The Week

U.C. operatives demolish the Free Box.
Lisa Teague
U.C. operatives demolish the Free Box.


Report of Armed Man at Berkeley's King School Was False

Becky O'Malley
Friday May 10, 2019 - 01:20:00 PM

The Planet has been contacted by the family of the King Middle School student whose experience with bullying precipitated an uproar yesterday on the school site. Before it was over, it brought numerous Berkeley police with drawn guns to a locked down campus, responding to a report that a suspect with a gun had been sighted. This turned out not to be true, according to a family member familiar with the situation (who asked that her name not be used because of fear of reprisals) who called the Planet on the family’s behalf this morning. -more-

Press Release: Berkeley Police Respond to Report of Armed Man at King Middle School

Berkeley Police Department
Thursday May 09, 2019 - 05:23:00 PM

Berkeley Police quickly responded earlier today to a report of a man armed with a handgun at King Middle School at 3:20pm, shortly after school was let out. While officers, including all on-duty members of the Special Response team, confirmed that the suspect had already left school grounds, several officers remained at the North Berkeley scene to secure the area. Others are now coordinating with outside agencies to look for the suspect. -more-

New School Superintendent for Berkeley

Annie Steuart (BCN)
Thursday May 09, 2019 - 05:21:00 PM

Berkeley Unified School District's Board of Education voted unanimously Wednesday to appoint Brent Stephens as the district's next superintendent. -more-

New: Resignation from Police Review Commission

Andrea Prichett
Wednesday May 01, 2019 - 11:55:00 AM

Dear Councilmember Davila and Members of the Police Review Commission,

While I am grateful for having had the opportunity to serve my community and to influence police policy, I am resigning from the Police Review Commission. I want to thank you, the other PRC Commissioners and staff for their assistance as I learned how the system does and doesn’t work.

It is my conclusion that the PRC, as it is presently constituted, is completely ineffective at addressing the concerns of the marginalized people in our city who are most vulnerable and most likely to be in need of assistance. The current PRC bears little resemblance to the scrappy agency that once challenged police practices and engaged the community in creating and revising policies, identifying when actual misconduct occurred and monitoring the functioning of the department. This was possible because of the access that the PRC had to information as well as the determination of city officials to guard against violations of the constitutional rights of our citizens.

In the current situation, the PRC has almost no access to data, information, reports or any source documents that could be used to evaluate police work in this city and so we are unable to provide actual oversight. The commission relies almost exclusively on anecdotal information and oral reports provided by BPD. Either BPD is not employing data based methods with which to evaluate their effectiveness or they are simply refusing to share this information with the PRC. In either case, without the cooperation of the department, the PRC cannot actually provide credible oversight. The Commission even wrote a letter to the City Attorney asking what information they believed we COULD look at and never even got a response. The situation is so extreme that the PRC Officer told me that I had faster and easier access to information as a citizen than as a commissioner on the PRC. -more-

Updated: ASUC Votes to Support Freebox

Carol Denney
Sunday May 05, 2019 - 05:05:00 PM

UPDATE: UC took out the freebox early this morning despite the unanimous resolution of support for it by the ASUC.

The Association Students of the University of California (ASUC) voted unanimously Wednesday, May 1, 2019, to support the freshly built freebox recreated at the April 28th concert in celebration of People's Park's 50th Anniversary by passing both a letter of support and a unanimous resolution to "affirm the establishment and continued existence of the People's Park Freebox." -more-

The Goldman Environmental Prize Honors Heroes of the Earth

Gar Smith
Friday May 03, 2019 - 03:17:00 PM

On April 29, the Goldman Environmental Prize marked its 30th anniversary with a stellar event that included an extraordinary demonstration of "projection mapping" artistry (courtesy of Immersive) that turned the interior of San Francisco's Opera House into a cathedral of moving imagery with huge butterflies appearing to drop through the roof and flutter over the proscenium, only to dissolve into the next episode of eye-popping imagery—twin waterfalls that suddenly appeared to thunder down the stage walls to the floor. -more-



Barr and Comey: an Odd Couple of Peas in a Pod

Becky O'Malley
Thursday May 02, 2019 - 04:18:00 PM

The Internet age has made “I told you so” a lot easier to say.

