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Berkeley Rousts Marina Vehicle Dwellers

Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN) and Planet
Monday July 09, 2018 - 09:51:00 AM

Responding to repeated health and safety complaints, the city of Berkeley has evicted about 35 homeless people who were living in RVs and vans in the parking lot of the recently-closed HS Lordships restaurant in the Berkeley Marina, a spokesman for the city said today.

City spokesman Matthai Chakko said the city responded to the encampment at 199 Seawall Drive after families who use the nearby Adventure Playground and the management of the nearby DoubleTree Hotel complained about assaults, drug needles and defecation in the area surrounding the encampment.

But the people who lived at the encampment told reporters at a news conference in front of Berkeley City Hall that they had lived there peacefully and lawfully and kept the area as clean as possible. 

Amber Whitson said, "We clean up the trash at HS Lordships and we care about the water there." 

Whitson said, "People living in vehicles is a reality across the country as the economy gets worse." 

Whitson said, "We want a piece of land where we can live park safely and have running water." 

Yesica Prado, a former student in the University of California at Berkeley's graduate school of journalism who lived at the site, said, "People already are living in vehicles throughout the Bay Area. People aren't going anywhere." 

Whitson said people who were living in vehicles at 199 Seawall Drive have now moved back to a nearby site on Marina Boulevard where they had lived before. 

But Chakko said, "That's not OK, that's not acceptable" and police have warned people not to live there. 

Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin told reporters at an impromptu briefing in his office that he had supported a proposal that would have allowed people to stay at the HS Lordships site while the city developed a plan to create a "vehicle dweller park" for homeless people at another location in the city. 

But Arreguin said that proposal was defeated at a meeting last week and he doesn't think there currently are enough votes to get that plan approved at this time. Councilmember Kriss Worthington voted against it. 

Arreguin said that on any given night there are more than 1,000 homeless people in Berkeley and he believes it will take a regional effort that includes officials from Alameda County and other cities to solve the problem. 

Arreguin said the Berkeley City Council will vote on Tuesday night on placing a $135 million affordable housing bond measure on the November ballot and he's also proposing an $8 million real estate transfer tax to pay for services for homeless people. 

Chakko said the city shelters 350 homeless people every night and recently opened a navigation center for 45 homeless people. 

Arreguin said two of those people already have found permanent housing and he believes three additional people will get permanent housing in the next week. 

Chakko said the city's plan for helping homeless people gives priority to those most in need, such as people who haven't had housing for more than a year and people who suffer from a disability.

Flash: Berkeley Firefighters Respond to Fire at former University Hardware Building

Bay City News and Planet
Tuesday July 10, 2018 - 09:28:00 AM

A structure fire in Berkeley was under control last night, a dispatcher said.

The fire was reported at about 10:15 p.m. in the 2100 block of University Avenue,

The building is the former location of University Hardware at 2145 University, and was slated to become the new Acheson Commons development.

The historic facade was supposed to be preserved as a condition of the use permit.

Proposed Acheson Commons Development Would Add 200 Units to Downtown Berkeley

A Critique and Evaluation of the CPE Police Report

Steve Martinot (With special thanks to Jim McFadden for some important ideas);
Thursday July 05, 2018 - 12:01:00 PM

This critique is divided into three sections. Part 1 deals with some problems with the report in general. It mostly concerns information omitted, along with an ignoring of the historical context. Part 2 deals with disparities in traffic stops, not only between black drivers and white, but between black drivers and others in the category of “people of color,” which raises the issue of a police “recognition factor,” and certain implicit “search functions” overlaid on racial profiling. Part 3 relates these factors to the question of harassment as a political project. And that has ramifications for the concept of "race" itself. The suggestion is made that race is not inherent, but is more properly understood as a verb, something one group of people does to others. If you would like to read ahead, Part 2 can be found here [https://tinyurl.com/ya6asd5b], and Part 3 can be found here [https://tinyurl.com/yb96pw2u].

Part 1 – Some problems in the report

In 2015, the City of Berkeley commissioned the Center for Policing Equity (CPE) to do a study and report on racial profiling in the Berkeley Police Department (BPD). It was done in the wake of years of complaints about police comportment, which came to a head after special hearings on how the BPD had handled certain large demonstrations (about police brutality) that occurred in December, 2014. Those demonstrations were in solidarity with others across the country protesting the failure of Missouri and New York to charge the officers who had killed Michael Brown and Eric Garner. The Berkeley police assaulted these political demonstrations using tear gas, pepper spray, beanbag rounds, beatings with nightsticks, and the "kettling" of people for the purpose of mass arrest. A number of lawsuits resulted from BPD use of force. And hundreds of people came to City Council to testify about police behavior, putting the issues of police violence, militarization, and racial profiling on the table. 

While these demonstrations were a recognition that police comportment had become a national issue, the subsequent hearings also forced the city to recognize that Berkeley had its own share of problems. Along with incidents such as the beating of black students in the middle of the night for allegedly jaywalking, the killing of Kayla Moore, and cases of racial harassment, there was testimony about how the police handled homeless people, or those in emotional crises, including descriptions of excessive violence and gratuitous hyper-restraints. 

The CPE was contracted to do a study of police practices as an allegedly neutral third party, and was given partial access to police records. In Nov. 2017, it issued its report, which focused on racial disparities in police conduct. CPE researchers complimented the police for their openness and willingness to cooperate with the study. Though the report was to be fully independent of the police, as a neutral investigation, the police received the report first, and withheld release until May, 2018, in a revised form. For the police to have seized the report for "review" when it was first issued essentially nullified the supposed "neutrality" of the report. 

[The final version of the report can be found here:http://tinyurl.com/ycpgfe7a 

In evaluating this report, a number of problems present themselves. For one, the report only discusses traffic stops and pedestrian stops as representative of police comportment toward individual people. It does not go into modes of crime investigation or crowd-control situations. With respect to “use of force” procedures, it is content to simply tabulate various modes of. Use of force, with no discussion of actual incidents – such as, for instance, ten police cars arriving for the questioning or arrest of a single individual on the street. 

Second, though the BPD complimented itself on its openness and willingness to aid the CPE in its study of police practices, certain important data categories were withheld. For instance, the report addresses the fact that traffic stops sometimes led to arrests, yet the BPD did not release any data on the causes nor nature of such arrests, or under what circumstances they occurred. For a traffic stop to result in an arrest should be an unusual occurrence. Traffic violations are simply infractions, for which tickets are issued. Why would any of them (even a small number) escalate to treating a driver as a criminal? At its public presentation of the report, the CPE menionted that the officer’s background check of the driver might discover outstanding warrants, or parole violations. But nothing was said about the more pressing problem at the national level, as a context for the local, of police violence toward drivers of color during traffic stops. 

There have been hundreds of videos of black or brown drivers being dragged out of their cars and thrown to the ground, to be handcuffed and arrested. Such events have even made network evening news. One famous case was that of Sandra Bland who, in July, 2015, was dragged from her car and thrown to the ground. She died later that day in custody. Breaion King, a black school teacher in Texas, was also pulled from her car arrested in June, 2015, after an exchange of words with the cop, and charged with “resisting arrest.” Rose Campbell, a black 65 year old grandmother, was pulled from her car in Georgia in early May, 2018, after only words were exchanged with the officer. Rebecca Musarra was a black driver stopped by a cop for speeding, who refused to answer any of his questions. He pulled open her door and dragged her from her car and handcuffing her for remaining silent. As he arrested her, he read her her Miranda rights, among which are “you have the right to remain silent.” (SFC, 8/25/17, pA5) 

Were these the kinds of incidents in which a traffic stop in Berkeley resulted in arrest? Because they form an unignorable context for the CPE’s investigative efforts, the specific violations for which drivers were arrested would be critical information. Why would the BPD withhold that information? Indeed, it should logically be recorded in the same reports as was the race of the driver, which data the CPE received. 

Third, there is an important anomaly in the data on traffic and pedestrian stops at the beginning of 2015. The number and frequency of such stops dropped precipitously, and then resumes at its former rate, increasing linearly afterwards to a high point in 2016. This dip in police activity is passed over by the report’s commentaries. Yet it has historical significance. This was the period following nationwide uprisings over police shootings and police racial profiling. What might have motivated the police to reduce normal practices during that period? Could it have been a decision to cut back on behavior and procedures that were targets of the national protests, perhaps out of shame for having engaged in them in the first place? Or was it in response to national (federal) advisories to pay greater attention to protest groups and activities, thus shifting attention from ordinary policing activity like traffic stops? The extent to which policing policy is linked to national considerations would be an important dimension of the issue. 

Fourth, though the police divide the population of Berkeley into five racial groupings, namely, the category of white people and four categories of people of color, statistics on those of the latter four are discussed alone or in relation to whites, but not in relation to each other. Yet there is significant variation in the way the police deal with each of the categories of people of color (POC). We shall address this in part 2 of this evaluation. It remains a critical issue with respect to the overall processes of racialization that produce disparities of conduct. The statistics themselves indicate that this omission renders some important questions unanswerable, as we will see. 

To return to the national context, the report covers the years from 2012 to 2016, which were tumultuous all across the country with respect to conflicts between the people and the police. The uprisings of 2014 were only the most massive among movements protesting police racial profiling. The Ferguson, MO, events took place in August and September of 2014, and Baltimore rose up in November of the same year in response to the death of Freddie Gray in police custody. The “Black Lives Matter” movement emerged during this time, and even gained international standing as a movement. 

These events had tremendous impact on people of color, and in particular on the social justice movements. It was a period with a steadily rising death rate at the hands of the police (in 2015 alone, over 1100 unarmed people of color were killed by police – an average of more than three a day). While no drivers were reported shot in Berkeley during this period, that kind of occurrence cannot be left out. It was part of the national context. Certain cases became well-known. Jessica Williams was shot to death in her car in SF (July 2016). Demouria Hogg was shot to death in his car in June 2015, having passed out on the off-ramp to Lakeshore Drive in Oakland, perhaps needing medical care but certainly not a death warrant. The list going back to the killings of Sean Bell or Tyisha Miller, shot to death in their cars, is long. 

Indeed, a simple Google search of those shot during traffic stops produces endless entries. In May 2018, a man was shot by police at a traffic stop in Lawrence KS. A man was shot by police when fleeing a traffic stop in Memphis on May 8, 2018. Another was shot and killed in Winston-Salem during a traffic stop on April 1, 2018. A woman was shot by Aurora, CO, police during a traffic stop on May 6, 2018. A man was shot during a traffic stop in Greensboro, NC, on May 27, 2018. A man was shot by police during a traffic stop in Kensington, PA, on May 29, 2018. Etc. Etc. These are all from the Spring of 2018. There are videos of many of these events. 

Rodney King was beaten because he fled a traffic stop. Traffic stops are not safe for people in the US, and especially not for people of color. 

What occurs nationally cannot be discounted as an influence on what transpires in Berkeley. It is for that reason that the arrest records at traffic stops become critical data in understanding racial disparities in how the Berkeley police operate. To leave this out is to force one into the Manichean assumption that either the police always act ethically in their relations to the public, or that there is significant criminality that they are covering up. How is police racial bias to be evaluated if the ethics of police actions has to assumed, one way or the other, rather than researched? And how can an evaluation of police practices be considered objective if what is happening on the national level, which would have an impact on the thinking of drivers in Berkeley, and whether they feel safe or not, is omitted. 

In other words, the main failing of the report, though not part of its original contractual project, is the absence of any attempt to historicize the issues addressed in the report, or to put them in their broader social context. It is in terms of police killings and harassment of black people (driving while black, for instance) that uprisings have occurred. And the broader social context would also include how racialization occurs in the US, and how police racial profiling would form a facet of it. Different groups get racialized in different ways. We have witnessed, over the last few decades, how Latino immigrants, Arabs, Islamic fundamentalists, and even Serbians have been racialized – in most cases, to fulfill a specific political purpose, or to disguise an economic problem. 

But let us look at the actual racial categories the BPD uses, and toward which it provides data on three police procedure – traffic stops, pedestrian stops, and use of force – for which its most extensive and detailed treatment is of traffic stops. The police divide people into five racial groups, and the report provides their population percentages as calculated from census data. They are whites (56%), blacks (8%), Latinos (11%), Asians (19%), and a category of "Other" that comes to 7%. “People of color” (POC) comprise 44% of the town. People of color who are not black (African American) comprise 36%. The data covers how many traffic stops are made of each racial category, what this represents per capita (stops per 1000 of the specific group’s population), and how many result in citation, in arrest, in searches, etc. The data are then pressented in graphs, with commentaries. Some graphs relate statistics by racial category per year (for 2012 to 2016). Others are graphs of totals per racial category for the five year period. 

The report finds that there are certain clear racial disparities in the way the police relate to each of these different groups. We shall discuss this more in depth in Part 2 of this evaluation. It provides a number of recommendations concerning how the police could correct the inequities that the data reveal, and suggests that this would enable the police to live up to the "values" of the city in a better way. It makes suggestions concerning training and procedure, but says little of a concrete nature concerning policy. 

Racial disparities in police practices have been well documented in City Council and Police Review Commission meetings. Yet studies like this are still relevant, and commissioned, because the issue of institutional racism doesn’t seem to go away. It is raised again and again by social justice movements. Racial disparities in police practices have to be considered as institutional if they are apprehensible only in the aggregate. The report’s task, then, could not have been to "discover" racial biases and disparities in practices, but to quantify them. 

