Full Text



Diane Woolley Bauer, 1932- 2019

Carol Denney
Friday June 28, 2019 - 11:10:00 AM
Diane Bauer  1932-2019
Diane Bauer 1932-2019

She was a muck-raking investigative reporter, a cab driver, a U. S. Senate press aide, a merchant seaman, and a mother of four who served on Berkeley's Waterfront Commission as well as two terms on the Berkeley City Council. She was briefly hospitalized, and died surrounded by family on June 7th, 2019 after a few years of declining health. She leaves a legacy of extraordinary work both as a journalist and as a Berkeley councilmember dedicated to serving District 5's neighborhoods.

Diane Woolley Bauer's father was a writer with MGM in Los Angeles, where she was born, but had been a commander in the British Royal Navy who served in World War I. He was called back for World War II and stationed in Jamaica, where Diane spent a portion of her young life. After the war the family moved to Washington D.C. where during her college years Diane took a two-week job as a vacation replacement for what was then called a copy girl at the Washington Post and her career as an investigative reporter began.

She became the youngest reporter in Washington D.C. Then-owner of the Post, Eugene Meyer, set aside the rule requiring that reporters have a college degree to put Bauer in charge of what is now called the Style section of the Post covering "politicians, diplomats and debutantes", as she put it, doing the layout and writing an advice column for college girls under her picture and byline. It should go without saying that women were an uncommon part of such workplaces.

She continued to work part-time as a young wife and mother writing ad copy, serving as a U.S. Senate press aide and a campaign director, but excelled as a self-taught journalist. She is credited for doubling the Washington Daily News' Maryland circulation with her hard-driving public interest stories, often scooping the full-timer reporters at the Washington Post and Evening Star. When the Daily News folded into the Evening Star she was one of the few reporters who were kept on. She wrote, investigated, and consulted for public interest research and law firms working special assignments for Newsweek, CBS television, panels, and documentaries such as ABC's "The Paper Prison" specializing in courts, police and prisons, juvenile detention, privacy and records-keeping, and medical ethics. One of her pieces on juvenile offenders' treatment provoked a letter from J. Edgar Hoover defending the FBI's procedures; she kept the letter.

Her work was so thorough it is cited in several books on civil liberties, behavior modification, privacy, and bioethics as well as some Supreme Court cases. Her writing is credited for playing a role in highlighting atrocities and instituting reforms at Maryland's infamous Patuxent Institution where she revealed an expensive behavior modification scandal. Author Nat Hentoff wrote a story about her tireless investigative journalism, including the illumination of "a hitherto hidden plan...to form a secret intelligence unit to combat organized crime" which her writing revealed arranged to violate, among other things, privacy laws. The unit had to be scrapped.

Diane Woolley Bauer left an indelible mark on her North Berkeley neighbors who knew her tirelessness in tracking down and fixing neighborhood problems:

"When huge gasoline tanker trucks rumbled unnecessary blocks through our neighborhood, Ms. Bauer, a grandmother, left her home late at night to follow them to their destinations, interviewed the drivers as to route problems, went to the city traffic engineering department to research, and advised and them cajoled public officials until the matter was cured." - Kiran Singh, President, King-Grove Neighborhood Association.

Singh, in a letter recommending Diane receive the Outstanding Berkeley Woman award, cites Diane as having organized a drive collecting over 500 signatures to win a change in bus routing, alerting the neighborhood to a chemical spill, spending hours helping a disoriented senior, and reorganizing the park sprinkler schedule so children at play wouldn't get wet. She took that sense of civic engagement to the City Council for two terms under the slogan "Results, Not Rhetoric", where she at times confounded both factions with her independence. She was unfailingly dignified and thorough in requests for clarification from the city manager or the city attorney even if the rest of the council was impatient to move along. Her remarks were eloquent, concise, and touched with a writer's wit. She created a newsletter just for her neighborhood called "The Neighborhood" with news specific to her district promoting benefits, connecting neighbors, and highlighting issues.

"She was the true independent on the Council," said LA Wood, whose work with Carolyn Erbele documenting two notorious groundwater contamination scandals earned Diane's admiration and in some cases her vote. "She would listen. She had respect for the public."

Most people only leave the Berkeley City Council when they're voted out of office, or are about to be booted. But Diane Woolley-Bauer resigned after two terms, something almost unheard of. Her letter of resignation in July of 2000 is full of kindness, thanks for the education on "the perplexities and complexities of city government", and ends with a comic "P.S. When you have a chance, ask the next Council to increase the budget for fixing the sewers."

She is survived by her siblings Marion Mattingly and Herbert Woolley, former husband Robert Moore, her four children; Marion "George" Moore, Kathleen Romero, William Bauer, and Mona Bauer, and her grandson Alejandro Romero. Memorial plans are pending. Contact: DWoolleyInMemorium@gmail.com



Time to Get Going

Becky O'Malley
Friday June 28, 2019 - 11:12:00 AM

During my decade or two wandering in the wilderness, when I did both intellectual property law and marketing for the family high tech business, I went to a lot of trade shows and conferences. There I quickly learned that if I wanted to have an interesting and/or intelligent conversation with one of my fellow attendees, I should find an African-American or a woman to talk to.

Why was that? Because in those days (1980s-90s) if you were a member of a racial or gender minority you needed to be twice as qualified to get a job in big business, especially in tech. In our tiny software company, the path for some of us women was smoothed by family ties and our commitment to equal opportunity, but the big corporations we met in the marketplace had formidable barriers to entry for those who were not White men.

In a few cases, some of them (notably AT&T and IBM) had been compelled by various forms of government action to hire a few individuals from protected classes. Inevitably, kicking and screaming all the way, they hired the best and the brightest from such classes.

I was reminded of that experience as I watched the last two nights of what were called debates, but were actually, if you will, political versions of a county fair, a place where the Democrats could showcase and compare the products they might be offering to the electorate in November of 2020. It was apparent to me that here, as in my business experience, the women and the people of color were head and shoulders above the chorus, because they had to be in order to get on the stage at all. 

Reading the contributions for today from our regulars and our readers, and also checking online for the usual Very Serious People, a lot of them agree with me. The aspirants had a variety of virtues, but some looked better than others, and the best were either women or people of color. 

But first, let’s stipulate that Bernie Sanders richly deserves an honorable mention. He has performed an invaluable public service over the years, and especially recently, for articulating at top volume the Marxish economic ideas which have been talked about in the more daring academic circles for a good while now. He gets high marks for audacity, somewhat lower for empathy.  

He’s the professor many wish they’d had, the grandfather who has answers to all your questions. But sadly, he’s just a bit past his pull date, and seems a bit shopworn. 

He’s been the insider’s outsider in DC for too long but is short of experience in making things work. He (like me) is, frankly, too old for 8 more years of the presidency. Some of my most beloved friends are Old White Guys, but we just don’t need another one for president at this time—the current model has given the brand a bad name. 

Red ribbons for second place go to Cory Booker and Kamala Harris. They have very different personal styles, but both exhibit a winning combination of brains and passion.  

Booker, who comes from a comfortable IBM family, has a CV which features Stanford, Oxford and Yale Law, but he deliberately chose to settle in gritty Newark, among the people he chose to serve. He’s eloquent when he talks about them. 

Kamala Harris is also eloquent, but in an entirely different way. She’s a sharp prosecutor in the Perry Mason style, not inappropriate in a political situation where lies are the common discourse. She showed her empathetic side when she used her experience as a Berkeley schoolgirl, a contemporary of my BUSD-educated daughters, to challenge Joe Biden about his embarrassing recollections that he got along with ardent segregationists and opposed federally mandated busing for integration. 

Both of them looked very good on stage this week, but neither appears to have enough relevant experience to assume the presidency, or at least the office as it used to be before being trashed by the incumbent. Both deserve the second-place ribbon, and either would make a terrific candidate for vice -president.  

Julian Castro was also impressive, great for a cabinet slot. In fact, I'd cheerfully vote for any of them myself, against Trump. 

The blue ribbon, in my opinion, goes to Elizabeth Warren. This will not come as a surprise to anyone who’s seen the fading bumper sticker on my 2012 Prius: “I belong to the Elizabeth Warren Wing of the Democratic Party”. It’s been there since I met her in Ces Rosales’ backyard in the LeConte neighborhood, sometime after 2012. I was there with my mother, whose 90s were informed by a lot of CSpan broadcasts of the Senate which made her a major Warren fan. After hearing Warren’s off-the-cuff dialogue with a typically demanding Berkeley audience, I became a fan too. Nothing I’ve seen since has changed my mind. 

