One person injured in Berkeley house fire

Bay City News
Wednesday July 05, 2017 - 01:00:00 PM

One person was hospitalized with minor injuries in a one-alarm fire at a house on Claremont Boulevard in Berkeley this afternoon, a fire spokesman said. -more-

Flash: Berkeley police report road closure due to fire

Wednesday July 05, 2017 - 12:55:00 PM

A structure fire in Berkeley's Claremont district has resulted in a road closure, according to an email from the Berkeley Police Department. Claremont Blvd between Derby and Russell is closed, both north and south bound, and Avalon at Oak knoll is als0 closed north and south bound. -more-

Berkeley police seek suspects responsible for 30 vandalism incidents

Daniel Montes (BCN)
Tuesday July 04, 2017 - 12:31:00 PM

Police are seeking the public's help to solve a series of vandalism incidents that occurred throughout a Berkeley neighborhood last week, police said Monday. -more-

Public Comment

Berkeley’s ineffective, useless anti-displacement program

Elisa Cooper, with introduction by Moni T. Law
Friday June 30, 2017 - 10:01:00 AM

Berkeley lost a champion for justice last Friday. I was sorry and shocked to hear of the death of Elisa Cooper, the person who did her homework on issues and spoke boldly for people who are often overlooked. She was a Cal alum. She was a brilliant researcher and writer. And she struggled financially on a meager $331 disability check. She suffered in pain from a serious health condition-- but she persisted, advocated, raised issues that I care about and hopefully others do as well. She also camped out in the freezing cold with a few of us in 2015 in a vigil for our homeless neighbors.

I told her a couple years ago while attending an event in South Berkeley that I was always impressed by her council comments. She told me that I gave her the courage to start speaking up because she had not until then. I was very touched and humbled. She and I exchanged many emails and strategies on affordable housing.

Moni T. Law, J.D.

Dear Councilmembers,

This letter is to reinforce my alarm regarding the ostensible "anti-displacement program" that was buried in the Consent Calendar at the May 2nd Council meeting. The terms for receiving assistance are so strict that they will exclude the people who most need assistance to avoid immediate displacement or homelessness. Most people reach the absolute end of their own resources before even looking for help. Also the City's criteria are similar to Season of Sharing and other emergency rent charities: the City should be helping the people who fall through the cracks of those programs.

As I mentioned during the Council meeting, I wouldn't be eligible for the Anti-Displacement Program under the terms stated. -more-

The affordable housing crisis: how Berkeley should deal with it

Harry Brill
Thursday June 29, 2017 - 06:23:00 PM

As progressives have contended, the Berkeley Housing crisis is not about a shortage of housing. Rather the housing crisis is about affordable housing, particularly for residents whose wages are below the poverty level. It is the desperate situation of these low wage individuals and families that the Berkeley City Council is attempting to address. -more-

What's needed at Berkeley's Cesar Chavez Park and how to do it:
An open letter to City Auditor Ann-Marie Hogan

Martin Nicolaus
Thursday June 29, 2017 - 06:04:00 PM

Dear Ms. Hogan,

I have been deeply impressed over the years by your concern for prudent and transparent management of the city's finances. In that context I write to draw your attention to a glaring discrepancy between two city departments in spending for a basic necessity: maintenance of clean public restrooms. Both the Parks and Waterfront Department and the Finance Department, independently of each other, hire contractors to clean city restrooms, including restrooms on the waterfront. But the Parks and Waterfront Department spends nearly three times as much per unit per service for restroom maintenance as does the Finance Department, and gets a lower standard of cleanliness for the money. The spending gap between these two city departments over time, if eliminated, would pay for major restroom upgrades in city parks, with money left over.

Let's dive into the numbers. -more-

Hail Trump

Jagjit Singh
Thursday June 29, 2017 - 06:29:00 PM

The Trump cabinet has stooped to new lows in pledging their undying loyalty to the “dear leader”. A few examples: Vice-President Mike “serving a president who’s keeping his word to the American people” is “the greatest privilege of my life”. -more-

Police militarization and the surveillance state

Dr. James McFadden
Friday June 30, 2017 - 04:38:00 PM

Dear Mayor and City Council,

I will take you at your word when you when you say that you believe that your votes on June 20 were votes in support of police and for protecting the citizens of Berkeley. I understand your logic based on your experiences and understanding of the world. But none of us have all the facts or a deep understanding of history, or know how the present moment will play out. So in the spirit of furthering a dialogue, I ask that you listen carefully to the words of Naomi Klein. -more-

July Pepper Spray Times

By Grace Underpressure
Friday June 30, 2017 - 01:16:00 PM

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

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

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

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


Mourning and moving forward

Becky O'Malley
Friday June 30, 2017 - 04:04:00 PM

Today was the day I’d hoped to add my own words to the many which have been written and spoken regarding the tragic loss of indefatigable civic activist and critic Elisa Cooper. But really, what more is there to say? Elisa set an example simply by showing up, no matter how she felt, when her intelligent voice was needed to analyse and explain what was going on that shouldn’t be, and what should be happening instead. Her letter to the city council reprinted here, forwarded by Moni Law, is a textbook example of how she formed an opinion about what was happening, supported it by pertinent examples, and then communicated it to decisionmakers in the hope that they’d pay attention. Often, though sadly not always, they did. And this was just one of many such letters and statements she made when she was needed.