However, the report does not offer extensive interpretation of its data except to indicate there is a problem. This leaves undecided whether these disparities represent the persistence of historical discriminatory procedures and factors, or rather refer to a process aimed at reconstituting racist institutional policies and structures. The first possibility imposes the task of fully alleviating the effects of an iniquitous past. The second presents the possibility that we are facing some kind of Jim Crow resurgence. Though common wisdom might hope that we are constantly dispensing with what we inherit from the past as a steady democratization process, the fact that racial disparities in police operations was rising continually from 2012 to 2016 might suggest the latter. In other words, the form that institutional "racism" takes must be evaluated as an historical process, as well as how it is embedded in its cultural environment. As long as policy is protected by institutional insularity, the problem will remain out of reach. 

The report warns against what it calls a “social dominance orientation” for the police, which is a weighted term that remains undefined. It appears to refer to the hierarchy of internal discipline. Yet one of the major sources of dispute between people and the police has been the issue of obedience between the police and civil society. In most states, legislation has been passed requiring absolute obedience to police commands, to the point where each officer can adopt the role of a military commanding officer, resistance to whom may result in immediate arrest. 

Insofar as the data indicates strong racial biases, it infers both traditional dominance (the power to stop), racialized dominance (profiling), and institutional dominance (the militarization of public interaction) in ordinary police operations. The report recommends that officers pay attention to how their behavior appears, without addressing their militarization of the "scenes" in which it appears. 

In that sense, the term "racism" becomes relevant as a term of appearance. Racialized traffic stops depend for the most part on the appearance of the driver for the officer. The term “racist” appears only once in the report, in one of the 13 recommendations, in which “scenario-based training” is suggested to “protect officers from the negative consequences of concerns that they will appear racist.” It is a tricky inversion, since it addresses the appearance of an officer’s comportment rather than the centrality of the driver’s appearance with respect to racial disparities in traffic stops. 


Suspect Arrested in Berkeley April Stabbing Case

Bay City News
Wednesday July 04, 2018 - 07:59:00 PM

Berkeley police last week arrested a 19-year-old man suspected of stabbing someone in April while he was visiting the police station to recover a car that had been towed in an unrelated matter.

Joshua Gertz, of Berkeley, allegedly stabbed a 20-year-old man in the 1700 block of McGee Avenue just before 7:30 p.m. on April 3.  

He was arrested on June 26 on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, felony battery and violating the terms of his probation. 

Anyone with additional information about the case is asked to contact the Berkeley Police Department at (510) 981-5700

Smoke Advisory for Bay Area

Keith Burbank (BCN)
Sunday July 01, 2018 - 04:26:00 PM

A smoke advisory has been issued for today for the San Francisco Bay Area because of smoke coming from the County Fire in Yolo County, officials with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District said.

Air district officials suggest that area residents avoid outdoor physical activity and keep children inside if it's smoky outside.

Keep windows and doors closed unless it's really hot out. If it's very hot and the home has no air conditioning, seek alternative shelter where it's cool.

Home and car air conditioners should be run on recirculate.

Keep the fresh air intake closed and the filter clean.

Anyone with asthma or lung disease is urged to follow their doctor's directions about taking medicine and following an asthma management plan.

People are urged to call their doctor if their symptoms get worse.

Anyone with heart or lung disease, older adults and people with children are urged to talk with their doctor about whether to leave the area.

Berkeley residents on social media have reported ash from the fires falling at their homes.

Activists to Visit Refugee Detention Facilities Today

Janis Mara (BCN)
Sunday July 01, 2018 - 04:28:00 PM

Activists from various advocacy groups will visit Bay Area youth refugee detention facilities this afternoon to bring stuffed animals, books and blankets and hold a candlelight vigil, organizers said.

A loose coalition of activists were to meet at the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists in Berkeley at noon and a caravan was scheduled to depart at 1 p.m., according to Cynthia Papermaster, a coordinator with the Golden Gate chapter of Code Pink Women for Peace.

Concerned members of the public are welcome to show up as well, Papermaster said.

"We want the kids to know that we care and we are there," Papermaster said. "It's centered on the children. We are bringing stuffed animals, blankets and Spanish language children's' books."

Papermaster said the group had not yet decided which location they will visit. One of the possibilities is Southwest Key, a facility in Pleasant Hill. There are roughly two dozen children being held at Southwest Key, a shelter for immigrant youth in Pleasant Hill, and two of them are adolescent girls who were separated from their parents as a result of the Trump administration's zero-tolerance policy.



Are Americans Better Than This?

Becky O'Malley
Monday July 09, 2018 - 01:53:00 PM

“We’re better than this.”

How many times have liberal Americans used this phrase as they condemn the Republican administration’s seizure of several thousand children as punishment for their parents’ attempts to enter the United States? It’s even been used by a few critical right-wing Christian Evangelical supporters of Donald Trump. I might have used it myself on occasion.

But it’s not true, like so many other patriotic characterizations bandied about these days. We are exactly no better than this.

This is who we are—Americans all, not just members of evangelical Christian sects like Attorney General Sessions. Stephen Miller, the most horrendous of the anti-immigrant reptiles Trump likes to surround himself with, was a Bar Mitzvah boy. Although the majority of the Supreme Court justices who have just upheld the worst bans on immigrants from Moslem countries were raised as Catholics, they happily turn their backs on exhortations from Pope Francis to show “Christian” charity to strangers among us.

Religion doesn’t save us.

And realistically, that’s not new news around here. Yes, we’re a nation of immigrants. Everyone except a dwindling number of Native Americans is descended from immigrants, but we’ve always been happy to raise the gangplank to keep the last batch of refugees from disembarking on our sacred shores.  

Somewhere buried in my too full bookshelves there’s a cheaply printed mid-nineteenth century publication by the (self-styled) Know-Nothings. It’s full of lurid fabrications about the nefarious practices of the Irish and Italians—the ancestors of the Kennedys and Alitos who now sit in judgment on today’s refugees. Even Clarence Thomas, whose ancestors were brought here in chains, shows no sympathy for shackled migrants and their imprisoned children. 

You’ve heard all this before. The news media, to their credit, have been exploiting the endless fount of sad stories about what’s happening on our southern border. Anyone who reads a paper, watches TV or listens to the radio can’t avoid them without some effort. Many citizens, of course, try hard to do just that. 

Sadly, this is not just an American problem. All over the world, for as long as there’s been recorded history, humans have wanted to keep out the stranger. It’s not even the different-looking stranger—the Russians and the Ukrainians look a lot alike to the naked American eye, and yet they’ve traditionally been at each other’s throats from time to time as they are now. 

But though we Americans are not actually “better than this” this country has one major traditional difference in attitude toward newcomers. We are at least aspirationally better than this. We say that we want to be better. 

It’s right there in the Declaration of Independence’s accusations against the wicked King George: 

“He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither…” 

Yes,yes, I know that the Founding Fathers were almost all White Guys, and they were taking land from the natives, but they genuinely aspired to encourage foreigners to live with them, which was not an internationally recognized sentiment in those days. 

These days, many of our country’s officials, starting at the top, are eagerly “obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners”, but public opinion is still opposed to this behavior, just as it was when George III was trying to do it. 

I was reminded of all this as I participated in the annual indulgence of the civic religion which occurs around the anniversary of the signing of that Declaration on July 4. 

Corny to celebrate the Fourth, you say? Maybe so, but many of our fellow citizens here in the urban East Bay think it’s just fine. 

I like music, and I like fireworks, and I like historic buildings, and Richmond’s cannily scheduled July 3 Fireworks covers all the bases. For the last ten years Maestro Michael Morgan has brought his Oakland Symphony to the old Ford plant, now the Craneway Pavilion, on the Richmond harbor. It’s a free pops concert with stirring music to accompany the show in the sky.  

(And yes, I admit I love fireworks, even though I also like birds, who don’t like fireworks. Surely we can be allowed a few small vices once a year.) 

The best thing about these events is the people, who bring picnics and set up camp chairs on the cement floor of the gorgeous huge building.  

Everyone from every continent was there on Tuesday night.  

Betty Reid Soskin, the world’s oldest park ranger at 96, with ancestors from Africa and Europe, did a cameo. 

Jovanka Beckles, AD 15 Democratic candidate, an immigrant from Panama, was spotted taking a selfie with the Maestro.  

Heartbreaking, however, were the tiny Latin kids there with their families, looking just like the ones we’ve been seeing and hearing about in the media, all too easy to picture locked in cages.  

Are we better than this? How can we let such things go on? 

Maybe we’re better here, now, in the Bay, at least? 

But the migrants in the Contra Costa County detention center not far away could certainly hear the fireworks. 

So the next day we went to another one of my favorite places, Lake Merritt, beset with handsome but untidy geese and smelling of barbecue. We were there to see the Oakland Municipal Band, an excellent ensemble of professional musicians who play in the nicely restored 1918 bandstand throughout the summer. 

Singing the patriotic songs for this occasion was soprano Eliza O’Malley, who will be St. Joan in Verdi’s Giovanna d’Arco next week with Berkeley Chamber Opera at the Berkeley Hillside Club next Friday night and Sunday afternoon. (Shameless plug. Joan of Arc: now there was a patriot for the ages! Verdi wrote this opera in 1845, and it was an inspiration for Italian revolutionaries in 1848.) 

This audience, sitting on the lawn, was another East Bay crowd which matched the description of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Queens district : “the UN on lunch break”. Among the families spread out on the lawn I recognized former Oakland Mayor Jean Quan and her husband Dr.Floyd Huen, descendants of Chinese immigrants.  

Another friend was there decked out in full patriotic red, white and blue. As I remember her story, she’s of Persian background, raised in Germany, who taught European languages to Oakland high-schoolers for many years. In other words, a typical American success. 

At the end of the concert, there was a rousing rendition of Stars and Stripes Forever. Per tradition, all of the children in the audience and some of the grownups marched around the bandstand waving little flags. Some sang along with the real lyrics, others with “be kind to your web-footed friend”, perhaps in honor of the geese. Jean and Floyd, old FSM lefties though they are, enthusiastically joined in the march. 

A lovely day in a beautiful park in a splendid if complicated city with a handsome diverse population…sneer if you must, but it won’t get much better than this.  

Now we just have to figure out how to communicate with our fellow Americans who don’t yet get it. For starters, those babies are still locked up without their parents. 

Berkeley's Place in "the urban crisis of affluence"

Becky O'Malley
Sunday July 01, 2018 - 03:22:00 PM

San Francisco just elected a new mayor after a hotly contested race. I asked a friend who lives there what difference she thought London Breed would make.

“The candidates were all alike, just a few tiny differences,” she said. “But meanwhile, they’re locking up babies in Texas!”

She has a point. All the news, all day every day, is so appalling that it’s hard to get worked up about local controversies. Yesterday, locking up babies and the prospect of Alt-Right Supremes forever. . Today, a newsroom massacre. Tomorrow, what fresh hell will our nation’s rulers produce?

Saturday afternoon, I joined some thousands of Berkeley friends at an emphatic rally denouncing the baby-snatchers. Sometimes I feel that much of my adult social life has been seeing old friends at demonstrations, always a pleasure, but ultimately not preventing things from going from bad to much worse over time.

Against the backdrop of national catastrophe, thinking about local land use problems can seem almost recreational, kind of like watching the World Cup when you don’t really know the rules for futbol.

Meanwhile, however, the urban future is being dramatically changed, and not for the better. Our livable cities are being destroyed by moneyed interests while we’re occupied with the Big Picture.

This will be a long piece incorporating big quotes, but please be patient and read it all. At least the end is inspiring. 

First, the July issue of Harper’s Magazine has a terrific cover story by Kevin Baker, The Death of a Once Great City: the fall of New York and the urban crisis of affluence. Everyone who cares about the place they live, e.g. about Berkeley, should read it. 

The first few paragraphs sum up the thesis: 

“New York has been my home for more than forty years, from the year after the city’s supposed nadir in 1975, when it nearly went bankrupt. I have seen all the periods of boom and bust since, almost all of them related to the “paper economy” of finance and real estate speculation that took over the city long before it did the rest of the nation. But I have never seen what is going on now: the systematic, wholesale transformation of New York into a reserve of the obscenely wealthy and the barely here—a place increasingly devoid of the idiosyncrasy, the complexity, the opportunity, and the roiling excitement that make a city great. 

“As New York enters the third decade of the twenty-first century, it is in imminent danger of becoming something it has never been before: unremarkable. It is approaching a state where it is no longer a significant cultural entity but the world’s largest gated community, with a few cupcake shops here and there. For the first time in its history, New York is, well, boring. 

“This is not some new phenomenon but a cancer that’s been metastasizing on the city for decades now. And what’s happening to New York now—what’s already happened to most of Manhattan, its core—is happening in every affluent American city. San Francisco is overrun by tech conjurers who are rapidly annihilating its remarkable diversity; they swarm in and out of the metropolis in specially chartered buses to work in Silicon Valley, using the city itself as a gigantic bed-and-breakfast. Boston, which used to be a city of a thousand nooks and crannies, back-alley restaurants and shops, dive bars and ice cream parlors hidden under its elevated, is now one long, monotonous wall of modern skyscraper. In Washington, an army of cranes has transformed the city in recent years, smoothing out all that was real and organic into a town of mausoleums for the Trump crowd to revel in. 

“By trying to improve our cities, we have only succeeded in making them empty simulacra of what was. To bring this about we have signed on to political scams and mindless development schemes that are so exclusive they are more destructive than all they were supposed to improve. The urban crisis of affluence exemplifies our wider crisis: we now live in an America where we believe that we no longer have any ability to control the systems we live under.” 

Baker’s essay is mostly about Manhattan, with nods to similar situations in similar world class cities, but what many of us who live in the Berkeley cocoon don’t realize is that we’re undergoing a bush league version of the same conversion. Interesting streetscapes are being taken over by the same boring uniformity.  

Why is this happening? As often has been the case, it’s the money, honey. And it’s everywhere. 

