Full Text



Flash: Power Outage Could Happen Tonight

Tuesday October 08, 2019 - 12:10:00 PM

Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin has posted information about a possible PG&E power shutdown which will affect most of Berkeley which could be in effect after 4 a.m. tomorrow. Information about what we should do to prepare for it can be found here:

Midnight Traveler: One Family's Epic Tale of Survival

Reviewed by Gar Smith
Tuesday October 08, 2019 - 12:27:00 PM

Extraordinary. Harrowing. Heroic. Stoic. Suspenseful. Nail-biting. Frightening. Exhausting. Unforgettable.

These are just a few of the words that come to mind in an attempt to capture the experience of watching Midnight Traveler, the cinematic saga of one family's attempt to survive the challenge of forced migration.

Midnight Traveler is an astonishing record of an epic tale of survival that follows an Afghan family of four—Hassan, his wife Fatima, and theirs daughters, precocious Nargis and little Zahra—on a perilous three-year, 3,500-mile journey.

It would have been a major accomplishment had this film been produced by a major studio with a big budget, a well-crafted script by an A-list screenwriter, and a cast of internationally known actors. Instead, this is a documentary—a homemade movie of a family made homeless by political division and the perils of life in a combat zone.

Miraculously, despite having to deal with armed police, human traffickers, smugglers, and attacks by anti-immigrant gangs, the family survives this road-trip from Hell intact. Even more miraculously, Fazili and his wife (also a filmmaker) were able to capture their ordeal on the family's three mobile phones. Those fraught images form the heart of Fazili's transfixing docudrama. 

In 2015, filmmaker Hassan Fazili's life was thrown into turmoil after his documentary, Peace in Afghanistan, was aired on national TV. The Taliban took offense and called for his death, forcing the director, his wife and two daughters, to flee to Tajikstan—the beginning of a harrowing, three-year journey through war-zones and refugee camps, in hopes of finding security and safety in Europe. 

On the 51st day of their journey (by car and by foot), Fazili's family is stranded in Bulgaria. A smuggler is threatening to take the children and assault the parents if they don't give him more money. The family is arrested by local police and held for 12 days. 

By Day 102, they've made it to a refugee camp. But, instead of finding sanctuary, they discover the camp is surrounded by angry gangs of local men out to attack migrants. Fazili is hit trying to protect Nargis from the punches of an angry attacker while Zahra clings to her mother and screams in terror. The family decides to strike out for Serbia, 245 miles away. 

Day 109: The family is deep in a forest trying to sleep on the ground in freezing temperatures. After surviving 20 days walking through a forest (and occasionally being forced to run to avoid capture), they reach Serbia, only to be turned away by a security guard who coldly informs them that there is no room at his camp and then turns his back on them. 

Day 114: The Fazilis take refuge in an abandoned high-rise. Snow blows in through the open windows of the unfinished building as they try to sleep on beds of concrete and cardboard. 

Day 189: They have made their way to another refugee camp where their names will be entered on a list for people seeking permission to enter Hungary. The wait will take another 475 days. 

One of the marvels of Midnight Traveler is the way it captures the most intimate moments of family life—the shared love as well as the occasional bickering—that manage to keep despair at bay. This family may have no home and an uncertain and possibly empty future but they keep going because they know they can depend on one another. The resilience of the two young children is especially remarkable. Even in the midst of a cold forest, the sisters still delight in teasing one another. Only rarely, do they succumb to the frightful uncertainty of their new lives. Given her tenacity, it's especially hared to watch Nargis, confined to the walls of a refugee camp, breaking out in tears as she confesses, "I'm bored. I don't like it here any more." 

And there's an amazing—and disturbing—moment when Hassan, in a startling act of honesty, shamefully confesses to a moment when his training as a filmmaker threatened to overrule his responsibilities as a father. 


Dispossessed and desperate migrants are too frequently portrayed as sub-human riff-raff. Midnight Traveler corrects this false narrative. As we marvel at the grit and resilience of the Fazili family, we realize that migrants—be they families or individuals—are nothing short of heroic in their commitment to survival, at whatever risk and no matter the cost. 

The film is playing at the Landmark Opera Plaza and Landmark Berkeley.

Inheriting Injustice: The Wednesday Vigils

Gar Smith
Friday October 04, 2019 - 05:34:00 PM

If you've wondered about the vigil that appears in front of the Berkeley Probate Court on Wednesday mornings—covering the lawn in front of the old City Hall building with dozens protest signs—Maxine Ussery will be more than happy to fill you in. Ussery is a member of The Gospel Truth Probate Reform Movement and, if you ask, she'll hand you a thick, 26-page press packet filled with protest letters and press clippings.

Every Wednesday, a half-dozen protestors routinely gather on the MLK sidewalk to hand out literature about an ongoing injustice that has caused distress among the daughters and sons of the "Pearl Harbor Generation of African Americans." The phrase refers to the now-aging population of local residents who relocated to the Bay Area during WWII and bought homes for their families.

According to Ussery and other demonstrators, property that would be expected to be passed down to children and heirs has, all too frequently, wound up in the hands of the Alameda Country Probate Court. Or, more specifically, in the hands of the Probate Court's 20-plus attorneys—most of whom appear to be white and male.

The problem comes about whenever a dispute arises among the children of aging parents. A standard Will or Living Trust document is intended to smooth the path for the transfer of wealth and property but, if there is a challenge from one or more family members, the Probate Court can intervene and impose a "confiscation-of-inheritance" scenario.

In a 2016 document, Ussery complained: "We believe Alameda Country's Probate Courts have, over the last 50 years, legally robbed the African-American community of well over One Hundred Million Dollars."

Ussery and more than 45 other aggrieved members of the community maintain that the Probate Court system has profited from "pitting legally named beneficiaries/trustees against each other so that the Court can claim they have to administer the estate/trust because the legal beneficiaries cannot agree; And then getting approval to sell the assets of the estate/trust to satisfy some overwhelming, non-existing, tax debt or unforeseen expense that the estate/trust has occurred." 

This long-standing struggle has been the subject of numerous articles in The Oakland Post and Berkeleyside. Oakland Post editor Paul Cobb has also written a letter of concern to the Commission on Judicial Performance calling for an investigation and noting that, while the Probate Court serves an important function, "the practice of stripping people of their homes, estates and wealth for the sake of keeping the courts solvent has reached criminal and epidemic levels" leaving "thousands, if not millions of citizens . . . destitute after going through probate." 

Here's a 52-minute video featuring members of the GTPRM sharing their experiences: 




Trees in Traffic Circles Are Still Threatened by the City of Berkeley

Becky O'Malley
Saturday October 05, 2019 - 12:05:00 PM

It’s a time-tested government strategy: if you want to duck a controversial issue, appoint a citizen’s group to study it, and hope that the controversy will go away in time. That’s what the Berkeley City Council did when confronted with an ongoing struggle between city employees eager to clear-cut the traffic circles in flatland neighborhoods and the neighbors who have been lovingly maintaining them for many years.