Case in point: the whiney, self-serving op-ed by James Comey which appeared in my Thursday New York Times.

Title and subtitle: James Comey: How Trump Co-opts Leaders Like Bill Barr: Accomplished people lacking inner strength can’t resist the compromises necessary to survive this president.”

The piece, published just in time to pile on with the Democrats’ fully justified disgust at Barr’s mendacious performance before a Senate committee the previous day, is a wordy description of how virtuous men like Bill Barr and Rod Rosenstein [and Jim Comey?] are gradually compromised by sucking up [he uses fancier words] to Donald Trump. The ending is especially stirring:

“…to stay, you must be seen as on his team, so you make further compromises. You use his language, praise his leadership, tout his commitment to values.

“And then you are lost. He has eaten your soul.”

There’s just one problem. If you look back on the public history of both Barr and Comey, you’ll discover that they deserve each other. People who’ve known them before have predicted what they’re doing now. They’re not exactly cut from the same cloth: Barr has always been an unprincipled schemer, whereas Comey has specialized in self-deceptive self-aggrandizement. But both of their souls have long since been off the menu. -more-

Public Comment

CVP and Livable California prevail in challenge to BART’s illegal endorsement of SB 50

Bob Silvestri
Sunday May 05, 2019 - 04:54:00 PM

On Friday, April 12, 2019, attorney Jason Bezis, representing Livable California and Community Venture Partners, Inc., filed a cease and desist demand letter with the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit Board of Directors (BART) to “cure or correct Brown Act Violations” at the BART Board’s March 14, 2019 special meeting to endorse Senate Bill 50. -more-

The Police and the Right to Due Process

Steve Martinot
Saturday May 04, 2019 - 04:20:00 PM


Rights, in an exploitative and impoverishing society such as ours in the US, are the front line against police arbitrarily and a police state.

There are two kinds of rights. There are individual rights, those understood as "inalienable" or "natural" rights that persons have as human. The main ones are listed in the First Amendment.

And there are social rights, those that provide for necessary equalization between individuals and the institutionalities of government. They are granted constitutionally, and can be withheld (wrongly) by institutions. The most essential of these social rights is due process. “No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law” (Fifth Amendment). -more-

Collusion? Or Bank Fraud?

Tejinder Uberoi
Friday May 03, 2019 - 03:19:00 PM

President Trump’s initial response to the appointment of special prosecutor Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion with Russia. . “I am f . . . up, this is the end of my presidency” is the reaction of a man consumed with guilt. It is a pity Mueller didn’t continue his investigation to uncover the missing pieces of the puzzle. But the chickens may be coming home to roost with Trump’s efforts to block revelation of his shady dealings with Deutsche Bank. -more-


Jagjit Singh
Friday May 03, 2019 - 03:23:00 PM

We are at it once again, orchestrating regime change in Venezuela.

We have learned nothing from our historical attempts at regime change creatingmayhem and destruction wherever we have unleashed our economic and military power. Our interventions in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, sent millions to their early graves; Iraq with bogus claims of WMD’s has torn the country apart and given birth to ISIS; Libya is mired in civil conflict; Afghanistan with no end in sight squandering trillions of dollars and killing tens of thousands of innocent civilians including thousands of American soldiers suffering from horrific injuries many choosing to end their lives. Buoyed by our impeccable record of failures, we have now set our sights on Venezuela. -more-

May Pepper Spray Times

By Grace Underpressure
Tuesday May 07, 2019 - 10:36:00 PM

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

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

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

This is a Very Good Deal. Go for it! -more-


THE PUBLIC EYE:What About Impeachment?

