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Swing Left volunteers in District 10 (including at least four from South Berkeley) rally in Modesto before canvassing for for Josh Harder.
Damon Guthrie
Swing Left volunteers in District 10 (including at least four from South Berkeley) rally in Modesto before canvassing for for Josh Harder.


Election Update

Rob Wrenn
Thursday November 08, 2018 - 09:55:00 PM

Alameda County ROV has now counted an additional 32,470 ballots countywide, bringing turnout up to 32.7%. Many more ballots remain to be counted. Based on the number of votes cast for Measure O, I would estimate that roughly another 4800 votes were counted in Berkeley and that around 31,000 votes total have been counted in Berkeley to date. It is likely that at least 45,000 votes were cast in Berkeley this year, so a sizable chunk remain to be counted. It is highly unlikely that the outcome of any local Berkeley race will change.  

There are no major changes in the results from this latest batch of votes. 

Buffy Wicks widened her lead a bit in Alameda County and is now at 57% 

District 4 council member Kate Harrison is still above 50% with 51.7% to 35.5% for Ben Gould; (latest batch was 47.0% for Kate; 39.9% for Ben Gould - may have come from precincts where Gould did relatively well) 

With more votes counted in District 1, it’s still 46% for Rashi Kesarwani and 34% for Igor Tregub. 

In District 7, Rigel Robinson is now at 56% and Ces Rosales remains at 35%. 

In District 8, Lori Droste’s lead widened. She now leads Mary Kay Lacey 58% to 30% with 9% for Alfred Twu. It was 56% with 31%. 

Measure O, the affordable housing bond measure, is still at 76% yes and Measure P, the transfer tax increase to fund homeless services is still at 71% yes. 

Soli Alpert continues to have a solid lead over Judy Hunt for fifth place in the race for the five seats on the Rent Board.

War Crimes in Yemen

Jagjit Singh
Wednesday November 07, 2018 - 09:22:00 PM

The United Nations and a growing number of countries in the world are calling for an immediate ceasefire in war torn Yemen. 

Oxfam and other agencies are calling on the United States and European countries to end their support for the Saudi coalition. More and more Americans are reacting to the “gut-wrenching” images of starving Yemeni children 

The airports and seaports have been devastated by Saudi-US bombing and the economic collapse have pushed food prices beyond the reach for most Yeminis intensifying hunger and famine. 

Images of young children reduced to flesh and bones have amplified demands for an immediate end to US and European weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Emirates. 

US bomb fragments have littered the Yemeni landscape intensifying anger towards the US. 

Civilian deaths have been grossly understated to minimize opposition of arms sales. A comprehensive study conducted by the Fletcher School of International Diplomacy at Tufts University reveal the actual deaths to be about 80,000. Food supplies have been deliberately targeted intensifying shortages. The Saudis are also trying to close the port through which many supplies enter the country. The U.S. supplies the intelligence for the Saudi Air Force, which is carrying out massive atrocities making us complicit in Saudi war crimes.

Firing Protest Tomorrow at 5

Wednesday November 07, 2018 - 09:16:00 PM

A coalition of organizations including Indivisible and Move On plan to protest Donald Trump's firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, which they view as the first move in an attempt to shut down the Mueller investigation. They're asking people to gather at local sites all over the country. In Berkeley, two gatherings will take place at 5 pm. One will be at Martin Luther King Civic Center Park, and another at the corner of College and Ashby. Participants are asked to bring flashlights and commit to non-violence.

The Votes are In

Rob Wrenn
Wednesday November 07, 2018 - 04:39:00 PM

Early results of yesterday's election are still holding today. My guess is that there are about 20,000 ballots still to be counted from Berkeley. None of the Berkeley races are close enough where counting of the additional ballots will result in any changes to the outcome in Berkeley.

23,350 votes have been reported pro or con Measure O. 85-90% of people who voted probably voted one way or another on that issue. In 2014 a total of a bit more than 40,000 ballots were cast. My guess is that turnout was up somewhat but not by a huge amount this year (based on poor turnout in District 7). So if say 45,000 ballots were cast and if we assume that about 10% blank voted on Measure O then, using rough numbers,about 20,000 votes would remain. If total turnout were 50,000 then more like 25,000 votes remain uncounted. The Registrar guessed that countywide about half the votes remained to be counted or 250,000, so 20-25 thousand in Berkeley is quite possible.

I’m confident that Kate Harrison is safely re-elected and that Rashi Kesarwani has defeated Igor Tregub. There are some very close congressional and state legislative races, and also the contest for Superintendent of Education, where counting of additional ballots in other counties around the state could dislodge the current frontrunner. 

With early vote by mail and all votes cast at the polls in Berkeley counted, Measures O & P won easily, with 76% so far for O and 71% so far for P (despite heavy real estate spending against it). Measures Q & R also passed. 

Kate Harrison was re-elected with 53% of votes counted to date. 

Rigel Robinson won in District 7 with another poor student turnout (less than 1000 votes counted so far). 

Lori Droste won in District 8, 56% to 31% for Mary Kay Lacey in votes counted so far). 

Rashi Kesarwani has won in District 1 defeating Igor Tregub 46% to 34% in first choice votes, with a plurality of Margo Schueler’s second choice votes going to Rashi. 

Jenny Wong was easily elected auditor. 

The Rent Board slate won with Soli Alpert, who was trailing in the early VBM count, defeating Judy Hunt for fifth place. 

There are still many ballots to be counted as of this morning; Alameda County turnout so far is only 29%.There are probably at least 20,000 more votes in Berkeley to count. But the outcome of local city of Berkeley elections is not going to change. Later vote by mail ballots have in previous elections not been very different from those counted by the end of election night. No local race in Berkeley is close enough for there to be any real chance the that outcome will change when all the ballots are counted. 

Jovanka Beckles was defeated by Buffy Wicks. Current Alameda County count 56.5% for Wicks. Jovanka was also behind in Contra Costa County. District wide the vote was 56% to 44% for Wicks. There is no real chance that count of remaining Vote By Mail will change this outcome.  

Josh Harder is narrowly behind Republican Jeff Denham in the 10th Congressional District in votes counted so far:55,414 for Harder; 56,701 for Denham, or a margin of just 1300 votes so far.  

In statewide races, Marshall Tuck is ahead of Tony Thurmond 50.6% to 49.4%. Tuck was backed by the same Govern for California group that backed Wicks. It’s possible that Thurmond could win when all the votes are counted. 

Prop 10 was crushed, losing 62% to 38% so far. It won a majority only in SF county.  

Progressives did well in SF with Prop C passing; it will tax big businesses to help the homeless. Progressive supervisor candidates also winning: https://48hills.org/2018/11/haney-far-ahead-mar-still-leading-and-prop-c-has-won-big/ 

Propositions 1 and 2 passed so there will be some state money for affordable housing. 

State results here: https://vote.sos.ca.gov 

Alameda County and Berkeley results here: https://www.acgov.org/rovresults/236/index.htm 

Berkeley's Leading Landlord Fights Rent Control

Richard Brenneman
Monday November 05, 2018 - 09:01:00 PM

In case you missed it, a great piece from Jacobin about Blackstone, who bought the Patrick Kennedy/Sam Zell apartments, is leading the way in the fight against statewide rent control: The Struggle For Rent Control

Berkeley Police Association Mailers Contain False Claims

Micky Duxbury,MFT
Monday November 05, 2018 - 11:43:00 AM

I was quite distressed to learn of the $15,247.00 expenditure by the Berkeley Police Association for campaign mailers from Ben Gould’s campaign. These mailers contain false and misleading information – (especially about Kate Harrison’s record) in regards to police training.

Many Berkeley residents have been involved in a campaign to stop Urban Shield: the highly militarized police training that is run by Alameda County Sheriff Ahern. Since the beginning of Urban Shield, there has been a community outcry against the highly militaristic, propagandistic, and often-racist approach to training. Check out any of Urban Shield’s own videos to see for yourself that they have been promoting a fear-based militaristic approach to police training. 

Many of the opponents of Urban Shield, including Kate Harrison, have been clear that we support police, fire, and medical personnel being fully trained for all aspects of emergencies, especially in de-escalation training so that the homeless and mentally ill are treated with dignity and respect and not criminalized. We want Berkeley Police Department to participate in training that is collaborative, but not as SWAT Teams in unrealistic terrorism scenarios that are the primary focus in Urban Shield training. 

We are reminded last week that horrific events like massacres at synagogues happen and we need to be prepared for them. But we can be prepared in ways that promote cultural understanding and do not rely on racist stereotypes; we can create trainings that are based on collaboration with all emergency personnel without them being sponsored by vendors of military weapons such as are on display at Urban Shield. That is why the Alameda County Board of Supervisors voted last March that “2018 Urban Shield is to be the last Urban Shield as currently constituted" and they created a new group to work to create a countywide emergency response training. 

Many of us would like an investigation into why the Berkeley Police Union invested so heavily in a smear campaign to characterize votes against Urban Shield as not supporting police training. We need to ask Berkeley Police why they are so invested in damaging one candidate’s campaign when Alameda County Board of Supervisors has agreed that we need a different kind of training that does not emphasize militaristic tactics. 

Personal Attacks by a Transportation Commissioner and Lori Droste Supporter

Russ Tilleman
Monday November 05, 2018 - 11:00:00 AM

C. Mark Humbert, the District 8 Transportation Commissioner and also a public supporter of Lori Droste, has published what I believe is a libelous attack on me in the Berkeleyside comments section.

Someone stated in the comments section that Lori Droste should sue me for libel, and I responded that she isn't suing me for libel because everything I have said about her is true. Which I believe to be the case.

Ms. Droste did take money from the Berkeley Police Association, as proven by her campaign finance disclosure filings.

Ms. Droste did vote against police reform, as proven by the City Council Annotated Agenda.

Mark Humbert then wrote:
"She isn't suing you for libel because you're not worth it. You have no credibility. And you most certainly utter lie after lie." 

He posted this using the Disqus ID "markh", but in another post by "markh" identified himself as "C. Mark Humbert, District 8 resident" and further identified himself in the same post by writing: 

"I am a CENA board member, and am currently its VP. I was, like Jac, the president of CENA for some time. I am currently the transportation commissioner for District 8, having first been appointed by Gordon Wozniak." 

CENA is Berkeley's Claremont Elmwood Neighborhood Association. 

From my understanding, Humbert has acted with actual malice by intentionally publishing a harmful attack on me with reckless disregard for the truth or even direct knowledge of the falsity of what he is saying. 

He is an attorney with his own firm. So he should know enough about libel to not accidentally or unintentionally be making this kind of attack on me. This seems like an intentional attack. 

From what I have read, this is a classic case of libel with actual malice against a public figure. 

To my knowledge, I haven't lied about anything. I believe I have written documentation and/or witness testimony to back up everything I have said about Lori Droste in court if necessary. 

If Lori Droste or Mark Humbert have any evidence of me saying anything untrue about Ms. Droste, I challenge them to present it so we can have a public discussion of the issue. 

This is a major issue for me. I am tired of being attacked like this. At least 4 other people have posted baseless personal attacks similar to this and I want them to stop doing so, 

Also, I would like to send a message that it is not OK to falsely attack someone just because you don't like them or you support a candidate that is running against them. 

So far just in the comments section of the recent Berkeleyside article about the District 8 race ( https://www.berkeleyside.com/2018/11/02/contentious-battle-for-berkeleys-district-8-seat-in-final-stretch) \ 

  • Pietro Gambadilegno called me "a hothead who is constantly angry and who is constantly imagining conspiracies against him"
  • Doug F called me "a nutcase".
  • Daniel said "Tilleman’s a lunatic"
  • Live Oak called me "crazy"
I don't believe any of these are accurate. This kind of behavior is one of the reasons I am running against Lori Droste. 

In particular, I don't think it is proper for a Berkeley Transportation Commissioner to be falsely attacking a political candidate. 

Also the posts attacking me seem to violate Berkeleyside's commenting policy, which they don't seem to be enforcing. 

Frances Dinkenspiel recently informed me that she doesn't intend to let me post any more comments responding to these attacks. I think Berkeleyside has an obligation to either enforce their commenting policies and prevent these kinds of attacks, or let the people who are attacked defend themselves by posting responses. 

When someone with the DIsqus ID MarkH2 posted the following comment in the Daily Cal: 

"Tilleman - You're a vile scumbag. These posters accuse Ms. Droste of responsibility for rape and murder. The assertions are lies, they are defamatory, and your contentions make no sense in any event. You should be ashamed of yourself. But given that you're an idiot without moral scruples, in my opinion, you are likely proud of your pusillanimous self.” 

the Daily Cal did the right thing and removed it for violating the commenting policies. 

If Berkeleyside approves these attacks and prevents me from responding to them, I think they share the responsibility for them. 



Measure Ff Creates Fire Danger, Clearcuts, And Pesticide Sickness. Vote No!

Maxina Ventura, East Bay Pesticide Alert
Monday November 05, 2018 - 02:40:00 PM

We love our parks. So why vote no on Measure FF, the 20-year continuation of a parcel tax to fund wildfire protection and restoration of "natural habitat"? Outlined in the East Bay Regional Park District's (EBRPD) Wildfire Hazard Reduction and Resource Management Plan, and its sections in the East Bay Hills Hazardous Fire Risk Reduction Environmental Impact Statement produced by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), this tax funds killing healthy trees, and pesticide use.

FEMA's environmental review clarified that, EBRPD is one of several agencies, including the University of California (UC) and the City of Oakland, planning to destroy about half a million trees in the East Bay Hills, and spread toxic, carcinogenic pesticides to prevent re-sprouts. They claim these trees are not native and therefore a fire hazard, including the endangered Monterey pine from just 80 miles away.

FEMA was stopped by a Hills Conservation Network lawsuit form funding UC and Oakland, because the projects would increase the risk of fire, which is not surprising when masquerading "Native Plant Restoration" projects as wildfire protection. Roughly 50% of Measure FF money is earmarked for such projects: 22% for the Wildfire Plan, and 30-40% for the "Natural Resource Related" category in which "natural habitat" to be restored is equated with keeping species believed to have been here at an arbitrary point in time, and eliminating newcomers.

Like Anti-Immigrant policies, species Nativism segregates living things and natural processes with human-made borders. Claims that species moving around the planet is unnatural or harmful are based on ideology, not science, as Conservation Biologist David Theodoropoulos demonstrates in his book "Invasion Biology: Critique of a Pseudoscience".

At a UCB 150th Anniversary lecture, "Climate, Fire, and the Future of California's Forests", audience members referred to, "the dangers of non-native Eucalyptus", while glorifying native grasslands. Professor David D. Ackerly, College of Natural Resources Dean, set them straight about the 1991 hills fire, and wildfires throughout the state. He said: "Homes are catching trees on fire and it goes homes to homes to homes. Trees have moisture."

Dense tree trunks don't catch fire easily, but anything burns if a fire is hot enough. When removing tall trees that shade the forest floor from hot sun, and collect 10" of fog drip which keeps vegetation moist, our hills become heated, and fire danger increases. Without trees as windbreaks, winds drive fire across flammable grasslands, as seen in every wildfire in the news. The National Fire Protection Association Handbook singles out no tree species as a fire danger and admonishes, "Every tree is a fire mitigation factor."

But Nativists are hell-bent on converting healthy habitat to flammable Oak Savannah in spite of fire experts and biologists acknowledging that Eucalyptus has acclimated since it was planted here.

Even supposedly native 100 year-old redwoods are not safe from the Nativist hills gardening project, and were destroyed in East Oakland's lower-hills Dimond Park. That park is no longer a cool oasis.

