The Week



ECLECTIC RANT: The Kashoggi Matter

Ralph E. Stone
Wednesday October 17, 2018 - 03:42:00 PM

Jamal Khashoggi is a permanent U.S. resident in self-imposed exile from Saudi Arabia. He is a journalist for The Washington Post who has written critical opinions of Saudi Arabia's powerful crown prince, Mohammond bin Salman, and its king, Salman of Saudi Arabia. He has also criticized the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen. -more-

SMITHEREENS: Reflections on Bits & Pieces

Gar Smith
Wednesday October 17, 2018 - 03:39:00 PM

Our Got-to-Have-It Economy -more-

Special City Council Meeting to Change Rules of Procedure

Dr. James McFadden
Monday October 15, 2018 - 05:11:00 PM

City Council and fellow Berkeley Citizens,

At 4:30 tomorrow, the City Council has a special session to consider changing the "Rules of Procedure" for the City's legislating process.

This appears to be another power grab by the City Manager. It looks like an attempt to undermine those Commissions that the CM does not fully control - those Commissions that put forward recommendations to the Council which the CM disagrees with – and which are accompanied by CM companion items which tell the Council to ignore the Commission and “do nothing.” -more-

Citizen Josh" Benefit for Jovanka Beckles on Oct. 20

Josh Kornbluth
Monday October 15, 2018 - 06:36:00 PM

I'll be performing my comic monologue Citizen Josh at Berkeley's Live Oak Theater next Saturday, Oct. 20, to benefit Jovanka Beckles's campaign for the California Assembly, District 15. Tix & info here. Jovanka, a two-term City Council member in Richmond, Calif., is in the Richmond Progressive Alliance, an impressive coalition that has succeeded at the ballot box despite the millions of dollars that the Chevron Corporation has spent to defeat them. A children's mental-health professional and an immigrant (from Panama), she brings a community organizer's skills and mentality to her political work. Plus, Sara and I just saw Jovanka and her wife in Trader Joe's yesterday. (I realize that this last point may not be super-persuasive, but it was pretty cool to run into them there.) -more-

What the University of California Doesn't Want You to Know About People's Park

Carol Denney
Monday October 15, 2018 - 06:00:00 PM

People's Park is a landmark. The university doesn't mention it, but it became a city landmark in 1984 "for its historic and cultural importance to the City of Berkeley." The landmark designation is not necessarily protective, but it should be instructive to a community being carefully trained to ignore its own significant moments in history. The chair of the Landmarks Preservation Commission behind the landmarking was a Republican who owned a local car repair shop, named Laurie Bright. -more-

Response to SB 1045 and Possible Expansion of Conservatorship

Raisa Small for Senior and Disabilty Action and other groups
Monday October 15, 2018 - 05:30:00 PM

As a coalition of community groups who work with people with disabilities, seniors, and homeless people, we strongly oppose implementation of SB 1045 in San Francisco. We agree that we have a crisis of homeless people living and dying on our streets. But an expansion of involuntary conservatorship is the wrong approach and will do nothing to address the underlying drivers of psychiatric disabilities, substance abuse, and homelessness. -more-

The IPCC Report on Climate Change in the Age of Entitlement, Growth Addiction and Urbanism

Bob Silvestri
Friday October 12, 2018 - 10:31:00 AM

The dire warnings that came this week from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report should be a wake-up call to everyone everywhere who are betting on being able to continue doing what they’ve always been doing, in the future, and expecting the same results. The IPCC’s message that “We can no longer continue to do business as usual” also means that no human endeavor is more impacted than how we grow.

Ironically, in the face of this stark and unarguable reality, there is a growing chorus of climate deniers, hell bent on exacerbating the problem.

I’m referring in particular to politicians like California State Senator Scott Weiner and the cadre of academics, planners, professional organizations, nonprofits, Bay Area corporate interests and their dedicated “shock troops,” the YIMBYs, all of whom promote hyper-growth as the solution to housing affordability and environmental sustainability. Like the far right, in order to rationalize their purely political agenda, they go beyond being uber-growth advocates to being outright climate change deniers in their own fashion.

These collaborators continue to manipulate data to justify environmentally destructive uber-urbanism in the name of saving the planet. But the shrill, self-obsessed YIMBYs don’t even pretend to care about the planet. In fact, they’re outspokenly anti-environmental and against regulations that protect it. They would do away with the California Environmental Quality Act completely, if they had the chance, replacing it with their “progressive” version of “trickle down” environmentalism fueled by willful ignorance of environmental science.

The YIMBY approach seems to be ‘the environment will have to wait until I own a nice house in my preferred neighborhood near my favorite barista.’

