The Week



New: Latest Election Update

Rob Wrenn
Thursday November 08, 2018 - 04:19:00 PM

For anyone who might have been concerned that Kate Harrison’s election was not certain because she had less than 50% of the batch of votes counted yesterday (47% to be exact), today’s count (released by the Registrar at 5:04) restored the balance as she received 55.5% of the latest batch.

To summarize the count in District 4 so far:

Kate Harrison’s percentage of 1078 early vote by mail ballots: 50.6% of 1170 ballots cast at the polls: 54.5% of 802 post election VBM ballots: 50.7% of 3050 total votes to date: 52.1%

Nowadays, most people vote by mail but of those who continue to vote at the polls, a higher percentage are tenants and students compared to those who vote by mail.

There are probably somewhere between 1200 and 1500 votes still to be counted in District 4.Countywide turnout is now up to 37%. It will probably end up being at least 50%. -more-

With air advisory in effect, stay informed and take precautions

Councilmember Linda Maio
Friday November 09, 2018 - 04:27:00 PM

An air quality advisory for the Bay Area has been issued, meaning that residents should check for updates with and take precautions based on their own health.

The site takes in regional air quality information and offers general health recommendations. Add your zip code and hover over the dial to see instructions.

The Nov. 8, 2018 alert was issued by the the Bay Area Air Quality Management District due to the hazy skies and smoke from the wildfire in Butte County. The alert is in effect through Friday, November 9.

Air quality can change quickly depending on the wind and other factors. Stay informed by checking -more-

Spare the Air, Red Flag Alerts

Angela Hill (BCN)
Friday November 09, 2018 - 02:55:00 PM

In an unusual move, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District has issued a Winter Spare the Air Alert from today all the way through Monday because of heavy smoke and particulates drifting into the Bay Area from the so-called Camp Fire which continues to rage in Butte County. -more-



Rejoice and Be Glad

Becky O'Malley
Friday November 09, 2018 - 03:02:00 PM

UPDATE, 11/16: The final election results might show up today, Friday, so we are going to delay both my comments and those of others until the weekend. -more-

Public Comment

Dangerous Air Quality Mandates City Action

Thomas Lord
Friday November 09, 2018 - 04:10:00 PM

It is 3:26 on Friday. The air quality outdoors is 171 count of PM 2.5 which is (officially, per standards) unhealthy for everyone. Nobody should be outdoors without masks, for example. -more-

People's Park is Worth Fighting For

This op-ed was written by Ed Monroe, David D. Collins, Lisa Teague, Michael Martin, Michael Delacour, Russell Bates, Michael Diehl, Aidan Hill, Adam Ziegler, Joseph Leisner, Mark MacDonald, Neil Marcus and Erick Morales, the People’s Park Committee
Friday November 09, 2018 - 11:21:00 AM

In a letter to UC Berkeley alumni published in the summer 2018 issue of California Magazine, UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ announced her intention to build student housing on People’s Park. We, the undersigned members of the People’s Park community, object to these plans.

Our park, the People’s Park, was born from a dream of free speech and common space in a turbulent time 49 years ago. It has been threatened and defended many times over the years. Today, People’s Park is utilized by a unique group of activists, students, artists, musicians, travelers and homeless people who believe in those ideals. We rely on this free, green and open space for the community, love and healing we find here. We will continue to fight for that long-ago dream.

The history of People’s Park is fraught with conflict. The university’s plans for developing the 2.8-acre residential parcel began in 1956, but development did not proceed until 1967, when the university paid $1.3 million for the land, using a process of eminent domain. In February of 1968, it demolished the residences, leaving the grounds undeveloped and empty for 14 months. On April 13, 1969, plans were developed to turn the land into a public park. Seven days later, on April 20, more than 100 people began creating People’s Park. On May 13, then-chancellor Roger W. Heyns publicly stated that the university would build a fence around the property. On May 15, 1969, or “Bloody Thursday,” as it has been dubbed, a riot over the fence construction erupted between approximately 4,000 protesters and 791 police officers, deputy sheriffs and California Highway Patrol officers. More than 100 people were admitted to local hospitals with head injuries and shotgun wounds, among other injuries. One student was blinded for life after a load of buckshot directly hit his face, while another was outright killed. For the next two weeks, the streets of Berkeley were patrolled by National Guardsmen sent in by then-governor Reagan. -more-

