Police arrested two suspects who led officers on a pursuit Wednesday night that began in Oakland and ended in Berkeley, police said. -more-
A suspect who fled into Berkeley tonight after a police pursuit that began in Oakland, in which an officer suffered minor injuries, has been apprehended, according to police. -more-
Do you wonder where California’s water has been going, and why? A documentary which will be shown on the National Geographic channel (on UVerse 265/1265 at 6 and 7:30 and on Comcast/Xfinity 273 at 9:00 and 10:30) will provide many of the answers.
And there’s a Berkeley connection: Rossmann and Moore LLP, a law firm now located on Shattuck in downtown Berkeley, brought the successful challenge to the "Monterey Amendments” that form the subject of the film, which previewed in Sacramento last Tuesday night. It’s a documentary exposing California’s secret water agreements of the 1990’s. These have led to depleted aquifers, land subsidence and loss of fresh drinking water for entire communities in the Central Valley. Attorney Antonio Rossmann told the Planet that his firm has "a small part in the film, but played a major role in being the first to challenge these questionable deals.” -more-
With the vote count completed, Kate Harrison has defeated Ben Gould in the special election for the District 4 City Council seat.
Kate Harrison: 1607 (61.8%)
Ben Gould: 992 (38.2%)
Harrison’s margin of victory, 24%, is the largest margin recorded in any District 4 Council race without an incumbent in the race.
This is the first special election for a City Council seat since the City began electing councilmembers by district in 1986. Jesse Arreguin represented District 4 from 2008 until his election as mayor in November. Before Arreguin, the District was represented by Dona Spring from 1992 to her death in July 2008, and before that by Ann Chandler from 1986 to 1992.
District 4 is composed of downtown, North Shattuck to Cedar (except for one block), a small part of the Northside, and the area west of downtown between University and Dwight extending to Sacramento (or to Acton near University). Tenants outnumber homeowners in District 4.
The turnout was low. Only 2620 ballots were cast, a turnout of 28% of the 9453 registered voters. This compares to a turnout of 3769 voters in District 4 in the 2014 general election, which was 43.5% of that year’s 8668 registered voters. Turnout was much higher in the recent presidential election when 7089 voters were cast in the district, a turnout of 74.9%.
Low turnout is not surprising. In the past, runoff elections for mayor and city council, with nothing else on the ballot, have also had lower turnouts than general elections. In addition, as a result of redistricting, District 4 has a higher percentage of student residents than in the past and students tend not to vote in non-presidential elections. Much of the recent growth in the city’s population has taken place in downtown and many of the new residents living in the apartment buildings built since the late 1990s are students, particularly the new buildings in District 4 which are mostly within walking distance of campus. In runoff elections, drop off in voting in student precincts has always been much higher than in other precincts.
Ben Gould is a graduate student at UC, but the chance to vote for a student apparently did not inspire very many students in District 4 to return their vote by mail ballots. Gould was endorsed by ASUC and Graduate Assembly officers, but Kate Harrison had the support of students who were active in the Sanders campaign and in Jesse Arreguin’s mayoral campaign last year, as well as the support of the Cal Berkeley Democrats.
District 4 in past decades included more blocks north of Cedar and west of MLK and those areas had more homeowners and fewer students. In the 2010 Council race in District 4, which took place before the redistricting increased the percentage of students in the District, 4715 votes were cast for one of the four Council candidates on the ballot.
Based on campaign filings and information on the City Web site, Kate Harrison had 270 donors who gave $50 or more while Ben Gould had 107 such donors. Kate Harrison raised a total of $45,716 and Ben Gould raised $20,048. Both candidates reported sending 3 campaign mailers to District voters. In addition, Harrison was supported by independent mailings done by the Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club (WDRC) and Berkeley Working Families, an independent expenditure committee supported by the Service Employees International Union, which represents many city employees. Developer contributions were not a factor in the election. Mark Rhoades and another member of the Rhoades Planning Group did make late contributions to Gould, but that was about the extent of contributions from the developer community to Gould’s campaign.
