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The Battle for People's Park

Review by Gar Smith
Thursday October 17, 2019 - 09:54:00 PM
The early days of People's Park
The early days of People's Park

The Battle for People's Park: Berkeley 1969 is an awesome compendium, commemorating the founding, desecration, and resurrection of a plot of land that became known around the world as People's Park. This new book is a handsome and hefty collection of historic photos, personal testimonies, poems, and press accounts that fills 371 heart-pumping, gut-wrenching pages.

Berkeley's Heyday Books is the perfect publisher for this hardbound picture-book whose publication coincides with the 50th anniversary of the founding of People's Park. Tom Dalzell (whose long-running Quirky Berkeley column appears in Berkeleyside) is the perfect ringmaster to preside over this spectacular high-wire act of "people's journalism." 

This is a whopping hulk of a book, weighing in at just under five pounds. (Warning: If you try to read this sitting down with the book in your lap, be advised that it might cut off blood circulation to your legs. Useful tip: If you wish, you can also use the book as part of a home weight-training program.) 

Producing any book can be a major undertaking but producing a commemorative book like this is a special challenge. A standard book is like a highway. It sets off in one direction and moves steadily forward, each page paved with words. Sure, there will be stops and intersections along the way ("chapters") and there might be a U-turn or two ("flashbacks"), but otherwise it's fairly straightforward undertaking. 

A commemorative book, however, is more complex. Instead of roaring out on a literary highway headed towards a predetermined destination, the editor of a commemorative edition needs to have everything packed in advance and, instead of plowing down a long stretch of asphalt at 60 mph, has to slow down and proceed in slow increments—mostly, two pages at a time. 

This is because the book contains a wild assortment of text and graphics and there's only so much room available when you're laying out a book two-pages-at-a-time. So editing and designing this project was less like "paving a road" and more like slowly landscaping a garden—page by page. A typical "double-truck" (two-page) layout might feature a half-dozen short written recollections (drawn from hundreds of words culled from the personal files of activists, students, neighbors, reporters, and politicians), frequently topped with a framing, editorial commentary, occasionally garnished with a large pull-quote, and topped off with one or several striking photographs. 

If the videocamera had never been invented, this is the way Ken Burns might have presented the story of People's Park. Hundreds of participants are quoted and hundreds of iconic photos are featured. All these elements combine to revive the memories of this transformative experiment in "people's power" and the calamitous push-back when political forces intervened in an attempt to crush the proletarian "land grab"—by sending in armed cops, county sheriffs, and eventually the National Guard to flood the streets teargas and riddle unarmed demonstrators with buckshot. 

I was working on the staff of the Berkeley Barb at the time and remember when Stew Albert (writing anonymously under the pseudonym, "Robin Hood's Park Commissioner") stopped by to deliver a "Hear Ye, Hear Ye!" announcement inviting folks to assemble at the university's muddy, junk-strewn site on April 20, 1969 and repossess the land. "Hear Ye, Hear Ye," it read: "a park will be built between Dwight and Haste . . . . Nobody supervises and the trip belongs to whoever dreams." 

The photos capture it all: the joy of creating the park, designed in-the-moment and built-from-scratch by the people themselves; the shock as Allan Blanchard was shot in the face and blinded; the horror as James Rector's blood slowly spilled out on a rooftop overlooking Telegraph Avenue—after he was gunned down by an Oakland sheriff who was named but never put on trial. 

Rector's shooting was captured by freelance photographer Nacio Jan Brown who (unlike most press photographers of the day) had packed his 35mm camera with color film. The book features two pages of never-before-seen photos of Rector writhing in agony. After he died later in a hospital, then-governor Ronald Reagan attempted to justify Rector's murder by calling Berkeley "a haven for communist sympathizers" and falsely claiming police had found bomb-making materials in the trunk of Rector's car. 

During a book event at UC's School of Journalism, Heyday publisher Steve Wasserman responded to UC Berkeley's recent announcement of plans to replace the park with housing. "This is sacred ground. Blood was spilled," Wasserman protested. And it stands as a monument to a signal moment in the nation's history, marking "the first time that police turned their weapons on white children." 

It was also the first time that an American city was subjected to an airborne assault by the US Army, which sent a low-flying helicopter over Sproul Plaza to release a cloud of tear gas over a large crowd of students below. The students had been ringed in by a circle of soldiers armed with bayonets. Unable to escape, the students knew that something bad was about to happen when they saw the troops suddenly donning gas masks—but no one expected a helicopter. 

Al least 30 students and citizens were shot by police on Bloody Thursday. One of the wounded was Donovan Rundle, memorably photographed flashing the peace sign as he lay on a stretcher, severely wounded. 

Rundle, who has undergone endless operations over the years and has been permanently disabled, provided a moving, five-page recollection for the book. "I felt like I'd been hit in the gut with a sledgehammer," Rundle recalled. "I am still carrying lead in me." 

