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Only 18 Months to Get Ready for the Next Berkeley Election

Becky O'Malley
Friday June 07, 2019 - 04:40:00 PM

Oy veh. The next election is only about 18 months away. Thanks primarily to the Democratic Party apparatus which controlled the City of Berkeley government for a couple of decades under Mayor Tom Bates, local elections now coincide with the biennial state and national elections, and local officials have four year terms. What this means in practice, whatever the intent of the councilmembers who set up the current rules, is that many voters now show up at the polls in November who have only the vaguest idea of what the local issues are, let alone who the candidates might be. 

This is particularly true of Berkeley’s transient academic population. Undergraduates, who are allowed to vote, only expect to be here for about four years, though sometimes graduating takes a bit longer. It’s hard for them to get to know much about the candidates. 

Many on the UCB teaching faculty are now non-tenured, thanks to various cost-cutting schemes, and even the lesser ranks of the tenured can’t afford to buy in Berkeley these days. The city has also become the Florida of the aging literati, with a goodly number of residents who winter in Berkeley and summer near their well-paid eastern emeritus appointments in Cambridge or Cape Cod or Maine or Princeton. 

All these groups are pretty much out of the loop when it comes to Berkeley problems. The more scrupulous among them simply don’t vote the bottom of the ticket, but many do, regardless, out of habit, whether or not they know anything about who or what they’re voting for. 

The well-meaning gerrymander which created a student-dominated City Council district after the 2010 census produced in November of 2018 a council candidate—the only student in the race—elected with only about 1500 votes, though the leaders in the other three districts got +/- 3000 first place votes after ranked choice distribution. The total number of votes for all candidates in each of the four districts was similarly skewed. The students just didn’t turn out for the council race, and many of those who voted for Arreguin for mayor simply relied on his Bernie Sanders endorsement. 

With little serious consistent local news coverage of Berkeley campaigns, at least in print, glossy mailers paid for by special interest groups have become many voters’ main source of information. Unless and until there’s a law requiring disclosure of who’s paying for the hit-pieces which come out under the names of transient ad-hoc committees, these are more likely than not to be slimy fabrications. 

Chatting recently with a few friends who are theoretically interested in local government, I came to the conclusion that it’s nigh on impossible at the moment to concentrate on what’s going on around here because the national scene is so much more of a mess. Yes, Berkeley sometimes seems like a swamp, but it’s the kind of benevolent swamp in the old Pogo cartoons, populated by crafty but amusing characters for the most part. Washington, on the other hand, is a gross, open, running sewer—not even very funny anymore. 

How can a bit of annoyance about all the plushy downtown apartment projects (possibly backed by Russian oligarchs who plan to flip them) compete for the voter’s mind-share with, for example, the story of a lobbyist and close buddy of Jared Kushner who is busted with a phone full of child porn in the JFK airport ? 

And that was just Wednesday’s Trumpista scandal. Every day, a new horror. 

But just in case anyone who still cares what’s happening near home wants to know, in November 2020 these seats will be on the ballot, with current incumbents: 


  • Mayor (At-Large): Jesse Arreguín
  • District 2: Cheryl Davila
  • District 3: Ben Bartlett
  • District 5: Sophie Hahn
  • District 6: Susan Wengraf
And what are the issues? Well, Berkeley in particular has a target painted on it by one faction in the all-Dems-all-the-time state legislature which believes Sacto knows best about local land use. Berkeley’s own State Senator Nancy Skinner is a leader in this movement, which can loosely be characterized as supply-side housing policy, a touching neo-liberal belief in the efficacy of markets to remedy the state’s chronic shortage of homes for lower-income citizens. 


Real planning wonks can read this article in L.A.’s City Watch magazine, which skewers Skinner’s latest effort, SB 330, the ugly stepchild of wo failed previous attempts, SB827 and this year’s SB50, co-sponsored with San Francisco’s Scott Wiener, which has been consigned to legislative limbo. Her (rebutted) spokesperson in this online debate is ex-journalist Robert Gammon, who is now flacking for Skinner. 

The idea promoted by Skinner and Wiener seems to be that if we build enough luxury market-rate apartment buildings something will eventually trickle down to house the homeless. Their bills are aimed at taking power to make land use decisions away from local officials.The icing on the cake is repeated moves to gut the California Environmental Quality Act to speed up this process. 

Uh-huh. These are funny ideas coming from self-styled progressives. 

Early local results of these theories, which have been taken up with gusto by the city of Berkeley’s hired planners, can now be seen in the new and vulgar “luxury” units all over Berkeley, which, if you believe their signs, seem to have lots of pricey vacancies at the moment. 

And meanwhile, enough housing which genuinely low-income people can afford is not being built here (or anywhere). So Berkeley still has a real housing crisis, easily observable at the tent and RV encampments which the city manager and her subordinates are ever eager to de-populate by force. 

What can local elections do about this situation? 

There’s a whole lot of concern about the homeless around. It tends to fall into two camps. Some simply don’t want to have to see and hear these unsightly people, especially when they gather in groups in public places and on residential streets and even ask for money. Some in this group hope that trickle-down from market-rate development will eventually get rid of homelessness; others don’t care as long as the offenders can be disappeared somehow. Such opinions can usually be seen on nextdoor.com and in the anonymous comments on berkeleyside.com

The other camp is those concerned about the welfare of the unhoused, who tend to think tents and RVs are inadequate, but better than nothing. A letter from one concerned citizen on this topic is included in this issue. 

Among incumbents whose terms are expiring, Cheryl Davila has been outstanding for her courage, compassion and diligence in speaking up for people who need homes, particularly those who are trying to make homes in encampments. Her colleagues have reacted in a variety of ways to the seemingly perpetual crises that plague unhoused people. 

