The Week



Berkeley Votes to Divest from War

Gar Smith
Wednesday February 27, 2019 - 08:54:00 PM

On February 19, the City Council voted to approve Resolution No. 68,766-N.S., a recommendation from the Peace and Justice Commission (PJC) that Berkeley cease investing City funds in "any entity involved in the production or upgrading of weapons." It was a historic vote against war and militarism and the vote was unanimous. -more-

Mayor Arreguin's Plan to Dump Berkeley's Climate Emergency Committee on Tuesday is a Mistake

Kelly Hammargren, Sustainable Berkeley Coalition
Monday February 25, 2019 - 08:55:00 PM

Berkeley is continually promoting itself as a leader, a city of innovation, ahead of the pack and occasionally it is. On June 12, 2018, Berkeley did declare a Climate Emergency and passed a resolution to be Fossil Fuel Free by 2030. The Declaration even made Fox Business News commentary The problem is follow-through.

Saturday, February 23 at the well-attended “Can Berkeley be a Livable City for All?” forum sponsored by the Berkeley Neighborhood Council, Mayor Jesse Arreguin and Planning Director Timothy Burroughs would lead you to believe there is a communication problem not an action problem. Let’s pull back the curtain.

On Tuesday, February 26, the same day San Francisco Supervisors will vote to put forward their Climate Emergency Resolution, the Berkeley City Council will vote on Mayor Arreguin’s agenda item #22 to retire the Ad Hoc Climate Emergency Subcommittee.

Rather than retiring this important committee, the Mayor should be expanding the mission of the Climate Emergency Ad Hoc Subcommittee to be the center of communicating, informing, educating and engaging our community into action. If communication is the problem, then dissolving the Climate Emergency Subcommittee, which is establishing a network of regional and local climate organizations and community activists, is contrary to addressing the identified “communication problem” with the public—or maybe... community engagement is the problem that doesn’t need to be fixed. -more-

New Berkeley Committee Will Discuss Climate Policy

Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin
Tuesday February 26, 2019 - 10:13:00 AM

I strongly support Berkeley's efforts to accelerate our actions to address the climate emergency. I was proud to vote for the June 2018 resolution to officially declare a "climate emergency", and supported the regional Town Hall which was held in August 2018 to discuss solutions. The Council's Ad-Hoc Climate Emergency Subcommittee was originally formed to organize this regional Town Hall and to discuss ways to deepen efforts to fight climate change.

Since that time, the Berkeley City Council has created a new system of Policy Committees. One of the committees, the Facilities, Infrastructure, Transportation, Environment and Sustainability Committee was specifically established to discuss issues around energy efficiency, transportation, green building and climate action. This would be the best place to discuss many of the policy proposals put forward by community members, including moving our energy procurement to 100% renewable. I appreciate the work of the Ad-Hoc Subcommittee, and believe now is the time to continue the discussion at the new Facilities and Environment Committee. Councilmember Cheryl Davila, the author of the Climate Emergency resolution, was appointed to serve on this committee, and I hope that she will continue to convene community members and experts in developing ways to address the cataclysmic crisis of climate change. -more-

Updated: Sierra Club Committee Backs Controversial San Leandro Luxury Project

Friday February 22, 2019 - 05:49:00 PM

48 Hills, the San Francisco online news source, recently ran this article by Berkeley journalist Zelda Bronstein which East Bay Sierra Club members should check out:

The Sierra Club and the luxury-housing developer

Northern Alameda chapter backs San Leandro project in a sign that the pro-growth forces are trying to take over the environmental group.

Are you a Sierra Club member who lives in Berkeley, Albany, Emeryville, Alameda, Piedmont or San Leandro? If so, you fall under the aegis of the club’s Northern Alameda County Group, which is nested within the larger Bay Chapter.

Be aware, then, that the NAC Executive Committee is currently dominated by a pro-growth coterie that’s exploiting the Sierra Club’s cachet to push a pro-development agenda that violates the club’s commitments to affordable housing, neighborhood integrity, and democratic governance.

Read the rest of the story on 48 Hills:

After the article was posted, the Sierra Club’s San Francisco Bay Chapter posted an entry on its home page blog attacking it. The response from 48 Hills is posted here. -more-

SMITHEREENS: Reflections on Bits & Pieces

Gar Smith
Monday February 25, 2019 - 09:01:00 PM

Bordering on Insanity

Isn't it odd (not to mention blindingly hypocritical) that Trump complains about a fictitious "threat" to America's southern border while simultaneously threatening to launch a full-bore military invasion by sending US troops across the border of Venezuela? When it comes to "threats to borders," who poses the greater danger—poor migrant families seeking asylum or heavily armed US troops seeking to control Venezuela's oil and minerals?