At the J-School event, Heyday's Wasserman chided Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin for being in the pocket of developers who stand to profit from the destruction of the park and the construction of housing. Noting that the mayor's father "worked with Cesar Chavez," Wasserman added: "He should be ashamed." 

The UC Regents and Berkeley's Chancellor need to confront and consider the messages on display in this powerful collection of photos and prose. The University's elite are threatening to destroy a park that people built, risked their lives to protect, and have occupied for a half-century. UC should be ashamed. 

On a Personal Note 

I was one of the post-FSM activists who lost my home when UC ordered the demolition of the houses in the Dwight/Haste/Telly neighborhood. As Stew Alpert put it in his "Hear Ye! Hear Ye!" broadside, UC "tore down a lot of beautiful houses to build a swamp." 

It was no coincidence that one of the houses targeted for demolition contained a den of "off-campus agitators," including Free Speech Movement vets and civil rights activists. The residence came complete with a phone bank, meeting rooms, and printing machines (which, in those days, meant hand-cranked mimeographs). 

The university justified the removal of the neighborhood by claiming it was a "scene of hippie concentration and rising crime." The University showed no interest in putting the land to any future use. The goal was removal. 

The Birth of a Park 

On that first day, when people started gathering on the blighted block, I looked around at the junk and jumble on the abandoned parcel and heard someone pun: "Well, it looks like we've got a LOT to do." 

Soon, scores of volunteers began clearing the site of trash and the wrecks of abandoned cars. Some planted flowers while others busied themselves setting up a playground for neighborhood children. 

One lasting memory of that first day was the moment when activist/writer/architect John Read drove onto the lot in a pickup loaded with of rolls of green sod. Volunteers immediately swarmed the truck and started carrying off sections of living groundcover on their shoulders. When they began to unroll them on the barren ground, it was magical—like applying fresh paint to an old, battered cabinet. Suddenly, the landscape was transformed. Carpets of grass now ran from one weathered tree to another, uniting the previously solitary trunks into a reborn landscape of vibrant, green Nature. 

Week after week, we dug and planted, built furniture and cooked free meals. People came from all over the Bay Area to work on the park. One afternoon, I was joined by two young men from Oregon who said they were driving to LA when they heard about the park and decided to stop and join the work crew. We all grabbed picks and shovels and got busy—working shoulder-to-shoulder with a band of young kids from Oakland on one side and a Nobel Prize-winning UC professor on the other. 

So how could something so innocent and galvanizing as a public park become a target for such disproportionate violence? 

From the beginning, I suspected that the ferocity of the repression was rooted in a devastating political revelation: Individuals working collectively could be a more effective force for achieving positive public goals than the well-paid factotums of city government. 

At the time, there had been a good deal of impatience over the City's poor management of other parks in the South Campus area. Residents were repeatedly told that the city was doing the best they could, to clean, improve, and maintain these open spaces. City officials explained that slow, incremental attempts to improve the situation were all we could expect in the "real world." 

The creation of Peoples Park was a game-changing social and political revelation. The lessons were stunning. Forget the "powers-that-be." People's Park demonstrated that the power of everyday folk could accomplish more in a day than all the politicians, boards, and employees of city government had been able to accomplish in a year. And all without a budget. 

The message was revelatory and revolutionary: We don't have to go to the city to beg for help; Noblesse oblige is dead; We can bloody well take charge and solve community problems using our own heads and our own two hands. 

I subsequently wrote an article citing Thomas Jefferson's rule of "usufructuary rights" to argue that the people of Berkeley might have a legitimate, legal claim to ownership of the park. It was Jefferson's argument that anyone who put abandoned land to productive use thereby gained title to the reclaimed land. 

The Battle for People's Park: Berkeley 1969 is a massive undertaking and a grand accomplishment. Readers can spend days wending their way through this superb historical document. Every page holds a reward. 

And for those who wish to continue their exploration of the park's birth and legacy, a cornucopia of articles can be found in the Berkeley Barb Archives—a nearly complete collection of the Underground Weekly that was scanned by Reveal Digital in honor of the Barb's 50th Anniversary. The archives include both visual and text scans of every available issue so it's possible to search for topics, authors and complete articles. 




Berkeley's Just the Best, Isn't It?

Becky O'Malley
Friday October 18, 2019 - 05:09:00 PM

“Berkeley is a city in California with a population of 120,179. Berkeley is in Alameda County and is one of the best places to live in California. Living in Berkeley offers residents an urban suburban mix feel and most residents rent their homes. In Berkeley there are a lot of bars, restaurants, coffee shops, and parks. Many young professionals live in Berkeley and residents tend to be liberal. The public schools in Berkeley are highly rated.”

It's #1 in Best Suburbs to Live in California

And not only that, it’s #3 among the Best Cities to Live In in America.

All this is from a web site I’ve never noticed before, niche.com, brought to my attention by an admiring story in the East Bay [formerly Contra Costa] Times.