There’s a plethora of news reports and op-eds on the history of what’s happened so far which can be found with a simple google search on “traffic circles Berkeley”, but in the interest of saving time and space let’s just summarize the various press reports:

Sometime in 2015 there was a lawsuit filed by someone who was injured in a collision at an intersection in the southside area which contained a planted traffic circle. The defendant driver was quickly determined to be essentially judgement-proof, so the plaintiff focused on the deep pockets of the City of Berkeley, also a defendant. The suit was handled, some say ineptly, by a new Berkeley city attorney who opted to settle instead instead of risking a trial. Analyses of the terms of the settlement differ, but the bottom line seems to be that blame for the accident, fairly or unfairly, was fixed on the vegetation in the circle, especially a tree.

This outcome was seized upon by the city’s public works and traffic staffers as an opportunity to take over the circles and strip them of most of the plantings, though nothing in the settlement specifically required this.

A public outcry ensued, resulting in a Berkeley City Council resolution in February of this year to establish, yes, a Citizen’s Task Force to study the problem and present a report on next steps. 

From the city’s web site, here’s what it was supposed to do: 

“Traffic Circle Policy Task Force Mission: 

The charge of this Task Force is to: 

1. Evaluate the City’s current traffic circle vegetation policy for consideration by the City Council and Traffic Engineer; 

2. Find a solution, through active participation and engagement with the community, that respects environmental policy, habitat, safety and performance standards, existing and future liability issues that address sight lines; and 

3. Deliver a policy to City Council for adoption prior to August 9, 2019. 

4. Conduct a community-led process to update that policy to ensure pedestrian/bicycle/ vehicle safety and community efforts to beautify traffic circles. 

Eleven members will be appointed by the Mayor and chosen from geographically diverse parts of the city, including one representative from Berkeley Partners for Parks.” 

Of course, August 9 has come and gone, along with many, many meetings of the Task Force. Their report, which has now reached its last draft, was scheduled for final review at the Wednesday, October 2 meeting. 

This penultimate version of the Task Force’s report can still be found attached to that meeting’s agenda as posted on the city’s web site. It’s already a magnum opus, a work of art, replete with photos, maps, diagrams and copious data. From what I know of the citizen members who worked on it, that’s no surprise, given their impressive levels of education and experience. 

On the city staff’s side, participants, from the City’s Public Works and Traffic sectors, were described by Citizen Task Force members as people who seem to view their jobs as facilitating the flow of traffic, especially the wheeled modes, autos and bicycles. None were expert in either horticulture or environmental science. And above all, they appeared to be intent on reducing the city’s liability exposure in subsequent lawsuits if any to zero. 

Since Wednesday’s meeting my telephone line and my email have been aflame with outrage from involved community members. 

Why? Because the city staffers who have been participating in these many meetings said this: "Thank you for all your hard work and willingness to work with our concerns and for your efforts to concur with staff considerations, unfortunately we are just not there…There will be a companion report to your task force's proposed policy." 

In other words, one member said, there will be an “evil rebuttal” from city staff. 

The person who quoted the staff statement to me viewed it as a not-so-veiled threat, coupled with what city employees told them about what they plan to recommend to the council. The bottom line seems to be that citizens want existing trees in traffic circles to survive and staff still plans to cut them down. Period. 

One refrain that especially irked a couple of my informants was a traffic engineer’s claim, voiced several times on Wednesday, that he is just trying to protect “a slender small child chasing a ball into the street on a dark and stormy night.” Attendees claim that he implied that the citizens just didn’t care about kids, despite the fact that one of the most vocal residents was the parent of two little ones himself. (And children running around in the street on dark and stormy nights are at risk from much more than trees in traffic circles.) 

Trees. Why do Berkeley’s notorius tree-huggers care so much about trees? Well, climate change, for one thing. From a recent article in the National Geographic: 

“Trees—all plants, in fact—use the energy of sunlight, and through the process of photosynthesis they take carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air and water from the ground. In the process of converting it into wood they release oxygen into the air. In addition to the CO2 that trees capture, they also help soil capture significant amounts of carbon.” 

It’s becoming increasingly apparent that the world needs every tree it can get. From Sierra Magazine: 

“Carbon sequestration becomes easier to grasp if you consider a single tree. Plant, say, one silver maple today, and in 25 years—assuming it survives—it will have sequestered about 400 pounds of carbon dioxide, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.” 

Evidently city staff is now recommending the that there be NO trees in any traffic circle. In return, there’s a weak offer to plant more trees in those very unpopular bulb-outs, but inevitably those would be small spindly specimens, a poor tradeoff for mature trees like the elegant dawn redwoods which now grace several circles. 

Staff informed task force members on Wednesday that the Task Force’s scheduled report to the city council has been moved from the Oct 15 Council meeting to a Special City Council meeting to be held Tuesday, November 12 at 4pm. This gives those who question the staff’s plan one more chance to speak their minds in the period set aside for comments on non-agenda items at the regular council meeting on the 15th. Office visits to inform councilmembers of the public’s views can also take place in the interim. 

Between now and November 12, the Planet would welcome informed Public Comment articles from members of the Task Force and the public at large. Send them to opinion@berkeleydailyplanet.com. There’s no official word limit, though we believe people stop reading online at about 1000 words. 


Public Comment

The 1930s and The Thirty Hour Week

Harry Brill
Friday October 04, 2019 - 05:31:00 PM

If the federal government decided to make a 30 hour seek mandatory without reducing wages or cutting benefits it would created millions of jobs and improve the quality of lives of many workers and their families. Of course the current political climate is unfavorable to taking such a giant step.

So it may be surprising to many that once this country was close to adopting early during the 1930s depression a shorter work week of 30 hours that paid working people the same as they earned on their full time jobs. Quite a contrast with the current practice of cutting programs as the economy declines. b Shortly after Franklin D. Roosevelt's (FDR) first presidential election a bill was proposed in both houses of Congress to reduce full time jobs to 30 hours a week. Employees who work longer hours would be paid time-and-a-half. The purpose was to substantially reduce unemployment. The bill in the Senate, which was written by Hugo Black, who was among the most liberal U.S. Senators, passed by an overwhelming majority of 53 to 30. FDR's strong support of the bill was among the reasons why it succeeded.

It was assumed that the 30 work week would also sale through the House as well. Instead, it never even came to a vote. One of the key committees, the Rules Committee, would have to release the bill for a house vote. However, the committee decided withhold its release.

The main reason is that enormous business pressure persuaded FDR to change his mind. He responded by putting considerable pressure on the Committee to withhold the bill. So FDR with the cooperation of the Committee successfully killed the 30 hour week proposal.

Several years later the President and Congress established the Fair Labor Standard Act, which required many employers to pay time-and-a-half when work exceeded forty hours. This bill was certainly welcomed by many workers. But it is several light years away from the 30 hour week. Not only are the number of hours much longer. The law excluded many workers from receiving a legal minimum wage and overtime for working long hours. The millions of agricultural employees have been among those excluded from recognition.

But the problem is not just a substantive one. There is something very seriously wrong with the process as well. That it is perfectly legal for a US President to interfere with another branch of government to prevent a vote from being taken is not what a genuine democracy is about.


ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Tragic Ends to Tragic Lives

Jack Bragen
Saturday October 05, 2019 - 12:21:00 PM


This week's column has dismal content, and you should embark on reading it with caution. It reflects the realities that many persons with mental illness face, and often these are not good. However, I'd like to preface it with another reality, which is hope. So long as we live, breathe and think, we can do some things to better our life circumstances and our mental condition. It takes effort and it takes bravery, but, if you are determined, you can make things better.

