The Week

Founders of East Bay Forward,host of YIMBYtown 2017 and ally of San Francisco BARF. L to R : Ian Monroe, Libby Lee-Egan, Greg Magofña (former aide to former  Berkeley mayor Tom Bates) Diego Aguilar-Canabal, (appointed to Berkeley commissions by Councilmember Lori Droste), and Victoria Fierce, described on EBF website as "hacker-at-large".
Founders of East Bay Forward,host of YIMBYtown 2017 and ally of San Francisco BARF. L to R : Ian Monroe, Libby Lee-Egan, Greg Magofña (former aide to former Berkeley mayor Tom Bates) Diego Aguilar-Canabal, (appointed to Berkeley commissions by Councilmember Lori Droste), and Victoria Fierce, described on EBF website as "hacker-at-large".


New: My Response to Dan Mogulof Commentary

Harry Brill
Tuesday July 18, 2017 - 01:02:00 PM

With regard to my response to Dan Mogulof, since my article appears in this issue also, my comments here will be brief. The reason I wrote my article on UC's Housing practices is that I am convinced that the motive for offering admission to thousands of more students is not motivated by a commitment to young people. Rather, it reflects its commitment to the private sector, which is to provide tenants for the housing being built by the private sector. UC Berkeley's history of catering to the business community is reflected in its failure to provide enough housing to its students. Only 22 percent of the undergraduate body at Berkeley can be accommodated by University housing. That compares with more than 38 percent on average at the nine other UC campuses. -more-

New: Menotti’s THE CONSUL: An Opera Trump Should Be Required to See

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Monday July 17, 2017 - 05:33:00 PM

Berkeley Chamber Opera’s Artistic Director, Eliza O’Malley, followed up on the outstanding achievement of her company’s production last December of Vincenzo Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi with what seemed at first glance an odd choice for the company’s next production – Gian-Carlo Menotti’s 1950 opera The Consul. Menotti, an American-born composer of Italian origin, is hardly in the same league as Vincenzo Bellini. Menotti’s chamber operas The Medium (1946) and The Telephone (1947), and his television Christmas opera Ahmal and the Night Visitors (1951) have always remained marginal curiosities in the operatic world. Though I’ve seen these works, they never made much of an impression on me. Gian-Carlo Menotti’s main claim to fame, it seemed, was as founding director in 1958 of the Spoleto Festival of Two Worlds, which he later took to Charleston, South Carolina.

However, as staged by Berkeley Chamber Opera in two performances at Berkeley’s Hillside Club on July 14 & 16, Menotti’s The Consul was a revelation. Here is a serious opera written in a post-Puccini verismo style, full of angular, often dissonant music that alternates with occasional soliloquies and duets of a poignant lyricism. The plot revolves around a topic that is in the forefront of news today in Donald Trump’s USA – the fate of political refugees. Set in a fictional, unidentified European country, The Consul focuses on the plight of one John Sorel, his wife Magda, his infant son, and his aging mother. John, a political dissident in a totalitarian state, is wanted by the police for his political opposition to the government. When the State’s secret police come looking for John, he is hidden by his wife and mother. The police ask questions but don’t find John. Once the police have left, John bids his family goodbye and heads for the border. Taking his leave, John, movingly sung by tenor Michael Orlinsky, sings a poignant duet with his wife, Magda, ravishingly sung by soprano Eliza O’Malley. This duet, like most (but not all) of the music in this production of The Consul is sung in English. Earlier, as The Consul opens, a street-singer, sung here by mezzo-soprano Liliane Cromer, croons in French. Later, in a scene at the consulate, a foreign woman sings in Italian. -more-

New: Op-Ed on UC Berkeley housing contains errors (Public Comment)

Dan Mogulof, Asst. Vice Chancellor, Office of Communications and Public Affairs, UC Berkeley
Monday July 17, 2017 - 05:55:00 PM

Harry Brill’s recent column on UC Berkeley and our housing challenges is so rife with errors that it’s hard to know whether the author was misinformed, confused, or intentionally inaccurate. -more-

New: Berkeley’s economic, social, cultural, and environmental health (Public Comment)

Charlene M. Woodcock
Sunday July 16, 2017 - 09:56:00 AM

To the Berkeley City Council:

I think we can all agree that it would be a tragic mistake to permit gentrification to irreparably alter the character of our city. Berkeley’s reputation has long been based on the diversity―racial, cultural, and economic―of our city. As a city we have committed to reducing our contribution of greenhouse gases to the Bay Area atmosphere by requiring the highest energy efficiency standards for new construction. And Berkeley residents have made it very clear they want housing for all income levels. Unfortunately, these goals are not reflected by many of the residential development projects approved in recent years.