In the eighteen months between now and the election, we will have enough time to press these incumbents to support ethical positions which recognize the rights of all humans to have decent places to live. 

If incumbents can’t or won’t vote to come through on this important topic, we can look for candidates to replace them. Take a look at the variety of progressive organizations are interested in local electoral politics: Berkeley Progressive Alliance, Sustainable Berkeley Coalition, Berkeley Tenants Union, Berkeley Citizens’ Action, Wellstone Democratic Club and Berkeley Neighborhoods Council are among them. 

Somewhere in their ranks effective candidates might be found before November of 2020. But in addition to finding good candidates, major work needs to be done to assemble a unified grass roots organization which gets the progressive word out to the countless dozens of Democrats who will be showing up in Berkeley to vote for president. There's no time to waste. 




Public Comment

Open Letter to the Berkeley City Council Regarding the Homeless Crisis

Marcia Poole
Friday June 07, 2019 - 02:37:00 PM

I have copied you on an email that has been sent out by Barbara Brust regarding the cruelty with how Berkeley handles its homeless crisis. Our homeless are Berkeley's Economic Refugees and I think they deserve all the care, consideration and compassion that we can deliver.

A particular case in point is Mama Chrystal and her family. They were evicted from their little tent encampment recently because another group, who had set up hundreds of yards away from theirs and was not affiliated with them at all, caused a fire at that encampment. Instead of directing disciplinary action at the other people who caused it and at their location, the police evicted Mama Chrystal and her family. This was from the spot that Jesse had said she could set up her camp. 

Should we now punish all neighbors if a crime or accident happens at another person's home who live hundreds of yards away from them and are not affiliated with them? I think all of Berkeley would suffer very quickly. Why do we single out peaceful homeless people who have been abiding by laws and good conduct when some other person or group commits a bad action? 

With 300's death less than two weeks ago, I think there are many of us who have determined not to let this happen to our friends again.

That being said, I can't believe that the City Manager and Staff have recommended cutting out two decades-old programs that have fed the hungry in Berkeley - the Quarter Meal and the Breakfast provided by Dorothy Day House. This is punitive towards the housed poor and the homeless poor. When did we start considering giving food and water to those in need not worth city expenditures? This is cruel.

Beverly Hillbillies Arrive in London

Tejinder Uberoi
Sunday June 09, 2019 - 08:03:00 PM

The American President arrived in the UK carrying his trash bag of insults which he delivered with relish in sharp contrast to his host’s civility and decorum.

His outrageous comments calling the London mayor a “stone cold loser”, the leader of the opposition party “somewhat of a negative force” and downplayed tens of thousands of protesters as “fake news”.

He shamelessly capitalized on his host’s hospitality by including his children in state dinners which intensified revulsion of the US premier and his crime family. Feeding off the trough of British hospitality was a total embarrassment. The timing of his visit was poorly planned. Mrs. May is still in shock and a lame duck, her successor is unknown and the country is deeply divided over Brexit.

The Brits renowned for their biting wit did not disappoint. The centerpiece of their protests was a giant balloon showing Trump as a scowling baby wearing a diaper and clutching a cellphone,

Perhaps my favorite was a banner “make America Great again – impeach Trump” which pretty much summed up British sentiments about their prickly visitor. 

Trump’s badgering NATO countries to make a greater contribution to their own defense was a crude attempt to pressure them to purchase more US weapons and increase profits for US contractors and thereby boost his own popularity. 

The “special relationship” between the US and Britain has soured much like Trump’s ex-wives. How far America has fallen.

Open Letter to the Berkeley City Council About Accessibility and Commission Meetings

Mary Behm-Steinberg
Friday June 07, 2019 - 05:17:00 PM

I recently had to be out of town for family matters on the night of a Commission meeting, and I was surprised to learn that Commissioners are no longer able to participate remotely, though they were before. I and many other people with disabilities, work very, very hard to stay informed on the tremendous efforts of other Commissioners, and we do our homework, so we have a lot to contribute. Personally, I have far fewer hours than most people, because I have to spend so much time sick in bed. I don't make a dime for trying to serve my community, and sometimes, it costs me money. So while I'm sure it wasn't your intention in to limit access for people who are physically challenged and their caregivers when you revised the commissioners' handbook, sadly, that is the end result.

I urge you to reconsider that and consider that if you want to be truly inclusive, people with disabilities must be proportionally represented in appointed bodies, and reasonable accommodations must be made. I see the machines that are used for conference calls just lying on tables collecting dust. I'm puzzled as to why this option would have been taken off the table to begin with.

Moreover, Commission meetings should as a matter of course be recorded. As you all know, change is happening at a breakneck pace, and it's impossible even for able-bodied people to be in 3 places at once. A truly open and inclusive city government should be recording public meetings for anyone, especially now, when so many are occurring simultaneously.

I appreciate that you're all working very hard, and this is overwhelming. Which is exactly why more community participation can help, especially in a community as rich in talent and diversity as ours. Please make this easy change promptly so that we can all contribute a Berkeley that's livable for everyone.

Canadian Genocide

Jagjit Singh
Sunday June 09, 2019 - 08:05:00 PM

A three-year investigation of the genocide of Indigenous women, and girls in Canada has finally been concluded. The callous treatment of these women and girls was made possible by the colonial mindset of the white invaders who regarded themselves superior and the local population ripe for exploitation. The report cited the common practice of forcing thousands of children to attend government-sponsored residential schools where they were horribly abused. Every effort was made to erase their culture from their names to their native customs. 

Indigenous women and girls were the favorite target of abusers who acted with complete impunity. According to government statistics, Indigenous females make up about 4 per cent of Canada’s females but accounted for 16 percent of females killed. 