Both candidates waged vigorous campaigns, with lots of yard signs and contact with voters. A majority tenant district, District 4 has always elected progressive candidates to the Council. This year, Kate Harrison had the support of progressive organizations and elected officials, including recently elected Mayor Jesse Arreguin. Arreguin defeated his principal opponent for mayor, Laurie Capitelli, by a 27% margin (1691 votes) in District 4 in November. Ben Gould, who also ran for mayor before running for Council, had received 291 votes for mayor in District 4. Gould was endorsed by the Berkeley Democratic Club (BDC), but that club has never had much influence with District 4 voters. BDC has also been supplanted by WDRC, which is now clearly the most active Democratic club in Berkeley. WRDC supported Bernie Sanders in last year’s Democratic primary, while BDC did not.
Note: Rob Wrenn makes no claims about being neutral in this race. He actively supported Kate Harrison. -more-
Berkeley's city government could be moving even further to the left with the likely victory of veteran activist Kate Harrison in a special vote-by-mail election in City Council District 4.
In results that were released on Tuesday night, Harrison has an overwhelming lead of 63.7 percent to 36.3 percent over University of California at Berkeley graduate student Ben Gould, or 1,278 votes to 728 votes.
The special election was needed because incumbent Councilman Jesse Arreguin was elected to be Berkeley's new mayor in November and took office in December, leaving the District 4 seat open. The district is in downtown Berkeley.
The vacancy means that currently there are only eight votes on the Council instead of the usual nine, and that fact has resulted in at least one deadlock.
Voting by mail began on Feb. 6 and ended on Tuesday. Ballots received by Friday will still be counted and the Alameda County Registrar of Voters will provide updated results late Friday afternoon. -more-
Why We Need a Travel Ban
Not on all Muslims: on all Trumps.
In his first month in office, The Donald's weekend escapes to his Mar-a-Lago retreat in Florida cost taxpayers S11.3 million (more than Obama racked up in an entire year). At this rate, Donald's golf outings will cost America $136 million a year. (When Obama was in the White House, Trump tweet-shrieked about "taxpayer-funded vacations [costing] . . . millions of dollars." Now . . . not so much.)
And then there's son Eric who jetted down to Uruguay to promote a new Trump Tower (with rooms renting for up to $8 million a year). Because Trump's family enjoys federal protection, that two-day fling cost the U.S. Treasury nearly $100,000—mostly to rent rooms for Eric's secret service detail. The bodyguards stayed at the Trump Tower, of course, so the tax dollars wound up enriching the Trump organization.
The public is invited to three upcoming Saturday meetings on spending the $100 million raised by bonds approved by the voters in November to “repair, renovate, replace, or reconstruct the City’s aging infrastructure and facilities.” -more-
The Russian-Trump smoke is becoming thicker and thicker threatening to explode into a roaring conflagration and bring down the presidency. -more-
Our society is moving rapidly in a dangerous direction. Government is increasingly playing the role of assisting business to maximize profits instead of attempting to improve the quality of life of the public. The strategy is privatization, which Trump has just indicated he supports. He is seeking legislative approval for funds to provide opportunities for private schooling to "disadvantage young people". Among the public institutions that are becoming increasingly privatized are K-12 educational institutions. Called charter schools, they are rapidly increasing at the expense of public schools. In Washington, D.C. 44 percent of the students are enrolled in charter schools. In some cities, including Detroit and New Orleans, a majority of the students are educated in charter schools. -more-
With the election of Kate Harrison to fill new Mayor Jesse Arreguin’s City Council seat, Berkeley has entered firmly into a new era. She's smart, energetic and independent. The distinguishing characteristic of the newly elected council majority is that they were all elected without the fiscal sponsorship of the building industry—they’re not beholden to any developers, or even to any great extent to the Building Trades unions.
They are the vanguard of a realistic progressivism that doesn’t believe that we can build our way out of the environmental crisis which is both the cause and the effect of climate change. It’s been almost 20 years since Vice-President Al Gore started promoting what he thought would be a sure-fire campaign winner for 2000, smart growth. It didn’t turn out to be exactly an election winner (though many of us think he actually won that race), but it has endured in one form or another as doctrine for many sincere but poorly informed environmentalists.