John Lanchester has a long piece in the latest London Review about what’s been going on in the money world since the 2008 crash. He notes that “one of the things that happens in economic good times – a very clear lesson from history which is repeatedly ignored – is that money gets too cheap. Too much credit enters the system and there is too much money looking for investment opportunities. In the modern world that money is hotter – more rapidly mobile and more globalised – than ever before.” 

That’s what we’re seeing in Berkeley and San Francisco and all the other places that are simultaneous being colonized by “luxury” apartments and suffering from a lack of affordable housing. Too much money is feeding the bubble with predictable results. 

In addition to the world-class cities the Baker piece lists, smaller cities all over the world are being taken over by capital looking for a home. I’ve just been visited by a young environmental attorney, who reports that the downtown of her home town of Boca Raton, Florida, which used to be charming, is now wall-to-wall faceless new buildings, both tall and not so tall, but all boring. And it’s not just charm that’s being lost: The people that contribute to sense of place are being squeezed out by the new rich. 

Here, there and everywhere flight capital, often ill-gotten gains stolen in other countries, is looking for property to use for pieds a terre (places for owners to visit occasionally) or AirB’n’B type rentals for tourists.  

When we were in the pre-historic technology business, way back in the early ‘90s, our main customers were in Hong Kong, while it was still British. We asked them what they’d do when China took over. No worries, they said. At that point in history, if they needed a place to go, with a $500k investment they could become Canadians. A million dollars would buy them a place in the U.S. and a path to citizenship or at least a green card. 

I don’t know what the comparable figures are these days, but the principle still survives: money can buy love, and also buy property on which to park your flight capital. 

The outtakes from the Mueller investigations of the Russian interference with the 2016 elections, plus the stories spun off about Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort’s escapades, have given us a window on the shadowy world of Russian oligarchs, who seems to have a finger in every pie, large and small. They’re only one of the various sets of money movers, but they’re typical types. 

Often in these target cities there are what’s now called “flippers”, people who gain some legal hold on a tempting building site, perhaps an option, and then persuade local governments to grant them entitlements (permits) which then can be resold to actual developers to build. After that the “luxury residences” are resold to the rich with an additional layer of profit. Often the flippers are successful because of connections abroad who’d like a place in the U.S. 

A local example of a flipper transaction is the proposed development at 2902 Adeline, now the subject of a lawsuit by outraged neighbors. The developer is a company called Realtex, of which the president is Boris Fadeev. He’s identified on Zoominfo.com as “Director at Moscow Redevelopment Agency”—perhaps that’s his former job, or perhaps he still works there. But he’s also listed as “co-founder of Realtex … primarily responsible for overall development and acquisition activities in the Western United States.” The company’s website lists 3 current projects in the works in Berkeley and more in San Francisco, but has no information on where they are in the entitlement process. They don’t claim to have ever actually built anything. 

Often the finished product in these flipped projects ends up markedly different from what the Zoning Adjustment Board thought it was approving. The City of Berkeley’s Planning Department has the latitude to grant many concessions to builders who plead poverty, and often overlooks conditions on development and use which were supposed to control permits.  

An example of how this works is the Harold Way project next to the Hotel Shattuck, which threatens to demolish the building which houses the Shattuck Cinemas. The company which got entitlements for this project in the final act of the Bates administration has been trying to flip it ever since, with no luck. Word on the street is that they were expecting concessions from the previous administration which now look more dicey with the new council. The entitlements were supposed to expire at the end of 2017, but a former city planning director authorized an extension to this deadline on her way out the door. It might still be built. 

The sad thing is that most Berkeleyans don’t even know what’s hitting them most of the time, as evidenced by postings on the NextDoor site. 

There a distinguished academic lamented the loss of her favorite neighborhood business to an insupportable rent hike, and even went so far as to find out and post the name of the landlord. What she didn’t realize is that the greedy owner of that building has similar holdings all over Berkeley, and is involved with the conglomerate which is now trying to build a huge box on the Ohlone Shellmound site on 4th Street. A small number of commercial property speculators like this one now own a very large percentage of Berkeley’s rental properties, and they do as they please.  

It’s just like New York, and San Francisco, and all the rest. Bad money drives out good. 

Also posted on NextDoor recently has been a lengthy controversy about whether or not residents are entitled to complain about long-term parkers in the space in front of their own doors. What the disputants don’t realize is that many of the apartment buildings recently built in downtown Berkeley have been allowed to omit tenant parking. This is based on the fiction that downtown tenants won’t own cars since they live near BART. Common sense should tell you that they take BART to their well-paid San Francisco jobs during the week, storing their cars on residential streets to use for weekends at the beach or on ski slopes.  

More of these expensive developments are in the works. At least two are being proposed for the north side of Durant, west of Dana, one to demolish and replace Trinity Methodist Church and the other on the Berkeley City Club parking lot. Tenants there, many probably well-off students sharing bedrooms, might promise not to have cars, but they’ll be tempted to store them on Southside neighborhood streets. 

A new day may be dawning, slowly, in Berkeley. The word on the street, though the minutes and video have yet to be posted, is that the Zoning Adjustment Board on Thursday threatened (in a 7-2 vote) to revoke Honda’s permits for its recently occupied South Shattuck garage because neighbors showed up with well-documented video proof of violations of city conditions on its use permit. 

Amazing. Permits once granted are never revoked by the city of Berkeley despite flagrant breaches of conditions. Well, perhaps almost never? 

Small victories like this one, however, don’t disguise the evidence that the fight for a human-scale city with peaceful neighborhoods is far from won. But change could be in the air. We might still have the “ability to control the systems we live under” after all, at least here in Berkeley. 

Two City Council seats now held by people who favor pricey market-rate developers are up for election in November. The District One incumbent is retiring, and Zoning Adjustment Board Commissioner Igor Tregub, appointed by Mayor Jesse Arreguin, is running for her seat. In District 8, Planning Commissioner Mary Kay Lacey, appointed by Councilmember Kate Harrison, hopes to defeat incumbent Lori Droste, a reliable ally of luxury developers. Both challengers have already been endorsed by the Berkeley Progressive Alliance and Berkeley Citizens’ Action. Both endorse more affordable housing, but discourage excess luxury construction, 

And here’s the inspiring bookend on that topic, one last lengthy quote from another New Yorker about what’s happening to our cities: 

“Housing in the United States has become a playground for wealthy developers instead of a leg up towards the American Dream. In New York City specifically, money from luxury real estate developers have taken over our political establishment - leading to luxury rezonings that push out small businesses and working families, and leave a wake of empty units in their place. 

“Working New Yorkers can’t afford to stay in the communities their families have called home for generations. Families are rent burdened, and the city is experiencing the highest levels of homelessness since the Great Depression. While shelters go up, housing actually remains empty - there are three times the amount of empty luxury units as there are people experiencing homelessness in New York City. 

“So, what do we do? 

“Alexandria believes that housing is a right, and that Congress must tip the balance away from housing as a gambling chip for Wall Street banks and fight for accessible housing that’s actually within working families’ reach.  

“Congress has allowed most of our existing housing investments to go towards benefitting the wealthy. Alexandria supports extending tax benefits to working and middle-class homeowners, expanding the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, housing (not sheltering) the homeless, and permanently funding the National Affordable Housing Trust Fund. 

“By refusing money from luxury real estate developers, Alexandria can be trusted to fight for fair, inclusive housing policies that upend the overdevelopment that real estate speculators have imposed on New Yorkers.” 

That’s right, that was a quote from the published platform of this week’s big winner, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat, Socialist and next Congresswoman from the Bronx and Queens.  

Which Berkeley candidates will match her pledge to refuse money from luxury real estate developers? Let’s ask them! 

The Editor's Back Fence

Harold Way Project Trying for a Third Extension

Tuesday July 10, 2018 - 02:47:00 PM

We've just learned via a well-researched story on berkeleyside.com that Hill Street Realty is asking the CIty of Berkeley for its third extension on the so-called "Berkeley Plaza" development that they proposed for the corner of Harold Way and Shattuck, in the space originally Hink's Department store and more recently Shattuck Cinemas. They've been trying unsuccessfully to flip the project, which depended for its approval on an obviously undeliverable list of supposed community benefits. The current progressive council majority was elected partly because of community outrage over this project, so their supporters expect that they will stop the staff from granting another free pass to Hill and its fixer Mark Rhoades, even though he's the former city planning director.

Public Comment

Declaration of Independence for Whom?

Harry Brill
Thursday July 05, 2018 - 01:10:00 PM

We have just celebrated on the 4th of July the struggle by the American colonies for independence from England. This remarkable anti-imperialistic doctrine, the Declaration of Independence, explained why the colonies should declare their independence from Great Britain. Especially important and moving about the document is the following line -- "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights that among these rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." 

Nevertheless, there were significant shortcomings in the Declaration. Actually, Congress did not mean all men. In one paragraph the document refers to "the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions." The justification was that many Native Americans sided with Britain. But that was not surprising because they were brutally treated as their land was being stolen by the American colonists. The colonists gave a lame excuse because they treated Native Americans who did not side with Britain similarly. In fact, the colonists became the new imperialists. 

And nor did "all men" include slaves. To the credit of Thomas Jefferson, although he was a slave holder, he drafted an anti-slavery paragraph to be considered for the Declaration of Independence. However, Georgia and South Carolina threatened that they would not vote for independence unless this proposal was deleted. So it was. 

Also, the South wanted to count these non-voting slaves to increase their representation in Congress. The compromise was that each slave would be counted as three-fifths. Conveniently for the south, women were included. This compromise was quite a concession because it allowed the slaveholders to largely dominate the federal government until the civil war. 

On one matter the colonists kept their word. By "all men" they really meant all men. Women were excluded. Not only could they not vote. They were denied property rights and the right to make any legal contracts. Yet women played an important role in winning the war. They organized boycotts of goods from Britain and many women served as nurses for wounded soldiers. They served as spies as well. They worked as cooks and maids for the British where they eavesdropped on conversations about troop movements and military plans. And although women were not allowed to join the military, many women served as secret soldiers. They disguised themselves as men by cutting their hair and binding their breasts with bandages. Of course, they adopted masculine names. 

Despite their accomplishments women received no official recognition. They continued to remain under the control of their husbands. Women had to wait for 144 years after the Declaration of Independence to win the right to vote. African Americans did not receive their freedom for almost 90 years. And now many immigrants, particularly Hispanics, are being subjected to unprecedented brutality. To celebrate the 4th of July holiday we need to remind our public officials again and again and again that all people are created equal and are entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In contrast to the founding fathers, we the people really mean it! 

Donald Trump

Tejinder Uberoi
Thursday July 05, 2018 - 01:13:00 PM

We live in dark times. President Trump’s lies, fabrications, and racist tweets are finally having an adverse impact on his popularity and support. 

His coarse language and insults have alienated our allies. Our Canadians cousins are seething with anger and large demonstrations are planned in the UK during Trump’s visit. 

He admires tyrannical rulers such as Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey who has jailed tens of thousands of dissidents including hundreds of reporters. He has expressed great affection for the “gun-toting” president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, whose vigilantes killed hundreds of “drug dealers.” Another of his favorites is the ruler of Saudi Arabia whose military has slaughtered tens of thousands of Yeminis with US-UK military support, including banned cluster bombs. Yes, the US and the UK are complicit in war crimes. 

The people of Yemen are dying in large number victims of chronic food shortages controlled by the ultra-rich Saudi kingdom. A huge cholera epidemic has intensified the suffering of the Yeminis. One call from President Trump could end the suffering. 

He courted the despot of North Korea, Kim Jong-un who manipulated him in halting the military exercises in South Korea much to the dismay of its president, Moon Jae-in and much to the delight of Kim. 

Trump and his congressional allies are attempting to defang the FBI to weaken Mueller’s investigation. He still refuses to release his tax returns. His latest tirade against immigrants is intensifying anger across America and much of the world.

New: Trump’s Tax Returns

Jagjit Singh
Monday July 09, 2018 - 03:25:00 PM

Donald Trump’s elusive tax returns might finally see the light of day if New York State Attorney General, Barbara Underwood has her way. On June 14 she filed a civil complaint against President Trump and his three oldest children accusing them of “persistently illegal conduct” using the Trump Foundation as their “checkbook for payments regardless of their purpose or legality.” 

She also believes there is abundant evidence to bring criminal charges. Accordingly, she sent letters to the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Election Commission in Washington recommending “further investigation and legal action.” If violations of charity laws can be proved this could finally trigger an examination of Trump’s allusive tax returns. Mr. Trump has reportedly dipped into his foundation funds to settle legal claims and purchase large portraits of himself to hang in his properties. If he failed to declare these foundation expenditures as income he could be charged with tax fraud. 

Mr. Trump has been remarkably successful in cheating governments. When challenged by the City of New York Mr. Trump’s lawyers claimed a leaky water pipe destroyed the records and the ledger copies were no longer available. How convenient! Perhaps he used a similar excuse when he failed to submit his homework as a young boy claiming the dog ate his homework! In his 1984 tax returns he reported zero income but claimed $600,000 in deductions offering no receipts to validate his claim. It is time to reign in this tax cheat before he pilfers the US Treasury.

New: Reject Supreme Court Confirmation until next year

Bruce Joffe
Monday July 09, 2018 - 02:23:00 PM

Can the President pardon himself or others, to free himself from criminal investigation? Can the president be compelled to testify before a grand jury? Can a sitting president be criminally indicted for obstructing justice? What is the legal consequence for Trump's violations of the Emoluments Clause? These are some of the crucial questions that the next Supreme Court Justice may decide. The man whose legal and political jeopardy is at stake should not be the one to select that Justice.  