It is a sad testament to “white man’s” colonial history that pleas for help and intervention were ignored. Survivors and their families complained bitterly that the criminal justice system was “inadequate, unjust and re-traumatizing.” The report is right to focus on the urgent need for increasing the number of women’s shelters, expanding policing especially in remote areas, intensifying recruitment of Indigenous people on police forces and civilian boards overseeing the police. To ensure Indigenous people retain their culture and pride, their language should be given equal status to Canada’s official languages of English and French. 

The recommendations outlined in the report should be applied to our own native "Indians" who have experienced their own “trail of tears.”


ELECTIC RANT:On the Virginia Beach Mass Shooting

Ralph E. Stone
Friday June 07, 2019 - 05:07:00 PM

I am saddened at the killing of 12 people in Virginia Beach by a disgruntled government employee who later died after a shootout with police.  

When asked about the shootings, Senator and presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) responded, “It’s not just mass shootings,” she said, adding that each day in America, gun violence occurs “on sidewalks and playgrounds and people’s backyards. It’s happening family by family across the country. And it doesn’t get the same headlines. And that is wrong.” 

Consider that nearly 40,000 people died in the U.S. from guns in 2017, the highest in 50 years. In response, there has been no major gun-control legislation in the nearly six years since Sandy Hook. In fact, in the years following Sandy Hook, more states loosened gun buying restrictions than tightened them. 

In addition to the usual thoughts and prayers, the U.S. Senate should at least begin addressing gun violence in the U.S. by taking up two gun control bills passed by the U.S. House of Representatives. The first calls for universal background checks on all firearms purchases. The second would extend the review period for a background check from three to ten days.  

Unless Congress acts after this latest incident, we will just have to grit our teeth and wait for the next shooting that will come as surely as night follows day.

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Our Perspectives are Valid

Jack Bragen
Thursday June 06, 2019 - 12:36:00 PM

I've met psychiatrists who are very good at what they do, and who have been kind toward me. And I've met psychiatrists who presume. Specifically, they presume that those they treat for psychiatric illness are intrinsically inferior. Some of these have been rude, and others have kept the condescension milder. 

As recipients of mental health treatment, we are taught that we are an inferior category of people. We are taught that we ought to be happy with less. We are taught that we should not aspire to do anything considered professional. If we aspire to something great, we are said to suffer from "delusions of grandeur." 

I've caught bits and pieces of the documentation done about me. It has usually been unflattering. The documentation is a window into how I am perceived by clinicians. 

Our best interests are not the only focus. The purpose of the mental health treatment system isn't solely to help us do well; another purpose is to manage a population so that it will not create problems, nuisances and inconveniences to the greater society. 

Another agenda is that of protection, with subcategories. If mental health consumers are believed to be a physical threat, or if believed to participate in criminal activity, treatment practitioners have legal obligations. Another type of protection is self-protection of practitioners and the agencies they work for--against possible liability. 

Therapists want good, successful careers, as do most people. This is an additional agenda. 

In some instances, it almost seems as though treatment practitioners have produced interference when I've tried to succeed at something.  

Here is the second point of this week's column: We should learn to trust ourselves again. 

It is a mistake to abdicate all guidance and thought to authorities in the mental health treatment system. Although sometimes we are subject to gross errors in thought, judgment, and perception, at some point, we need to trust our own judgment. I am not disputing that we can be helped in our reality checking. Nor am I disputing that mental illness can sometimes make our minds unreliable. 

We need a middle ground. We need to retain the self-trust to disagree, and to take our own side when there is a difference of opinion. This can be done after we have enough years of being stabilized. And it must be done within limits. 

I have certainty about some things. And, concerning other things, I am open to being corrected by other people. The basic framework in which my mind functions is established, and I rely on it. This has come about after being stabilized for long enough. Within that framework, variables exist. Part of the framework includes compensation for the brain malfunction of being schizophrenic. 

There are instances in which our thinking is deluded, and we would be well-advised to listen to the cautions of mental health practitioners. Yet, there are other instances where mental health practitioners presume too much. However, there is no exact rule to tell the difference. 

All too often, individuals in the business of treatment assume that those they are treating do not know anything. And to these practitioners, anything we say is dismissed as a symptom. 

We should reserve the right to disagree. Although there are some areas in which we lack choices, other areas have wiggle room, in which we can formulate our own opinions. 

It is disappointing when I say something, and what I say is dismissed automatically. It can require some fortitude to retain value of myself despite this. And it is also a motivation for having connections outside of the mental health treatment system, in the realm of the "normal." 

When I participate in mainstream society, regardless of whether other people know of my disability, the prejudice and preconceptions are less compared to participating in the mental health treatment systems. 

SMITHEREENS: Reflections on Bits & Pieces

Gar Smith
Friday June 07, 2019 - 05:09:00 PM

The Post Office on Steroids

Pausing to collect my mail at the Berkeley Main Post Office last week, I was approached by a USPS employee pitching a new postal product. "You can check your incoming mail anytime, anywhere," he explained, eagerly thrusting a flyer into my hand.

With "Informed Delivery," he told me, I could now turn on my home computer or check my Smartphone to see what mail—if any—was waiting for me in my post office box. Images of my incoming mail would now be posted online—in color, even!

I can only think of one reason why I would want advanced notice about what mail was coming my way: I would no longer need to search a parking spot to check your PO box only to come away empty-handed. But, hold your ponies. There's a catch: "You'll get an email every day with a preview of mail and status updates on packages scheduled to arrive soon."

