Extra

New: Behind the congressional stage, a legal drama unfolds

Carol Polsgrove
Sunday March 26, 2017 - 10:24:00 AM

While Republicans have failed in their efforts to weaken the Affordable Care Act through congressional action, Donald Trump could weaken it through administrative action—although his nominee for the Supreme Court, Neil M. Gorsuch, might have second thoughts about that.

As UC Berkeley Law Professor Steven Davidoff Solomon wrote in the New York Times March 14, Gorsuch is one of the “most prominent critics” of a legal doctrine that has led courts to defer to federal agencies’ interpretations of laws.

The keystone decision establishing agency deference was the 1984 Chevron U.S.A. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that where Congress has not spelled out implementation of the law, an executive agency can make its own rules and decide how to apply them. Solomon explains: “One rationale for this doctrine is that an agency, with its expertise, is better positioned than a judge to know a statute’s meaning.”

Subsequent rulings have fine-tuned agencies’ power to interpret and apply the laws they are administering. That places considerable clout in the hands of the executive branch, which employs about 1.4 million civilians.

“This big bureaucracy is not necessarily a bad thing,” Solomon observes. “The economy is much bigger and more complex than it was 200 years ago. A large and diverse economy needs regulation. And while the Trump administration has promised to reduce the bureaucracy as many presidents have before, it is hard to see the modern economy running without some degree of regulation, whether it concerns the security of banks or the safety of food and drugs.” -more-


New: THE PUBLIC EYE: Trump’s Huge Failure

Bob Burnett
Saturday March 25, 2017 - 10:57:00 AM

After promising to "repeal and replace Obamacare on day one [of his presidency]", Donald Trump suffered an ignominious rejection on day 64.

True to form, Trump took no responsibility for the defeat of the Republican plan (the American Health Care Act) but, instead, blamed Democrats. Trump had attempted a "full-court press" to secure passage of his plan but was not successful winning over Tea-Party Republicans and, at the end, moderate Republicans who objected to last minute changes to the bill.

What have we learned? -more-



Page One

SQUEAKY WHEEL:The NIMBYS of middle-earth

Toni Mester
Friday March 24, 2017 - 04:26:00 PM

Are Berkeley flatlanders living in the missing middle? That’s the term used by local architect Daniel Parolek to describe a range of housing types that fit between detached single-family homes and mid-rise apartment buildings.

Just a glance at the logo of his website produces a flash of recognition because the flatlands are indeed caught between R-1 low- density neighborhoods and new construction along the commercial corridors, between one and two story houses and five story mixed-use developments, just like the diagram shows.

But the difference between the logo’s concept and reality is that roofs do not rise in a tidy procession like a line of school children arranged by class but constitute a jumble of types and heights. Some streets are more regular than others. -more-



The Cultural Significance of People's Park - Now More Than Ever

Carol Denney, SLAPP-suit defendant
Friday March 24, 2017 - 05:13:00 PM
Carol Denney and Bob Nichols planted cardboard salmon in the sand volleyball court in 1991 to illustrate the path of the underground creek.

"If government is compelled to guarantee the truth of its factual assertions on matters of public interest, its speech would be substantially inhibited, and the citizenry would be less informed."

- San Francisco Appellate Court Judge Donald King, rejecting the appeal of the summary dismissal of the SLAPP-suit defendants' suit for defamation against the University of California, now immortalized on a t-shirt.

On January 10th, twenty-five years ago, my phone rang early in the morning and a voice at the other end said I was being sued for twenty-five million dollars by the university of California. I was expected in Oakland Superior Court. They were just letting me know. -more-



Better Bathrooms for Berkeley’s Biggest Park

Martin Nicolaus
Friday March 24, 2017 - 05:34:00 PM
This unit was installed by the National Park Service in Pacifica in June, 2016. It features flush toilet, waterless urinal and sink for handwashing. ADA compliant and solar powered, it cost $50,000 installed.

Cesar Chavez Park is Berkeley’s biggest. It draws tens of thousands of visitors each year. Other cities offer their waterfront visitors clean, decent restrooms with flush toilets and sinks for handwashing. Berkeley offers only porta-potties. -more-



Public Comment

New: The Defeat of Trumpcare

Sheila Goldmacher
Saturday March 25, 2017 - 11:00:00 AM

As I watched and gloated at the defeat of the monstrosity concocted by the likes of the orange man and his St Paul guy, I noted that little if any of the news coverage of the defeat dared to mention how the pushback from the people across America in the end led to the disarray and defeat we just witnessed and helped pull off. THAT INCLUDED THE PBS NEWS HOUR which might I say deserves less and less of our support if any. I vote to retain Sesame Street and the great mysteries I get to watch. That's about it. -more-