Just think, I’ve lived in this paradise for about 49 years of my life altogether.

Not only that, twelve of my other years were spent in #2, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

I’d argue that Berkeley is actually ahead of Ann Arbor, where at least three months of every year are cold and gray (though climate change may be fixing that). But on the other hand, no earthquakes, no wildfires. 

October in Berkeley is remarkably lovely, weather-wise. However. I was enjoying the sunshine on my little porch yesterday when a whole bunch of sirens roared past on Ashby, and I remembered when I’d seen the same thing in 1991, the beginning of the Oakland Hills firestorm.  

Yesterday it was a big fire in an oil storage facility up towards Crockett. Thank goodness it didn’t spread this time. 

October also brings memories of the 1989 earthquake. 

My parents were living in Scots Valley at the time, close to the Loma Prieta fault. 

My daughter happened to be on the phone with her grandmother just as things started to shake down there, so we had a few seconds warning. Our office was in an old un-reinforced brick building on Telegraph, and boy, did it rattle.  

Granny’s birthday was October 19, so when we drove down to check on the grandparents (with the Bay Bridge and Highway 17 both closed) we brought a cake and candles. It was an interesting experience which I’d rather not repeat, but I always think of it in lovely October. 

In the same Niche.com list, Best City #1 is Arlington, Virgina, chock-a-block with Washington D.C. Really? This week? I’d estimate that a strong majority of the people who live there work in the federal government or for the legions of supplicants (lobbyists, lawyers, consultants, pollsters…) it attracts. 

As Rachel Maddow said yesterday, it seems that the wheels are coming off the bus. For many of the above-mentioned inhabitants of Arlington, it can’t be much fun right now. 

My general target use for this space is to comment on specifically Berkeley situations and events, but frankly it’s a little hard to worry about Beautiful Berkeley when Washington is unraveling before our very (online) eyes.  

In case you’re better than I am at ignoring the news, Ashley Parker in the Washington Post has a good summary of the major plot lines

But there are many more commentators at least as well informed as I am who have plenty to say about the end of civilization as we’ve known it, several of them on this very site. So I will make a modest effort to stay on target and talk to you about Berkeley. 

First, as Niche.com has noticed, things are really swell here, by and large. That is, of course, unless you’re one of the unlucky people who don’t have a home to live in, even if you’re working, if your job doesn’t pay enough to cover rent. Or, to put it another way, Berkeley’s a great place to have a home if you do have a home. 

It’s also a better City to Live In if you’re not likely to be Driving While Black or Delivering Mail While Black or Eating Pizza While Black or even Sending Your Kids to Berkeley Schools While Black if you’re unhoused here. 

For some of us, for example the neighbors of the Honda expansion site on South Shattuck, it is getting to be a Worse City to Live In, as the City Council’s largesse to developers continues. It seems to have been decided that it’s the civic duty of South and West Berkeley to accommodate speculators who build ugly faux-luxury bedrooms for well-paid San Francisco commuters who want to move here, possibly because Berkeley is the #1 Best Suburb. 

The next election is a bit more than a year away now, and the current mayor has announced that he’s going for another round. He’s released this list of Very Important People who apparently like what he’s done so far: 

  • Governor Gavin Newsom,
  • State Assemblymember Buffy Wicks,
  • Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson,
  • State Board of Equalization Chair Malia Cohen,
  • Vice Mayor Susan Wengraf,
  • Former Vice Mayor Linda Maio,
  • Councilmembers Ben Bartlett, Kate Harrison, Sophie Hahn, and Rigel Robinson,
  • Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf,
  • Richmond Mayor Tom Butt,
  • and San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo
I have a lot of respect for some of the people on this list. Others, not so much. They know who they are. 

For today, let’s just say that Gavin Newsom is a cheerleader for the developer-backed drive to strip local jurisdictions of their power to plan for land use. Part and parcel of this building industry power grab is his recent veto of the bill giving local non-charter cities the right to choose ranked choice voting, which passed both legislative houses with big majorities. Ranked choice has served Berkeley well—Arreguin and his somewhat progressive allies on the city council might not have been elected without it, not that claiming a progressive label means much these days. 

Which brings us to the beautiful Buffy Wicks. So far she’s distinguished herself in Sacramento as the main ally of Senator Scott Weiner, the gentrification genie. Explaining what he’s up to requires more words than I have space for here, not to mention taking a look at the rest of the endorsers on this list. 

Oh, and also, I think the radio news is coming on soon, isn’t it? Berkeley can wait. After all, it’s almost the Best City in America already. 






Public Comment

Suggestions re communicating climate science

Thomas Lord
Thursday October 17, 2019 - 10:08:00 PM

To: Flight Free USA

CC: Berkeley Daily Planet

I noted with interest your op-ed in Berkeleyside ("Please don't fly in 2020: From Sweden to Berkeley, the 'flight shaming' movement takes off", October 14, 2019). Thanks for trying to raise awareness of the climate emergency and to encourage meaningful action.