America is great because we are a nation of laws, not a vassal of organized crime. Even Republicans who support the President's most questionable policies ought to agree that law and order require postponing confirmation of the next Justice until after the mid-term elections, when the Will of the People can guide their representative Senators.  

Presidential power must be checked now, to prevent our democracy from becoming his autocracy. 

New: Mable Howard BART Station?

William Dintenfass
Monday July 09, 2018 - 03:26:00 PM

I am writing to tell you of Mable Howard:  

I recently learned of her and the petition on Change.org that aims to rename the Ashby BART Station to the Mable Howard Station.  

I think this would be a very worthwhile cause for you to get behind. I personally think it would be fitting if her daughter Mildred Howard made a sculpture for the station.

Berkeley Mayor NOW cares about law(s):
one said to give City Manager total decision on Urban Shield!

Gene Bernardi-Chair; Jane Welford-Executive Secretary; *SuperBOLD (Berkeleyans Organizing for Liberty Defense)
Saturday July 07, 2018 - 10:50:00 AM

Mayor Jesse Arreguin’s abrupt announcement, at the June 18, 2018 Ad Hoc Council Sub-Committee on NCRIC and Urban Shield, that he was withdrawing his vote to ban Berkeley police from 2018 Urban Shield because “I’m not here to break laws…I don’t think I took an oath to do that” reaches the height of hypocrisy . (Also, Councilmember Wengraf’s interpretation of the Berkeley City Charter’s Powers of the City Manager is not founded. –see paragraph 11 below.)

Mayor Arreguin and the majority Council’s violation of Federal, State and Berkeley laws dates back to February 2012. The Coalition for a Safe Berkeley (an organization which met with Councilmember Arreguin in City Hall in its early stages, and at least once in his office) on February 10, 2012, sent a memo to Mayor Bates and City Councilmembers urging the Council “Not approve the agreement with the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center (NCRIC)” and “Not approve the agreement with the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI).

The Coalition expressed their concern that these programs may violate our First Amendment right to free speech and assembly and our Fourth Amendment right to privacy. (SuperBOLD* distributed to Councilmembers at their 2/14/12 meeting, a copy of the City of Berkeley Oath of Office to which each Councilmember had sworn to defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of California against all enemies both foreign and domestic.)

However, despite these expressed concerns of the Coalition, of which Councilmember Arreguin was a member, Arreguin at the 2.14.2012 City Council meeting, distributed a last minute revision changing his position to encouraging the Council to approve both NCRIC and UASI. The Coalition for a Safe Berkeley followed suit with a hurriedly crafted memo to the Mayor and Council canceling their previous call for No approval on NCRIC and UASI. This Coalition memo actually made reference to Berkeley Municipal Code (BMC) 2.04.170 and 2.04.190 but did not spell out in detail what these Berkeley laws require and encompass.

At the February 14, 2012 City Council meeting, and thereafter every year, often late in the fiscal year for which they are considering renewal of UASI and NCRIC, the Council majority which included Arreguin (until 6.20.17 when he voted no on renewal of NCRIC) voted to approve renewal of the Department of Homeland Security UASI program which funds the Berkeley Police Department’s (BPD) participation in Urban Shield, and the FBI’s NCRIC program. NCRIC calls for the FBI deputizing three Terrorism Liaison Officers (TLOs) in the BPD who are sworn to secrecy. Arreguin (with the exception of 6/20/17 when he voted no on NCRIC) voted for renewal of these programs despite the fact that in doing so, he violated the Oath that he had sworn to defend the U.S. and California Constitutions that protect our First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments, as well as Berkeley’s own laws BMC 2.04.170, 2.04.180 and 2.04.190: 

BMC 2.04.170 (Ord. 4640-N.S. #3, 1973) of Article 3 Agreements with Law Enforcement Agencies requires “all terms and conditions of such agreements, understanding or policies shall be reduced to writing and presented to City Council…” (emphasis added) 


All terms and conditions of UASI’s agreements, understanding or policies regarding the tactical scenarios and other Commands as well as those regarding the Vendor Convention of military equipment and other UASI trainings have not been presented by BPD in writing to the City Council. Only the fiscal agreement with S.F. City and Co, the fiscal agent for UASI’s funding has been presented. 


The Police Department’s G.O. summaries of UASI and NCRIC do not meet the requirement of reducing to writing of: “All terms and conditions of such agreements, understanding or policies”. (emphasis added) 


BMC 2.04.180 requires that the above documents “together with supporting statements and documents shall be made available to the public in the office of the City Clerk”. This Berkeley law, and the former, have been violated without any concern shown by the Mayor or the City Council, despite these BMC codes (ordinances) being brought to their attention by SuperBOLD’s* memo and Public Comment communication starting with a May 6, 2012 memo to Mayor Bates and the Council (see letter 18 [1] 5/15/2012 City Council Agenda Packet and Supplementary Reports). 


BMC 2.04.190 Period of Validity-Renewal states “no such agreements, understanding or policy shall be valid or effective for more than one year following Council approval…”. Since the June 20, 2017 vote was the first vote (a retroactive one) on NCRIC and UASI in fiscal year 2016-2017 that means UASI and NCRIC should have been considered invalid for the 2016-2017 fiscal year. However the City Manager, without City Council renewal approval, on November 1, 2016 signed the UASI fiscal agreement with the S.F. City and County fiscal agent. This appeared to be in preparation for the City Council to vote on December 13, 2016 to accept the Urban Area Security Initiative Grant to fund the purchase of a Panel Van (from the Armored Group) equipped with ballistic grade panels and windows. 


As for Councilmember Wengraf’s, and Mayor Arreguin’s deference to her opinion, that the Charter of the City of Berkeley gives the City Manager authority over city employees and their training, there is no reference to training in the Charter. In Section 28 Powers and Duties of City Manager, the very first statement is “The City Manager shall be responsible to the Council for the implementation of Council policy…”. 


Surely the City Council can determine policy regarding the training of the police, especially when that training (i.e. Urban Shield) is administered by the Department of Homeland Security which includes ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement). ICE, under the direction of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Zero Tolerance Policy toward brown and black immigrants, which has led to blocking immigrants’ rights to Asylum Hearings, instead tearing children from their parents, breaking up families and placing them in indefinite detention, incarceration in badly run private prisons or tent concentration camps. (One proposed for 47,000 immigrants in the Concord Naval Weapons Station on the S.F. East Bay) 

Speaking of training, neither Arreguin or Wengraf were on the City Council when it voted October 14, 2003 to adopt the “Precautionary Principle (Res. No. 62,259 N.S.). The “Precautionary Principle Resolution states that this “…Principle seeks to prevent harm before it happens and advises that when there is a threat of serious or irreversible harm to human health or the environment, lack of full scientific certainty about cause and effect shall not be viewed as sufficient reason for the City to postpone measures to prevent degredation of the environment or … the health of its residents or workers.” 

Mental health is recognized as an important segment of our community members overall health. The actions of ICE and Attorney General Jeff Sessions are causing trauma not only to families with relationship to the atrocious separation of children from their parents at the border. It also affects the emotional health of a proportion of citizens that feel responsible for the actions of their Federal Government funded by their taxes. While the children and their parents at the border are the most traumatized, the horror of the Department of Homeland Security’s ICE actions instill fear and anxiety in all brown and black people as well as those supporter activists of all hues. 

The “Precautionary Principle” Resolution called for an annual progress report to be submitted to the Community Health and the Environmental Advisory Commissions If not now happening it should be resumed. Mayor Arreguin’s statement at the June 18, 2018 Ad Hoc meeting, that the report [to the City Council] should make it clear that 

“there are no established negative outcomes for our police department in participating in the [Urban Shield] program” flies in the face of the City’s “Precautionary Principle”. It was learned, after the fact, at an Alameda County Board of Supervisors March 2018 meeting that the County’s Sheriff Gregory Ahern, had included ICE in the 2017 Urban Shield exercises. 

“No negative outcome”? Check out the June 15, 2018 article in the British newspaper The Guardian titled “police worked with violent pro-Trump activists to prosecute left wing group”, and sub-titled Anti-Fascist defendents in Berkeley case say police behavior shows ‘a pretty clear statement of choosing sides’.” Since this article was published, the Berkeley Five defendents have been aquitted. “Choosing sides” by our police department surely indicates biased policing in favor of an armed far-right supremacist who has posted “fascist memes”. 

Although the Center for Policing Equity, chosen by our BPD to do a study of Berkeley Policing, is funded in large part by the U.S. Department of Justice now under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, their report nevertheless found that Berkeley policing involves racial profiling. 


We believe the Berkeley City Council needs to set aside the lure of UASI grant money and consider the apparent and insidious influence these Federal programs are having on our police force. 

The Center for Constitutional Rights, Color of Change and the Kramer Law Center, are now litigating under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to uncover how the FBI and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are monitoring and surveilling protests regarding police violence, racial justice, and the Movement for Black Lives. Hundreds of pages of emails, reports, policies and surveillance documents were turned over to the litigants. However many were fully redacted (such as The Race Paper) or partially redacted. It is clear from their substance that the FBI and the DHS are surveilling the Movement for Black Lives and “reinforcing a law enforcement narrative that broadly criminalizes Black protesting”. (Color of Change and Center for Constitutional Rights “Briefing Guide: Color of Change v. FBI and DHS) This surely looks like the “negative outcome” of DHS’s Urban Shield training which Mayor Arreguin claims has not been established. 

UASI funds the FBI’s NCRIC and their Terrorism Liaison Officers (TLOs) sworn to secrecy. TLOs are reported to keep Black Lives Matter activists under surveillance. 

(E.Bay Express 4/15-21/2015): Also it has been reported that TLOs furnished addresses of undocumented immigrants to the NCRIC intelligence center information sharing network program. This violates Berkeley’s Sanctuary City Resolutions. 

UASI and linked NCRIC are clearly programs fraught with bias especially under the current racist, zenophobic U.S. Administration which is violating our U.S. and California Constitution and International Human Rights Treaties by creating a chilling effect on freedom of speech, assembly and the right to privacy by incarcerating children separated from their immigrant parents in violation of basic human decency, constituting torture, and obviously human rights. 

How can our Mayor and City Councilmembers after 6 years of the City Council, Commissions, and members of the public’s valuable time spent in lengthy deliberations over renewal considerations of UASI and NCRIC, now say they were engaged in discussing and acting on matters not under their legal jurisdiction?!? 


Mayor Arreguin has stated that the consideration of renewal of UASI, its Urban Shield exercises and NCRIC will be on the July 24, 2018 City Council meeting agenda (after the end of the fiscal year for which they are considering renewal!?) 


Mark your Calendars. Be there and demand a NO vote on these agregious programs with their biased, immoral and inhumane outcomes. 


July Pepper Spray Times

By Grace Underpressure
Monday July 09, 2018 - 10:47:00 AM

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! 

Abuse of Migrant Children

Jagjit Singh
Sunday July 01, 2018 - 04:38:00 PM

At the Shiloh Detention Center children are over-medicated turning them into zombies. They are forced to line up to receive their daily dose of pills. Those who refuse are verbally and physically abused. In addition to the extreme drowsiness, the children experience other major side effects includes extreme weight gain as much as 40 to 50 pounds, in a few months. 

One Honduran child identified as D.M. in court filings, arrived at the secured Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center in Virginia diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and remained locked up for more than a year. The guards routinely referred to the migrant children as “wetbacks,” and using Trump’s disgusting insults accused them of being rapists or having HIV. 

Children who attempt to hurt themselves are handcuffed, have their chests and legs strapped to a chair and have a bag placed over their heads with small holes in it – for hours often soaking in their own urine and feces reminiscent of the appalling images of Abu Ghraib prisoners.

Maxine Trumps T-Rump!

H. Scott Prosterman
Sunday July 01, 2018 - 04:32:00 PM

Wow, the terms and boundaries of “civility” have been battered and bruised to a pulp. But don’t blame Maxine Waters. One might even argue that her directive to make t-Rump officials not feel welcome in public is overdue . . . like since the early 90’s when Newt Gingrich dispensed with common decorum on the House floor, weaponized Congressional investigations, and empowered Kenneth Starr to make a national issue over an Arkansas land deal. Wait a minute; that was about blow jobs in the White House, a grave matter of national security. And don’t forget Kenneth Starr became president and chancellor of Baylor University, where one of the ugliest rape scandals on any college campus occurred under his watch. 

More to the point, Maxine’s timing was impeccable, in the context of the recent SCOTUS decision about the right to refuse service. Let’s face it, Justice Roberts created a mighty slippery slope when he decreed that a business owner can refuse service if person offends the owner’s religious values. "WE RESERVE THE RIGHT TO REFUSE SERVICE" cuts both ways. If a vendor can say, “I refuse to service you because I think your lifestyle is icky and you’re going to hell;” then one can just as easily say, “I refuse to service you because you have abused your standing to hurt the most vulnerable people in the world . . . because you have declared war on Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness for most people . . . because you have declared war on most living things; animal, vegetable and mineral. . . . because you have empowered the big losers of the Civil War and World War II to come out and act out . . . because you work for a con man whose foundation and properties are all about global money laundering and tax evasion . . . because your presence makes my staff fearful, and you forcefully argue that they are sub-human beings with no rights to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. So, no, HELL NO, you can’t eat here.” 

In response, right-wingers have demonized Maxine for her lapse in “civility.” NOT FAIR! I’m all in for Maxine Waters! Along with Reps. Steve Cohen (D-TN) and Barbara Lee (D-CA), they represent a well-articulated and thoughtful ray of light in the very dark chamber that is the House of Representatives. I hesitate to characterize their effort as “effective” because of the deep fix in play to undermine their agenda. 