An academic friend, well-known as a feminist, told me ruefully that after the 2016 election she’d never again vote for a woman—just too risky politically. But I think she’s wrong. It’s not as if Hillary Clinton didn’t win the 2016 election, it’s just that she and whoever was advising her missed the electoral college piece all together. That can be fixed—I’m sure Warren has a plan. 

Warren is a much better candidate than Clinton. She’s got both an excellent mind and the common touch, and is a vigorous, persuasive speaker. 

Unlike Clinton, she’s had real on-the-ground working class experience and has earned all the honors she’s attained on her own. Unlike, for example, Bernie Sanders, she has not only goals but, yes, detailed plans for exactly how she’ll meet those goals. After two terms, she’ll just be as old as he is right now. 

I also heard this morning from an African-American friend, a longtime Democratic Party activist in the Midwest, who was concerned about the possible consequences of Kamala Harris’s takedown of Joe Biden. She’s one of those older Black women currently beloved of the electoral strategists who have finally noticed their crucial role in turning out votes in their communities. She remembers Biden’s somewhat dubious early record, but also remembers that later he accomplished a lot for civil rights. Living in the Midwest, she thinks he might appeal more to her White neighbors. 

She has a point, but the fact that Biden has spent his whole life in politics could turn out to be more of a liability than an asset. He's had time to make a lot of mistakes that we haven’t heard about yet. Warren, on the other hand, had a real life before entering the political game, so that even though she’s older than some candidates, she’s a fresh face.  

I went to a couple of debate watching parties this week in Santa Cruz, and it looks like at least activists are ready to rumble. The first one, which was sponsored on behalf of Elizabeth Warren in someone's home, had about 40 people, some of them Sierra Clubbers and the rest assorted strangers attracted by public postings. Most of them were officially uncommitted. To a person, they cheered whenever Warren spoke, but they were pretty enthusiastic about Castro and Booker too. Women predominated perhaps 3 to 1. 

The second night, sponsored by the Bernie crowd, who were wearing his face on their tee shirts, was in a pizza and beer joint. There men were in the majority. These people seemed pretty set in their choice, but then again Warren wasn't on the screen. My question would be whether they represent a political movement, transferable to another candidate with approximately similar ideas, or if they're a cult of personality centered around Sanders.  

Some might say that we should wait a while and hear all the “debates” before choosing a horse for this race. I usually deplore endless campaigns, but circumstances have changed.  

The incumbent is of course beyond appalling, and the whole field of Democratic aspirants looks pretty darn good. The unselected ones should go home and run for the Senate and the House and statewide offices, and the rest of the county should get behind Warren and, e.g., Booker, and throw the rascals out. As the oldy but goody slogan has it, it's time for a change.

The Editor's Back Fence

Ignoring History, San Francisco Will Be Doomed to Repeat It.

Becky O'Malley
Sunday June 30, 2019 - 03:43:00 PM

I am personally outraged that the San Francisco School Board has voted to destroy the Victor Arnautoff mural in George Washington High School which shows deplorable acts in the first president's life, including holding slaves and fighting against Native Americans. Clearly the school board members didn't understand that hiding history will not erase it. San Franciscans should not entrust the education of their children to such ignorant and ill-informed politicians. The full details are in this New York Times op-ed by Bari Weiss:San Francisco Will Spend $600,000 to Erase History

If you want to let them know what you think, here are their email addresses: 

San Francisco School Board Members


Stevon Cook 


Mr. Stevon Cook, President
Email: StevonCook@sfusd.edu 

Mark Sanchez
Mr. Mark Sanchez, Vice President
Email: MarkSanchez@sfusd.edu 

Commissioner Alison Collins
Ms. Alison M. Collins, Commissioner
Email: AlisonMCollins@sfusd.edu 

Jenny Lam
Ms. Jenny Lam, Commissioner
Email: JennyLam@sfusd.edu 

Gabriela Lopez
Ms. Gabriela López, Commissioner
Email: GabrielaLopez@sfusd.edu 

Faauuga Moliga
Mr. Faauuga Moliga, Commissioner
Email: FaauugaMoliga@sfusd.edu 

Rachel Norton
Ms. Rachel Norton, Commissioner
Email: RachelNorton@sfusd.edu 



Esther V. Casco, Executive Assistant to the Board of Education
Email: cascoe@sfusd.edu
phone: 415-241-6493 



Public Comment

A ban, not a moratorium, on human embryo modification

Stuart Newman and Tina Stevens
Friday June 28, 2019 - 05:22:00 PM

A twin birth in China last October raised ominous questions. The baby girls had been genetically edited as embryos, with the untested methods providing no confidence in healthy outcomes. The subsequent fallout has been confusing: a blue-ribbon group of scientists and ethicists sent a letter to the Secretary of Health and Human Services in late April recommending a moratorium, following a similar call in the scientific journal Nature. In both cases, the door was left open to clinical use if and when relevant stakeholders are satisfied it should proceed. And if the federal government won’t fund it, the tax-payer supported California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) could.

When the relevant science (developmental biology) is considered, however, it becomes evident that embryo modification cannot proceed safely. Time-buying measures such as moratoria are simply strategies to deny this reality and enable its eventual implementation. But the question of whether embryos can be safely engineered has long been settled: they cannot. This is clear from experiments on animal embryos, where altered genes are seen to behave in unpredicted ways, and in human population studies, where genetic mutations that had been found to cause disease in some individuals or groups turned out to be perfectly harmless in others. 

There are two kinds of genetic engineering of animals such as humans: somatic and embryonic. Somatic modification is modular, meaning it affects limited tissues or organs in an existing person who is ill. We take no issue with somatic modification provided it is carefully monitored as to medical need and conflicting commercial interests. With existing methods of embryo engineering, however, changes made, including mistakes, will be passed on to future generations via the reproductive cells or germline. In fact, every cell in the body of the new individual is affected, making that person something different from what they would have been without the intervention. By this measure, the engineered person is less a patient and more an experimental organism, not being treated by a medical doctor, but being designed by a scientist. 

Entrepreneurial scientists have eased the way to acceptance of embryonic editing by downplaying technical problems and by vague reassurances that they will not go too far, too fast. Yet they never explain what they mean by this. Members of the U.S. scientific and bioentrepreneurial community, including several at Stanford and UC Berkeley, knew about the work of their colleague in China but said nothing publicly, willing to have human embryo research move forward to the extent permitted here and elsewhere. A temporary moratorium on embryo engineering for full-term birth won’t stop laboratory research in this field. In the absence of a true ban any technical advance will be used to promote public acceptance of what is in essence a form of human experimentation. 

Other unsettling questions either minimized or ignored by industry-led discussion relate to health hazards to the producers of the raw materials required by these technologies. These are young egg providers, or as we might know them, our daughters, nieces and granddaughters. The long-term reproductive health of young women who undergo egg harvesting for this research is poorly understood. Nor is it clear that egg “donors” are given adequate information to know how their eggs will be used. 

Whatever line existed between academic research and commerce has worn thin. Researchers at universities and institutes who were once relatively shielded from business interests now sit on the boards of and own shares in biotech companies that are major sources of scientific funding and infrastructure. Scientists who overstep cultural norms or federal restriction rarely suffer consequences beyond the loss of their federal funding. In the U.S. private corporations and state agencies like CIRM can define their own acceptable practices regarding egg procurement and embryo engineering. Thus, how these entities define too far, too fast, is completely subjective -- a recipe for human disaster. 

There is no limit to the present and future havoc an overly enthusiastic researcher might wreak. The scientist who bioengineered the babies in China may have affected their intelligence or shortened their lives in the process of attempting to prevent HIV. Another geneticist may next decide to do this on purpose or make other errors. The faster science and technology progress, the greater the potential for misuse. 

We must ban, not simply pause embryonic gene editing before someone decides to forge the very biological nature of future generations, threatening their health and hijacking their identities before they are even born. 