While hills forests are "thinned" in stages into deforestation, and for 10 years after each stage pesticides are used (toxicology is on our website), worldwide people are planting trees to combat climate change. Four decades ago, Kenyan climate justice advocate and Nobel laureate Wangarĩ Maathai, focused the Green Belt Movement on reforestation, and later implemented the United Nation's Billion Trees Campaign. This year China reassigned 60,000 soldiers to plant trees on a landmass the size of Ireland. NBC reported in August, "Pakistan plans to plant 10 billion trees to fight climate change." National Geographic wrote, "India Plants 50 Million Trees in One Day, to help the country fight climate change."

Meanwhile Rapa Nui, Easter Island is eroding into the ocean because it was deforested by religious fervor valuing monuments more than trees.

YOU CAN STOP SOME OF THE DESTRUCTION HERE by refusing to help fund it.

East Bay Pesticide Alert has opposed these dangerous plans since January, 2005, and is part of the Coalition to Defend East Bay Forests. We support our parks but along with The Alameda County Green Party, and other groups listed in the official voter handbooks, we refuse to sell off our hills, residents, and wildlife in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties.

Join us in voting NO on Measure FF!

Vote No on Measure FF

Pauline Bondonno, Executive Director, Community Health Education Institute
Monday November 05, 2018 - 10:46:00 AM

Measure FF will permit the Park District to remove trees and vegetation from 540 acres in East Bay Regional Parks and spray thousands of acres with herbicides and pesticides endangering the water supplies. Park staff have noted off the record that if the measure goes through the parks will not be recognizable. 

The vegetation management workers are spraying many gallons of pesticides and herbicides in East Bay Parks where people sit. In 2017 the park district sprayed 113 gallons of Glyphosate or Round Up , which has a very long half-life, up to one year depending on the soil composition. The California Environmental Protection Agency lists glyphosate as a carcinogenic chemical under the state’s Proposition 65, which requires the state to publish a list of chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm. 

According to the Executive Summary from East Bay Regional Parks the Passage of Measure FF will have many adverse effects on the community. This includes to residents, animal life, sedimentation, to park visitors, to ridge winds and the creation of more carbon dioxide. 

The report talks about “significant, short-term adverse alternation of community character to neighborhoods at the northwest corner of Strawberry Canyon and at Tilden Regional Park by the merry-go-round and at the entrance to the Selby Trail.,” 

Perhaps the greatest concern is the potential adverse health effects the document cites of herbicides to vegetation management works, nearby residents and users of parks and open spaces. A close friend, a vegetation management worker in the South Bay, exposed to herbicides and pesticides, died of cancer at the age of 58. Park staff have been seen spraying with no protective gear so they are exposed as well .In August protests at Bayer Chemicals in Berkeley, pointed our workers’ exposure to Round Up at the regional parks. 

Round Up has been sprayed 50 feet from Lake Anza according to one resident who watched the park ranger apply it at the end of the swimming season. She also saw him apply Round Up to the lawn where families sit outside of Lake Anza. There are many anecdotal reports of Round-up sprayed by picnic tables in a number of East Bay parks where visitors picnic, as well as near water. 

The executive summary notes that animal life will be damaged by the implementation of FF. I have seen no ducks in Lake Anza for a while. They were previously always there. There is the dose-body size relationship to consider for both animals and children exposed to pesticides and herbicides. 

“Potential damage to wildlife including the endangered California red-legged frog and the threatened Alameda whipsnake, potential damage to wildlife habitat including critical Alameda whipsnake habitat, and potential damage to nontargeted vegetation including the endangered Presidio clarkia and the threatened pallid Manzanita by heavy equipment, tree skidding, and application of herbicides, minimized by mitigation measures and best management practices. “ 

In January a California court halted a state program allowing pesticide spraying at schools, organic farms and backyards across California because of inadequate public disclosure of the chemicals’ harms. 

The California Department of Food and Agriculture’s statewide “pest management” program required no site-specific analysis of risks before the application of 79 pesticides, including some known to cause cancer and birth defects and to be highly toxic to bees, butterflies, fish and birds. 

Judge Timothy M. Frawley ruled that the state agency failed to adequately review impacts or provide adequate notice of pesticide spraying. The agency also didn’t account for the full range of dangers caused by the program, including risks of contaminating water supplies and the cumulative danger of adding even more pesticides to the more than 150 million pounds of pesticides already being used in California each year. 

“We are thrilled that the court has ruled that the state does not have free rein to use pesticides as a first resort and hope that this decision will inspire the Department of Food and Agriculture to move toward sustainable pest-management practices that honor the public’s desire to make protecting the health of our communities and food supply the top priority,” said Nan Wishner of the California Environmental Health Initiative. 

As a group we can defeat this measure, please help educate others and vote against Measure FF. 


Betty Reid Soskin is Glamour Woman of the Year

Sam Richards (BCN) and Planet
Monday November 05, 2018 - 04:17:00 PM

Betty Reid Soskin, at 97 the oldest career National Park Service Ranger, has received yet another honor, being named one of Glamour magazine's 2018 Women of the Year on Friday.

Soskin,formerly a Berkeley resident and proprietor of Reid's Records on Sacramento, is a Ranger at the Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond, where she shares her personal experiences regarding race and social change during the World War II years and beyond. 

A native of East Oakland who now lives in Richmond, Soskin shares with park visitors her nine decades as a black woman living in a largely white America. Her memoir, "Sign My Name to Freedom: A Memoir of a Pioneering Life," , edited by former Berkeley Daily Planet Editor and columnist J. Douglas Allen-Taylor, was published in February. 

As for Glamour's honor, the magazine story about Soskin says, "We all wish we could be that fully present in our lives, and it's something you soak up when you're around Betty." 

The magazine's other 2018 Women of the Year are actor Viola Davis, model/author Chrissy Teigen, Sen. Kamala Harris, singer/actor Janelle Monae, Saudi Arabian activist Manal al-Sharif, "The Women Who Took Down" convicted serial child molester Larry Nassar and "The Women Activists of March of Our Lives."

A Final Word From Kate

Kate Harrison, Councilmember, Berkeley District 4
Sunday November 04, 2018 - 09:05:00 PM

At the national and, sadly, at the local level, after Tuesday’s election we will have a lot of work to do to restore civility, encourage reasoned debate, and recognize the diversity that makes Berkeley and America great. 

Sadly, the rancor, carelessness with facts, and attack ads that are jeopardizing our national democracy in this age of Trump, have filtered down to what should be a neighborly discussion of Berkeley’s future. Neighbors should be able to discuss issues without being drowned out by an unrelenting stream of attack ads funded by outside special interests and negative campaigning.  

In the seventeen months I have had the honor of being your council member and throughout this campaign, I have focused on the positive, on what we as neighbors and residents of Berkeley working together can achieve. I have refrained, even against the advice of campaign “professionals”, to stoop to negative campaigning. As Michelle Obama honorably stated: “When they go low, we go high.” I am proud of what I have accomplished for this neighborhood and the City as whole. Governing is difficult and involves balancing needs; this work does not easily lend itself to soundbites. Join those who have examined the record and endorsed me. 

I look forward to your support. Berkeley is a great place; together, we can make it even better.

The 50th Anniversary of Shirley Chisholm’s Historic Election to Congress

Congresswoman Barbara Lee
Monday November 05, 2018 - 11:46:00 AM

I was incredibly lucky to meet my mentor and lifelong friend, Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, when I was a college student. Working on her presidential campaign, Congresswoman Chisholm showed me the power of ‘unbought and unbossed’ women of color to change our country. 

It’s fitting that on the 50th anniversary of Shirley Chisholm’s groundbreaking first election to Congress, we are on the brink of electing an unprecedented number of women, people of color, and African American women to office. These milestones would not be possible without Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, who paved a path for us to follow in her footsteps. 

Congresswoman Chisholm is often remembered for being the first. But she should also be remembered for what she accomplished during her tenure in Congress. She used her office to fight for low-income families, hungry school kids, single moms and immigrants. She was instrumental in creating the national school lunch program, expanding the food stamp program, and establishing the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, commonly known as WIC. She made this country a better place. 

But Congresswoman Chisholm’s work is not finished. Many in our nation still face injustice and discrimination. And it’s up to each one of us to keep working so that every American can live with freedom and dignity. When the polls open tomorrow morning, it’s my hope that voters across the country will carry Congresswoman Chisholm’s spirit with them to the ballot box.” 

To learn more about Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm’s life and legacy, read this op-ed by Congresswoman Lee that ran in Essence Magazine today. Congresswoman Lee is also introducing a House Resolution with Congresswoman Yvette Clarke (NY-9) this week to honor Congresswoman Chisholm.

More Research on Measure FF Will Ensure a NO Vote

Mary McAllister
Sunday November 04, 2018 - 11:25:00 AM

In response to Pam Young’s advice to vote yes Measure FF, I agree that you should “do your own research” before deciding how to vote on Measure FF.

Reading the Park District’s annual Pesticide Use Report is a good place to start: https://www.ebparks.org/civicax/filebank/blobdload.aspx?BlobID=30060. This report will inform you that the Park District used 113 gallons of glyphosate in 2017. Glyphosate is a broad-spectrum killer of grasses and broadleaf plants. Glyphosate is not a “target-specific herbicide,” as Ms Young claims. It is an indiscriminate killer of any plant it touches. Glyphosate has been categorized as a probable human carcinogen by the World Health Organization of the UN. The man who applied glyphosate for several years for Benicia School District is dying of cancer after wearing all required and recommended protective gear. He was awarded damages by a jury of his peers in his product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer of glyphosate.

The Park District used 37.5 gallons of triclopyr in 2017 on the stumps of eucalyptus (and other non-native trees and shrubs) after they were cut down to prevent them from resprouting. Although triclopyr is selective to broadleaf plants, it prevents resprouts by killing the roots. It therefore kills mycorrhizal fungi attached to the roots as well as the intertwined roots of non-target plants. 

In addition to these “General Park Use Pesticides,” the park district uses many gallons of “Special Use” pesticides such as imazapyr to kill non-native spartina marsh grass, at the rate of about 25 gallons per year. Non-native spartina is the preferred habitat of the endangered Ridgway Rail. The population of Ridgway Rail has plummeted since the Park District began eradicating their habitat over 15 years ago. Milestone (aminopyralid) is used for other “resource management projects.” Milestone is very persistent and mobile in the soil. 

And a few other misstatements of fact can be easily corrected in Ms. Young’s opinion piece with a little research: 

“How can native plants and trees never have grown where they are to be restored?” The Park District uses the word “restoration” to describe its projects because they think it sounds positive. Unfortunately, it is not a word that accurately describes many of their projects. Here is one of their massive projects at Oyster Bay that is trying to establish native plants on landfill that served as a garbage dump for decades: https://milliontrees.me/2018/05/08/oyster-bay-a-firehose-of-public-funding-supplies-a-firehose-of-herbicides/ There were never any native plants at Oyster Bay, yet this is a project that the Park District considers a “restoration.” 

“PUPP falsely asserts that Measure FF will provide $66 million over 20 years.” Here is a link to the Park District’s power point presentation at a public hearing about Measure FF: https://www.ebparks.org/civicax/filebank/blobdload.aspx?BlobID=30266 It says that Measure FF will provide “~$3.3 million annually.” Do the math: $3.3 million times 20 years equals $66 million and then some. 

“EBRPD has a forest management plan that, in fact, enhances the growth of fire-resistant shade trees, such as oaks and redwoods.” The Park District is planting few native trees where they have destroyed non-native trees because their goal is to recreate the grassland that existed in the East Bay prior to settlement. Their Serpentine Prairie project is an example of their strategy. They destroyed 500 trees, mostly native oaks, in order to restore native grassland. Native trees will not grow where most of the non-native trees are now growing. Redwoods require more water as well as shelter from the wind. Oaks are being killed by Sudden Oak Death. There are over 20,000 dead oak trees in Wildcat Canyon Park alone according to the UCB researcher who is studying SOD in East Bay Parks: https://milliontrees.me/2017/12/22/scientist-says-50-of-oaks-in-east-bay-parks-will-be-dead-in-20-years/ He expects 50% of oak trees in East Bay parks to be dead within 20 years.  

Yes, please do your research before voting on Measure FF. A vote against Measure FF is a vote against unnecessary pesticide use in the East Bay. 


Candidates are Public Education Time Bombs

Glen Kohler
Sunday November 04, 2018 - 11:17:00 AM

Tuesday’s election will either arm or defuse two public-education time bombs.

Reports of charter school failures are too serious and numerous to ignore. The partial list below gives some idea, and a search on the Internet turns up many more. When charter schools fail, childrens’ futures and our society at large suffers. Badly.

Two candidate in Tuesday’s election will work for public education; their opponents favor charter schools. Giving public funds to the privately-owned charter school ‘experiment’ is like giving the scalpel to Dr. Frankenstein so he can operate on your children.

Tony Thurmond is running for California’s Superintendent of Schools. Tony has been the California State Assemblyman in the 15th District. He is committed to increase support of public schools. His well-funded opponent, Marshall Tuck, is favored by charter school advocates determined to siphon public tax monies for privately-owned charter schools.

In the 15th District itself, Jovanka Beckles, former Richmond City Councilwoman and CoCo County social worker, also wants to shore up public education. Her opponent Buffy Wicks, whose campaign millions come almost exclusively by out-of-area P.A.C.’s. touts her aim of exerting ‘… increased accountability’ upon charter schools as the fix. 

The candidates’ positions are clear: Thurmond and Beckles for public education, Marshall and Wicks for charter schools. 

From a Google search on ‘charter school failure’: 

Authoritative Articles on Charter School Failure 

EducationVotes.nea.org: Charter school experiment has 'failed'... 


Building Better Schools 

Bill Honig - Former California Superindendent of Schools 


EdSource.org - Many charter schools fail to disclose spending on low-income students... 


Dayton Daily News - Charter schools failure could be largest in state history 


NY Times - Michigan Gambled on Charter Schools. Its Children Lost. 



Press Release: Berkeley Progressive Student Association Files Numerous Campaign Violations Against 4 Candidates, 2 Organizations

From Harriet Steele, President, UC Berkeley Progressive Student Association
Saturday November 03, 2018 - 09:15:00 PM

Complaint documents numerous clear Berkeley Election Reform Act (BERA) violations by Rashi Kesarwani, Ben Gould, Greg Magofna, Lori Droste, the Berkeley Democratic Club, and the Berkeley Police Association

On Saturday, UC Berkeley students filed with the Berkeley Fair Campaign Practices Commission (FCPC) documenting campaign violations by anti-progressive candidates Rashi Kesarwani, Ben Gould, Greg Magofna, and Lori Droste and the Berkeley Democratic Club and Berkeley Police Association for clear violations of the Berkeley Election Reform Act (BERA).

The complaint, submitted by the Progressive Student Association (PSA), contains at least a dozen violations1 including failing to report expenditures, making illegal expenditures, failing to file required reports, and submitting false information, perjury, and failure to register apolitical committee with the city. 

“These anti-progressive candidates and the equally problematic organizations supporting them aren’t just lying to voters about their own records and in numerous cases those of their opponents; they’re also lying to voters about their campaign finances,” said PSA President Harriet Steele. “These kinds of violations provide them with unfair and illegal advantages over their progressive opponents who follow the rules.” 

The Progressive Student Association (PSA) is UC Berkeley’s chapter of Our Revolution - which was founded by Senator Bernie Sanders in summer 2016 to continue the legacy of his historic presidential bid - as well as the premier political organization on campus. The organization was originally founded as UC Berkeley for Bernie (UCB4B), and was the largest college chapter of Senator Sanders’s campaign. Since then, its accomplishments have included raising Berkeley’s minimum wage to $15 (effective October 1), passing Berkeley Measure U1 to fund affordable housing, electing Council member Kate Harrison in 2017, and raising Berkeley’s affordable housing mitigation fee to fund affordable housing. 