I have a brother with schizophrenia, the same condition that affects me. We've both made it past age 50. Yet, it is common for men afflicted with this disease not to make it as far as we have. I could name perhaps a dozen men and women with psychiatric illness who did not make it past 50. There are multiple causes of death. One of the most common is suicide. I've met numerous individuals who died this way. Others have had early heart disease, and/or diabetes. Others have passed because of an accidental drug overdose or bad interaction. You do not hear of many mentally ill people making it to their seventies.

These deaths are tragedies and should not be trivialized because of it happening to a mentally ill person. People often don't perceive us as being in the category of fully-fledged human beings. Many medical doctors do not treat mentally ill patients with the same level of care afforded to a non-afflicted person. 

The lives of many mentally ill people, before an early death, are often an additional tragedy. We've been shortchanged in life. We do not get the good stuff that mainstream Americans are after and are able to get for themselves. This is because many people with a severe mental illness are not employable. 

And if we can do a job and perform competitively, we have limited chances of being hired to do such a job. Many mentally ill people do not have college education. Those who do have college have a far better chance at employment. Yet, the condition and the impairments that come with it often get in the way of being hired and of then performing at a job. This constitutes a huge barrier to the hope of living under good conditions. 

I've met people with substantial mental illness who have a good education, who can get hired, and who work at a professional job. Most people in this category must remain closeted about their condition, by necessity. 

Those who are more impaired and/or less fortunate could be stuck seeking bottom of the barrel jobs, if any. This doesn't lead to finding a fulfilling relationship. It doesn’t lead to buying a house or to having a good car. 

I'd like to tell you that if you just take your medication, cooperate with treatment, and do all of the things authorities and mental health practitioners tell you to do, that life will be good. I can't tell you that. If you want anything for yourself, you must fight for it. You must be willing to compete with people who do not have any impairment. 

Yet, there is nothing wrong with being taken care of by the mental health treatment system, so long as we have some valid source of fulfillment in our lives. I, myself, accept treatment. I wish I had more support than I get from the system. The system falls short. There isn't enough care. At this point, I'd settle for a lot less than I'd originally hoped to have in life, if things would just get a lot easier. 

Many Americans are spoiled. The expectations handed down to us include a nice home, a family, vacations, and fulfilling, lucrative careers. This is the basic American Dream that baby-boomers have been led to expect. Yet, the generation following baby-boomers (and varying labels have been put to this such as "Generation X") Have been sorely let down. And, Millennials, the current generation, are struggling. They experience far more demands and far fewer rewards compared to preceding generations. 

And, if you look at the plight of those with disabling psychiatric illnesses, prospects are dismal. And this must be rectified. Our society needs to offer some shred of hope to us that there is some way we can have a better life.  

Meanwhile, we wait, and we hope. 

If this is your situation, you should realize that you are not alone. 

Jack Bragen has several books in print, including "Revised Short Science Fiction Collection of Jack Bragen," "Schizophrenia: My 35-Year Battle," and others.  

THE PUBLIC EYE:Impeachment Messaging

Bob Burnett
Friday October 04, 2019 - 05:27:00 PM

With the September 24th initiation of a formal impeachment inquiry, the political battle lines have formed. Democrats will subpoena witnesses and gather material that will be presented before the House Intelligence committee; eventually the House Judiciary Committee will construct the formal impeachment measure and submit it to the entire House of Representatives. Meanwhile, Donald Trump, and his Republican acolytes, will do everything they can to discredit the inquiry. Their obstruction will take (at least) ten forms.

By the way, before you consider what follows, it would be a good idea to read the "Unclassified Memorandum of Telephone Conversation" between Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Zelensky (https://www.politico.com/story/2019/09/25/trump-ukraine-phone-call-transcript-text-pdf-1510770 ). It would also be a good idea to read the "Unclassified Whistleblower memo to Senator Richard Burr and Congressman Adam Schiff." (https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/09/26/us/politics/whistle-blower-complaint.html)

One Trump strategy will be to ignore the allegations of Trump misconduct and to attack

1.Harassment: Trump loyalists will insist that Democrats have been "hounding" Trump for three years and this impeachment inquiry is the latest example of unfair treatment. Republicans will assert, "Democrats aren't interested in governing; they spend all their time attacking Trump." Republicans won't address any of the specific accusations against Trump but rather demean them as "more of the same" and claim that Dems are trying to "steal the election." (That's the theme of the latest Trump campaign ad (https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2019/09/27/trump_campaign_ad_democrats_want_to_impeach_trump_for_trying_to_drain_the_swamp.html).) 

2. Setup: Some Trump supporters will go into more detail and assert that the Trump-Zelensky affair was "a set up." These Trump stalwarts will, in essence, be claiming that Democrats fabricated the phone conversation and the related whistleblower information. (That's the drift of the claims by Republican stalwart Liz Cheney (https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2019/09/30/liz-cheney-ukraine-phone-call-political-set-up-donald-trump/3826791002/).) 

3. Vendetta: Other Trump supporters will claim that the impeachment inquiry is a personal vendetta being lead by House Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff. Republicans will personally attack Schiff -- Trump has already called Schiff a traitor and urged him to resign. (On September 29th, Trump tweeted, "I want Schiff questioned at the highest level for Fraud & Treason.") 

4. Deep State: Many Trump supporters will assert that the inquiry is a conspiracy launched by "the deep state" -- that is, by the intelligence community including the CIA and FBI. Many Trump loyalists have long claimed that elements within the intelligence community have been out to get Trump since he entered the White House. (Recently, Republican stalwart Newt Gingrich wrote, "[The impeachment inquiry] is a legislative coup d’etat. It is an effort by the hard left, the news media, and the deep state to destroy the president chosen by the American people,” ) 

5. Biden: Finally, some Trump advocates will take the position that not only is there nothing to the Trump-Zelensky affair but rather the mainstream media is missing the real story: Joe and Hunter Biden's illegal involvement in Ukraine. (On September 29th, White House staff member Stephen Miller claimed "Trump is the real whistleblower." (https://www.foxnews.com/politics/stephen-miller-says-trump-is-real-whistleblower).) 

For each form of these attacks, the Democrats response is straightforward: they should return to the known facts of this case as detailed in the transcript of the Trump-Zelensky phone call and the whistleblower memo. The problem Dems face is that Trump is launching a multi-million dollar attack campaign over social media (https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/30/politics/facebook-trump-impeachment/index.html). Democrats have to make sure that their side of the story is widely publicized. 

Another core Trump strategy will be to attempt to undermine the whistleblower report

6. Hearsay: Republicans will assert that the whistleblower report is based on "hearsay;" that is, it is inaccurate, because the whistleblower was not present during the actual phone call(s). 

The Democratic response should be to point out that the Inspector-General has already conducted an investigation and has corroborated the whistleblower assertions. 

7. Illegal Act: Another way to demean the whistleblower claim is to assert that he or she broke the law. That is, regardless of the facts of the matter, Republicans will claim that the information was obtained illegally. (On September 30th, Trump tweeted: "The Whistleblower knew almost nothing, its 2ND HAND description of the call is a fraud!”) 

Again, the Democratic response should be to lean on the report of the Inspector-General, who has determined that the whistleblower acted within the law. 

8. Obstruction: The Trump Administration can seek to undermine the whistleblower report by blocking Congressional verification of the elements of the report; that is, keeping congressional committees from recreating the investigation already conducted by the inspector general. That seems to be the strategy of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (https://talkingpointsmemo.com/muckraker/pompeo-house-depositions). 