Did you spot it? The key phrase is "to arrive soon." The system will take snapshots of your incoming mail at some point prior to delivery but that does not guarantee that the mail will actually have made it inside your PO box. Also, the service is only for "letter-sized" mailings, so apparently you won't know whether your next issue of The Nation, Wired, or The New Yorker is about to arrive.


And one more thing: this new service will also create, for the first time, digital archives of personal envelopes sent to individuals from companies, agencies, and other individuals. 

I'm a bit sensitive on this point because, during the Sixties, I discovered I was on a secret government "Watch List." Working at the Berkeley Barb, I'd handled letters from the Weather Underground and that apparently was all it took for the government to put me under postal surveillance. 

I eventually discovered that the FBI had assigned someone in San Francisco's Rincon Annex to intercept and record the comings and goings of my personal mailings. I was not the only one on the local "watch list." The supposed privacy promised by the Bill of Rights was no longer assured. 

The webpage to sign up for Postal Pix is usps.com/myid. MYID is supposed to stand for "My Informed Delivery" but it could also stand for "My ID." I'll pass. 

Three Tales of Intersectionality 

The City of Berkeley has installed new street signs at the eastern terminus of Rose Street. The signs mark an unusual intersection of three different streets—a tri-section, if you will. This is where Rose intersects with Bayview (coming from the North) precisely at the point that Bayview turns into Scenic (and continues to the South). The result is a signpost that also serves as a descriptive statement: "Scenic Bayview." (Stand at the trisection, look west, and that's exactly what you'll see.) 

Here are some other Descriptive Intersections Signs found around town: California-University, University-Grant, Scenic-Spring Way, College-Haste, Hillside-Prospect, Vine-Arch, and Bonita-Rose. 

Say What? 

Speaking of Rose Street: North Berkeley drivers heading south on Spruce encounter a baffling traffic sign as they approach Rose. The message posted on the southwest side of the intersection reads: "Thru Traffic Turn Right." 

Faced with questions like and "Why?" and "WTF?", most drivers simply ignore the roadsign and blast right through. 

Wait. Forever? 

At the intersection of Hopkins and The Alameda, there are buttons on posts at all four corners that pedestrians can push to stop cross traffic so they can cross. In order to assist blind pedestrians, the buttons also prompt a warning voice that instructs walkers to "Wait! Wait!" until it is safe to cross the street. 

The problem is, that's all the crossing system ever says. Even after the lights change and the pedestrian signals start flashing the "walk now" countdown, the audio signal continues to repeat "Wait! Wait!" 

The same problem holds at each of the four corners. If you can see the lights, you're good to go. If you are blind, you're caught in an endless bind. (This gives rise to a related question: If you are visually impaired, how do you know there's a button to push? And how do you locate it?) 

Spooky Tales 

Okay, kids. Gather around. Turn the lights down low and let me adjust the flashlight I'm holding under my chin. It's time for a Spooky Tale. 

Once upon a time (in 1893, to be exact), there was an American novelist named Ingersoll Lockwood who wrote two unsettling books about a fantasy character named Baron Trump. The first novel was titled The Travels and Adventures of Little Baron Trump and the second was titled Baron Trump's Marvelous Underground Journey

Baron is described as a young boy with "a very active brain" who grows bored with his family's super-lavish life in "Castle Trump" and decides to slip off to (pre-Bolshevik) Russia for an adventure. 

Once little Baron arrives in Russia, he is taken under the wing of "the master of all masters," a powerful mentor who goes by the name, "Don." Together, they search for a gateway to other dimensions. 

According to Newsweek, Lockwood's eerie tales have given rise to 4chan Internet rumors that the real-life Trump family has somehow secretly acquired a time-travel machine. 

Lockwood followed up with a third novel, chillingly called The Last President. Written in 1986 but set in New York in the year 1990, the novel depicts a country being torn apart as a popular revolution threatens to overthrow the ruling oligarchy. 

"The entire East Side is in a state of uproar . . . . Mobs of vast size are organizing under the lead of anarchists and socialists, and threaten to plunder and despoil the houses of the rich who have wronged and oppressed them for so many years." 

In the novel, Lockwood writes: "The Fifth Avenue Hotel will be the first to feel the fury of the mob." Lean in and listen closely, children, as I whisper this next sentence: The address that Lockwood gives for the Fifth Avenue Hotel just happens to be. . . the address of the current-day Trump Tower. 

And, as if this story were not crazy enough, it turns out that a Hollywood film producer named Leigh Scott has set up an Indiegogo account to raise funds to produce a movie version of Little Baron Trump's Adventures. Here's his pitch: 


A Broken Jet Stream 

The jet stream that historically crossed the US mid-drift in a fairly fast and steady flow from West to East has gone haywire—thanks to rising global temperatures and the accelerating loss of polar ice. For the past several decades, the jet stream has been losing power, slowing down and wobbling, wavering north and south with increasing frequency. 

The nearly vertical perambulations of the jet stream—from Alaska south to the Gulf of Mexico—have changed traditional weather patters, blanketing the West Coast in polar winds and carrying a freight of chilly air into a climate collision with equatorial winds that trigger storms along the coast and maelstroms of hail, rain and tornadoes in the country's Midwest. On some days, the jet stream's track has even begun to back-track, looping about and heading west. And, at the end of May, another disturbing anomaly was recorded. 

On May 30, the jet stream moved toward the mainland in a straight line from Hawaii, only to take a sudden southward plunge as it reached the coast of California. The jet stream didn't enter US airspace until it crossed over from Mexico into south Texas. But that was nothing, compared to what was to happen the next day. 

On May 31, the weather maps showed a bizarre event: the jet stream had broken in two. Two parallel atmospheric rivers were shown—one crossing over Canada, the other passing over Mexico, both bypassing the continental US. The southern jet stream barely managed to reenter the US, crossing over Florida and Georgia before swinging out into the Atlantic. The Northern jet stream missed the US entirely, passing through Canada nearly a hundred miles north of Ottawa. 

