The Week



Flash: The YIMBY Guide to Bullying…and Its Results--
SB 827 Goes Down in Committee

Zelda Bronstein
Tuesday April 17, 2018 - 09:11:00 PM

Editor’s Note: On Tuesday, April 17, SB 827 died in the California State Senate Transportation and Housing Committee by a 7-4 vote. Senator Nancy Skinner (Berkeley) and Senator Scott Wiener (San Francisco), both Democrats and the bill’s sponsors, provided two of only four votes in favor. Republican Senators Morrell and Gaines were the other two yes votes.

The reported drafter of the bill was YIMBY leader Brian Hanlon.

At the hearing, committee Chair Senator Beall acknowledged the civil rights work of former Los Angeles City Councilmember Robert Farrell, who spoke in opposition, and who was one of the signers of the Black Community Clergy and Labor Alliance. Beall told Farrell that he and Wiener would now be coming to Los Angeles to address the concerns of the Black community—now that the committee has voted against SB827.

For insight into the effect of their tactics, see this report on YIMBY disruption of a recent San Francisco demonstration by tenant activists:

It’s okay to bully people, as long as they are white; it’s especially okay if they’re white property-owners. These appear to be the lessons that local YIMBYs have drawn from the criticism they received for disrupting the anti-SB 827 rally on the steps of San Francisco City Hall on April 3. -more-

Black Community Writes in Opposition to SB827

Monday April 16, 2018 - 10:57:00 PM

The progressive opposition to the Wiener-Skinner SB827 continues to grow. With hearings in Sacramento scheduled to start tomorrow, L.A.'s Black Community Clergy and Labor Alliance has sent a letter opposing it to Democratic legislators. It begins:

"On this day in which we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Fair Housing Act, a triumph of the civil rights movement that was achieved through the ultimate sacrifice of our leaders, we write to express our justifiable concern that State Senator Scott Wiener (San Francisco) declined to accept our invitation to attend a forum in South Los Angeles sponsored by our Black alliance to hear directly from the Black people who would be most harmed by his draconian housing bill, SB 827. The bill has been called “Urban Renewal 2.0” and we share that assessment. Our united Black front is firmly and unequivocally opposed to SB 827, and maintain that Sen. Wiener’s declining to meet with us in the Black community who would be most impacted is both morally untenable and politically shortsighted."

Read the full letter, three pages long and very emphatic, here . -more-

SB 827 Hurts California Renters and Must Be Defeated

Gayle McLaughlin, former Mayor of Richmond, candidate for Lt. Governor of California
Monday April 16, 2018 - 10:36:00 PM

Creating more affordable housing for California renters is one of the biggest tests facing our state. As your Lieutenant Governor, I’ll be committed to finding and helping to enact solutions to this generational housing crisis.

But what I won’t support is any bill that makes the situation even worse. That is why I am opposing SB 827. -more-

Kale Unmasked

Carol Denney
Monday April 16, 2018 - 12:17:00 PM

Seen a lot of kale at potlucks lately? -more-

The Neo-Con Hordes Return to Berkeley on the First Anniversary of Uproar

Tree Fitzpatrick
Monday April 16, 2018 - 10:40:00 PM

While waiting for the Amazon staff to give me a package, I rolled my scooter over to an outlet. I was facing onto Lower Sproul. Right across the plaza from the Amazon store was Amber Cummings (I think that is her name). She was wearing the same cheap wig she uses to hide her identity, the same sunglasses. She was seated on a bench with a man. It looked to me like she was waiting for her people. And I had nothing better to do so I waited to see what happened.

One by one, other neo-cons (nazis in my view, racists one and all, in my view) walked up. They all stood up for each arrival, shook hands and then gave one another big bear hugs. All very manly. Then a few women arrived. -more-



Bothsidesism Won't Solve Berkeley's Housing Problems

Becky O'Malley
Saturday April 14, 2018 - 10:33:00 AM

In many Berkeley households, including some I know well, you’d expect to find a little shrine with a picture of Paul Krugman and perhaps a few votive lights and a vase of flowers. No, he’s still very much alive, but that’s how much respect he gets among certain kinds of local progressives. And it’s generally well deserved, but not always.

Friday’s New York Times column is a good example of Professor Krugman at his best. It’s a bracing rant against press coverage that portrays the retiring Paul Ryan as a serious conservative intellectual—as if!

The Krugman-popularized coinage “bothsidesism” is deployed to good effect.

From a previous column, here’s his definition:”bothsidesism — the almost pathological determination to portray politicians and their programs as being equally good or equally bad, no matter how ludicrous that pretense becomes.”

It’s a more colloquial version of the formal usages “false dichotomy” and “false equivalency”— what he calls in Friday’s column “ideological affirmative action.”

