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BNC Forum on Saturday:
Can Berkeley be a Livable City for All?

Monday February 18, 2019 - 02:59:00 PM

The Berkeley Neighborhoods Council will host a forum on the future of Berkeley to address the question Can Berkeley be a Livable City for All?, to take place on Saturday, February 23, 2019:, from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm, at Frances Albrier Recreation Center, San Pablo Park, 2800 Park Street between Russell and Ward

It will be a conversation between Mayor Jesse Arreguin, Berkeley Planning Director Timothy Burroughs and Berkeley residents from every neighborhood. The mayor and planning director have each been asked to make a statement, no longer that 10 minutes, about three major issues that concern Berkeley residents throughout the City: 


  1. What State laws are in place now or are being proposed to take away the power of the City to determine what gets built in Berkeley?

  1. When large commercial/retail/residential buildings are constructed on major avenues such as University, San Pablo, Telegraph, Ashby and North and South Shattuck, what happens to the low-density neighborhoods located right next to them?

  1. What is currently being discussed or proposed at all levels of City government from Council Subcommittees to Board and Commissions that would address problems of displacing residents and losing our small, local businesses.

Following these brief statements, residents will have the majority of the time in this Forum to ask direct questions of these leaders, state their concerns and share their vision of Berkeley’s future. 

In a press release, organizers say that “no one takes the time to really ask you before a developer presents a proposed project. At that time, it’s too late – so now is the time to speak up about what you think should happen.” Refreshments will be served.



She's Not Always Nancy Nice, But She Could Be President

Becky O'Malley
Friday February 15, 2019 - 09:26:00 AM

“Her voice was ever soft, gentle and low, an excellent thing in woman.” Shakespeare’s King Lear

”She yelled, threw papers, and sometimes even hurled objects; one aide was accidentally hit with a flying binder…” Buzz Feed News

The snow hadn’t even melted on Senator Amy Klobuchar’s hair after she announced her candidacy for president in a Minnesota blizzard before the planted oppo stories started appearing online.

She “ left employees in tears, four former staffers said…” Buzz Feed News echoed breathlessly.

Funny, Buzz Feed News didn’t manage to get the names of any of Klobuchar’s accusers. Maybe this is because the online publication has just laid off more than 200 people and couldn’t afford to verify the identity of the grumblers with the surviving reporters. Talk about your bad bosses.

Or maybe, just maybe, the horror stories actually originated with some of the same media mills which generated the anti-Hillary propaganda in 2016, and Buzz Feed News sloppily parroted them.

But the most plausible explanation is one which any woman over 40 who’s had any supervisory position could confirm. Women bosses are just not supposed to be, well, bossy. And if they’re too bossy, they’re even accused of being the male version: bully. 

It’s not just men who complain when older women tell them what to do—women can sometimes be the loudest whiners when they’re scolded. It’s likely some kind of primal thing, harking back to a time when Mama said no to a toddler’s desire. 

The Republican attempt in the 2018 midterms to demonize (or witchify) Nancy Pelosi was a lame attempt to tap this reservoir of childish petulance, though it didn’t work in the end. Four minutes on the internet produces evidence of similar accusations over the years against a roster of powerful and mouthy female politicians: Barbara Mikulski, Sheila Jackson Lee, Maxine Waters, and recently notable Elizabeth Warren (But She Persisted) to name a few.  

Politics is a high visibility operation, and the U.S. Congress employs a lot of poorly paid staffers , so it’s not surprising that many of these stories come from there, and some of the grudges are justified. But half the women I know who have managed others in their middle years tell the same tale. My own observations comes from politics, journalism, high tech and the arts. In all these realms I’ve seen the same kinds of gripe-fests, with accusations against female bosses that often boil down to “unladylike behavior” more than substantive complaints. 

All too often, the complainers are too cowardly to speak publically, which means their charges are almost impossible to refute. However I witnessed one incident where the aggrieved individual used an email blast to denounce her employer, and as far as I know she’s never gotten another regular job—potential employers are gun-shy, I suspect, worrying that they’d be the next in her sights. 

By the time women reach retirement age, they are sometimes less threatening to insecure subordinates, turning into harmless cute old ladies. On the other hand, Maxine Waters (Aunty Maxine to her admirers) can still strike terror into the hearts of those who dare to cross her, even at 80. Now she’s going to chair the House Finance Committee, so slackers beware. 

Even godly women lose their temper when necessary. I once heard an elderly priest speak with pride from the pulpit about meeting Dorothy Day, who was feisty right up until her death at 83. “She was one tough lady”, he said, though afterwards he told me that “lady” wasn’t exactly the word he had in mind. 

Though she didn’t win the Electoral College, Hillary Clinton’s popular vote victory in 2016 guarantees that more women will be running for President in the future, and you can bet that most will have in their background some allegation that they weren’t Nice enough at some point. It should be noted that some critics have said that Hillary’s campaign was too Nice—candidates with a certain amount of piss and vinegar might actually look more “presidential” to the voters, they suggest. 

My first impression of Amy Klobuchar was that she is indeed Minnesota Nice much of the time—so I find the rumors that she sometimes loses her temper when things don’t get done on schedule somewhat reassuring. Jimmy Carter is an obviously Nice guy, and he didn’t accomplish much as President in the end. The same might be said of Gerald Ford (remember him?) 

The real problem is that candidates for office should not be rated as if they were vying for the Miss Congeniality ribbon in the Miss America contest. Klobuchar and Warren are both smart, well-educated, and generally sound on issues that matter, with just minor differences in details. They’ve both had the kind of experience with campaigns and other jobs that will matter if they are chosen. I’m not so sure about Kamala Harris (not enough of the right experience) or Kirsten Gillibrand (she once had an A rating from the NRA). And Tulsi Gabbard?? 

Trying to choose between the top two is almost a meaningless task. In all honesty, I’d do anything in my power to elect either one of them. 

I would even work for the others, because every day in every way Donald Trump shows me that my little yaller dawg Larry Potter would be a better president than he is. I’d vote for Sherrod Brown with enthusiasm. 

I worry that my fellow citizens will be bamboozled by the tall tales that the Trumpistas are going to tell about whoever is nominated. It’s too easy to invoke deep-seated role stereotypes to dismiss a candidate that doesn’t meet all your standards for Niceness, but as a survivor of the Ralph Nader and Jill Stein presidencies I hope you can resist the temptation to vote your heart instead of your head. 

(Also, I've met Ralph Nader, and he wasn't always that Nice. In a good way.)  

Public Comment

North Berkeley BART Reconsidered

Michelle LePaule
Wednesday February 13, 2019 - 02:18:00 PM

One thing people hate about politicians is when they hold up a two dimensional solution to a problem and the three dimensional reality doesn’t add up and everyone knows it.

I see that happening now with plans to remove parking at the North Berkeley BART station and replace it with housing. They say that it’s important to cluster housing around transit hubs. The residents there will no longer need to use cars since they can get to work via BART. That’s fine if there is available land with which to do this. But the BART board, with the enthusiastic support of the local government wants to remove the parking lot and replace it with housing.

Full of holes.

For starters, the commuters who are displaced are not going to board up their houses and move in. New people will move into the new building from other communities. I’m sure some of them will BART to work, although not to the grocery store, because they can’t. Meanwhile the previous commuters are left in a bind. 

Someone, I suppose, thinks that these commuters will be pushed into a corner so the only options are to walk, bike or bus to the BART. I imagine that those who live walking distance to the BART, already do walk. A few people bike and some people will start taking the bus. But taking the bus to the BART adds another hour and an extra $5 to the daily commute. That’s an hour people might prefer to spend with their families than on an ARTIFICIALLY CREATED transportation problem. 

A good 25% of the East Bay consists of hills, areas where walking and biking aren’t possible and these areas are also underserved by buses. In a letter to the Berkeley mayor the Sierra Club expressed support for building on the station, but “solutions for people who can’t walk or bike to the station due to distance, topography or other challenges should be considered and provided…” The problem is that while some handicapped spaces could be provided, any other parking would be first come, first served. Those with greater needs have to compete with those of lesser needs. There’s no special parking for “topography” problems. 

So what will the displaced commuters actually do? 

Top choice is hit the highway. Most people aren’t going to choose the path of greatest resistance out of duty. They are going to choose the path of least resistance in an already harried modern life. 

Another choice is to get a ride from your spouse. Instead of the two trips it takes to go to the BART and come home again at the end of the day, spouse gives you a ride to the BART, goes home and picks you up at the end of the day. Four trips instead of two. More congestion. 

Another choice is to take an Uber/Lyft/cab to the BART. In this case someone drives up from the other side of Oakland, picks you up and delivers you to the BART, circles town all day waiting for other fares, picks you up at the end of the day and brings you home, then returns to their home on the other side of Oakland. The equivalent of six or more trips. Ubers may be public but they are not mass transit. They are the least efficient mode of transportation we have. 

If the motivation for the changes at BART stations is about environmentalism and not about developer kickbacks or someone owning stock in Uber, the whole thing falls apart. In addition to the general misery, greater car use and more pollution is in fact what we’ll be getting. Proponents of these changes obsess about the emissions from driving from home to BART, but aren’t looking at the emissions from traveling greater distances on the highway. Pennywise but pound foolish. Imagine that the Koch brothers, in order to maximize their interests in gas and oil, were paying off members of the BART board to steer things their way. What would the BART board do? Answer: exactly what they are doing now, making it more difficult to access BART! 

By not requiring the BART board to regard the input of the citizens in affected areas, the recent decision by the state legislature essentially has just granted the board the right to treat BART property as their personal property. The citizens who have poured billions of tax dollars into creating the BART system are told their likely objections don’t matter. Converting a public space parking lot into privately occupied housing also crosses another line, that of privatization of public land, which this is regardless of who owns it. Creeping privatization is what we have been enduring since the philosophy of neoliberalism has taken hold in this country. The kickoff was during the Reagan years and the epitomization is now in the Trump administration. Once we give up our land, it won’t be retrievable in the future. 