The writers are, respectively, Stuart Newman Ph.D, professor at New York Medical College, Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy, and Tina Stevens Ph.D, lecturer emerita at San Francisco State University, Department of History. They are the authors of Biotech Juggernaut: Hope, Hype and Hidden Agendas of Entrepreneurial Bioscience (Routledge). ___________________________________

Business Rhetoric: Putting A Positive Spin on Laying Off Workers

Harry Brill
Friday June 28, 2019 - 05:16:00 PM

President Trump, the GOP members of Congress, and the business community claimed that the 2117 tax law, which substantially reduces corporate taxes, would create jobs and increase wages. Instead, jobs have been cut and shipped to low wage countries. Nevertheless, large sectors of the business community continue to insist that it is committed to increasing jobs or at least not making substantial cuts. So let's take a look at the brief employment record of some of the nation's large corporations.

Take for example AT&T's public announcement that it was providing a "special bonus" to over 200,000 workers. That's great publicity for the company. Isn't it? However, that "bonus" was actually severance pay to several hundred thousand workers who were being laid off since the Trump corporate tax law was enacted. 

Comcast too promised a bonus because it received $12 billion in tax cuts in one year from Trump's substantial reduction in corporate taxes. Yet the $1,000 bonus the company promised each worker in a press release was really severance paid to laid off workers. Sometimes, silence is preferred. As one article mentioned, Comcast also quietly fired over 500 sales employees right before Christmas. 

McDonald's is also among the companies that laid off thousands of workers. But the company's president announced that it was only "eliminating layers", which does not sound as severe. 

The profitable Bank of America has laid off tens of thousands of workers. Why? According to the CEO's absurd justification, "downsizing is all about protecting the bank from future losses". Yet the Bank has been earning very high profits. In the first quarter of this year it earned $7.3 billion. 

Typical of many businesses that lay off workers, Hewlett-Packard prefers to call it "restructuring". The recent plan of the company to " restructure" includes laying off by the end of this year 5000 workers. 

< Another company, the Carrier Corporation, received considerable publicity by announcing that in response to the corporate tax break the company would retain a few hundred jobs that it had intended to eliminate. However, just one year later, when the advantage of its PR campaign died down, Carrier shipped these jobs to Mexico. 

If corporate sales declined precipitously, it is understandable to many members of the public that retrenchment may be necessary. But many of these companies that are laying off workers are very profitable. Moreover, their thirst for profits is insatiable. So in the aggregate corporate America has shipped to low wage countries about 14 million jobs. 

Those of us who want to understand the trends in the American labor force should not expect the business community to provide you with the right and honest answers.

After the Cluster-debates

Bruce Joffe
Friday June 28, 2019 - 04:42:00 PM

Beyond rhetorical zingers, there is a critical need for thoughtful, compassionate, courageous, honest, responsible leaders to regain the cockpit and reverse our country's descent into an abyss of disrespect, irrationality, incompetence, and corruption. Many candidates have the good will to do so. A few have well-thought plans for doing so. Some have the experience of actually getting positive changes done in Washington. Some have a life history that commits their soul to improving a middle-class economy for working people. Some have the fire to burn Donald trump. All candidates have some of these qualifications. Elizabeth Warren has all of them. 

She is real. She is qualified. And, she is natural enough to crack a smile while discussing important issues. She'll listen to you and then say something resonant from her own life. We need Warren to disinfect our government from the rotten stench of liars, cheaters, criminals, traitors and thieves.

Why are there NO OUTLET signs on Elmwood streets that have outlets?

Hank Chapot
Friday June 28, 2019 - 05:38:00 PM

I worked at the Clark Kerr campus for a couple years, and I take my dogs walking above the campus. I long ago noticed that there are numerous streets in the neighborhood north of Ashby, west of the Kerr campus, between Warring and College, that have prominent NO OUTLET signs on streets that have outlets. You make a few turns because of the barriers Berkeley put in in the 1970s, but you can get to College from Piedmont, Warring or Derby if you disregard the signs.  

Drive along Piedmont or College and check out these streets; Parker and Warring, Derby and Warring, Steuart and College, Derby and College,. They all have NO OUTLET signs. The only truly NO OUTLET block I found was Etna street, and I did only a cursory drive through. 

I contacted Elmwood/Claremont neighborhood Association and got no reply and sent this public records request to public works: 

This email is a public records request regarding any and all documents pertaining to NO OUTLET signs on streets in the Elmwood neighborhood, north of Ashby, east of College and west of Clark Kerr campus. Including but not limited to; Parker and Warring, Derby and Warring, Stuart and College, Derby and College.

All these streets are through roads but all of them have NO OUTLET signs. I am prepared to pay any fees accrued and pick up hard copy of these documents when produced. 

I heard back from City spokesperson Matthai Chakko who said his staff is looking into it. I told him I would go ahead with this editorial.  

So my question is, are these just a relic of the 1970s closure of streets in the Ashby corridor, signs no longer needed but neglected by the city, or are they a sign of city sanctioned protection of wealthy homeowners privilege? Do rich neighborhoods have the political clout to deceive drivers stuck in traffic? Does their entitlement allow them to surreptitiously divert traffic onto other folks streets? I am tempted to get a cutting torch and cut down every one of these signs, but then I’d have to deal with messy criminal charges and lawyers and all that. 

I get it, nobody likes traffic on their street. I don’t like traffic on my street. I live on 58th Street in north Oakland near the highway 24 off ramps. Two blocks south and one block north of mine are truck restricted.. My street has become a designated truck route with traffic apps describing it as such. For the last few years, we’ve had semis, containers and every other monster truck on our street. It sucks. But we all need to share the burden. So, Berkeley, it’s your call.

Trump’s Concentration Camps

Tejinder Uberoi
Friday June 28, 2019 - 05:04:00 PM

No one can watch the video of a dead asylum seeker lying face down with his 23-month-old daughter on the bank of the Rio Grande and not be outraged. President Trump is the architect of this grotesque crisis. He has demonized and created fear of those seeking asylum as “caravans of rapist and criminals” hardening attitudes and using Gestapo tactics to discourage new migrants. 

Many have walked thousands of miles to escape violence desperately seeking asylum to the “promised land”. Many have failed to reach the border and have perished in the unrelenting desert heat. Forgotten is America’s tradition as a welcoming nation. Children regardless of age are brutally separated from their parents and tossed into Trump’s concentration camps without basic necessities like soap, tooth brushes and diapers. They are given “noisy” metal blankets and concrete floors as bedding. 

The young children are inconsolable begging to be reunited with their parents. Their parents are devastated by the forcible separation. It is hard to imagine a more bizarre scheme to torture young children and their parents. Older children are expected to comfort babies and younger children. The stench of urine and feces is overwhelming. This heartless attitude is a deliberate scheme to torment migrants in the callous belief that this will deter others from trying to reach America. 

This a crisis of American values that cannot go unchallenged. I urge readers to contact their representatives and demand action. Children MUST be reunited with their parents and provided basic hygiene.

Are newly proposed state housing laws constitutional?

Bob Silvestri
Friday June 28, 2019 - 05:09:00 PM

Laws such as AB 1487 and SB 330 and SB 592 intend to give unprecedented powers to regional agencies and unelected (read that as “politically appointed”) groups to levy fees and taxes to fund their own growth and housing priorities, and override local control of zoning and planning.

AB 1487, for example, proposes to create a unique "regional" government entity, using existing 'special districts' laws in a new way. As explained by Marin Post Contributor Sharon Rushton,

The stated purpose of AB-1487 is to "establish the 'Housing Alliance for the Bay Area' in order to increase affordable housing in the San Francisco Bay Area by providing enhanced funding and technical assistance for tenant protection, affordable housing preservation, and new affordable housing production." The bill authorizes the creation of a bay area regional housing finance agency. The agency would have the authority to impose region-wide special taxes (including parcel taxes, business taxes, and transactions and use tax), issue bonds, incur and issue debt, buy and sell land, and allocate funds, among other powers.

“It is unclear how many of the measures that generate revenues would require voter approval pursuant to the California Constitution. Proponents of the bill hope to raise $1.5 billion annually.”

Since our state legislators began to move forward in earnest with an almost endless variety of these “housing crisis” remedy bills such as SB 828, SB 50, AB 1487, SB 330, and others, Community Venture Partners been questioning the constitutionality of their efforts to wrest control of zoning and planning away from duly-elected local governments -- See State Housing Laws: Questioning the Constitutionality of Recent Legislation.

In the past two years others are, increasingly, questioning the constitutionality of all these laws and have begun to present legal arguments in the courts and elsewhere.

In January of 2019, the City of Huntington Beach, California filed a lawsuit against the State of California to overturn Senate Bill 35, a 2018 law which streamlines processes for building new housing developments. As reported in the San Francisco Chronicle, “Huntington Beach’s lawsuit contends that the state’s Constitution grants charter cities exclusive authority over local land use and zoning.”