Bob Burnett
Friday May 03, 2019 - 11:46:00 AM

Here on the Left Coast, most voters I talk to are disgusted with Donald Trump and want him impeached. Nonetheless, our leader, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, urges Dems to be cautious and to hold hearings rather than rush into an impeachment process. That's sound advice because a majority of Americans don't want Trump impeached. -more-

ECLECTIC RANT:Turmoil in Venezuela

Ralph E. Stone
Thursday May 02, 2019 - 05:39:00 PM

Even with backing from the Trump administration, Juan Guaidó, the U.S.-recognized interim president of Venezuela, failed to oust Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro.

It is difficult to reconcile our outrage over Russia’s interference in our elections with our present interference in Venezuela’s affairs. I’m sure everyone would agree that Venezuelans deserve a better government. But let’s face it, the late Hugo Chávez's vision of a modern day “Bolivarian revolution” — a Latin American political block with a socialist bent as an alternative to U.S. hegemony. — has descended into repression and economic decline under Maduro.

That said, the U.S. shouldn’t be the ones to determine what Venezuela should look like. Our interference in Venezuela follows a long and sordid history of U.S. intervention in Latin America. As the past should have demonstrated, our present interference in Venezuela, I fear, will do more harm than good.

Finally, it is not a coincidence that Venezuela has the largest proven oil reserves in the world. -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Mental Illness, Measles, and Primeval Thinking

Jack Bragen
Thursday May 02, 2019 - 05:35:00 PM

Some analogies can be drawn between people's dumb refusal to be vaccinated (and the morally inexcusable failure to have their offspring vaccinated) and many people's dumb refusal to realize that mental illnesses are brain disorders that require biochemical intervention. And you should realize that many of those who are mixed-up about what mental illness really is are not just the patients. In some instances, family and friends lack adequate understanding of the basis of most mental illnesses and will try to influence the patient not to take medication.

We live in a time of widespread ignorance. Typically, in the U.S., our President is the one to set an example for many American people. The example shown by President Trump is that of unparalleled depravity, ignorance, and sometimes superstition. It is also superstition to believe that people are not helped by modern vaccines. -more-

ECLECTIC RANT: Trump — Putin’s Lapdog

Ralph E. Stone
Sunday May 05, 2019 - 05:02:00 PM

On May 3, 2019, Trump spoke to Putin on the telephone for over an hour. Why didn’t Trump warn him not to meddle in the next U.S. election? Because Trump knew that the Russians had interfered in the 2016 presidential election to help him win the election. -more-

SMITHEREENS: Reflections on Bits & Pieces

Gar Smith
Friday May 03, 2019 - 02:34:00 PM

No More Oily Politicians

Oil money is one of the key political lubricants working on behalf of the 1%. Now a group called No Fossil Fuel Money has created a campaign—and a website—to hold politicians oil-accountable. Go online to see it your local reps have signed the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge. Here's a teaser:

Who Has Signed: Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand, Eric Swalwell, Seth Moulton, Tulsi Gabbard, Jay Inslee, Pete Buttigieg, Wayne Messam, Andrew Yang, Marianne Williamson.

Who Hasn't Signed: Joe Biden, Amy Klobuchar, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Tim Ryan, Julian Castro, Beto O'Rourke, John Delaney, and John Hickenlooper.

Among the Californians Who Have Signed: Barbara Lee, Ro Khanna, Delaine Eastin, John Chiang, Laura Oatman, Fiona Ma, Mike Eng, Tony Thurmond, Scott Wiener, Jovanka Beckles, Buffy Wicks, Dianne Feinstein, Dave Jones, Nancy O'Malley, Kevin de Leon, Antonio Villaraigosa, and Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Protect the King: Barr the Gates

After watching Trump-appointed US Attorney General William Barr's performance during the recent US Senate hearings, I agree with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi: Barr deserves to be fired and/or jailed for lying under oath.

Here's my 7-word characterization of Trump's AG: "A toady who looks like a frog."