1 The complaint groups the violations into 9.5 sections. 

The full text is here.  

Berkeley Voters Will Consider Affordable Housing, Homeless Measures

Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Friday November 02, 2018 - 11:15:00 AM

Berkeley voters will consider two related measures on the Nov. 6 ballot that seek to raise funds to address affordable housing and homelessness. 

Measure O, which needs two-thirds approval to pass, is a $135 million bond measure that aims to create more affordable housing in Berkeley. 

Measure P, which only needs a simple majority, would raise funds for homeless services by increasing the transfer tax for the top third of residential and commercial property sales by 1 percent annually. 

Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin, former Mayor Tom Bates and other supporters of Measure O say in their ballot argument that it is needed because, "Many in Berkeley are struggling to find or keep their homes and longtime residents are being displaced." 

They say the measure will create and preserve affordable housing for working people and their families, support affordable ownership opportunities such as co-ops and land trusts and protect seniors, the homeless and others by ensuring they have access to safe housing with necessary services. 

Berkeley City Manager Dee Williams-Ridley says the city expects Measure O to cost property owners $22 per $100,000 of assessed value until 2025, when it will jump to $33 per $100,000. 

Dan Walden, the executive director of the Alameda County Taxpayers Association, and Marcus Crawley, an Oakland resident who describes himself as a "concerned taxpayer," say in their argument against the measure that it has "bad accountability by design" and allege that the city "is already planning to play fast and loose with the bond funds." 

Walden and Crawley wrote, "Instead of diligently spending bond funds on a well-specified bond project, the city will be spending general funds on bond projects and bond funds on city staffing expenditures." 

Arreguin, Bates and other supporters of Measure P say it's needed because "Berkeley is facing a crisis, with homelessness rising almost 20 percent in just two years." 

Supporters say the measure will generate general funds that can be used for navigation centers, mental health and substance abuse services, housing subsidies and job training for the homeless. 

Walden and Crawley, who also oppose Measure P, say, "Homelessness is a very important issue for our community but using the homelessness issue merely to pass a new tax is dishonest and unethical." 

They say, "Berkeley already has California's highest transfer tax and raising it will ensure only the rich will be able to survive in Berkeley." 

Walden and Crawley also said, "The tax funds will be placed in the general purposes fund where they can be spent on anything."

Beckles v. Wicks: The Full Story

Thursday November 01, 2018 - 01:59:00 PM

Here is the most thorough reporting on the Assembly District 15 race which has appeared anywhere. Here's how it starts:

"The battles within the Democratic Party have played out in high-profile races this year, largely featuring well-heeled establishment figures with years of elected experience challenged by left-wing outsiders running with the support of a national grassroots movement.

"Amid this fight, there has been a strenuous effort from party centrists to drain the question of any ideological content. Party leaders are not pushing any particular agenda, goes the argument, but are merely pragmatists maximizing the chances of winning a general election. Elaine Kamarck, a Brookings Institute scholar and political consultant, put it succinctly. “Party leaders have the job of winning nationally; Democrats are painfully aware that not all congressional districts are Berkeley, Calif.,” she wrote in defense of those party leaders.

"Party leaders, however, seem to have missed that memo when it comes to the non-metaphorical Berkeley. Thanks to the state’s jungle primary law, two Democrats will face off in November in Assembly District 15, a state legislative seat that includes North Oakland, Berkeley, and Richmond.

"Here, it is Jovanka Beckles, the candidate endorsed by the Democratic Socialists of America and Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has the governing experience and the support of leading local elected officials, and it’s the upstart, Buffy Wicks, who has never held office. Wicks is running as a business-backed Democratic operative pushing to disrupt a seat long-held by the progressive left."

Don't miss it. Here's the link:

A Billionaire-Backed Democrat Is Facing Off Against a Democratic Socialist in Berkeley. And It’s Getting Rough. by Lee Fang and Leighton Akio Woodhouse.

Richmond Grass Fire Smoke over Berkeley

Thursday November 01, 2018 - 12:58:00 PM

From the Berkeley Fire Department: 

"This is AC Alert Berkeley at 12:30 pm. There is currently a large fire in the City of Richmond. Be aware that a column of black smoke is drifting over the 80 corridor from Richmond to Berkeley. There is not a fire in Berkeley. The smoke is not a threat to the Berkeley community. No action is necessary at this time. The Berkeley Fire Department will continue to monitor the situation." 

Press reports suggest that the smoke is from a grass fire on park land at Point Pinole.



Just Breathe Deeply and Hold Your Nose on Tuesday

Becky O'Malley
Friday November 02, 2018 - 11:43:00 AM

A “giant sucking sound”—that’s what H. Ross Perot (remember him?) used to describe what we’d hear when international trade agreements like NAFTA sucked all U.S. jobs out of the country and into Mexico. He was kinda sorta on the far right, or at least far out in right field, but plenty of lefties went on record as agreeing with him.

Things didn’t turn out exactly as he’d predicted, and he picked up an uneasy ally in Donald Trump along the way, who’s now busy jettisoning trade agreements. I haven’t checked lately on what the official Left position should be on trade, but meanwhile that giant sucking sound has acquired a whole new identity.

That would be at least half of us, mostly on the left but also the ragged remnants of the conscientious right, holding their breath anticipating the results of next Tuesday’s election. We are the ones who fear that the country is in the hands of a dangerous maniac, a person who does not shrink from inciting his like-minded admirers to take up pipe bombs and assault rifles to carry out their murderous fantasies.

The best advice this year, even from some lifelong Republicans, is simply to vote for anyone running as a Democrat, including the prototypical Ol’ Yaller Dawg. And tell your friends and family who are in the toss-up states, which seems to be most states now. I’m proud to say that I have family in Missouri and Florida and Maryland and New York and Illinois, and I’m not worried about how a single one of them will vote, but we aren't all so lucky.

Here in California, it’s a bit more complicated. In much of the state, especially the Bay Area, we’ve already gotten rid of the Republicans. They are still lurking in some congressional districts (*Devin Nunes!) but reasonable people have been moving into places like Turlock and Orange County, so that might change on Tuesday, with the help of missionaries from the urban frontier.

But the party realignment in the Bay brings its own set of challenges. It’s easier to “hold your nose and pull the Democratic lever”, but the damned slate cards which arrive in every day’s mail are populated by people who claim to be the really truly official non-Republican Democrats. 

Folks, almost all the candidates are some kind of Democrat deep in their hearts, or at least non-Republicans. That including the ideologues of various flavors: Democratic Socialists, Greens (yes they are!), Peace and Freedom, even probably the Libertarians these days. Poke any of them and they’ll agree that Donald Trump is the Devil Incarnate—but that’s not enough. 

Here in Berkeley, to bring it all home in the end, there’s really only one issue where you can see a clear line of demarcation. Interestingly, there’s a headline on one of candidate Buffy Wicks’ three dozen pricey propaganda pieces that spells it out: The California Dream is at Risk: Buffy Wicks will Tackle Our Housing Crisis Head-On. Elsewhere her dark money backers dishonestly characterize opponent Jovanka Beckles’ position as There’s No Housing Crisis, conveniently omitting the second half of the sentence, “there’s an affordable housing crisis.” 

Really, the whole discussion can be boiled down to simple market fundamentalism. Proponents supporting Hicks and her patron, state legislator Scott Wiener, often cite Econ 101 as their bible, oblivious of upper-division courses with more nuanced analyses of markets. 

Just allow the market to build a lot of housing everywhere and some will eventually accrue to the needy, it’s argued by these neo-liberal true believers. And in order to let the market run free, let’s change state law to pre-empt large swathes of local land-use controls as well as weakening the California Environmental Quality Act. 

That position or some variant of it is espoused not only by Wicks but by some Berkeley City Council candidates, positioned as “moderates” on the local skewed spectrum, who would be Republicans (on this issue) anywhere else. Local progressives (those endorsed by Wellstone, Berkeley Progressive Alliance, BCA) favor retaining local control and actively prioritizing affordable housing over the let-the-market-decide philosophy. That would be, especially, Kate Harrison (District 4) and Mary Kay Lacey (District 8). Igor Tregub (District 1) and Rigel Robinson (District 7) also have these endorsements. They’re the ones to vote for if you don’t want Sacramento making our housing decisions. 

Recently a couple of funding measures on Tuesday’s ballot have come to my attention. State Proposition 3, water bonds, seemed at first to be a no-brainer. Who’s not in favor of water? But Andy Katz, on the Board of the East Bay Municipal Utility District and active in the Sierra Club, convinced me that this one was a stalking horse, a preliminary step toward Jerry Brown’s hair-brained scheme of building tunnels to divert even more water to greedy Big Agriculture, so I’ll be voting against it. 

Measure FF, benefiting the East Bay Regional Park District, is more difficult. Opponents are urging defeat of FF as a way of informing the district of their displeasure with what they believe to be a plan to clear-cut park eucalyptus forests and kill the stumps with toxic glyphosate (Round-Up). Checking with some academic ecologists of my acquaintance, I’ve learned that doing away with all non-native plants in the guise of fire prevention is not universally accepted and in fact widely criticized, so I guess I’ll vote no, in hopes that the district will put a better program forward before the next election. 

As always, when there are elections this space is open to advocacy of all kinds. We don’t have binary quotas (“one from each of the two sides”), being against bothsidesism and whataboutism as a matter of principle. We encourage our readers to throw away all of the expensive and wasteful paper glossies that candidates and causes have been sending, or at least the ones that consist mostly of selfies with celebrities, and seek out other sources of information. 

And about that national election: as they say in the birthing classes, just B-R-E-A-T-H-E. Inhale. Exhale. 

It will all be over before you know it, and then we can go on to the next crisis. Sigh. 

And for those who've inquired, once again, ENDORSEMENTS,

The Editor's Back Fence

New: Odd Bodkins Is Back!

Saturday November 03, 2018 - 11:27:00 PM

Fans of Dan O'Neill's Odd Bodkins cartoons will be delighted to learn that he's sent the Planet two strips that we are pleased to offer you for downloading. First, there's Back to 1969, all too relevant for the current political situation. Click here to download this one.

Then there's one that spotlights today's climate crisis. Click here to download it.

Endorsements Again

Becky O'Malley
Saturday November 03, 2018 - 01:55:00 PM

People have been asking how to find the Planet's endorsements. Just click here for the editorial in which they appeared, long ago: ENDORSEMENTS, , . Two additions: NO on State Proposition 3 and on Measure FF.

Public Comment

Daily Cal Endorsements Are Clear and Correct

Kelly Hammargren, Sustainable Berkeley Alliance
Friday November 02, 2018 - 02:34:00 PM

It is great to see DailyCal endorsements with clear explanations supporting their choices.

DailyCal on Kate Harrison District 4

DailyCal on Igor Tregub District 1

DailyCal on Rigel Robinson District 7

DailyCal on Mary Kay Lacey District 8

In all Districts the top endorsement is absolutely clear. Only in District 1 would I make a different choice for 2nd place in Rank Choice Voting. Having watched City Council by attending meetings steadily for almost 4 years (missed 3 meetings) Margo Schueler would bring a missing component - deep knowledge of infrastructure. There are others on Council now who have knowledge and experience in budgets. Kate is right there on top of that too. If we see these four, Igor, Kate, Rigel, and Mary Kay elected and with Kate's continuous push for accountability and transparency, Berkeley will be solidly on the right track.

Amazin’ Disgrace: Racial Profiling and Clear Cutting

Steve Martinot
Saturday November 03, 2018 - 01:49:00 PM

Got democracy?

On Tuesday, October 30, 2018, we went shopping for some at City Council. They didn’t have any in stock. We went down to the corner store looking for some. But they were fresh out as well. There ain’t none left.

And here we have election day coming up. Yet all we have is a vote and the naivete to think that this machinic act is the real thing. What do we become when technology gets substituted for dealing with issues?

There were two issues on the Council agenda that day. Both had been the subject of huge special meetings in the recent past. They were serious controversial issues – you know, people against institutions. One was about abating fire danger in the hills. The other was about police bias and racial profiling.

On that Tuesday, the first issue was railroaded through by a show of council’s autocratic power. It was put on the Consent Calendar, as if controversy didn’t exist, and the people’s voice was smothered under procedure and a corrupt unanimity.

The second issue was blown off by the Berkeley PD by simply failing to provide a promised report on how they were dealing with their racism. The Police Chief, however, did exhibit some racial profiling, right there in the council meeting, for the edification of all present. Let’s look at that one first. 


The police non-report  

The report (called a “mid-year crime report for 2018”) was given by this top cop and his assistant. They spoke about how crime was down, and complaints were down, and recruiting was down, and staffing was down, and bike cops were down, etc. It all bottomed out in his apology for failing to produce the racial profiling report. But they give a detailed account of how they used technology to catch a man charged with two separate sexual assaults on women. And it brought to mind the fact that there is still ten year’s backlog in processing rape kit evidence from such assaults the Bay Area. No one mentioned how much of that backlog is from Berkeley. Racial profiling isn’t the only thing the cops drag their feet on. 

But they do drag their feet. In public comment (50% black, 50% white) on the PD failure to produce its promised report, several speaker criticized the PD for not fulfilling the task given them by council. “We have been waiting a long time,” said one speaker, for implementation of a “fair and impartial policing policy.” The NAACP and the ACLU both have records of racial disparities in traffic stops, and handcuffing people on the street. 

And half the speakers brought up the fact that complaints may be down because people hesitate to complain, fearing reprisals or harassment or other forms of violence. 

Indeed, one councilmember brought that up again after “public comment.” She reported that people in her district have told her that they are afraid to call the police. “People don’t feel they will be respected or honored,” she said. She heard that a lot from constituents, she added, by way of giving feedback to the police. And she called for a “performance audit,” to get some sense of how the police are spending their time because, when people call the police, they don’t alwas get a good outcome. 

The cop responded that if people were dissatisfied with the service, they should call [wasn’t he listening? That was precisely what they were dissatisfied about]. 

All calls are recorded, he said, retreating into technology. Give me some specifics, he added, something I can track down. [When he says this, he is shrugging off what the councilmember is saying.] 

The councilmember repeats, some people are afraid to give specifics. They were afraid to complain to the police out of fear that they would then get harassed, with traffic stops or unnecessary questioning on the street. They don’t want to call attention to themselves because they don’t know when the police will turn on them. And the cop bristles defensively – what would you like me to do when there are no specifics? 

One wonders why that is a relevant question in a City Council meeting. It might be relevant on the street, but the councilmember is giving feedback, which the cop had asked for. She was speaking of people who don’t complain becauses the police don’t take complaints seriously, and here she is, confronting a cop who refuses to take what she was saying seriously. 

The councilmember persists: “I’m just saying …”. [Translation: this is feedback I’m giving you from my constituents]. But this time, the cop interrupts, and says, in a tone of annoyance, don’t give me stories or anecdotes or “I heard.” He reiterates his request for specifics. Yet in saying that, he couldn’t hear himself saying, “I don’t want to hear (such and such)…” – which is why people don’t want to deal with the police. 

Then he goes into a long disquisition about what it means that the cops will have lapel cameras, and that people can come into the station and go over the evidence of what happened by looking at the footage. In other words, he changes the subject. One way the government doesn’t listen is by changing the subject. Yet he appears miffed. Whatever preconception he is acting on, he doesn’t recognize the problem that the councilmember is naming, which the police had created. 

He ends up lecturing her, which is disrespectful, right after she has said that people are afraid they will not be treated with respect. They think it will make things worse for them, she has said, which is what has just happened to her, right there, as a case in point. 