Sure it makes a nice, feel-good bumper sticker to say, "When they go low, we go high . . . ", but that doesn't work on this playing field. I say, "WHEN THEY GO LOW, WE GO LOWER!" Maxine's comments were indeed provocative. But in the context of today's rules of engagement, it is well timed and on the mark. Go Maxine! 

She comes forth to finally mitigate a problem the Democrats have had since Reagan, trying to play nice when all the kids on the other side are playing mean and unfair! With t-Rump as President and Huckster-Sandy as his mouthpiece, it’s like the most obnoxious, spoiled and simple-minded boy in the 4th grade class has suddenly become principal of the school, and the meanest, nastiest girl in school speaks for him, issuing threats and invective towards any objectors or challengers. 

These guys love their big guns and the NRA. I think an armed presence of black open carry groups stationed at key RED precincts during the '18 and '20 elections is a good idea. Good guys can play voter suppression too – “when they go low, we go lower!” 

Waters, Cohen and Lee represent hope in the House. But the Senate is still waiting for Bulworth to shake up the old “gentlemen’s club.” Maybe one of the old guys will find himself in an after-hours club smoking reefer and having a political-social epiphany. Then one of his aides can say, "Senator, I'm concerned that we're in an after-hours club in Compton on the eve one of your most important speeches, with all kinds of illegal activities going on and you're smoking marijuana, Senator!" Maybe Warren Beatty will actually run. He’s more qualified than Reagan ever was, and his films are much better. I’d say draft Warren to replace DiFi, but it’s a bit late for that in this election cycle. 

Give t-Rump credit for this: He has blown up the myth that [we] Jews are smart people. I mean look at all the dumb Jews who worship this man, who has empowered the Nazis and far right in the US and Europe. He has empowered the Evangelical movement, which overlooks how spiritually vapid he is, and right-wing Jews who refuse to recognize that these people claim to love Israel, while brazenly manifesting their hate for Jews. Right-wing Jews refuse to believe that the only reason t-Rump and the End of Times Christians "love Israel" is to get us all in one place for the Apocalypse to get on with their “Final Solution.” We all know what that means. As I said, it's war on life. But it’s not all t-Rump’s fault. Reagan started it, Gingrich escalated it, and now comes t-Rump to complete the destruction of “civility.” Don’t blame Maxine. 



Trump: A Twisted Child

Alfred Waddell, Marstons Mills MA
Sunday July 01, 2018 - 09:18:00 PM

If the polls are right that 90% of the Republicans are still supporting Trump even though his administration is responsible for separating innocent children from their immigrant parents at our borders, something has gone terribly wrong with a large part of the conscience of America. Every human being came from a mother and a father; we all bleed and breathe alike no matter where we came from or how much money or material things we acquired in life. In my opinion, and from observing the behavior of President Trump, he strikes me as being a selfish spoiled 72 year old man who never evolved from a childhood bully. He is like a twisted, lying, crazy unruly child in a grown-up 72 year old body. We can’t expect him to have empathy or sympathy for other human beings; it is not in his DNA. And I suspect many of his die-hard followers share the same traits.


THE PUBLIC EYE:Democrats Need to Stay Cool

Bob Burnett
Friday July 06, 2018 - 11:58:00 AM

The midterm elections happen in four months. in the interim, we'll have to endure a daily barrage of Trump. Some days, American politics are very depressing; we have to resist the impulse to stay in bed and hide under the covers. To prevail in November, Democrats must stay cool and do the political organizing we know how to do. 

Many Democrats were discouraged because the last week of June seemed to be a good week for Trump. The Supreme Court made several conservative decisions. Then Supreme Court Justice Kennedy announced his retirement; giving Trump a vacancy to fill with a more reliable conservative. Trump made several campaign appearances touting the economy, tax cuts, and his immigration policies. In some polls, Trump's popularity appeared to increase. 

But on June 26th, there was a hopeful sign when 28-year-old Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez defeated long-time Democratic Congressman Joe Crowley in New York's 14th congressional district. Ocasio-Cortez won for several reasons: Crowley seemed to take his position for granted and ran a lackluster campaign. Over the 20 years that Crowley has been in office, the 14th district became increasingly diverse; Ocasio-Cortez ran as a Latina woman in a district that is now two-thirds non white. And, Ocasio-Cortez ran to Crowley's left; she caught the Democratic wave that favors youth, women, and progressive positions. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rq3QXIVR0bs

Over the next four months, Democrats can gather strength from two encouraging trends: Trump's positions and exciting Democratic candidates. 

After his meeting with Kim Jong-Un, Trump's popularity ticked up; now it's trending down (https://news.gallup.com/poll/203207/trump-job-approval-weekly.aspx ). Trump's on the campaign trail but his red-meat issues -- tax cuts, immigration, and jobs -- don't resonate outside his base. Only about one-third of voters say they are better off because of the tax cuts (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2018/06/29/not-what-we-expected-trumps-tax-bill-is-losing-popularity/?). Recently, the "highlight" of Trump's immigration policy has been family separation; however, two-thirds of voters disapprove of this policy (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/politics/wp/2018/06/18/two-thirds-of-americans-oppose-trumps-family-separation-policy/?). 

A recent 538 article indicated that while 49 percent of voters approve of Trump's handling of the economy, bigger numbers do not believe he is honest (59 percent) or level-headed (64 percent). Nonetheless, objective indicators signal that the U.S. economy is heading for troubled waters. First, investors worry about a flattening yield curve (https://www.cnbc.com/2018/06/27/investors-analysts-read-the-yield-curve--and-worry-about-a-slump.html ); which historically has suggested the onset of recession. Second, Trump's insistence on tariffs has begun to cost American jobs; for example, Harley-Davidson is moving production to Europe. (The Chamber of Commerce denounced the tariffs as "the wrong approach." (https://www.thestreet.com/politics/u-s-chamber-of-commerce-launches-anti-tariff-campaign-14640063 )) Third, Trump's foreign-policy stance, unilateralism, is having negative economic repercussions. As one example, tourism has been hurt; in Trump's first year in office, tourism was down $32 billion and 40,000 jobs were lost. (https://www.cheatsheet.com/culture/u-s-cities-losing-millions-in-tourism-business-under-donald-trump.html/?a=viewall

Over the next four months, Trump is going to campaign for Republican candidates. He'll attempt to motivate his base with his usual polemic: "Build the wall!" "Lock them up!" "I'll renegotiate all the bad deals." Etcetera. This may work for hard-core Trump supporters but it's doubtful it will work for anyone else. And it will force Republican candidates to become mini-Trumps. They won't run on issues -- because Trump is failing on all the usual Republican issues -- they will run on support for Trump. 

Thus the typical contested race will pit a mini-Trump, typically a middle-aged white man, against an exciting younger progressive Democrat. The Democratic candidate will not defend the status quo; they will instead run on the issues that matter to their constituents. That's what happened in New York District 14. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez walked around and talked to her neighbors and then she ran on a platform that reflected their concerns: Medicare for all; raising the minimum wage; housing as human right; free college education; abolishing ICE; strict gun controls; etcetera. (https://twitter.com/ndrew_lawrence/status/1012148765476745217/video/1 ) To some this appears to be a far-left agenda. In reality it is an agenda that reflects the needs of voters in New York District 14. Ocasio-Cortez ran on their issues. 

The same set of issues won't necessarily work in other contested congressional districts but the process will. Democrats need to build their policy agenda from the bottom up; they need to reflect the wishes of their constituents. 

Some Democrats yearns for strong national leadership; they want the Democratic agenda to be established in Washington and then promulgated to Dems - cast down as "pearls before swine." That's the old way. That doesn't work. (That's what Republicans continue to do.) 

At the national level, Democrats need to agree on values and principles. They must unite on values such as empathy, caring, and responsibility. They should agree on principles such as equity, equality, and Democracy. Then they should recruit young progressive candidates and trust them to run their own campaigns based upon issues that resonate with their voters. 

In November, Progressive Democratic candidates can beat Republican mini-Trumps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York. M.J. Hegar running for Congress in Texas' 31st congressional district (https://www.cbsnews.com/news/after-viral-ad-can-texas-dem-really-win-in-conservative-district/ ). Beto O'Rourke running for the Senate in Texas (https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/05/beto-orourke-ted-cruz-texas-senate-2018). And Stacey Abrams running for Governor in Georgia (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/22/us/politics/georgia-primary-abrams-results.html ). To name only a few exciting candidates. 

Cheer up Democrats. Get out of bed and start organizing to win. 

Bob Burnett is a Berkeley writer and activist. He can be reached at bburnett@sonic.net

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Hygiene of the Thoughts

Jack Bragen
Thursday July 05, 2018 - 01:15:00 PM

The term "decompensate" is offensive to me. I would guess it is also offensive to others to whom this word has been applied. However, for lack of a better word, deterioration of people who are subject to psychosis is a real potentiality, even though it is often preventable. 

It usually starts small, and then gradually worsens. You could start out having some thoughts that might be categorized as "obsessive-compulsive." This could include superstitious thoughts, or just unusual thoughts, which in some cases connect different events that are actually unrelated. 

{In the tradition of intellectualism, people should be allowed to have "unusual thoughts." Therefore, when dealing with psychiatric issues, sometimes a fine line must be walked, between having the freedom to contemplate, versus remaining mentally healthy and staying out of the hospital.} 

Sometimes it is very difficult to detect the beginnings of worsening psychosis. The delusional thoughts could be subtle, and could sneak their way past your detection. Often, the thoughts seem to hang around in peripheral consciousness. 

However, at some point these thoughts build up a bit, and begin to shape one's perceptions on a larger scale within the mind. At some point, delusions become assumptions. When this happens, we could be approaching the point of no return, and may need to get more help than we are getting. 

Deterioration in one's mental condition can take place over months, or even years. Or it could happen very fast, especially if there is a change in brain chemistry, caused either by stopping medication, or by ingesting an illicit drug. 

{If you have been taking antipsychotics for months or years, stopping them is a very bad idea. The backlash can have devastating effects on the brain.} 

However, it is important to realize that taking antipsychotics is not a guarantee of not becoming psychotic. We ought to have supports in place. Additionally, exercises can be done to clean out some of the erroneous thoughts. Unfortunately, I do not have room in this column to say very much about such exercises. However, I encourage journaling, in which you write out your thoughts onto paper. You can then look at them later, and you might see these thoughts from a different perspective. 

It is good to become more aware of thoughts, including those in peripheral consciousness, as well as subtle thoughts that often escape detection--thoughts that are the small beginnings of a big problem. You are better off, the sooner that you recognize problematic thoughts, the ones that are usually inaccurate and that have the potential to multiply. 

Treating and managing mental illness is the same as treating and managing any other chronic medical condition. People are under the erroneous impression that mental illness is not "medical." It is medical. The illness is treated with medicine, and it has its origins in a bodily organ. 

As with diabetes or heart disease, for example, treatment must be maintained to produce a better outcome. Diabetes, in more recent times, physicians are inclined to treat "aggressively" in order to minimize damage to the body from excessive blood glucose. Psychiatric conditions, if treated aggressively, allow the brain to be in better condition and this will cause the patient to do better in life. In this case, the term "aggressively" is roughly synonymous with proactively. 

No one can credibly claim that having schizophrenia is easy. Relapses often try to sneak up on us. I've been successful at avoiding complete relapses for a very long time. I've remained out of inpatient psychiatric wards since 1996. However, I have had partial spikes in symptoms, which I was able to get resolved, with help, on an outpatient basis. 

If you have severe schizophrenia, you must avoid arrogance and complacency. And, you must, on an ongoing basis, take care, in order to stop relapses before they happen. 

ECLECTIC RANT: Shooting at Annapolis, MD and Trump’s media bashing

Ralph E. Stone
Friday July 06, 2018 - 12:00:00 PM

We are all saddened, or should be, at the killing of two editors, a sports reporter, a community beat reporter and a sales assistant at the Capital Gazette located in Annapolis, MD. But attention has to turn to President Trump’s history of inciting violence against the media. 

Just after the attack, Trump did offer condolences to those affected and did order the flag at the White House and all flags on public buildings, military posts, naval vessels, embassies abroad and other locations until sunset of the evening of the shooting. 

However, a week after the shooting during a campaign-style rally in Montana, Trump was back to his old media bashing ways calling them "downright dishonest" and "really bad people". 

This raises the question as to whether this a case of a lone shooter with a particular grudge against this newspaper, or is there a correlation between this unfortunate incident and the escalation of this president’s attacks against the media who have the audacity to continually call him and his minions on their lies, or both? 

Consider that according to the Digital News Report, 49% reported as having seen politicos use the term “fake news” the previous week, and only 44% trust news in general. That makes the news media, especially those intensely disliked by Trump (The New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC) fair game. 

The exception, of course, is Trump’s symbiosis with Fox News. Trump and the GOP have finally have their own television channel to distribute Trump’s lies. To further the symbiosis, Trump just formally named former Fox News co-president Bill Shine as White House deputy chief of staff. 

Or for that matter, is there a correlation between the Trump administration and too many Republicans in Congress toward non-Whites, immigrants, the LGBTQ community and women, and the rise of this animus among too many Americans? Trump has invited the bigots to speak and act openly. 

If you don’t vote these Trump-enablers from Congress in the midterms, you haven’t been paying attention, or you just don’t care about the direction this country is taking under Trump.

THE PUBLIC EYE: Telling the Truth About Immigration

Bob Burnett
Sunday July 01, 2018 - 04:06:00 PM

Donald Trump plans to make immigration and "border security" the dominant themes in the 2018 midterm election. On June 24th, Trump tweeted: "We need strength and security at the Border!... We cannot allow all of these people to invade our Country. When somebody comes in, we must immediately, with no Judges or Court Cases, [send] them back." To respond effectively, Democrats need to tell the truth about immigration; they need to respond to 10 questions.

