified School District does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, religious creed, gender, sexual orientation, gender expression, marital or parental status, ancestry, ethnic group identification, disability, medical condition, homelessness or foster status, in its programs and activities," according to the statement.  

The lawyers who filed the suit are members of the United for Equality and Affirmative Action Legal Defense Fund.

New: Two shot in Berkeley park

Scott Morris (BCN)
Wednesday November 16, 2016 - 05:15:00 PM

Two people were injured by gunfire in a Berkeley park this afternoon, a police sergeant said. 

The shooting was reported just after 3 p.m. in Strawberry Creek Park, police spokesman Sgt. Andrew Frankel said.  

Two victims were taken to a hospital. Frankel did not immediately know the extent of their injuries. 

No suspects are in custody.

Three teens arrested for robbery attempt in Berkeley

Kiley Russell (BCN)
Tuesday November 15, 2016 - 11:58:00 PM

Three teens were arrested Monday night by Berkeley police after they allegedly tried to rob a man walking in a neighborhood south of the University of California, Berkeley campus.  

At about 10:30 p.m. a man called police on his cellphone to say he was being chased by the suspects, who had exited a parked car as he walked past, police said.  

Two of the suspects then began to follow the man near the intersection of Piedmont Avenue and Dwight Way. The victim began to run and the suspects chased him, with the car's driver keeping pace, police said.  

When the victim dialed police, the suspects got back into the car and drove away.  

An officer who was responding to the call spotted the car and pulled it over at University Avenue and Walnut Street.  

The victim identified the three male suspects, who police described as an 18-year-old from Vallejo, an 18-year-old from Oakland and a 19-year-old from San Pablo. 

A handgun was found inside the car, police said.  

The suspects were arrested on suspicion of attempted robbery and weapons charges.  

The victim said he was aware of the recent rash of several street robberies around the campus and immediately grew suspicious of the men when they got out of the car just as he approached.

Press Release: Berkeley Mayor-Elect Jesse Arreguin Wins 60% to 40%--
Election Results Should Process Round Eliminations Until There Are Two Candidates

Pedro Hernandez, FairVote California
Tuesday November 15, 2016 - 02:22:00 PM

As the Alameda County Registrar of Voters continues to update the results with new numbers we wanted to highlight a key point: that Jesse Arreguin has won the mayor’s race by 60% to 40% in the final instant runoff tally against Laurie Capitelli.

In San Francisco, the Department of Elections runs the ranked choice voting algorithm in all contests down to the strongest two candidates and reports on those result. Doing so clarifies the intent of the voters. Here is a recent example from this year’s elections in San Francisco.

In Alameda County, however, the public report of the ranked choice voting tally ends as soon as one candidate secures more than 50% of the vote. In the case of the Berkeley mayoral race, the Alameda Registrar of Voters reports the final tally while there are still five candidates in the race (Arreguin, Capitelli, Kriss Worthington, Ben Gould, and Zachary Runningwolf). But if the Registrar narrowed the race to two by running a final round of counting -- eliminating Worthington and Gould, and transferring the votes of those voters to their next preference among the final two -- Arreguin would lead 60.2% to 39.8% instead of 50.04% to 34.01%.  

As a reminder, in ranked choice voting, if no candidate receives a majority of votes (50%+1), the “instant runoff” is triggered. This means that the candidate with the fewest 1st choices was defeated in the first round, and the ballots for that candidate go to those voters’ 2nd or 3rd choices. This process repeats during each round of counting until there there a majority winner.  

FairVote California recommends that the Registrar process the instant runoff despite a majority. We believe that this gives voters and the public a sense of how the winning candidate fared among all voters and helps to clarify the election results.

THE PUBLIC EYE: Why Hillary lost (COLUMN)

Bob Burnett
Tuesday November 15, 2016 - 02:09:00 PM

It's essential that progressives learn from Hillary Clinton's devastating defeat. There are two competing theories about what happened: Hillary’s campaign blew it or she was cheated. 

1) The Clinton Campaign screwed up. The strongest argument is: 2016 was a change election and Clinton's campaign didn't take that seriously. During the Democratic primaries, Bernie Sanders tried to warn the Democratic Party about the economic frustration of working families but somehow the Clinton campaign didn't get this message. 

In his pre-election survey of likely voters, Democratic pollster Pat Caddell found that two-thirds of respondents agreed, "The real struggle for America is not between Democrats and Republicans but between mainstream American and the ruling political elites." 81 percent of respondents said, "The U.S. has a two-track economy where most Americans struggle every day, where good jobs are hard to find, where huge corporations get all the rewards. We need fundamental changes to fix the inequity in our economic system." [Emphasis added] 

Hillary understood the "two-track economy" problem but her message was not clear. At the time, "Stronger Together" seemed okay as a slogan but it indicated that Clinton gave as much attention to bigotry as she did economic fairness. While bigotry is a huge problem, in this election economic fairness was by far the dominant issue. Thus, Trump's slogan, "Make America great again," was more effective. 

Late in the election cycle, when it became clear to the Clinton campaign that they might lose Michigan, they began running TV ads there. However, the Clinton ads attacked Trump; none featured Hillary's economic message. 

The New York Times exit poll indicated that of those voters whose most important candidate quality was "can bring needed change," 83 percent chose Trump. (Clinton prevailed on all the other qualities: "cares about people like me," "has the right experience," and "has good judgment.") Change voters voted for Trump even though they had an unfavorable opinion of him. 

Hillary wasn't the right Democratic candidate for a change election. Pat Caddell's survey found 87 percent of respondents believed, "The country is run by an alliance of incumbent politicians, media pundits, lobbyists and other powerful money interests for their own gain at the expense of the American people." Clinton was viewed as an insider and Trump as an outsider, theoretically an agent of change. 

Bernie Sanders would have been a better Democratic candidate because he was seen as an outsider and someone who understood, "the system is rigged." 

In July, Michael Moore wrote "5 Reasons Why Trump Will Win" and he was right on target. First he predicted that Trump would focus on, and ultimately carry, four previously blue states: Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. States filled with angry voters who feel, "abandoned by Democrats." Second, he predicted the election would be "the last stand of the angry white man." (Trump won white men by a wide margin and Clinton did not get the female voter surge that she expected.) Third, Moore predicted a problem because of Hillary's unpopularity which resulted in a lack of Democratic voter enthusiasm. Fourth, Moore thought that Sanders' voters would ultimately vote for Hillary but unethusiastically, leading to a depressed turnout. Finally, Moore predicted "the Jesse Ventura effect" where some voters would vote to blow up the system. (On November 8th they voted for Trump because they believed he was a change agent even though they didn't like him.) 

2).Hillary was cheated: She won the popular vote and barely lost the electoral vote. 

The Clinton campaign blames her loss on the October 28th intervention by FBI Director James Comey who, in effect, reopened the issue of the Clinton email server. Certainly this was an unprecedented act; one that some Washington observers felt violated the Hatch Act. But to blame Hillary's loss on this ignores the fact that, even before Comey's intervention, Hillary had a 53 percent unfavorability rating. 

Clinton didn't hold the "Obama coalition." (She received 5 million fewer votes than Obama did in 2012.) Hillary underperformed among young people, African-Americans, Asians, and Latinos. She also slightly underperformed Obama's numbers among Democrats and Independents. (Trump held 90 percent of Republicans while Clinton held 89 percent of Democrats.) 

Hillary was suppose to overperform Obama among female voters but that didn't happen -- she only attracted 1 point more women (and lost 5 percent of males). According to the Cook Report, Clinton didn't do as strongly among suburban Republicans and college-educated white women as her campaign had expected. 

Clinton lost Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin by a total of 107,000 votes. Some Hillary supporters feel these votes were stolen. However, an excellent analysis by German Lopez () concludes that voter suppression does not explain Clinton's loss in Michigan and Pennsylvania: "In Pennsylvania, Clinton got 2 percent fewer votes than Obama did in 2012, while Trump got 11 percent more than Mitt Romney. In Michigan, Clinton got 11 percent fewer votes than Obama did in 2012, while Trump got 8 percent more than Mitt Romney. Clinton simply got fewer people to turn out for her than the last Democrat who ran, while Trump appeared to get more than the previous Republican." 

Bottom line: This is such a devastating defeat that it's comforting to imagine that Hillary Clinton was cheated by Donald Trump. But that's not what happened: Hillary lost because she ran a losing campaign. 

In 1992, the in-house motto of Bill Clinton's presidential campaign was, "It's the economy stupid." Hillary was there but, for whatever reason, she didn't use this motto in 2016: she didn't make economic fairness her cornerstone issue and it cost her. 

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

Flash: Davila Apparent Winner in District 2 Council Race
6-3 Council Majority Reversed as Incumbent Moore Loses

Rob Wrenn
Monday November 14, 2016 - 11:22:00 PM

After an additional 1700 vote by mail ballots were counted, Cheryl Davila’s lead for second place in the count of first choice votes in the District 2 Council race widened to 96 votes over Nanci Armstrong-Temple. When the Ranked Choice Voting tabulation is done and Nanci’s second choice votes are allocated, Cheryl leads Darryl by 2978 (50.8%) to 2882 (49.2%).