Recently, Nicholas Waranoff, a retired attorney who lives in Orinda, sent the State Assembly Committee on Local Government and State Senate Governance and Finance Committee letters challenging the constitutionality of AB 1487 and SB 330 and SB 592. Those letters are attached below. His letters make a compelling argument that both proposed laws violate the California State Constitutional “right that cities have to control land use within their boundaries.” 

In his letter to “Oppose AB 1487,” Waranoff writes,[1] 

“I. AB 1487 violates Article IV, Section 16 of the California Constitution because any shortage of funding for affordable housing is not unique to the San Francisco Bay Area, and because the housing crisis is no more acute in the Bay Area than in certain other areas in the State. The bill’s assertions to the contrary, in its attempt to justify its lack of statewide effect, is not supported by the facts. 

“II. AB 1487 violates Article XI, section 11, subdivision (a), of the California Constitution, which provides that the Legislature may not delegate power to levy taxes to a “private person or body.” AB 1487 would create a new state agency, the Housing Authority of the Bay Area (“HABA”). The delegation of the taxing power to HABA (or to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (“MTC”), which could assume the powers and obligations of HABA) violates this provision of our Constitution, because each is a “private person or body” – neither would be composed entirely of elected officials. AB 1487 would allow “taxation without representation.” [Emphasis added] 

“III. Any tax imposed by HABA or MTC would only apply in counties whose electorate approved the tax.” 

You can read his letter, here, for a full explanation of his legal arguments. 

In his letter to “Oppose SB 330,” Waranoff writes, 

“Article XI, Section 7, of the California Constitution, provides, “A county or city may make and enforce within its limits all local, police, sanitary, and other ordinances and regulations not in conflict with general laws.” SB 330 is constitutional only if it is a “general law.” SB 330 is not a general law, because it does not “apply statewide;” instead, it distinguishes between counties with more or fewer than 700,000, and between cities with a population of more or fewer than 100,000 in counties with a population of 700,000 or less. [Emphasis added] 

“SB 330 is also invalid because it violates the equal protection clauses of the California and United States Constitution by making those distinctions.” 

This then raises a fair argument about “equal protection” clauses in both the California and the U.S. Constitution. 

Waranoff argues, 

SB 330 is also invalid because it violates the equal protection clauses of the California and United States Constitution. (U.S. Const., 14th Amend., and Cal. Const., art. I, § 7.) As explained in Britt v. City of Pomona (1990) 223 Cal.App.3d 265: 

“Both the Fourteenth Amendment of the federal Constitution and article I, section 7 of the state Constitution prohibit denial to persons of the equal protection of the laws. These constitutional provisions require that persons who are similarly situated receive like treatment under the law and that statutes may single out a class for distinctive treatment only if that classification bears a rational relationship to the purposes of the statute. Thus, if a law provides that one subclass receives different treatment from another class, it is not enough that persons within that subclass be treated the same. Rather, there must be some rationality in the separation of the classes.” (Citation omitted.)”[Emphasis added] 

You can read his letter, here, for a full explanation of his legal arguments. 

Finally, in his letter to oppose SB 592, Waranoff writes, 

"For the reasons that follow, SB 592 it is unconstitutionally vague and denies procedural due process. [Emphasis added] 

"SB 592 is unconstitutionally vague because it requires that, if a local government imposes conditions on a “housing development project” (which is broadly defined), it must make findings about whether the conditions will cause the project to be “infeasible” and about whether the conditions will cause a “substantial impairment” of the “economic viability” of the project. These terms have no ascertainable meaning. 

"SB 592 denies procedural due process because it requires that, if a local government imposes conditions on a “housing development project,” the local government must make certain findings, supported by a preponderance of the evidence in the record. The constitutional due process infirmity is that the local governments do not have, and are not provided, the tools needed to obtain the necessary evidence to be able to determine, for example, whether the conditions will cause a project to be “infeasible” or whether the conditions will cause a “substantial impairment” of the project’s “economic viability.” Furthermore, the very short time frame to develop the evidence is plainly insufficient. These problems are all the more significant because the penalties if a local government makes an incorrect decision are severe, including substantial fines." 

We contacted Mr. Waranoff and raised several issues to test his legal arguments AB 1487 and constitutionality in general. Among those was this comment and question. 

“There are many laws that one could argue are general laws that do not apply to all locations or all residents of California. For example, voting laws and drinking laws exclude large numbers of people (young, incarcerated, etc.). Other state laws, such as the California Environmental Quality Act, provide for exemptions that cities, counties, and agencies can claim under certain circumstances. And finally, local zoning laws and planning approval exempt various public and government agencies and state universities in many instances. So, my question is how does this correlate with your argument about "general laws?" Is CEQA not a general law?” 

In response, Mr. Waranoff wrote. 

“General laws: Article IV, Section 16, of the California Constitution provide: 

(a) All laws of a general nature have uniform operation. 

(b) A local or special statute is invalid in any case if a general statute can be made applicable. 

“I think the best approach is to consider each bill separately, because the issues are different.” 

Re: AB 1487, Mr. Waranoff writes, 

“Assembly member Chiu recognized that this section of the constitution was an issue because section 2 of AB 1487 attempts justify the bill as a local or special statute. Sec. 2 states, “SEC. 2. The Legislature finds and declares that a special statute is necessary and that a general statute cannot be made applicable within the meaning of Section 16 of Article IV of the California Constitution because of the uniquely severe shortage of available funding and resources for the development and preservation of affordable housing and the particularly acute nature of the housing crisis within the nine counties of the San Francisco Bay area region.” If statement is not true, AB 1487 violated Art. IV, Sec. 16. 

“Assembly member Chiu is co-author of SB 50. In that bill, which is currently on hold, there are numerous legislative findings that the housing crisis is statewide. I don’t think the folks in Los Angeles would agree that the San Francisco Bay Area’s housing crisis is worse than theirs.” 

In response to my questions about CEQA and other laws that deal with excluding groups of people or organizations, Waranoff commented that in his opinion “Article IV, Section 16 only addresses location, not groups of people.” Adding that 

“CEQA applies generally throughout the state. If CEQA only applied in Northern California and not in the rest of the state, there would be an issue under this constitutional section.” 

“In terms of laws that differentiate between groups of people, I don’t think Art. IV, sec. 16 applies, but in addition I would argue that the law applies to all people. The analogy would be if there was a different voting or drinking age in Northern California v. Southern California.” 

In response to my questioning him about SB 330 violating the California State Constitution, he replied, 

“The analysis [v. AB 1487] somewhat different, because Article XI, Section 7, of the California Constitution, gives a city a constitutional right to regulate land use such as zoning or parking restrictions in connection with development. This constitutional right is only subject to “general laws.” So, a law may not be a general law and yet may still be valid if it satisfies Article. IV, section. 16, as discussed above, but a non-general law cannot trump zoning or land use laws or decisions of a city.” [Emphasis and clarification added] 

Mr. Waranoff’s arguments are well-founded in citations of case law and in his well-reasoned explanations detailed in the “Discussion” sections of his letters, which I encourage readers to review. But his arguments have another quality that deserves attention. 

They have the unavoidable ring of making good common sense—something that we don’t find in the convoluted and ideologically-based ‘marketing messaging’ approach to legislation that Senator Wiener and Assembly Member Chiu embrace. 


[1] For a more complete understanding of the provisions of AB 1487, please see: https://marinpost.org/blog/2019/6/14/bill-for-bay-areas-first-regional-housing-finance-agency-advances 

Bob Silvestri is a Mill Valley resident and the founder and president of Community Venture Partners, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit community organization funded only by individuals in Marin and the San Francisco Bay Area. 



THE PUBLIC EYE: Kamala’s Big Night

Bob Burnett
Friday June 28, 2019 - 04:37:00 PM

The June 26 and 27 Democratic presidential debates served two purposes: to introduce the twenty top-tier candidates and to determine who was best suited to take on Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election. The results were somewhat unexpected; on both debate nights the winners were women: Senators Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris.

Watching a two two-hour debates, each featuring 20 candidates, is like speed dating. Blink and you'd miss a clever quip or an awkward response. There were chaotic periods and many missed opportunities to explain progressive policies to the voters. 