Is this racial profiling? This councilmember is black. Does this cop evince the same attitude toward other councilmembers? Perhaps they are more careful to show obeisance – giving praise, and deferrance, and making very carefully worded statements. 

It is more subtle than that. Ironically, this cop had proudly mentioned that the Berkeley PD was starting a program of “implicit bias” training. Did he notice the “implicit bias” in the failure to produce the report on racial profiling? 

These two people are speaking disparate languages, so what the councilmember was saying got lost. The implication is that PD’s records of compaints about police activities are not valid because of the fear that people have. PD data is wrong because it is not complete, and for that reason, cannot be trusted. 

To use technological language as a response is to sweep things under the rug. 

The other irony (somewhat more disgraceful) was that our gavel-banging Mayor, who brooks no interruptions from the people in the gallery, and lectures people about not being disrespectful, just sat there throughout this exchange, like a bump on a log, while the cop disrespects what this councilmember is trying to say. That might mean that the cop was higher on the totem pole than the mayor. Something for the residents of Berkeley to think on. 


The great chain-saw solution  

“Be it resolved that the people shall have nothing to say about the agenda.” 

When council decides not to discuss an issue in open session, it can put it on the Consent Calendar. A rule-change a couple of months ago insulated the Consent Calendar from "galerista" influence ["galerista" refers to those in the gallery, the audience, who come to speak]. Under the old rules, we had the ability to countermand unified council decisions (made prior to the meeting, which might violate the Brown Act) about keeping something off the Action Calendar. In losing that power, we have become the victims of councilmembers’ prior off-the-record decisions. A decidedly anti-democratic move, the new rule gives the council autocratic control over the agenda. 

We went to council and got up to speak anyway. But powerlessly, so council didn’t have to listen. 

The item in question was a council endorsement of Proposition FF on the ballot. Prop FF is about anvironmental protection. It will raise money, through a miniscule tax, for abating erosion, maintaiing shorelines, and maintaining park trails and facilities. All that is wonderful, and simply positive maintenance of our urban environment. That wasn’t the issue. The real issue was wildfires, and the negative technological means that a newly created district over park maintenance could use to deal with it. Positive maintenance is not an issue. Destruction of an environment in the name of false fire prevention is. 

The issue had been raised years ago by FEMA, proposing that Oakland, Berkeley, and UC collaborate in clear-cutting the trees on the hills. At that time, it fostered that technological solution with associated use of Roundup, that is, yearly application of carcinogenic herbicides to curtail low vegetation growth. Of course, and herbicide would leach into the ground and the water. Hundreds of people showed up to speak against FEMA’s solutions. They were roundly rejected. Now it was back, hiding in an environmental maintenance measure. Forgotten was that the 1991 fire was started by grass and spread by houses burning, and the clear-cutting allows greater grass growth. Prop FF does not mention technology, however. For that reason, its antecdent Prop CC allowed these extremely destructive methods to be deployed in the hills. They are on the table. Prop FF would open the door to implementing the discredited FEMA strategy. 

A couple of dozen people showed up at council with signs and data and ecological and chemical and sociological arguments, trying to get this council, which had its mind made up in advnace, to take the item off Consent and actually discuss it and make policy about it. Not a chance. It was on Consent and it stayed there. Thus, the council ignored the information given by the environomental movement about what aids and what retards wildfires. It didn’t even have the temerity to look at this information, and incorporate into its endorsement. If this endorsement had been shifted to Action, it could have been amended to endorse the shoreline provisions, and parks maintenance provisions, while opposing the use of clear cutting and carcinogenic herbicides. But the council could not bring itself to do that. 

There was insufficient imagination to countenance such a procedure. So Berkeley City Council ended up endorsing the possible use of carcinogenic herbicides and clear-cutting trees. Disgraceful. 

Instead, a few councilmembers chose to change the subject. They weren’t listening because their minds had been made up. They were enamoured of the maintenance provisions that clothed the discredited strategy of chainsaws and Roundup. They endorsed it because of all the “wonderful things” the measure contained. 

An elected body ceases to be representative when it abrogates its responsibility to take what people bring to it, and not only consider it, but disseminate it among the people that body allegedly represents. Did the council not think it had such a respnsibility? Did it not think it important that trees block wind, and tree-coverage reduce the growth of ground fuel for fires? Date was given on all this. Is the chainsaw technology so appealing?. Was the council just more concerned with getting throug its agenda? 

What the galeristas were bringing to public attention is critical information concerning our environmental fate and future. We have to deal with the threat of fire from global warming (aka climate change), and also how to protect our environment from our own rampant use of technology, which is the cause of climate change (aka global warming) in the first place. 

By refusing to take the item off Consent and discuss it in light of the information given by the galeristas, the council has widened the chasm between itself and the people. It is now the case that the people have no structural means of influencing or participating in policy-making. There is a machinic aspect to how this council has brought this about that suggests a profound level of political corruption, one that gives procedure priority over people and their ideas and needs. 

That means that structural change and transformation have to occur in City Council proceedings if this city is once again to become democratic. Right now, we are saddled with an elite. And that is the real problem we face, why democracy is “off the shelf.” Procedure has been substituted for people. We see this in the loss of influence over the Consent Calendar. We see that in the reduction of time for speakers when there are more than ten. We see it in the fact that public comment goes first, so people speak into a vacuum, instead of having public comment follow some form of council discussion. And we have seen it in how the council traditionally sets controversial issues last on the agenda. 

You know what technology is? It is procedure. When you respond to people with technology, you are substituting procedure for discussion of issues with them as people. 

NO on Measure FF

Caroline Yunker
Saturday November 03, 2018 - 12:58:00 PM

Please cast a NO vote on Measure FF. A NO on Measure FF will stop funding of millions of dollars to clear-cut hundreds of thousands of healthy trees and turn these fire-abating trees into dried, flammable kindling in the East Bay Hills. David Maloney, Fire Prevention Chief, Oakland Army Base, “Dried grass provides the most flammable ground fuel,” and, “There‘s no if’s, and’s, or but’s… every single tree is a wildfire mitigation factor…. Trees block wind, drip fog onto grasses, and block sun so grasses stay moist.” 

A NO on Measure FF will stop the spraying of poisonous herbicides to tree stumps. Families and pets living nearby or hiking the park trails will be exposed to Monsanto’s Roundup or Dow Chemical’s Triclopry, both linked to cancer. Multitudes of animals depend on trees for habitat, food, and protection will be injured or killed.  

A NO on Measure FF will help mitigate climate change. An article dated 10/5/2018 from Mother Jones states: ‘Science Says Saving the Planet Could Really Be as Simple as Saving Trees.” Furthermore, FEMA calculated that the clearcutting of over 400,000 trees in the San Francisco East Bay will release 17,495 metric tons of greenhouse gasses. And that is on top of the loss of annual carbon sequestration. 

Do not fund the destruction of our majestic and beautiful trees. Save our trees, animals, plants, humans, and pets by voting NO on Measure FF. 

For more info: www.SaveEastBayHills.org 



For A Equitable and Sustainable Berkeley: West Berkeley Artisans & Industrial Companies’ Berkeley City Council Endorsements

WEBAIC: West Berkeley Artisans & Industrial Companies
Thursday November 01, 2018 - 11:54:00 AM

In response to 12 years of a Mayor and majority City Council actively seeking to undermine the protective West Berkeley Plan policies and zoning that make possible West Berkeley’s local, sustainable, industrial maker & artisan/arts economy and culture, in 2016 WEBAIC endorsed Mayor and City Council candidates for the first time. Five of six WEBAIC-endorsed candidates won, resulting in a much more supportive and collaborative environment for WEBAIC and its constituency of approximately 320 PDRR (Production, Distribution, Repair, Recycling) companies, their 7000+ good jobs, and the 250 existing art/music/dance studios with 1000+ working artists.

Notably, since last election’s turnover of the Mayor/Council majority, the City of Berkeley abandoned its large-scale rezoning efforts that would have resulted in widespread displacement of industrial and artisan companies providing important City revenue, goods and services, and thousands of family wage jobs for those needing them the most. Moving in the opposite, positive direction, the City has now joined with 28 other Bay cities in the Bay Area Urban Manufacturing Initiative to facilitate an interconnected regional manufacturing ecosystem.

Through hard experience, WEBAIC has come to understand the necessity of having a Mayor and Council that value the contributions our vibrant and robust industrial maker & arts sectors bring to Berkeley’s economy and culture, including their critical role in the City’s efforts to achieve and maintain broad-based equity, ethnic and economic diversity, and environmental sustainability.

In light of this experience, WEBAIC undertook an endorsement process to identify who we believe are the 2018 City Council candidates that best understand and support West Berkeley’s sustainable industrial & arts economy and culture. WEBAIC’s 2018 endorsements: 

District 1: Dual Endorsement – Igor Tregub and Margo Schueler (Remember to rank choice vote) 

District 1 is especially important to WEBAIC and the future of Berkeley’s sustainable industry and arts since it contains the northern half of the industrial industrial zones including all the Manufacturing zone plus half of the the Mixed Use Light Industrial and Mixed Use Residential zones. Igor Tregub has an impressive, clearly demonstrated track record of supporting WEBAIC and its constituency in our mutual efforts to maintain and protect West Berkeley’s vibrant, mixed-use economy. Margo Schueler’s impressive understanding of West Berkeley’s role in our City comes from her lived experience as both a welder in San Francisco’s shipyards and as an engineer with the Golden Gate Bridge and EBMUD. Both would make great representatives of District 1. 

District 4: Councilmember Kate Harrison 

WEBAIC endorsed Kate in 2016. She’s demonstrated that she continues to deserve our support through her positive Council actions and deep understanding of what West Berkeley’s industrial zones provide to our City. 

District 7: Rigel Robinson 

Retiring Council member Kris Worthington has endorsed Rigel. Being one of WEBAIC’s strongest supporters on the Council, WEBAIC takes Kris’ endorsement seriously, but our own discussion with Rigel revealed his substantive appreciation of the jobs, economy, and culture that West Berkeley’s industrial zones make possible. This is especially impressive coming from someone who has spent most of their time in the university setting, some distance from West Berkeley’s 

creative ferment. We look forward to a positive working relationship with Rigel on Council. 

District 8: Mary Kay Lacey 

Mary Kay impressed us with both her appreciation for what West Berkeley brings to the cornucopia that is our City. She’s also impressed us as a Planning Commissioner with her support for the policies installed in the zoning to preserve and encourage West Berkeley’s industrial maker and arts sectors. Lori Droste did not respond to our efforts to interview her. 

If you want to continue to live in a City that bakes its own bread, brews its own beer, and makes its own bikes, please vote on November 6 for the WEBAIC-endorsed candidates. 

West Berkeley Works!

Vote NO on EBRPD’s Measure FF

Madeline Hovland, People United to Protect Parks
Thursday November 01, 2018 - 11:45:00 AM

PUPP (People United to Protect Parks) is a group of individuals who oppose East Bay Regional Park District’s Measure FF parcel TAX because it will help fund ill-advised changes EBRPD wants to make in the parks that we love. Among those changes are removal of tall shade trees, “restoration” of native plants and trees (even where they never grew before), and increased use of toxic chemicals to keep weeds and other “undesirable” vegetation from thriving in unshaded areas where trees are cut down. 

Here’s why we urge you to vote NO on Measure FF: 

1. According to its recent financial report, EBRPD received $150 million from general property taxes in 2017. That amount is expected to increase every year as more residential units are built in the District. Measure FF projections are for close to $66 million over the 20 year period beginning in 2020-2021. We must make sure taxpayer money is not spent on changes the public does not want. 

2. EBRPD claims that 20% of the FF TAX, if passed, will be used to prevent hill fires. But EBRPD’s recent “fire safety” policies will result in decreased fire safety. For the past two years, EBRPD has been cutting down more tall, thick-trunked shade trees that store carbon and help prevent global warming. It claims this deforestation is in the interest of fire safety, although fire scientists agree that removing trees does nothing to curb wildfires. The Tubbs fire, the Thomas fire and the Lake County fire—in fact, just about all California wildfires—were not in forested areas. They started and spread in grasslands, shrublands and oak savannas, all of which happen to be primarily native vegetation that is easier to ignite and spreads faster than forest fires. 

All property owners in the EBRPD district will pay the Measure FF tax, even though many of them own property in flat lands far from EBRPD forests. Many residents in the flat lands also use the parks, but they have not been asked if they want to help pay for a landscape of stumps, and heavily thicketed chaparral or grasslands in the hills. 

3. More than 40% of the revenue expected from Measure FF and additional projects it leverages will be used in vain attempts to restore the hills landscape to what it was in 1772. In the past two years, EBRPD has been implementing new policies designed to please a small number of environmental nativists as well as the EBRPD bureaucracy. 

Some nativists actually believe, despite all scientific evidence, that so-called native vegetation (here before 1772) resists fire. Oak-bay savannas appear to be the nativist goal for East Bay parks. This landscape will be grassland and chaparral brush-covered hills, dotted with scrub oaks. (Scrub oaks, by the way, are a highly flammable chaparral species with branches growing close to the ground.) Fire rips through such landscapes even as it did before 1772 and later when people from the East Coast first settled in Berkeley and Oakland. 

Thousands of trees from far-off places were planted in the 1800s because people wanted them. Many different non-native species, including eucalyptus, were planted to alleviate the problem of recurring grass fires that would sweep down from the hills into residential areas in late summer when the grass grew tall and became dry and highly flammable. As the trees grew, their shade canopy prevented tall grass from growing under them. Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed New York’s Central Park and advised both UCB and Stanford, stressed the need to plant a diversity of trees (including non-natives) to “diminish the dazzle of sunlight on yellow hills.” 

Those early East Bay settlers knew from experience that grass and brushlands were much more flammable than trees. Let’s not allow EBRPD to reject that experience at the expense of our fire safety. 

4. EBRPD’s plan to restore native vegetation in the hills will require the increased use of toxic pesticides, applied several times a year, to kill weeds and other “undesirable” vegetation that will grow stronger, needing ever more toxic chemicals to keep them from overwhelming sensitive native vegetation. We are totally opposed to the use of pesticides. There is a great deal of evidence that toxic chemicals in pesticides such as Monsanto’s glyphosate cause cancer in humans, pets, and wildlife. 

Protect healthy forests. Protect pesticide-free parks for future generations. Demand that EBRPD change its policies before it wastes any more of your tax money. Vote NO on Measure FF.  

Historical information in this article is based on several sources. They include among others: George Pettit’s Berkeley, The Town and Gown of It, Howell-North Books, 1973; Beth Bagwell’s Oakland: Story of a City, Presidio Press, 1982; David Weber’s Oakland: Hub of the West, Continental Heritage Press, 1981; WPA publication, Berkeley, the First Seventy-Five Years, Gillick Press, 1941.

Mayor Scolds Uppity Police Critic

Thomas Lord
Friday November 02, 2018 - 10:59:00 AM

As many readers may know, "Public Comment" is those portions of City Council meetings when Council members are able to take a few minutes to catch up on emails and texts, chat among themselves, visit the restroom, and enjoy the fine snacks laid out in the private antechamber. Of course, some of the more hardy council members use this opportunity to pretend to listen to the regular citizens who line up to speak. For their part, the speakers return the favor by pretending that what they say to Council might make a damn bit of difference. 

After decades of this arrangement, the conceit that Public Comment is meaningful engagement falls flat and so when the Mayor announced in only his 7th month of office that he intended to promote "civility, respect and decorum" - many assumed he meant he'd try to improve how Council respects the speakers. 

A ruckus arose at last Tuesday's City Council meeting (October 30, 2018) when a rather observant Mr. J. P. Massar rose to register two related complaints about the annual crime report, a presentation of which Council and the public had just received. 