9. No Crime: A more sophisticated tactic would be for Republicans to argue that no crime was committed. That is, Donald Trump may have asked Ukrainian President Zelensky to for a "favor" -- to investigate the Bidens -- in return for military aid but that is not a violation of the law. On October 3rd, Trump seemed to take this position when he asked both Ukraine and China to continue to investigate the Bidens. (https://www.cbsnews.com/live-news/trump-impeachment-inquiry-latest-updates-today-2019-10-03/

Many legal experts believe that Trump's action was a violation of Federal campaign finance law and possibly Federal laws related to bribery and extortion. (Separate from that is consideration of whether, in this action, Trump launched both a conspiracy and a coverup.) 

10. Not Impeachable: Finally, Republicans may ultimately argue that even if Trump's actions technically broke the law they are not of sufficient severity to constitute an impeachable offense. At the moment, that seems to be the attitude of most Republican Senators. (That's the position taken by former Attorney General Michael Mukasey on the October 3rd PBS News Hour ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e9fELgg6718 ). 

Again, Democrats should return to the known facts of this case as detailed in the transcript of the Trump-Zelensky phone call and the whistleblower memo. (They can also use the recent statements of Donald Trump where he appears to be admitting to the accusations; taking the position that he is above the law.) Democrats have public opinion on their side and should press forward with impeachment proceedings. 

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

ECLECTIC RANT: Whistleblower Complaint: Trump’s Misdirection Tactics

Ralph E. Stone
Saturday October 05, 2019 - 04:51:00 PM

The thrust of the whistleblower complaint isn’t really about Joe Biden and his son Hunter as some Trump apologists would have you believe. Trump was using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 election. 

Further, it is suspicious that Trump put a hold on $391 million in Congressionally-approved military aid to Ukraine just days before the phone call in question. Quid pro quo

Why Joe Biden? Because he is a possible election opponent. If Ukraine opened an investigation of of Joe and Hunter Biden, then you can bet Trump would use it to discredit Joe in the election campaign should he get the nomination. By the way, a former Ukrainian prosecutor, who investigated a gas company tied to Hunter Biden, said that there was no evidence that Joe Biden's son engaged in illegal activity. But then again, facts are not Trump’s or his supporters' strong point. 

Furthermore, if you don't like the message, then attack the messenger’s motives, in this case the whistleblower. This is an old misdirection tactic. 

Let’s keep our focus on Trump’s actions, not what Joe and Hunter Biden may or may not have done, or the motives of the whistleblower, remembering that misdirection is straight out of Trump’s playbook. 

I do wonder, however, whether this incident will adversely effect Biden’s chances for the nomination. 

SMITHEREENS: Reflections on Bits & Pieces

Gar Smith
Saturday October 05, 2019 - 04:11:00 PM

Animal Defenders Claim Whole Foods Ain't Holy

On Monday, the Noe Valley outlet of Jeff Bezos' Amazon/Washington Post/Whole Foods Empire, took a nick when scores of animal rights protestors blocked the entrance, clambered to the rooftops, and unfurled a huge poster of Bezos. The Berkeley-based group, Direct Action Everywhere (DAE), claims that Whole Foods is guilty of sourcing and selling the remains of animals raised and slaughtered on farms that engage in "animal cruelty." Thirty activists were arrested and Whole Foods went to court to request a restraining order to prevent DAE from staging future protests at any of its 88 California stores.

Kudos to KCBS

Special reporting kudos to the KCBS radio reporter who cover the DAE protests and informed listeners that the majority of Whole Food shoppers were supportive of the demonstrators and condemned animal cruelty. However, KCBS reported, there was "one shopper" who expressed disapproval. KCBS recorded the aggrieved shopper's complaint as follows:

"I just came here to buy some milk for my babies! And some guy comes up and calls me a 'murderer'!"

It's hard not to feel some sympathy for this fellow. But that was not the end of the story, thanks to the KCBS reporter who was on his journalistic toes. He spotted the shopper exiting the store with his purchase and noticed he wasn't carrying any milk. Instead, KCBS listeners discovered, he had purchased "three New York strip steaks."


A message from Elizabeth Warren's campaign arrived last week announcing Warren's "fantastic plan to combat gun violence and . . . to BAN assault weapons nationwide." The alert insisted: "We MUST turn our anger into action . . . . But cowardly pro-NRA hacks will do anything to stop us." 

You can sign the petition to ban assault rifles here. (But note: the link includes a request for donations to BradyPAC.) 

The problem (Warspeak-wise)? The headline on the emailed announcement read: "Bombshell: Elizabeth Warren just waged WAR on the NRA." 

Oakland Privacy Wins Award, Names Berkeley as a Privacy "Scofflaw" 

Five years ago, the civil-rights watchdogs at Oakland Privacy successfully blocked the implementation of Oakland's Domain Awareness Center—aka, a federally funded, police-state spy center. 

In recognition of this success—and a lot of activism, advocacy and legislative efforts over the years—the Electronic Frontier Foundation recently honored Oakland Privacy with their Pioneer Award for the defense of digital freedom.  

And now Oakland Privacy is turning its attention to Berkeley's privacy protectors—and crying "foul!" According to OP, "The famous progressive village of Berkeley [has become a] surveillance scofflaw." 

The problem: While Berkeley took the lead in passing a surveillance transparency ordinance, 18 months after its unanimous passage, "not one use policy [has been] voted on." Instead, OP charges, the City has introduced an "ever-growing list of evasive maneuvers," has installed covert "biometric time clocks for city workers," has borrowed hi-tech cameras from the federal fusion center to spy on protests, has repurposed license plate readers to canvass crime scenes, and introduced search recognition and movement detection systems in city parks without public notice.
With these concerns in mind, Oakland Privacy will be hosting a press conference on October 15 (5:30 PM at 1231 Addison). The goal: a "community info session to call out this reckless disregard for transparency and consent by the City and demand that they follow the law or we will pursue legal action to halt the unregulated use of these technologies." 

KLOV the Music 

The radio station K-LOV—88.5 on the FM dial—broadcasts a mighty stream of rock gospel hits. The music streams forth like a mighty river and features some of the most talented vocalists you could ever expect to hear backed by orchestrations that are lush and syncopated with beatific beats and perfervid percussion. 

K-LOV (pronounced "Kay-Love") provides an immersive escape from the nerve-wracking noise of "all-news stations" and the chit-chatter of "thought radio." Hitting the K-LOV button is like surrendering to a warm, full-body-hug. It's simultaneously relaxing and stimulating—a great musical experience. 

Jeff and Randy, the on-air hosts, are also quite jolly. On one occasion, they featured the soundtrack from a viral video that I found so intriguing I wanted to track it down on YouTube. I sent off an email to KLOV and immediately received a joyful reply from J&R, filled with positive verbs, affirmative adjectives and an abundance of exclamation points. 

But recently, I rose out of "relaxation mode" and—out of curiousity—tried to actively listen to the lyrics. What I discovered was that much of the music I was enjoying as an "empowering" experience could perhaps best be described as "power ballads about … submission." 

I recently checked out the lyrics of some of the leading Christian rock music on the GodTube website. Here are some revelations. 

"The Motions"Matthew West: 

I don’t wanna go one more day without Your all consuming passion inside of me. 