The Employment Situation: Bad News Disguised as Good News

Harry Brill
Friday November 09, 2018 - 02:37:00 PM

According to the recently released figures by the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the national unemployment rate last month, which was 3.7 percent, is almost at full employment. In other words, virtually anyone who wants to work can find a job. The October rate is the lowest since 1969, which is 49 years ago. The California rate of 4.1 percent, although higher, is also considered low. In fact, in eight of the nine Bay Area counties, joblessness is below 4 percent.

However, these figures are suspicious. If the job market is as tight as the BLS and many in the establishment claim, wages would increase substantially because employers would be competing for scarce workers. As the San Francisco Chronicle acknowledges, wages are lagging, which is unusual when the economy is doing well. From the perspective of workers, the economy is not doing well. If all those who claim they want a job are counted as unemployed, the unemployment rate would be substantially higher. -more-

The New Bi-Partisanship

Arthur Blaustein
Friday November 09, 2018 - 01:36:00 PM

The following Letter to the Editor was sent to USA Today and the Times -- as a memo/tweet, poetic postscript to the election:

To: Donald Trump

From: Nancy Pelosi


The election is over and the vote is now known.

The will of the people has clearly been shown.

So let's all get together and let differences pass.

I'll investigate your elephant.

And you can kiss my donkey.

Professor Arthur Blaustein taught Public Policy and Politics at the University of California, Berkeley and is author of DEMOCRACY IS NOT A SPECTATOR SPORT and THE AMERICAN PROMISE... He served on the Board of the National Endowment for the Humanities under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. -more-

The Petition On People's Park: Scrap It!

Harry Brill, PhD, UC Berkeley, 1960-1969
Monday November 12, 2018 - 03:05:00 PM

On the recently signed op-ed published in the Planet, the signers urged UC Berkeley not to build housing in People's Park. The reason given is that the park embodies the ideals of free speech and the constitutional right to assemble. As the signers explain, it has been a safe gathering place for activists, students, the homeless and others. -more-


DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE: Nuclear Treaties: Unwrapping Armageddon

Conn Hallinan
Friday November 09, 2018 - 02:46:00 PM

The decision by the Trump administration to withdraw from the Intermediate Nuclear Force Agreement (INF) appears to be part of a broader strategy aimed at unwinding over 50 years of agreements to control and limit nuclear weapons, returning to an era characterized by the unbridled development weapons of mass destruction.

Terminating the INF treaty—which bans land-based cruise and ballistic missiles with a range of between 300 and 3400 miles— is not, in and of itself, a fatal blow to the network of treaties and agreements dating back to the 1963 treaty that ended atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons. But coupled with other actions—George W. Bush’s decision to withdraw from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM) in 2002 and the Obama administration’s program to upgrade the nuclear weapons infrastructure— the tapestry of agreements that has, at least in part, limited these terrifying creations, is looking increasingly frayed.

“Leaving the INF,” says Sergey Rogov of the Institute of U.S. and Canadian Studies, “could bring the whole structure of arms control crashing down.” -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: No One Can Predict the Future

Jack Bragen
Friday November 09, 2018 - 12:42:00 PM

No one can predict the future; and no one can read your mind. We can anticipate future events, but if we think we know what will happen, much of the time, we will be wrong. A person can not predict how another person will act. Nor can we even predict how we, ourselves, will act. -more-

THE PUBLIC EYE:Ten Midterm Takeaways

Bob Burnett
Friday November 09, 2018 - 11:11:00 AM

The results of the 2018 midterm election are in. Democrats achieved some, but not all, of their objectives. Here are ten takeaways from the November 6th results. -more-

SMITHEREENS: Reflections on Bits & Pieces

Gar Smith
Friday November 09, 2018 - 12:44:00 PM

The Life and Death of a Berkeley Bot

It's become a common sight in these parts: small, driverless robot delivery vehicles heading for the UC campus stuffed with food and drinks.