A recent article in the Chronicle tells us that a mind boggling 40,000 people in the BART system are on a wait list for reserved parking. That gives us an idea of what the need is. It is not the business of BART to go into real estate or even to be concerned with housing issues. It’s their business to maximize BART use. 

I propose that the BART triple the amount of parking at the North Berkeley BART so anyone who wants to use the BART can. It will get commuters off the freeway, off the wait list and out of the surrounding neighborhoods. It will get daytime shoppers out of the Sutter-Stockton garage. This IS the green thing to do!!! 

Cars cause pollution and pollution causes global warming, so the obvious thing to do is to ban cars and problem solved, right? The mayor and city council seem to accept this. But if you can’t get away with banning cars, you do the next best thing, which is to ban parking spaces. Then people will “learn to walk” or “take a hike”, depending on your point of view. They seem intent on removing as much parking as possible by hook or crook with no regard to feasibility or individual needs. The good citizens who have purchased hybrid or electric cars are told that it doesn’t make a flip of difference. Not only do they want to build over the North Berkeley BART, they also want to build on what remains of the Ashby BART. The mayor has suggested he wants to “build out” any parking lot he can get his hands on. 

But a few people need cars at least sometimes, if not every day. Who are they? 

  • People with children. That would be most people for a good stretch of their lives.
  • Seniors with bad backs and arthritic knees, a little short of needing handicapped placards.
  • Actual handicapped people.
  • Anyone needing to carry heavy or cumbersome items such as groceries, that you can’t lug on the bus.
  • People living in areas not served by buses and where you can’t walk or bike.
  • Etc.
The young, healthy and unencumbered can walk or bike as long as they live in the flatlands. They are the “winners” and all the rest of us are the “losers”. In Trump’s America, we don’t care about the losers. 

The lot on Berkeley Way will have an apartment house built on it with affordable units, something we can definitely use. We were told that parking would be replaced, we weren’t being ripped off. When the citizens voted to fund the building, suddenly we were told it wouldn’t have parking. “You see, it costs money to underground the lot.” “Yes it does, that’s why we gave it to you.” Once again we are talking about privatization of a formerly public space. If the public parking was replaced, no problem, but if it isn’t then the formerly public lot is being privatized. A lot should be there with a number of CarShare spaces for the occasional use of the future residents who otherwise will have to live completely without the option. It also should have handicapped spaces, EV charging and bicycle racks and the remaining spaces for the usual band of “losers”. 

With this apartment building and any new apartment buildings that are built without sufficient parking, you will find more and more use of Ubers for transportation. As previously noted, they are the least efficient mode of transportation available. Give us back our lot! We need it ourselves. 

A word about puritanism. You hear some people say derisively that people just want to use cars for “mere convenience” as though convenience were a dirty word. Feasibility would be a less loaded term. Puritanism runs deep in the American psyche. “You must suffer for your pleasure.” This puritanism is also manifested in the idea that in order to solve social problems, i.e. global warming, someone has to be made to suffer. I regard myself as a progressive and I feel that the essence of progressivism is to push away from this old puritanism and make things work for as many people as possible. 

The actions being taken are negative, hostile and punitive. It would be better to emphasize positive solutions. The bus system could use a huge expansion. The improvements in bicycle access are a good idea. 

Berkeley is a medium density city and it’s good that way. Our local government seems obsessed with turning it into a high density city. There is no building project too ridiculous to get approval. There is a crisis in affordability in the Bay Area but there is no crisis in insufficient numbers of people. Look at Brooklyn which is a very high density city. First thing to note is that endless building will not bring down housing costs. Brooklyn’s rents are as high as Berkeley’s. Owning a car is impossible so there are few supermarkets. Instead there are little markets scattered around the city. The variety is very limited and the prices high because you have no choice. If Berkeley Bowl split up into a dozen little Berkeley “cups” and were scattered around the city so people could walk to get groceries, you would have the same situation; less variety, higher prices. Brooklyn does have one thing the Bay Area will never have and that’s an extensive subway system, a web, not a single line like the BART. And it’s cheap unlike the BART. Because of the hilly terrain and the monumental costs, this will never happen here. 

97% of Berkeley believes in and understands global warming. The other 3% voted for Trump. People probably do answer to that in many little ways that will never be counted by statisticians. Count your blessings. 

Anyone reading this who agrees with me probably knows that there is a huge momentum towards building out the BART. That’s why it’s urgent to contact relevant parties and let them know your feelings. That would be everyone on the BART board of directors, the mayor and city council of Berkeley and the zoning board of Berkeley. 

Michelle is retired and doesn’t have to commute anywhere. She lives walking distance from the BART. Her motives are altruistic. 

Climate note #3: "How soon until zero?"

Thomas Lord
Friday February 15, 2019 - 10:20:00 AM

Wrapping one's head around the urgency of climate change action, and the magnitude of that action, is very hard. What are we really talking about, concretely? For a long time, we've all been told the problem will be solved incrementally through various technical innovations and minor changes to law and daily life. Some have even told us, again and again, that "going green" will be a wellspring of economic growth and economic prosperity. We can eat a little less meat or something. California's even got a Climate Plan™.

Yet the 2018 report from the IPCC1 reveals a stark reality: Not only must net carbon emissions drop to zero in less than a lifetime2 - additionally, a very optimistic estimate is that emissions must fall "only 6% per year", beginning this year.3 (That might give us a 50/50 chance.)

What does it take to cut emissions 6% in 2019, again in 2020, again in 2021? 

How will car commutes be reduced by 6% each year? Can we build new transit systems that fast? Cutting the work-week at major employers, by one day a week, might do it -- but that will take the will of the employers, or the legislatures, or the employees, or the direct action activists, or some combination of these. 

How will people in Chicago apartments keep from freezing to death in the winter while still emissions fall by 6%? Is there time to electrify all those buildings? Is there time to "green" the generation of that electricity? Of course not. Whatever is the long run, in the short run ad hoc, cheap, fast, temporary solutions are needed. Maybe the DSA can help deploy emergency tools and create warm places of refuge. 

The speed of change needed this year and every year for the foreseeable future surpasses all experience. It surpasses the ready capacity of government and every known institution. And it's a matter of life and death. 

About this series

This is the first in a series of very short discussions of climate change, meant to be easily understood by a wide audience. 

Please let me know if you spot errors, or have suggestions or questions. I will do my best to improve the notes and to issue corrections as necessary. I can be contacted at lord@basiscraft.com. Please put "climate:" at the beginning of the subject line. 

Planned topics

  • Climate note #1: "The push for zero"
    The gravity of the situation. 

  • Climate note #2: "The carbon budget"
    The scarcity of resources to solve the problem. 

  • Climate note #3: "How soon until zero?"
    The urgency of successful action. 

  • Climate note #4: "Mass die-offs? Extinction? Really?!?"
    The importance of acting. 

  • Climate note #5: "Your lifestyle or your life - physical and economic limits"
    The sacrifice required (no sugar-coating). 

  • Climate note #6: "Can't we just make our infrastructure green?"
    The denialism popularized by progressive politics. 

  • Climate note #6: "What is to be done?"
    How to act wisely, together, in solidarity

  • Climate note #7: "Can't green urbanism fix this?"
    The tragedy inherent in current policies in the City of Berkeley. 

  • Climate note #8: "The genocide problem."
    Are we monsters

  • Climate note #9: "Simple plans of action."
    A little courage is all we need to act. 

  • Climate note #10: "Rejoice."
    A personal reflection. 

  1. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report 15 ("Climate Change of 1.5°C"). 

  2. See Climate note #1: "The push for zero" in this series. 

  3. See Climate note #2: "The carbon budget" in this series. 

Experts from across Bay Area Pack the House for Permanently Affordable Housing

Fernando Echeverria, East Bay Community Law Center (EBCLC),Tony Samara, Urban Habitat
Friday February 15, 2019 - 09:19:00 AM

On Thursday, 2/14, more than 100 housing rights activists, allies, and public officials convened at The California Endowment for Can’t Build Our Way Out: Community-Based Solutions to the Bay Area Housing Crisis. The East Bay Community Law Center and Urban Habitat formally released their joint report, Rooted In Home

In a moderated discussion, community experts from across the region shared actionable solutions to the affordability crisis that is pushing thousands of long-term Bay Area residents out of their homes and into the streets. Cynthia Fong (Housing Rights Committee, San Francisco), Needa Bee (The Village, Oakland), and Jocelin Hernandez (Serve the People, San Jose), presented strategies grounded in permanent affordability and dignity, including the formation of community land trusts, effective use of public land, and building the power of tenants and homeless people to create solutions and construct livable shelters for themselves.
Missed the discussion? Catch the whole thing here. And check out the report that inspired us to convene today.
For further comment, please contact East Bay Community Law Center’s Fernando Echeverria at fecheverria@ebclc.org or Urban Habitat's Tony Samara at tony@urbanhabitat.or

Raze People's Park? There's No Such Thing as "Just Development"

Thomas Lord
Thursday February 14, 2019 - 09:43:00 PM

This commentary is in response to an op-ed in the Daily Cal titled "UC Berkeley must prioritize community voices in future People’s Park housing plans" (February 12, 2019). Following the party line laid down by Chancellor Christ long ago, the authors call for a "justice-based approach to development [that is, razing]" of People's Park. The authors say that they surveyed Park users to identify what "services" the University ought to replace when razing the Park. It is unclear if respondents to the survey were informed of the political use to which their answers would be put. The authors, in the end, do little more than add an air of false respectability to the University's already existing plan to rob the community of the Park with the consolation of some vague, token "services". (The Daily Cal deleted a copy of this response from the comment section on the op-ed. Inquires made to the editorial staff about why the comment was deleted were not returned.) 