The crime report itself was unsurprising and generally good news as these things go: Crime in most categories is at least slightly down. In spite of too many shooting incidents, not a single homicide so far this year. 

Yet something was missing from the report. Back in 2017 Council had directed staff and the police to include statistics that may help to identify racial bias in policing. Complaining of a lack of time, the police now say that report will be delivered in late March of 2019. 

With just the 60 seconds initially allotted him, Citizen Massar spoke to council and first he sensibly complained that City Staff had failed to meet a Council-ordered deadline. After all, staff had a full a year to prepare the missing report. Yet, whatever the report's eventual findings, it is almost certain to spark controversy. In that sense, the delay until after the election appears to be a bit convenient. 

"Something's wrong," explained Massar. "It's disrespect to the Council and it's disrespect to the People who are expecting these things to be done." He received a smattering of applause. 

Massar went on to question claims that the police and City staff lacked the time to complete the report. Turning towards the table where the police chief sat, Massar continued "You spent hours and hours and hours tweeting away on social media, on August 5th, doxxing people (see the end note about doxxing). 

At that point the Mayor interrupted "Thank you. Thank you very much," he said just before the buzzer rang. This is the Mayor's way of trying to usher speakers off the stage. (Massar had in fact only gotten 55 of of 60 seconds but who's counting, right?) 

It was not-so-fast for the Mayor, though. Up to four people may, if they chose, donate their own minute of comment to someone else. As is the custom, Massar turned to the audience and held up one finger (a polite finger) - asking for the donation of an additional minute. 

"NEXT SPEAKER PLEASE," the Mayor raising his voice. In reply, a voice from the room donated another minute to Massar. The Mayor hadn't had his full say, though, and how he continued was remarkable: 

"Let's please, let's please not attack the police department." Jesse was starting to sound a bit plaintive. 

The normally poker faced Massar drew back, aghast and for a moment he and the Mayor talked over one another. 

"If you can be constructive with your comments..." continued the Mayor, making up a new rule on the fly. 

"I will attack the police department when I want to!" Massar rebutted, accurately. 

"Let's have some civility," tried the Mayor, vaguely. This whole Public Comment thing wasn't going as he'd hoped. 

"I think I've been very civil!" retorted Massar. "I haven't said anything disrespectful. How can you suggest that I said anything disrespectful? It's the truth that they spent hours and hours and hours and hours sitting, tweeting, doxxing people when they should, in most people's opinion, in the City of Berkeley, they should not have been doing that. And here they are standing before you and complaining about the time that they don't have. That's all I want to say. Thank you." 

To the Mayor's evident chagrin, most of the speakers had been critical of the police. The final speaker after Massar was more of the same - she cited her experience working with homeless people to assert that there are particular officers, some known by name, who are abusive and racially biased. She's heard from homeless people who have experiences like being taken away by the police and, when asked what they were being arrested for, were told "we'll think of something later". 

There being nobody else lined up to speak, the Mayor granted himself the floor to get in one last dig at the public. Turning to the Chief, "While it certainly wasn't stated by many of the speakers, I appreciate the work the police department does." 

The Mayor then went on to gush over the police for nearly a full six minutes, at two points casually insulting constituents and speakers some more. "I know that for myself and the people I represent, I appreciate the work this department does." 

The Mayor had indeed promoted "civility, respect and decorum" just for some more than others. 

end note: the police doxxing incident

On August 5th, 2018, a far right group convened a rally in Downtown Berkeley and so, as is customary, anti-fascists organized a counter-protest. 

The Berkeley police, apparently tired of being portrayed as soft on anti-fascism by the right wing press, arrested a number of anti-fascists (none of whom was ever charged with a crime), gathered up their mug shots, names, and the cities in which they reside, and took to social media to show off their catch. This practice, known as doxxing, exposes those arrested to harassment including threats of violence and death. 

It was later exposed that the police merely wanted to, in their words, "change the narrative".

ECLECTIC RANT: Trump Crying Wolf about Migrant Caravan

Ralph E. Stone
Thursday November 01, 2018 - 01:26:00 PM

The recent caravan heading for the U.S. border is like manna from heaven for Trump and the Republican candidates for Congress. Now they can sow fear, loathing, and lies about these poor migrants escaping poverty and terror in their countries and seeking a better life in this country. Trump provided no support for his claim that the caravan includes criminals and Middle East terrorists. In response to this fictional threat, In response to this fictional threat, Trump plans to send 800 troops to the U.S.-Mexico border ahead of the caravan in an attempt to rally Republican midterm voters — an “October surprise.” 

These caravans of migrants are nothing new; they are an annual event, going back as far back as 2010. Their primary reason for traveling together is to avoid some of the dangers faced by travelers taking the often perilous route through Mexico to the southern border of the U.S. Of course, a small number will probably reach the U.S. but the large majority of those in the caravan will try to stay in Mexico.  

By threatening to close the U.S. border, Trump is crying wolf. There is no evidence of an imminent influx of asylum seekers. In fact, border crossings have plummeted in the last decade and are at the lowest level since 1971. An April 2018 report by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency said the number of unaccompanied migrant children detained along the Mexican border was down 24% from the previous year and the number of detained families dropped 32%. 

In sum, Trump is trying to create a crisis where there is none as a cynical ploy to appeal to the prejudices of likely midterm voters.

Yes on FF for Parks and Fire Prevention

Robert Cheasty
Saturday November 03, 2018 - 12:51:00 PM

Please vote Yes on Measure FF to extend the East Bay Regional Parks District revenue stream for parks and for fire prevention. I urge you to read FF if you are not familiar with all the great projects and goals it is tackling.  

This is the same revenue that we have been paying at $1 per month per parcel (under the former measure CC). This is merely an extension, not an increase in the parcel tax.
We are seeing the improvements in the parks we have been asking for, but the parcel tax rate is low so this is a slow process. The sums collected take time to accumulate to do the improvements.
The area covered by the $1 per month panel tax is western Alameda and Contra Costa Counties, both for collating indenting the funds.
Is this Measure perfect?
A. Like every thing in a democracy, there are compromises but this parcel tax delivers mightily. It has a list of areas and projects where the funds MUST be spent and it continues the fine work started by the former measure CC.
How did the decisions get made?
A. The Park District sat down with the publican as many stakeholder groups as it could find to get real public input. It came up with the priorities and put them into the Measure FF to ensure that is where and how the money will be spent.
What about the Fire Prevention?
A. Measure FF significant increases the funds needed to prevent the kind of disastrous fire that took place in the East Bay hills in the past. After taking public input and working with fire experts, the Park district mad the best call it could to protect high fire danger zones. We need to work together to review the latest science and be ready to make adjustments if we discover better ways. Get involved with the Park District to make improvements if you feel that there are deacons you want to see.
Vote yes on FF. Long term improvements for parks and fire prevention require funding. Get this done.
To those few people who oppose FF because they do not agree with everything in Measure FF -. there is no perfect tax measure. This is a democracy - get involved in Park District issues to see your opinion included. Have patience with the democratic processes and do not oppose good measures because you feel they are not perfect. Don’t let perfection smother the good we can do. Pass Measure FF.

Transit-Oriented Development Can't Reduce Berkeley's Carbon Footprint - But Door-to-Door Transit Can

Russ Tilleman
Friday November 02, 2018 - 04:10:00 PM

Building housing near transit has one glaring flaw. It can't reduce Berkeley's carbon footprint because it doesn't do anything about the people who already live here.

It can limit how much bigger Berkeley's carbon footprint gets, but it can't fix climate change by itself.


The recent "IPCC Special Report on Global Warming" from the United Nations gives the world 12 years to reduce carbon emissions, not limit how fast they increase. The report predicts dire consequences if we fail to accomplish this goal.

Fortunately, there is an approach that can greatly reduce Berkeley's carbon footprint by getting people out of their fossil-fueled cars and into a combination of Neighborhood Electric Vehicles for short trips and BART trains for longer trips.

I call this approach door-to-door transit, because it finally solves the centuries-old "last mile" problem of moving people between their homes or jobs and the nearest transit stations. 


Traditional public transit puts people together onto a train or bus which travels in the direction that all those individuals want to go. But there is a fundamental problem with this approach - Different people want to go different places. 

If a shared vehicle travelled to everyone's Point A and Point B, it would have to zigzag all over the place. And that would be very inefficient. But a vehicle that runs down the middle of a transit corridor, say north-to-south across Berkeley, doesn't get very close to many people's Point A and Point B. 

Generally some kind of compromise is made between these two extremes. But the result leaves many people with a long way to travel to get to the nearest station. 

Many people do not want to walk half an hour from their home to the train station, ride the train for close to an hour, and then walk another half hour from the train to their workplace. 


There is an environmental cost to all that walking, because the time could be used to earn money to be spent on carbon offset credits. And that could reduce overall carbon emissions. 

Time is one of the reasons so few people ride BART and AC Transit. Out of 8 million people living in the Bay Area, around 200,000 ride BART and less than 100,000 ride AC Transit. 

This is unfortunate, but it is also a big opportunity to cut carbon by getting more people onto transit. 


With door-to-door transit, large numbers of Neighborhood Electric Vehicles are placed at BART stations for use by commuters. A Berkeley resident can drive one of these NEVs home in the evening, keep it overnight, and drive it to the BART station in the morning. Someone who commutes into Berkeley can use the same NEV during the work day. 

This approach revolutionizes transit. The process can be as fast and convenient as driving a private automobile all the way from Point A to their Point B, and as energy-efficient as riding a train. It has several advantages. 

1) The NEVs are only used at the ends of the trip. They travel primarily on neighborhood streets that don't have much traffic and stay off the central choke points like freeways and bridges. 

2) The entire system is electric, so as long as the electricity is generated cleanly, this can be much greener than driving a fossil-fueled car all the way from Point A to Point B. 

3) Using BART's realtime arrival online system, commuters can plan the proper time to leave their Point A to reach BART just in time to catch their train. So there is no significant wait time to get on the train. 

4) When exiting the train, commuters can immediately pick up an NEV and drive it to their Point B. So there is no significant wait time there either. 

5) There is guaranteed parking at the end of the drop-off line at every BART station for every NEV. Several times as many NEVs fit in a parking lot than private cars because they are small vehicles and can be packed in bumper-to-bumper. 

6) An $8000 NEV, rented for $6, twice per work day, can pay for itself in about 3 years with no subsidies. So this program doesn't have to cost the taxpayers anything. 

This adds up to an inexpensive and environmentally-friendly trip that takes about as long as driving. So commuters can easily do their part to stop climate change. Also, many people won't need to own a private car anymore, which can eliminate the carbon emitted in manufacturing that car. 


I first proposed this form of transit 7 years ago, and BART agreed to work with me to implement it. But the City of Berkeley didn't want to participate, so it never got done. Hundreds or even thousands of people drove their fossil-fueled cars through rush hour traffic to work and back every day, who could have used this approach instead. 

One of the problems blocking progress on climate change is money in politics. Politicians who take money from real estate developers and provide favors to them in return don't care about the environment. And they won't vote for the solutions we need. 

If we want to save the planet, we have to get money out of politics now at the city, county, transit district, state and federal level. You get what you pay for and the environment doesn't have the money to buy City Councils, Boards of Supervisors, Boards of Directors, State Assemblies and Congress. 

I am doing my part by not accepting campaign donations. I'm running a basic issues-oriented campaign and paying for it myself. So far I have spent less than $1000 and I plan to still be under that limit on election day. 

I'm being outspent 40-to-1 but I trust Berkeley voters not to be swayed by a mailbox full of advertising. Companies like Gordon Commercial Properties, who illegally contributed to Lori Droste's campaign, have no control over me. 


Looking forward, Berkeley can choose to act on this now, while it can help avoid the climate catastrophe predicted by the United Nations. Or Berkeley can choose to not act on this for another 7 years. Or 100 years, or forever. The choice is ours. 

If I am elected, I will recommend an immediate trial program to see how well this approach can work. If it works well, Berkeley and other cities around the country can ramp it up to a scale where it really cuts carbon.

The Caravan

Tejinder Uberoi
Friday November 02, 2018 - 11:31:00 AM

In a desperate attempt to malign the Democrats before the mid-term elections, the divider-in-chief, President Trump has reached down into his oversize bag of “dirty tricks’ and used the desperate plight of Honduran migrants to stoke fear and galvanize his base. Fearful of a blue wave, the president and the GOP are moving audaciously far from the truth and deep into the gutter. 

Representative Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican, slyly accused liberal philanthropist George Soros of funding the caravan and in the process put him in mortal danger with an undetonated explosive device found outside his home. 

While the president continues to demonize “the tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free. . “, we seldom hear about the causes of this northern migration. 

During the wars in the 1980s, the United States government spent billions of dollars supporting murderous dictators in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras creating devastation that left tens of thousands dead, millions displaced internally, more than a hundred thousand refugees in Mexico and shattered societies. The lasting legacy is violence, corruption and impunity. 

Instead of rebuilding societies we destroyed, the Trump administration now threatens the little U.S. aid those countries receive, reportedly $500 million last year. Common sense would suggest Central American desperately need US economic aid, and remittances sent by immigrants to prevent social and economic collapse.

Lara for Insurance Commissioner

Dave Blake
Friday November 02, 2018 - 11:22:00 AM

Wellstone didn’t recommend on state insurance commissioner, perhaps fooled by technical nonpartisan status. Poizner, a Republican (claims to be now “independent”), is leading on name recognition. Lara is clearly the progressive choice.

How Trump is Turning the U.S. into a Dictatorship

Jack Bragen
Thursday November 01, 2018 - 01:01:00 PM

The American people are systematically being locked out of our democracy. This is being done by means of voter suppression and other tactics to rig our elections, in combination with a skewed Supreme Court. 

In upcoming elections, it becomes more and more likely that these elections will be contested because of corruption in how the voting and counting is being handled, and voter suppression. In the future, appeals of the results must go through the Supreme Court, which is badly unbalanced. This is the tactic by which U.S. citizens are being locked out of the government. 

Donald Trump does not believe in America, and in small steps keeps inching the U.S. toward a dictatorship. Because it is being done in relatively small pieces, rather than making an attempt at a massive change all at once, the people do not have a red line in the thermometer. 

We will continue to see increased movement in the direction of the U.S. no longer being a democracy. During the upcoming election, watch out. The Republican leadership has tactics in place to undermine the election. And with a Supreme Court that sympathizes with Trump, a contested election will go to the Republicans.

November Pepper Spray Times

By Grace Underpressure
Saturday November 03, 2018 - 09:49:00 PM

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

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

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

This is a Very Good Deal. Go for it! 

Vote YES for Measure FF!

Pam Young
Saturday November 03, 2018 - 12:53:00 PM

The PUPP writer is woefully uninformed and misunderstands basic forestry and fire hazard management. What does the PUPP writer even mean by the statement, ““restoration” of native plants and trees (even where they never grew before)” ??? How can native plants and trees never have grown where they are to be restored? Implicit in the definition of restoration is the removal of nonnative plants so that native plants can be restored to their natural habitat. Restoration fosters the resiliency of ecosystems and helps reduce the risk of fuel loads associated with non-native vegetation. 


The PUPP writer’s claim about toxic chemicals is false. Toxic chemicals are not at an increased use. Species-specific herbicides are minimally applied at researched sites so that they rapidly decompose and pose minimal impact to the environment. Even herpetologists recommend this method of herbicidal application because it is least likely to harm even the most chemically sensitive native amphibians in the parks and offers the greatest benefit for habitat restoration. 

When asked if the Park District is doing a good job, the public overwhelmingly said yes. Our park managers are experts who are committed to responsible land management so that we can safely enjoy our beautiful parks. Contrary to PUPP’s assertion that “money is spent on changes the public does not want,” the public clearly supports the improvements that the Park District will continue to provide. 