The great lie of the progressive left is that unchecked growth and particularly urban growth is good for the environment, even though there’s no contemporary science (or common sense for that matter) to back up that claim. For someone like me, who spent my formative adult years in the 60s and 70s, how the left sold out and became the other anti-environment party remains baffling. -more-



Land Use is the Principal Local Issue in Berkeley for the November Election

Becky O'Malley
Friday October 12, 2018 - 04:38:00 PM

An eagle-eyed reader noticed that last week’s editorial accidentally left out the race for the state’s 15th Assembly District. He successfully deduced, however, that the ideologically consistent position, for both me and my fellow members in the Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club, was to endorse Richmond Councilmember Jovanka Beckles, as indeed we did. For heaven’s sake, don’t you miss that slot on your ballot.

It’s harder and harder to concentrate on what’s happening in California, given the plethora of shocking news national and international, but we have to keep trying. What we do here will ultimately affect the whole planet, so we need to make sure to elect the right people in November.

So I was planning to devote space this week to explaining what the main issue that tied all the endorsed candidates together is, but luckily my Marin Post colleague Bob Silvestri just sent me his own excellent dissection, which you can now read here, The IPCC Report on Climate Change in the Age of Entitlement, Growth Addiction and Urbanism.

What links the candidates for the state assembly and the Berkeley City Council is whether or not they adhere to the Scott Weiner/ Nancy Skinner/corporate dogma that we can build our way out of climate change.

Folks, we can’t. Bob saves me the trouble of citing chapter and verse of why growth won’t work to save the planet, so be sure to read what he says. (My only quibble is that he's too willing to cede the "progressive" title to the MeFirstNow crowd.) -more-

Public Comment

Campaign 2018:
25 Reasons To Get Involved

Arthur Blaustein
Saturday October 13, 2018 - 12:02:00 PM

If you are thinking of sitting out the upcoming Congressional elections on November 6th, think again; because the results will, directly and indirectly, affect you and your whole family in ways that you never imagined.

So, instead of pushing the snooze button, think about the issues that matter to me that I've outlined below and should matter to you. It's worth the effort as the stakes are high!!! The issues to consider, not necessarily in order of importance, are: -more-

The Minimum Wage is Not a Living Wage

Harry Brill
Friday October 12, 2018 - 04:53:00 PM

Achieving a minimum wage in Berkeley for $15 an hour, which unlike most minimum wage laws, will be increased annually in the beginning of July next year according to the inflation rate. The law, which became effective October 1, was a major victory.

The vast majority of minimum wage laws pay well under $15 an hour and lack an inflation adjustment provision. As a result the purchasing power of these wages will continually decline. But generally speaking, these new minimum wage laws make an enormous difference in the standard of living of many thousands of working people. As low as these wages are, they are an immense improvement over the federal minimum wage of only $7.25 an hour

However, without exception these wages are still poverty wages.

According to an official study of poverty in California, at $15 an hour, which is in the $31,000 range annually for a full time year round worker, a family of four would still lack the resources to meet basic needs. The California poverty rate, which is 20.6 percent of the population, is the highest in the country. Prices keep rising but wages for several decades have been stagnant. -more-


ECLECTIC RANT: San Francisco Should Opt-in to the SB-1045 Conservatorship Pilot Program

Ralph E. Stone
Saturday October 13, 2018 - 08:55:00 PM

On September 27, 2018,California Governor Jerry Brown approved Senate Bill-1045 , which creates a five-year pilot program for San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego Counties for a conservatorship program in the Welfare and Institutions Code. -more-

THE PUBLIC EYE:Global Climate Change Comes Home

Bob Burnett
Saturday October 13, 2018 - 11:41:00 AM

There are many reasons to dislike Donald Trump. He's an unrepentant sexual predator, who lies without remorse. In addition, Trump is a bigoted bully whose only moral precept is "might makes right." Nonetheless, the most important reason to dislike Donald is that he refuses to protect our children and grandchildren. Trump is obsessed with immediate gratification and. therefore, has chosen to ignore global climate change. Now it's coming home to bite all of us. -more-


Conn Hallinan
Wednesday October 10, 2018 - 12:34:00 PM

The Syrian civil war has always been devilishly complex, with multiple actors following different scripts, but in the past few months it appeared to be winding down. The Damascus government now controls 60 percent of the country and the major population centers, the Islamic State has been routed, and the rebels opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad are largely cornered in Idilb Province in the country’s northwest. But suddenly the Americans moved the goal posts—maybe—the Russians have fallen out with the Israelis, the Iranians are digging in their heels, and the Turks are trying to multi-task with a home front in disarray.