There is no just way to raze the Park. The Park can not be reduced to just the most controversial users (i.e. poor people). The community can not be reduced to a set of "services" to be replaced. 

Nor is there any practical reason to raze the Park. For that matter, there is no practical reason to build on the research field on Oxford. When the Chancellor's office embarked on this farce they turned a blind eye to alternative sites such as the SW and NW parking lots on Clark Kerr. They ignored the part of the Oxford parcels with the older (run down) buildings. Those are just two examples - there are more. And to add insult to injury, they are proposing to build privately profitable housing that will gouge students and taxpayers. It's an enormous wealth transfer from public education to already rich people. These facts alone should make students skeptical that UC is speaking with them in good faith. You're being ripped off. Again. In yet another way. When do you stop trusting this institution? 

The history of the Park matters. It was, once upon a time, housing. The housing was largely occupied by counter-culture households, many not-affiliated with the University but influential on student life. This context is vital to understand the past 50 years of struggle: 

The University had taken some bruises, from their perspective, in that very conservative time. They had taken bruises from student involvement in the Civil Rights movement, from the Free Speech movement, from the anti-war movement, and from the growth of revolutionary politics and radical environmentalism. Students today can check out some deep (and academically very serious) history in Seth Rosenfeld's "Subversives: The FBI's War on Student Radicals, and Reagan's Rise to Power". Students today can find source materials about Park history in the on-line archives of the Berkeley Barb (content warning: no shortage of sexist and race-insensitive content in those old issues - but you'll also find plenty of evidence of the positive good that was going on, really, at that time). 

Where the Park stands today there was housing. The housing was largely occupied by unaffiliated counter-cultural types the University saw as a political threat. 

Back then, the University found a flimsy excuse (a false promise to build student housing, ironically) to take that housing by eminent domain, evict the counter cultural residents, raze the buildings, and salt the earth by leaving behind a huge dirt patch. Meanwhile, the University continued its oppression of students who questioned and challenged the society around them, and the institution that processed them like commodities. 

The Park grew out of student and community frustration and anger, and the something-in-the-air of the times that sought out solidarity, positive creation, much needed earth-loving, and the spontaneous discovery of the power of positive direct action. Watch some of the videos of the Park being built -- and of the military counter-attack - to get some sense of the times. 

Incidentally, the much beloved Ohlone Park in North Berkeley grew out the very same process of direct action. It was initiated in a moment of response to the murder of James Rector and the maiming and injury of others by the literal occupying army sent to suppress the People's Park movement. The Park is sacred for many reasons. 

For 50 years, the University has done everything it can to interfere with the Park's positive development. You write of "services" the Park provides? You have no idea how much more extensive the mutual support was in the Park before the University cracked down on it. If it looks shabby and beat down today -- keep in mind that the sticks used to beat it down were wielded by the very powers you think you are now negotiating with. 

My metaphor for what even the well meaning author's of this piece propose is an ugly one: It reminds me of those horrific photos of trophy hunters gloating over dead elephants, rhinos, and big cats -- the kind you see flying around social media. You may mean well but if you think "just development" means anything more than giving some very mean folks a trophy photo, please reconsider.

The Immigration Issue

Harry Brill
Thursday February 14, 2019 - 09:58:00 PM

President Trump claims that he doing what he can to discourage illegal immigration to the United States (U.S). He has expressed concern about the adverse impact it has on providing jobs to American workers. In turn, he has won the support of particularly white members of the working class. This explains why the polls report that the public believes he is doing a good job. He has insisted that not only should illegal immigrants with criminal records be arrested and deported, which was Obama's approach. Instead, all illegal immigrants, including those without a crime record, should be targeted. 

The business community, on the other hand, loves and thrives on low paid, vulnerable labor. Shouldn't crossing the border by immigrants be encouraged rather than dissuaded from coming to the United States? Why is Trump taking ostensibly a different position? Or is he really? 

The mass media is trying to convey the impression that the U.S. government is serious about discouraging illegal immigration. So we learn that the number of arrests of non-criminal immigrants who had successfully crossed the border was up substantially in 2017 from the prior year --an increase of 40 percent, from 5,498 to 13,600. What has not been widely covered is that although the percentage increase is large it is a small fraction of the immigrants that cross the border undetected. In fact, the number of those who have been apprehended before they cross over is the lowest in 46 years, and 25 percent fewer than the year before. As a result, between 300,000 to 400,000 are able to evade the border patrol annually.  

Moreover, border crossings are not the only source of unauthorized foreign labor. Substantial numbers, including those who arrive here as tourists, students, and workers overstay their visas. The visa overstays make up 42 percent of all undocumented persons in the United States. Since 2007 overstays have exceed those entering illegally every year. In 20116, 629,000 overstayed their visas. According to federal statistics more people have overstayed on expired visas than have been arrested crossing the southern border.  

That the federal government is not really interested in clamping down on those who are overstaying is suggested by its absence of a system for tracking visitors who leave their countries although several nations, including Australia, the United Kingdom, and Hong Kong have done so. Also, although it is a misdemeanor to enter the country illegally it is not a crime to overstay a visa. 

In reality, the government works with employers to make available low wage, foreign labor, whether legal or not. The public learns from the media that ICE, which is under the jurisdiction of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), has been arresting illegal immigrants who have been residing here. What is not as publicized is that Homeland Security issued 15,000 guest visas to employers, which they justified by claiming that there was not enough qualified U.S. workers. Translated, these employers are seeking to replace American workers with low wage foreign labor. 

Despite the propaganda, the majority of the public is not being fooled. According to a poll by a major pollster organization (Rasmussen Reports), most likely voters are convinced that the policies and practices of the federal government promote illegal immigration. Since the current staff of 20,000 border patrol agents is almost double the number it was, say, in 2004, when more immigrants were intercepted, the suspicious perspective of the role of the federal government certainly makes sense. 

But what about Trump's claim that his anti-immigrant policy reflects his commitment to protect jobs for American workers? Consider Trump's perspective on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), which protects young people from deportation who have been brought to the United States illegally by their parents when they were young children. A substantial number of the approximately 700,000 young people who have been enrolled in the DACA program have been college students. Many of these students, 78 percent born in Mexico and 9 percent in Central America, have been able to obtain middle class jobs. 

When Trump was campaigning to become president he promised if elected on repeal the DACA program on "day one". He was not joking. As president, he made a serious effort to repeal the program, but he was unable to do so because of tremendous opposition from the business community , including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which was supported by the courts. Among the many corporations that support the DACA program and who has high praise for DACA students is Wall mart. And for a good reason. These vulnerable employees who had been enrolled in the DACA program are much less likely than American workers to be troublesome. 

Although Trump has so far lost the battle, doesn't it at least indicate that he cares about American workers? Not really. His actions certainly speak louder than his words. With regard to who obtains the good jobs, which many in the DACA program enjoy, he wants a white America. Unquestionably, Trump is a racist and is proud of it. In his own words, Trump asks "What do we want Haitians here for? What do we want ? Why do we want all those people from Africa here? Why do we want all these people from shithole countries?" Trump also includes among the shithole countries El Salvador, which is mostly Hispanic.  

But bringing low wage labor from abroad means including workers from "shithole countries, Trump and the business community are on the same side. 

About Trump's proposal to send 2,000 to 3,000 national guard troops to the border to stem the flow of immigrants is nothing more than bombast. All parties involved, including the Trump administration agreed that the national guard members would not be allowed to have any physical contact with aliens. Trump thought that troops could for surveillance purposes fly planes over the territory. It is not just that flying planes would not justify sending such a large contingent of troops. The border patrol has already been flying drones for this purpose. 

Incidentally, Governor Brown has agreed to deploy up to 400 National Guard members but just to combat criminal activity. His condition for sending troops is that there would be no expectation to enforce immigration laws or participate in the construction of any new border barrier. 

That Trump and the business community generally favor prefer foreign labor is unquestionable. A program called the Optional Practical Training program allows undergraduates and graduate students to work for at least one year at jobs that compliment their education. Incredibly, the government rewards employers if they hire foreign rather than American workers. The incentive it offers is to provide a tax break of 8.25 percent only to employers who hire foreign graduates. The program drains about $2 billion annually from the Medicare and Social Security trust fund. The purpose is to keep the best of these students in the country because they would work at a lower salary than paid to American workers  

What else is the Trump and the business community thinking about to favor low wage foreign labor? The Trump administration has been recently meeting with the Mexican president to revive the notorious Bracero program (1942-1964) which supplied cheap manual labor for American farms. Almost five million were hired. Their low wages were eroded because they had to pay for their own food, clothing, and lodging even though these amenities were supposed to be free according to the agreement reached both by the Mexican and American governments. Also, the hours were long and the working conditions were dangerous. Although public officials were aware of these and other violations and conditions they did virtually nothing about it. So it is certainly no surprise that Trump is interested in working with Mexico to craft a similar guest program.  

What these various attempts to recruit working people have in common is the proclivity to replace American with Foreign workers, who are willing, often out of desperation, to work at lower wages and poorer working conditions than what American workers have been accustomed to. With the decline of labor unions, employers have more options and working people have less. Any political program to reverse current trends requires rebuilding the labor movement. Undoubtedly, achieving this accomplishment is a long road ahead

The Bogus War Against Illegal Drugs

Harry Brill
Thursday February 14, 2019 - 09:57:00 PM

The media recently reported that former Vice President Joe Biden expressed regret for supporting the drug crime laws because they have disproportionally and unfairly impacted African Americans. The federal Bureau of Justice Statistics found that although 16 percent of those who sold drugs were blacks, they made up 49 percent who were arrested. Moreover, African Americans constituted 74 percent of those who went to prison just for possessing drugs. And they were much more likely to receive longer sentences.  