Cost-free Demands for Berkeley's New Mayor and Council

Carol Denney
Friday March 24, 2017 - 04:25:00 PM

The "Pathways Project", Berkeley's proposal to address homelessness, has some obvious faults. It isn't, for instance, the campground Berkeley so obviously needs for anybody passing through who just wants to tent for a few days and check the place out. A homeless-only tent city, ironic after a thirty-year war on tents, courts a stigma it often can't outrun. -more-


Stability First

Mike Zint and JP Massar
Friday March 24, 2017 - 04:11:00 PM

The body of a homeless woman was found on a Saturday near Berkeley High School. She appears to have died of exposure. (Jan 15th, 2017, Berkeleyside)

What does it take to get off the streets? Money? Affordable housing? Employment? Of course the answer is yes, but none of those things is the first step. The first step is stability. Stability that the housed take for granted.

A lack of stability means the homeless barely survive. Figuring out how to exist with no sense of safety and security and nowhere to go, worrying about the police having committed no crime, takes all that someone has. Sometimes it’s too much and a short note appears in a local paper.

In October, 2016, First They Came for the Homeless (FTCftH), a political movement of the dispossessed in Berkeley, CA, tried to bring stability to their lives while at the same time calling attention to the plight of the homeless. Defying the status quo that forced them to sleep unsheltered and alone, they set up a community: tents and tables; chairs, coffee and camaraderie. A community of the homeless, with support from housed friends. Needless to say all hell broke loose. -more-


Trumpgate

Tejinder Uberoi
Friday March 24, 2017 - 04:55:00 PM

FBI Director Comey, consumed with guilt over his mishandling of Clinton’s emails, has stiffened his spine and declared the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election will continue. -more-


Gender inequality: a male perspective

Harry Brill
Friday March 24, 2017 - 04:18:00 PM

This month, which has been designated as women's history month, has given us an opportunity to appreciate the tremendous contributions that women have made to our well being. Unfortunately, some of the harsh inequality that women have endured is still with us. Women make up over half of those who live in poverty.. It is not surprising because women continue to experience considerable discrimination. At work, women earn on the average only 80% of male wages. In some occupations, the wage gap is even larger. This is not only because women congregate disproportionately in low wage occupations. Most women earn lower wages even when they occupy the same jobs. -more-


"Service Trips" Are Obsolete!

Michael J. Vandeman, Ph.D.
Friday March 24, 2017 - 04:36:00 PM

I used to think that I didn't need to monitor our parks, because they would automatically be well managed. Was I ever wrong!

Today I worked eight hours in Claremont Canyon Regional Preserve removing French broom and other exotic plants. Then I sat down on the bench at the top of the hill to empty the dirt out of my shoes. Next to me a U.C. Berkeley student was doing stretching exercises. I said "I don't understand why this bench was placed facing the wrong direction. Behind the bench is a nice view of pristine habitat; in front of it are freeways and smog." She said "The sunset is nice. Sometimes I even hike backwards, so I can see the view." I said "Look, even the people are facing the wrong way!" (A man in front of us was also looking toward the freeway.) -more-


Editorial

State Senator Skinner targets Berkeley's zoning laws

Becky O'Malley
Friday March 24, 2017 - 03:41:00 PM

Let’s see what San Francisco BARF is up to these days, always a fun find.

For those of you who are new to this discussion, BARF (what an apt acronym!) is the San Francisco Bay Area Renters’ Federation, a developer-funded lobbying front whose motto seems to be “Build anything you want for anyone anywhere, as long as it makes money for someone, preferably our donors.”

What started as BARF has lately become a hydra-headed monster, now with an umbrella ID (or at least a web page) as the YIMBY Party. For you newbies, that’s a none-too-clever play on NIMBY, Not In My Backyard, the acronym coined by the families fighting toxic waste from Love Canal.

Evidently YIMBYs are those who welcome any toxics which happen to be on offer. Seems odd, but some people will swallow anything if the money’s right. Even if it make them BARF.

The YIMBY Party site lists a total of five “member orgs”, including one called “East Bay Forward”, but no names of members or officers that I could find in 2 minutes. My count of BARFish commenters both online and at civic meetings comes to no more than 15 actual individuals frantically running from meeting to meeting and website to website purporting to represent all five groups.

The news item here is that Berkeley’s own State Senator, Nancy Skinner, is now carrying water for YIMBY/BARF, if we’re to believe what’s tweeted by one Brian Hanlon, an ill-mannered oaf who once sat in front of me at a Berkeley ZAB hearing. I know what he’s up to because Brian’s a Twitthead who rivals The Trump himself. -more-


The Editor's Back Fence

Many letters oppose Trumpcare, but not posted!