I noticed in your Berkeleyside op-ed and on your web site that you significantly understate the urgency and scope of the emergency. In two cases you misrepresent the scientific consensus, at least as expressed in the "IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C" (aka "IPCC SR15").

In the op-ed: "At the same time, climate scientists are warning that we have less than 10 years to make a significant reduction in our carbon emissions in order to avoid catastrophic climate change." 

The scientific consensus is that we have 0 years, not 10, to make significant reductions in net global GHG emissions. You might find helpful here figure 2.5 on page 113 of IPCC SR15. The graphs show various pathways by which emissions reductions might stay low enough that we experience only (or only temporarily exceed) 1.5°C warming. In every scenario save one, rapid emissions reductions (far in excess of voluntarily not flying) must happen immediately and then again, year over year, for a long time. Of the scenarios, only the LED scenario ("low energy demand") relies only on proved technology - and that scenario requires emissions to drop like a stone NOW, not in 10 years. The sole exception, scenario S5, allows us to continue to use lots of fossil fuel, but it relies on technologically removing carbon from the atmosphere much, much faster and in greater total amounts than we have any real idea how to do:

A danger of campaigns such as yours can be illustrated this way: If I believe what you say (as opposed to what the science says) then over the next 6 years we could make plans and get ready, then in years 7-10 make sharp reductions. Yet on this path, in 6 years we will have exhausted the carbon budget for 1.5°C and almost half that for 2°C (and those are rosy projections, it looks like!).

For information about carbon budgets, see the table on page 108 of SR15, which is also in chapter 2. Be sure to subtract the earth climate systems feedback from the budgets (column 4). The 67% confidence budget for 1.5°C as of January 1, 2018 was thus 320GtCO₂. Emissions in recent years, including emissions related to land use changes, have been around 40Gt. So the budget on January 1, 2020 (again, a rosy estimate) is around 240Gt. We are on track to exhaust that budget in 6 years or less. 

You can begin to see the real urgency and scope of the problem. The existential predicament for our civilization is not at the level of choosing to fly a bit less. It is at the level of dropping emissions in the US by double-digit percentages in 2020 and again each year for years to come. It is not about minor changes in lifestyle. It is about questions like how we will cope shutting off natural gas to Berkeley homes, preventing most work commutes long before public transit can compensate, coping with the resulting economic catastrophe, and rapidly adjusting to low-carbon life starting at once, not in 6 or 10 years.

On the Flight Free USA web site: The carbon budget link to https://create.piktochart.com/output/40269429-co2-budget-and-travel 

On the web site you "explain" carbon budgets as personal carbon budgets when, as you can see above, it is the global budget that matters. Worse, you suggest that the goal is a small but positive personal carbon budget when, in every scenario, emissions (global and per capita) must become net negative. A positive personal carbon budget would make carbon capture and sequestration that much more difficult. The whole presentation is confused insofar as there is no definitive personal carbon budget in any of the relevant climate science. (The footnotes on this page don't provide enough information to figure out what confused your group.)

I hope you'll work to improve your communications significantly, around these points. The future of today's young adults and children very much depends on it, as does human civilization itself.

Is a Recession Coming, or Has It Already Arrived?

Harry Brill
Thursday October 17, 2019 - 10:05:00 PM

The main risk of asking the wrong question is that it most likely will yield the wrong answer. The headline caption in a recent San Francisco Chronicle article, for example, states that the "Nationwide jobless rate last month is at a 50 year low". The obvious question for those who view this as good news is how do we explain the favorable economic climate for working people. In the same article, a corporate VP provides his explanation. "We're still seeing strong demand, we're still seeing more job opportunities out there than candidates". Apparently this executive thinks that the economy is benefiting from the tremendous impact of spending by America's optimistic consumers.

But is the public really optimistic? Not according to the Conference Board, which is a business organization that surveys the public monthly on its views of the economy. The Conference Board's recent survey found that the percent of the public who expect business conditions to worsen has increased substantially. Surveys by the New York Federal Reserve and the University of Michigan also found a steep decline in public confidence.

Unfortunately, the public is right. Over 330,000 jobs were cut during the first six months of this year. Especially worrisome, this figure is a 35% increase from the same period last year. 

The massive cut in jobs by the business community is certainly not a unique event. With regard to job losses in the manufacturing industry, since the year 2000 jobs declined from 17.2 million to12.4 million by 2017. That's about a one third reduction. City Bank has recently laid off 10,000 employees. Tesla Inc, which manufactures electric cars and solar panels, laid off 3600 workers. And the private health organization, Tenet Health, gave pink slips to about 2,000 workers. Many workers who Tenet Health dismissed received only a two day notice. Clearly, Tenet Health is unconcerned with the possible health implications of its abrupt action. 