With this result, the current six-three Council majority with Mayor Bates, and council members Capitelli, Maio, Moore, Wengraf and Droste in the majority, will be replaced by a 5-3 majority with newly elected council members Ben Bartlett, Sophie Hahn and Cheryl Davila, joining newly elected Mayor Jesse Arreguin and incumbent council member Kriss Worthington in the majority. There will be a special election for the District 4 Council seat being vacated by Jesse Arreguin. It’s quite likely that a candidate allied with the new majority will win that seat, giving this group of progressive council members six seats out of nine on the Council, reversing the current division of the council.

Davila’s election would mark the first time since 1996 that an incumbent council member has lost. In 1996, incumbent District 2 council member Mary Wainwright was ousted by progressive challenger Margaret Breland. That year, Kriss Worthington also defeated incumbent council member Carla Woodworth. 

So far 6854 votes have been counted in District 2. In the 2012 presidential election, the total number of votes cast in District 2 was 7114. Unless turnout this year was much higher than in 2012, any ballots that remain to be counted, most of which would probably be provisional ballots, would be too small to make it possible for Darryl Moore to overtake Cheryl Davila.  

Incumbent council member Moore got 43% of the early vote by mail ballots reported on election day, but when the votes at the polls were counted, his percentage at the end of election night stood at 40.1% He now has 40.0% with the vast majority of the post-election vote by mail ballots counted. Unless there are many ballots remaining to be counted and unless his percentage of any remaining ballots is well above his percentage of the early vote by mail ballots, which is unlikely, he will not be able to defeat Davila in the ranked choice voting. 

The allocation of Armstong-Temple’s votes are are as follows in the latest RCV count: 1073 (59.3%) to Cheryl Davila; 397 votes (21.9%) to Darryl Moore; and 339 votes (18.8%) no second choice given. Nanci encouraged her supporters to make Cheryl their second choice. 

District 2 First Choice votes as of November 14

Darryl Moore 2477 (40.0%) 

Cheryl Davila 1900 (30.7%) 

Nanci Armstrong-Temple 1808 (29.2%) 

District 2 Ranked Choice vote: 

Cheryl Davila 2978 (50.8%) 

Darryl Moore 2882 (49.2%) 

Other Races 

The latest count did not change the outcome of any other City of Berkeley races. A total of 54,601 votes have been counted so far citywide. In 2012, a total of 60,559 votes were counted. Whether turnout was higher or lower this year is not yet known, but the number of votes remaining to be counted is extemely unlikely to be large enough to alter the outcome of any local race. 

Mayor-elect Jesse Arreguin’s percentage of first choice votes now stands at 48.9%. He now reaches 50% when second choice votes of Naomi Pete, Mike Lee and Bernt Wahl are counted. He did not need the second choice votes of incumbent council member and mayoral candidate Kriss Worthington, or of Ben Gould or of Zachary Runningwolf, to get elected. With ranked choice voting, whenever no candidate wins 50% or more of the first choice votes, second choice votes are counted beginning with the lowest vote getter for that office, and continuing until a candidate crosses the 50% threshold. 

In the Rent Board race, the CALI slate has easily defeated the landlord-financed slate. Igor Tregub, currently fourth in the race for four seats, leads Judy Hunt of he landlord slate by 23,367 to 18,647 votes. 

When the County finishes counting, I will post the results in all local races. 



Moore, Davila slip slightly while Armstrong-Temple gains a bit in District 2 council race

Rob Wrenn
Friday November 11, 2016 - 06:45:00 PM

The Alameda County Registrar of Voters has counted more vote by mail ballots. As of the update posted Friday at 4:38 p.m., District 2 incumbent Darryl Moore’s share of first choice votes had slipped slightly from 40.1% to 39.8%. Nanci Armstrong-Temple, in third place, gained slightly going from 28.9% to 29.5% and Cheryl Davila, in second place, slipped a bit from 31.0% to 30.6%. Cheryl leads Nanci for second place by only 49 votes.

In the ranked choice vote tabulation, Cheryl Davila leads Darryl Moore by 67 votes, 2200 to 2133, up from 42 votes in the election night tabulation. It’s not known how many ballots were cast in District 2, but, at a guess, based on turnout in previous elections, perhaps a third or a bit more of the outstanding ballots were counted today. Tabulation is here: http://www.acgov.org/rov/rcv/results/230/rcvresults_6868.htm

Incumbent District 2 council member Darryl Moore is well short of 50% of first choice votes, so an allocation of second choice votes of the candidate in third place has to be done. That’s currently Nanci Armstong-Temple.

That could change as more votes are counted. This remains a tight race that is too close to call. Berkeleyside reports that the Registrar of Voters is planning more updates on Monday, Wednesday and Friday of next week.

Mayoral candidate Jesse Arreguin, District 3 Council Candidate Ben Bartlett, and District 5 Council candidate Sophie Hahn still have commanding leads over their opponents. Both Arreguin and Capitelli gained slightly in today’s count at the expense of the other six mayoral candidates. 

Jesse now has 47.7% of first choice votes while Laurie has 33.7% In the ranked choice vote, Jesse passes the 50% threshold when Runningwolf’s second choice votes are counted, without any need to count second choice votes of Ben Gould or Kriss Worthington, who are now in fourth and third place in the count. In the initial ranked choice count, Ben Gould’s second choice votes put Jesse over the top. Tabulation is here: http://www.acgov.org/rov/rcv/results/230/rcvresults_6767.htm 

In District 3, Mark Coplan is now 12 votes behind Deborah Matthews for second place. Details follow. 

CALI slate sweeps Rent Board 

The gap between Igor Tregub, now in fourth place, and Judy Hunt continues to grow and now stands at 3049 votes. It is extremely unlikely that Hunt will ovetake Tregub as the remaining votes are counted. Tregub appears to have regained the seat he lost to Hunt four years ago. Hunt, the landlord-backed incumbent was first elected in 2012 with 95% of the funds spent to support her coming from landlords. She was the only elected official in Berkeley who opposed affordable housing measure U1, 

Huge Progressive Victory 

This is the biggest progressive electoral victory in many years. The combined vote for Jesse Arreguin and Kriss Worthington, both members of the Council’s progressive minority, is 22 points higher than the vote for District 5 council member Laurie Capitelli who was supported by all members of the Council majority. There will be a special election for Jesse Arreguín’s District 4 Council seat after Jesse is sworn in as mayor. If a progressive wins, Jesse will have four allies on the Council and may have a fifth depending on the outcome in District 2. 

Measure U1, aka the Landlord Tax, has won easily despite the fact that organizations sponsored by the Berkeley Property Owners Association had spent, as of October 22, $877,384 to defeat it and to support their alternative measure, DD. U1 currently has 74.3% of the vote. 

See below for more details on the Candidate results and local measures. All counts are as of p.m. . November 11. Vote counting will hopefully be finished by the middle of next week. Check here for more: http://www.acgov.org/rov/current_election/230/index.htm 


Candidate Results Details 

Mayor Winner with ballots counted so far: JESSE ARREGUIN 

First Choice votes 

Jesse Arreguín 18,554 votes (47.7%)  

Laurie Capitelli 13,129 votes (33.7%) 

Kriss Worthington 3,209 votes (8.25%) 

Ben Gould 1112 votes(2.86%) 

Bernt Wahl 1081 votes (2.78%) 

Zachary Runningwolf 993 votes (2.55%) 

Mike Lee 573 votes (1.47%) 

Naomi Pete 249 votes (0.64%) 

Ranked choice vote result: Jesse at 50.1% after second choice votes of others were counted; Kriss and Ben Gould second choice votes were not needed. However, this was not updated with today’s count. Jesse led Laurie 41.5% to 38.9% in the early vote by mail count announced shortly after the polls closed. Jesse captured 52.9% of the votes cast at the polls, compared to 28.7% for Laurie. 


District 2 City Council Ahead so far: CHERYL DAVILA who had 50.8% with ranked choice votes. 

Darryl Moore 1,828 (39.8%) 

Cheryl Davila 1,407 (30.6%) 

Nanci Armstrong Temple 1,358 (29.5.%) 


District 3 City Council 

Ben Bartlett 2606 57.5% 

Deborah Matthews 922 20.4% 

Mark Coplan 910 20.1% 

Al Murray 89 2.0% 


District 5 City Council 

Sophie Hahn 3998 61.9% 

Stephen Murphy 2457 38.1% 


District 6 City Council 

Susan Wengraf 3079 60.8% 

Fred Dodsworth 1353 26.7% 

Isabelle Gaston 632 12.5% 


Rent Board Winners: all members of CALI slate; no realistic chance that further results will change this. 

Leah Simon Weisberg 20,138 

Alejandro Soto-Vigil 20,032 

Christina Murphy 19,620 

Igor Tegub 17,213 

Judy Hunt 14,164 

Nate Wollman 9,495 


9th State Senate District: Nancy Skinner widened her lead and is way ahead of Sandre Swanson in the Alameda County portion of the district, 61,1% to 38.9%; she’s also way ahead in the district as a whole. 

Berkeley School Board: the two incumbents, Judy Appel (26,706 votes) and Beatriz Leyva-Cutler (20,328) were easily re-elected over challenger Abdur Sikder (5264 votes), in the latest count. 