A few notes from the must-read Venezuela Fact Sheet (Standard disclaimer: "Maduro may not be the world's best politician, but still . . . ."):

Fiction: President Maduro was not legitimately elected.

Fact: Maduro won the Presidential election with a greater majority (68% of the vote) and backed by a greater majority of the population than any recent US president. In that election (which was judged legitimate by international observers), the US-backed candidates lost decisively and Juan Guaido's faction didn't even participate.

Fiction: The Maduro government in Venezuela is about to fall.

Fact: The elected government of Venezuela retains the loyalty of the majority of the people and of the military despite US-imposed economic sanctions, blackmail and threats.


Takács Quartet Plays Haydn, Bartók and Grieg

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Monday February 25, 2019 - 04:29:00 PM

The renowned Takács Quartet, now in its forty-third season, has undergone substantial changes of personnel since its founding in Budapest in 1975. Originally consisting of Gabor Takács-Nagy, Károly Schranz, Gabor Ormai, and András Fejér, the Takács Quartet now includes only cellist András Fejér from the original four. Second violinist Károly Schranz retired last April and has been replaced by Harumi Rhodes. Earlier replacements brought in Edward Dusinberre as first violinist and Geraldine Walther as violist. Over the years, the Takács Quartet has maintained consistently high standards and has received numerous awards and prizes. In 2012 Gramophone magazine announced that the Takács was the only string quartet to be inducted into its first Hall of Fame, along with such legendary artists as Jascha Heifitz, Leonard Bernstein, and Dame Janet Baker. -more-


Public Comment

Updated: Can Berkeley be a Livable City for All? Watch the Public Forum with Mayor Arreguin and Planning Director Tim Burroughs

Sunday February 24, 2019 - 11:26:00 AM

On Saturday the Berkeley Neighborhood Council sponsored a public forum, Can Berkeley be a Livable City for All?, which featured Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin and Berkeley Planning Director Timothy Burroughs explaining their current thinking and actions in the key field of land use, followed by an open no-holds-barred opportunity for participants to question and address them on all kinds of topics. The meeting was the best possible illustration of how the city’s public meetings, which typically limit citizen comments to meaningless one minute soundbytes, serve little or no purpose in informing officials, both hired and elected, about what’s happening on the ground in Berkeley.

This gathering, which was held in the community center in South West Berkeley’s San Pablo Park, gave the city’s many articulate thinkers as long as they needed to talk about what’s right and what’s wrong with the way the city is being run these days, at least in matters which involve land use. Thanks to volunteer videographer Christine Schwartz, there’s an excellent public record of what was said, and it’s worth the time to watch the whole three hours of it. (Yes, that’s what I said, three hours!).

It can be found on YouTube here:

It would be great if someone, a reader perhaps, could create an index to highlight particularly cogent comments—any volunteers? A transcription or summary of high points would also be good—I might try that myself later in the week.

Meanwhile, take the time to take a look. Mayor Arreguin’s summary, very early in the video, of all the activity in Sacramento aimed at usurping local control over land use, would be a good place to start. -more-

Climate note #4: "Massive die-offs and possible extinction: really?!?"

Thomas Lord
Friday February 22, 2019 - 05:39:00 PM

Why does it matter if warming is limited to 1.5°C above pre-industrial climate? If the planet warms to 2°C or above, how much worse could it be? Or at 3°C? We would be lucky to stop at 3°C. If all current climate pledges (including California's) are fulfilled - and we are not on track for even that much emissions reduction - at least 3°C warming will occur. -more-

"Affordable Housing"

Vivian Warkentin
Thursday February 21, 2019 - 04:44:00 PM

“Berkeley Must Advocate for Housing Affordability”, so says an op ed in the Feb 12 Daily Cal. The article praises student protestors for showing up at the Berkeley City Council meeting to advocate for the development of an 18-story housing complex in downtown Berkeley and to denounce the residents who opposed the building on the basis of its interference with views of the Bay Area. The op ed goes on, “But one thing they (students) failed to do was demand affordability". ……”The development of new market rate housing merely contributes to the gentrification of Berkeley, exacerbating the lack of affordable housing for local residents.” ??????
So, after the project gets approved by the council the student newspaper says what a lot of Berkeley residents have been thinking.

Views aside, the project will not after all have any “affordable” apartments. Were the students aware of that before they put on their demonstration?

There seems to be a pattern here. Yet another big box corporate monster apartment building gets proposed and the shock troops (students,YIMBYs and media) show up to bully, deride and attribute motives to Berkeley citizens who have real concerns. Council is emboldened to stick with their marching orders and spit in the face of their tax paying constituents.

Could we please talk about the “Plan Bay Area”, drawn up and approved illegitimately by ABAG/MTC (now called MTC) in July of 2013, which mandates cities to build, build, build this type of housing. It used to be called “Smart Growth”. Now it’s called “affordable” housing, but it really isn’t . The MTC redevelopment machine cloaks itself in a righteous cause to perpetuate its con on the Bay Area -more-

No bull on Trump Nobel?