On June 1, the pattern repeated as torrential rains and storms remained stalled in the Midwest, pummeling millions with falling rain and rising waters. 

On June 2, the southern belt of transcontinental air was nowhere to be seen and the trail across Canada had mutated from a flow to a bow—with a huge bend of wind blowing south into the US heartland before reversing field and racing back north into Canada. 

No More Federal Tax Breaks for Polluters 

Here's another Big Idea for our Presidential Wannabees: Change the federal tax code so it no longer benefits the fossil fuel industry. 

The current tax code hands out huge tax breaks to Big Carbon, making it easier for the dirty energy bandits and fossil-fuel freaks to profit off pollution. As the organizers behind the Stand Tall for America (STA) campaign put it: "That means that taxpayers—you and I—are paying Big Oil to speed up global warming." 

According to STA, Washington currently provides "more than 40 energy tax breaks that promote the dirty fossil fuels that contribute to climate change." 

Meanwhile, too many Congressmembers continue to ignore climate science (and daily headlines of persistent, rising flood and storm damage across the US) in order to continue doing the bidding of their wealthy campaign donors. 

STA has simple plan: "End tax subsidies for Big Oil and Coal. Transform the US tax code to encourage investment in a clean, sustainable future. Replace the more than 40 energy incentives with just three: One for clean energy. One for clean transportation. One for energy efficiency." 

Seems reasonable. You can sign the "No More Tax Breaks for Big Oil! Invest in Clean, Renewable Energy!" petition by clicking here 

NATO's Logic: 'We Prevent Wars by Threatening to Start Wars' 

Senator Chuck Schumer had a less-than-reassuring response for citizens who recently expressed concerns that admitting the country of Georgia to NATO would serve as a further provocation to Russia (which has long expressed its displeasure with the growing number of US/NATO bases that have been encroaching on its borders). 

In a letter, Schumer began by agreeing that Georgia's NATO membership would be a thumb-poke in the eye of the Russian Bear. 

Schumer wrote: 

I understand your concerns about Georgia’s unresolved conflicts with Russia and how these can escalate Russian aggression should Georgia become a member of NATO. Last year, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev reportedly said that Georgian membership in NATO would be a “threat to peace.”  

Having described the grave danger, Schumer then does on to dismiss it, citing a single reason for risking war: "NATO agreed in 2008 that Georgia would eventually be offered membership." 

Schumer proceeds to describe NATO's role as follows: 

"NATO is a vital component of our national security environment and the possibility of increased Russian aggression is a serious risk that must be taken into consideration." 

In short: We need NATO to provoke Russia because of the increased risk of Russian aggression. Moreover, being able to goad Moscow into a military conflict "is a vital component of our national security environment." 

Tell Gov. Gav: Shut the Crumbling Diablo Canyon Nuke 

Public Utilities Commission President Michael Picker and the PUC's commissioners have received a petition that reads: 

"We, the people of California, ask Governor Newsom and other state leaders to order the controversial Diablo Canyon nuclear plant tested for potential dangers involving seismic vulnerability, pressure vessel damage and nuclear waste leakage before the reactor is allowed to re-open after being shut down for refueling in February. " 

To sign onto this petition, click here

An 'Internet Kill Switch'  

At 3pm Eastern Time, on June 2, the Google Cloud (which accommodates Gmail, YouTube, SnapChat, Instagram, Facebook, et al.) was struck by lightning when all these services mysteriously crashed for four long hours. In related news, thousands of Google customers who secured their homes using the company's Nest technology found themselves (1) locked outside their homes or (2) securely locked inside their homes for the duration. 

The unprecedented collapse led Tyler Durden to ask on ZeroHedge.com: "Did the government just test the Internet Kill Switch?" 

The "Internet Kill Switch" is not a matter of Internet rumor. As The Atlantic recently pointed out in a chilling feature titled, "The Alarming Scope of the President's Emergency Powers: "From seizing control of the Internet to declaring martial law, President Trump may legally do all kinds of extraordinary things." 

Trump has already used his "extraordinary powers" to seize control of all telephone communications nationwide when, on October 3, 2018, he activated the National Wireless Emergency Alert System in a test of the Presidential Alert system. 

Military Control of the 2020 Elections? 

Trump's "extraordinary" powers may soon extend to oversight and control of the 2020 elections. In May, Microsoft announced it had signed on to a White House plan to create ElectionGuard, a cyber-security system that will be entrusted with processing all the votes cast in the 2020 US Presidential and Congressional elections. ElectionGuard will expand the use of electronic voting machines rather than relying on paper ballots that can be challenged during voter recounts. According to RT News, funding for this unprecedented project will come from a “private” company called Galois "whose only investors are the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the Office of Naval Research (ONR)." 

According to Microsoft, these complex military-industrial "ballot boxes" will "make voting secure, more accessible, and more efficient.” 

But as political comic Lee Camp observed on a recent episode of Redacted Tonight, “The Pentagon can't keep track of $21 trillion over the past 20 years. What makes you think they can keep track of hundreds of millions of votes?” 


Arts & Events

Carl Orff’s Infectious CARMINA BURANA at San Francisco Symphony

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Friday June 07, 2019 - 05:15:00 PM

Anyone who turns up the nose disapprovingly at Carl Orff’s Carmina burana is someone I’d not wish to associate with. The music may rely on basic means – pulsating rhythms and extended ostinatos. But the music is infectious. It grabs you and won’t let go. Moreover, the words, sung in Latin and Middle High German, offer a lusty affirmation of life and love, tempered with the knowledge that the capricious wheel of fortune can always turn against us. 