Inadequate rigor in formulating policy is derailing these commitments and the city is permitting the construction of many large residential buildings that will not meet the state’s 2020 requirement of zero net energy nor maintain economic and racial diversity by ensuring inclusionary housing. Instead, many large new buildings have been approved whose developers’ intent is to make the greatest possible profit without addressing the city’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gases and energy and resource waste and to provide inclusionary housing. The result, with nearly all the new projects intended to be sold or rented at market rates, is the rapid gentrification of our city and failure to address the city’s need for family and low-income housing that meets the highest energy efficiency standards, as our Downtown Plan requires.

The November election made clear that Berkeley voters are dissatisfied with this failure and with the rapid gentrification it has encouraged. We elected people who ran as progressives specifically to address these issues. We want to see an energetic effort to change course and work with the tools provided by California law. We can work toward our goals by putting in place new requirements for future residential building projects as well as those that have been approved but not yet broken ground or received final construction permits. -more-

New: Three hospitalized after Berkeley shooting

Janis Mara (BCN)
Saturday July 15, 2017 - 04:38:00 PM

Three people were hospitalized after a shooting a block from the University of California at Berkeley campus early this morning, police said today. -more-

Updated: Missing Berkeley child recovered

Janis Mara (BCN)
Saturday July 15, 2017 - 02:53:00 PM

The missing 5-year-old child who was last seen in Berkeley Friday and her mother, a woman with diminished capacity, have been found and the child is safe, police said this afternoon. -more-



Why is a YIMBY like Sebastian Gorka?

Becky O'Malley
Friday July 14, 2017 - 02:02:00 PM

My girlhood hero Tom Lehrer is popularly believed to have given up satire when Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Prize, but Wikipedia says that’s just an urban legend. But what does it matter, in this era of truthiness and faux facts? It might as well be true, so let’s just say it is.

It’s certainly true that satire is getting harder and harder to spot. This last week alone had events both local and national that gave new meaning to the now hackneyed observation that “you can’t make this stuff up.”

Before we tackle YIMBYtown 2017, let’s just open with the Spy vs. Spy get-together of the hapless Junior Trump and a Russian woman whose glamorous published pictures look like she could have been played by Hedy Lamarr in a thirties spy movie. And they were accompanied by, playing for the US, sleazy Paul Manafort and smoothy Jared Kushner, with a random ex-spy along with the Russian team.

Junior now claims that Paul was just fiddling with his smart phone the whole time, not participating—doesn’t anyone but me know that you can record whole meetings on those gadgets?

No doubt SNL is already working on the satiric version, but how can you beat this kind of self-satire?

Yes, I know it’s serious, but I can’t help seeing the whole Trump administration as a kind of Opera Buffo. My fave character: Sebastian Gorka. Hungarian accent, goatee, crazy politics—the whole nine yards: “Oozing charm from every pore, he oiled his way across the floor:” -more-

The Editor's Back Fence

With friends like this...

Monday July 17, 2017 - 06:12:00 PM

Berkeleyside Retweeted: -more-

Public Comment

New: Torture & Killings

Tejinder Uberoi
Monday July 17, 2017 - 06:05:00 PM

On his first trip abroad, Trump was feted by the Saudis who regaled him with a huge weapons contract and effectively silenced him about concerns for human rights.

Following President Trump’s visit, a Saudi criminal court upheld several death sentences handed down to protesters.

The country is set to execute 14 men including Mujtaba who was only 17 when he was sentenced to death five years ago. Another member of the group is Munir al-Adam, who is half-deaf and partially blind.

Saudi Arabia has one of the highest executions in the world. Prisoners are often brutally tortured into making false confessions and convicted in secret trials. -more-

The Bad News for UC Berkeley Students

Harry Brill
Thursday July 13, 2017 - 04:40:00 PM

UC Berkeley students are experiencing two serious problems -- larger classes and unaffordable housing, As we'll see both of these issues are intertwined. UC Berkeley recently announced that it has offered freshmen admission to more than 15,500 high school students for the upcoming academic year. This represents a 7.6 percent increase from last year. Among the students who were offered admission, at least 17 percent will actually accept the invitation. That comes close to 3,000 students, not including those transferring from a community college.