PUPP falsely asserts that Measure FF will provide $66 million over 20 years. In fact, Measure FF is projected to provide less than $50 million over 20 years. 

Contrary to PUPP’s assertion that “EBRPD has been cutting down more tall, thick-trunked shade trees that store carbon and help prevent global warming, “ EBRPD has a forest management plan that, in fact, enhances the growth of fire-resistant shade trees, such as oaks and redwoods. 

The PUPP writer misunderstands and mistakenly ascribes the causes of the Tubbs, Thomas, and Lake County fires to grasslands. In fact, the fires were caused by power lines that ignited nearby trees that should have been pruned and kept a safe distance from the power lines. See https://abc7news.com/cal-fire-releases-cause-of-12-north-bay-wildfires/3579377/ 

Again the PUPP writer misstates the facts about who pays and benefits from Measure FF. Keep in mind that the EBRPD parks are free to anyone who seeks a park experience regardless of where they live. This Measure will not increase taxes at all. This measure is merely a continuation of an existing parcel tax that amounts to just $12 per year for a property owner. 

The PUPP reader makes a false claim when asserting that hill restoration projects are a “vain attempt.” Where hill restoration has taken place, the restored habitat is home to threatened or endangered species such as the Tri-colored blackbird, the red-legged frog, or the San Joaquin kit fox. Without such hill restoration projects, threatened and endangered species lose their habitat and have nowhere to go and are at risk for extinction. Hill restoration is one of many science-based tools for protecting rare plants and animals. 

By applying the fictional name of “nativist” to science-trained conservationists, the PUPP writer dismisses out of hand years of professional training, research and publications in peer-reviewed journals, and evidence-based management practices. Dear reader, please inform yourselves of the facts. A simple search of best fire management practices will turn up countless research and published writings in peer-reviewed journals. Such practices are the basis for the EBRPD’s fire management and hill restoration plans. Start here: https://www.fs.fed.us/rm/pubs/rmrs_gtr325.pdf 

Again the PUPP writer is mistaken when they assert, “non-native species, including eucalyptus, were planted to alleviate the problem of recurring grass fires.” In fact, eucalyptus trees were planted as a lumber source. However, it is widely accepted that “In seasonally dry climates oaks are often fire-resistant, particularly in open grasslands, as a grass fire is insufficient to ignite the scattered trees. In contrast, a eucalyptus forest tends to promote fire…” See Wikipedia at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eucalyptus#Fire_hazard 

The PUPP writer sadly dismisses the natural resilience of native oaks and the reduced risk of fire that is associated with a healthy oak forest. 


The PUPP writer falsely conflates the use of toxic pesticides as a cancer-causing agent with the safe application of herbicides by trained professionals. The writer fails to comprehend that professionally-applied herbicides assure that impacts to the habitat and to chemically-sensitive wildlife are minimized. Land managers oppose the use of toxic pesticides that persist in the environment. Instead, only target-specific herbicides that rapidly decompose in the environment are applied. 

Please do your own research and then, with confidence that your forests and parks will be there for our future safe enjoyment, vote Yes for Measure FF! 


DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE: Afghanistan: Is Peace At Hand?

Conn Hallinan
Friday November 02, 2018 - 11:17:00 AM

The news that the Americans recently held face-to-face talks with the Taliban suggests that longest war in US history may have reached a turning point, although the road to such a peace is long, rocky and plagued with as many improvised explosive devices as the highway from Kandahar to Kabul.

That the 17-year old war has reached a tipping point seems clear. The Taliban now controls more territory than they have since the American invasion in 2001. Causalities among Afghan forces are at an all time high, while recruitment is rapidly drying up. In spite of last year’s mini-surge of US troops and airpower by the Trump administration, the situation on the ground is worse now than in was in 2017. If any one statement sums up the hopelessness—and cluelessness—of the whole endeavor, it was former Secretary of State’s challenge to the Taliban: “You will not win a battlefield victory. We may not win one, but neither will you.”

Of course, like any successful insurgency, the Taliban never intended to “win a battlefield victory,” only not to lose, thus forcing a stalemate that would eventually exhaust their opponents. Clearly the lessons of the Vietnam War are not part of the standard curriculum at Foggy Bottom.

Why things have gone from bad to worse for the US/NATO occupation and the Kabul government has less to do with the war itself than a sea change in strategy by the Taliban, a course shift that Washington has either missed or ignored. According to Ashley Jackson of the Overseas Development Institute, the Taliban shifted gears in 2015, instituting a program of winning hearts and minds. 

The author of the new strategy was Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour, who took over the organization following the death of founder Mullah Omar in 2013. Instead of burning schools, they staff them. Instead of attacking government soldiers and police, they strike up informal cease-fires, even taking turns manning checkpoints. They set up courts that are not tainted by corruption, collect taxes and provide health services. 

Mansour also made efforts to expand the Taliban from its Pashtun base to include Tajiks and Uzbeks. According to Jackson, both ethnic groups—generally based in northern Afghanistan—have been appointed to the Taliban’s leadership council, the Rahbari Shura. 

Afghanistan’s main ethnic divisions consists of 40 percent Pashtuns, 27 percent Tajiks, 10 percent Hazara and 10 Uzbeks. 

It is not clear how much of the country the Taliban controls. NATO claims the group dominates only 14 percent of the country, while the Kabul government controls 56 percent. But other analysts say the figure for Taliban control is closer to 50 percent, and a BBC study found that the insurgents were active in 70 percent of the country. 

Jackson says the “Taliban strategy defies zero-sum notions of control” in any case, with cities and district centers under government authority, surrounded by the Taliban. “An hour’s drive in any direction from Kabul will put you in Taliban territory.” 

Taliban leaders tell Jackson that the group is looking for a peace deal not a battlefield victory, and the new approach of governance seems to reflect that. That is not to suggest that the group has somehow gone pacifist, as a quick glance at newspaper headlines for October makes clear: “Taliban assassinate Afghan police chief,” Taliban attack kills 17 soldiers,” “On 17th anniversary of U.S. invasion 54 are killed across Afghanistan.” 

The Taliban are not the centralized organization that they were during the 2001 U.S./NATO invasion. The US targeted Taliban primary and secondary leaders—Mansour was killed by an American drone strike in 2016—and the group’s policies may vary from place to place depending who is in charge. 

In Helmand in the south, where the Taliban control 85 percent of the province, the group cut a deal with the local government to open schools and protect the staff. Some 33 schools have been re-opened. 

In many ways there is an alignment of stars right now, because most of the major players inside and outside of Afghanistan have some common interests. The problem is that the Trump administration sees some of those players as competitors, if not outright opponents. 

The Afghans are exhausted, and one sign of that is how easy it has been for Taliban and local government officials to work together. While the Taliban can still overrun checkpoints and small bases, US firepower makes taking cities prohibitively expensive. At the same time the US has dialed down its counterinsurgency strategy, and, along with government forces, redeployed to defend urban areas. 

The Taliban and the Kabul government also have a common enemy, the Islamic State (IS), which, while not a major player yet, is expanding. The growth of the IS and other Islamic insurgent groups is a major concern for other countries in the region, in particular those that share a border with Afghanistan: Iran, Russia, China and Pakistan. 

But this is where things get tricky and where no alignment of stars may be able to bring all these countries into convergence. 

Pakistan, China, Iran and Russia are already conferring on joint strategies to bring the Afghan war to a conclusion and deepen regional cooperation around confronting terrorism. China is concerned with separatists and Islamic insurgents in its western provinces. Russia is worried about the spread of the IS into the Caucuses region. Iran is fighting separatists on its southern border, and Pakistan is warring with the IS and its home-grown Taliban. And none of these countries are comfortable with the US on their borders, 

Russia, China and Pakistan are members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and Iran has applied to join. The SCO consults on issues around trade and energy, but also security. While India is also a member, its relationship to Afghanistan is colored by its competition with Pakistan and China. New Delhi has border issues with China and has fought three wars with Pakistan over Kashmir, but it, too, is worried about terrorism. 

All of these countries have been discussing what to do about ending the war and getting a handle on regional terrorism. 

A path to end the war might look like this: 

First, a ceasefire in Afghanistan between the Taliban and the Kabul government and a pull back of American troops. The argument that if the US withdrew, the Kabul government would collapse and the Taliban take over as they did during the civil war in 1998 is really no longer valid. Things are very different locally, regionally and internationally than they were two decades ago. 

The Taliban and the Kabul government know neither can defeat the other, and the regional players want an end to a war that fuels the kind of terrorism that keeps them all up at night. 

The SCO could agree to guarantee the ceasefire, and, under the auspices of the United Nations, arrange for peace talks. In part this is already underway since the Americans are talking to the Taliban, although Washington raised some hackles in Kabul by doing so in secret. Transparency in these negotiations is essential. 

One incentive would be a hefty aid and reconstruction package. 

There are a number of thorny issues. What about the constitution? The Taliban had no say in drawing it up and are unlikely to accept it as it is. What about women’s right to education and employment? The Taliban say they now support these, but that hasn’t always been the case in areas where the group dominates. 

All this will require the cooperation of the Trump administration, and there’s the rub. 

If one can believe Bob Woodward’s book “Fear,” Trump wants out and the US military and the CIA are trying to cut their losses. As one CIA official told Woodward, Afghanistan is not just the grave of empires, it’s the grave of careers. 

However, Washington has all but declared war on Iran, is in hostile standoffs with Russia and China, and recently cut military aid to Pakistan for being “soft of terrorism.” In short, landmines and ambushes riddle the political landscape. 

But the stars are in alignment if each player acts in its own self-interest to bring an end to the bloodshed and horrors this war has visited on the Afghan people. 

If all this falls apart, however, next year will have a grim marker: some young Marine will step on a pressure plate in a tiny rural hamlet, or get ambushed in a rocky pass, and come home in an aluminum casket from a war that began before he or she was born. 


Conn Hallinan can be read at dispatchesfromtheedgeblog.wordpress.com and middleempireseries.wordpress.com 







ON MENTAL ILLNESS: You Don't Have to be Mentally Ill to be Delusional

Jack Bragen
Friday November 02, 2018 - 11:08:00 AM

Because I have suffered severe psychosis numerous times, and with mild psychosis for all my adult life, by necessity, I am familiar with processes by which I can overcome more than half of my delusional thoughts. It involves questioning my own thinking as to whether it is accurate. It also involves the realization that thoughts are merely thoughts--they are a representation, but they should not be accepted as "reality," at least until proven by means of the five physical senses, or by means of checking out the thoughts with other reliable sources. 

Because of the above, in some respects, I am mentally ahead of many people. Most people have not attempted to question their basic assumptions. Questioning my assumptions, for me, is a matter of survival. Most people can get by with a few errors in thought that may or may not be corrected at some point. However, as a person with psychotic tendencies, I must continually question my thinking. And if I don't do that, my mind will go perilously far off track. 

Being medicated doesn't mean that psychotic people will not have symptoms. Medication is a prerequisite; it slows things down to the extent that correcting the thoughts is practicable. 

However, in this week's column, I bring up the apparent fact that "regular people," not just those of us with a diagnosis, are very capable of having severe delusions, and even delusional systems. 

There are examples in history in which groups of people have collectively become delusional. In the present day, countries have their own spins of reality, which has been spoon fed to the citizens by government or, in the U.S., by corporate controlled media systems. 

People in some foreign countries may be subject to propaganda as their only sources of information about countries, or about people of other ethnicities. This may not fully qualify as delusion. However, government seems to spoon feed or even force their versions of "reality"--the lies that citizens are expected to take in. 

If you live in North Korea, a very isolated country, you might never hear word that things are better in other countries, and you might never hear that in other countries, people have basic liberties and can get enough to eat. 

Thus, leaders of countries tell lies that citizens are expected to believe. When people assimilate a lie, it makes them delusional. When people intentionally propagate a lie, it is abuse. 

Clinging to a belief that is untrue is one definition of being delusional. 

And, let's not forget about Jonestown. A large group of people were in an isolated area and were subjected to a cult environment. Without reiterating details that are commonly available, nearly the whole group was made to become delusional; it ended in tragedy. Isolating a person or persons from contact with the outside world is a frequent strategy that some sociopaths use to subject their victims to their abuse and control. 


If a person who has no history of being psychotic adopts a basic assumption that is false, any thoughts which follow from that will be delusions. 

Many people in the U.S. have delusions. Some churches and other organizations promote belief systems that are borderline or even outright delusional. People don't adequately think for themselves. Yet, if a person thinks for oneself excessively, to the exclusion of common sense, they are likely to adopt their own set of delusions--beliefs that no one else will accept. At least, if you ascribe to delusions held by numerous people, you can interact and not be called "crazy" or be deemed an enemy.  

I do not have access to what goes on in the minds of other people. However, I can ascertain from people's speech and behavior that a lot of people have strongly held beliefs that cause them not to know what they are talking about. 

Many individuals will dismiss what they see with their five senses in favor of a strongly held belief. People will literally ignore facts that are directly in front of them. 

What makes someone mentally ill, as opposed to simply having incorrect assumptions or other incorrect beliefs? The mentally ill person is so bad off that they either cannot meet their basic needs, or they have produced violence or a threat of violence. The difference with a mentally ill person is sometimes only that she or he is split off from what other people accept. 

The human mind is not designed to objectively find facts. Doing that would not help in passing along our genetic information. Evolution has apparently designed human beings to live and reproduce. An objective mind is probably not the most efficient at achieving that. People are designed to hold onto just enough truth to be effective at passing along their DNA. 

There are numerous ways in which the normal can be subject to delusions. One of these is to adopt one or more erroneous assumptions. Also, sleep deprivation, or an extended period of isolation, can bring this about. Certainly, narcotics can make an otherwise "normal" person become delusional. The normal can become delusional if subjected to a crazy-making environment. 

People should realize that becoming delusional isn’t a sign that our mind is useless, and it isn't a sign of bad character. We are deemed "psychotic" or "schizophrenic" when we appear to be delusional due to an internal problem. Misdiagnoses do occur. However, including when correctly diagnosed, there should be no shame; we are in good company. 

Just to remind the reader--I have books for sale, several of them pertaining to mental illness, as well as two fiction collections. To get a look at my books on Amazon, click here, or do a search on the web.  

THE PUBLIC EYE: What We Are Fighting For

Bob Burnett
Friday November 02, 2018 - 11:01:00 AM

If you are reading this, it's very likely that you are going to vote. The purpose of this column is not to convince you to vote but rather to urge you to convince every eligible voter you know to cast their vote. This is a crucial election. Let's consider what Democrats are fighting for and why it's so important that we turn out every eligible voter we can reach. 

The results of this election will determine the future of our country, the viability of our democracy. Two years of Donald Trump have demonstrated that his basic instincts are non-democratic and that congressional Republicans will not stand up to him. 

Trump is a dreadful person. Nonetheless, it is theoretically possible for Trump to be a jerk and still be a champion of democracy. Sadly, this is not the case. 

Donald Trump is a tyrant. His basic instincts are undemocratic -- he's focussed on what's best for him and absolutely willing to trample on the right of others in order to accomplish his objectives. For Trump, winning is everything; he believes the ends justify the means and that might makes right. 

But it's not only Trump's operational style that is undemocratic, Donald's morality is similarly warped. Trump's conduct demonstrates that he doesn't believe in the Golden Rule; nor does he spend any time seeking "win-win" solutions where everyone comes out ahead. Donald ruthlessly seeks wealth and power. 