Carl Orff (1895-1982) based his Carmina burana on medieval illuminated manuscripts of poems from the Benediktbeuern monastery in the foothills of the Bavarian Alps south of Munich. Setting these poems to music in 1935-8, Carl Orff strove to achieve a primitive musical style using basic rhythms, repetitious ostinatos, and a direct vocal expression of emotion. With Carmina burana, which premiered in 1937 in Frankfurt, Carl Orff had instant success. And the popularity of Carmina burana has never waned.  

On Tuesday, June 4, San Francisco Symphony was joined by the Symphony Chorus and the Ragazzi Boys Chorus, plus soloists, all under the direction of the Symphony’s Resident Conductor, German-born Christian Reif. This was a one night only performance, but judging by the sold-out Davies Hall and the wildly enthusiastic audience, San Francisco Symphony missed the ball in not scheduling multiple performances of this highly popular work. Soloists for Carmina burana were baritone Hadleigh Adams, tenor Nicholas Phan, and soprano Nikki Einfeld. All were excellent, perhaps especially Hadleigh Adams, whose robust baritone rang forth with great command and fine Latin and German diction. Adams also negotiated beautifully the vocal shift into falsetto in Dies, nox et omnia/Day, night and all the world. Moreover, Hadleigh Adams initiated some comical horseplay when, to begin the inebriated soliloquoy of the Abbot of Cucany, he jumped up onto the podium and intruded on conductor Christian Reif’s space. 

Tenor Nicholas Phan made the most of his sole number, the over-the-top lament of the roasted swan, which number Phan sang in high falsetto from the mezzanine box at far left above the stage. Soprano Nikki Einfeld sang with feeling the In trutina/In the scales dilemma of carnal love versus chastity; and she gave a heartfelt answer to this dilemma with the ecstatic capitulation to love in Dulcissimo/Sweetest boy.  

In many ways, however, the real star of this Carmina burana might be the San Francisco Symphony Chorus, led by Assistant Director David Xiques. Their singing in the opening and closing O fortuna numbers set the tone, a rollicking rhythmic propulsion, for Carmina burana. The male chorus members sang uproariously in the boisterous drinking songs of In taberna quando summus/ When we are in the tavern. Nor should we neglect the contributions of Ragazzi Boys Chorus led by director Joyce Keil and associate artistic director Kent L. Jue. Finally, the orchestra itself deserves praise for a standout performance throughout, from the pizzicato strings in O fortuna to the imitation birdcalls that open Primo Vere/Springtime, and including the flautist’s striking up the village dance band in Uf dem Anger/On the Green. Conductor Christian Reif led a robust, vivid account of this exuberant score that is Carl Orff’s Carmina burana. What a pity there weren’t more performances scheduled of this enormously popular work!

The Berkeley Activist's Calendar, June 9 - 16

Kelly Hammargren, Sustainable Berkeley Coalition
Sunday June 09, 2019 - 07:55:00 PM

Worth Noting:

Even though this email is thick without listing every meeting agenda item, it is worth reading or at least scanning what is before the City for discussion and action this coming week.

City Council Committees are meeting this week in the morning and afternoon on Monday and Thursday.

The City Council will vote on the FY 2020 and FY 2021 budgets on June 25. The proposed budget recommendations will be discussed at City Council on Tuesday, Police Review Commission on Wednesday, City Council Budget Committee on Thursday.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

No City meetings or events found

Monday, June 10, 2019 

Agenda and Rules Committee, 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm, at 2180 Milvia, 6th Floor Redwood Conf Room, Draft Agenda for June 25 Regular City Council Meeting, Consent: 1. $224,064 YMCA City Employee Memberships, 6. Revision Investment Policy, 7. $2,091,305 to extend Pathways STAIR operations to June 30, 2020, 8. $30,000 Block Grant Discretionary Funding June 1, 2019 – May 31, 2020, 9. $832,000 DDorthy Day House to Operate year-round Shelter at Veteran’s Building FY 2020 and FY 2021, 10. $233,835 Aging Services Programs for FY2020, 11. Extend contract by 2 yr - $276,000 with TruePoint Systems LLC for Accela Professional Services, 13. $65,000 NextRequest for Public Records Response Software System, 14. $225,000 Governmentjobs.com, Inc. DBA NEOGOV for Performance and Learning Management System, 15. Add $418 to Contract Accela, Inc. for Software Maintenance and Professional Services, 16. Add $35,000 and extend term for on-call landscape architecture, 17. $3,100,000 for construction management services for Berkeley Tuolumne Camp Project July1, 2019-Dec 31, 2022, 18. Add $360,000 for new contract for the WETA MOU Planning Phase for potential ferry service and public recreation pier at Berkeley Marina 19. Letter of commitment to affirm City of Berkeley participation in 2019 Bay Area SunShares residential solar and zero-emission vehicle program, 20, $80,000 contract with Rincon Consultants, Inc to develop Berkeley Pathway to Clean Energy Buildings Report, 21. $19,000,000 On-call Planning Services Contracts. 22. $140,875 Tanko Lighting for Street Light Luminaire Retrofit Project, 23. Amend Housing Trust Fund Guidelines to foster workforce housing for educators and educational staff by extending eligibility to include up to 120% AMI and provide $150,00 to BUSD for predevelopment planning, Action: 24. Adopt FY 2020 and FY 2021 Biennial Budget, 25. Adopt FY 2020 Annual Appropriations Ordinance $520,227,935 (gross and $454,517,219 (net), 26. FY 2019-2020 Borrowing of Funds $35,000,000 Tax and Revenue Anticipation Notes, 27. Adopt Ordinance adding new Chapter 9.50 to BMC requiring legal rights for legal tender, requiring that all brick-and-mortar businesses accept cash, 28. Adopt Resolution Establishing that all new vehicles procured by City of Berkeley be zero-emission vehicles, 29. Create Action Plan by June 2020 to accelerate electrification of City’s municipal fleet and phase out fossil fuel use in municipal vehicles by 2030, 30. Waiver of Encroachment Fees for Trash Corral Pilot Program for Telegraph BID and Downtown Berkeley Assoc. Information Reports: 31. Voluntary Time Off Program for FY 2020, 32. Audit Status Report Response: Code Enforcement-Improvements needed in Case Management and Oversight Jan1, 2019-April16, 2019, 33. FY 2020 Civic Arts Grant Awards, 34. FY 2019 2nd qtr Investment Report, 35. Referral Response: Community Microbond Initiative, 36. LPO NOD 2140 Shattuck Ave, 37. goBerkeley Parking Management Program, 38.&39. 2019 Commission on Disability Work Plan and Outreach Efforts, 40. Mental Health Commission 2018 Annual Report 