When Ronald Reagan became president, he pushed though legislation that added 29 new mandatory minimum sentences. That certainly limits the sentencing discretion of liberal judges. However, the federal courts have imposed prison sentences on black men that are almost 20 percent longer than those received by white men who had committed similar offenses. Black Americans are incarcerated in state prisons at an average rate that is 5 times more than white Americans. In some states, that rate is 10 times more. Moreover, in 35 states that have complete data, blacks also serve disproportionately longer sentences. 

The length of sentences depend on the particular drug and the quantity possessed or sold. The federal penalty for possession could be as high as 40 years. A second offense could be for life. Indeed, the enactment of three strike laws yielded very long prison sentences, including for life, even if each violation for possession was relatively minor. The federal government and 24 states have some form of three strike laws. The aggregate result has been an  

increase in the prison population from 500,000 in 1980 to over 2,200,000 currently. Undoubtedly, poverty and unemployment, and more generally a sense of hopelessness have contributed to the temptation to use illegal drugs. But the widespread use of drugs could not be contained because of the lack of adequate oversight by agencies that are responsible for putting a stop to drug trafficking. Instead, many officials have been ignoring the trafficking of drugs for a long while. The laxity in enforcement probably explains why there are substantially more drug addicts on the streets of San Francisco, as the SF Chronicle reported, than students enrolled in the city's high schools (1-30-19). 

Take for example the Winter Hill Gang in Boston, which was heavily involved in trafficking drugs. Some FBI agents claimed that they did not attempt to restrain the organization because the Winter Hill gang provided the FBI with information about a rival gang. That explanation was just an excuse that gave the gang the ability to traffic in drugs with impunity. In fact, according to law enforcement officials, drug trafficking organizations have been operating in at least 230 U.S. cities. And for the most part they have been able to do so without interference from authorities. 

The obvious question is why are enforcement agencies so lenient in enforcing drug laws. The highly acclaimed civil rights lawyer and legal scholar, Michelle Alexander, claims persuasively in her book, "The New Jim Crow", that the main reason for imprisoning African Americans reflects the establishment's backlash against the civil rights movement. The civil rights movement was not only very unpopular with the establishment. It was resented by many whites, particularly in the south, who looked unfavorably at the various gains, including voting rights, that African Americans achieved. To win white votes, Republicans pursued a racist strategy. 

Richard Nixon played a major role developing the war on drugs in order to subdue the militancy of black activists. After many years as a top Nixon aide, John D. Ehrlichman acknowledged to a journalist that criminalizing blacks was a major motive for Nixon's war on drugs. What he admitted is worth quoting in full:  

"You want to know what this was really about? The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I'm saying. We knew we couldn't make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did". 

Nixon was credited with initiating what he called the "War On Drugs". He certainly pursued it with a vengeance, claiming that drug abuse was "public enemy number one". But actually it was Lyndon Johnson's support for an anti-drug policy that preceded Nixon. Johnson supported the Civil Rights Act mainly in response to the successful militant struggles led by MLK Jr. and blacks generally. During his first 20 years in office (1937-1957) he always voted with the South. But he changed his position beginning in 1957, which was shortly after King and the black community won the Montgomery Bus Boycott battle. 

The political pressure of black civil rights activists did not only have an immense domestic impact. The international community was also concerned about this country's racism. Images of armed soldiers blocking nine African American high school students from integrating a public high school in Little Rock, Arkansas sent shock waves to many countries abroad. The Soviet Union was delighted with the bad publicity the U.S. was getting. The U.S. representative to the U.N. warned Eisenhower that the international repercussions were damaging this nation's influence. So Johnson along with a congressional majority of both Democrats and Republicans supported the civil rights act mainly because of the immense political pressures that were both domestic and international. 

What is not widely known is the duplicitous role that Johnson played. Before leaving office Johnson stated that the government needed to make an effort to curtail the social unrest in the country. He thought that the focus should be on illegal drug abuse. He took some organizational steps to facilitate the coming war on drugs. So although Johnson supported civil rights legislation, he also endorsed a strategy to undermine the militant character of the civil rights movement and the opportunities to make additional advances. Nixon, who succeeded Johnson, mentioned that it was important to take Johnson's advice.  

As already mentioned, Biden said that he realized the drug laws were a mistake. That's a good first step. Now he and others who have been troubled by the injustices that blacks have suffered should also demand the release of all those who are in prison for possession of drugs. The addiction to drugs deserves treatment not punishment. It is hazardous to the health of the addicted and their families. In fact, last year over 72,000 died from drug overdose. Also, treating addiction would certainly be a lot less expensive than imprisoning addicts. It would cost at least $20,000 less per person than incarceration.  

A humane approach would undoubtedly make some members of the establishment very unhappy. But it would certainly improve the quality of life of many Americans and would be best for our society as a whole.

Urban Shield may end on February 26 .... with your help!

JP Massar
Thursday February 14, 2019 - 09:40:00 PM

Since 2013, the Bay Area has been trying to transform Alameda County Sheriff Ahern’s Urban Shield from a highly militarized SWAT competition and weapons expo devoted mainly to policing into a community-focused safety and resilience exercise.

And now we are almost there. After six years of struggle on the streets, before government entities, and in the court of public opinion, Urban Shield may end on February 26.... with your help.

The second Alameda County task force has completed its work and issued a long and thorough list of recommendations that include ending a weapons expo that features military-grade weapons and high-tech spying and crowd control gadgets, ending the violent SWAT competition to focus on training other first responders, and directing $5 million in new funding to health and social services. 

Now the recommendations come before the Alameda Board of Supervisors – who commissioned the task force - and we need to make the adoption of them by the Supervisors a reality. That means countering the Sheriff's Department all-out defense of the status quo with pressure of our own. 

You can take action right now:  

Facebook’s 15th anniversary

Tejinder Uberoi
Thursday February 14, 2019 - 10:15:00 PM

As a parody on a passage in the “Good Book”, “What profit a man when he gaineth access to social media but loses his privacy?”

A recent editorial in the SJ Mercury exposed the latest egregious actions of Facebook targeting young minors paying them $20 per month to capture everything they do on their phones. Facebook offers a weak defense of its actions claiming they were providing informed consent to their young users. Really? Are children as young as 13 mature enough to make such decisions? $20 is a cheap way to invade a youngster’s privacy. The stolen information may haunt them for the rest of their lives. This offer was introduced as early as 2013 action under the radar of parental control.

This mimics the wicked actions of tobacco companies attempting to get young people hooked on their products by handing out free packs of cigarettes. 

This makes Zuckerberg’s appearance in Congress, feigning openness and sincerity - a complete sham. Celebrating its 15th anniversary, Facebook has effectively hijacked much of the world’s eyeballs with its social media platform, photo-sharing app, Instagram and the messaging product, WhatsApp. 

Around two-thirds of Americans move around like zombies using its social network product. All these new trends in making “Friends” is beautifully encapsulated in Roger McNamee, forthcoming book, “Zucked.” 

Many accuse Facebook of fanning teenage narcissism, short attention spans ng anxiety, depression and insecurity. A staggering 59% of Americans claim of being bullied or harassed online. Facebook’s business model is simple - mine users’ private data and sell it to companies for profit. 

The Cambridge Analytica fiasco is a prime example of how customers’ data was used for political purposes and very likely impacting the 2016 election in Trump’s favor. The ongoing threats of privacy scream of government oversight. Thus far the government has chosen to give Facebook a free pass. 



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ECLECTIC RANT; Another Shutdown Appears to be Averted

Ralph E. Stone
Thursday February 14, 2019 - 09:47:00 PM

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and President Trump reached a deal whereby Trump would sign the bipartisan budget and McConnell would support a declaration of a national state of emergency by Trump, which would allow him to divert funds to build (or finish) his wall on our Southern border with Mexico. The bipartisan agreement provides $1.375 billion for his wall, not the $5.7 billion he demanded. This deal would avert another shutdown. 

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the longest government shutdown in U.S. history cost the economy $11 billion due to lost output from federal workers, delayed government spending, and reduced demand. That does not, of course, include the suffering of about 800,000 unpaid government workers and their families. 

Under the National Emergencies Act, the President may declare a state of emergency only when "the life of the nation is threatened by war, invasion, general insurrection, disorder, natural disaster or other public emergency" and if the ordinary laws and government powers are not sufficient to restore peace and order.  

Clearly, that is not the case here. There is no threat at our Southern border. The number of unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. fell to its lowest level in more than a decade. And studies have found no link between immigration and crime, and some have found lower crime rates among immigrants. Finally, the best evidence of a lack of a national emergency is the January 29, 2019, Worldwide Assessment of the Intelligence Community, which notably does not include any threat to the nation at our Southern border with Mexico.  

Congress has acted and Trump plans to sign the bipartisan agreement. It would be inconsistent for Trump to sign the bipartisan agreement, which signals his approval, and then turn around and declare a state of national emergency on our Southern border. 

Thus, there is no state of emergency. If there is one, it is one of Trump’s own making. Expect lawsuits if Trump does declare a National Emergency.

Parkland Shooting – Repeal the Second Amendment

Jagjit Singh
Thursday February 14, 2019 - 10:12:00 PM

February 14, 2018 marks the anniversary of the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School—the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that stirred a nation’s outrage at the epidemic of gun violence. The shooter, armed with a military style semiautomatic AR-15 gunned down 17 students, staff and teachers in just three minutes. Several of the students who survived rose to national prominence taking aim at the “hall of shame” - the NRA and the politicians who put profit over people’s lives. Sadly, “Never again” becomes the rallying cry after each mass shooting.  