So the devil is still very much at work in a war that has lasted more than seven years, claimed up to 500,000 lives, displaced millions of people, destabilized an already fragile Middle East, and is far from over.

There are at least three theaters in the Syrian war, each with its own complexities: Idilb in the north, the territory east of the Euphrates River, and the region that abuts the southern section of the Golan Heights. Just sorting out the antagonists is daunting. Turks, Iranians, Americans and Kurds are the key actors in the east. Russians, Turks, Kurds and Assad are in a temporary standoff in the north. And Iran, Assad and Israel are in a faceoff near Golan, a conflict that has suddenly drawn in Moscow. -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: A Misunderstood People

Jack Bragen
Friday October 12, 2018 - 04:40:00 PM

It is common for people with mental illness to be misunderstood. We do not necessarily present ourselves in ways that non-afflicted people can readily understand. Many non-afflicted people do not seem to make any effort to understand us, and it may be easier to just dismiss us as sick, depraved, or brain-damaged. However, it is hard for us to prove ourselves when we are used to being trampled upon by those who do not have the disadvantage of being medicated and otherwise controlled. -more-

Arts & Events

New: Zukerman & Forsyth with The Jerusalem Quartet

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Monday October 15, 2018 - 06:26:00 PM

The husband-and-wife team of Pinchas Zukerman and Amanda Forsyth joined forces with The Jerusalem Quartet for a program of string sextets on Saturday, October 13 at Berkeley’s First Congregational Church. Featured works were Richard Strauss’s String Sextet from Capriccio, Verklärte Nacht by Arnold Schoenberg, and String Sextet in D minor, Souvenir de Florence by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The Jerusalem Quartet consists of Alexander Pavlovsky, violin; Sergei Bresler, violin; Ori Kam, viola; and Kyril Zlotnikov, cello. For this concert, Pinchas Zukerman eschewed the violin and played viola, and Amanda Forsyth played cello. -more-

The Berkeley Activist's Calendar, October 14-21

Kelly Hammargren, Sustainable Berkeley Coalition
Saturday October 13, 2018 - 11:48:00 AM

Worth Noting ** Meetings

Tuesday City Council starts with 4:30 session draft recommendation for reorganizing how Council functions by establishing standing Policy Committees. Of note, Budget items from City Manager would not go to Budget Committee. Regular Council session at 6:00 pm on consent item 11. is another increase for Ghilotti Contractor bringing the total cost of the South Cove Restroom Project to $1,840,072. Council was reluctant to approve the last cost overrun for the Restroom. 14. On consent to approve Ghillotti as the “low bid” on the Shattuck reconfiguration.

Wednesday is a public hearing on community needs.

Thursday is a presentation by Berkeley Police on Policing de-escalation.

Saturday is the BNC forum on Planning. -more-

New: Superb Piano Recital by Evgeny Kissin

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Monday October 15, 2018 - 06:33:00 PM

Until Sunday, October 14, I had never heard Russian pianist Evgeny Kissin perform live. Thus I looked forward with high anticipation to this October 14 recital as part of San Francisco Symphony’s Great Performer Series. I was not disappointed. Kissin lived up to his reputation. Here is a pianist who lets his formidable technique and interpretive sensitivity do all the talking. There is no flair here, little charisma, and none of the demonic element of, say, my current favorite young pianist, Daniil Trifonov. Evgeny Kissin, who at age 47 is twenty years older than Daniil Trifonov, is all business when he sits down at the keyboard and begins to play. -more-

The Berkeley Arts Calendar

Tom Hunt and Bonnie Hughes, Berkeley Arts Festival
Saturday October 13, 2018 - 11:53:00 AM

CLICK HERE for a comprehensive calendar of arts and cultural events in Berkeley and beyond, today and in the future. -more-

A TOSCA with Contemporary Relevance

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Friday October 12, 2018 - 04:46:00 PM

Think about it. We have just witnessed, in the testimony under oath of Christine Blasey-Ford, allegations that Brett Kavanugh, a man nominated for the position of Supreme Court Justice, allegedly sexually assaulted her when they were both in high school. In Blasey-Ford’s testimony, Kavanaugh and his elite prep school buddy, Mark Judge, pushed her into a bedroom, locked the door, and threw her on a bed, where Kavanaugh climbed atop her and tried to remove her clothes while he held his hand over her mouth to prevent her from calling for help. What is this scenario other than the plot of Puccini’s Tosca, where Baron Scarpia, the Roman chief of police, tries to force himself on Floria Tosca in a vile effort to satisfy his perverse lusts for sex and power? -more-