City Council Health, Life Enrichment, Equity & Community Committee, 10 am – 12 pm, at 2180 Milvia, 6th Floor Redwood Conf Room, Agenda: 2. Managing RV Parking, 3. Creation of Vehicle Dwellers Governance Body, 4. Brown Act, 5. Ban Racial, Ethnic and Religious Discrimination on the Basis Hairstyle or Headwear, 6. Air Quality Monitoring Program 


Police Review Commission – Probation and Parole Questioning Subcommittee, 2 pm, at 1947 Center, Western Sycamore Room 1st Floor, 5. Development of new BPD policy 


Tax the Rich Rally, with music by Occupella, 5 – 6 pm at the Top of Solano in front of the Closed Oaks Theater, Rain Cancels 

Tuesday, June 11, 2019 

Berkeley City Council, Tuesday, at 1231 Addison Street, BUSD Board Room, 

4:00 pm, Closed Session, Agenda: 

5:00 pm Special Meeting, Agenda: 1 item Referral Prioritization Process 

6:00 pm – 11:00 pm, Regular Session:  

Agenda: Consent: items 4-15 FY 2020 Tax Rates, 16. Temporary Appropriations $50,000,000 payroll & expenses, 17. $56,000 AmeriCorps, 18. BUSD YouthWorks Employment Program $26,694, 19. RFP to Sell Single Family Home at 1654 Fifth St to Operate as Homeless Shelter, 20. $121,538 Contract increase for Phone System Support and Maintenance, 21. Contract NEXGEN $1,017,509, 22. $100,000 Contract Increase Tank Maintenance and Certification Services, 23. Contract $4,065,906 T1 Street Improvements, 24. $940,000 Preparation Sanitary Sewer Master Plan, 25. $278,698 Global Positioning System Telematics Program, 26. $296,475 for 10 new Prius (PHEV), 27. Amend Commissioners’ Manual Regarding Submission of Revised or Supplemental Agenda Material, 28. Resolution No Intervention in Venezuela, 29.Insufficient Fire Prevention Inspections, 30. Support AB 1487, 31. RFP Measure O Funds to Housing Trust Fund for Berkeley Way and 1601 Oxford, 32. Transit Improvements at MacArthur Maze, 33. Oppose AB 56 Centralizing Energy Procurement, 34. Repeal/Reenact BMC 13.104 Wage Theft Prevention, 35. Opposition to Revision of Title X, 36. Funding $190,015 Drop-in Center, 37. Funding $198,000 Youth Spirit Artworks, 38. $203,286 Intercity Services, 39. Berkeley Opportunity Zone Displacement Mitigation Overlay, 40. Proclamation Honoring June as LBGTQ Pride Month, 42. Resolution Opposing Anti-Abortion Bills Passed in 2019 Action: 44. 2020 Street Lighting Assessments, 45. a.b.& c. Code Enforcement Actions and Fact Finding Leonard Powell, 46. Inclusionary Housing Zoning Ordinance Amendments Contiguous Lots under Common Control or Ownership, 47. Referral to Homeless Services Panel of Experts to consider Measure P Funds for remediation of Lawn Bowling, North Green and Santa Fe Right-of-Way, FY 2020-2021, 48.&49. FY 2020, FY 2021Proposed Budget, Information: 50. Referral Response: Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) 



Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board – Budget & Personnel Committee, 5:30 pm, at 2001 Center St, Law Library 2nd Floor, Agenda: 5. Staffing Model Changes, 6. FY 2019 Budget update, 7. FY 2020 Budget 


Wednesday, June 12, 2019 

Community Health Commission – Policy Tracking Subcommittee, 5 pm at 2000 University, Au Coquelet 


Homeless Commission, 7 – 9 pm at 2180 Milvia, 1st Floor Cypress Room, Agenda: 7. Recommendation health study by Division of Public Health on health conditions, disparities and mortality rates on homeless with recommendations for closing gaps, 8. Recommendation Adeline Corridor Plan to include housing for extremely low-income persons consistent with 1000 person plan, 9. Recommendation 1281 University be used as location for RV dwellers with established ties to Berkeley, 10. Report from encampment subcommittee, 11. Homesteading, 13. Employment strategies for homeless, 14. Transportation accommodation to shelters and resources 


Measure O Bond Oversight Committee, 6 – 9 pm, at 2939 Ellis, South Berkeley Senior Center, Agenda: 6. Housing Trust Fund Program and Priorities, 7. Ad-Hoc Subcommittees, 