Local Measures Results 

E-1, BSEP, parcel tax for schools, YES 35,069 votes, 88.4% 

U1, tax on big landlords for affordable housing YES 28,389 votes, 74.3% (not so different from 76.2% for the soda tax in 2014) 

DD, phony landlord sponsored alternative to U1, NO 26,530 votes, 70.9% (that’s the NOs) 

T1, Bond measure for infrastructure, parks, senior centers YES 33,575 86.7% 

X1, Public Financing of Elections for Mayor and Council YES 22,474 votes, 64.4% 

Y1, 16-17 year olds vote for School Board YES, 25,066, 68.8% 

AA, regulating owner move in evictions, YES 25,879 votes, 72.4% 

BB, minimum wage $15 in 2019, NO 24,213 votes, 66.3% 

CC, minimum wage $15 in 2017, NO 23,965 votes, 66.2% 

A1, County Bond for affordable housing, YES 297,703, countywide votes, 72.8% 

CI, AC Transit parcel tax, YES, 219,742 votes in the district, 82.3% 

RR, BART bond, YES, 284,647 votes, 71.3% 

–by Rob Wrenn

Man who allegedly pulled gun on security officers in Berkeley Bowl parking lot is still at large

Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN) and Planet
Saturday November 12, 2016 - 10:57:00 AM

Berkeley police said they are looking for a man who allegedly pulled a gun on security guards in the parking lot at the eastern Berkeley Bowl grocery store Thursday night. 

They tried to stop him after he left the store with a sandwich, police said. 

The incident occurred shortly after 5 p.m. 

Lt. Andrew Rateaver said that after the man produced a gun outside the store, located at 2020 Oregon St., he ran away on Russell Street to a nearby residential area in the vicinity of Harper Street and Ashby Avenue. 

Rateaver said officers made a "robust response" to the situation by setting up a perimeter but were unable to locate the man and he remains at large. 

Rateaver said officers "found some evidence connected with the crime," although he declined to say what it was. 

No one was injured in the incident, he said. 

The suspect is described by Berkeley police only as a black man in his 50s. They did not provide any more descriptive information, such as height, build, clothing, hair style, facial hair if any, or complexion, which makes it difficult to identify potential suspects, and exposes many black men in their 50s to inappropriate suspicion. 



Copyright © 2016 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited. 


The 2016 California Clean Money Scorecard

Gar Smith
Friday November 11, 2016 - 05:01:00 PM

(In the aftermath of the November 8 Trumpslide, here is a bit of hopeful news from the California Clean Money Campaign (CCMC). The following is an edited version of the content in the recent 14-page CCMC report, "Big Money, Big Ideas: Which Side Are You On?") 

How did your legislators score on campaign finance reform bills? Voters need to know which legislators are Clean Money Champions and which side with Big Money special interests against campaign finance reform. CCMC's 2015-2016 California Clean Money Scorecard does just that. 

Download the scorecard now to see how your Assemblymembers and Senators rated. 

Scoring was based on seven campaign finance bills endorsed by the CCMC. The top Clean Money bills this session were AB 700—the California DISCLOSE Act (Gomez-Levine) to make political ads show who really pays for them—and SB 1107—(Allen) to legalize public financing of campaigns in California. (You can see complete descriptions of all the bills on the CCMC website at http://www.cacleanaction.org.) 

This scorecard does not say anything about how “clean” a legislator's fundraising is or their voting record on other bills. But it is a good record of how strongly they support campaign finance reform. 

Legislators received a perfect score of 100 if they voted Yes on all seven bills. They could score more than 100 if they authored or co-authored Clean Money bills. 

These 2015-2016 Clean Money Champions all helped advance campaign finance reform in the fight against the dominance of Big Money special interests in politics in a year that saw three of the top four Clean Money bills pass—along with major progress on the landmark California DISCLOSE Act that will be back next year. 

A record 74 legislators scored 100 or more. 

On the other hand, 30 legislators mostly blocked reform and scored under 50. We hope that will change next year. 

Without any further ado, here are the 2015-2016 Clean Money Champions and their scores: 

Clean Money Champions: Highest-Scoring Democratic Assembly Members  

Jimmy Gomez (D-Los Angeles). 140. 

Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) 125 

Marc Levine (D-San Rafael) 119 

Kevin Mullin (D-San Mateo) 118 

David Chiu (D-San Francisco) 115 

Bill Dodd (D-Napa) 115 

Richard Gordon (D-Menlo Park) 115 

Clean Money Champions: Highest-Scoring Republican Assembly Members  

Catharine Baker (R-San Ramon) 104 

David Hadley (R-Torrance) 104 

Ling Ling Chang (R-Diamond Bar) 93 

Lowest-Scoring Assembly Members 

Chad Mayes (R-Yucca Valley): 7 

Allen Travis (R-Huntington Beach): 11 

Franklin Bigelow (R-Jackson): 22 

Rocky Chávez (R-Oceanside): 22 

Brian Dahle (R-Bieber): 22 

Matthew Harper (R-Huntington Beach): 22 

Devon Mathis (R-Visalia): 22 

Jay Obernolte (R-Hesperia): 22 

Marie Waldron (R-Escondido): 22 

Clean Money Champions: Highest-Scoring Democratic Senators  

Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica) 185 

Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley) 123 

Robert Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) 120 

Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) 113 

Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) 110 

Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) 110 

Lowest-Scoring Senators 

Jean Fuller (R-Bakersfield): 0 

Mike Morrell (R-Rancho Cucamonga): 11 

Jeff Stone (La Quinta): 11 

Joel Anderson (R-La Mesa): 22 

Ted Gaines (R-El Dorado): 22 

Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber): 22 

This was a big year thanks to these Clean Money Champions and to the more than 100,000 citizens who signed petitions, called, or and worked to pass these Clean Money bills. 

"Next year will be even bigger," predicts California Clean Money Action Fund president Trent Lange,
"Together, we will create a democracy that is truly of, by, and for the people." 

The California Clean Money Action Fund is a non-profit, non-partisan 501(c)(4) organization that is the political advocacy arm of the 501(c)(3) California Clean Money Campaign. The CCMAF (3916 Sepulveda Blvd, Suite 208, Culver City CA 90230) accepts no funding from corporations or unions. 



Look on the bright side in Berkeley

Becky O'Malley
Friday November 11, 2016 - 01:49:00 PM

“After all I’ve seen, I still have joy”.

Those are the original words of the gospel song I expropriated for the headline of last week’s editorial, paraphrased there as “we now have joy.” On the national level, it turned out, not so much, not now.

I’m going to leave the post mortem (”after death”) analysis of what happened in the presidential race for the moment to our columnists and public commenters, though I have plenty I’d like to say. In fact, it’s been hard to find time to write this on Friday morning because of the stream of texts, emails and phone calls from distraught family and friends which seem never to stop. But I believe, with the sainted Eric Idle, that we should always “Look on the Bright Side of Life.”

Here in Berkeley, there actually is a bright side, no kidding. The local election results are very cheering.

Jesse Arreguin and Sophie Hahn have been vindicated for all the flak they took for being prematurely right in their unsuccessful initiative attempt (Measure R 2014) to fix what went wrong with Berkeley’s downtown plan. They figured out that the plan as adopted by the City Council (which did not accurately mirror what confused voters thought they were getting with the first 2010 Measure R) was all about promoting unbridled growth for private profit, nothing Smart about it. Voters last week finally recognized that Jesse and Sophie had been right all along, and rewarded them for it. 

They’ve consistently advocated a sophisticated, nuanced approach to solving the Bay Area’s genuine housing shortage. They recognize that building endless luxury apartments in Berkeley just to enable well-off San Francisco employees to commute on BART does nothing for poorly-paid workers here who are being displaced by the tech boom. They support the idea of using our remaining opportunity sites for homes which Berkeley workers with average incomes or below can afford. 

Assuming the right candidate is elected from Arreguin’s current council seat, there should be a majority of councilmembers who take sensible positions on what’s to become of Berkeley. Ben Bartlett, newly elected from District 3, is a bright guy with a good background who also seems to get it—he owes nothing to the Real Estate Industry PAC which tried to defeat Arreguin and Hahn. He’s had a good relationship with Friends of Adeline, organized to fight displacement in the neighborhood around the Ashby BART while supporting sustainable, appropriate development. 

At this writing District 2 is not settled, but either of the two women in contention would be great, and even if Darryl Moore wins again he might be persuaded to vote with the new majority from time to time. The three surely successful candidates were all endorsed, early on, by the newly formed Berkeley Progressive Alliance. 

A great share of the credit for the outcome of this election should go to the hardy band of protesters against the impending 2211 Harold Way project, which will destroy the Shattuck Cinemas, the Habitot Children’s Center and threaten the historic Hotel Shattuck, all for the sake of building 300 more unneeded Luxury Units. Permits for this meshuganah project were granted by the outgoing mayor, his allies in the council majority and their appointees to the Zoning Adjustment Board, and this election reflects the public outrage that their decision has elicited. 

Citizen protests lasted for many months, with enormous attendance at ZAB and council meetings and floods of letters and mountains of documents, all to no avail. Yes, in the end the developers agreed to make a deeply discounted payment into the Housing Trust Fund, but not nearly enough to make up for all that will be lost in the demolition of the existing buildings. 