Nonetheless, the net effect was to "cull the herd." The marginal candidates, such as Marianne Williamson, got less attention and when they did get to speak, quickly demonstrated why they had been regarded as long-shots. In my eyes, there were no breakthroughs by the ten candidates who came in polling at less than 2 percent. 

On the other hand, there was movement among the ten top-tier candidates: Beto, Booker, Biden, Buttigieg, Castro, Gillibrand, Harris, Klobuchar, Sanders, and Warren. The big loser was Beto O'Rourke who seemed flat overall and the clear loser in an immigration tussle with Julian Castro. (Castro was the big surprise of the first night.) 

The other loser was former Vice-President Joe Biden. After sailing through the first half of the second debate, Biden was confronted by Harris about his voting record on school busing. When the conversation turned to race relations, Harris turned to Biden and said: "It was hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States senators who built their reputations and career on the segregation of race in this country. And it was not only that, but you also worked with them to oppose busing. And, you know, there was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bussed to school every day. And that little girl was me." When Biden struggled to explain his voting record, Harris continued: "Vice President Biden, do you agree today -- do you agree today that you were wrong to oppose bussing in America then? Do you agree?" Biden stammered that he did not oppose bussing, in general, "What I opposed is bussing ordered by the Department of Education." And Harris nailed him: "There was a failure of states to integrate public schools in America. I was part of the second class to integrate Berkeley, California, public schools almost two decades after Brown v. Board of Education... So that's where the federal government must step in." 

Two things jumped out from this exchange: the first is that Kamala Harris is a terrific prosecutor and, more than any other Democratic candidate, can be counted on to skewer Donald Trump in a debate. The second is that Biden should have known that this encounter was coming and been better prepared. (After the debate, Biden's team accused Harris of helping Donald Trump.) 

It's a long road to the February 3rd Iowa caucuses, but at the moment the Democratic field is led by women: If your perspective is which Democrat is best at taking on Trump, the leader is Senator Harris. If you are inclined to favor the Democrat who has given the most thought to straightening out America, the leader is Senator Elizabeth Warren. (Warren skated through the first debate night as the clear winner: interesting ideas presented concisely -- like the master teacher she is.) 

Before these debates, the national polls showed the ranking of candidates as: 1. Biden, 2. Sanders, 3. Warren, 4. Buttigieg, 5. Harris, and 6. O'Rourke. After these debate, the BB poll shows Harris and Warren tied for first, Biden and Sanders tied for third, and Buttigieg and Booker tied for fifth. That leaves Castro, Klobuchar, Gillibrand, and Beto (at number 10). 

I believe Biden will be damaged by his lackluster debate performance; he'll probably lose support among black voters -- this should help Harris in South Carolina. Before the debate, Bernie Sanders was already losing support as progressives switched allegiance to Warren; Sanders did nothing to reverse this trend. 

"Mayor Pete" Buttigieg got a good opportunity to show everyone how capable he is. Senator Cory Booker had a solid performance in the June 26 debate. They've forged ahead in the race for the 2020 Democratic nomination for vice-president. As has Julian Castro who was the surprise of night one. Klobuchar and Gillibrand were solid but don't have enough "star power" to move up in the herd. And Beto is fading. 

There's been a debate among Democrats about what they want most from their 2020 presidential candidate: a fighter or an ideas person. Both Harris and Warren are fighters and both have lots of good ideas. It will be fascinating to watch their interaction over the next eight months. 

Before the debates, some Democrats favored Biden because they perceived him to be "most electable." Biden was damaged in the June 27th exchange. I bet that more voters now believe that Harris and Warren are as electable as Biden. 

By the way: the next round of Democratic candidate debates happens on July 30 and 31. 

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


Conn Hallinan
Monday June 24, 2019 - 12:19:00 PM

For the second time in a row, Turkish voters have rebuked President Recep Tayyir Erdogan’s handpicked candidate for the mayoralty of Istanbul, Turkey’s largest and wealthiest city. The secular Republican People’s Party (CHP) candidate, Ekrem Imamoglu, swamped Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) candidate Binali Yildirim in an election that many see as a report card on the President’s 17 years of power. 

So what does the outcome of the election mean for the future of Turkey, and in particular, its powerful president? For starters, an internal political realignment, but also maybe a dangerous foreign policy adventure. 

Erdogan and his Party have been weakened politically and financially by the loss of Istanbul, even though the President did his best to steer clear of the campaign over the past several weeks. Since it was Erdogan that pressured the Supreme Election Council into annulling the results of the March 31 vote, whether he likes it or not, he owns the outcome. 

His opponents in the AKP are already smelling blood. Former Prime Minister Ahmet Dovutoglu, who Erdogan sidelined in 2016, has begun criticizing the President’s inner circle, including Berat Albayrak, his son-in-law and current Finance Minister. There are rumors that Dovutoglu and former deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan are considering forming a new party on the right. 

Up until the March election that saw the AKP and its extreme nationalist alliance partner, the National Movement Party (MHP), lose control of most the major cities in the country, Erdogan had shown an almost instinctive grasp of what the majority of Turks wanted. But this time out the AKP seemed tone deaf. While Erdogan campaigned on the issue of terrorism, polls showed most Turks were more concerned with the disastrous state of the economy, rising inflation and growing joblessness. 

The “terrorist threat” strategy—short hand for Turkey’s Kurdish minority—not only alienated conservative Kurds who reliably voted for the AKP, but forced the opposition into a united front. Parties ranging from the leftist Kurdish People’s Democratic Party and the Communist Party, to more conservative parties like the Good Party, withdrew their candidates from the Istanbul’s mayor’s race and lined up behind the CHP’s Imamoglu. 

The AKP—long an electoral steamroller—ran a clumsy and ill-coordinated campaign. While the Yildirim tried to move to the center, Erdogan’s inner circle opted for a hard right program, even accusing Imamoglu of being a Greek (and closet Christian) because he hails from the Black Sea area of Trabzon that was a Greek center centuries ago. The charge backfired badly, and an area that in the past was overwhelming supportive of the AKP shifted to backing a native son. Some 2.5 million former residents of the Black Sea live in Istanbul, and it was clear which way they voted. 

So what does the election outcome mean for Turkish politics? Well, for one, when the center and left unite they can beat Erdogan. But it also looks like there is going to be re-alignment on the right. In the March election, the extreme right MHP picked up some disgruntled AKP voters, and many AKP voters apparently stayed home, upset at the corruption and the anti-terrorist strategy of their party. It feels a lot like 2002, when the AKP came out of the political margins and vaulted over the rightwing Motherland and True Path parties to begin its 17 years of domination. How far all this goes and what the final outcome will be is not clear, but Erdogan has been weakened, and his opponents in the AKP are already sharpening their knives. 

An Erdogan at bay, however, can be dangerous. When the AKP lost its majority in the 2015 general election, Erdogan reversed his attempt to peacefully resolve tensions with the Kurds and, instead, launched a war on Kurdish cities in the country’s southeast. While the war helped him to win back his majority in an election six months later, it alienated the Kurds and laid the groundwork for the AKP’s losses in the March 2019 election and the Istambul’s mayor’s race. 

The fear is that Erdogan will look for a crisis that will resonate with Turkish nationalism, a strategy he has used in the past. 

He tried to rally Turks behind overthrowing the government of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, but the war was never popular. Most Turks are not happy with the 3.7 million Syrian refugees currently camped in their country, nor with what increasingly appears to be a quagmire for the Turkish Army in Northern and Eastern Syria. 

In general, Turkey’s foreign policy is a shambles. 

Erdogan is trying to repair fences with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, because he desperately needs the investment that Gulf monarchs can bring to Turkey. But the price for that is a break with Iran and ending his support for the Muslim Brotherhood. While the Turkish President might be willing to dump the Brotherhood, Erdogan feels he needs Iran in his ongoing confrontation with the Kurds in Syria, and, at least at this point, he is unwilling to join Saudi Arabia’s jihad on Tehran. 

In spite of the Turkish President’s efforts to normalize ties with Riyadh, Saudi Arabia recently issued a formal warning to Saudi real estate investors and tourists that Turkey is” inhospitable.” Saudi tourism is down 30 percent, and Turkish exports to Saudi Arabia are also off. 

Erdogan is also wrangling with the US and NATO over Ankara’s purchase of the Russian S-400 anti-aircraft system, a disagreement that threatens further damage to the Turkish economy through US-imposed sanctions. There is even a demand by some Americans to expel Turkey from NATO, echoed by similar calls from the Turkish extreme right. 