In addition to these losses, there has been another disturbing development. Employers have not only been eliminating a tremendous number of jobs. They have been converting many more full-time jobs into part-time positions, which are low paying and generally offer no benefits. As a result a growing number of workers are compelled to work part-time for poverty wages because they are unable to obtain full- time work. 

Consider the statistical implications of counting these jobs. Splitting one job into two or more jobs is interpreted as good news by the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics ( BLS) because it appears as an increase in the number of jobs in the labor force. Particularly important this maneuver lowers the official unemployment rate.  

So the question "Is a recession coming" seems to be a reasonable one except the future tense may be wrong. We do know that current layoffs are substantial.  

Also, jobs are hard to get, particularly decent paying jobs. That's because there are on average for each corporate job opening at least 250 applicants. When describing labor market conditions, then, we should be using the present tense. For millions of working people the recession has already begun.  



American Patriots, Where Art Thou?

Tejinder Uberoi
Thursday October 17, 2019 - 10:17:00 PM

American foreign policy continues to sink into a bottomless pit of policy blunders.

In 2003 President GW Bush, his hawkish Vice-President Cheney and British Prime Minister, Tony Blair (Bush’s poodle) crafted a fictitious tale of WMD’s, to justify the invasion of Iraq.

Following the “shock and awe” invasion resulting in the death of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and scores of Americans, Paul Bremer, head of the Coalition Provisional Authority d unilaterally disbanded the Iraqi military and began a process of de-Ba’athification of the Iraqi government and police forces which coalesced into the armed ISIS insurgency.  

They went on to loot, rampage and torture non-believing infidels and the Yezidi minority. Whole families were slaughtered and young girls were forced to become sex slaves. Driven from Iraq, ISIS fighters moved to Syria where they encountered fierce opposition from Kurdish fighters supported by US airpower. Thousands of ISIS fighters were captured and the movement all but vanished until one fateful “off-script moment” phone call between President Trump and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey. Putting his political ambitions ahead of the welfare of our Kurdish allies, Trump ordered the immediate withdrawal of US troops effectively giving a green light to Turkey to attack the Kurds. Scores of Kurds perished in the brutal Turkish aerial onslaught. Left unguarded, hundreds of ISIS fighters escaped. 1,000 Americans troops still remain in Syria. Abandoned by the US, the Kurds switched sides hoping the messianic Assad forces and Russians would protect them. To add to America’s woes, 50 U.S tactical nuclear weapons are stored at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey, about 250 miles from the Syrian border. 

In another bizarre twist, President Trump ordered 2,000 US troops to Saudi Arabia to protect the heavily armed Saudis. In an act of “magnanimous Christian gesture” Trump forgave “bone saw (BS) Salman” for the murder and chilling dismemberment of Washington Post Kashoggi. Trump’s gut is leading us to perdition. 

Oh, America patriots where art thou? For more go to, http://callforsocialjustice.blogspot.com/


Jagjit Singh;
Friday October 18, 2019 - 05:39:00 PM

Incensed at being challenged over his “brilliant Syrian policy”, thin skinned President Trump lashed out at his critics calling Speaker Pelosi a “third-rate politician” and former Defense Secretary James Mattis “the world’s most overrated general.” He then sent a warning to President Erdoğan of Turkey “Don’t be a tough guy. Don’t be a fool!” Americans should be most concerned of Trump’s rapidly declining mental state. He is behaving more and more like a purulent child than the leader of a powerful country. 

In a desperate effort at damage control to counter fierce criticism from House Democrats and Republicans, Trump dispatched Vice-President Pence and Secretary of State, Pompeo to Turkey and threatened to 'totally destroy and obliterate' Turkey's economy. Pelosi described Trumps’ temper tantrums as “a serious meltdown”. 

Trump's prior refusal to confront President Erdoğan and Vladimir Putin raises serious concerns of his massive conflicts of interest. If Democrats are able to force him to release his tax returns it would expose his business interests in Turkey and possibly Russia. This might complete the missing pieces of the puzzle of his deference to President Erdoğan and Putin who helped get him elected. For more, go to http://callforsocialjustice.blogspot.com/


THE PUBLIC EYE:10 Impeachment Realities

Bob Burnett
Friday October 18, 2019 - 11:01:00 AM

Ready or not, the Impeachment of Donald Trump is coming. Before the end of 2019, the House of Representatives may vote on a variety of impeachment charges and the issue will be passed to the Senate. Here's what we've learned so far.

1. During the next 90 days, there will be an impeachment vote in the House of Representatives. The House Intelligence and Judiciary committees have already assembled enough evidence to call for a House vote. (It's not a matter of if, but when the vote will occur.) Trump appears to be guilty of multiple violations of the U.S. Government code including bribery, extortion, obstruction, and campaign finance misdeeds. (He's also guilty of obstruction and, quite possibly, conspiracy.) The House Dems are going forward, at a deliberate pace, to build the strongest case possible before year end. Some of the impeachment counts require information that will be provided only if ordered by the Supreme Court. 