"Where I Belong"Building 429 

"This is not where I belong. Take this world and give me Jesus." 

"Only Hope"Switchfoot 

“So I lay my head back down. And I lift my hands and pray to be only Yours . . . . I know now You’re my only hope.” 

"All the Poor and Powerless," All Sons and Daughters 

“Shout it! Go on scream it from the mountains! Go on and tell it to the masses! That He is God!” 

Healing Rain – Michael W. Smith

“Only You, the Son of man can take a leper and let him stand.” 

There Will be a Day – Jeremy Camp

“I can’t wait until that day where the very one I’ve lived for always will wipe away the sorrow that I’ve faced. To touch the scars that rescued me from a life of shame and misery, O, this is why, this is why I sing.” 

I Surrender – Hillsong

“Like a rushing wind, Jesus breathe within. Lord have Your way, Lord have Your way in me. Like a mighty storm, stir within my soul. Lord have Your way. Lord have Your way in me." 

Our God – Chris Tomlin

“And if our God is for us, then who could ever stop us? And if our God is with us, then what could stand against?” 

How He Loves – David Crowder Band

“We are His portion and He is our prize, drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes. If His grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.” 

And consider this example—a powerful piece of Christian Rock that begins with an anti-war message but ultimately seems to conclude that the world is a sad and hapless place where our best hope is to escape life's miseries by dying so that "we'll see Jesus face to face." 


Dire—and Drier—Warnings 

Here's an excerpt from David Wallace-Wells' new book, The Uninhabitable Earth—Life After Warming (pp. 226-7):
"The threat from climate change is more total than from the [atomic] bomb. It is also more pervasive. In a 2018 paper, 42 scientists from around the world warned that, in a business-as-usual scenario, no ecosystem on Earth was safe, with transformation 'ubiquitous and dramatic,' exceeding in just one or two centuries the amount of change that unfolded in the most dramatic periods of transformation in the earth's history over tens of thousands of years. 

Half of the Great Barrier Reef has already died, methane is leaking from Arctic permafrost that may never freeze again, and the high-end estimates for what warming will mean for cereal crops suggest that just four degrees of warming could reduce yields by 50 percent. 

If this strikes you as tragic, which it should, consider that we have all the tools that we need, today, to stop it all: a carbon tax and the political apparatus to aggressively phase-out dirty energy; a new approach to agricultural practices and a shift away from beef and dairy in the global diet; and public investment in green energy and carbon capture." 

And Here Are Two Suggestions: 

• 42% of US military spending [Pentagon budget: $718 billion] could plant a trillion trees—enough reforestation to stabilize and restore the planet's climate. 

• 25% of the money the Pentagon plans to spend on new nuclear weapons over the next decade [$1.2 trillion] could be used to plant a trillion trees, thereby preventing planetary extinction. 

Source: Global Effort to Plant a Trillion Trees 'Overwhelmingly' Among Most Effective—and Cheapest—Solutions to Climate Emergency: Study 

Bernie v. the Billionaires 

Bernie Sanders recently proposed a thought experiment: "Clear your mind for a moment and count to 10." 

Bernie followed up with this zinger: "In those 10 seconds, Jeff Bezos, the owner and founder of Amazon, made more money than the median employee of Amazon makes in an entire year. Think about that." 

Fact is, millions of Americans—including many Amazon workers—are forced to find multiple jobs in order to make ends meet. Meanwhile the three richest Americans (all men, all white) control more wealth than the bottom half of our citizenry. 

So Sanders is proposing an Extreme Wealth Tax that would apply to the top 0.1 percent. (Elizabeth Warren also has a Wealth Tax proposal.) 

Sanders predicts the long-term impact of his "Ban the Billionaires" tax would effectively reconfigure the US economy by redistributing billions of bucks to reduce income inequality. By the way, as Berkeley Prof Robert Reich points out, there's a significant difference between "income" and "wealth." Income is something to have to earn, dollar any dollar. Wealth is something you already possess and attempt to manage through investments designed to increase that wealth. Bern's rich-tax would cut the wealth of billionaires in half over 15 years and go a good way to eliminating the overwhelming economic power of America's elite oligarchy. 

Sanders has laid out how much moolah five of our wealthiest oligarchs would need to repatriate under this plan. (The tab could top $4 trillion over the next decade.) 

The Walton family—$14.8 billion
Jeff Bezos—$8.9 billion
Charles Koch—$3.2 billion
Sheldon Adelson—$2.6 billion
Rupert Murdoch—$1.28 billion 

For some reason, many millionaires would not "feel the Bern burn" since Sanders would allow anyone trying to squeeze by on less than $32 million to be exempt from any tax increases. 

A Closing Thought 

Given the threat of rising global temps, is it still appropriate to end our messages with the word "warmly"? Perhaps we should start signing off with "Temperately yours." 

Arts & Events

Renée Fleming in Recital at Zellerbach

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Monday October 07, 2019 - 11:56:00 AM

On October 5, famed soprano Renée Fleming gave a recital at Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall accompanied by pianist Richard Bado. Opening the program were four songs by Franz Schubert: Suleika, Lied der Mignon: Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt, Die Vogel, and Rastlose Liebe. For me, the highlight was Lied der Mignon, a song full of longing. Die Vogel was brief and whimsical; and Lastlose Liebe brought this Schubert set to an upbeat close. 

Next came a set of songs in French, a language Renée Fleming lauded as “the best language for singers.” Opening this set was Reynaldo Hahn’s Si mes vers avaient des ailes/If my verses had wings. Gloriously sung by Renée Fleming, this was the highlight of the French set. The following song, Les filles de Cadiz/The Girls of Cadiz, by Léo Delibes, was full of Spanish rhythms and coy commentary on the beguiling ways of the young women of Cadiz. Before embarking on two songs in French by Franz Liszt, Renée Fleming noted that heretofore she had never sung anything by Liszt. She then delivered moving renditions of S’il est un charmant gazon/If there’s a charming lawn and Oh! quand je dors/Oh? When I sleep. 

After intermission, Fleming and Bado returned to perform twentieth century music. First came two pieces by Kevin Puts (b. 1972), based on letters by Georgia O’Keefe. Entitled Selections from Georgia, these were songs set to excerpts from O’Keefe’s letters extolling the landscape (and skyscape) around Taos, New Mexico. Although mostly solemn and reverent, there were stormy passages in the piano suggesting the streaks of lightning blazing in the night sky. Next came a song by Bernard Hermann (1911-1975), and two songs by Franz Lehar (1870-1948). 

Then came Blanche Dubois’s “I Want Magic” from André Previn’s opera A Streetcar Named Desire. Though I am no fan of this opera, nor of the Tennessee Williams play, I have to credit Renée Fleming for endowing this aria with its intended panache. To close out the recital, Renée Fleming sang “The Sound of Music” by Rodgers and Hammerstein, and “Fable” from the opera The Light in the Piazza by Adam Guettel (b. 1964). All told, this was an intelligently planned recital, exquisitely sung by Renée Fleming with able accompaniment by pianist Richard Bado.