Talk of leaving NATO, however, is mostly Sturm und Drang. There is no Alliance procedure to expel a member, and current tensions with Moscow means NATO needs Turkey’s southern border with Russia, especially its control of the Black Sea’s outlet to the Mediterranean. 

But a confrontation over Cyprus—and therefore with Greece—is by no means out of the question. This past May, Turkey announced that it was sending a ship to explore for natural gas in the sea off Cyprus, waters that are clearly within the island’s economic exploitation zone. 

“History suggests that leaders who are losing their grip on power have incentives to organize a show of strength and unite their base behind an imminent foreign threat,” writes Greek investigative reporter Yiannis Baboulias in Foreign Policy. “Erdogan has every reason to create hostilities with Greece—Turkey’s traditional adversary and Cyprus’s ally—to distract from his problems at home.” 

Turkey has just finished large-scale naval exercises—code name “Sea Wolf”— in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean and, according to Baboulias, Turkish warplanes have been violating Greek airspace. 

Cyprus, along with Israel and Egypt, has been trying to develop Cypriote offshore gas resources for almost a decade, but Turkey has routinely stymied their efforts. The European Union (EU) supports the right of Cyprus to develop the fields, and the EU’s foreign policy head, Federica Mogherini, called on Turkey to “respect the sovereign rights of Cyprus to its exclusive economic zone and refrain from such illegal actions.” While Mogherini pledged “full solidarity” with Cyprus, it is hard to see what the big trade organization could do in the event of a crisis. 

Any friction with Cyprus is friction with Greece, and there is a distinct possibility that two NATO members could find themselves in a face off. Erdogan likes to create tensions and then negotiate from strength, a penchant he shares with US President Donald Trump. While it seems unlikely that it will come to that, in this case Turkish domestic considerations could play a role. 

A dustup with Ankara’s traditional enemy, Greece, would put Erdogan’s opponents in the AKP on the defensive and divert Turks attention from the deepening economic crisis at home. It might also allow Erdogan to use the excuse of a foreign policy crisis to strengthen his already considerable executive powers and to divert to the military budget monies from cities the AKP no longer control.Budget cuts could stymie efforts by the CHP and left parties to improve conditions in the cities and to pump badly needed funds into education. The AKP used Istanbul’s budget as a piggy bank for programs that benefited members of Erdogan’s family or generated kickbacks for the Party from construction firms and private contractors. Erdogan has already warned his opponents that they “won’t even be able to pay the salaries of their employees.” The man may be down but he is hardly beaten. There are turbulent times ahead for Turkey. 

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








ECLECTIC RANT:Is Trump above the law?

Ralph E.Stone
Friday June 28, 2019 - 05:34:00 PM

Although the Supreme Court in Clinton v. Jones ruled a itting president is not above the law, I'm not so sure this is true in fact in the case of President Donald Trump. 

Normally the U.S. Constitution’s checks and balances would rein in a rogue president like Trump. But presently we have a U.S. Senate controlled by Trump-enabling Republicans and a Supreme Court packed by a Republican-controlled Senate. 

Of course, the Democratically-controlled U.S. House of Representatives can conduct oversight hearings, but so far, Trump has successfully stonewalled/delayed testimony and document production. (True, Special Counsel Robert Mueller has said he will honor the subpoena and testify publicly before two House committees on July 17.) 

The House can also impeach Trump but his stonewalling has delayed House action and time may be running out. Soon any impeachment proceeding would run up against the 2020 primaries and presidential election. 

Of course, given the Republican majority in the Senate, there is little likelihood Trump would be convicted in an impeachment proceeding.  

It is a long shot that the Democrats will win a majority in the Senate in 2020. 

Trump once said, "I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and wouldn’t lose any voters, okay?” He may be right. 

That leaves the 2020 presidential election as the only realistic option to remove Trump from office. Hopefully the Democrats won’t again snatch defeat from the jaws of victory

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Pursuing Goals Wisely

Jack Bragen
Friday June 28, 2019 - 05:31:00 PM

Many people who suffer with delusional thinking due to psychiatric illness may have chosen paths that will not work in fulfilling their expectations. There are numerous possible reasons for this. If the thought processes are not "tracking reality," it impacts the ability to chart a course in life. The same absence of tracking impacts functioning in numerous areas of life. 

The thinking of someone afflicted by delusions may include unrealistic pictures of our capabilities, and unrealistic pictures of what it will be like to try to follow through on the goals they've chosen. Working in an office is harder than imagining working in an office. And while working in an office is often attainable and not grandiose, I am using it as a simple example of how doing something is harder than imagining doing something. 

Here's an example of something grandiose: If you are thinking of running for public office, it is a goal that some affluent and successful members of the community have considered. Some people, mentally ill or not, who tend toward delusions of grandeur, could have difficulty understanding why being elected to public office, for them, is unattainable. 

(On the other hand, there have been people with mental health problems who've been in public office, including Abraham Lincoln and JFK.)  

There are many goals that are out of reach for average or moderately above average individuals who do not have a psychiatric condition. Yet, having a mental illness does not rule out achieving goals. On the other hand, it is important to identify and release delusions of grandeur when choosing a goal. 

There is no hard and fast rule about what goals a person ought to choose. Just because most people don't believe you can do a thing, it doesn't mean they're right about it. 

In the 1980's I had a career of doing electronic repair. At the time, treatment practitioners believed that was extraordinary. But there were some instances where I involved mental health practitioners in my career efforts, and this never worked. In those situations, my treatment at the jobs was demeaning. The treatment people who became involved put it across that the employer was going to hire an impaired person rather than a qualified job candidate. 

Deciding who you are, what you are, how you think, and what you think, can be kept in your own domain. Although many persons with mental illness are in restricted living situations, and although we are subject to mind-restricting, prescribed substances, we may still have the potential to define ourselves and not let others define us. 

Yet, we need to temper our aspirations of greatness with a realistic self-assessment. We must also assess what is needed to reach the goals that we would like to reach. If the two assessments don't coincide, maybe aiming a little lower or differently will get us on the mark. 

Another thing: Goals should not be obsessive, to the point of putting all of our emotional eggs in one basket. When we are obsessive about a goal and then, when we see that it won't happen, we've set ourselves up for a massive letdown, one that can have bad results. 

The realism we incorporate could be based on how things turn out for most people who are doing the same thing. 

There are some pursuits that are destined to fail from the beginning. If we want to be a salesperson in multilevel marketing, we would do well to research that. Most "multilevel marketing," or pyramid companies, make a profit because of recruiting people who fork out money to participate, in the vain hope that they can earn money. 

When you choose a goal, you should do something that is worth doing, including when the hoped-for outcome is not reached. Going to school is an example. It is worthwhile to go to school and learn, regardless of whether it leads to a lucrative career. 

When something doesn't offer immediate gratification, but if it gets your foot in a door, and if it is worth doing--then why not? 

Plenty of people have unattainable goals. You don't need to be mentally ill to have them. Entire industries have been built on this. But maybe we should not give up on success too soon or too easily. 

Goals do not materialize because of how badly we might want them, and/or how badly we feel we deserve them. Goals have a chance to come about as the result of doing the work involved. 

Not trying to do anything is our only guarantee--of no results. 

Jack Bragen is author of "Understanding People with Schizophrenia," available on Amazon.

Arts & Events

With A Libretto by Colette, Ravel’s L’ENFANT ET LES SORTILÈGES Is Magical

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Tuesday July 02, 2019 - 10:25:00 AM

San Francisco Symphony closed out its current season with three performances, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, June 27, 29-30, of Maurice Ravel’s magical one-act opera L’Enfant et les sortilèges. Whether the French word sortilèges is translated as “magic spells,” “enchantments,” or “supernatural spirits,” this charming opera is set to a libretto by Colette as a kind of fairy tale written for her daughter. Ravel, who identified with children, took great pains in setting this text to glorious music full of surprising shifts of tone, mood, and vocal and instrumental color. Though long considered difficult to stage, L’Enfant et les sortilèges was given imaginative treatment by French video artist Grégoire Pont, who staged it for Opéra National de Lyon in 2016 It is this scintillating production by Grégoire Pont and director James Bonas that graced our performances at Davies Symphony Hall. 