2. Regardless of what happens in the Senate, once the House votes for impeachment, the Republicans' fate is sealed. While there is no doubt that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will mess with the Senate Impeachment trial -- attempt to doctor the proceedings so they favor Trump -- the evidence is too damning: Trump has committed a variety of high crimes and misdemeanors. Trump will lose in the court of public opinion, and he will drag down those Republican Senators that side with him. 

There are 100 Senators: 53 Republicans, 45 Democrats, and 2 Independents who vote with the Dems. Therefore, the two-thirds majority will require 20 Republican Senators to vote with Democrats. At the moment, it's difficult to see more than 10 who will shift: Alaska (Murkowski), Arizona (McSally), Colorado (Gardner), Georgia (Perdue), Iowa (Ernst, Grassley), Maine (Collins), Nebraska (Sasse), North Carolina (Tillis), and Utah (Romney). When the Senate vote occurs, every swing-state Republican Senator will be between the proverbial "rock and a hard place." (Trump has already gone after Romney for indicating that he is appalled by Trump's actions and might vote for impeachment. (https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2019/10/16/club_for_growth_ad_democrat_secret_asset_mitt_romney_is_colluding_with_democrats_to_impeach_trump.html) ) 

As long as there is a Senate majority that favors impeachment -- and public opinion that favors impeachment -- Republicans will lose. 

3. The Democrats' impeachment message must remain simple. Over the past month, public sentiment has shifted in favor of the Democrats' impeachment inquiry. To maintain this momentum, Dems have to move quickly and keep the impeachment charges simple -- Trump violated the law by manipulating foreign policy for his own benefit. If the message gets too complicated, voters' attention will waver and support for impeachment will diminish. 

At the same time that House Democrats go forward with the impeachment inquiry, they must ensure that they are perceived as also doing the people's business: working on legislation. So far, Speaker Pelosi has done a good job advertising that the House Dems are working on three paths: "Legislate; Litigate; and Investigate." 

4. Democrats must retain public support. On September 24th, Nancy Pelosi announced the House had initiated an impeachment inquiry -- based upon the Ukraine affair. Since then there's been a 17-point swing in favor of the impeachment inquiry. (And the positive sentiment is growing.) 

The majority of Americans support the impeachment inquiry. Democrats have to build upon this and carefully construct a case to present to the Senate. 

Over the next three months there are six other factors that will influence this drama. 

5. Count on Trump to "self impeach." Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi predicted that Donald Trump would eventually"self-impeach" -- that his behavior is so warped that he cannot resist committing illegal acts. That's happening at least once each week: On October 3rd Trump seemingly admitted to reporters that he tried to get Ukraine to investigate the Bidens == Ukraine needs a “major investigation” into the Bidens -- and volunteered that China “[also] should start an investigation into the Bidens." On October 17th, Trump announced that in June he will host the G7 Summit at his failing Doral resort in Miami. (https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/17/us/politics/trump-g7-doral.html

By the time the Senate votes on the articles of impeachment, there will be overwhelming evidence against Trump -- but that may not be enough to produces a two-thirds majority. 

6. Trump loyalists will turn. Even though the Trump White House leaks like the proverbial sieve, during the lengthy Mueller inquiry there weren't any significant defections from the Trump inner circle -- with the exception of Michael Cohen. With regards to the Ukraine scandal, the opposite is the case -- there are major defections. Numerous members of the Federal government have defied Trump and testified before the House Intelligence Committee. (For example, former Trump national-security aide, Fiona Hill.) 

On October 17th, Trump's acting Chief-of-Staff, Nick Mulvaney, admitted there was a Ukraine quid pro quo ( https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/10/17/white-house-chief-staff-mick-mulvaney-admits-it-there-was-ukraine-quid-pro-quo/). 

There are a variety of theories about what's different now. It may be that Trump's behavior is so egregious -- badgering the Ukraine President to dig up dirt on the Bidens -- that the vast majority of Administration officials recognized it was wrong. It may also be that the involvement of Trump's pal, Rudy Giuliani, has had a catalytic impact -- most insiders don't like Rudy. 

7. Trump's behavior will get more extreme. Over the past few months we've seen many experienced folks leave the White House. (Most recently, Dan Coats resigned as Director of National Intelligence and was replace by a less-experienced person, Joseph Maguire.) Like or not, Trump is now operating without training wheels and is making decisions primarily based upon his gut feel. (Abandoning the Kurds is an example of this.) Because of the pressure, Trump is decompensating. 

8. Trump will do anything to stay in power. We already know that Trump is a liar. As the impeachment process plays out, Trump's lies will become more extreme. (For example, his claim that the Kurds are worse than ISIS.) 

We already know that Trump will insult his opponents. As the impeachment process plays out, Trump insults will become more extreme. (For example, calling Speaker Pelosi a "third-grade politician" and saying she favors ISIS "because they are communists.") 