Husband-Wife Duo Pene Pati & Amina Edris Sing Romeo and Juliet

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Saturday October 05, 2019 - 05:14:00 PM

Tuesday, October 1 felt like a family affair at San Francisco Opera. What made it seem a family affair was not just that the husband-wife duo of Pene Pati and Amina Edris were singing the lead roles this one night only in Charles Gounods Roméo et Juliette. It was also that our local audiences have watched these two young singers emerge from the Merola and Adler Fellow Programs, then move on to grace the big stage of the San Francisco Opera. We have heard tenor Pene Pati and soprano Amina Edris many times over the past six years. We have noted that they met in 2016 when both were Adler Fellows. We have noted that they married later in 2016, and we have heard them sing countless times, individually, and, occasionally, together. But to hear them sing the roles of Romeo and Juliet, based on Shakespeares immortal young lovers, was something special, something like, well, a family affair for all of us, and a cause for celebration.

Their story is heart-warming. Pene Pati is a Samoan-born tenor who became a New Zealand citizen. Amina Edris is an Egyptian-born soprano who also became a New Zealand citizen. And they met as Adler Fellows in San Francisco. In this citys multi-cultural milieu, this husband-wife duo is a testament to what we hold dear. On October 1, in hearing Pene Pati and Amina Edris sing Romeo and Juliet, San Francisco audiences could bask in the warmth of this family affair. And the superb singing of Pene Pati and Amina Edris just reinforced this spirit of a family celebration. 

Of course, in assuming the role of Juliet for one performance only, Amina Edris was following a tough act. Superstar soprano Nadine Sierra sang this role beautifully in the first six performances this season. However, Amina Edris held her own. Her soprano was radiant, her technique awesome, her French diction superb; and in singing opposite her husband, Amina Edris brought an intimacy to her performance that was incomparable. Likewise, as Romeo Pene Pati delivered a performance that subtly brought out the intimacy of this husband-wife duo. At the close of the balcony scene in Act II, Pene Pati lowered his voice to almost a whisper; and the intimacy of this moment was palpable.
Whereas Shakespeare found innumerable ways to keep Romeo and Juliet apart, Gounod brings the lovers together as many times as he can. They sing four love-duets, each one advancing the trajectory of their love, from their first, meeting when they tentatively begin to feel out their attraction to one another, to their open avowals of love in the balcony scene; and from the thraldom of their wedding night bedroom scene in Act IV to their gradual acceptance of a mutual death in one anothers arms at the close of the opera.  

With a fine libretto by Jules Barbier and Michel Carré from Victor Hugos French translation of Shakespeares play, Charles Gounod composed music that subtly matches the magic of Shakespeares way with words. Even the loversplayful disagreement in the nuptial bedroom scene over whether the bird-call heard is an alouette/lark announcing daybreak, (and their moment of parting), or a rossignol/nightengale, the confidante of lovers, makes a poignant reappearance in the tomb scene when the dying Romeo relives their supreme moment of marital bliss.
In hearing Gounods Roméo et Juliette for the second time in nine days, I appreciated how fine an opera this is. Details I neglected to mention in my review of the September 21 performance now deserve recognition. In Gounods overture, there is a brilliant mini-fugue; and in pondering why this music is there I realised that a fugue with its counterpoint is a perfect expression of the counterpoint in the relationship between Romeo, a Montague, and Juliet, a Capulet. Musically, they transcend the enmity between their families; and they do so in a flight from their pernicious reality, in short, they engage in a mutual fugue.
Also, I must mention how brilliantly sung by baritone Lucas Meachem was the Queen Mab aria, in which Mercutio teases Romeo for taking seriously a bad dream he had the night before. Further, I must credit director Jean-Louis Grinda and his associate Vanessa dAyral de Serignac for having Romeos page, beautifully sung here by debuting Stephanie Lauricella, punctuate her taunting aria by delivering a vivid Italian insult salute to the Capulet palazzo. This gesture was perfect for this situation. I might also mention that the Opera Chorus under Ian Robertson performed nobly throughout Roméo et Juliette. And, finally, in musing over a question that has always puzzled Shakespeare scholars, namely, the failure of Friar Lawrence to inform Romeo that when he goes to the tomb where Juliet lies on a funeral bier, she is only sleeping off a potion that simulates death; I came up with the following. Perhaps Friar Lawrence, to save his own hide from the fury of the Capulets if they learned of the Friars potion-plot, refrained from telling even Romeo in order to protect his own plausible deniability. 











Updated: A Superb EUGENE ONEGIN At Livermore Valley Opera

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Saturday October 05, 2019 - 04:47:00 PM

On Sunday, September 29, I made my first ever venture to Livermore Valley Opera for a production of Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin. To say that I was surprised by how excellent was this production is understated praise. I have seen many Eugene Onegins, including one from the Bolshoi Opera I saw in Paris in 1969 conducted by Mstislav Rostropovich in his first visit ever outside the Soviet Union. That was indeed memorable! However, this Livermore Valley Opera production of Eugene Oregon ranks up there with the best. As Tatiana, soprano Antonina Chehovska was sensational! What a voice! It’s bright, it’s warm, and it’s radiant! Chehovska’s “Letter scene” was a thing of utmost beauty! I hung on every word she sang. As Onegin, baritone Morgan Smith was excellent. He has a powerful voice, almost too powerful a voice. While he needs to control it a bit to vary the dynamics, Smith sang beautifully and forcefully.  

Mezzo-soprano Sarah Coit was a very fine Olga, faithfully delivering her character’s insouciant attitude towards life. Tenor Kyle van Schoonhoven was a gripping Lensky, although his voice almost never ventured below forte or fortissimo. Mezzo-soprano Michelle Rice was a fine Madame Larina, as she delivered her repeated lines, “Routine is given us by heaven to substitute for happiness.” Mezzo-soprano Layna Chianakas was a convincing Filipievna, nurse to the Larina daughters. Prince Gremin was majestically sung by bass Andrew Potter. Tenor Joe Frank was an amusing Monsieur Triquet.  

Alexander Katsman conducted, and Candace Evans was responsible for the staging. I quibble with director Evans’ initial move of having a silent Onegin appear at stage left during the overture and into the first moments of the opening scene at the Larina estate. Onegin has no place there! Aside from this opening gaffe, the staging, though not outstanding, was more than adequate. Overall, this was a sublime Eugene Onegin. It repeats on October 5 at 7:00 and October 6 at 2:00.  


16 Year-Old Maria Dueñas’ Encore Steals The Show

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Saturday October 05, 2019 - 05:21:00 PM

As the featured soloist in Felix Mendelssohn’s great Violin Concerto, 16 year-old Maria Dueñas gave ample evidence of a talent in the making. Then, at the Friday, October 4, performance I attended, Maria Dueñas played a riveting encore. In this work, Maria Dueñas made it clear that her formidable talent is already full-blown. But whose music was this? When she lit into this encore without announcing what she would play, I wager she had most of the audience in a fog. Whereas most encores offered by soloists are short and sweet, this work, whatever it was, was lengthy and full of challenging technical difficulties. Yet Maria Dueñas brought it off superbly. Whose music was this?  

The friend who accompanied me has a son who studied violin at Berkeley’s Crowden School; and my friend hazarded a guess that, maybe, it just might be a work by Eugène Ysaÿe. It turned out he was right. It was Sonata No. 3 in D minor, Op. 27, by Ysaÿe, though we had to wait till the concert was over to confirm the identity of this encore by checking with the House Manager at Davies Symphony Hall. Eugène Ysaÿe (1858-1931) was such a virtuoso violinist he was called “King of the violin.” or, as Nathan Milstein put it, “Tsar.” In 1927 Ysaÿe composed his Six Sonatas for Solo Violin, Op.27, of which No. 3 was nicknamed “Ballade.” This sonata combines whole tone scales, dissonances, and quarter tones. It sounds distinctly modern. In the hands of Maria Dueñas, it was jaw-dropping.  