Yes. On the mark as usual.

But it pains me to recall the several instances in the past couple of years when I’ve been annoyed with the good professor’s own bothsidesism on a topic which he doesn’t seem to know much about: local land use in the coastal West. -more-

Public Comment

Peaceful Solutions

Dennis Fitzgerald, Melbourne, Australia
Saturday April 14, 2018 - 10:14:00 AM

The Bible includes the quote 'An Eye for an Eye' and this seems to be the current solution to the problems in Syria but there should be some consideration of the rest of that quote '…But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also' and the Koran adds 'But whoever gives charity, it is an expiation for him'. -more-

Vengeful Alabama to Kill 83-Year-Old Man

Stephen Cooper
Saturday April 14, 2018 - 10:22:00 AM

Barring intervention by courts or its governor, Alabama will kill an 83-year-old man on April 19; long-incarcerated for the 1989 mail-bomb killings of United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit Judge Robert S. Vance and civil rights attorney Robert E. Robinson, Walter Moody, Jr.’s wizened, withered body, will, three decades after his crimes, be strapped to a gurney, pricked with a sharp needle (possibly many, many times), and pumped full of chemicals until he is dead. -more-

A Question Needing to Be Asked

Bruce Joffe
Saturday April 14, 2018 - 10:27:00 AM

James Comey is about to begin a publicity tour through many news and entertainment shows, to promote his book. I hope the interviewers ask him why he thought it inappropriate to reveal that Trump had been under FBI investigation since July 2016, while he revealed, 11 days before the election, that another investigation of Hillary was beginning. The asymmetry reeks of partisanship. Given the micro-targeted thin margins which handed Electoral victory to a morally depraved psychopath in thrall to a foreign power, there is no forgiving Comey. He helped elect the most dangerous, unfit president of our lifetimes. -more-

Titles Titilate, Content Defies, Left Bamboozled: the protracted rocky ride of Berkeley's Surveillance Ordinance

Jane Welford-Executive Secretary for SuperBOLD (Berkeleyans Organizing for Liberty Defense)
Gene Bernardi-Representative for Veterans For Peace East Bay Chapter 162
Saturday April 14, 2018 - 10:16:00 AM

Do the titles Surveillance Ordinance or Police Accountability arouse your interest? -more-


THE PUBLIC EYE:Another Look at Trump Supporters

Bob Burnett
Saturday April 14, 2018 - 10:06:00 AM

After reaching a low of 36 percent, Trump's approval rating has gradually inched up to 40 percent ( On the Left Coast his (historic) low remains a source of amazement because we rarely hear anyone speak favorably of Trump. Nonetheless, after 15 months in office, and a series of epic blunders, Trump has held onto his base. What explains this? -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: What I Learned in Traffic School in 1989

Jack Bragen
Saturday April 14, 2018 - 09:52:00 AM

My wife is not a hundred percent trusting of my driving. Shortly following the death of my father, I didn't see a stoplight, resulting in the wreck of a very nice car, and minor injuries to me and my wife, as well as the driver of the other vehicle. At the time, I was distracted by grief, and I should not have agreed to take a trip to Walnut Creek to see friends.

Since then, I have cultivated the ability to say "no" to things that seem to be too much, especially that involve driving. I have been in two additional accidents, both of them the fault of the other drivers. It doesn't make much difference if an accident is the fault of the other driver, if I am out of a car, possibly injured, and with an increase in insurance premiums.

In traffic school, in 1989, (the result of a speeding ticket) the instructor emphasized: "Stress will kill you." -more-

ECLECTIC RANT: Trump calls out the National Guard

By Ralph E. Stone
Saturday April 14, 2018 - 10:03:00 AM

On April 5, Trump President Donald Trump signed the presidential memorandum for sending National Guard troops on assignment to the southern border. to "stop illegal aliens from crossing the border.” He seemed to be referring to a caravan of about 1,000 migrants traveling north from Central America he claims are trying to take advantage of DACA, a program they would not even qualify for. -more-

SMITHEREENS: Reflections on Bits & Pieces

By Gar Smith
Saturday April 14, 2018 - 10:09:00 AM

Ballot Boxers

California's new June 2018 election ballot has just been released and it's landed with a thump. There's a lot (perhaps too much) to choose from—including 27 candidates for governor and 32 contenders for US senator!

The following two listings immediately caught my eye.

(1) The gubernatorial contestant with the best-sounding name: "Thomas Jefferson Cares" (That's both a great name and a campaign slogan).

(2) Wildest name on the ticket for the governor's race: Hakan "Hawk" Mikado. (A name that's ready-made for a crowd-chant!)