We already know that Trump will use false claims of executive privilege to keep Administration officials from testifying before Congress and to deny lawful document requests. What else will Trump do? At the moment, there seem to be no limits to extreme behavior. 

9. Social Media will be an issue. Facebook is permitting Trump to run blatantly false ads and Twitter is allowing him to promote damaging lies. Democrats have called upon the social media companies to regulate Trump's online behavior but they are unwilling to do this.(https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2019/10/17/facebook-ceo-mark-zuckerberg-says-interview-he-fears-erosion-truth-defends-allowing-politicians-lie-ads/

10. The Supreme Court will be involved. Even though many Trump-Administration insiders have begun to testify before the House Intelligence Committee, there are others that have declined to do so -- based upon Trump's broad assertion of executive privilege. In addition, House Dems are demanding access to the complete Mueller Report including Grand Jury Testimony. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/house-pushes-for-release-of-mueller-grand-jury-testimony/2019/10/08/a88a504e-ea3a-11e9-a329-7378fbfa1b63_story.html

Both of these matters are wending their way through the courts and will likely be decided by the Supreme Court. Therefore, the conclusion of the House impeachment inquiry probably depends upon the Supreme Court schedule. 

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

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: We Cannot Take Our Faculties for Granted

Jack Bragen
Thursday October 17, 2019 - 10:14:00 PM

Many things can affect the amount, type, and quality of cognitive faculties. Environment is one of them. If the environment in which we live is excessively demanding, and if we do not get enough time of not being hassled, it can negatively impact faculties. In order to create and maintain mental faculties, we need peaceful time and space. If we can't get that, deterioration is the result.

Many people believe it is a waste of time to sit and ponder. Sitting and pondering is exactly what Albert Einstein did, allowing him to arrive at longstanding rules of physics. Sitting and pondering is exactly what the ancient Egyptians and Greeks probably did, when they first arrived at and improved upon Geometry, and many other areas of thought that are used to this day.

While we don't need to invent math or physics, there is a place in our lives for sitting and pondering. It can help us understand ourselves much more. It can help us reflect about things, including past behavior patterns or other relevant material, and the fruit of this is better actions. There is a place in our lives for clarity.

You normally can't get clarity without some level of pondering or reflecting. You can't deeply reflect when the environment is excessively demanding. 

There are psychiatrists who believe people with schizophrenia are better off if prevented from doing too much thinking. That attitude is one-size-fits-all, and it assumes the only product of a schizophrenic person's mind will be delusions. That is one attitude I have seen. 

Of course, lack of treatment for mental illness will negatively impact faculties. Inadequate oxygen to the brain will negatively affect faculties. Alcohol will negatively affect faculties, and it should never be combined with psych medications. 

Often, when I lack an area of mental function, I am unaware of its absence. Part of the problem inherent in the absence of certain faculties is the inability to be aware of it. This is because the faculty through which you would know this is the one that's missing. 

When we lack our full faculties, the first thing we ought to do is to become aware of that. The faculties can often be brought back through activity or cognitive exercises, so long the cause of the lost faculty is not brain damage. You probably do not have brain damage if a doctor has not said that you have it. It is worthwhile to do something mentally stimulating to bring back faculties, but not something overwhelming. 

Psychiatric medications, including antipsychotics, will usually do more to make the faculties available than to suppress them, since they are intended to remedy a mental condition. Meds do not necessarily shut down higher functions. They will probably make the higher functions more available, since your thinking will no longer be dominated by psychosis, mania or depression. 

Faculties become stronger and more readily available with use. If you are unaccustomed to using brain power or if you are not used to having an organized activity, it is harder to bring these capacities into use. 

Another faculty I'd like to mention is the internal sense. The typical non-afflicted mainstream person never develops this. Yet most people can develop this ability by making an effort to look within. The more that you look within, the more adept you will become at this and the more thoughts, structures and emotions will become discernable. Many psychiatrists would advise against this. Yet, in my opinion, it may be key to gaining a better mind, as an augment to conventional treatment. 

Some psychiatrists are better than others. Some seem to have a mindset that someone with a severe mental illness isn't capable of anything, should be supervised, and can never be an intelligent person. Others are more openminded. 

If you are medication compliant, and if you are not breaking any laws, there isn't much that a psychiatrist can say to you about your other self-improvement efforts, and they can only say, "Here are your medications." Yet, there are psychiatrists who are kind, and who are willing to believe in your potential. 

There are all kinds of faculties that a person can have. There is the faculty that allows you to clean your kitchen before it becomes roach infested. There is the faculty to skillfully use a computer or other gadgetry. There is the faculty to say, "I'm sorry," when you realize you should apologize. The mind can do a lot of things wrong, but it can also do a lot of wonderful things. It is up to you. 



SMITHEREENS: Reflections on Bits & Pieces

Gar Smith
Thursday October 17, 2019 - 10:00:00 PM

Favorite Soundbite of the Week

KCBS and Chronicle commentator Phil Matier offered the following during a live radio discussion on the Fate of the Republic:

"On one hand, you've got the Democrats over on one side singing 'We Shall Overcome' and Trump's up there on center stage like Meatloaf, singing 'Like a Bat Outta Hell!'"