Trump lies. And lies. And lies. On October 30th, the Washington Post reported that in 649 days in office, Trump made 6420 "false or misleading claims." (https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/politics/trump-claims-database/? ) The average number of false claims per day keeps climbing the longer Trump stays in office. Since June the number has escalated. On September 7, the president reached a new daily high of 125 false and misleading claims. In October, Trump , made more than 1000 false claims 

Trump lies in order to further his ambition. He will say and do anything to win. And he will attack anyone that gets in his way. 

It goes without saying that Trump is a sexist. (He's an unrepentant sexual predator.) He's also a racist. These traits are consistent with his dominant behavior as a full-throttle bully. Trump doesn't believe in collaboration or compromise; he believes in running over people. As President, he has made no attempt to reach out to Democrats or to those who did not vote for him. Donald's entire focus has been to motivate his base. He is not President for all the people, only those he perceives as being on his side. 

Therefore, it is true that this election is about Trump. But it's also true that Trump is not on the ballot. In state after state, Democrats are going after Republican incumbents because they will not stand up to Trump -- they will not defend Democracy. 

After the presidential election, many of us hoped that congressional Republicans would stand up to Trump; we hoped that they would limit his most egregious actions. Our hopes were dashed. Republicans have united behind Trump -- with a few notable exceptions such as the late Senator John McCain. 

A recent NPR/PBS Newshour/Marist poll asked voters about what their top issues were, heading in the 2018 midterm election. 20 percent responded "Economy, jobs;" 17 percent healthcare; 17 percent immigration; 9 percent "taxes, spending:" 7 percent climate change; and 5 percent guns. Trump and the GOP are on the wrong side of all these issues. 

On August 11th, Forbes magazine (https://www.forbes.com/sites/chuckjones/2018/08/11/trumps-economic-scorecard-higher-inflation-flat-wages-and-a-ballooning-federal-deficit/#55feedfe22fa ) noted that Trump's economic legacy is "higher inflation, flat wages, and a ballooning federal deficit." Trump has managed the economy to benefit himself and his wealthy supporters. 

Trump campaigned on the promise to "repeal and replace Obamacare." Republicans came within one vote of completely repealing Obamacare. (The latest Kaiser Poll (https://www.kff.org/interactive/kaiser-health-tracking-poll-the-publics-views-on-the-aca/#? ) finds that 50 percent of respondents support Obamacare and 40 percent oppose it.) Trump and Republicans continue to attack Obamacare but have offered no replacement and no protection for 0those with pre-existing medical conditions. 

Trump's signature issue is immigration. At the conclusion of his midterm campaigning, he's warning for an "Invasion" of immigrants from Central America and ordering thousands of troops to the border. Despite his strong rhetoric, Trump has had no impact on immigration. Mother Jones (https://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2018/11/chart-of-the-day-ytd-border-apprehensions/) reported that under Trump "southwest Border Apprehensions" -- the proxy for border crossings -- are about the same as they've been for the last 10 years. (In 2018 the number will be around 400,000.) 

Trump and his Republican cohorts passed a massive tax cut that benefits corporations and America's wealthiest one percent. As a consequence the national debt increased to more than $21 Trillion. The fiscal year deficit will be approximately $1 trillion. 

Trump's attitude about climate change has softened. Originally he called it a hoax. In a recent 60 Minutes interview (https://www.theverge.com/2018/10/15/17977596/donald-trump-climate-change-hoax-60-minutes-interview ) he equivocated: "I think something’s... changing and it’ll change back again. I don’t think it’s a hoax... But I don’t know that it’s manmade... I don’t want to give trillions and trillions of dollars. I don’t want to lose millions and millions of jobs.” He's not going to do anything. 

Finally, with regards to guns, Trump and his Republican cronies are beholden to the IRA. They don't want any change in gun laws. 

In the November 6th election, Democrats are fighting for Democracy. We are struggling to replace a Republican Congress that has been unwilling to standup to would-be dictator Donald Trump. We moving forward with commonsense solutions to America's most critical problems. Vote. 

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

SMITHEREENS: Reflections on Bits & Pieces

Gar Smith
Friday November 02, 2018 - 11:13:00 AM

Candidates Unleashed

There is a wealth of work experience among the ten candidates running for Berkeley Council seats in the November 6 election but several stand out as examples of our changing lifestyles. In addition to "a small business owner" and an "attorney," our candidates include an "elder nutrition manager," a "sustainable policy analyst," a "green transportation designer," and Aidan Hill who lists his occupation as "Berkeley Dog Walker."

Trump's "America First" to Planet Earth: "Drop Dead"

Donald Trump has announced he's a "nationalist," not a "globalist." Why worry about the planet, when your focus is on America uber Alles? This raises the obvious question: "What planet does Trump think he lives on?" 

When the UN's International Panel on Climate Change (IPCCC) released its report warning that humanity had only 12 years left to clean up its act or face global disaster, Trump claimed he was unconvinced because, "I can give you reports that are fabulous, and I can give you reports that aren't so good." 

Trump, who has a notorious aversion to reading anything longer than a two-page briefing paper, promised to review the IPCC report saying: "It was given to me, and I want to look at who drew it." 

Apparently Trump thinks the IPCC report is a comic book. 

How Trump Would Have Killed Khashoggi 

After two weeks of excuses and avoidance, Donald Trump was finally forced to concede that his Saudis partners had, indeed, plotted to kill and dismember a journalist—and repeatedly lied about it. But Trump's confession had a strange ring to it. He didn't criticize the murder or the dismemberment. Instead of condemning the crime and the attempted cover-up, he critiqued the execution's poor execution. 

"They had a very bad original concept," Trump told reporters. "It was carried out poorly and the cover-up was the worst in the history of cover-ups. They had the worst cover-up ever." 

Trump left the impression that he must know a thing or two about cover-ups. Presumably, had he been in charge of Jamal Khashoggi's assassination, he would have ordered "a very good, really fabulous, actually, concept" that would have been "carried out terrifically" thanks to "the very best cover-up in the history of cover-ups." 

Don't Let Turkey Off the Hook 

By leaking evidence of Saudi Arabia's conspiracy to murder Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sounded like a champion of human rights and press freedom. Don't believe it. In its 2017 annual report, the Committee to Protect Journalists found 262 journalists had been slammed into prisons for doing their jobs—up from the 2016 historical high of 259—and the three worst jailers of journalists were Turkey, China and Egypt who were responsible for jailing 51 percent of the total. 

Haunting Headlines  

On October 24, 2018, the Society of Environmental Journalists circulated a daily a list of breaking stories. The list ended with a freaky headline fit for Halloween: 

"California's Underwater Forests Being Eaten by 'Cockroaches of the Ocean'" 

Did Trump's Lies Provoke Would-be Bomber? 

On October 22, Donald Trump tweeted the falsehood that "Criminals & unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in" with the caravan of refuges fleeing violence in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. Terrorists "could very well be" among the group, Trump later told reporter. "I think there's a very good chance you have people [meaning terrorists] in there." 

At a campaign rally in Montana Trump unleashed another lie: that Democrats were behind the migrant caravan from Central America. 

"They wanted that caravan and there are those that say that caravan didn't just happen," Trump hollered. Why would the Dems promote the flood of refugees? Because, Trump explained, they "figure everybody coming in is going to vote Democrat." (As if undocumented immigrants could vote in the November election.) 

So put it together: If the Democrats are behind the "caravan" and the caravan is providing cover for "criminals," "gang members," and Middle Eastern "terrorists." 

Ipso facto, the Democrats are conspiring to invade and attack America. Ergo, the Democrats are the Enemy and they must be attacked and destroyed. 

How to Read Donald Duck 


In 1971, following the democratic election of socialist president Salvador Allende, two Chilean author-activists wrote a revelatory book titled "How to Read Donald Duck: Imperialist Ideology in the Disney Comic." Ariel Dorfman and Armand Mattelart felt it was time to expose the narratives of imperial domination that they found embedded in Walt Disney's popular comic books. (It wasn't just Disney's ducks that served to impose US values around the world. The comic book propaganda mill also included paragons like Superman, Flash Gordon, Captain Marvel, and The Lone Ranger.) 

Donald's foreign adventures took him to lands where impoverished people always spoke in fractured English, behaved like naïve children and were easily manipulated by promises of wealth, food or magic. When Donald wasn't tricking the "natives" to earn some duckets for his capitalist sponsor, Uncle Scrooge McDuck, he's conspiring to win the favor of local overlords by thwarting oppressed locals. How to Read Donald Duck is filled with frames reprinted directly from the comic books. In one frame, Donald and his nephews, Huey, Louis and Dewey, are shown setting a trap for "the revolutionaries" in order to "save the king." In the next frame, the insurgents are shown tied in ropes while a paunchy, mustached man in a business suit and a crown marches in grinning as Donald quacks: "Ha! Ha! When Donald's at work, you better watch out, you bandits." 

This is just a hint of the nefarious hi-jinks of Disney's favorite duck. 


The Dorfman-Mattelart analysis was a big hit—until the US-backed coup toppled Allende (on September 11, 1973) and installed the brutal military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. 

Pinochet ordered all existing copies of the book to be burned. A new third edition was seized and the Chilean Navy was instructed to dump them all in the ocean. In 1975, when 4,000 copies of a new edition, translated into English, was shipped to the US, Disney's lawyers had the entire shipment impounded. Only 1,500 copies ever made it into the hands of American readers. 

Eventually translated into 17 languages, the book sold more than a million copies worldwide but no US publisher dared to touch this global best-seller—until now. 

OR Books has just released a new fourth edition of a book that's been "off limits" to US readers for nearly a half-century. Dorfman has written a new introduction to the Fourth Edition, which appears along with Dorfman and Mattelart's 1975 introduction, written "in exile." Unrepentant, the two authors concluded their 1975 commentary with the following message: 

"Mr. Disney, we are returning your Duck. Feathers plucked and well-roasted. Look inside, you can see the handwriting on the wall, our hands still writing on the wall: 

Donald, Go Home!" 

Now Let Us Spray 

An odd sight on Harold Way on Wednesday morning. A Berkeley City employee power-washing a stretch of sidewalk frequently used by tent-camping homeless residents, paused to redirect his high-powered spray over a white four-door parked on the curb. He then returned to cleansing the cement. 

The vehicle's owner must have been pleasantly surprised—not to mention baffled. 


The militarization of American conversation is extensive and insidious. A recent dispatch from an unnamed nonviolence center on the East Coast began by praising California Rep. Ro Khanna for introducing H. Con. Res. 138, the House War Powers Resolution, which calls for ending US military support for the brutal Saudi war against Yemen. The email then goes on to salute activists who "remain in the peace and justice trenches" and "continued to pound the drum" while urging Dem minority leader Steny Hoyer to "whip up other legislators" to invoke the War Powers Act. 

Haiku of the Day 

Boo! The Great Trumpkin! 

He's orange and hairy-scary! 

He even spooks spooks! 


Pittsburgh synagogue massacre

Jagjit Singh
Friday November 02, 2018 - 11:34:00 AM

While much of the country is reacting in horror to the massacre of 11 Jews in a Pittsburgh synagogue there is virtually no international outrage over the daily killing of Palestinians in Gaza. Israel has announced it is implementing a “zero tolerance” policy toward peaceful protesters in Gaza, who have been staging weekly Friday protests since March 30. Since then, Israeli forces have killed at least 170 Palestinians, including more than 30 children, and injured at least 18,000. The Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem representative HAGAI EL-AD addressed the United Nations: “The Gaza Strip, with a population of nearly 2 million, has essentially become an open-air prison. Its inmates have been staging protests for the past six months, after suffering for more than a decade under an Israeli-imposed blockade that has led to economic collapse, soaring unemployment rates, polluted drinking water, dwindling power supplies and, ultimately, to deep despair”.While we shed tears for our Jewish brothers and sisters who died we should save a few tears for the ongoing slaughter of Palestinians with the assistance of $billions of support from the US. Humanity should always triumph political and religious ideology.

New: Hilary Hahn Plays Bach at Davies Hall

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Wednesday November 07, 2018 - 09:29:00 PM

The fiendishly difficult Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin by Johann Sebastian Bach have always been a part of Hilary Hahn’s musical life. Ms. Hahn began her musical studies with her first teacher, Klara Berkovich, and at age 10 was admitted to the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia to study with Jascha Brodsky, who devoted a part of each lesson to solo Bach. At age 17, Hilary Hahn recorded her first CD, entitled Hilary Hahn Plays Bach, which featured her performances of Bach’s Sonata No. 1 in G minor, Partita No. 1 in B minor, and Partita No. 2 in D minor. Now, at age 38, Hilary Hahn revisited exactly these same works in a recital at Davies Hall, Sunday, November 4, under the aegis of San Francisco Symphony’s Great Performer Series. Hilary Hahn performs on an 1864 copy by Vuillaume of the Guarneri “Il Cannone” played by Paganini. 

Sonata No. 1 begins with an Adagio wherein “spread” chords (or, if you will, arpeggiated chords,) create flourishes in the Italian style. The overall mood of this Adagio, as performed by Hilary Hahn, was softly plaintive. There follows a lively, dancing fugue, marked Fuga Allegro, which was vigorously played by Hilary Hahn. Bach himself thought so highly of this fugue that he later transcribed it for organ (BWV 539). The B flat Major Siciliano brings a moment of stately calm after the furious flurry of arpeggios that closes the Fuga Allegro. Partita No. 1 then closes with the bustling moto perpetuo of the Presto, played with spontaneity and vigor by Hilary Hahn. 

Partita No. 1 in B minor consists of four dance movements each with its own set of variations (or “double”). The opening Allemanda features dotted rhythms in the French manner that set a tone of courtly majesty and poise. A Corrente follows with a decidedly Italian dance figure in which Hilary Hahn emphasized the shifting dynamics, playing the first Corrente softly, then playing the Double Presto both louder and faster. This movement was indeed the highlight of Partita No. 1. A stately Sarabande ensued, played with feeling by Ms. Hahn. Partita No. 1 then closed with an animated Tempo di Borea (or Bourée), performed with vigor by Ms. Hahn. 

After intermission, Hilary Hahn returned to the stage to play Bach’s Partita No. 2 in D minor. This work opens with an elegant Allemande (unusually free of double stopping), then moves on to a Courante of rare dramatic intensity, to a plaintively yearning Sarabande, followed by a bouncy, jaunty Gigue. Then comes the incomparable Chaconne, a movement almost as long as the first four movements combined. This Chaconne is a veritable summation of the solo violin’s expressive capabilities. Here Hilary Hahn rose to the challenge, employing her robust tone and superlative technique to navigate all the intricacies of this highly expressive work. Ms. Hahn varied her dynamics throughout this Chaconne, offering here a light touch, there a strong, insistent attack (as in the oft-repeated three-note figure). When this magnificent Chaconne came to a close, the audience instantly arose to give Hilary Hahn a tumultuous standing ovation. As an encore, Ms. Hahn played the second movement (a gentle fugue) from Bach’s Sonata No. 2 in A minor.