In the close to half-century I’ve been back in Berkeley, where I first lived as an undergraduate in 1959, I’ve seen a few heros and heroines who spoke for the public interest pass through and pass on, and I miss them all. I started to make a list, and then realized I could fill up this whole space with the pantheon of those who’ve worked to keep Berkeley Berkeley who have now left us. I’ve written all too many of these tributes. Looking back, I realize that they’ve all ended on essentially the same note, the famous quote from Joe Hill’s last telegram to a friend:

“Don’t mourn, organize!”

So I guess that’s what we should be doing. Avanti populo! -more-


SQUEAKY WHEEL: The Frankenstein Monster

Toni Mester
Friday June 30, 2017 - 04:28:00 PM
Building Envelope

Berkeley’s zoning ordinance is such a badly written mess that very few people read it unless they must, and those who do struggle to understand what it means. We should probably thank former Planning Director Carol Johnson for getting the City Council to hire a consultant to make the ZO at least readable. Making it workable and equitable is a Herculean task but we’re off to a good start. -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: the dangers of sleep apnea

Jack Bragen
Thursday June 29, 2017 - 06:42:00 PM

I was diagnosed with severe sleep apnea more than ten years ago. I did not comply with doctor's orders to wear a CPAP machine, and I returned the machine. I thought at the time that it was nonsense. The sleep doctor at Doctor's Hospital in the Richmond area were quite upset with me for wasting their efforts.

Then, more recently, I would wake up every morning feeling as though a truck ran over me. This was about seven years ago.

I had a second sleep study done in Concord, and the physician, who I knew and trusted, essentially said that if I didn't use the machine, I was going to die.

Apparently, actor Carrie Fisher died in part due to sleep apnea at age 60. Had I not gone on the machine several years back, it is likely that, by now, I would be deceased. -more-

THE PUBLIC EYE: Searching for the Soul of the Democratic Party

Bob Burnett
Friday June 30, 2017 - 08:24:00 AM

Writing in Politico, Bruce Bartlett complains the Republican Party has lost its way because it has ceased to champion ideas; he says the GOP has become the Party that panders "to the lowest common denominator in American politics." What Bartlett says is true, but the Democratic Party has also lost its way. Not because its ceased to champion ideas but rather because Democrats have forgotten who they are, they've lost touch with their soul. -more-

ECLECTIC RANT: The schizophrenic Syrian war

Ralph E. Stone
Thursday June 29, 2017 - 06:20:00 PM

The U.S. finds itself in a schizophrenic Syrian war. Russia supports Syria's president Bashar al-Assad; the U.S. wants him removed. We have, or at least had, a sort of alliance with Russia to share intelligence. Then we attacked a Syrian air base because Syria allegedly using chemical weapons; Trump threatens more such attacks. -more-

Arts & Events

San Francisco Mime Troupe opens in Berkeley on Saturday

Friday June 30, 2017 - 07:20:00 PM

This year for the first time the San Francisco Mime Troupe is opening its season at Cedar Rose Park in Berkeley, on Saturday July 1, with another performance there on Sunday, July 2. It's another political musical, Walls, by Michael Gene Sullivan, about immigration and other current issues. For more information, see this story in 48Hills. -more-

Julie Adams Debuts as Mimi in LA BOHÈME

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Friday June 30, 2017 - 04:53:00 PM

Having attended the first performance of this current production of Puccini’s beloved La Bohème, I decided to attend a second performance for two reasons. My reservations about the first performance all focused on conductor Carlo Montanaro and his tendency to smother the singers beneath all too loud orchestra. So I wanted to see if anyone had prevailed upon Montanaro to tone down his volume. Secondly, I was curious to hear Julie Adams sing her first major role on the big stage of the Opera House. I first heard Julie Adams in 2014 when she sang the role of Blanche DuBois in a Merola Opera production of André Previn’s A Streetcar Named Desire. Though this is an opera I dislike (based on a Tennessee Williams play I detest), Julie Adams made a huge impression on me. In a difficult role, she was excellent. Next, in a Merola Grand Finale, I heard Julie Adams sing a saccharine aria from Eric Korngold’s Die Tote Stadt and, more gratifyingly, Susannah’s duet with Reverand Blitch from Carlysle Floyd’s opera Susannah. When she graduated to the main stage at San Francisco Opera, I heard Julie Adams sing minor roles such as Kate Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly, Kristina in The Makropulos Case, and Karolka in Jenufa. -more-