The nation owes a debt of gratitude to the organizers of “March for Our Lives” who mobilized the youth vote nationwide for the midterm elections and nearly defeated the pro-gun candidates in the Parkland students’ home state of Florida. Nearly 1,200 children have died from gun violence in the year following the Parkland shooting. That’s three to four a day.  

This is a national outrage. It is time we take aim at the real villain, the SECOND AMENDMENT. This was relevant at the birth of our nation when states had legitimate fears of an overbearing tyrannical federal government but has no place in today’s society. Retired Supreme Court Justice, John Paul Stevens is a vigorous advocate for repealing the Second Amendment. We should heed his wise words. Finally, it is time we demand revocation of the NRA’s non-profit status. 


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Federal Climate action/Green New Deal

Jamie Facciola
Thursday February 14, 2019 - 10:10:00 PM

limate change is happening here and now – and I'm terrified.

The latest climate report from the UN says we have only 12 years to transform our economy to preserve the stable climate human civilization has depended on for milenia. We need a massive mobilization of every sector of society on par with what science and justice demand. A Green New Deal will keep Americans safe from climate change and create millions of green jobs. It is common sense policy that is overwhelmingly popular with American people, regardless of political party or where they live. Any presidential candidate who wants to be taken seriously on climate and earn the support of young people needs to support Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Markey’s resolution.


DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE: Turkey’s Leader’s Election Woes

Conn Hallinan
Thursday February 14, 2019 - 09:53:00 PM

“Democracy is like a tram; you get off when you have reached your destination.” The comment by Recep Tayyip Erdogan—made more than 20 years ago when he was first elected mayor of Istanbul—sums up the Machiavellian cynicism of Turkey’s authoritarian president. As Turkey gears up for municipal elections March 31, it is a prophecy Erdogan has more than fulfilled: the prisons filled with the opposition, the media largely silenced, the courts intimidated, the bureaucracy tamed, and more than 150,000 people fired.  

But for all that, there dark clouds on the horizon, much of them largely of the President’s own making. And since it is traditional for the Turkish electorate to use local elections to send a message, Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) may be in for a setback. 

For one thing, the AKP’s bread and butter issue, the economy, is in trouble, and maybe very serious trouble. Industrial production has fallen 6 percent and retail sales 7 percent, and overall growth has dropped from 7.4 percent in 2017 to a projected 2 percent in 2019. Inflation is at 20.3 percent and unemployment is accelerating. The most recent figures show that more than 11 percent are out of work, with almost twice that for young people age 15 to 24, who constitute some 20 percent of Turkey’s population. 

In the past “terrorism” was the major concern for voters, but recent polls indicate that the economy is the number one issue, followed by unemployment and Syrian refugees. 

Erdogan constructed his election juggernaut on economic growth that lifted a considerable section of the population out of poverty and fueled a major growth of the middle class. Much of that economy was centered on the construction industry and mega-projects like shopping malls, bridges and the largest airport in the world. 

For Erdogan an economy built around massive projects was a win-win formula: the AKP handed out lucrative contracts to big construction firms, which, in turn, filled the electoral coffers of a party that went from the margins of the political spectrum to at one point winning almost 50 percent of the electorate. 

But growth fell to an anemic 1.6 percent in the third quarter of last year, and the construction industry is in a recession, with large layoffs almost certain. The crisis of the building trades has had a domino effect on allied industries in cement, steel and ceramics. And the combination of the lira’s fall in value, coupled with the economic insecurity people are feeling, has depressed sales in the automotive industry, electronics and appliances, 

The Turkish economy has long been reliant on foreign capital—so-called “hot money”— to keep the factories humming and living standards rising. But hot money is drying up and the bills are coming due. Since much of Turkey’s debt is in foreign currency, it is harder to pay off those debts with a depressed lira. Ankara has opened talks with the International Monetary Fund to explore a bailout, but IMF bailouts come with a price tag: austerity, not exactly a winning electoral program. 

While much of Erdogan’s political opposition has been jailed or sidelined, it has not been cowed. In spite of nine parliamentary deputies from the Kurdish-based left-wing People’s Democratic Party (HDP) being imprisoned, that party still managed to get enough votes in the last election to hold their spot as the third largest party in the parliament. A hunger strike by imprisoned Kurdish activists has also generated sympathy for the HDP, and for the first time in Turkish history many of the Kurdish parties have formed a united front

The HDP has also decided not to run candidates for the mayoralties of the big cities like Istanbul and Ankara, in order to help elect candidates from the secular center-right Republican People’s Party (CHP). In short, anyone but the AKP. 

The AKP used to get a substantial number of Kurdish votes, particularly from conservative rural areas. But when Erdogan launched a crackdown on the Kurds in an effort to marginalize the HDP, he lost many of those voters. While not all of them have migrated to the left party, they have shifted their votes to other Kurdish parties, now united under the Kurdistani Election Alliance. 

There is a certain amount of irony here. In an effort to make sure the AKP’s ally, the extreme rightwing National Action Party (MHP) made it into Parliament, Erdogan rammed through a law that allows parties form electoral alliances. Even if a party doesn’t reach the 10 percent threshold required to enter parliament, it will still win seats if it is allied with a bigger party. 

But what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. 

The CHP has formed an alliance with the nationalist Iti (“Good”) Party, and most of the Kurdish parties are under one umbrella. It is likely that those alliances will end up winning seats that they wouldn’t have under the old rules. 

Besides domestic woes, Erdogan’s foreign policy is hardly a major success. The Turkish occupation of northern Syria has failed to scatter the Kurdish-based Syrian Democratic Forces, and it looks increasingly like Ankara has stumbled into a quagmire. Erdogan’s plan was to drive the Kurds out and re-populate the area with Syrian refugees. Instead he is in a standoff with the Russians and the Americans, and, to protect themselves, the Kurds appear to be cutting a deal with the government of Bashar al-Assad. 

There is a strong streak of nationalism among the Turks, and Erdogan may yet harvest it by pressing the Kurds in Turkey’s southeast, Iraq and Syria. But the Turkish army is overextended and still reeling from the purge of officers and rank and file that followed the failed 2016 coup. And there are credible reports that the military is not overly happy with occupying part of Syria. 

The Turkish President did score points in his battle with Saudi Arabia over the kingdom’s murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi, as well as with his support for Kuwait and Qatar in their dispute with the United Arab Emirates and the Saudis. His willingness to resist US sanctions against Iran is also popular, because it means trade and a lift for Turkey’s ailing economy. 

However, the March vote is not likely to turn on foreign policy, but rather on pocket book issues like unemployment and the wobbling economy. Erdogan is doing his best to head off any unrest over the economy by handing out low-interest loans and giveaways, like paying electrical bills for economically stressed families. 

The opposition also claims that the AKP alliance is stuffing the rolls with non-existent voters. HDP investigators found that one house in Hakkari in the Kurdish southeast has 1,108 registered voters. 

But Turkish agriculture is a mess, and construction and manufacturing are staggering under an enormous debt load. Erdogan has used the power of the state to hobble his opposition, but the state of emergency is alienating foreign investors and many Turks are increasingly weary of it. 

In the 2017 referendum that bestowed almost unlimited executive powers on Erdogan, he lost Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir, Turkey’s largest cities. A recent poll showed support for the AKP had dropped from 42.5 percent the Party got in the 2018 election to 35 percent today. 

After 17 years of power, after using every device he could—including stuffing ballot boxes—to build a powerful executive system orbiting around him, it is hard to imagine Erdogan suffering a set back. But tossing people in prison and intimidating opposition has had little effect on repairing the economy or raising living standards. And many Turks may be souring on the “destination” that Erdogan has brought them to, and they could well decide to send that message on March 31. 


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



Bob Burnett
Friday February 15, 2019 - 09:14:00 AM

(Here's the outline of the "Green New Deal" released by Senator Ed Markey and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (https://www.npr.org/2019/02/07/691997301/rep-alexandria-ocasio-cortez-releases-green-new-deal-outline).)

1. Insist that the U.S. judicial process plays out and that Donald Trump and his corrupt associates are brought to justice. Special Counsel Robert Mueller should be allowed to finish his investigation -- into Russia's interference in the 2016 election -- and his report should be made public. 

Wired reports that there are at least 17 separate investigations into Trump-Russia relationships (https://www.wired.com/story/mueller-investigation-trump-russia-complete-guide/ ). All of these should be brought to conclusion. 

If Trump tries to interfere in any of these investigations, his intrusion should trigger impeachment proceedings in the House of Representatives. 

Citizens should demand accountability for Donald Trump. 

(By the way, we should also insist that the Federal government do much more to stop Russian interference in our elections.) 

2. Make sure that the blue wave continues into 2020; that Democrats win the Presidency and control of both houses of Congress. The Democrats have fielded a strong contingents of presidential candidates (see my February 1st article, "Top Ten Democratic Presidential Candidates.") Early polls indicate that any of them could defeat Trump. Nonetheless, we've all learned not to underestimate Trump; Democrats need to do everything possible to prevent him from doing more damage to the United States. 

At the moment, Democrats occupy 235 of the 435 seats in the House of Representatives -- Republicans have 197 seats and 3 are vacant. Dems have to work hard to maintain their advantage in the House. 

Republicans occupy 53 of the 100 seats in the U.S. Senate. 22 of their seats are up for reelection in 2020 -- versus 12 for Democrats. The most vulnerable Republican Senators are: Susan Collins (Maine), Cory Gardner (Colorado) and Martha McSally (Arizona). (The most vulnerable Democrat is Doug Jones (Alabama).) Potentially vulnerable Republican Senators are John Cornyn (TX), Joni Ernst (IA), Lindsey Graham (SC), Pat Roberts (KS) -- who is retiring, David Perdue (GA), and Thom Tillis (NC). Democrats must work hard and win a Senate majority. 