(1) Why do immigrants want to come to the United States? Trump and his surrogates spin a consistent dark narrative: "Uncontrolled immigration... illegal immigrants being arrested for the most heinous crimes imaginable... Low-wage foreign workers being brought in to take your place at less pay."

The reality is more complicated. Most of the recent immigrants coming across the southern border are fleeing the "Northern Triangle" of Central America (El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras) because their lives are in danger; they're seeking asylum in the United States. There's no compelling evidence that these immigrants are criminals (https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/03/30/upshot/crime-immigration-myth.html).

(2) How many are crossing the southern border? Trump routinely calls the influx of immigrants "a crisis" and implies it's a deluge. 

Actually, immigration has decreased since 2000. (https://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2018/06/chart-of-the-day-our-crisis-at-the-border/) From a high of 1.64 million in 2000 to a low of 303,916 in 2017. (By the way, a report in the San Diego Union (http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/immigration/sd-me-refugee-decline-20180621-story.html) indicated that the diminishing immigrant numbers are causing labor shortages in border states.) 

(3) Is this a crisis? From the moment Trump announced his presidential candidacy, he has used inflammatory immigration language to describe a border "crisis." In June of 2015, Trump blamed Mexico: "When do we beat Mexico at the border? They’re laughing at us, at our stupidity. The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else’s problems... When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems... They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists..." Nonetheless, a recent Bloomberg article indicated that immigration from Mexico isn't a problem (https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-06-26/what-immigration-crisis-the-u-s-isn-t-being-swamped) -- there are more Mexicans leaving the U.S. than there are those coming in. 

Early on, Trump also claimed that Islamic terrorists were pouring across the southern border; he's since dropped this assertion. 

On June 24th, the New York Times investigated whether there is an immigration "crisis" in the border town of Brownsville Texas (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/23/us/border-trump-immigration.html) and concluded there isn't. 

(4) Are undocumented immigrants a threat? Trump suggests that only gang members are coming across the border: "Crippling loopholes in our laws have enabled MS-13 gang members and other criminals to infiltrate our communities." A recent San Francisco Chronicle article examined this contention (https://www.sfchronicle.com/politics/article/MS-13-is-scary-but-Trump-may-be-exaggerating-the-13020572.php?) and concluded it's false: "Although research on MS-13 varies, there is little evidence that young gang members are coming over the border in large numbers. [A government report] found that 0.02 percent of the 260,000 unaccompanied children who had crossed the southern border over the previous six years were suspected of being affiliated with MS-13." 

(5) Why are families in custody? Each year, thousands of immigrants make the arduous journey to the southern border (in 2017, about 25,000 per month). Once they cross into the United States and request asylum (http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/immigration/sd-me-asylum-process-20180427-story.html), they are in protected status; that is, they get to stay in the country until their case is adjudicated. (And their children, if any, get to stay with them.) 

At the moment, the border is, in effect, closed to asylum seekers and so the vast majority of them have no legal way to enter the U.S. In many cases, they cross the border anyway. When they are apprehended they are taken into custody and charged with a misdemeanor and jailed. (That's the effect of the Trump Administration "zero tolerance" policy.) They are then held indefinitely until they appear before an Immigration judge. 

(6) Why are children separated from their parents? If an adult goes through the regular asylum process, they enter a civil proceeding and their children can stay with them. (An international treaty, which the U.S. signed, guarantees immigrants the right to seek asylum.) 

If an adult is arrested, they enter a criminal proceeding and go to jail; in this case, their children cannot stay with them. (The Trump Administration has recently reversed this decision.) 

The Trump Administration routinely alleges that immigrant children are gang members or are being manipulated by gangs. A recent New York Times article indicated there's no credible evidence of this (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/01/us/immigration-minors-children.html). 

(7) What rights do immigrants have? The Constitution guarantees basic rights to anyone who is in the United States -- whether or not they are citizens. Immigrants are guaranteed the right of due process (https://www.pbs.org/newshour/politics/what-constitutional-rights-do-undocumented-immigrants-have); that is, they can have their day in court. 

(8) Do immigrants have the right to legal representation? Yes, but it's not free. There was a pro bono legal service but, on April 10th, it was suspended by the Trump Administraion (https://www.cnn.com/2018/04/11/politics/immigrant-legal-aid/index.html

(9) Do immigrants have the right to post bond? Yes, but most of them don't have the wherewithal to do this. A June 24th New York Times article (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/23/us/family-reunited-border-immigration.html ) described the case of a Guatemalan woman who was separated from her son but who was aided by the organization Libre by Nexus; they gave her legal advice, put up her bond, and instituted a lawsuit that resulted in reconciliation. 

(10) Can their children be held indefinitely? No. There's a 1997 court decision (Flores v. Reno) that requires the federal government to to place children with a close relative or family friend “without unnecessary delay,” rather than keeping them in custody. (In practice, it limits the custody to 20 days.) 

On June 23rd, the Trump Administration announced a process to reunite the 2053 "separated minors," it has in custody, with their parents. As part of this process, the Department of Justice will seek to revoke the Flores decision so that it can hold minors, and their parents, indefinitely. 

Summary: Not surprisingly, Trump has exaggerated and lied about the immigration situation. It's not a crisis. The vast majority of the immigrants are not criminals, they are unfortunates legitimately seeking asylum. The solution to the situation is to grant immigrants due process and, for legitimate asylum seekers, releasing families from custody until they can have their day in court. 

Bob Burnett is a Berkeley writer and activist. He can be reached at bburnett@sonic.net 

ECLECTIC RANT: The Case for Public Incivility

Ralph E. Stone
Sunday July 01, 2018 - 04:09:00 PM

On June 20, 2018, Homeland Security Secretary Kirsjen Nielson was heckled about the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance immigration policy by about a dozen hecklers at the MXDC Cocina Mexicana in Washington, D.C. As she entered the restaurant, they shouted, “If kids don’t eat in peace, you don’t eat in peace.” While she was eating, they heckled, "You’re eating a Mexican dinner as you’re deporting tens of thousands of people separated from their parents," and chanted "No borders, no walls, sanctuary for all.” Nielson left the restaurant shortly thereafter. 

On June 25, 2018, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was asked to leave the Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Virginia because for, as co-owner Stephanie Wilkinson, said, "Sanders worked in the service of an 'inhumane and unethical' administration. That she publicly defended the president’s cruelest policies, and that could not stand.”  

Some have called these protests against Nielson and Sanders “uncivil.” I disagree.  

“Civility” in public life is too often a mealy-mouthed word that has no clear meaning beyond social delicacy and the importance of not speaking up too aggressively. Protests, mean words, heckling, civil disobedience, boycotts, public shunning are entirely legitimate tools of political action and civic action. In these instances, the protests were legitimate protests and resistance to Trump and his minions who serve him too loyally. How can you be civil to a president whose modus operandi is incivility, who views civility in opponents as weakness and a reason to viciously attack.  

I expect more such protests.

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Brain Overload Should be Avoided

Jack Bragen
Sunday July 01, 2018 - 04:16:00 PM

It seems to me that my brain has various ways of signaling me ("me" in this case means my consciousness) when I am pushing it too hard. In some instances, I might have an inexplicable cough unrelated to either congestion or postnasal drip. In other instances, I might have coordination problems. There are also some other physical cues that my brain gives me, to tell me it has had enough, and it is time to rest. There have been a couple of instances in which I've fallen asleep while in the middle of writing. 

Effort is analogous to a muscle; the more you are accustomed to using effort, the more ability you develop to create more effort. However, too much effort directed at brain-intensive tasks can cause problems. 

People who've succeeded in their careers tend to err on the side of working excessively rather than not hard enough. However, this leaves them vulnerable to stress-related illnesses and injuries. Perhaps it is better to ease up a bit, and preserve the body's nervous system, rather than going full throttle all of the time, and causing repeated overload of the brain. 

An episode of severe mental illness overloads the brain to an extent far beyond mere mental strain. A full-blown psychotic episode, which can occur in some cases due to going off psych medications, overloads the brain to such an extent that we may have an impairment afterward. This impairment may be evident when we are back on medication and stabilized. It can take, not just years, but actually decades, to get back to square one; or we could be looking at some amount of permanent damage. 

A psychotic episode causes an entirely different type of overload compared to staying up until 2 a.m. reading a college textbook. In the case of a psychotic episode, the neurons are firing without any type of control, like a runaway train. The mind loses organization, and it becomes jumbled. It can be very hard to recover from this. The longer such an episode lasts, the worse the long-term damage may be.  

Once back in recovery mode, assuming that happens, the brain is like a sprained ankle. I have no idea if inflammation of the brain tissue occurs, but something analogous to that seems to happen. Then, as soon as things seem healed up, exercising the mind's capacities is usually a good thing. However, you shouldn't do this to extremes. 

Medications to treat psychosis have a tendency to shut down or slow down mental activity. The good news is that exercise of the mind's capacities is still possible, and can counteract the shutting down effect of the medication--in the area of the effort. (The medication will continue to be effective at treating the psychiatric illness, assuming that it was effective beforehand.) 

If you take antipsychotics, it may help your overall mental condition to perform brain-intensive, organized, constructive activities. Doing this, especially among other people who are doing the same, can do a lot for morale. I know that when I've worked or have been in school, this has done a lot to relieve depression that I've had in the past. 

For example, in my twenties, I went into electronics training, and this was about a year after my second psychotic episode. I excelled in the electronics class--among very bright students who did not have disabilities. The training was only four months, and it was intended to prepare students for entry-level electronic positions. The regimen of the class was demanding. Classroom time was six hours a day, and homework was another two hours. Before I took the class, I was depressed and had poor self-esteem. 

When I reached the point of completing the electronics class, my depression was gone, and I felt very good about myself. I even gained a bit of weight, which, at the time, was a good thing. 

Most of the time, academic effort won't hurt you unless taken to ridiculous extremes. However, the brain overload of a psychotic break or manic episode can do neurological harm. It is a great idea to be through with psychotic or other episodes of mental illness when young. When older, the brain isn't as resilient. 

Arts & Events

New: See Verdi's Joan of Arc this weekend

Pamela Tibbits
Monday July 09, 2018 - 03:13:00 PM

Tickets are now available for Berkeley Chamber Opera’s summer production of Verdi’s Giovanna d’Arco (Joan of Arc) at the historic Hillside Club in Berkeley, with chamber orchestra under the baton of Alexander Katsman and directed by Elly Lichenstein.

Two performances this weekend only: Fri, July 13 (7 pm) and Sun, July 15 (2 pm)

Music by Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901)
Libretto by Temistocle Solera, inspired by the play Die Jungfrau von Orleans (1801) by Friedrich von Schiller


Brown Paper Tickets: https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3440450
General: $37 in advance, $42 at the door
Senior/Student: $25 in advance, $28 at the door
12 and under: free


Don’t miss this opportunity to see a recently revised authentic version of a rarely-performed gem by Giuseppe Verdi. Giovanna d’Arco (Joan of Arc) had its world premiere during the turbulent years of the Italian risorgimento at Milan’s La Scala in 1845 (with the composer himself at the keyboard).

Berkeley Chamber Opera (BCO) is using the 2009 scholarly edition from the University of Chicago Verdi series, restored by Alberto Rizzuti from original manuscripts without text changes which had been mandated by Verdi’s contemporary censors. For this production, BCO has once again assembled an outstanding cast with company founder soprano Eliza O’Malley as the medieval heroine Giovanna, baritone Geoffrey Di Giorgio as Giacomo, Giovanna’s father, and tenor Salvatore Atti as Carlo VII, King of France. All three were principals in the company’s 2017 Verdi offering, Luisa Miller. 


From a musical point of view, Giovanna d’Arco contains many ideas that Verdi would later develop. Composed in barely four months, the score of Giovanna d’Arco gives us an insight into an ambitious Giuseppe Verdi who is looking to experiment and innovate in his vocal and instrumental style. Of all the works of Verdi’s so-called “prison years”, Giovanna d’Arco is the one which most points toward his future works, with an experimental score that acts as a bridge between his early career and the “popular trilogy” of the early 1850s: Rigoletto, Il Trovatore and La Traviata

The libretto, by Temistocle Solera with liberal borrowing from Friedrich von Schiller, presents the warrior heroine’s story with historic precision combined with an imagined poetic ending in which Giovanna escapes being burned at the stake. The drama is heightened by the fact that it is her father who reports Giovanna to the enemy, believing her to be a heretic, thereby endangering her life. It’s the kind of father-daughter relationship that Verdi found so fascinating throughout his career. 


San Francisco Bay Area soprano Eliza O’Malley has performed leading opera roles throughout Northern California. Over the past few years, she has performed the roles of Tosca, Romilda (Serse), Luisa Miller, Magda (The Consul), Violetta (La Traviata), Giulietta (I Capuleti e i Montecchi), Constanze (The Abduction from the Seraglio), Marguerite (Faust), Georgetta (Il Tabarro), Vitellia (La Clemenza di Tito), Mimi (La Boheme), Cherubini’s Médée, Leonora (Il Trovatore), Fiordiligi (Così fan Tutte), Lucia, Desdemona (Otello), Norma, Lauretta (Gianni Schicchi), Micaela (Carmen), Gilda (Rigoletto), Suor Angelica, the Countess and Susanna (The Marriage of Figaro), Antigone in Mark Alburger’s Antigone, as well as Nedda (Pagliacci). Recently she sang in the premiere of Peter Josheff’s chamber oratorio Europa and the Bull at UC Santa Cruz composed in honor of her grandmother, the painter Mary Holmes

O’Malley has sung roles with Berkeley Chamber Opera, Verismo Opera, The Handel Opera Project, Goat Hall Productions/San Francisco Cabaret Opera, The Santa Cruz Chamber Orchestra, Oakland Opera Theater, Berkeley Opera, Solo Opera, BASOTI and Capitol Opera Sacramento. She also sang the role of Emma in a workshop production of Khovanshchina conducted by Kent Nagano. 