Barr has been widely criticized for acting like Trump's attorney instead of the nation's attorney general. Clearly, Trump has been hiding behind Barr. Just as clearly, Trump deserves to be hidden behind bars.


Arts & Events

An Indy Weekend at East Bay Media Center

Ken Bullock
Friday May 03, 2019 - 04:16:00 PM

Three days of independent video and film screenings from all over at East Bay Media Center span this weekend, Friday and Saturday nights through Sunday afternoon, in the Center's events room in at 1939 Addison (between Milvia & MLK Way) in the downtown Berkeley Arts District, featuring student films from the USC (University of Southern California) Cinematic Arts Program, long the top hands-on film program nationally, and documentary, dramatic, animation and music videos and films from everywhere on Saturday and Sunday, as the Center splashes its decades-old festival onto the screen. -more-

Alisa Weilerstein Takes On the Bach Suites for Solo Cello

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Friday May 03, 2019 - 03:13:00 PM

In program notes, Alisa Weilerstein paid tribute to Pablo Casals, who single-handedly resurrected from oblivion the Bach Cello Suites, and she also fondly recalled her own family’s roots in Berkeley. With these two things in mind, Alisa Weilerstein spoke of how honored and humbled she felt to be bringing Bach’s complete Cello Suites to this Berkeley audience in one evening’s concert. For those of us in attendance at Berkeley’s First Congregational Church on Wednesday, May 1, Alisa Weilerstein’s performance was a thing of beauty. -more-

Not Shakespeare’s JULIUS CAESAR but Zellerbach’s

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Saturday May 04, 2019 - 04:16:00 PM

Théâtre National de Bretagne came to Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall on April 27-8 with Arthur Nauzyciel’s staging of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. This French théâtre troupe performed Shakespeare’s text, or most of it, in English. However, in the cavernous expanse of Zellerbach Hall, Shakespeare’s immortal text was, for the most part, gone with the wind. Even from my seat in center orchestra, the spoken text was only partly audible. One caught a word or two here and there, though rarely a whole sentence. I can’t imagine how little of Shakespeare’s text was heard at the back of the house or up in the balconies. If one thing is perfectly clear, it is that Zellerbach Hall is simply too cavernous a space for presenting Shakespeare’s plays. Had these performances been given in either the much smaller Playhouse or in Hertz Hall, I’m sure the expérience would have been far more fulfilling and enjoyable. Instead, we got not Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar but Zellerbach’s. What a shame ! -more-

Deborah Voigt in Recital at Herbst Theatre

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Sunday May 05, 2019 - 04:50:00 PM

Although I’ve heard Deborah Voigt quite a few times in live operas, I’ve never been overly impressed with her voice. I found her a capable but not outstanding Wagnerian soprano, and a so-so heroine in several operas of Richard Strauss. Yet I welcomed the opportunity to hear Deborah Voigt sing in the more intimate setting of a recital in Herbst Theatre accompanied by pianist Steven Bailey under the aegis of San Francisco Performances. Thus I went to Herbst Theatre Thursday evening, May 2, with an open and curious mind. -more-

The Berkeley Activist's Calendar, May 5-12

Kelly Hammargren, Sustainable Berkeley Coalition
Saturday May 04, 2019 - 04:14:00 PM

Worth Noting:

Budget: May 1 and 3 in two all day meetings the City Departments presented their budget requests for Fiscal Year 2020 and 2021 with a total of $13 million in budget request increases.

The proposed budget is being presented Tuesday at 6 pm. The first Public Hearing is May 14. The City Council vote to adopt the budget is June 25.

Monday – 10:30 am – The Berkeley City Council Public Safety Committee is meeting on Police Stop Data collection and analysis

Thursday – 6 pm – There is a City Council Special meeting at Longfellow Auditorium on Housing Development at North Berkeley BART

Saturday McGee Spaulding Neighbors in Action is sponsoring a Town Hall with Kate Harrison

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Bay Area Book Festival -more-