And so it was on Thursday, October 25, at about 11:45 when a small Kiwi food-bot tumbled over a curb at the intersection of Shattuck and Allston Way.

The picnic-basket-sized bot fell onto the street and lay immobilized on it's side, its wheels whirring uselessly.

Suddenly, a concerned Berkeley high school student stepped from the curb, picked up the bot, and set it back on its wheels. Then he paused to give it a friendly, reassuring pat. (The whole scene played out like one of those Dignity Health "Human Kindness" commercials on TV.)

The little bot stood on the pavement for a moment, looking stunned and confused. And then, to the delight of the noontime crowd, it sparked back to life and bravely resumed its programmed mission, heading across the intersection . . . .

And right into the path of a red, white and blue Erhet Plumbing truck.

A shocked crowd of pedestrians gathered around the shattered remains, somberly recording the tragedy on their smartphones. -more-

Arts & Events

The Berkeley Activist's Calendar, November 11-17, 2018

Adolfo Cabral
Saturday November 10, 2018 - 02:35:00 PM

Sunday, November 11

Holiday Food Drive for all of November and daily from 8:30 am-6 pm. Donations can be made at all City Community Centers, Pools or at the Recreation Customer Service Hub. Hours vary by location. Please call
981-6656 for more information.

"Building Bridges, Not Walls: Berkeley--America’s First Sanctuary City"- This Berkeley Historical Society exhibit opens on Sunday, November 11, from 11 am–1 pm. From the original mayor's dedication of a new WWI Memorial plaque and to the beginning of the recent United Against Hate Rally, join us in the BHS auditorium for an introduction to this new historical exhibit, followed by exhibit viewing. --See: -

Bay Area Stands United Against Hate Week starts on Sunday, November 11, from 1-4 pm at Civic Center Park,
2151 Martin Luther King Jr Way. United Against Hate is a call for community action to Bay Area residents to stand up against the rise in hate throughout the country, to build inclusion in our communities. Family friendly and all ages welcome, with music, performances, and powerful personal stories and our own community's message of support--
We will Stand Together Against Hate. --See more at:

The Times, They Were A-Changing. Paula Friedman Tells a Sixties Tale in The Change Chronicles

Gar Smith
Friday November 09, 2018 - 12:17:00 PM

Paula Friedman's new book, The Change Chronicles: A Novel of the Sixties Antiwar Movement, is firmly planted in the soil of Berkeley and rooted in the anti-war struggles of the era. This is a special book that will invite older readers to relive (and younger readers to marvel at) the heady days on the frontlines of anti-war peace activism in the Bay Area. As Friedman notes, the book offers a "rarely told story of that 'peacenik' generation between Beats and hippies, who first hesitantly seeded what would become known as 'women's consciousness.'" -more-

Jordi Savall Traces The Musical Routes of Slavery

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Friday November 09, 2018 - 12:32:00 PM

Bringing together musicians from Africa, Latin America, North America, and Europe, Jordi Savall brought to Zellerbach Hall on Saturday, November 3 a stirring program recalling the injutices of more than 2,000 years of slavery. Actor Aldo Billingslea served as narrator, reading short excerpts from an eclectic array of texts dealing with slavery. Billingslea was often introduced and/or accompanied by softly played notes on the kora, a West African stringed instrument played here by Ballaké Sissoko from Mali. The very first text read by Billingslea was by none other than Aristotle, who wrote in his 4th century BCE Politics that “Humanity is divided into two: masters and slaves.” This serves as a reminder that Europeans began by enslaving one another, as they did in Ancient Greece, even as the first democracies were formed. -more-