She produces and sings in the “Dazzling Divas” nights of opera arias at Le Bateau Ivre and a series of monthly Work-in-Progress concerts at Chamber Arts House in Berkeley, which she helped to found. O’Malley received training in the AIMS program in Graz, Austria, Aspen School of Music, the Wesley Balk Institute and BASOTI as well as at Oberlin College. She earned an M.M. in Voice Performance at Texas Tech University School of Music. 

Award winning tenor Salvatore Atti is the 2018 recipient of the Andrew White Memorial Award, from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. Most recently Atti sang the role of Don José in West Bay Opera’s production of Carmen. He was a fan favorite in the Boston and NYC area during his 10 years of residence there, when the Boston Globe wrote that “As Faust, Salvatore Atti was radiant in his cavatina “Salut! Demeure chaste et pure”. He has also performed internationally in Sweden, Germany, France and England. In his most recent work abroad, he was Alfredo in La Traviata in Busseto Italy (Verdi’s hometown) during Verdi’s bicentennial celebration. 

About his most recent performance with Berkeley Chamber Opera, in the role of Rodolfo in Luisa Miller, critic James MacBean wrote that “tenor Salvatore Atti was nothing short of a revelation… Atti possesses a robust, ringing tenor. Atti’s Act II aria “Quando le sere al placido” was the vocal highlight of this Luisa Miller… Salvatore Atti invested this bitter lament with great intensity.” 

Atti graduated from The Boston Conservatory of Music receiving a Master’s degree in opera performance. He is a student of Sheri Greenawald, and can be followed at www.salvatoreatti.com

Geoffrey Di Giorgio, acclaimed for his “glorious singing” (Knoxville Sentinel), “beautiful, compelling, and dreamlike vocalism” (Brooklyn Daily Eagle) “impressive rich voice” (Mercury News) and “stentorian voice that rings out loud and clear” (Berkeley Daily Planet), is quickly establishing himself as an up-and-coming dramatic voice. 

He has appeared recently with Musica Raritana as Abner in Handel’s Athalia and with Opera at Rutgers; the roles of Henry Davis in Street Scene, and Vicomte Cascada in The Merry Widow. Recent performances also included Talpa in Il Tabarro with The Lyric Orchestra, Bob in The Old Maid and the Thief with Saint Joseph’s University Opera, and the role of Marcello in La Boheme with Opera Libera. He joined the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra as the Baritone soloist for their Mozart and Friends Gala. 

In 2016 he sang the roles of The Sacristan, Sciarrone, and The Carceriere in Tosca with Knoxville Opera. He sang Miller in Verdi’s Luisa Miller with Berkeley Chamber Opera in 2017. This summer he will perform his first Wagnerian role as Kurwenal in Tristan und Isolde

Di Giorgio has taken prizes in many prestigious competitions including: The Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, The Giulio Gari IVC, The Jensen Foundation, and The Palm Springs Opera Guild. Geoffrey resides in Reno, NV where he is currently an emerging artist with the Institute for Young Dramatic Voices and studies privately with renowned mezzo-soprano Dolora Zajick. 

Bass Baritone J. T. Williams is rapidly making a name for himself among Bay Area opera lovers. Since arriving here just over 2 years ago, he has performed with Opera Cocktales, Opera on Tap, Phenix Opera Company, Berkeley Chamber Opera, Verismo Opera, and Island City Opera. He has appeared as Scarpia in Tosca, Notario and Chorus in La Sonnambula, Wurm in Luisa Miller, Ferrando in Il Trovatore, Mr. Kofner in The Consul, and Germano in La Scala di Seta. Most recently, he has been Alberich in Das Rheingold with Verismo Opera. Upcoming roles include Guglielmo in Cosi fan Tutte with Bayshore Lyric Opera. 

Williams has a Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance from Texas Tech University, where he studied voice with Basso Buffo William G. Hartwell III and opera with Gerald Dolter, and he is currently studying voice with Eugene Brancoveanu. In addition to his musical career, J.T. also has a Master of Divinity degree from Brite Divinity School and a Juris Doctor from the University of Texas School of Law. When he is not singing, he is a trial attorney for The Ticket Clinic PLC. 

Alexander Katsman, Conductor
Elly Lichenstein, Director
Pamela Tibbitts, Production Manager
Sherrol Simard, Costumer
Heaven Robinson, Stage Manager
Deirdre Burke, Props 


Flute: Tod Brody
Oboe: Max Hollander
Clarinet: Mara Plotkin
Basson: Cynthia Behnke Hanson
Violins: Philip Santos, Yulee Seo
Viola: Steve Levintow
Cello: Amy Brodo
Bass: Richard Worn
Piano: Jonathan Khuner 

The historic Hillside Club, built in the 1920s, is located at 2286 Cedar Street, steps from the so-called Gourmet Ghetto. Plan to come early or stay late to enjoy some of the Bay Area’s most delicious and diverse dining opportunities. 

Merola Opera Launches Its Summer Season

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Friday July 06, 2018 - 03:09:00 PM

Opening with the Schwabacher Summer Concert, Merola Opera launched its 2018 Summer Season with two performances, Thursday, July 5, at San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and Saturday, July 7, at Stanford University’s Bing Concert Hall. I attended the Thursday evening performance, which was a sold-out affair, though I saw a few empty seats. Featured on the program were extended excerpts, often whole scenes, from Samuel Barber’s Vanessa, Giacomo Puccini’s Il Tabarro, Georges Bizet’s Les Pêcheurs de Perles, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Don Giovanni. The Orchestra was conducted by Kathleen Kelly, who was an apprentice coach for Merola back in 1991-92. The minimal staging was provided by Aria Umezawa.  

Samuel Barber’s Vanessa is an opera I’ve only heard once and am not likely to hear again, partly because it’s rarely performed, and also because its plot involving a high-strung, hysterical woman who waits 20 years for a beau to return, only to find it’s his son who returns, strikes me as quite preposterous. This said, soprano Brittany Nickell sang the role of Vanessa with appropriately hysterical overtones, especially on her frequent high notes. Ms. Nickell has a huge voice that promises a Brunnhilde in-the-making. The real star, however, was mezzo-soprano Megan Grey in the role of Erika, Vanessa’s niece. Megan Grey has a rich, sumptuous voice with plenty of color and range. The highlight of this Samuel Barber excerpt was Megan Grey’s rendition of the aria “Must Winter come so soon?” In brief roles, tenor Brian Michael Moore was an able Anatol, and baritone Andrew Moore capably sang the role of the Major Domo. Director Aria Umezawa staged it around a long dinner table set for a long-awaited guest who never arrives, although his son does. The son, however, is less interested in aging Vanessa than in her young niece, whom he quickly seduces. So much for Vanessa. 

Next came Acts 1 and 3 of Puccini’s Il Tabarro, a lurid tale sung in Italian of fading love and a new but disastrous passion aboard the narrow confines of a barge plying the River Seine in France. Moored alongside a Paris quay, Giorgetta, the young wife of Michele, the barge owner, chats with her friend Frugola, who talks of nothing but her cat. Giorgetta is here sung by soprano Marlen Nahhas, and Frugola is sung by mezzo-soprano Megan Grey. Frugola’s husband, Talpa, is sung here by baritone Andrew Moore. Two deckhands appear, young Tinca, sung by tenor Brian Michael Moore, and Luigi, sung by baritone Christopher Colmenero. Tinca wants only to get drunk, but Luigi, it soon becomes clear, is having a passionate affair with Giorgetta, his boss’s wife. Michele, who agrees to keep Luigi on board, is brilliantly sung by South Korean baritone Jaeman Yoon. Christopher Colmenero’s Luigi is equally brilliant, while Marlen Nahhas as Giorgetta runs hot and cold, the former with her new lover Luigi and the latter with her husband. Parisian local color is provided by a young couple of lovers passing by on the quais sung here by soprano Kendra Berentsen and tenor WooYoung Yoon. 

After intermission, the first offering included three excerpts from Bizet’s Les Pêcheurs de Perles. Set in what is now Sri Lanka, this opera involves two male friends who fall for the same woman, a virgin priestess of the Hindu village temple. Singing in French, the men, Nadir and Zurga, pledge eternal friendship and agree to forsake their mutual love for Leila. Nadir is here sung by tenor WooYoung Yoon, and Zurga is sung by baritone SeokJong Baek. In the famous duet, “Au fond du temple saint,” they recall the moment they both laid eyes on Leila. In the refrain, “Oui, c’est elle. C’est la déesse, » WooYoung Yoon repeatedly mispronounced the word «déesse,» making it sound like «diesse.» Leila was beautifully sung by soprano Kendra Berentsen, whose lush voice resounded full of passion in her forbidden love for Nadir. When Nadir sneaks into the sacred temple precinct, she rushes to him and embraces him passionately, but she also warns him that they face death if caught. Zurga, now the village headman, catches the lovers and is furious at this double betrayal. Nadir has broken his vow and Leila, for her part, loves Nadir instead of Zurga. For this, Zurga angrily resolves to have them both killed ; and in the role of Zurga baritone SeokJong Baek sang with power and convincing anger. Director Aria Umezawa made use of the long dinner table as a temple platform where Leila received her illicit lover Nadir. Oh, and by the way, Umezawa used throughout the entire concert a gimmicky habit of having singers enter and exit wearing white Carnival masks, a totally gratuitous effect until we came to the final offering, the closing scene of Mozart’s Don Giovanni.  

In the role of Don Giovanni, Chinese baritone Xiaomeng Zhang sang with consummate artistry, while his sidekick Leporello was sung in the usual buffoonish manner by baritone Andrew Moore. The Commendatore was brilliantly sung by stentorian baritone Jaeman Yoon, and the Commendatore’s daughter, Donna Anna, was sung by Brittany Nickell. The role of Donna Elvira was ably delivered by soprano Marlen Nahhas, and Zerlina was pertly sung by soprano Kendra Berentsen. Tenor Brian Michael Moore was a convincing Don Ottavio, and baritone SeokJong Baek made the best of the few opportunities for Masetto in this final act of Don Giovanni.  

Throughout this concert, conductor Kathleen Kelly led the orchestra with a firm hand. Costumes were by Galen Till, and Lighting was by Eric Watkins. Merola Opera’s Summer Season continues with Mozart’s Il Re Pastore on July 19 and 21 in San Francisco, Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress on August 2 and 4 in the city, and the Merola Grand Finale on August 18 at the Opera House.

Produced by Arianne MacBean and The Big Show Company

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Thursday July 05, 2018 - 01:09:00 PM

[Disclaimer: Arianne MacBean is my daughter. However, I have tried to write an objective review of this complex dance-event, though, as you will see at the end of this review, I have not shied away from acknowledging my personal involvement as Arianne’s father.]

On Thursday-Friday, June 28-9, Arianne MacBean and The Big Show Company in Los Angeles offered the world premiere of The Collective Memory Project at Ford Theatre in Hollywood. This was a bold, provocative work utilizing dance, text, music, video, and drawing to examine the rich contours of memory. Some of the memories evoked in this show were those of veterans who experienced combat in Iraq or Afghanistan. However, many of the memories evoked here were those of cast members or Arianne MacBean herself. The very nature of memory was brilliantly investigated here, including its possible distortions, its fragmentation, its dispersal, and its tenuous reconnections to ongoing life.  

As a work of modern dance, The Collective Memory Project involved its cast in extremely physical movement, often mirroring harrowing experiences living on as harrowing memories. But there were also tender memories, whimsical memories, and deeply personal memories of this or that member of the cast. The dancers of The Big Show Company for this show were, in alphabetical order, Heraclio Aguilar, Edem Atsu-Swanzy, Angelina Attwell, Armen Babasoloukisn, Genevieve Carson, Brad Culver, Max Eugene, and Priscilla Songsanand.  

The Collective Memory Project opens with words projected on a screen. The words are those of a veteran who recalls his time as a Communications officer working in Sadaam’s palace in Baghdad after the US invaded Iraq. As the text unfolds onscreen, the veteran, Heraclio Aguilar, films his own face with a video camera, and the images of his face appear onscreen along with his text, as he recalls going against the rules and allowing soldiers to phone home. For those soldiers who never came back, he notes, this was the last time they ever spoke to their loved ones. It is a powerful beginning to this exploration of memory. 

Following this opening, the paper screen was pulled down, cut, and rolled out onto the dance floor. New paper replaced the old as a screen. Dancers interacted attempting to make their own memory traces on the paper floor, using magic marker pens to trace their memories of interactions with each other, often seeming to compete with one another to leave traces of their memories. They also discussed what memory consists of, how it is subjective, and how it possibly distorts what actually happened. Memory is here explored as involving past, present, and even future. On opening night the cast tended to talk over one another, creating cacophony and confusion; but by the second night this problem was cleared up and the spoken text was clearly communicated.  

Among the many highlights in this show, several stand out. Genevieve Carson, perhaps the most technically skilled of this cast, performed a strenuous, almost agonizing dance, then found herself completely covered over with paper by the other cast members. Alone onstage, she moved under the paper covering her as if she were an egg, rolling this way and that, finally emerging as if a newborn. It was a powerful image of rebirth and renewal through memory. Another highlight came when the story of cast member Max Eugene was told. Interestingly, Max did not tell this story himself. Rather, he danced it while it was told by cast member Angelina Attwell, who spoke of Max’s birth and early years in Haiti, where due to his parents’ emigration to the USA he was raised by his aunt. Then, at age 13, he was able to visit his parents in New York for two glorious weeks. However, when he was taken to the airport to make his return flight to Haiti, he found that all flights were canceled due to a US-backed military coup in Haiti. Thus, Max stayed on in the USA. As this tale was told, Max danced in anguished movements conveying the stress and mixed feelings he had in his memories of this convoluted past.  