Unfortunately, the University made no real effort to obtain sufficient funds to hire more faculty to adequately accommodate the incoming students. Without a comparable increase in faculty, many students will be taught in overcrowded classrooms. Large classes tend to lower the educational value and experience of students, as these classes appreciably reduce the opportunity for student participation and to interact with each other.

UC Berkeley's decision to increase admission is quite different than what the other nine UC campuses decided. Responding to limited budgets, their administrators instead reduced by 1.7 percent the number of students who will be accepted for the coming academic year.

At UC Berkeley, The Berkeley Faculty Association (BFA)would be the most likely organization to engage the Administration on class size because working conditions are among the BFA's major concerns. The Board of Regents, whose pro-business members serve 12 year terms, select two faculty members, but only for a two year term, and without the right to vote. Moreover, neither BFA or any other labor organizations are involved in making the selection. As a result, some important issues are swept aside. So compliance rather than advocacy shape how the Board of Regents conducts its business. -more-


Tejinder Uberoi
Friday July 14, 2017 - 03:19:00 PM

The sordid details of the Trump family seem to be getting murkier by the day.

No amount of huffing & puffing by Donald Trump can slow down the Russia investigation. It is now known that Trump Jr, received an email from one of Trump senior’s former business partners offering “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. The top secret emails and documents promised to “incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.”

Donald Trump Jr. was elated and quickly arranged a meeting in June 2016 in New York with a Russian lawyer who had strong connections with the Kremlin.

The meeting was also attended by the president’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

It is extremely disturbing that all these surrogates failed to exercise their civic duties. They should have immediately informed the FBI that a hostile nation was seeking to undermine our democracy. -more-

Israel’s hard right turn

Jagjit Singh
Friday July 14, 2017 - 03:16:00 PM

Runaway Jewish nationalism is threatening the very survival of the Jewish state.

Buckling under pressure, Prime Minister Netanyahu continues to grant more and more power to ultra-Orthodox Jews alienating Palestinians and the Jewish diaspora alike perpetuating the belief that Israeli Jews are more Jewish than the Jewish diaspora.

His recent actions have dealt a mortal blow to the 75 percent of the Reform and Conservative 10 million diaspora Jews. No longer can men and women pray together in the Western Wall of the ancient Jewish temple in Jerusalem. Caving in to pressure Netanyahu endorsed a bill granting a virtual monopoly over conversions to ultra-orthodox rabbis. Non-Israeli Jews have expressed outrage over Netanyahu’s heavy handed policy rulings. The pro-Israeli lobby, Aipac demanded a policy reversal. -more-


ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Stages of a Relapse

Jack Bragen
Thursday July 13, 2017 - 04:50:00 PM

The following will not be universally applicable to all who suffer from psychiatric illness. It primarily describes what happens, or perhaps what used to happen, with me. However, it may be applicable to a good number of others who've had similar experiences. -more-

SQUEAKY WHEEL: The Affordable Forms

Toni Mester
Friday July 14, 2017 - 02:47:00 PM
914 Channing Way: 27 feet average height

Arts & Events

West Edge Opera Offers an Evening of Mozart’s Vienna

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Friday July 28, 2017 - 03:23:00 PM

On Saturday, July 22, West Edge Opera presented an evening of music by Mozart and his contemporaries. This concert was held at Dashe Cellars, an Oakland winery. The performers in this concert will be heard again in West Edge Opera’s forthcoming season, which will include L’Arbole di Diana/The Chastity Tree by Vicente Martin y Soler, Hamlet by Ambroise Thomas, and Frankenstein by Libby Larsen. -more-

Around & About--Theater: Anton's Well Opens 'Tender Napalm;' Closing Weekend of Actors Ensemble's 'The Chalk Circle' (Brecht) Outdoors at Hinkel Park--Free

Ken Bullock
Friday July 14, 2017 - 02:48:00 PM

In their third year of staging plays, Anton's Well has been both an intimate and an ambitious new company: straightforward but imaginative staging chamber plays with small casts produced in small local venues ... but now five plays in not quite three years, several of them (including a Sam Shepard two-hander) Bay Area premieres.

Their newest, opening this weekend, is another Bay Area premiere: Philip Ridley's 'Tender Napalm,' directed and introduced by their engaging founder, Robert Estes, and choreographed by Bridgette Loriaux, Fridays & Saturdays at 8 through August 5 at the Temescal Arts Center, 511-48th Street, just off Telegraph in the Temescal shopping neighborhood, Oakland. Tickets: $17-$20 -more-