Friday March 24, 2017 - 04:20:00 PM

I'm happy to report that we got 11 letters opposing Trumpcare which I'm not going to bother posting, because at least this week the good guys seem to have won. Thanks, guys, for writing, but I'm going to save myself a couple of hours on a Friday by not posting your letters, but keep them coming. -more-


Columns

DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE: Europe’s Elections

Conn Hallinan
Friday March 17, 2017 - 04:22:00 PM

Going in to the recent elections in the Netherlands, the mainstream story seemed lifted from William Butler Yeats poem, The Second Coming: ”Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold---The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.” The Right was on the march, the Left at war with itself, the traditional parties adrift, and the barbarians were hammering at the gates of the European Union. -more-


ECLETIC RANT: Mammas, don't let your boys grow up to be football players

Ralph E. Stone
Friday March 24, 2017 - 04:09:00 PM

Dwight Clark, hero of "The Catch" he made in the 1981 49ers-Cowboys NFC Championship game, recently announced that he has been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig's disease. ALS is a motor neurone disease that causes the death of neurons which control voluntary muscles. -more-


ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Being Gentle with Ourselves and Brain Health

Jack Bragen
Friday March 24, 2017 - 04:08:00 PM

The brain is arguably the most delicate organ of the human body. It is the only organ fully encased by your skull, and it does not react well to physical impacts. And there are numerous other ways that the brain is vulnerable. -more-


Arts & Events

Around & About--Oakland's Ubuntu Theater Project Stages West Coast Premiere of Lisa Ramirez's 'To the Bone'

Ken Bullock
Friday March 24, 2017 - 05:28:00 PM

After critical successes of their first two shows of the season, 'Waiting for Godot' (a collaboration with Inferno Theatre) and 'Death of a Salesman,' Ubuntu Theater Project is staging the West Coast premiere of Lisa Ramirez's 'To the Bone,' which follows five undocumented immigrant women working in an East Coast poultry factory. -more-


St. Petersburg Symphony Plays Shostakovich & Brahms

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Friday March 24, 2017 - 04:21:00 PM

In the second of two concerts given at Davies Hall March 19-20 by Russia’s oldest symphonic ensemble, the St. Petersburg Symphony, which dates from 1882, two works were offered: Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 in D minor and Johannes Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor. The latter featured pianist Garrick Ohlsson, a perennial favorite of local audiences. St. Petersburg Symphony’s Artistic Director and Principal Conductor Yuri Temirkanov led the orchestra. Conducting without a baton, Temirkanov employed a deceptively low-keyed approach, eschewing the grand gestures and physically demonstrative pyrotechnics of some conductors. However, Temirkanov has been at his post with St. Petersburg Symphony since 1988, and I’m sure he has conducted this orchestra innumerable times in both the Shostakovich 5th Symphony and the Brahms First Piano Concerto. Thus one gets the impression that his musicians know him and the music so well he simply doesn’t need to lead them in any overtly demonstrative way. With a simple wave of the hand or a brief jabbing gesture, Temirkanov magically elicits great playing from his orchestra. It’s almost a conjuring trick, so effortless does it seem. -more-


Back Stories

Opinion

Editorials

State Senator Skinner targets Berkeley's zoning laws 03-24-2017

The Editor's Back Fence

Many letters oppose Trumpcare, but not posted! 03-24-2017

Public Comment

New: The Defeat of Trumpcare Sheila Goldmacher 03-25-2017

Cost-free Demands for Berkeley's New Mayor and Council Carol Denney 03-24-2017

Stability First Mike Zint and JP Massar 03-24-2017

Trumpgate Tejinder Uberoi 03-24-2017

Gender inequality: a male perspective Harry Brill 03-24-2017

"Service Trips" Are Obsolete! Michael J. Vandeman, Ph.D. 03-24-2017

News

New: Behind the congressional stage, a legal drama unfolds Carol Polsgrove 03-26-2017

New: THE PUBLIC EYE: Trump’s Huge Failure Bob Burnett 03-25-2017

SQUEAKY WHEEL:The NIMBYS of middle-earth Toni Mester 03-24-2017

The Cultural Significance of People's Park - Now More Than Ever Carol Denney, SLAPP-suit defendant 03-24-2017

Better Bathrooms for Berkeley’s Biggest Park Martin Nicolaus 03-24-2017

Columns

DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE: Europe’s Elections Conn Hallinan 03-17-2017

ECLETIC RANT: Mammas, don't let your boys grow up to be football players Ralph E. Stone 03-24-2017

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Being Gentle with Ourselves and Brain Health Jack Bragen 03-24-2017

Arts & Events

Around & About--Oakland's Ubuntu Theater Project Stages West Coast Premiere of Lisa Ramirez's 'To the Bone' Ken Bullock 03-24-2017

St. Petersburg Symphony Plays Shostakovich & Brahms Reviewed by James Roy MacBean 03-24-2017