Before the show even started audience members were asked to write brief notes indicating their memories of surviving some important moment in their lives. At various intervals in the show, many of these audience memories were read out, making this event a truly collective memory project. Moreover, various memories of combat veterans keep intruding, throwing us off balance with their harrowing tales. Particularly effective were the memories of dancer Armen Babasoloukian of being surrounded and under fire. Perhaps the most important memory evoked in this show was that of Arianne MacBean herself, who recalled being taken as a young girl by her mother to yearly performances of the San Francisco Ballet. Each year, she recalled, her mother would comment on the way dance made her feel she had lived her life all wrong. Arianne MacBean stated that even then, as a young girl, she had the desire to make dances that would make her Mom feel that same way about real life.  

Arianne’s mother, who could not be present at these performances due to illness, would surely be proud of her daughter’s accomplishments in this profoundly moving exploration of memory. I, too, as Arianne’s father, am extremely proud of my daughter’s richly evocative investigation of the workings of memory.

The Berkeley Activist's Calendar, July 8-15

Kelly Hammargren, Sustainable Berkeley Coalition
Saturday July 07, 2018 - 10:47:00 AM

Worth Noting:

The summary of meetings for the coming week is not as heavy as expected considering the canceling and rescheduling for the 4th of July Holiday. When the Peace and Justice Commission meets on Federal Immigration abuses on Monday evening it will be after the working poor and nine children living in vehicles at the Marina are evicted from their current location under threat of arrest and being jailed in Berkeley or Santa Rita.

The Tuesday City Council Agenda is packed. The Vacancy Ordinance, Police Commission Charter Amendment, Fire Safety and Disaster Preparedness and Transfer Tax Ballot Initiative are in the agenda item list.

The Community meeting on fire safety Thursday evening organized by Sophie Hahn District 5 is timely given that fire season is upon us. The announcement does not list speakers.  


Sunday, July 8, 2018 

No City meetings or events posted 

Monday, July 9, 2018 

Agenda Committee, Monday, 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm, 2180 Milvia, 6th Floor Redwood Conf Room, Agenda Plan for July 24 City Council Meeting – last scheduled council meeting before summer recess, Consent: 4. Inventory and Conserve Public art Collection, 5. ACRO Temporary Staffing Contract, 7. Minuteman Contract, 8. Contract Janitorial Service – Universal Building Services, 10. Aging Services Programs, 11. BOSS to Operate secure Storage, 12. Berkeley Way Application A1 Funds, 14. Housing Trust Funds for Housing Rehab, 16. SEIU Local 1021Agreement, 17. Unrepresented Employees Agreement, 25. Sanitary sewer services, 26. & 32. Milvia Bikeway Project, 34. Use Agreements 1001, 1011 University, 35. Capital improvement paving, 36. Go Berkeley Residential Shared Parking Pilot contract, 37. Reject Bids Woolsley Street Project, 38. Reject Bids, Panoramic Hill Rehabilitation Project, 39. ADU Pilot House the Homeless, 41. Ballot Measure Vision 2050, 45. Community service in lieu of Parking Penalties, 49. Use Nextdoor for Real Time BPD updates, 50. Allow City Staff to Serve as Commissioner, 53. Gender ID on public records, 55. Wildfire App for BPD to provide real time updates, Action: 56. 1446 Fifth Street Appeal, 57. MOU Law Enforcement Agencies, Police Dept or Private Security, 58 a.&b. U1 Funds to repay Worker’s Comp 1001, 1007, 1011 University and 1925 Ninth Street, 59. Density Bonus, 60. Arts and Culture Plan, 61. Posting Board and Commission meeting Minutes, 62. Lobbyists Registration Ordinance, 63. Police Review Commission Charter Ballot Initiative 


Peace and Justice Commission, 7:00 pm – 1901 Hearst Ave, North Berkeley Senior Center, Agenda: Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Responsible Investments, Federal Immigration Abuses, https://www.cityofberkeley.info/Clerk/Commissions/Commissions__Peace_and_Justice_Commission_Homepage.aspx 

Tax the Rich rally – Mon, May 4, 5:00 pm – 6:00 pm top of Solano in front of closed Oaks Theater,  

Tuesday, July 10, 2018 

Berkeley City Council, Tue, July 10, 6:00 pm – 11:00 pm, 2134 MLK Jr Way, City Council Chambers, Agenda: Consent 6. 2111 McKinley Master Lease BOSS, 8. Urban Agriculture Ordinance, 11. Bike Station Agreement with BART City to pay $130,000 in new Center St. Garage, 16. Rename Ashby BART Mable Howard BART, 19. Commercial Cannabis Retail Nurseries, 20. Permit Process for Scooter Sharing Companies on Public Streets, 21. Revisions to Short Term Rental Ordinance, 26. Request for Comprehensive Annual Report on Homeless Services (past reports in packet well worth reading), Action 27. ZAB appeal 840 Page Street, 28. Unlawful Nuisance Ordinance Residential Buildings vacant > 120 days and meeting 2 or more specified conditions 29. a.&b. Immediate Priorities for Fire Safety and Overall Disaster Preparedness, 30. Affordable Housing Bond Nov. Ballot Initiative, 31. Ballot Initiative Rent Ordinance, 32. a.&b. Charter Amendment Police Commission, 34. Auto Sales in Commercial South Area, , 35. ADU Ordinance Updates, 36. Standards for Views, 37. CEAC recommendations City-wide Green Development requirements apply to 50 units or more, LEED Silver, 38. Ballot Initiative Increase Transfer Tax to fund Homeless Services. 


Solano Avenue Business Improvement District Advisory Board, Tue, July 10, 11:00 am, 1821 Catalina Ave, Thousand Oaks Baptist Church, Agenda: Special Project Grant, Planned Expenditures, https://www.cityofberkeley.info/Clerk/Commissions/Commissions__Solano_BID_Board.aspx 

Wednesday, July 11, 2018 

Ad-Hoc Subcommittee on Climate Emergency Declaration, Wed, July 11, 12:30 pm – 2:30 pm, 2180 Milvia, 6th Floor Redwood Room, Agenda: Scope of Committee, Committee Composition, Town Hall, Roles, Scheduled meetings 


Homeless Commission, Wed, July 11, 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm, 1901 Hearst Ave, North Berkeley Senior Center, Agenda: Aging Homeless as a Priority, Suicide Prevention, Encampments, Peer Driven Models, Expanded Shelter Access 


Housing Advisory Commission, Wed, July 11, 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm, 2939 Ellis St, South Berkeley Senior Center, Agenda: Small Sites, Tenant Opportunity to Purchase (TOPA), 1281 University RFP, 163, 1654 Fifth Street, Community Housing Development Organization (CHDO), Moderate Income Housing, Implementation State Housing Law 


Parks and Waterfront Commission, Wed, July 11, 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm, 2800 Park St, Frances Albrier Community Center, No Agenda Posted, check before going 


Police Review Commission, Wed, July 11, 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm, 2939 Ellis St, South Berkeley Senior Center, Agenda: Lexipol Policies, Dismantling Homeless Encampments, Requests for Information, 


Thursday, July 12, 2018 

Ad Hoc subcommittee on Small Business, Thur, July 12, 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm, 1947 Center Street, 3rd Floor Magnolia Room, Agenda: Commercial Vacancies 


Firescaping and Fire Safety, Thur, July 12, 7:00 pm, 941 The Alameda, Northbrae Church 

Organized by Sophie Hahn, District 5 

Community Environmental Advisory Commission, Thur, July 12, 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm, 1901 Russell St, South Branch Library, Agenda: Climate Mobilization, Zero-emission Fleet Policy, Water Infrastructure Bond, Microfibers 


Public Works Commission, Thur, July 12, 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm, 1326 Allston Way, Willow Room, City of Berkeley Corporation Yard, Agenda: No Agenda Posted 


Zoning Adjustments Board, Thur, July 12, 7:00 pm – 11:30 pm, 2134 MLK Jr. Way, City Council Chambers 

1470 Cornell – Reconstruct 1392 sf 2-story single family dwelling with 523 sf addition, convert 200 sf habitable space back to garage, (staff recommend approve) 

1601 Oxford – (Preview) construct 4-story 36,000 sf with 34 age-restricted BMR units for seniors, 1 manager unit, 2 units for use by All Souls Episcopal Parish, partial underground parking 


Friday, July 13, 2018 

Cheryl Davila Open Office Hours, Fri, July 13, 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm, 2072 San Pablo Ave, Priya Restaurant 

Saturday, July14, 2018 

McGee Spaulding Neighbors in Action, Sat, July 14, 9:45 am potluck brunch, meeting 10:00 am – 12:00 pm, location TBD 

Sunday, July 15, 2018 

Music in the Park \ Kidchella Concert Series, Sun, July 15, 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm, Willard Park, 




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



When notices of meetings are found that are posted after Friday 5:00 pm they are added to the website schedule https://www.sustainableberkeleycoalition.com/whats-ahead.html and preceded by LATE ENTRY 


Indivisible Berkeley engage in local, state and national events, actions, town halls and election mobilizations https://www.indivisibleberkeley.org/actions 



The Berkeley Activist's Calendar

Kelly Hammargren
Sunday July 01, 2018 - 04:20:00 PM

Worth Noting:

With the Fourth of July in the middle of the week on Wednesday, most of the City meetings are either postponed, cancelled or rescheduled leaving a very light week. There are only two more regular City Council meetings before the summer recess (July 25 – September 10). The July 10 City Council agenda is available for review and comments. Any/all City ballot initiatives must be completed before summer recess to be on the November ballot.

Agenda for July 10 City Council meeting: Email comments to council@cityofberkeley.info Consent items, 11. Bike Station Agreement with BART City to pay $130,000 in new Center St. Garage, 19. Commercial Cannabis Retail Nurseries, 20. Permit Process for Scooter Sharing Companies on Public Streets, 21. Revisions to Short Term Rental Ordinance, 26. Request for Comprehensive Annual Report on Homeless Services (past reports in packet well worth reading), Action items, 24. ZAB appeal 840 Page Street, 28. Unlawful Nuisance Ordinance Residential Buildings vacant > 120 days and meeting 2 or more specified conditions 29. a.&b. Immediate Priorities for Fire Safety and Overall Disaster Preparedness, 30. Affordable Housing Bond Nov. Ballot Initiative, 31. Ballot Initiative Rent Ordinance, 31. Berkeley Waterfront Parking Restrictions, 32. a.&b. Charter Amendment Police Commission, 34. Auto Sales in Commercial South Area, Urban Agriculture Ordinance, 35. ADU Ordinance Updates, 36. Standards for Views, 37. CEAC recommendations City-wide Green Development requirements apply to 50 units or more, LEED Silver, 38. Ballot Initiative Increase Transfer Tax to fund Homeless Services. https://www.cityofberkeley.info/Clerk/City_Council/2018/07_Jul/City_Council__07-10-2018_-_Regular_Meeting_Agenda.aspx 

Sunday, July 1, 2018 

Affordable Housing Act – a proposed ballot initiative, Sun, July 1, canvassing in South Berkeley by East Bay DSA https://www.eastbaydsa.org/events 

Monday, July 2, 2018 


Housing Advisory Commission – RFP Subcommittee, Mon, July 2, 3:00 pm, 2180 Milvia, 2nd Floor 


Personnel Board, Mon, July 2, 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm, 1901 Hearst Ave, North Berkeley Senior Center, Agenda: Recommend Classification Resilient Buildings Program Manager, Meet Kathy Lee PRC Officier 


Tax the Rich Rally, Mon, July 2, 5:00 pm – 6:00 pm, top of Solano in front of old Oaks Theater, 

Tuesday, July 3, 2018 

No City meetings or events posted 

Wednesday, July 4, 2018 HOLIDAY 

Fourth of July at Berkeley Waterfront/Marina – free event, Wed, July 4, 12:00 noon – 10:00 pm, Fireworks at 9:30 pm, live entertainment, food vendors, arts and crafts, kids playground, (park provided fire pits only, no alcohol, no personal fireworks) 


Thursday, July 5, 2018 

Landmarks Preservation Commission, Thur, July 5, 7:00 pm – 11:30 pm, 1901 Hearst Ave, North Berkeley Senior Center, 

1920 Allston Way – Berkeley High Community Theater – Review/Comment, rehab landmarked building 

1000-1010, 1014-1016, and 1020 Carleton, 2710 Tenth St – Demolition referral 

UC Upper Hearst – UC development, 2 buildings, academic building 32,000 gross SF and residential 132 units one and two bedroom, 

48 Shattuck Square - signage 


Friday, July 6, 2018 

Movies in the Park – Willie Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, Fri, July 6, 8:45 pm – 10:30 pm, 1260 Allston @ Acton, Strawberry Creek Park 

Saturday, July 7, 2018 

Berkeley Neighborhood Council, Sat, July 7, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm, 2905 Shattuck, Art House, Agenda: not posted 

Sunday, July 8, 2018 

No City meetings or events posted 





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



When notices of meetings are found that are posted after Friday 5:00 pm they are added to the website schedule https://www.sustainableberkeleycoalition.com/whats-ahead.html and preceded by LATE ENTRY 


Indivisible Berkeley engage in local, state and national events, actions, town halls and election mobilizations https://www.indivisibleberkeley.org/actions