Arts & Events

The Berkeley Activist's Calendar, Nov. 4-11

Kelly Hammargren, Sustainable Berkeley Coalition
Saturday November 03, 2018 - 05:50:00 PM

Worth Noting

Holiday Food Drive, 8:30 am – 6:00 pm everyday month of November, hours vary by location. Call 981-6656 for information


Berkeley City Council, Tues Nov 13 available for comment, Agenda: 1. IKE Kiosks, 17. Appeal 3000 Shattuck, 18. Shower Services Homeless, 19. Sanctuary City Contracting Ordinance, 20. Minimum Wage, 21. City Manager request to reduce in-lieu mitigation fee to $0 for 2597 Telegraph, 22. Cannabis, 23. Ohlone Greenway, 24. Budget Referral Increasing Safety at San Pablo Park



Sunday, November 4, 2018 


Monday, November 5, 2018 

Personnel Board, Mon, Nov 5, 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm, 1901 Hearst Ave, North Berkeley Senior Center, Agenda: Amend Classification Solid Waste Supervisor, Public Works Maintenance Superintendent 


Tax the Rich rally with Occupella sing along, Mon, Nov 5, 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm (Winter Hours) top of Solano in front of closed Oaks Theater,  

Tuesday, Novembetr 6, 2018  

ELECTION – absentee ballots must be delivered to polling location, dropped in ballot box at Civic Center 2180 Milvia before 8:00 pm (close of polls) or mailed with Nov 6 postmark. LATE ballots are NOT counted 

Wednesday, November 7, 2018 

Commission on Disability, Wed, Nov 7, 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm, 1901 Hearst Ave, North Berkeley Senior Center, Agenda: CoD meeting rules, Bike Share, Limited Utility Disability (Elevator/Relocation) Ordinance, Bikes on Sidewalks, signage, IKE Kiosks 


Planning Commission, Wed, Nov 7, 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm, 1901 Hearst Ave, North Berkeley Senior Center, Agenda: Local Hazard Mitigation Plan Presentation, Public Hearing Referal Response to Amending Home Occupation Chapter 23C.16 


Police Review Commission – Lexipol Subcommittee, Wed, Nov 7, 5:00 pm, 2939 Ellis St, South Berkeley Senior Center 


November 8, 2018 

Community Environmental Advisory Commission, Thur, Nov 8, 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm, 1901 Russell St, Tarea Hall Pittman South Branch Library, Agenda: Updates T1, Bee, 350.org Climate Mobilization Plan, Microfiber, CO2 Labels, 


Homeless Commission, Thur, Nov 8, 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm, 1901 Hearst Ave, North Berkeley Senior Center, Agenda: Centralized Referral shelter, clothing, equipment, etc., option of sanctioned encampment, storage 


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

59 The Plaza Drive – expand attic to 6520 sq ft single-family dwelling to add bedroom, staff recommend approve 

2714 Alcatraz – alter existing 2-story residential, restore original density 5 units, remove illegal dwelling from garage, recommend approve 

2701 Shattuck – 5-story, mixed use, 57 units, 600 sq ft, quick serve restaurant, staff recommend approve 

1722 Walnut – add 9th unit, staff recommend Deny 

1601-1606 Oxford - Affordable Housing, 4-story, 34 agerestricted BMR (below market rate) for seniors, 1 manager unit, 2 All Souls Episcopal Parish staff units, staff recommend approve 

1951-1975 Shattuck Ave - Project Preview, Construct 120 ft, 12 story mixed used, 156 units, 100 parking spaces 


Racial & Criminal Justice Committee, Thur, Nov 8, 7:00 pm, 1256 Monterey, Berkeley, Indivisible Berkeley, DSA, Ella Baker Center for Human Rights meeting jointly to move forward on local and state levels, 


Friday, November 9, 2018 

City Reduced Service Day 

Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board – Special Meeting, Fri, Nov 9, 7:00 pm – 11:00 pm, no agenda or location posted, check link https://www.cityofberkeley.info/Rent_Stabilization_Board/Home/2018_Board_Meetings.aspx 

Saturday, November 10 2018 

McGee Spaulding Neighbors in Action, Sat, Nov 10, Potluck Brunch 9:45 am, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm, University Village Community Room, Agenda: Neighborhood issues 

Sunday, November 11, 2018 





The meeting list is posted in the Berkeley Daily Planet under Berkeley Activist’s Calendar 



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 


Wish to engage in campaigns to flip Republican Congressional Districts, local, state and national events check Indivisible Berkeley https://www.indivisibleberkeley.org/actions and Wellstone Democratic Club, http://wellstoneclub.org 

Valery Gergiev Leads Mariinsky Orchestra in Mahler’s Fifth

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Thursday November 01, 2018 - 11:52:00 AM

Make no mistake about it. In spite of a well-balanced program of three major works, opening with Claude Debussy’s Prélude à L’Après midi d’un Faune followed by Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini for Piano and Orchestra, it was Gustav Mahler’s Fifth Symphony, which the composer called a “raging sea of sound,” that was the centerpiece of the Mariinsky Orchestra’s Monday night concert, October 22, at Davies Hall. Under the leadership of their Music Director, Valery Gergiev, the Mariinsky Orchestra of St. Petersburg offered a powerful rendition of Mahler’s groundbreaking Symphony No. 5 in C-sharp Minor. Power was indeed preeminent in Gergiev’s interpretation of this huge, sprawling symphony; and only the lilting simplicity of the famous Adagietto offered a welcome moment of respite from the onslaught of powerful musical ideas issuing from Mahler’s tumultuous score.  

The 5th Symphony’s first movement, a Funeral March, begins with a trumpet playing three fast notes followed by an accented downbeat, thus echoing Beethoven’s famous figure evoking “fate” in his Fifth Symphony. Mahler uses this four-note figure throughout his opening movement; and the Mariinsky Orchestra’s Principal Trumpeter, Timur Martynov, did yeoman’s duty. There follows a second movement, marked “Stormily, with greatest vehemence,” that presents screeching brass and winds in a chaotic maelstrom. Both the first and second movements end with pizzicato figures in the strings. The third movement, a huge Scherzo, opens with vigorous horn calls, incisively performed by Principal Horn Player Stanislav Tses. There ensues a rustic dance figure evoking an Austrian Ländler, followed by an urbane waltz theme. Now comes the wondrously lyrical Adagietto, featuring strings and harp. There was wonderful sound in this Adagietto from the Mariinsky Orchestra’s cello and bass sections; and harpist Sofia Kiprskaya offered notes that were truly angelic. The Rondo-Finale opens with more horn calls, soon giving way to a Bach-like fugue in the strings. The work then builds to a triumphant conclusion, boisterously performed by the Mariinsky Orchestra. As the music came to a close, one could hear the audience take a deep breath, as if overwhelmed by the power and scope of all the music they had just heard. Then the audience broke into thunderous applause, gratefully acknowledged by Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra musicians. 

Earlier, in the first half of this concert, power was also evident, perhaps all too evident. Debussy’s shimmering Prélude à L’Après-midi d’un faune is a work that should be given a light touch, almost a gossamer texture. Here, it came off a bit heavy-handed, thereby losing much of its air of magic and mystery. Power was also the theme of the day in pianist Denis Matsuev’s interpretation of Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini for Piano and Orchestra. Matsuev is a giant of a man, and his strength as a pianist is, well, strength. Matsuev exudes power, and one almost fears at times he may destroy the keyboard under the massive blows from his powerful hands. (I had this distinct impression back in November 2017 when I heard Matsuev perform Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 2 at Zellerbach Hall with Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra.) Granted, there is plenty of opportunity for a pianist to display power in Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. It’s just that Denis Matsuev’s power is so overwhelmingly fore-grounded that the listener can easily pass over without notice the softer, more subtle elements in the music being played. Fortunately, Matsuev had the good sense to show off this softer side of his own musical personality – and of Rachmaninoff’s – by playing as an encore this composer’s Études-Tableaux, Opus 39, No. 2 in A minor, a soft and tender piece that was very much welcome in this concert, which featured plenty of power and little finesse.

ARABELLA: Richard Strauss Revisits Vienna

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Thursday November 01, 2018 - 11:51:00 AM

In 1933, twenty-three years after the 1910 premiere of Der Rosenkavalier in Dresden, Richard Strauss premiered Arabella in Dresden. Their Dresden beginnings notwithstanding, Der Rosenkavalier and Arabella are quintessentially Viennese operas. Both are set in Vienna, Der Rosenkavalier in the reign of Empress Maria Theresa, and Arabella, at least in its original conception, in the 1860s, though for this San Francisco Opera production Director Tim Albery has updated Arabella to 1910, shortly before the outbreak of World War I. Both operas examine Viennese society with a jaundiced, though affectionate, eye. 

In Arabella, there is no orchestral prelude, and the curtain opens on a salon in Vienna, where the aristocratic but penniless Waldners worry aloud about their financial straits. Count Waldner laments that he continually loses at gambling. Countess Adelaide Waldner is having her fortune read by a fortune-teller, while Arabella’s sister, Zdenka, dressed as a boy, fends off creditors. Zdenka, we learn, has been brought up to pass as a boy, Zdenko, for the simple reason that the Waldners’ meager finances cannot allow them to spend money on “coming-out parties” for two daughters nearly the same age. So they have concentrated their attentions on the hope of finding a rich husband for Arabella.  

Mezzo-soprano Michaela Martens is a credulous Countess Adelaide, and mezzo-soprano Jill Grove is a crafty fortune-teller. The libretto by Hugo von Hofmannstahl effectively sends up the aristocrats’ reliance on fortune-tellers. Meanwhile, Zdenko (the ‘boy’) reassures Matteo, a young officer, that Arabella truly cares for him. Matteo, you see, is desperately smitten with Arabella. However, Zdenka (the ‘girl’) secretly harbors her own affection for Matteo, and she worries he might even kill himself if Arabella shuns him. Matteo is sung by tenor Daniel Johansson, and Zdenka is sung by soprano Heidi Stober.  

Arabella now enters, elegantly sung by soprano Ellie Dehn. Arabella has received gifts from three suitors plus Matteo; but she finds none of her suitors attractive as a future husband. She tells Zdenka she will know “the right one,”)”der Richtige”) if and when he comes along. Then the two sisters join in a charming duet that has echoes of the Octavian/Marschallin duet from Act I of Der Rosenkavalier. In this duet the voices of Heidi Stober and Ellie Dehn blended beautifully.  

Arabella’s three aristocratic suitors are Count Elemer, sung here by tenor Scott Quinn, Count Dominik, sung by baritone Andrew Manea, and Count Lamoral, sung by bass-baritone Christian Pursell. Arabella’s father, sung here by baritone Richard Paul Fink, urges Arabella to choose one of her suitors as her future husband before the night is out. But Arabella has caught sight of an impressive-looking stranger from her window, and wonders who he is. This stranger, it turns out, is the nephew of an old military friend of Count Waldner’s. The destitute Count had even sent his old friend a photograph of Arabella, hoping to entice him to consider marrying her. But the uncle of the present stranger has died, and the photo has come into the possession of Mandryka, his nephew. And sure enough, the photo has done its work. Mandryka has come all the way from his vast forests in Croatia to seek the hand of Arabella. Fabulously wealthy, Mandryka offers the impoverished Count Waldner to “help yourself” to a handful of thousand-gülden notes. Count Waldner can’t believe his good luck!  

Mandryka is sung here by baritone Brian Mulligan, who was quite impressive in this role. Mulligan is a large, barrel-chested fellow, and his stentorian voice is, as Opera News put it, “a rugged, perfectly articulated baritone.” Dramatically, Brian Mulligan fits the part to a T: we believe this impetuous Mandryka has traveled all this way to seek a wife on the basis of a photograph. When Mandryka and Arabella meet, she seems to sense immediately that he’s “the right one.” But there is still the matter of the Coachmen’s Ball, and Arabella, though Queen of the Ball, has to inform each of her three local suitors that she gracefully declines their suit. When it is announced that she will be engaged to Mandryka, young Matteo is beside himself with grief. Once again, Zdenka, fearing her Matteo will do something rash, slips Matteo the key to Arabella’s room and says Arabella wants him to come to her later that night. Mandryka overhears this conversation and becomes suspicious. Fueled with champagne at the ball, and fueled as well by flirtations with the Fiakermilli, Mandryka flies into a rage of jealousy and betrayal. The Fiakermilli was sung by stratospheric soprano Hye Jung Lee. Meanwhile, Arabella has left the ball and headed home. Her parents, aghast at Mandryka’s accusations, invite him to accompany them home to verify Arabella’s innocence.  

Meanwhile, Zdenka has awaited Matteo in Arabella’s darkened room, and Matteo, thinking she is Arabella, has enjoyed everything he‘d ever dreamed of. But when he exits Arabella’s room, goes downstairs and finds Arabella in the lobby still dressed for the ball, he is nonplussed. Mandryka and Arabella’s parents now arrive, and Mandryka points out Matteo as the one to whom the key was given. Only when Zdenka exits Arabella’s room wearing only a nightshift does it become clear what has transpired. Arabella forgives her sister, a confused Matteo forgives Zdenka, and Arabella movingly forgives Mandryka. Presumably, everyone lives happily ever after in this admittedly schmaltzy but beautiful opera. Mark Albrecht led the San Francisco Opera Orchestra in a fine, well-paced rendition of Strauss’s score. Production Designer was Tobias Hoheisel, and Lighting Director was David Finn. 

Arabella will receive one final performance on Saturday, November 3, at 7:30.  

New: Hilary Hahn Plays Bach at Davies Hall

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Wednesday November 07, 2018 - 09:29:00 PM

The fiendishly difficult Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin by Johann Sebastian Bach have always been a part of Hilary Hahn’s musical life. Ms. Hahn began her musical studies with her first teacher, Klara Berkovich, and at age 10 was admitted to the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia to study with Jascha Brodsky, who devoted a part of each lesson to solo Bach. At age 17, Hilary Hahn recorded her first CD, entitled Hilary Hahn Plays Bach, which featured her performances of Bach’s Sonata No. 1 in G minor, Partita No. 1 in B minor, and Partita No. 2 in D minor. Now, at age 38, Hilary Hahn revisited exactly these same works in a recital at Davies Hall, Sunday, November 4, under the aegis of San Francisco Symphony’s Great Performer Series. Hilary Hahn performs on an 1864 copy by Vuillaume of the Guarneri “Il Cannone” played by Paganini. 

Sonata No. 1 begins with an Adagio wherein “spread” chords (or, if you will, arpeggiated chords,) create flourishes in the Italian style. The overall mood of this Adagio, as performed by Hilary Hahn, was softly plaintive. There follows a lively, dancing fugue, marked Fuga Allegro, which was vigorously played by Hilary Hahn. Bach himself thought so highly of this fugue that he later transcribed it for organ (BWV 539). The B flat Major Siciliano brings a moment of stately calm after the furious flurry of arpeggios that closes the Fuga Allegro. Partita No. 1 then closes with the bustling moto perpetuo of the Presto, played with spontaneity and vigor by Hilary Hahn. 

Partita No. 1 in B minor consists of four dance movements each with its own set of variations (or “double”). The opening Allemanda features dotted rhythms in the French manner that set a tone of courtly majesty and poise. A Corrente follows with a decidedly Italian dance figure in which Hilary Hahn emphasized the shifting dynamics, playing the first Corrente softly, then playing the Double Presto both louder and faster. This movement was indeed the highlight of Partita No. 1. A stately Sarabande ensued, played with feeling by Ms. Hahn. Partita No. 1 then closed with an animated Tempo di Borea (or Bourée), performed with vigor by Ms. Hahn. 

After intermission, Hilary Hahn returned to the stage to play Bach’s Partita No. 2 in D minor. This work opens with an elegant Allemande (unusually free of double stopping), then moves on to a Courante of rare dramatic intensity, to a plaintively yearning Sarabande, followed by a bouncy, jaunty Gigue. Then comes the incomparable Chaconne, a movement almost as long as the first four movements combined. This Chaconne is a veritable summation of the solo violin’s expressive capabilities. Here Hilary Hahn rose to the challenge, employing her robust tone and superlative technique to navigate all the intricacies of this highly expressive work. Ms. Hahn varied her dynamics throughout this Chaconne, offering here a light touch, there a strong, insistent attack (as in the oft-repeated three-note figure). When this magnificent Chaconne came to a close, the audience instantly arose to give Hilary Hahn a tumultuous standing ovation. As an encore, Ms. Hahn played the second movement (a gentle fugue) from Bach’s Sonata No. 2 in A minor.