Trump has already started campaigning for reelection. He's making no attempt to reach outside his base -- about 40 percent of the electorate (https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/trump-approval-ratings/ ). Trump is planning to inflame his base by touting false accomplishments -- such as his claim that construction of his "wall" has already started ["Finish the wall"] -- and dire warnings about Democrats -- such as, "they want open borders." 

At the same time, Trump will try to suppress the vote of Independents and wavering Democrats by claiming that the Democratic presidential candidate is weak and "a socialist." (Republicans, in general, will try to suppress the vote by tactics such as selective voter "purges.") 

3. Reach out to Trump voters. At some time in the near future, hopefully 2020, Democrats will regain control of the government. But before we can repair the damage that Trump, and his Republican collaborators have wrought, we need to reach out to Trump supporters -- those who view Donald as their last chance to get a shot at the American dream -- and convince them that we are their allies. 

If adequately explained, the new Democratic agenda, with its emphasis on healthcare, education, jobs, and infrastructure, should go a long way towards healing the breech between Democrats and Trump loyalists. Nonetheless, Democrats must take extraordinary steps to quench the anger and hate that Trump has fed. 

Reaching out to Trump voters is the right step, on moral grounds, but it's also a practical reality: to deal with climate change, there's an extraordinary amount of work that needs to be done and Americans have to work together. No one should minimize what a daunting task this will be. While a strong majority of Americans believe that climate change is an urgent problem that must be dealt with ( https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/meet-the-press/consensus-emerges-climate-change-debate-n950646) only 15 percent of Republicans agree. (In other words, most Trump voters say they are not worried about climate change.) 

4. Support the Green New Deal. As I write this, my travel plans have been disrupted by torrential rains and flooding in Northern California. The pace of global climate change has increased; it's time to declare a "national emergency" to deal with this reality. 

The Green New Deal is the latest attempt to get the U.S. government to doing something about climate change. (https://www.cnn.com/2019/02/14/politics/green-new-deal-proposal-breakdown/index.html ) The bill references the Roosevelt era, "the Federal Government-led mobilizations during World War II and the New Deal;" it's a resolution that insists we mobilize now. 

The Green New Deal resolution has a lot in it but what jumps out is the call for a "10-year national mobilization" with several key objectives: 

  • "Meeting 100 percent of the power demand in the United States through clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources." That is, eliminating our dependence on fossil fuel in 10 years.
  • "Upgrading all existing buildings" in the country for energy efficiency.
  • Working with farmers "to eliminate pollution and greenhouse gas emissions ... as much as is technologically feasible."
  • "Overhauling transportation systems" to reduce emissions — including expanding electric car manufacturing, building "charging stations everywhere," and expanding high-speed rail to "a scale where air travel stops becoming necessary."
  • A guaranteed job "with a family-sustaining wage, adequate family and medical leave, paid vacations and retirement security" for every American. While this may appear to be a gratuitous add-on, the notion of a guaranteed job makes sense in light of the scope of the national mobilization, which will create hundreds of thousands of new jobs.
This is not a drill. We're in the midst of a national emergency and we need to work together to deal with these dire circumstances. 

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

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Politicians' Effects on Mentally ill People

Jack Bragen
Thursday February 14, 2019 - 09:51:00 PM

When Governor Schwarzenegger was in office, he slashed SSI benefits. And it was Pete Wilson who eliminated the California Renter's Credit, which was a few hundred dollars once a year, that meant a lot to us Social Security recipients. 

Politicians in California have also made it impossible for disabled people to get halfway acceptable dental care. The only dentists who take Medi-Cal are the mass-production dentists who are not invested in saving your teeth, and who do not care about your suffering. 

Governor Brown reinstated minimal dental benefits following a time under Schwarzenegger in which the only dental care available for disabled people was emergency extractions. 

President Obama's effects on mentally ill people are a bit harder for me to define. I was heartened that we had a Democrat in office. I was very happy with President Obama's execution of the duties of President, which included militarily defending us against real external threats. I was happy with most of Obama's policies. Did things get better for mentally ill people under the Obama Administration? 

Things were better in the sense that we had a government that played fair for the most part, and that wasn't a looming threat. I appreciate perceiving the government as a friend. Insofar as Obama producing more benefits for disabled people, Obamacare existed--I'll have more to say about that.  

However, an acquaintance who participated in a mental health group felt paranoid about Obama and expressed in group that he wanted to obtain a firearm because he didn't like the direction the country was going. The facilitator, however, was a responsible individual. After the man voiced that threat, I never saw nor heard from him again. I presume that his threat had been reported to the authorities. This happened about ten years ago, give or take a couple years. 

President Trump's effect on mentally ill people includes that of creating widespread paranoia even among people who are not mentally ill. Trump's attitude and his policies have created a toxic environment in the U.S., and numerous Americans feel hopeless. 

Trump has slashed the budget of HUD. He has gutted Obamacare. Obamacare promised to be the great equalizer. If you were living on public benefits and wanted to go back to work, you could be covered by Obamacare. As it now stands, going back to work jeopardizes medical coverage once again. This makes it much harder for disabled people to even think of trying to rise out of poverty through one's own hard work. 

I would not label President Trump as a mentally ill politician. There is a big difference between someone afflicted with a biologically created thought disorder, versus someone who is essentially a "crook," honored with the highest office in the U.S. 

While the Obama Administration produced hope for the less fortunate, the Trump Administration produces hopelessness for disabled people, who would merely like to live under better conditions. 

The government is set up to criminalize and impede disabled people who would like to earn money and/or live under better conditions. For the most part, Republican leaders have made conditions worse for disabled people, and Democrats have minimally made things better. 

Some politicians are aware that mentally ill people are people and would like to have a chance at enjoying a few things, in our short, often tragic lives. 

I would like to see mentally ill people organize, which is something we did in the past, but have been unable to do in recent years, due to numerous factors. One of these factors could be the advent of "atypical antipsychotics" which do more to suppress the function of the central nervous system. 

But also, additional tactics of suppression have been introduced. We are more restricted than we were in the past by means of economic factors. Also, some mentally ill people have abused their independence and their positions of responsibility, and that has ruined opportunities for the next generation of mental health survivors. 

Jack Bragen's books are available on Amazon 

SMITHEREENS: Reflections on Bits & Pieces

Gar Smith
Saturday February 16, 2019 - 03:33:00 PM

It's not everyday someone has a chance to make headlines with a headline. Bernie Sanders hit one out of the ballpark on January 29, when he wrote an op-ed with the following bold-faced title: "The Bad News Is That We Have a President Who Is a Fraud, a Pathological Liar and a Racist." 

"The good news," Sanders added, "is that American people are standing up, fighting back and are demanding fundamental changes in our economic and political system." 

Bern, baby, Bern! 

Putin's Puppet or God's Gonzo Gizmo? 

During an interview with the Christian Broadcast Network on January 30, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders channeled The Almighty. Reflecting that "God calls all of us to fill different roles at different times" (which sounds kinda like the "gig economy"), Sanders intuited that God Himself "wanted Donald Trump to become president." And, SHS proffered: "I think he has done a tremendous job in supporting a lot of things people of faith really care about." 

Isn't that an odd claim for a man best known for temper tantrums, bullying, greed, prevarication, fast-food gluttony, sloth (aka "executive time"), crotch-grabbing lust, and serial adultery? 


If true, SHS's revelation raises a disturbing legal issue. To wit: God Almighty clearly qualifies as a "foreign power." If He meddled in our electoral process to assure Trump's ascension, that would constitute a serious moral, political and Constitutional offense—a high crime from On High. 

Forget Russia. God's political interference in the 2016 election would be much more significant than anything the Kremlin might have perpetrated. After all, God is omnipresent and omnipotent. 

It may be time for Robert Mueller to slap Trump with some holy writs and drag him into a confessional. 

Towering Trump Effigy Dominates Italian Parade 

It you look at historic film footage, you'll see that Donald Trump and Benito Mussolini had a lot in common. They both loved to bellow, they both loved to agitate large crowds with partisan threats and insults, they both liked to stick their chins in the air and scowl at the masses. 

Now, an artist named Fabrizio Galli has created a towering, Il Duce-style Trump tribute—a 50-foot-tall moving statue that made its debut earlier this month at Italy's annual Carnevale Di Viargeggio parade. Galli's monolithic "God Emperor Trump" resembles a Marvel Comics villain on opioids. Il Trump's left hand sported Wolverine-like claws while his right hand brandished a sword festooned with blue Twitterbirds and the Latin phrase "Dazi Vostre" ("Your Taxes"). The sword's blade bore the Latin phrase, "Cazzi Vostri" (loosely translated as, "None of your fucking business"). 

If the Alt-right rumor mill were to start spinning the news that Trump wanted to rent this Italian automaton for his deferred DC Military Parade, I'd believe it. Here's a video: 


Trump's Notional Emergency 

MoveOn's James W. Garman notes that Trump's "national emergency" decree "has no grounding in reality. There is no humanitarian crisis at the border. This is simply a political ploy to rile up folks against a perceived racist threat." 

Congress and the American people need to resoundingly reject this dictatorial power-grab. If Trump can declare a "national emergency" to get a fence built there's nothing to prevent him from declaring a "national emergency" to head off a Democratic win in the 2020 Presidential race. 

MoveOn has posted a petition calling on the "adults in the room" to give Trump a "time out." You can sign the petition here

Congress Reclaims its Constitutional War Powers Role 

On February 13, the US Congress made history by choosing to flex its Constitutional "war power" authority. By a vote of 248-to-177, the House called for an end to US support for the Saudi-lead war in Yemen. 

Next step: Get the Senate to sign on. Next step after that: Demand that both chambers act to revoke the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) that allows presidents to unilaterally start new wars. Next step after that: Put an end to endless wars that have murdered millions while making billions for corporate militaristas in the US and around the world. 