Super-organizer Kelly Hammagren and a stalwart core of supporters tried every legal angle, culminating in pro-per petitions to the court to have the bad political decisions overturned, but nothing worked. That’s why the diverse group of people who met each other in what started out as Save the Shattuck Cinemas morphed into the Progressive Berkeley Alliance with the addition of seasoned veterans of the Berkeley planning wars who understood the political process. 

It soon became apparent that nothing short of a regime change election campaign would stop the wholesale giveaway of downtown Berkeley and more to speculators, so they organized one, and it worked. A major unintended ally in the process was the Real Estate Industry PAC, which outraged Berkeley voters by sinking about $100K into opponents of the BPA candidates. 

Paul Krugman today recalled the quote from Candide that has been running through my head since the results started coming in, saying “It’s definitely tempting to conclude that the world is going to hell, but that there’s nothing you can do about it, so why not just make your own garden grow?” 

“Make our garden grow” is the English version, from the Bernstein musical. In the French novel, as I believe I’ve said before, it’s a bit stronger: “Il faut cultiver notre jardin”—it is necessary to cultivate our garden. 

The thing is, we’ve really got to do both, it can’t be either/or. It’s not “repair the world” vs. “cultivate our garden.” Cultivating our garden must mean taking care of what Berkeley needs while remaining citizens of the world. 

Local land use with its environmental implications is one thing we can and should take responsibility for in our home town. Providing for the homeless residents among us, ensuring public health, maintaining a responsible corps of first responders, supporting public schools …all of these things should be helped by the federal government, but might not be in the near future. We might just have to go it alone. 

This will not be an easy period for local government, however, with the federal government in the hands of a rabid narcissist and his spineless Republican cohort. But it looks like Berkeley will be in good hands for a while at least. 

Luckily our new mayor is the son and grandson of farmworkers, who have set an example of how things can get done if you try. Si se puede…we can do it, though it might be hard. Look on the bright side











The Editor's Back Fence

Public Comment

Social Notes from All Over

Saturday November 12, 2016 - 10:25:00 AM

From: James Kelly <jkelly4745@gmail.com>
Date: Sat, Nov 12, 2016 at 7:31 AM
To: unsubscribe@berkeleydailyplanet.com

This a very Trashy. Site. I am very tired of the Sick Ugly Left Wing
news media like your site I hope and pray that the democrats will
Lose in every election until they get their act right. The Clintons should never have been elected. I am proud that Trump. Won
You and your type are UNAMERICAN

Sent from my iPad. From. James. Kelly

A Muslim's Letter to President-elect Donald Trump

Khalida Jamilah
Thursday November 10, 2016 - 02:44:00 PM

Dear Mr. Trump,

I am an immigrant Muslim woman from Indonesia. You might ban people like me from entering the Unites States, but I will not protest on the streets angry or cursing on you. Instead I will pray for you. I pray may God guide your heart and mind to be a just leader of our beloved country. My religion, Islam, teaches me to be obedient and respect the state’s laws. Islam teaches me that a true leader is the one who can treat everyone with justice, compassion and love. 

I hope and pray you can continue the legacies of the previous presidents to have Iftar (break the fast) dinners with the Muslim community during Ramadhan regardless of whether you are agree or disagree with their ideology. I pray you can visit mosques and give addresses like President Obama. Right now, the most dangerous and contagious disease in our society is ignorance. If you open you heart to learn about Islam and Muslims, you can give positive effect to fellow citizens to respect each other despite our differences. A sociologist scholar, Dr. Craig Considine, has coined a term called DEUCE which stands for dialogue, education, understanding, commitment and engagement. I pray you can truly apply this term into practice because with DEUCE we can make America great again. 


Khalida Jamilah 

Khalida Jamilah is an undergraduate at UC Berkeley majoring in Peace and Conflict Studies. She is also a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Women's Writers Association USA.

Why Trump Really Won

Harry Brill
Friday November 11, 2016 - 04:55:00 PM

Already there have been reams of article attempting to answer the question why voters found Trump more appealing than Hillary. The problem, however, is that if we ask the wrong questions we will come up with the wrong answer. Both candidates for good reasons were not popular candidates. But Hillary was less unpopular. After all, she won a majority of the popular vote. It was certainly not an overwhelming majority. But had she ran for office in many other countries, she would have won the election. 

So the important and relevant question is, then, why did she lose the election? One answer is the serious imperfections in the electoral college system. The relative number of electoral college votes states receive does not necessarily correlate with their population. That is why Gore in year 2000 lost the election even though his popular vote exceeded George Bush by a half million. To illustrate the problem, Wyoming has one electoral votes for every 177,556 individual. Texas has one electoral vote for about every 715,499 persons. In short, the electoral college system is unbalanced and therefore undemocratic. 

Had Bernie Sanders received the presidential nomination he most likely would have beaten Trump both in the popular and electoral college vote. But the illegal and unethical maneuvers of the Democratic Party made his nomination impossible. In retrospect, would we conclude that the Democratic Party National Committee made a mistake? Absolutely not. If you understand the political character of the Democratic Party, it will do what it can to avoid a genuinely left candidate, particularly one who calls himself a socialist. Of course, the Party would have preferred Hillary winning the election. But it would much prefer losing with Hillary than winning with Bernie. 

Mainly the Republicans did what they could to prevent a Hillary victory. Among the efforts to discourage casting a vote for Hillary was by limiting the voting opportunities. So polling stations were reduced by 868, which required many on the line to wait up to 5 hours to vote. Since 2012, the number of voting places in the Phoenix, Arizona area, for example, has been reduced from 200 to 60. So each voting place averages 21,000 per registered voter. With huge lines generally at many polling place, , many who want to vote couldn't wait that long, and so they left before voting. The reduction in voting places is among the casualties of the Supreme Court's decision to gut the Voting Rights Act. These states no longer require federal approval to make such changes. 

In 2016, 14 states have adopted new voting restrictions for the first time in a presidential election. This is part of a broader move to curtail voting rights for the purpose of making it harder to vote. Many other states already had already adopted stricter laws to discourage voting. To exclude African Americans, even doing so for minor issues, were employed. For example, a minor error in filling out personal information could result in a refusal to count the vote. Also, in many jurisdictions, it could be difficult to obtain a voter ID card despite a court order. Black voters have even been denied the vote because they had relocated but had not yet reported their new address. And in several states, early voting opportunities were abolished There are many tricks to encourage imaginative racists As one writer noted, these suppression laws at the very least tipped the balance in favor of the Republican Party. 

There have been several articles that have attempted to explain why the pollsters were wrong. These articles point to various oversights, which there certainly were. But they neglect to mention the most serious problem. The pollsters assumed an unblemished and completely honest election They neglected to take account of how rigged the system is. Indeed, the election was certainly rigged

King Trump

Jagjit Singh
Friday November 11, 2016 - 04:52:00 PM

Most of the planet is mired in disbelief, aghast at the thought of Donald Trump ascending to the White House throne. How can it be that voters would pass the baton from the first African-American president to one supported by the Ku Klux Klan, calling Mexican immigrants criminals and rapists, proposing a total ban on all Muslims entering the United States, mocked his opponents and the disabled? How can it be that such man escaped serious charges for assaulting more than a dozen women and boasted of such assaults? How did Melania Trump, escape deportation or a jail term by violating the law by earning modeling jobs before she became a lawful resident (AP & NYT report). 

Trump used Hitler’s propaganda minster’s playbook, repeating lies to vanquish his Republican opponents and then bullied Clinton with the dreaded label, “crooked Hillary.” 

Under a Trump presidency, (oh mercy!), the Supreme Court will make a hard right turn with the appointment of a Scalia clone. 

Will his faithful lap dog, Rudy Giuliani, be appointed Attorney General, pardon Chris Christie embroiled in “bridgegate” and then put Clinton in jail? Will he organize a giant posse and round up all the Hispanics and build a giant southern wall? American voters proved they were no more immune to the lies of a dangerous demagogue than other democracies that succumbed to hate and cowardice to their eventual shame. 

Funeral services will be held on January 20, 2017. 

Reacting to the election

Christopher Adams
Thursday November 10, 2016 - 02:43:00 PM

The morning after the election I had a doctor’s appointment. The doctor recommended an over-the-counter medication to me, so I went to the nearest CVS to pick some up. A pharmacist with a heavy Chinese accent helped me find the best and least expensive generic, which I took up to the cashier, a young brown-skinned woman in a hijab. After paying she said the usual, “Have a nice day.” I said, “I’m trying to.” We looked at each other, and she said, “I almost cried.” Then I went out to the car and cried until I could compose myself and drive home. .

How could this happen?

Susanna Cline
Friday November 11, 2016 - 04:59:00 PM

As everyone now knows, on Tuesday, Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton for the office of the President of the United States. What started out as a joke has turned into a real life nightmare; one that will not allow those who feel as I do, to wake up from this horrible dream. I can and cannot see how this has happened, but I won't go into that.  

It's lunchtime and I just had breakfast. I'm drinking my coffee and I'm trying to wrap my head around this horrible event. I have not been on social media or viewed any news clips or articles. I cannot bring myself to listen to Hillary's concession speech or to Obama's address to the nation. It's still just too unfathomable.  

I can't be around any Trump supporters right now or hear what they have to say on social media. I am in mourning for this nation. I feel the progress that has been established over the past eight years will be reversed back 50 years. My heart is breaking for so many who will be affected by these policy changes.  