At intermission, everyone was talking not about the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto, a perennial favourite, but the encore. And nobody seemed to have a clue about it. But everyone I heard discussing it swore that Maria Dueñas was more impressive in the encore than in the Mendelssohn concerto. I would have to agree. It’s not that she had any marked difficulties in the Mendelssohn, with the exception of a thin intonation at times. It’s just that at age 16 Maria Dueñas failed to bring any new or deeper insight to this all too familiar work. By contrast, in the totally unfamiliar terrain of Eugène Ysaÿe’s Sonata No. 3 in D minor, Maria Dueñas brought an exciting current of electricity to her technically formidable performance. I found myself thrilled to discover an enthralling, hitherto unknown work by an unfamiliar composer — all thanks to a 16 year-old Spanish female violinist, who performs on a 1736 Guarnarius de Gesù “Muntz” violin. 

Opening the program was Paul Hindemith’s Concert Music for String Orchestra and Brass, Opus 50. This work, which dates from 1930, is divided into two parts. The First Part opens with an extended, uptempo back-and-forth between the brass and string sections. Suddenly, the music slows down on descending chords. Now we hear lush strings, with violins, violas, and cellos playing in unison, while the brass offer accompanying chords. This brief section was for me the highlight of this work. Conductor Marek Janowski led the Orchestra with a firm, sure hand.  

After intermission came Mozart’s final symphony, the glorious No. 41 in C Major, K.551, nicknamed (not by Mozart), “Jupiter.” Here, too, Marek Janowski brought off a perfectly balanced rendition of this magnificent symphony, which never ceases to please and amaze us, no matter how many times we hear it. Janowski, who is Chief Conductor of the Dresden Philharmonic, made his debut with San Francisco Symphony in 1990 and returned most recently in May, 2019. Let’s hope he makes frequent returns here.

The Berkeley Activist's Calendar, October 6-13

Kelly Hammargren, Sustainable Berkeley Coalition.
Saturday October 05, 2019 - 04:07:00 PM

Worth Noting

Saturday, October 12 is the Emergency Prep Fair

If you don’t have solar on your roof you can still choose 100% renewable electricity thru Opt Up for 100% Clean Electricity through East Bay Community Energy by choosing Renewable 100 https://ebce.org/opt-up/. If your budget is too squeezed to pay a few more dollars a month for 100% renewable Brilliant 100% is carbon free and the same cost as PG&E.

The City Council October 15 meeting agenda is available for comment. Follow the link or check the highlights from the agenda following the list of meetings and events. Email comments to council@cityofberkeley.info https://www.cityofberkeley.info/Clerk/City_Council/City_Council__Agenda_Index.aspx

Plan Ahead

East Bay SunShares Workshops, Tuesday, October 15, 6 – 7:30 pm at 2939 Ellis, South Berkeley Senior Center, pre-registration requested (not required). SunShares makes it easier and more affordable for Bay Area residents to go solar. https://www.bayareasunshares.org/events

City of Berkeley Planning open House, Wednesday, October 16, 4-6 pm, 1947 Center

Housing Framework: What’s happening with Measures O, P and U1, Saturday, October 19, 10 am at Harriet Tubman Terrace

Sunday, October 6, 2019

3rd National Election Integrity Conference, 10 am – 6 pm, at 2939 Ellis St, South Berkeley Senior Center, last day of two-day conference, theme “In Paper We Trust” This is a ticketed event with discounts for seniors, students, educators.


Tiny Living Festival – Tiny House Festival, 10 am – 6 pm, 25th St & Barrett Ave, Richmond, CA (Parking Lot across from Richmond Art Center, this is a ticketed event.


Monday, October 7, 2019

Community Environmental Advisory Commission – Plastics Elimination Subcommittee, 3 pm at 2000 University, Au Coquelet, Agenda: Strategies and alternatives to increasing plastic use,


Measure O Bond Oversight Committee – Request for Proposals Subcommittee, 2180 Milvia, 2nd floor Dogwood Room, Agenda: 4. Funding Applications Received (4), Bridge, Northern CA Land Trust, Resources for Community Development, SAHA https://www.cityofberkeley.info/Clerk/Commissions/Commissions__Measure_O_Bond_Oversight_Committee.aspx

Peace and Justice Commission, 7 pm at 2180 Milvia, 1st Floor Cypress Room, Agenda: 7. City Auditor Presentation on Internal Domestic Violence Policy, 8. Presentation Alameda County Census 2020, 10. Support for strengthened police oversight


Personnel Board, 7 – 9 pm, 2180 Milvia, 6th Floor Redwood Conference Room, Agenda: VI. Discussion only Temporary Employee Report


Free Smoking Cessation Clinic, 6 – 8 pm at 2939 Ellis St, South Berkeley Senior Center,


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, October 8, 2019  

Yom Kippur – begins at sunset Tuesday and ends at night fall Wednesday, October 9 

Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board – Tenant Rights, 6 – 7:30 pm, 2090 Kittredge, Berkeley Central Library, 3rd floor Community Room, 6. Annual Inflationary Adjustment of Owner Move-in and Ellis Act Relocation assistance payments, 7. Mayor’s Framework for Berkeley’s Affordable Housing. 


Police Review CommissionProbation & Parole Searches Subcommittee, 11 am, at 1947 Center, 1st Floor, Sitka Room, Agenda: draft policy language. 


Wednesday, October 9, 2019 

Homeless Commission, 7 – 9 pm at 2180 Milvia, 1st Floor Cypress Room, Agenda: 7. YEAH move to King Street, 8. Pathways Report, 9. Emergency Outdoor Shelter, 10. Income discrimination, 11. Accessibility of Commission meetings for disabled Commissioners, 12. Affordable Housing Framework, 13. Clarification on numbers of homeless families and outcomes, 14. Homeless residing on Caltrans property, 15. Tax incentive for landlords who rent to voucher holders, 16. Updates to municipal code for RV dwellers, 17. Homeless resource information for public display. 


Parks and Waterfront Commission, 7 – 9 pm at 2800 Park St, Frances Albrier Community Center, Agenda: 10. Presentation T1Phase 1 Public Process, Updates on 11-14. Aquatic Park, 12. Marina Fiscal Subcommittee, Parks Capital Projects, Parks Planning Subcommittee. https://www.cityofberkeley.info/Clerk/Commissions/Commissions__Parks_and_Waterfront_Commission.aspx 

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

5:30 pm Lexipol Policies Subcommittee, Policies: 421-Contacts and Temporary Detentions, 301-Use of Force Review Board, 343-Gun Violence restraining Orders, 344-Off-Duty Law Enforcement Actions, 351/1202-Second Response. 

7 – 10 pm Regular Meeting, Agenda: 9. Surveillance Use Policies, 1301 GPS Tracking Devices and Acquisition, 10. a. Complaint regarding enforcement of laws against bicyclists, b. Handling of informal complaints, c. Lexipol Policies 349-Tactical Rifle Operator, 410-Mental Illness Commitments, 411-Cite and Release, 419-Field Training Officer Program. 