It's not an impossible goal. Last December, the Republican-controlled Senate passed a similar resolution with every Democrat, every Independent, and 14 Republicans voting in favor. 

There's a petition to encourage this act of political courage. You can read and sign it here 


Back the February 26 Vote to Swat SWAT 

For six years, peace-and-justice activists have been protesting attempts to militarize the local police through an annual Alameda County weapons expo and a competitive COP-a-thon exercise called "Urban Shield." In response, a county task force recently issued a list of recommendations that calls for ending the event's mass-marketing of guns-and-grenades, rejecting the mass-acquisition of surveillance cameras and crowd-control devices, and ending military exercises that mainly serve to train cops to impose martial law. Instead, the task force is calling for the $5 million currently squandered on urban "war games" to be redirected to support health programs and social services. 

The Sheriff's Department, which wants to maintain its access to trendy weapons and war-in-the-city work-outs, is putting a lot of pressure on the county supervisors so it's important for the public to turn out and turn up the volume. 

There will be a public hearing on at 10:45AM, Tuesday, February 26, in the Alameda County Administration Building (1221 Oak Street, 5th Floor, Oakland). 

If you can't make it to Oak Street, you can email a message to the supes at this link

And here's a reminder of what "police militarization" can lead to. In 1999, the Pentagon staged a war-game in the Bay Area. It was called "Urban Warrior." The following video (shot from inside the war-game itself) reveals how the Pentagon's so-called "humanitarian" mission was actually a pretext for seizing the "urban battlespace." 


Our Secret Memo to Stephen Colbert 

Apparently, Late Show host Stephen Colbert has decided not to act on this Smithereens proposal, so we've decided to go public with it. The following document was sent to Colbert's staff on January 30: 

"Many of us are alarmed that Trump/Pence/Bolton are openly plotting the overthrow of the elected Venezuelan government. John Bolton even flashed a message that the US may be 'sending 5,000 troops to Colombia,' Venezuela's neighbor. Pence made a phone call to give Juan Gauido the green light to declare himself the new president and now the White House is acting as if Gauido is the legitimate leader of the country. 

"So how to we respond? Well, here's a proposal that could turn the plot into pudding: Have Stephen announce that—inspired by Gauido—he has decided to declare himself president . . . of the US. 

"Colbert has just as much a right to declare himself president of the USA as Guiado has to declare himself president of Venezuela. And the same arguments apply: Ameirca's current leader is corrupt, he was elected in a disputed election, his leadership has caused social chaos, the economy is in a shambles, and he has divided the country. 

"Such an announcement on The Late Show would demonstrate the lunacy of Trump's claim that a Washington-linked political upstart has the right to declare himself president. If Juan can run, why can't Stephen? 

"This exercise in political satire would shine a bright light on the tenuous claims being made by Trump and his fellow plotters. Hopefully, the resulting ridicule would undercut Trump's plan to topple Venezuela and hand its oil fields to ExxonMobil. 

"This could be a defining moment in the history of progressive, activist late night television. Please, Stephen, throw your Big Hat in the ring!" 

BART's Tunnel Vision Needs to Be Flushed 

On February 4, the Chronicle's Otis R. Taylor, Jr. presented a troubling image of BART's decay, describing the sight of an elderly BART passenger slumped a reeking pond of his own excrement. BART board director Mark Foley admitted there has been a "decline in the system over the decades.” 

Unnoted in the article was the fact that, it was nearly two decades ago that BART closed the restrooms in all of its underground stations. After the 9/11 attacks, the Department of Homeland Security declared BART's lavatories "terrorist targets" and ordered them shut. The rational was never clear. Wouldn't terrorists be more likely to target BART's public spaces—or the trains themselves? 

So let's solve BART's sanitation miseries while reducing the threat of bombings by unlocking the bathrooms! (PS: Thanks to the Chronicle for amplifying this call to "Liberate the Loos.") 

Trump Says He Lies Because He's Smart 

According to Newsweek, prior to delivering his State of the Union speech preaching unity and respect, Trump privately told a group of "TV anchors" that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer was a "nasty son of a bitch," former VP Joe Biden was "dumb" and the late John McCain had written a book that "bombed." 

But there was another quote that deserves attention: Trump's explanation of why he often says things that are misinformed, wrong-headed, offensive, or patently not true. (Fact check: According to a Washington Post count, in his first two years in office, Donald Trump managed to tell at least 8,158 lies.) 

"When I say something that you might think is a gaffe, it's on purpose; it's not a gaffe. When Biden says something dumb, it's because he’s dumb." 

So we now have Trump's word on it: He tells lies on purpose! 

(Of course, this alibi also could be a lie.) 

FSM Notes: From Berkeley to Hanoi 

On Feb 15, 2019, Barbara Stack, the dedicated steward who looks over the Free Speech Movement Archives (FSM-A), flashed word that www.fsm-a.org had received its first online visit from a resident of Ho Chi Minh City. 

This prompted the following recollection from FSM-arrestee, FSM-A board member and military historian Jack Radey: 

There is a Vietnam Day button on display in the Hanoi museum on the war. I believe it was presented to the Vietnamese by Mike Myerson, previously head of the Ad Hoc Committee to End Discrimination—one of the first three visitors to North Vietnam after the bombing began. 

The button itself has an interesting history. The Berkeley DuBois Clubs (4 of whose members, including our own Steve Lustig and also Louis Lester of FSM ExCom, were part of the 5 member committee that put on the teach-in), decided to print up the button. But alas, as usual, we were short on cash.  

Susan Drexler was assigned to get the buttons printed, and was walking through the plaza, looking down in the mouth, when she ran into Lou Gottlieb, who I believe was teaching at Cal that semester (as well as being the leader of the extremely successful folk/pop trio, The Limelighters).  

Lou looked at her and said, "Sue, what's the matter?" She explained her problem. He said, "Hey, no problem," pulled out his checkbook and wrote a check for the whole $250 (a LOT of money in those days).  

And so the button was made, and sold, and one ended up in Hanoi. 

Book Note 

On January 1, we got word that The War and Environment Reader—an anti-war/pro-planet anthology I had the pleasure to edit—had been honored with the "Choice Award" from the American Library Association as one of the "Outstanding Academic Titles for 2018."  

The WER features essays from nearly 50 activists from around the world—including Medea Benjamin, Helen Caldicott, Daniel Ellsberg, Jone Goodall, Winona LaDuke, Jerry Mander, Vandana Shiva, Jody Williams and S. Brian WIllson. Given that more than 21,000 books were in the running, it was a pretty nice bit of news. 

Thanks also to the Foundation for Deep Ecology and our publisher, Just World Books.

Arts & Events

New: Nola Richardson Excels in Bach’s Cantatas

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Monday February 18, 2019 - 04:00:00 PM

Over the weekend of February 15-18, American Bach Soloists presented a program of Favorite Bach Cantatas featuring soprano Nola Richardson. At the Saturday evening concert I attended at Berkeley’s First Congregational Church, Nola Richardson even did double-duty, singing all the soprano parts and some of the tenor parts as well. In this concert’s second half, tenor Zachary Wilder had to withdraw due to laryngitis, so Nola Richardson, who greeted me before the concert by saying “I’m moonlighting tonight because our tenor is indisposed,” was pressed into service to perform some of the tenor’s arias and recitatives as well as her own soprano parts.  

As could be expected, Nola Richardson excelled in whatever she sang! This young soprano has everything: a crystalline tone, impeccable diction, exquisite musicianship, and an engaging stage-presence. Though petite in stature, Nola Richardson packs plenty of power; and her clear, bright soprano projected as if effortlessly all the way to the balcony seat where I sat.  

Born in Australia, Nola Richardson spent much of her youth in the Baltimore, Maryland, area, where she has frequently returned to perform with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and the Baltimore Choral Arts Society. Particularly noted for her interpretive skills in the Baroque repertoire, Nola Richardson was a 2016 First Prize winner in the Bethlehem Bach Competition. She also won the Third Prize and Audience Favorite award in the 2016 Handel Aria Competition in Madison, Wisconsin. Performing locally with American Bach Soloists, Nola Richardson received rave reviews (from me but from others as well) for her singing in the role of Galatea in Handel’s Acis and Galatea in 2015, a program of French Baroque music in 2017, and in Handel’s oratorio La Resurrezione also in 2017.  

Opening the current American Bach Soloists program was the Bach cantata Jesu, der du meine Seele, BWV 78. This cantata is most famous for its lovely first aria for soprano, alto, and instrumental basso continuo. (Our local KPFA radio station often played this aria in a famous recording.) Especially memorable is the oft-repeated refrain, “O Jesu, o Meister, zu helfen zu dir?To you, Oh Master, we seek help”, sung here by Nola Richardson and countertenor Jay Carter. Accompanied here by Corey Jamason on keyboard, William Skeen on violoncello, and Steven Lehning on violone, the two singers gracefully intertwined their vocals in this endearing aria, which, predictably, was a highlight of the concert.  

Next on the program was the cantata, Wachet auf/Wake up, BWV 140. In this cantata, Bach uses the conceit of a wedding procession to suggest the spiritual marriage of Jesus Christ as bridegroom and the soul of a Christian believer as the bride. The music here is both sensual and transcendently spiritual. In the duet, “Wenn kommst du, mein Heil/ When do you come, my Savior?”, eloquently performed here by Nola Richardson and baritone Tyler Duncan, there is a longing motive heard in violino piccolo beautifully played here by Elizabeth Blumenstock. This love duet is followed by the extremely well-known Chorale for tenor, strings and basso continuo, “Zion hört die Wächter singen/Zion hears the watchman singing.” Later in this cantata comes a second love duet, again for soprano and baritone. In this duet, oboist Debra Nagy has an extended solo accompaniment that signals the happy union of the spiritual lovers, for which at the end of this cantata she received a well-deserved round of applause. 