The story involves a naughty child, a boy of six or seven, who doesn’t want to do his homework or perform the chores his mother asks him to do. So he throws a tantrum, wreaking havoc in his room, breaking things right and left, even threatening to pull the cat’s tail and cut off the tail of a pet squirrel he keeps in a cage. Suddenly, however, the broken toys and furniture come to life, and admonish the boy. They fiercely rebel against his destructive tantrums. Even the trees and animals in the garden rebel against the boy’s depredations. In the role of the boy, mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard was outstanding. She stomped around petulantly wearing knee pants and a cap, giving a virtuosos performance that made us understand Colette’s point that a child’s misbehavior has roots in an unquenchable desire to rebel against constraints, and that, underneath all the misdeeds, there is in every child a core of goodness and compassion.  

Right from the opening title-sequence, set to Ravel’s instrumental music from two oboes and a string bass, there is visual and musical magic. Sparks of light are projected onto a screen, then fly around like fireflies, and eventually form lines that spell out the title of this opera. When singers enter, they interact spatially with what is projected onto the screen, giving an illusion of depth. It is an ingenious theatrical staging. one that constantly enchants and even amazes us. When Mama, sung by mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnson Cano, scolds the boy, she repeatedly points an accusing finger at him; and we see a drawing of that same pointing finger projected larger than life onto the screen, emphasizing its intimidating nature. 

There’s a magical number when Fire, gorgeously sung by soprano Anna Christy, tells the boy that fire warms the good child but burns the naughty child. While she sings her flamboyant coloratura, flames are projected as if shooting upward out of her head, eventually engulfing the naughty boy. When the boy breaks the teapot and his favorite Wedgewood teacup, the broken crockery comes to life and dances a foxtrot. A broken armchair dances a courtly sarabande to sadly recall its days of glory in the reign of Louis XV. A grandfather clock laments its broken pendulum and chimes out of control. 

A fairy princess appears, reminding the boy of how he dreamed of her when he read about her in his book of fairy tales. Sung by soprano Anna Christy in a passage that begins as a duet for voice and flute, the princess reminds the boy that she was indeed his first love. But now, she laments, the pages of his book have been torn apart and scattered like the wind. What has become of that love? 

Amidst all this destruction, two cats are suddenly heard. One, a female white cat, is outside; while the other, a male black cat, is inside. Hearing the sinuous meowing of the female, the male exits to join her in an erotic love duet for two felines. Mezzo-Soprano Ginger Costa-Jackson was the white cat, and bass-baritone Kelly Markgraf was the black cat.  

Following this feline love duet, the boy too goes out into the garden. Now all of nature rebels against the boy’s depredations. A tree, sung by baritone Michael Todd Simpson, bemoans the wound he endured when the boy carved his initials in the tree’s trunk. A dragonfly, sung by Jennifer Johnson Cano, laments the loss of her mate, killed by the boy and stuck to his bedroom wall with a pin. The various plants and animals console one another; and this causes the boy to cry out in despair, “Maman.” Soon all of nature attacks the boy, and in the melee a squirrel is injured. The boy, feeling sorry for the squirrel, bandages the wound. Seeing this act of compassion from the heretofore naughty boy, all of nature acknowledges that, at the core, the boy, like every child, is good and compassionate. They take up in unison the boy’s earlier cry of “Maman,” as the opera comes to moving close. 

Throughout this magical opera, conductor Martyn Brabbins brought out Ravel’s marvelous orchestral color. Ragnar Bohlin’s Symphony Chorus joined forces with both the Young Women’s Chorus of San Francisco and the San Francisco Boys Chorus to convey the magical choral scenes. But above all else, it was the magical combination of Colette’s sensitive libretto, Ravel’s endlessly inventive music, and video artist Grégoire Pont’s ingenious animation that made this production of L’Enfant et les sortilèges a work of the highest caliber. My readers may recall that I have been mercilessly critical of Michael Tilson Thomas for his misguided penchant for visual special effects. Indeed, almost every one of his prior uses of visual effects involved sophomoric work by Los Angeles-based James Darrah. Well, now we see that in the hands of a truly imaginative video artist such as Grégoire Pont, great things can be done that not only accompany the music but also probe deeper into the colors and textures of both the music and the text. 

Alas, Michael Tilson Thomas was not on hand to participate in the resounding success of this production of L’Enfant et les sortilèges. Originally scheduled to conduct these performances, MTT was obliged to bow out in order to schedule an earlier date for his cardiac surgery, which, I am told, went well. MTT’s absence, however, necessitated more changes than just that of a conductor. The original program for these performances included Benjamin Britten’s Noah’s Fludde. This, however, had to be dropped. In its place was a lot of, well, filler. Pianist John Wilson played excerpts from Debussy’s Children’s Corner and the composer’s La Plus que lente. Four soloists from the SF Symphony performed a movement from Gabriel Fauré’s Quartet No. 1 in C minor; and pianist Peter Grunberg and mezzo-soprano Ginger Costa-Jackson performed Debussy’s World War I patriotic piece, Noel des enfants qui n’ont plus de maisons. An excerpt from Ravel’s Mother Goose, rounded out the filler that formed the first half of these programs. Quite a few audience members chose to skip most or all of the first half fillers to arrive in time to hear L’Enfant et les sortileèges. I can’t say that I blame them. Even Britten’s Noah’s Fludde couldn’t have held its own opposite this absolutely magical production of Ravel’s L’Enfant et les sortilèges.

'Hippie Family Values' Screens Sunday at the East Bay Media Center, Downtown Berkeley, with the Filmmaker Present

Ken Bullock
Friday June 28, 2019 - 04:44:00 PM

'Hippie Family Values,' a documentary made over 10 years about the generations of residents on a 40 year old New Mexico commune, will screen at 3:30 this Sunday, June 30th, at the East Bay Media Center, 1939 Addison, between Milvia & MLK, downtown Berkeley. Admission: $10.  

The documentary, in production over a decade, captures--with the inclusion of videos and photos from residents--three generations of communal life (four generations of involvement, with the participation of the founders' parents, as well as their children and grandchildren), and the comings and goings and critical discussions of residents and former residents who have endeavored to create a countercultural lifestyle of mutual cooperation and back to the land ethics and practices. 

The filmmaker, Beverly Seckinger, will be present and engage in a Q & A with the audience after the screening. Information: (510) 843-3699 

Tickets on the Media Center's website: http://www.eastbaymediacenter.com via the PayPal donation button or:

Trailer for the film:
Website for the film:

The Berkeley Activist's Calendar, June 30 - July 7

Kelly Hammargren, Sustainable Berkeley Coalition
Saturday June 29, 2019 - 01:35:00 PM

Worth Noting:

Deadline - July 5, 2019 at 5:00 pm for commenting on the Draft Adeline Corridor Specific Plan and the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR)

The agenda for the July 9th City Council meeting is available for comment and follows the day by day summary for June 30 – July 7.

Some of the July City meetings were cancelled because of the 4th of July Holiday and others are rescheduled for later in the month.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

San Francisco Pride Parade, parade starts at 10:30 am at Market and Beale and ends at Market and 8th, for details check http://www.sfpride.org/schedule/

Monday, July 1, 2019 

Agenda and Rules Committee, 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm, 2180 Milvia, 6th Floor Redwood Conf Room, Agenda Planning for July 16, City Council meeting – financial reports are not included in the agenda packet for items 2.,3.,4.,5.,6.,13.,14., CONSENT: 1. Gender Neutral Language, 2. $376,430 contract with Gehl Studio for Civic Center Vision and Implementation Plan, 3. Add $100,000 to Bellingham contract (total $209,000) plus add PO $100,000 (total $200,000) to replace additional Finger Docks at Berkeley Marina, 4. Amend lease agreement with Sasha Shamszad for 841 Folger St/3000 7th St for Berkeley Police Department (BPD) Traffic and Parking enforcement for 6 months with month to month lease to follow (no cost given), 5. Update Sewer System Management Plan, 6. Stormwater Fee, 7. Letters of Support Bernie Sanders’ Proposal to Eliminate Student Debt SB 806aka College for All Act of 2017, 8. Support CA AB 302 Parking for Homeless Community College students, 9. Support AB 1076 Automatic Relief of Criminal Records, ACTION: Annual Housing Pipeline Report, 11. Two-Week RV Permitting Process which allows only a 1 time annual 2 week permit issued to the owner with no more than 20 permits/month with locations dispersed throughout Berkeley and a requirement that the RV must be moved every 72 hours – without a permit any oversize or heavy duty commercial vehicle canNOT be parked on any street for more than 1 hour between 2:00-5:00 am, 12. Berkeley’s Opportunity Zone Project Guidelines – Opportunity Zones were established under Trump, passed by US Congress and allow for decreasing capital gains taxes by investing in building projects in areas designated as an opportunity zone https://opzones.ca.gov/oz-map/, 13. Make City Hall a voting Center for 2020 – would decrease locations for voting, allow for same day registration, early voting and decrease in voting locations. Recommendation appears to limit in person voting to City Hall, number of voting locations not included in recommendation, 14. Decriminalize Entheogenic Plants and Fungi, INFORMATION REPORTS: 15. Improve Fire Safety Standards for Rebuilt Fire-Damaged Structures, 16. Community Environmental Advisory Commission (CEAC) 2019 Work Plan, 17. Public Works Commission 2020 Work Plan. Discussion and Direction Regarding Revisions to the City Council Rules of Procedure and Order (pages 67-112 in agenda packet) to follow finalizing July 16, Council agenda 