Arts & Events

Arts Calendar

Tom Hunt and Bonnie Hughes
Saturday April 14, 2018 - 05:25:00 PM

To learn what's happening on Berkeley's arts scene, you can now reach the Berkeley Arts Festival Calendar directly from the Planet. You can then click on an individual date for a full description of every event on that day.

To reach the calendar, click here. -more-

Preview: Souad Massi to Sing at Fort Mason April 20

By James Roy MacBean
Saturday April 14, 2018 - 09:57:00 AM

From the Kabyle mountains of Algeria by way of Paris, female singer-songwriter Souad Massi will appear Friday, April 20, at Cowell Theatre, Fort Mason. This will be her first Bay Area appearance in more than ten years for the 46 year-old Algerian Berber who has become a genuine superstar in world music scene. Souad Massi began her career singing in the Kabyle political rock band Atakor, before leaving Algeria following a series of death threats. When I spoke to her by telephone, Souad indicated that she prefers to leave these events of long ago in a bygone past. She visits her family every year in Algeria and has given several concerts there in recent years. -more-

New: Armenian State Chamber Choir Performs in Berkeley

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Sunday April 15, 2018 - 11:14:00 AM

On Saturday, April 14, Cal Performances presented the Armenian State Chamber Choir in a concert at Berkeley’s First Congregational Church. Founded in 2000, The Armenian State Chamber Choir has a primary mission of performing the great choral works of Armenian composers and sharing them with audiences in Armenia and worldwide. The Armenian State Chamber Choir is directed by Robert Mlkeyan. The choir is renowned for their brilliant renditions of works by Komitas (1869-1935), the father of Armenian classical music. On the program here were several works by Komitas: the choral song “Holy, Holy,” a lively suite of Rustic Wedding Songs, the song “Rise Up!,” the song “O Mountains, Bring Breeze,” the boisterous “Plowing Song of Lori,” and “Spring,” set to a poem by Hovhannes Hovanisyan. Whether steeped in the rich folklore of Armenia or inspired by the pious faith of Komitas, these songs amply demonstrated the musical genius of Komitas, who, when he performed some of his works in Paris, was saluted as a musical genius by Claude Debussy. Among the highlights of this evening was the “Plowing song of Lori,” robustly sung by tenor Razmik Baghdasaryan and basses Hovhannes Grogorian and Mavrik Mkrtchyan. -more-

Ana Moura at SF Jazz

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Saturday April 14, 2018 - 10:01:00 AM

Where Fado is concerned, I’m very much a traditionalist. I first heard Fado in 1963 in Lorenço Marques (now Maputo), capital of the then-Portuguese colony of Mozambique. Inquiring of a Portuguese shopkeeper where I could hear good Portuguese music, he directed me to a Fado club called A Toca. My wife and I arrived early and were seated in a small, darkly lit room. Soon a middle-aged woman dressed in black with a long black shawl appeared, accompanied by a middle-aged man with a 12-string Portuguese guitar. Together, these two musicians poured out their hearts and souls for an hour and-a-half in songs steeped in saudade, the Portuguese word for longing and melancholy for what might have been. They used no microphone and were unamplified; yet in this small room their music rang out with a clarity of passionate intensity. I was instantly hooked on Fado. -more-

The Berkeley Activist's Calendar, April 15-22

Kelly Hammargren, Sustainable Berkeley Coalition
Saturday April 14, 2018 - 09:46:00 AM

The charter for the Police Review Commission (PRC) is 40 years old and in need of significant updating which can only be done through ballot initiative. Berkeley Community United for Police Oversight is gathering signatures for their proposal. The Police Review Commission Reform Subcommittee is preparing an alternate proposal which also addresses the current Police Review Commission weaknesses. The PRC alternative is targeted to be completed this coming week by the reform subcommittee in time for a full PRC Commission vote on April 25.

The Transportation Commission on Thursday will be taking action on new signage at Berkeley City limits. Proposed language: “Welcome to Berkeley” “LOVE LIFE” “Sanctuary City” “Ohlone Territory”

The Landmarks Preservation Commission designated/landmarked the Campanile Way View as a significant element on April 5. On Thursday April 19 the Design Review Committee will be reviewing the preliminary design for the proposed 18-story 274 unit building at the Walgreen’s site corner of Shattuck and Allston which blocks about 50% of the view. As of Nov 28, 2017, Berkeley (construction completed or in progress) overbuilt market rate/luxury priced units by 405 and underbuilt all levels of affordable housing units by 1335.

City Council April 24 meeting agenda available for comment. 31. Allocation Federal Funds, 32. Block Grants, 33. Carbon Free energy, 34. Single use foodware, 36. GoBerkeley Transportation 37. Youth Spirit Artwork Tiny House project, 38 a.& b. Achieving Fair and Impartial Policing, 39. Information – Rapid Rehousing report

The meeting list is also posted on the Sustainable Berkeley Coalition website.