Yes, life goes on, or at least until Trump sets off a nuclear bomb because another country called him a bad name and it pissed him off. Too bad my state [Tennessee] was not among those who legalized recreational marijuana; four years of Trump would have been much easier to take.


THE PUBLIC EYE:Combatting Trumpenstein

Bob Burnett
Thursday November 10, 2016 - 02:34:00 PM

Republicans have created a monster and on November 8th he was unleashed on the entire nation. What are progressives going to do about this? 

Take to the barricades: We should resolve to fight the expected onslaught on democracy in whatever way we can. Better to fight fascism inch-by-inch, day-by-day than let it slowly devour our democracy. Remember, Clinton won the popular vote: 59,794,935 to 59,588,437. 

Figure out what went wrong: Before we get back in the ring, Progressives have to understand what unleashed Trumpenstein. Trump won because there were a bunch of angry white men who voted for him to shake up Washington. Clinton was seen as more-of-the-same. (Before the election we expected Clinton to win because the pollsters didn't accurately gauge the power of the white anger.) 

This truly was a "change" election. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren had warned us that a great many Americans see the system as "rigged." Trump picked up this message. 

Exit polls will show that this election was primarily about economics although sexism and racism played a part. Trump convinced more working Americans that he was fighting for them. He had a compelling message, "Make America Great Again." 

Trump voters gave him their votes even though they didn't like him, because they wanted to shake up Washington. (They didn't like Clinton either but given the choice between two unpopular candidates, many voters -- particularly men -- chose the male candidate). 

Hillary was seen as an insider; Trump was seen as an outsider: Democratic pollster Pat Caddell noted in his survey of likely voters that two-thirds of respondents agreed, "The real struggle for America is not between Democrats and Republicans but between mainstream American and the ruling political elites." 81 percent of respondents said, "The U.S. has a two-track economy where most Americans struggle every day, where good jobs are hard to find, where huge corporations get all the rewards. We need fundamental changes to fix the inequity in our economic system." And 87 percent agreed, "The country is run by an alliance of incumbent politicians, media pundits, lobbyists and other powerful money interests for their own gain at the expense of the American people." 

Trump painted Hillary as a member of the ruler power elite; someone who is a career politician and, therefore, not able to fix the "two-track economy." 

When Barack Obama first ran for President -- relatively new to Washington -- he was seen as an outsider. For those of us on the left, Trump was seen as a loose cannon but for millions of voters he was seen as an outsider -- someone not part of the ruling political elite. 

Trump built a coalition of populists, racists, and "Supreme Court" voters: Pat Caddell observed, "The American people believe that the country is not only on the wrong track but almost 70 percent say that America is in actual decline." Populists want to break up the" two-track economy where most Americans struggle every day, where good jobs are hard to find, where huge corporations get all the rewards." Progressives need to take back the populist mantle from Trumpenstein -- which shouldn't be difficult once Trump arrives in Washington. 

Trump also appealed to the "alt-right" a loose coalition of racists, sexists, homophobes and xenophobes. In Washington, he'll be encumbered by these connections. 

Finally, there was a segment of Trump's vote who were anti-abortion voters, "hold your nose and vote for Donald in order to save the Supreme Court." One of the continuing challenges for progressives is to move these one-issue voters. 

There is no time for fear; this is the time to fight: When we were in Nevada getting out the vote for Democrats, we had dinner with fellow activists who asked, "Where are all the others who are worried sick about the election?' Each of us knew Democrats who had the wherewithal to go to Nevada or other swing states but because they were immobilized by fear, remained California. 

Democracy is at risk. We must overcome our fear. We have to oppose Trumpenstein now and every day. 

Michael Moore writes that progressives have work to do: "Take over the Democratic Party and return it to the people." Force our congressional Dems to "fight, resist and obstruct in the way Republicans did against President Obama every day." 

Hillary Clinton won the popular vote. The majority of voters agree with the progressive agenda. Now we must get to work to make sure that all Americans understand this. 

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Electing Trump, Legalizing Pot in California, and Increasing the Cigarette Tax in California, and How This Might Affect Mentally Ill People

Jack Bragen
Friday November 11, 2016 - 01:57:00 PM

The voters of the U.S. have made their wishes known, and in about two months, barring the unforeseen, Donald Trump will take office as our President. Many people are terrified about this. However, I believe we shouldn't panic and that we should hope for the best.  

Early in his campaign, Trump said he would leave Social Security alone. I don't believe Congress would vote to stop SSDI and SSI for the disabled. HUD is another matter. Trump may make cuts to HUD housing, or may scrap the program altogether--this is just a guess. If he could come up with some kind of viable replacement that will make housing affordable, it would be nice. But don't count on it.  

Trump is promising to get rid of Obamacare. Would this affect Medicare and Medicaid? Maybe not. Those of us who are disabled due to our psychiatric condition will probably still have access to psychiatric medications and medical care.  

Trump might toughen SSI rules, and might create more restrictions for the disabled. I don't have any facts about this and we just have to see what happens when he takes office. 

Donald is expected to deport undocumented workers. This could mean that there will be a lot of job openings. If you are able-bodied but psychiatrically disabled, this might mean you could get hired at some sort of labor job, where before you couldn't. A lot of medium sized and large corporations could soon be seeking workers. 

This is a bit tangential: In order for a mentally ill person to perform manual labor, medications might have to be adjusted to allow physical activity. This could later on cause a relapse of one's condition. I should know of this, because I was put on medications after my first episode of psychosis, and when I was released from the hospital I got a job doing physical but not exceedingly demanding work. However, the medications were blocking the physical activity, and I quit the meds so that I would be able to work at my job. I relapsed a year later. However, in that year I earned ten thousand dollars, and in 1983, that was a fairly decent amount.  

Concerning legal pot smoking, I don't recommend it. It could worsen a mental illness, and it could get you kicked out of HUD housing or other housing. If you rent with a HUD subsidy, you are subject to their "zero tolerance" policy concerning narcotics--pot remains federally illegal. Secondly, one or more of my psychiatrists informed me that pot doesn't mix well with antipsychotic medications. Thirdly, if you drive under the influence of pot, or drive smelling like pot, and if you get pulled over by a cop or get into a car accident, it will doubtless be very bad for you.  

Retail vendors aren't yet allowed to sell pot--they will be in 2018, according to one news source. Therefore, you must continue to deal with drug dealers, people who often are unsavory individuals. If none of this concerns you, go for it; just make sure you are downwind from me.  

Concerning the cigarette tax, if you smoke, now is a good time to quit, since by no stretch of the imagination will smoking still be affordable in California. The new, additional cigarette tax will make the price of a pack $7 or more for the cheapest brands.  

I wish there existed rehab facilities specifically for treating tobacco addiction, since I haven't yet voluntarily gone for more than two weeks without smoking. I am working on tapering off as of this morning.  

Other than that, if you have a psychiatric disability, leave it up to other people to deal with the world coming to an end, which it probably won't. We should proceed as usual as much as possible with our daily lives, with taking care of ourselves, and with keeping out of trouble.  


ECLECTIC RANT: Post-Election Blues

Ralph E. Stone
Friday November 11, 2016 - 05:21:00 PM

The voters have chosen Donald Trump, a failed businessman with no government or military experience as our next president. We cannot rely on polls anymore. While most polls showed the popular vote to be closing, they had Clinton getting the 270 electoral college votes. 

While both Trump and Bernie Sanders appealed to disaffected voters -- although A different group of eligible voters -- but Hillary Clinton became the nominee. At least Sanders wanted a progressive, forward looking America while Trump promises to "make America great again," which really means sending the country backward to a time when discrimination and hate were not only accepted but celebrated.  

Trump won as a nominal Republican without the support of the Republican elites. As a result, he has left the Republican Party in shambles. The Democratic Party has its problems too; it has until the mid-term elections to find some way of bringing the disaffected democrats back into the fold. Perhaps, two or four years of a Trump presidency will show those who voted for Trump that he was not the answer after all.  

I am angry with those who voted for Trump. That means to me that Trump's contempt of women, his racism, and anti-immigration views are okay with these voters or worse they share these views. And I suspect many were unwilling to vote for a woman for president. 

In sum, I am embarrassed that a president Trump will be representing us at home and abroad. But the voters have spoken.

Arts & Events

New: The Eagle Huntress: A Winning Film that Soars and Scores
Now at the Landmark Shattuck in Berkeley

Gar Smith
Saturday November 12, 2016 - 11:06:00 AM

Mongolia is famous for its sweeping deserts, its snowcapped mountains, its vast blue skies, the generosity of its people, the round tents of its nomadic herders (yurt-like structures called "gers"), and the beautiful round faces of its children. But now there's something new to marvel at.

Step aside, Ghengis Kahn, Mongolia has a new hero. Her name is Aisholpan and she's 13 years old. The men in her family have been eagle hunters for 12 generations but Aisholpan is the first female to take up this "manly art." As she is quick to insist: "If a boy can do something, girls can do it as well." And, to the filmmakers'—and filmgoers'—great fortune, she goes on to prove it. In spades.

Bear in mind, we aren't talking parakeets here. Golden eagles are huge creatures weighing up to 15 pounds and equipped with wings that can span six-feet and carry the sharp-taloned predator screaming through the air at 190 miles-per-hour.