What’s changed in recent years is the previous certainty that urban sprawl was the only enemy. In Berkeley and elsewhere many politically active citizens now realize that jamming more and more people into older cities, at least here in Northern California, has failed to prevent movement into the undeveloped periphery. Even worse, it has turned the most desirable cities like San Francisco into enclaves for the wealthy who can afford luxury highrises, and at the same time has pushed the urban poor into former farming communities like Antioch, Tracy and Brentwood, whose residents are forced to drive long distances daily for jobs serving the needs of the city elite. -more-
The Editor's Back Fence
Again, I'm pushing the "publish" button as soon as I have critical mass, but warning readers that there's more in the works. This seems to be a reasonable schedule. Many readers are on our "subscribe" list, which means that they get periodic emails telling them what's new, often on Fridays. If you'd like to be a subscriber (it's free), just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. -more-
My sister in Southern California called me on Sunday night because she’d seen reports of violence in Berkeley on Saturday and she was worried. Knowing me for many years as she has, she thought I might have been there.
Well, we did go to the variously named Provo /Martin Luther King, Jr./Civic Center Park as we do on many Saturdays, mainly to buy tangerines at the Farmers’ Market (Brokaw, Gold Nugget, the best). And yes, we knew the Trumpistas would be there for comic relief, and no, we were not disappointed.
Really, there’s just one sobriquet that fits many on their team, “deplorables”. Unfortunately that also fits many on our team. The two groups, or at least those who came spoiling for a fight, deserved each other. Losers, all of them, and deeply pathetic.
Except for the black costumes and kerchief masks on some of our deplorables you’d have trouble telling the tribes apart. Each had a remarkable percentage of oddly decorated participants. Many, many variously ugly tattoos. At least one man in a skirt on each side. Lots of hair-dye, though theirs tended to unreal orange and platinum where ours ran to blue tones, probably not because they were Dems however. Braids and tie-dyes everywhere, both sides. Motorcycle jackets and boots for both.
Each side also had a reasonable number of seemingly peaceable hangers-on urging their cohorts to “be nice, don’t fight, eat a piece of fruit”. A self-labelled Grandmother for Trump was matched by someone of a similar age I recognized as a hardcore supporter of Berkeley’s Unitarian-Universalist Social Justice Committee.
I decided I wasn’t there to do neutral reporting, since the reliably impartial Bay City News would supply that for the Berkeley Daily Planet, and I saw Tracey Taylor from Berkeleyside snapping pictures. In fact, it appeared that the media outnumbered the demonstrators, both the pros with the fancy cameras and the amateurs with their cells. The reporters took to interviewing each other, because frankly it was pretty boring most of the time. -more-
In trying to unravel the debates over U.S. foreign policy currently being fought out in the editorial pages of the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the magazine Foreign Policy, one might consider starting in late December on a bitter cold ridge in northern Wyoming, where 81 men of the U.S. Army’s 18th Infantry Regiment were pursuing some Indians over a rocky ridge.
The year was 1866 and the U.S. was at war with the local tribes—Sioux, Cheyenne and Arapaho—in an attempt to open a trail into the Montana gold fields. The fighting was going badly for an army fresh from the battlefields of the Civil War. Oglala Sioux leader Red Cloud and his savvy lieutenant Crazy Horse did not fight like Robert E. Lee, but rather like General Vo Nguyen Giap a hundred years in the future: an ambush by attackers who quickly vanished, isolated posts overrun, supply wagons looted and burned.
The time and place was vastly different, but the men who designed the war against Native Americans would be comfortable with the rationale that currently impel U.S. foreign policy. In their view, the Army was not fighting for gold in 1866, but was embarked on a moral crusade to civilize the savages, to build a shining “city on a hill,” to be that “exceptional” nation that stands above all others. The fact that this holy war would kill hundreds of thousands of the continent’s original owners and sentence the survivors to grinding poverty was irrelevant.