Dennis Fitzgerald, Melbourne, Australia
Thursday February 21, 2019 - 05:01:00 PM

It appears that President Trump thinks he deserves a Nobel Peace Prize just like President Obama's one. A misspelling of Nobel - Noble gives one of the qualities often associated with most Laureates. The Nobel should go to only the best of the best although sometimes hindsight adds more to the story. -more-

Lighting Up in A Smokefree Park - Brought to You By the Berkeley City Council

Carol Denney
Thursday February 21, 2019 - 04:32:00 PM

The Berkeley City Council once had sterling awareness about secondhand smoke's health effects. But on Tuesday night, February 19, 2019, they punched a hole so big in Berkeley's smokefree policy that any progress we've made in working toward a smokefree generation is effectively over. -more-

Manhattanizing Or Democratizing Berkeley? -- That is the Question

Harry Brill
Thursday February 21, 2019 - 04:36:00 PM

Progressives are immensely troubled by the Berkeley City Council's decision to approve an 18 story, high rental 274 unit residential building. Another 18 story residential building, called Harold Way, was approved by the previous City Council. Other pricey buildings are being constructed and more are being planned. However, the Council's record for developing an adequate supply of affordable housing and protecting the homeless from being harassed are very disappointing. In the last Council election, Berkeley voters replaced a conservative with a progressive majority. Understandably, many progressives are feeling betrayed. -more-


THE PUBLIC EYE:Costing the Green New Deal

Bob Burnett
Friday February 22, 2019 - 05:45:00 PM

It's a remarkable testimony to these times that while Donald Trump has declared a "national emergency" because of politically inspired "border security" concerns, he has chosen to ignore the true national emergency caused by global climate change. The bad news is that Trump is playing to his base, most of whom don't believe in climate change. The good news is that because of the "Green New Deal," climate change is going to be a major issue in the 2020 election. -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Why Psychiatric Noncompliance is Such a Big Problem

Jack Bragen
Thursday February 21, 2019 - 05:06:00 PM

In 1982-83, I was a young adult, and I had newly been diagnosed with Schizophrenia, Paranoid-type. I didn't agree with the diagnosis, and I believed that I had created the illness on my own, through mishandling of my thinking. And I also believed there were additional reasons that I became ill. I didn't buy the assertion that something was wrong with my brain. I thought that I'd mal-programmed myself. -more-

Will Democratic Socialism be a winner in 2020?

Ralph E. Stone
Thursday February 21, 2019 - 04:41:00 PM

n his State of the Union address, President Trump decried socialism stating, “Toni, we resolve that America will never be a socialist country.” I bet Trump could not explain what socialism is, nor for that matter, could many Americans. -more-

Arts & Events

The Berkeley Activist's Calendar, Feb. 24- March 3

Kelly Hammargren, Sustainable Berkeley Coalition
Sunday February 24, 2019 - 11:22:00 AM

Sunday, February 24, 2019

No city meetings or events found

Monday, February 25, 2019

Agenda and Rules Committee, Monday, 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm, 2180 Milvia, 6th Floor Redwood Conf Room, Agenda Planning for March 12 City Council Meeting, #8. Referral – Updated Policy for Emergency Standby Officers, Consent Calendar #1. Living Wage, #2. YMCA Early Childhood Trauma dn Resiliency Project, #4. Update to EveryOne Home Plan to End Homelessness, #5. Contract CA Homelessness Emergency Aid Program (HEAP), #6. Agreement to Operate Pathways Project, #7. Shelter Plus Care Program Renewal Grants, #8. MOU Planning Phase Viability of Ferry Service and Public Recreation Pier at Marina, #9. Reward of up to $50,000 fo info in Criminal Investigation, #10. Add 2700 block Belrose to Street Sweeping, #11. Measure O Oversight and Measure P Homeless Services Panel, #12. Authorize public meeting with Housing Advisory Commission and Affordable Housing Organizations, #14. Letter requesting Barbara Lee to support repeal of FCC regulation limits on 5G, Action: #16. 2701 Shattuck Appeal of 5-story, 62-foot, mixed-use building, #17. Cannabis Ordinance Revisions, #18. Density Bonus Ordinance Revisions, #19. Janitorial Services Contract, #20. Presentation Mosquito Abatement, #21. Ordinance to Prohibit Natural Gas Infrastructure in New Buildings, 22. Adopt Gender Inclusive Language, #23 Affirm Support of People of Tibet, Information Items #24. Audit Construction Permits, #25. Audit Strategic Plan, #26. Audit Zero Waste, #27. Amending Contracts with Eviction Defense Center (EDC) and East Bay Community Law Center (EBCLC) -more-