Otto Bell's astonishingly beautiful film tells Aisholpan's story with all the big screen magnificence of a Hollywood blockbuster. If this were a Disney film, the upcoming holiday season would be awash with Aisholpan dolls, guaranteed.




Eagle Huntress is a flat-out feel-good family film—albeit one that begins with an animal sacrifice and climaxes with a bloody battle-to-the-death between a fox and an eagle. But what most stays in the mind are not the struggles, hardships, and victories, but Aisholpan's smile—beatific, serene, and confident. That, and her joyous cry of "Whoota!" whenever she calls out to "White Wings," her pet eagle. 

And when this small bundle of girl-power pulls on her winter furs and mounts her pony to go thundering across a snowy steppe at full-gallop, you might be tempted to holler "Whoota!" yourself—if you aren't tearing up at the sheer, joyous beauty of the moment. 

A Kazakh child from the Altai Mountains in northwest Mongolia, Aisholpan is a shy, quiet, engaging youngster. Like many Mongolian children, Aisholpan spends five days a week in the city, attending a live-in grade school. We see her with her school friends, giggling and blushing as they gab away the evenings. But Aisholpan is unique. She's the only one who has captured, raised, and trained a wild bird of prey. And she may be the only student who intends to become a doctor. 

She spends every non-school day in the wilderness, secure in the family tent. Her father, Nurgaiv, is a nomadic herder who shepherds goats and sheep across the steppes. He also is a master eagle hunter and a two-time winner of the annual Eagle Festival in Ölgii. And, unlike the male elders of the community who have no patience for the idea that a mere girl should aspire to become an eagle hunter, Nurgaiv is a feminist. 

There are three main challenges facing Aisholpan. First, she must singlehandedly chose and capture a wild eagle. After raising and training the bird to wear a leather hood and rest on her leather-clad arm, she dares to enter the annual Golden Eagle Festival and compete against the 70 best male eagle hunters in Mongolia. And, finally, she and her father have to prove her eagle's valor in a winter hunt to track and kill a fox in minus-40-degree temperatures with snowdrifts deep enough to swallow a pony. 

(Shooting the hunt took 22 days in weather so cold that the film crew's hands would freeze to the exposed metal of tripods and fires had to be built beneath the van's frozen engine block to bring the motor back to life. For more details on the challenges involved in shooting this film, check out the video interview with cinematographer Simon Niblett at the end of this review.) 

It was a wonder the film was made at all. Bell had never made a feature-length film and his only source of funding was a wallet-full of maxed-out credit cards. But a great stroke of luck led to a promotional "trailer" that caught the attention of documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock ("Supersize Me"). 

Bell's first visit to Aisholpan's family involved long ride on a Soviet-era bus and days spent getting to know Aisholpan and her parents. Because this was an "exploratory" visit, Bell and his two-man crew (Israeli photographer Asher Svidensky and cinematographer Christopher Raymond) only brought along a pocket-sized Zoom sound recorder, a small GoPro, and a single Canon C300 Mark 1 camera. 

They weren't prepared when Nurgaiv casually announced: "Me and my daughter are going to steal a balapan (young eagle) from its nest this morning. Is that the kind of thing you would like to film." 

It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and they went with what they had, climbing down the rocky sides of a mountain on ropes to film Aisholpan as she was lowered on another rope. They tucked the GoPro under her sweater, capturing the reaction of the young eagle as the plucky little girl approached the nest with the mother eagle swooping overhead. 

There were no stunt doubles. 

After Bell's ten-minute teaser brought Spurlock on board, Spurlock reached out to actress Daisy Ridley, whose turn as "Rey" in the latest Star Wars sequel, also celebrated a strong, single female. Ridley soon found herself "curled up in a ball and crying" as she watched the trailer. She immediately signed on as an executive producer and offered to narrate the film as well. In another testament to the power of The Eagle Huntress, Sia volunteered to write and record a theme song for the film. 

The Eagle Huntress does not look like a documentary. It unfolds with such sure-footed perfection that it looks like the entire movie has been storyboarded in advance. Take, for example, a scene where Aisholpan exits a room through a door that leads outside. The move contains a shot from inside the house, followed by a second perspective from outside the door and, finally, an astonishing overhead shot that places the scene within the context of a village neighborhood and follows Aisholpan and her father as they set off together down a long dirt road. 

If there were an Academy Award for footage captured by a camera-equipped aerial drone, The Eagle Huntress would be a top candidate to take home an Oscar. 

The cinematography is breathtaking. Look for the scene with a close-up of Aisholpan's foot in a handmade leather shoe: watch as she steps aside and reveals the beauty of a painted wall in the background. Or savor the simple image of a horse's shadow resting against the side of a house. 

The camerawork is matched by the editing. There is a scene where the camera is perched on a cliff alongside a hunter as he releases his eagle. A second camera catches the bird's flight as it leaves the hunter's arm and dives towards the camera. You expect to see the first camera in the second scene but only the hunter is visible, standing alone on the cliff. 

It should be noted that, despite the legacy of patriarchy, Mongolia has a long-established record when it comes to advancing gender equality. The 1924 constitution mandated equal rights for men and women and Mongolian women fought hard during the Sixties to breach the gender barrier and win careers as doctors, lawyers, writers, athletes, and filmmakers. Today, most of Mongolia's university graduates are women. 

The June 2016 elections that brought the Mongolian Peoples Party to power also saw a record 13 women elected to the national Parliament. One of the MPP's first acts was to proclaim that women must henceforth make up at least 25 percent of the Parliament. 

I can imagine Aisholpan, upon hearing the news, smiling up into Mongolia's blue skies and whooping: "Whoota!" 


New: Theater Reviews:'Our Enemies' & 'Red Demon'

Ken Bullock
Saturday November 12, 2016 - 10:46:00 AM

'Our Enemies' by Yussef El Guindi, a Golden Thread production, at Thick House

Golden Thread, the San Francisco-based theater company which is the first American company to focus on plays from or about the Middle East, is inaugurating its celebration of its 20th anniversary by staging the West Coast premiere of Egyptian American playwright Yussef El Guindi's satiric comedy, 'Our Enemies'--and this's the show's last weekend at the Thick House, 1695--18th Street near Connecticut, on Potrero Hill in San Francisco--info at goldenthread.org..  