Is that very much different than the way the butcher bills for the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the overthrow of Libya’s government and the Syrian civil war is excused as unfortunate collateral damage in America’s campaign to spread freedom and democracy to the rest of the world? -more-
Some of the most exciting days of my life occurred in the late 80's when I was involved in a technology startup, Cisco Systems. 29 years later I'm involved in another exciting startup, Indivisible. There are fascinating similarities between my experience at Cisco and Indivisible. -more-
The human mind, that of the ordinary, non-afflicted person, is good at fooling itself. If this weren't so, things in society would not be as they are. -more-
Arts & Events
This Wednesday, March 15, Le Bateau Ivre features The Dazzling Divas. Opera singers Pamela Connelly, Kathleen Moss and Eliza O’Malley light up the hall with arias, duets and trios from celebrated operas of Puccini, Verdi, Bellini, Bizet, Delibes and more plus some St. Pat's specials from these three Irish lasses. -more-
Dimitri Shostakovich wrote his Cello Concerto No. 1 for cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, to whom the score is dedicated. Upon receiving the finished score, Rostropovich reportedly learned the entire work by memory in only four days and then played the work brilliantly for an “astounded” Shostakovich at its premiere with the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra on October 4, 1959 with Eugene Mravinsky conducting. A few months later, Rostropovich recorded this work with the New York Philharmonic under Leonard Bernstein, and this recording has remained the authoritative version of the Shostakovich Cello Concerto No. 1. Now, however, along comes cellist Gautier Capuçon, whom I find a likely heir apparent to the late Rostropovich. Capuçon shares with Rostropovich the same vigorously physical playing style along with an intensely emotional commitment to the score. The results, as we heard Saturday evening, March 4, at Davies Hall with San Francisco Symphony led by Michael Tilson Thomas, were intensely gripping. -more-
On Saturday-Sunday, March 4-5, the Takács Quartet resumed its series of the complete Beethoven string quartets in Berkeley’s Hertz Hall. Begun in October of 2016, this series presents all of Beethoven’s string quartets in six concerts, from October 2016 to mid-April 2017. This weekend, I attended the Sunday afternoon concert featuring Beethoven’s Op. 18, No. 3 Quartet, the Op. 59, No. 2, “Rasumovsky” Quartet, and the Op. 127 Quartet. -more-
Unbelievable… Emotional…Dramatic…Thought Provoking are some words audiences have used to describe Port Chicago 50. Told through the eyes of Freddie Meeks, portrayed by Hal Williams of 227 TV fame. Port Chicago 50 is a must see for everyone and will be a weekend of historical enlightenment! The powerful story is co-written by David Shackelford and Dennis Rowe, and directed by Dennis Rowe. The performances are at the Berkeley Black Repertory Theater in Berkeley: 3201 Adeline Street.
Show dates are:
Friday, March 17th, 2017 @8:00 pm; Saturday, March 18th, 2017 @3:00 pm & 8:00 pm and Sunday March 19th, 2017 @ 4:00 pm.
General seating tickets are only $30.00 and $35.00 for VIP seating with a special Veteran/Student ticket for $25.00. Tickets purchase by Friday March 10th, 2017 will have $5.00 taken off of the ticket price. A VIP ticket includes priority seating and a complimentary glass of wine/champagne. Tickets can be purchased at the theater box office, Brown Paper Tickets at (800) 838-3006 or on-line at www.blackrepertorygroup.com. Service charges are additional. For additional information call (510) 652-2120. Seating is limited. -more-
Do you have ideas to improve the Marin Avenue Corridor? Discuss Marin Avenue,from the top, to the Circle, to the Albany border.
When: Thursday, March 15, 2017, 6:00-8:00 pm
Where: Fireside Room,Live Oak Community Center, 1301 Shattuck Avenue
Speaker: Farid Javandel, Transportation Manager City of Berkeley, followed by Q&A -more-
Share your ideas about how the City of Berkeley should prioritize voter-approved bond dollars to upgrade aging infrastructure such as streets, sidewalks, storm drains, parks, and community centers.
Measure T1 Workshop #1 - Parks and General City Facilities Saturday, March 18, 10am-12pm Frances Albrier Community Center, 2800 Park Street, Berkeley -more-