After intermission, American Bach Soloists founder and conductor Jeffrey Thomas led his charges in two more well-known Bach cantatas: Meine Seel erhebt den Herren/My soul magnifies the Lord, BWV 10, and Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott/A mightly fortress is our God.” In the first of these cantatas, the main attraction is the first aria, where the soprano, here Nola Richardson, has a great deal of coloratura to express how much the penitent owes to the Lord. Following this aria, Nola Richardson sang the tenor’s recitative for the ailing Zachary Wilder; and I must say that Nola Richardson sounded brilliant in this music, which, of course, she had not expected to sing prior to the performance. Her coloratura in this recitative was brilliantly performed. In the ensuing duets for alto and tenor, the alto role was nobly performed by Jay Carter, and the tenor role was ably sung by American Bach Chorus tenor David Kurtenbach. Next came a recitative for tenor that here was sung gorgeously by Nola Richardson, providing yet another highlight to this concert.  

The final work on the program was Bach’s cantata Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott/A mighty fortress is our God,” BWV 80. Nola Richardson sang the recitative “So stehe denn bei Christ/So stand firm by Christ. In this cantata, the oboe da caccia is featured as is the violoncello. The former was performed by Priscilla Herreid, and the latter by William Skeen. The duet prior to the final Chorale was ably sung by countertenor Jay Carter and tenor David Kurtenbach. All told, this was a gorgeous concert of J,S. Bach’s most illustrious cantatas, beautifully sung by Nola Richardson and her vocal colleagues. But make no mistake about it, this wonderful program was highlighted, one might even say, dominated, by the extraordinary talent and stage-presence of soprano Nola Richardson. Let us hope that she returns often and as soon as possible to our Bay Area concert halls! 







The Berkeley Activist's Calendar, Feb. 17-23

Kelly Hammargren, Sustainable Berkeley Coalition
Saturday February 16, 2019 - 11:15:00 AM

Sunday, February 17, 2019

No city meetings or events found

Monday, February 18, 2019 – Presidents’ Day Holiday

Fake National Emergency Protest, 12 – 1 pm, at San Francisco Federal Building, Organizer – Indivisible SF, www.indivisiblesf.org


Tax the Rich Rally, Mon, 4 pm – 5 pm, Top of Solano in front of the closed Oaks theater (soon to be a climbing gym), Rain Cancels

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Berkeley City Council, Tuesday, 6 – 11 pm, 1231 Addison Street, BUSD Board Room, Agenda Consent items: #4. Expanded Winter Shelter, #5. Recruiting for BPD, #6. Sanitary Sewer Rehab, #7. &8. Filling Vacancies Among Elected Representatives of the Poor, #9. Referral to City Manager to develop Ordinance permitting Cannabis Events and Cesar Chavez Park as an approved venue, #10. Resolution to request Gov Newsom declare a CA Homelessness State of Emergency, Action #14. Density Bonus Ordinance, #15. Contract Pride Industries for Citywide Janitorial Services, #16. Cannabis Number of Retail Establishments and Equity Program, #17.a&b. Living Wage Ordinance, #18. Standby Officers, #19.a&b. Assessment Vacant Properties, #20.a&b. Declaration City of Berkeley will not invest in production or upgrading of weapons – current policy limited to guns, #21. Refer to Planning Commission close loophole allowing prospective project applicants to avoid inclusionary affordable housing -in lieu fee by modifying property lines 

Mental Health Commission – Diversity Subcommittee, 6 pm at 2939 Ellis, South Berkeley Senior Center 


Wednesday, February 20, 2019 

Commission on Aging, 1 – 3 pm at 2939 Ellis St, South Berkeley Senior Center, Agenda: #4. Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, #7. Hazard Mitigation Plan, #9. BUSD proposes budget cuts, #10. Pedestrian safety 


Commission on Labor, 7 – 9 pm at 2939 Ellis, South Berkeley Senior Center, Agenda: Status Updates Equal Pay and recommendation independent audit of city employee wages, Homeless Youth Policy, Anti-Sweatshop Procurement Ordinance 


Human Welfare & Community Action Commission, 7 – 9 pm at 2939 Ellis St, South Berkeley Senior Center, Agenda: #4. Community Agency Applications for FY 2020-2023, #5. Bylaws, #6. Review City Funded Agency Program and Financial Reports – East Bay Community Law center, #7. Hazard Mitigation Plan, #8. Positive Behavior Support for Shelter Plus Care Clients, #9. West Berkeley Air Quality, #10. Closure Alta Bates, #11. Recommendations Possible City Actions to Protect Immigrants and DACA, #12. Areas of Poverty in Berkeley 


Mental Health Commission – Membership Subcommittee, 10 – 11 am at 2180 Milvia, 2nd Floor, Ironwood Room 


Thursday, February 21, 2019 

Land Use, Housing & Economic Development Committee, 10 am, 2180 Milvia, 6th Floor, Redwood Room, Agenda: #2. RFP Development of west Berkeley Service Center, #3. Open Doors Initiative – incentivize creation of starter homes for Berkeley City employees and persons of moderate income, intended to provide assistance to homeowners in R1, R1A zones to renovate properties into multi-family condominiums, #4. Refer to City Manager and Planning Commission to Modify BMC 22.20.065 (the affordable Housing Mitigation Fee Act such that fees are levied based on project’s gross residential floor area, 


Black History Celebration, 6 – 8 pm, at Frances Albrier Community Center, 


Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board, 7 – 11 pm, 1231 Addison St, Agenda: #5. Special Presentation by Brian Augusta & Assoc, Rent Board Legislative Advocates, AB 53 – Ban the Box on rental applications, SCA 1 – Repealing Article 34 of CA State Constitution which places barriers to the development and acquisition of low-rent of low-rent housing prospects, #6. Video about Byron Rumford trailblazing legislation banning racial discrimination in housing, #8. Appeal, #9. Recommended revisions to Rent Board Agenda production 


Design Review Committee, 7 – 10 pm at 1947 Center St, Basement Multi-purpose Room 

2100 San Pablo @ Addison – Design Modification to reduce off street parking, add new gross floor area, modify interior layout of commercial and residential uses of approved 4-story mixed use, 96-unit Residential Care Facility 

1951 Shattuck @Berkeley Way – demolish 2 existing commercial buildings and construct 120-ft, 12-story mixed-use with 156 residential units and 100-space subterranean parking garage. 

Agenda Item #V. LEED Standards for Buildings 


Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Product Panel of Experts, 6:30 – 9 pm at 2939 Ellis St, South Berkeley Senior Center, Agenda: #4. Media Campaign 


Transportation Commission, 7 – 10 pm at 1326 Allston Way, Corp Yard, Building A Willow Room, Agenda: B.#1. University Ave. Interchange, #2. Stop Sign Warrants, #3. Work Plan Traffic Circles, Vision Zero, #5. Mission Statement, #6. OneWay CarShare 


Friday, February 22 2019 

No city meetings or events found 

Saturday, February 23, 2019 

No U.S. War on Venezuela Demonstration, 12 – 1 pm, Frank Ogawa Plaza in Oakland, http://wellstoneclub.org 

Forum – Can We Keep Berkeley a Livable City for All? 10 am – 1 pm, at Francis Albrier Recreation Center, 2800 Park St, Agenda: Conversation between Mayor Jesse Arreguin, Planning director and Berkeley Residents from Every Neighborhood, sponsored by Berkeley Neighborhood Council 

Resiliency Fair & Repair Café, 11 am – 3 pm at 1701 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley Adult School, Learn about emergency preparedness, reduce waste, grow and share food, help native habitat thrive, bring your broken item to the Repair Café don’t send it to the trash, for more event info, activities, sponsored by Transition Berkeley https://www.transitionberkeley.org repair café registration https://www.cultureofrepair.org/community-repair-events/ 

Flyer https://files.constantcontact.com/79bfd5a6601/92faf40f-f5bc-4caf-9d59-b44e45e166c0.pdf 

Sunday, February 24, 2019 

No city meetings or events found 


Worth Noting: 

Berkeley City Council voted December 11, 2018 to restructure into 6 standing committees. The plan is that City Council will be more efficient if proposed measures, resolutions, ordinances, etc are brought to a standing committee first and flushed out before coming to the full council. The first meeting of the Council Land Use, Housing & Economic Development Policy Committee is Thursday, 10 am and there are important proposals being discussed. For more details of the new structure go to https://www.cityofberkeley.info/citycouncil/ 


Berkeley City Council February 26 meeting agenda is posted and available for comment. Email comments to council@cityofberkeley.info, Consent items: #3. Dorothy Day House agreement Veterans Memorial Building & Old City Hall, #4. Receipt $150,000 from Kaiser Permanent to support Pathways STAIR Center, #8. $200,000 to clean, paint, repair refuse and recycling bins, #9.&#10. Sanitary Sewer Rehab and Replacement, #12. Traffic Circle Policy Task Force, #13. Resolution to denounce and oppose white nationalist and neo-Nazi groups and actions, #14. Support AB 5, #15. Ensure Sustainability of Berkeley Flea Market, #16. Support AB 177 (Election Day Holiday) Action items: #17.. Proposed location Apothecarium Cannabis Retailer, #18. Sanctuary Contracting Ordinance, #19. City Auditor’s quarterly report, #20. Referral Response: 1000 Person Plan to Address Homelessness, #21. Missing Middle – revision to zoning to foster broader range of housing types. #22. Retirement of Council Ad Hoc Subcommittees Immediate - Community Benefits, Urban Shield, Small Business, Automatic Door Openers, March 31, 2019 – Paid Family Leave and Fair Work Week, Climate Emergency



Comment period on the Local Hazard Mitigation plan draft (the Plan for preparing for natural disasters and reducing the impacts) ends February 28.  





To Check For Regional Meetings with Berkeley Council Appointees 




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