El Guindi's sometimes bawdy, sometimes acid satire has been a welcome staple of Golden Thread's production history, the company having staged four other full-length and several short plays of his since their world premiere of 'Scenic Routes' in 2001, including what might've been the first Skype play in 2009, El Guindi's '' The Review,.a 20-minute acerbicly funny dialogue between an Arab-American writer and his Egyptian activist girlfriend by Skype, staged in San Francisco (directed by Hafiz Karmali) and Paris (directed by Dina Amin), complete on YouTube. Their last, a West Coast premiere of his 'Language Rooms' (directed by Evren Odcikin) in 2012 wasn't only a high point in their history of staging plays about the region, but one in recent Bay Area theatergoing.
'Our Enemies,' the script from 2008, features a complex of characters, intersecting at unpredictable angles to each other: an Egyptian-American author experiencing the first flush of success as a go-to explainer of Middle Eastern culture for the media; a wannabe writer, also Egyptian-American-turned-dirty-trickster, who resents the first writer's patronizing pose as expert; the wannabe's ex, who writes romantic fiction, resisting all readings of it that would make it reflexive of her Egyptian background; an imam of a local mosque, also Egyptian and a media talking head and his very Americanized son, on the verge of his first visit to family back "home,"and an editor, a publisher, a talking head Irish priest, a talk show host ...
Golden Thread's valiant founder, Torange Yeghiazarian, has directed a game cast--Dale Albright, Munaf Alsafi, James Asher, Denmo Ibrahim, Kunal Prasad, Annemaria Rajala and Salim Razawi--in El Guindi's wry examination of cultural and sexual identities in flux, often in parallel, though flying not in formation, but in different directions ...
Asher, as the nebbishy Gamal, wannabe writer and activist, and Ibrahim as his artistically committed and savvy ex, Noor, shine onstage. Asher has played similar characters--the author's alter ego, it seems--in other El Guindi plays with the same signature, quirky comic brilliance. Ibrahim, who is a founding member of Mugwumpin and has appeared in productions by Aurora and ACT--and who's always a pleasure to see onstage--is exceptional in her portrayal of Noor's unfolding moods in expressions, gestures (often silent) and words, often very funny and always impressively expressive.
There're pointed moments of slapstick, whether in a TV studio the moment before airtime, in an alley off a New York arterial, at a publisher's cocktail party or in and out of bed at a variety of NYC apartments ... And a constant flow of conversation about books, the news, what it means to immigrate, to return home, to try to make it in the marketplace--to crash and burn as a commercial writer or a politically aware one ...and the infighting of an underdog group among themselves, either jockeying for position, for an ideological edge--or personal or artistic autonomy.
'Our Enemies' obliquely illustrates with these contemporary scenes Karl Liebknecht's famously dire warning from Germany, World war I, "The enemy is in your own country." El Guindi's characters express a sense of energy in a maze of interlocking dilemmas, personal and social. The one moment that reads as a misstep, perhaps, is at the very end, where a kind of denouement, a chance encounter turns ugly, then too violent, tagging the play as melodramatic, instead of leaving a character who's humorously confessed being changed as sprawled out in public, repeating his newly-acquired self-help mantra--"I'm on your side!"
(In 'Language Games,' produced her before, but written after 'Our Enemies,' El Guindi reaches his height with the strange, heartbreaking and ironic conclusion, a kind of muted soliloquy, half confession, half avowal of love, which touched on tragedy, something rare in contemporary theater.)
This engaging production of 'Our Enemies' is the perfect opening to Golden Thread's celebration of 20 years of true commitment to theater and community.
'Red Demon' at NOHspace
Theatre of Yugen was founded in 1979 by Yuriko Doi, at the time the only American theater company to feature the classical Japanese theater arts, tragic and comic, of Noh and Kyogen.
But Doi, who had been involved with the Tokyo underu, underground theater, in the 60s, also wanted to stage both older and modern Western and Japanese plays featuring stylized movement and production styles from Nohgaku (Noh and Kyogen) and a broader range of sources.
Going on 40 years later, 'Red Demon,' a 1997 Japanese play by Hideki Noda, as translated by Roger Pulvers, easily finds its place in the succession of classical, modern and adapted plays Yugen has produced to realize this ideology.
Nick Ishimaru, interim artistic director, found 'Red Demon' in an anthology and "was immediately captivated by ... how delightfully funny this play is ... how relevant the material is to our immediate lives ... and ... how little adaptation the script needed to be relatable to an American audience."
'Red Demon' bears some simularity to the kind of play that developed in the 60s out of the postwar "Theatre of the Absurd," using techniques from Surrealism and other avant-garde movements, often a combination of realistic and fantastic storytelling and an almost metaphysical focus on the condition and fate of humanity.
It's told like a long flashback, the action starting at the end, then restarting sequentially as an admittedly "slow-thinking" man narrates what happened to his sister who has committed suicide after being rescued with her brother and another man following a storm at sea, after a bizarre series of events in the fishing village where they're all from.
At the heart of the almost fabulous tale that materializes bit by bit onstage is the sudden appearance of a strange, manlike creature from the sea, seeming to babble gibberish, who the villagers take for a man-eating demon and intend to do in, until the brother and sister, sometimes helped (and sometimes hindered) by the village liar and would-be Don Juan, convince the others to relent--and then the sister begins to communicate with the grotesque interloper ...
The excellent cast, directed by Ishimaru, portraying all and sundry in this folktale-gone-wild is just four energized actors, three of them shifting roles like chameleons, all adept at delivering both the comedy and drama the play demands. New to Yugen are both Ayelet Firstenberg, who plays, among others, the sister (dubbed "That Woman" by the irate villagers), but also the Old Fisherman who the locals turn to for advice--and Steven Ho as Tombi (among others), the "idiot" brother.
Longtime Yugen collaborator Enormvs Muñoz, a skilled comedian and intense physical performer, plays Mizukane, the local tale-teller, with presence and deft comic timing--and Yugen principal for two decades Lluis Valls--one of the finest physical theater actors in the Bay Area, a unique performer--takes on the initially inarticulate role of the title character/creature with great skill and invention, finding unusual creative ways to communicate both the Demon's alienation and his strange sensibilities. It's a great, more than comic jolt when the Demon in an effusion of enthusiasm tries to get across just what he's there for--and his heartfelt "explanation" is both a puzzling conundrum and yet too familiar.
Production design--Yusuke Soi's scenery and props, Maximillian Urruzmendi's lighting, Kevin Sweetzer's sound and Liz Brent's costumes--compliment the ensemble's constant action and the play's unorthodox theme.
'Red Demon' fnctions theatrically as both a kind of exotic entertainment, with something close to the unsettling quality of black humor, and as a cryptic-not so cryptic moral parable of tribalism, the other and identity ... like Ishimura has said, both immediately relevant yet timeless.
At NOHspace in Project Artaud in San Francisco's Mission District through November 13. Info at www.theatreofyugen.org

New: Around & About--Theater: James Keller's 'Queen Lear' in Temescal Next Weekend

Saturday November 12, 2016 - 10:55:00 AM

Orson Welles, among others, declared that Shakespeare's tragic masterpiece wouldn't have existed if there had been a Queen Lear ...

Playwright James Keller--a veteran of many productions at the Magic Theatre in the 80s--has continued his prolific career writing plays about the lives of older people, staging them with his troupe Poor Players.

Keller's latest in that vein is in a way like an improvised take off Shakespeare as a contemporary chamber piece, a character study of an aging headstrong woman suffering through a Lear-like loss of autonomy when her daughters confront her with their belief she has dementia and a plan to warehouse her in a care facility, bringing her ire down on them.  

I saw a staging at the Unitarian Fellowship on Cedar Street of an earlier draft of 'Queen Lear' some months ago and found it to be at once a finely etched study of a family, all female, confronting (or sidestepping) the questions of age, judgment and freedom, and an intimate spectacle overflowing with both causticly witty dialogue and often raw emotion. 

The excellent script is served up with brilliance and style by a trio of actors very familiar with Keller's work that he's handpicked: Elinor Bell, Beth Chastain, Susannah Wood. 

This coming weekend, Friday November 18 at 8 and Saturday the 19th at 2 and 8, Temescal Arts Center, 511-48th Street, between Telegraph and Shattuck, Oakland. Tickets: $20 through brownpapertickets.com 


Rachel Podger & Philharmonia Baroque Perform Baroque Concertos

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Friday November 11, 2016 - 04:41:00 PM

Hailed as the “Queen of the Baroque Violin,” English violinist Rachel Podger returned to the Bay Area to lead a series of concerts with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra. I caught the Friday evening concert at Herbst Hall in San Francisco. The program chosen by Ms. Podger was an interesting one, featuring some lesser-known works as well as a few chestnuts. Opening the concert was the Ouverture No. 6 in G minor by Francesco Maria Veracini. This, of course, is one of the lesser-known works. Veracini, a native of Florence, performed throughout Europe as a violinist in the early 18th century. Younger than Antonio Vivaldi, Veracini made his reputation as a violin virtuoso. Reportedly, Giuseppe Tartini, himself a great violinist and an influential teacher of violin, once heard Veracini perform and was so taken with Veracini’s style that Tartini sequestered himself in Ancona until he had mastered a new technique.  

Veracini’s Ouverture No. 6 in G minor opens with a dialogue between a trio of two oboes and bassoon alternating with strings. Philharmonia Baroque’s oboists, March Schachman and Gonzalo Ruiz, were outstanding in this work, as was bassoonist Andrew Schwartz. Needless to say, Rachel Podger was also outstanding as solo violinist. The Largo offered a serene dialogue between the strings and the wind trio, with a walking bass continuo. The third movement, marked Allegro, offered puzzling passages of staccato repeated notes, and it ended strangely with repetitions of the final cadence. A concluding minuet brought this work to a strange, not altogether satisfying, conclusion. 

Next on the program was Vivaldi’s Violin Concerto in D Major, one of his explorations of the human psyche, this one called “L’inquietudine,” or restless anxiety. As one might expect, this work opens with suggestions of turmoil. The music is agitated, including a fierce solo superbly played here by Rachel Podger. The Largo offers a French style of dotted rhythms combined with swooping violin passages, and although the tempo here is slow, anxiety remains the dominant mood. The final movement features difficult passagework by the solo violinist, accompanied by the basso continuo.  

Following this work was J.S. Bach’s Concerto for Violin and Oboe in C minor, BWV 1060. We know that Bach wrote a concerto for these two instruments; but, unfortunately, it is lost. Bach himself transcribed this now-lost work for two harpsichords. Recently, musicologists have re-transcribed the harpsichord version backwards to the version for violin and oboe. Here, Rachel Podger on violin and Gonzalo Ruiz on oboe gave an outstanding rendition of this concerto. The second and third movements offered wonderful dialogue between the two solo instruments, and here Podger and Ruiz were at their best, making this work stand out in a program already full of wonders. 

After intermission, Podger and the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra returned to perform Giuseppe Tartini’s lovely Concerto for Violin in A Major. Tartini, who taught violin in Padova (Padua) for 44 years, here writes brilliant polyphonic passages full of rich harmonics. The cello offers burnished accompaniment to the solo violin. The slow Adagio is like an aria in which a heroine decries her fate, while the tutti fill the role of a Greek chorus. My only reservation about Rachel Podger’s playing came here in the pianissimo passages, where she played so very softly on her period instrument (a Pesarinius, 1739 from Genoa), that the sound was almost inaudible. (On my CD recording, Ariadne Daskalakis also plays these passages softly on her period violin, but the acoustic engineering by Naxos Records renders them full of immediacy.)  

Following this Tartini concerto was Vivaldi’s Chamber Concerto in G minor, a work scored for bassoon, recorder, oboe, and violin with an ensemble of basso continuo. Here the violin is not foremost. Pride of place in this concerto is shared among the bassoon, recorder, oboe and violin. Bassoonist Andrew Schwartz had a field day with his music in this work, as did March Schachman on oboe and Hanneke van Proosdij on recorder. (Incidentally, the program notes failed to identify who played recorder in this piece, and I had to ask Lisa Grodin afterwards to make sure I had correctly identified Hanneke van Proosdij as the performer on recorder.)  