Parks and Waterfront Commission, 7 – 9 pm at 2800 Park St, Frances Albrier Community Center, Agenda: 10. Adeline Corridor Plan, 11. Presentation Women’s Daytime Drop-in Program at Berkeley Lawn Bowling Club, 12. Update T1, 13. Bee City Update, 14. Southern Waterfront Parking Assessment, 15. Citywide Restroom Assessment 


Police Review Commission, at 2939 Ellis, South Berkeley Senior Center, 

5:30 pm Lexipol Policies Subcommittee 

7 – 10 pm, Regular Meeting, Agenda: 8. Subcommittees a.Lexipol Policies, b. MOU Compendium, c. Standard of Proof, 9. Old Business, a.Lexipol Policies, b. Surveillance Use Policies, 10. New Business, a. Use of hoods/spit masks, b. BPD FY 2020 & FY 2021 Budget, c. possible joint request with Mental Health Commission for increased funding for Mobile Crisis Unit or other Mental Health Services 


Thursday, June 13, 2019 

City Council Budget & Finance Committee, 2 – 4 pm, at 2180 Milvia, 6th Floor Redwood Conf Room, Agenda: 2. Voluntary Time off on Statewide Election Days for City Employees, 3. City Manager’s Budget Recommendations for FY 2020 and FY 2021 


City Council Land Use, Housing & Economic Development Committee, 10:30 am – 12 pm, at 2180 Milvia, 6th Floor Redwood Room, Agenda: 2. Open Doors Initiative: First Time Homebuyer Program, 3. Referral: Fee on New Non-Residential Development to Contribute to the Revolving Loan Fund, 4. Berkeley Qualified Opportunity Fund 


Cannabis Commission, 6:30 – 8:30 pm, at 2939 Ellis, South Berkeley Senior Center, Agenda: Consideration Cannabis Equity Program 


Community Environmental Advisory Commission, 7 – 9 pm at 1901 Russell St, Tarea Hall Pittman South Branch Library, Agenda: V. Presentation Public Health Division Tobacco Prevention Program, IX. 1. Bird Safety, 2. Coordination Environmental Impact Protection, 6. Letter on Parking Enforcement Vehicles 


Zoning Adjustment Board, 7 – 11 pm at 1231 Addison St, BUSD Board Room, Agenda: 3. Election of 3 ZAB members to Zoning Ordinance Revision Project 

1111 Allston Way – construct 3-story single family dwelling at rear of parcel – staff recommend Approve 

2198 San Pablo – demolish single-story commercial building and construct 6-story mixed use with 3 live-work, 57 dwellings (includes 5 Very Low Income), parking 20 vehicles, 48 bicycle spaces, staff recommend Approve 

2701 Shattuck – construct 5-story, 57 dwellings (includes 5 Very Low Income), 600 sq ft ground floor food service, parking 30 vehicles, 44 bicycle spaces, staff recommend Approve with modifications 


2x2 Committee, 8:30 – 10 am, at 2020 Bonor Street, Room 126, Berkeley Unified School District, Agenda: 4. Joint Properties MOU Update, 5. 2020 Vision Annual Update, 6. BUSD Update on Workforce Housing 


Friday, June 14, 2019 

Berkeley Reduced Service Day 

Saturday, June 15, 2019 

Roses in Bloom Acoustical Series, 3 – 5 pm, at Rose Garden, 


Sunday, June 16, 2019 

Juneteenth Festival, 11 am – 7 pm,  





City Council Policy Committees Unfinished Business Items for Scheduling 

Agenda Committee 

Use of U1 Funds for Property Acquisition at 1001, 1007 and 1011 University Ave and 1925 Ninth Street from Housing Advisory Commission and City Manager 

Increase Compliance with Short-Term Rental Ordinance 

Disposition of City-owned Redevelopment Properties at 1631 and 1654 Fifth Street 

Vehicle Dweller Program 

Land Use Planning Permit Fee Amendments 

Residential Preferential Parking Program for Football Game Day Enforcement 

Land Use 

Referral to City Manager - Amnesty Program for Legalizing Unpermitted Dwelling Units 

Prioritizing Affordable Housing for the Homeless 




Public Hearings Scheduled – Land Use Appeals 


Notice of Decision (NOD) With End of Appeal Period 

2072 Addison St – eliminate off-street parking – 6-5-2019 

2004 Cedar – residential addition – 6-14-2019 

2001 & 2031 Fourth St – modify use permit for beer tasting room – 6-14-2019 

3206 – College Ave – establish pet store use – 6-14-2019 

2325 Sixth St – single family residence – 6-17-2019 

Remanded to ZAB or LPC With 90-Day Deadline 

1155-73 Hearst (develop 2 parcels) – referred back to City Council – to be scheduled 

2701 Shattuck (construct 5-story mixed-use building) – ZAB 6-30-2019 




June 18 –Green Stormwater Infrastructure Presentation, Mandatory and Recommended Green Stormwater Infrastructure in New and Existing Redevelopments or Projects, Council Budget and Strategic Plan Priorities 

Sept 17 – Arts and Culture Plan, Zero Waste Rate Review, Adeline Corridor Plan 

Oct 22 – Berkeley’s 2020 Vision Update, Census 2020 Update, Short term Rentals 

Nov 5 - Transfer Station Feasibility Study, Vision Zero Action Plan, 

Dec 5 – Measure T1 Update 

Unscheduled – Cannabis Health Considerations 



EBMUD presentation 

Referral Response: Explore Grant Writing Services 




To Check For Regional Meetings with Berkeley Council Appointees go to 



To check for Berkeley Unified School District Board Meetings go to 





This meeting list is also posted on the Sustainable Berkeley Coalition website. 

http://www.sustainableberkeleycoalition.com/whats-ahead.html and in the Berkeley Daily Planet under activist’s calendar http://www.berkeleydailyplanet.com 


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