Thursday, October 10, 2019 

Cannabis Commission, 2 – 4 pm, at 2180 Milvia St, 6th Floor, Agenda: VII. B. Recommendations on Cannabis Ordinance. 


Community Environmental Advisory Commission, 7 – 9 pm at 1901 Russell St, Tarea Hall Pittman South Branch Library, Agenda: VIII. 1. Decarbonization, 2. Cigarette Butt, 3. Bee City, 4. Climate Justice, Plastics Reduction. 


Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board – IRA/AGA/Registration Committee, 4:30 pm, at 2001 Center, Law Library, 2nd Floor, Agenda: 5. Annual Adjustment, 6. Inflationary adjustment of Owner Move-in and Ellis Act Relocation Assistance, Mayor’s Framework for Affordable Housing. 


Community Meeting: King School Park and Tot Reconstruction Project, 6:30 – 8:30 pm at 1170 The Alameda, North Branch Library, Agenda: Play Structure Designs, park renovations affected by tree damage, surfacing, pathways and other improvements. https://www.cityofberkeley.info/CalendarEventMain.aspx?calendarEventID=16317 

Free Smoking Cessation Clinic, 6 – 8 pm at 2939 Ellis St, South Berkeley Senior Center. 


Zero Waste Commission – Public Education Subcommittee, 1:30 – 2:30 pm at 1025 Gilman, Allegro Coffee Roasters (Inside Whole Foods), Agenda: Public outreach and education. 


Zoning Adjustment Board, 7 pm at 1231 Addison St, BUSD Board Room 

2215 Parker – construct 2-story 6001 sq.ft. duplex on 6750 vacant parcel – recommend approve 

1923 Ninth Street – demolish existing 1272 sq ft 1-story duplex and construct 3 detached 3-story single family dwelling units (A) 1856 sq ft, (B) 2006 sq ft (C) 1932 sq ft 

3129 Lewiston – expand existing 1920 sq ft 2-story single family dwelling adding 2-story 948 sq ft including 1st floor ADU, demolish existing 2nd dwelling on 5961 sq ft parcel 

2528B Durant – add distilled spirits incidental to food service 

2200-2220 Fourth Street – 1) Classify existing 83,000 sq ft Wine.com as warehouse based non-store retail use, 2) add 1000 sq ft ancillary retail sales of distilled spirits to existing retail area 

2720 San Pablo – Preview – demolish former gas and service station and construct new 6-story mixed-use with 25 dwellings (including 2 very low income units), 15 parking spaces and storage for 50 bicycles and 963 sq ft retail 

2023-25 Shattuck – Preview- demolish remaining structure on vacant lot following fire and construct 7-story (73’5”) mixed-usewith 48 dwelling units (including 4 BMR) with 1255 sq ft ground floor commercial space. 


Friday, October 11, 2019 

No City meetings or events found 

Saturday, October 12, 2019 

Community Emergency Prep Fair, Saturday, October 12, 10 am – 3 pm, 1720 8th Street, James Kenney Park, Features demonstrations of disaster response techniques, disaster supplies, family-friendly event, 


Sunday October 13, 2019 

No City meetings or special events found 




City Council October 15 meeting agenda highlights. For full agenda with documents click on the link https://www.cityofberkeley.info/Clerk/City_Council/City_Council__Agenda_Index.aspx 

Email comments to council@cityofberkeley.info 

Consent: 5. Add $60,903 total $985,747 Verint Systems Inc. Software Maintenance, 6. Approve plans, accept bid $3,056,900 (includes $277,900 contingency) from D.L. Falk Construction for Central Library Improvements, 7. Approve Plans, accept bid $1,191,342 (includes contingency $198,557) from Redwood Engineering Construction for James Kenny Park, 8. Approve plans, accept bid $505,684 ( includes $65,959 Contingency) from J.A. Gonsalves&Son Construction for Bay Trail Extension to Berkeley Marina, 9. Grant application $71,510 to BAAQMD Berkeley Marina Bicycle Electronic Locker Project, 10. Mills Act Contract 2524 Dwight Way with NCR Properties LLC./Nathan D Geroge, 11. Mills Act Contract 1730 Spruce with Jeff Lipton, 12. Mills Act Contract 2526 Hawthorne Terrace with John Komoroske and Daniel McDonald, 13. On-call construction $500,000 Kitchell/CEM, Inc, $500,000 Cooper Pugeda Management, Inc.,14 - 15. Renewal Business Improvement District (BID) Advisory Boards for 2020 Elmwood and Solano, 16. Protect from deportation DACA, TPS (Temporary Protected Status, DED (Deferred Enforced Departure), 18. Grant Referral $150,000 for Capoeira Arts Foundation, 19. Health Impact Assessment Outreach Coordinator for closure of Alta Bates, 21. Authorize Additional Inclement Weather Shelter at Old City Hall from Oct 15 2019-April 30, 2020, 24. Prohibit Use of Face Recognition Technology, 25. Support Auto Worker’s Strike, 27. Declare Wildfire Prevention and Safety Top Priority, 28. Budget referral 24/7 free standing Public Restroom Facility Telegraph BID, 29. Referral to City Manager Shared Streets – Telegraph, 30. Ban Racial, Ethnic, Cultural, Religious Discrimination on Basis of Hairstyle or Headwear, 31. Adopt Resolution Support Seamless Transit Principles, Action: 32. Revised Agreement with CA State Historic Preservation Officer, 33. IKE Smart City Kiosk Locations, Phase 1, 34. Zoning Ordinance Modification to Support Small Business, 35. Deaccession of Berkeley Big People, 36. Grant Writing Services, 37. Pathways – STAIR Center 1st year evaluation, 38. Lava Mae Mobile Shower and Hygiene Services, 39. Settlement Authority City Manager for Worker’s Compensation Claims - $75,000/employee 40. Wage Theft Prevention41. Referral to City Manager Develop a Bicycle Lane and Pedestrian Street Improvements Policy, Information Reports 42. 2019 3rd Qtr Investment, 43. Audit Update: Construction Permits, 44. Homeless Commission Workplan, 




Public Hearings Scheduled – Land Use Appeals 

0 Euclid – Berryman Reservoir 10-29-2019 

2701 Shattuck 11-12-2019 

Notice of Decision (NOD) With End of Appeal Period 

1825 Berkeley Way 10-21-2019 

41 Fairlawn 10-15-2019 

1631 McGee 10-10-2019 

2873 Sacramento 10-7-2019 

2512 Telegraph 10-17-2019 

151 Tunnel 10-16-2019 

Remanded to ZAB or LPC With 90-Day Deadline 

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




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

Nov 5 - Transfer Station Feasibility Study, Vision Zero Action Plan, Update: goBerkeley (RPP) 

Jan 14 – Civic Center Visioning, Housing Financial Feasibility Study, Systems Realignment 

Feb 4 – Discussion of Community Poll (Ballot Measures), Adeline Corridor Plan 

March 17 – Zoning Ordinance Revision Project, CIP Update (PRW and Public Works), Measure T1 Update 

May 5 – Budget Update, Crime Report 

June 23 – Climate Action Plan/Resiliency Update, Digital Strategic Plan/ERMA/Website Update 

July 21 – no workshops scheduled “yet” 

Unscheduled – Cannabis Health Considerations 



BMASP/Berkeley Pier-WETA Ferry (November 2020) 




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