The final work on the program was J.S. Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 1 in C Major, BMZ 1066. This is French-inspired music, full of dance movements made popular at the court of Louis XIV in Versailles. Noteworthy is a rare Italian dance movement, the only Forlane Bach ever wrote. This is a rustic dance from the Friuli region near Venice. This Orchestral Suite has become a favorite of contemporary audiences. All in all, this concert put together by Rachel Podger offered an interesting overview of the violin concertos written in the Baroque period in Northern Italy and Germany, with influences coming from France.  

Movies in the Margin

Gar Smith
Friday November 11, 2016 - 05:06:00 PM

The Notorious Silent Film That Caused an Outcry

In the run-up to the SF Silent Film Festival in December, the folks at the Alamo Drafthouse cinema offered to help the SFSFF celebrate the centennial of the New Mission Theatre by hosting "A SILENT NIGHT at the ALAMO," a selection of silent era classics. The event begins this Saturday, November 12, when the infamous Diary of a Lost Girl (Germany, 1929, 113 minutes) screens at the Alamo from 7-9PM.

G.W. Pabst's 1929 masterpiece stars the luminescent Louise Brooks, who also starred in Pabst's 1928 Pandora's Box. Both films caused a furor upon their release owing to depictions of sexual themes and indictments of bourgeois hypocrisy. But those very qualities have ensured Diary—and its star, Louise Brooks—of a place in cinema history. As Henri Langlois, once wrote in Cinémathèque Française: "There is no Garbo, there is no Dietrich, there is only Louise Brooks."

The film will be accompanied by live music courtesy of The Musical Art Quintet, performing an original score by Sascha Jacobsen. 

For more information about the SFSFF, visit: silentfilm.org 

For more information about the Alamo Drafthouse, visit: https://drafthouse.com/sf/show/diary-of-a-lost-girl-with-the-musical-art-quintet 


Bollywood and Beyond: The South Asian Film Fest November 10-13 

3rd i's 14th Annual San Francisco International South Asian Film Festival: Bollywood and Beyond (SFISAFF) will run this year November 10th – 13th at the New People and Castro Theater in San Francisco and continue in the South bay at the Bluelight Cinema in Cupertino on November 19th. 

From art-house classics to documentaries, to cutting-edge Bollywood flicks, the five-day independent film festival will screen 15 programs of narrative and documentary features along with shorts from South Asia and the South Asian Diaspora, including stories from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Canada, and the USA. 

This year, 3rd i Films shines a spotlight on Voices from the Diaspora, featuring work by filmmakers living between two cultures. Here are some highlights. 

Sami Khan's intimate and atmospheric feature KHOYA/LOST captures the story of a Canadian man who returns to India after the death of his adopted mother, seeking to unravel the mystery surrounding his adoption. (Khan will be in attendance at the screening.) 

The film features a haunting score by ECMA award-winners Daniel Ledwell and folk musician Jenn Grant. The film stars Rupak Ginn who grew up in San Francisco. 

New York-based Naeem Mohaiemen's immersive and brilliant doc UNITED RED ARMY unravels some dark history. Part of a trilogy on radical left-wing movements, it reconstructs the hijacking of Japan Air Lines flight 472 at the hands of the Japanese Red Army in 1977, and its forced landing in Dhaka, Bangladesh. (Mohaiemen will be present via skype for Q&A.) 

In Amit Gupta's charming UK-based, Woody Alan-esque comedy, ONE CRAZY THING, Ray Panthaki (recently named one of BAFTA's Breakthrough Brits) plays a former daytime TV star whose life has hit rock bottom—until he meets his dream girl. There's only one problem: How does Jay tell Hannah about the leaked sex tape that made him an Internet sensation? 

For full details on the films and screening schedules, go to: http://www.thirdi.org/festival/ 

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New Italian Cinema: Benvenuti al Festival! 

It's time to uncork some vino and join your closest Italian cine-buddies at the 20th annual New Italian Cinema (NIC) festival at the Vogue Theatre in San Francisco. The festival runs from Wednesday-Sunday, November 16-20. 

The festivities begin with an opening night screening of Second Spring, which tells the story of an architect whose fixation with the wife of a younger friend gives him an opportunity to see life anew. (Director Francesco Calogero will appear in person on November 16.) 

The traditional Opening Night Party—complete with wine and antipasti—is set for the San Francisco Italian Athletic Club (1630 Stockton Street) from 8.30-11.00pm. 

In addition to the seven features in competition, NIC will showcase five dramatic films by veteran Italian directors as part of the Special Screenings presentations. This year, we will also open a window on Italian documentaries in collaboration with the Festival dei Popoli (Italy's most prestigious documentary film festival) by screening three award-winning documentaries. 

The festival is presented by the Istituto Italiano di Cultura of San Francisco and New Italian Cinema Events of Florence. More info at: www.newitaliancinema.org 

Women Carry the Day in AIDA at San Francisco Opera

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Friday November 11, 2016 - 04:43:00 PM

In San Francisco Opera’s new production of Verdi’s Aida, which opened Saturday, November 5, two outstanding women singers, soprano Leah Crocetto as Aida and mezzo-soprano Ekaterina Semenchuk as Amneris, overcame the drawbacks of a dismal staging by trendy Los Angeles-based artistic designer Marquis Duriel Lewis, who goes by the pseudonym Retna. Director Francesca Zambello tried to make the best of this ill-conceived staging, and Zambello at least managed to inspire the notoriously statue-like Leah Crocetto to move around a bit and throw herself into a credibly dramatic interpretation of the role of Aida. With her sheer physical bulk, Crocetto’s Aida will never be the paragon of feminine beauty extolled by her lover Radames. But to her credit, Ms. Crocetto, who has never sounded better than here as Aida, also gave her very best dramatic performance thus far in her young career.  

Leah Crocetto’s voice is a sumptuous soprano, redolent with rich color. Her high notes were spectacular, delivered with conviction, and her lower register was full of dark tones that suggested her character’s inner turmoil as a prisoner of the Egyptians but a woman in love with Radames, who leads the Egyptians in battle against Aida’s own father, Amonasro, king of the Ethiopians. Leah Crocetto’s “O terra addio” as Aida joined Radames in death by entombment in Act IV was a thing of beauty. 

In the role of Amneris, daughter of Egypt’s pharaoh and a woman also in love with Radames, Russian mezzo-soprano Ekaterina Semenchuk gave a riveting performance, singing with great clarity, especially in Act IV. Particularly noteworthy was Semenchuk’s desperate Act IV dialogue with the dishonored Radames, in which Amneris pleads in vain with Radames to save his life if only he will abandon his love for Aida.  

As Radames, tenor Brian Jagde definitely took third place in this production, ceding pride of place to Crocetto and Semenchuk. While I can’t fault Jagde’s singing on technical grounds, it seems to me that his tenor voice is really not quite suited to the role of Radames. Verdi wrote for tenors with a light color, and Jagde’s tenor is anything but light. In his Act I aria “Celeste Aida,” Jagde sounded almost like a baritone; and this baritone coloration continued throughout Jagde’s portrayal of Radames. When he reached upward for high notes, Jagde sometimes hit pay dirt but at other times sounded a bit thin. His Radames will never bear comparison with a Jon Vickers, a Luciano Pavarotti or a Plácido Domingo. 

Bass Anthony Reed was a credible king of Egypt; bass Raymond Aceto was an ominous High Priest Ramfis; and baritone George Gagnidze was a powerful Amonasro, father of Aida and king of the invading Ethiopians. Interestingly, the Amonasro-Aida relationship offers yet another glimpse at Verdi’s profound interest in father-daughter relations, this one full of conflicting motivations of love and patriotic loyalty. Small roles were admirably performed by soprano Toni Marie Palmertree as a Priestess, and tenor Pene Pati as a Messenger. 

Francesca Zambello’s direction emphasized Egypt as a militarized state, albeit a curiously updated one in which the ever-present soldiers wore vaguely fascist uniforms rather than ancient Egyptian tunics, and Amneris’s circle of women wore incongruous day-glo dresses designed by Anita Yavich. The famous Triumphal March was here highlighted by Jessica Lang’s choreography in which the soldiers tossed a woman high in the air as prelude to a suggested rape scene – a by-product of all wars. Solo dancers Rachel Little and Jekyns Peláez were outstanding. Regarding the set designs, what in the world was supposed to be represented in the Nile banks scene that opens Act III? Supposedly set in or next to a temple of Isis along the river Nile, this scene offered a spotlighted circle that seemed like an oculus, looking outward, but onto what? With the naked eye, I thought maybe it was a geologic outcrop of the Nile cliffs. But when I trained my binoculars on it, there was nothing recognizable at all, a mere abstract blip on the radar screen, with one of Retna’s hieroglyphics mounted on struts in the foreground. This set design offered nothing of relevance to this intimate drama or to its exposure of the ravages of state and religion against the beleaguered individual. Let us hope that San Francisco Opera will swiftly retire this ill-conceived production so we never have to see it again. 

As conductor, Nicola Luisotti led a somewhat languorous reading of Verdi’s score. The San Francisco Opera Chorus led by Ian Robinson delivered a fine rendition of this opera’s many opportunities for choral singing. Set designer was Michael Yeargan; but how much was Yeargan's responsibility and how much was artistic designer Retna’s remains a mystery we would rather not unravel. A plague on both their houses for distracting us from great singing of ravishingly beautiful music. AIDA continues with multiple performances through December 6.