The Plastic Crisis – film preview and discussion, 7 pm, 2286 Cedar St @ Arch, the Hillside Club, Agenda: Sneak preview from the upcoming film on Plastics plus discussion, $10 – includes, raffle, tea & cookies, https://www.eventbrite.com/e/hillside-club-and-the-ecology-center-present-the-plastic-crisis-tickets-63396016191 

Community Environmental Advisory Commission – Bee City Subcommittee, 7 pm at 2000 University, Au Coquelet, Agenda: 3. Develop a work plan 


Personnel Board, 7 – 9 pm, 2180 Milvia, 6th Floor Redwood Conference Room, Agenda: Request for extensions of Temporary Director of Health, Housing and Community Services, Temporary Assistant Human Resources Analyst, Temporary Human Resources Technicians 


Traffic Circle Policy Task Force - Operations and Maintenance Subcommittee, 7:30 – 9:30 pm at 2000 University, Au Coquelet, Agenda: 2. Adopt a Spot, 3. Traffic circle needs, responsibilities and safety elements to be included in 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/Extreme Heat Cancels 

Tuesday, July 2, 2019 

Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board, at 2001 Center St, Law Library, 2nd Floor, https://www.cityofberkeley.info/rent/ 

4 pm, IRA/AGA/Registration Committee, Agenda: 5. Regulation Streamlining Project, 6. Revocable living trusts qualify for Golden Duplex exemption 

5:30 pm, Habitable and Sustainable Housing Committee, Agenda: 5. Improving resilience before disaster, 6. Proposed timeline for a model policy for rental unit car chargers, 7. Discussion of Proposal to Electrify Existing Residential Units 

Landmarks Preservation Commission, 7 – 11:30 pm at 1947 Center St, Multipurpose Room, Basement, http://www.cityofberkeley.info/landmarkspreservationcommission/ 


2526 Hawthorne Terrace – Consideration Landmark or Structure of Merit 

2580 Bancroft Way – Structural Alteration Permit for Fred Turner Building 

1730 Spruce – Mills Act Contract application 

2524 Dwight Way - Mills Act Contract application 

1911 Fourth Street – Structural Alteration Permit for Spenger’s Fish Grotto 

Annual Election of Chair, Vice-Chair, 

Report to City Council 

1631-1633 Walnut St – Consider adding to list of potential initiations 

Discussion – Draft Corridor Specific Plan and Draft EIR 

Loan Administration Board, 4 pm, at 2180 Milvia, 1st Floor Cypress Room, Agenda: East Bay Media Center, Introduction to Working Solutions – Underwriting Services, Adopt Changes to the RFL Administrative Plan, 


Wednesday, July 3, 2019 

Homeless Services Panel of Experts, 7 pm at 2180 Milvia, 1st Floor Cypress Room , Agenda: 5. Timeline and calendar for budgeting and submission of reports to Council, 6. Statement of Purpose, 7. Priorities and recommendations to Council, 8. Issues of encampments and RV ordinance, https://www.cityofberkeley.info/Clerk/Commissions/Commissions__Homeless_Services_Panel_of_Experts.aspx 

Thursday, July 4, 2019 

July 4 Holiday Activities and Fireworks, 12 noon – 10 pm, at Berkeley Marina, 


Friday, July 5, 2019 

No City meetings – deadline at 5 pm for response to Adeline Corridor DEIR 

Saturday, July 6, 2019 

John Lee Invitational Co-Rec Softball Tournament, 8 am – 9 pm 

San Pablo Sports Fields - https://www.cityofberkeley.info/CalendarEventMain.aspx?calendarEventID=15734 

Grove Park https://www.cityofberkeley.info/CalendarEventMain.aspx?calendarEventID=15736 

Sunday, July 7, 2019 

John Lee Invitational Co-Rec Softball Tournament, 8 am – 9 pm 

San Pablo Sports Fields - https://www.cityofberkeley.info/CalendarEventMain.aspx?calendarEventID=15735 

Grove Park https://www.cityofberkeley.info/CalendarEventMain.aspx?calendarEventID=15737 




City Council Meeting Agenda for July 9, to comment email council@cityofberkeley.info Consent: 1. Adopt FY 2020 Annual Appropriations Ordinance $525,856,809, 2. Add $44,163 to contract (Total $127,700) Records Management Software System, 3. PO Up to $1 million Life Assist Emergency Medical Supplies for Fire Dept, 4. Waive Nuclear Free Berkeley Act to enter contract with UCB to evaluate Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Tax Program, 5. 2yr contract $75,000 for Cultural Humility Training Consultant, 6. Grant application Marina Blvd Bay Trail with $260,000 City matching funds, 7. 2019-2022, $3.8 Million construction management services contract with Kitchell for Tuolumne Camp Project, 8. Add $70,000 to contract (total $180,000) Berry Brothers Towing, 9. Gender Pay Equity Salary Negotiation Workshop, 10. City Sponsored Protest of Conditions for Children in Federal Detention Centers, 11. Support AB 392 (use of force bill), 12. Referral to Planning Commission Local Construction Workforce Development Policy, 13. Support SB 347 Multilingual Sugar Sweetened Beverage Warning, 14. Oppose SB 386 Irrigation & Climate Change Prevention, 15. Support SB 14 Construction Bond CA public universities, Action: 16. Mental Health Commission Annual Report, 17. a.&b. Independent audit male/female pay City of Berkeley employees, 18. a.&b. Use of Restraint Devices by Police and Fire Dept, 19. a.&b. Socially Responsible investment and procurement and role of Peace and Justice Commission, 20. Refer to Housing Advisory Commission, the Measure O Oversight Committee and the Homeless Services Panel of Experts (Measure P) to consider proposing a Framework for policies, programs and projects through 2030 for Affordable Housing and to return comments for consideration at a Special Meeting of the City Council in September, 21. New Ordinance Prohibiting Natural Gas Infrastructure in New Buildings, Information Reports: 22. 2019 Disaster and Fire Safety Commission Work Plan, 23. Fair Campaign Practices Commission 2019-2020 Work Plan, 24. Open Government Commission 2019-2020 Work Plan, 25. Annual Report – Open Government Commission. 





City Council Policy Committees Unfinished Business Items for Scheduling 

Agenda Committee 

  1. Use of U1 Funds for Property Acquisition at 1001, 1007 and 1011 University Ave and 1925 Ninth Street from 61.a. Housing Advisory Commission and 61.b. City Manager
  2. Increase Compliance with Short-Term Rental Ordinance
  3. Disposition of City-owned Redevelopment Properties at 1631 and 1654 Fifth Street
  4. Vehicle Dweller Program
  5. Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act
Land Use 

Adopt an Ordinance adding a new Chapter 9.50 to the Berkeley Municipal Code Requiring Legal Rights for Legal Tender (July 18 agenda) 

Facilities Infrastructure 

Consider Multi-year Bidding Processes for Street Paving 

Health, Life Enrichment, Equity & Community 

5.a. Recommendations Related to Code Enforcement Actions and Leonard Powell Fact Finding, 

5.b. Recommendations to Bring Justice to Mr. Leonard Powell and to Change Certain Policies to Ensure Housing Stability for Homeowners and Tenants 




Public Hearings Scheduled – Land Use Appeals 

2325 Sixth St (single family residence) – hearing pending – to be scheduled 

Notice of Decision (NOD) With End of Appeal Period 

1111 Allston Way (single family dwelling) – 7-8-2019 

2198 San Pablo Ave (new mixed-use development) – 7-8-2019 

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 




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, 

Unscheduled – Cannabis Health Considerations 



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