PS: For those unfamiliar with this deranged ditty, here's a sampling of the lyrics:

The sirens are screaming, and the fires are howling
Way down in the valley tonight
There's a man in the shadows with a gun in his eye
And a blade shining oh so bright
There's evil in the air and there's thunder in the sky,
And a killer's on the bloodshot streets
And down in the tunnels where the deadly are rising
Oh, I swear I saw a young boy down in the gutter
He was starting to foam in the heat

Looking for that Perfect Grift? Check Out This Impeachment Merch 

Donald Trump has made no secret of the fact that he wanted a Big Wall and it looks like he's going to get his wish. The walls are closing in on him and he may soon be relocating to new quarters with nothing but walls—no windows, no porch, no gold-coated toilets. 

If you're in the market for a going-away gift, The People's Email Network (PO Box 35022, L.A., CA 90035) just might have what you're looking for. Here's their pitch: 

"Welcome to your headquarters for Trump impeachment advocacy gifts, where you can get everything you need to demonstrate your support for ridding our Oval Office of the most terminally vile person in American political history."  

And here's a list of some of their Trump-dumping inventory: 

• Lock Him Up/Impeach Trump popcorn boxes 

• Dump Trump bumper stickers 

• Trump the Fraud bumper stickers 

• Trump Resistance bumper stickers 

What's Shakin'? 

Just in time for the 30th anniversary of the Loma Prieta Quake, the state has announced a new quake-alert system called "MyShake." In addition to the fashionably accessorized name, what does this new phone app offer? Thanks to modern seismic science, we now can download an application that sends early warnings about any imminent earthquakes measuring 5.0 or more on the Richter Scale. Depending on the distance between the fault-slip and your mobile device, the warning could give you a few precious added seconds to prepare. 

A report in the Chronicle suggests that the device could prevent people from walking into an elevator, only to become trapped when a quake strikes. But that assumes you are not already inside an elevator. In most cases, it would seem, a quake alert might not allow time for doing anything other than what you would do if a quake struck without an early warning—i.e., trying to dive under the nearest, sturdiest table. 

MyShake sends out a text warning along with an alarm-beep. But you then have to extract your Smartphone from purse or pocket and look for the text message on the screen. Critical seconds could be lost. 

Here's a better idea for the App-Masters to work on: Instead of a text, your handheld device sounds an alert and then shout out the only information that really matters in the moment: "Quake in five seconds!" "Quake in 30 seconds!" 

Did Garry Trudeau Just Tip His Hand? 

Garry Trudeau's October 13 Sunday edition of Doonesbury featured a six-panel predictive vision of the next presidential swearing-in ceremony on January 20, 2021. The Oath of Office has been changed, however, and the new president swears to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States and, excepting official White House announcements, will forswear the use of Twitter for as long as I may serve, so help me God." 

But what struck me was the second panel, which showed the hand of the new POTUS resting on a Bible. 

No, it wasn't the discordant image of a US president promising to uphold the "separation of Church and State" by swearing-on-a-Bible. Instead, it was that (to my eye, at least) the hand depicted resting on the Holy Bible appeared to be feminine. Was Trudeau slyly predicting that our next president would share the White House with a First Husband? 

Then I noticed something else about the cartooned hand: it was devoid of nail polish. 

In hopes of uncovering Trudeau's secret choice, I scoured Google for images of all five female candidates—Kamala Harris, Tulsi Gabbard, Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren, and Marianne Williamson—and was surprised to discover that none of the candidates appear to have accented their cuticles. Not a single red-nailed contender in the bunch. If true, this would mark another welcomed break with tradition—and that's the unvarnished truth. 

Flocking to the Flicks 

Once again, it's time for the Berkeley Video and Film Festival (the 28th edition!), so start making plans to set aside some time between October 25-27 and November 1-3 to catch your choice of 60 award-winning independent films—including Internationally acclaimed and Oscar-nominated documentaries. (Bonus: many of the filmmakers will be present for Q&A's with the audience.) 

The festival begins with a "Film School Frenzy" at 7pm on Friday, October 25, featuring selections from the USC School of Cinematic Arts and there's lots to chose from thereafter. (The complete list is available online at BVFF.) And here's one guaranteed crowd-pleaser for the crowd's pleasure: Hippie Family Values. It screens on October 26, 7:30 with director Beverly Seckinger in person. Here's a trailer: 

All screenings will be at the East Bay Media Center's Performance Space in Downtown Berkeley's Arts District (1939 Addison Street: 510-843-3699). Tickets are available online, at the door, or via Eventbrite and Sunday screenings are FREE! 

This Lerner Is a Teacher 

Back in 1965, Rabbi Michael Lerner served as a member of the Free Speech Movement's coordinating committee before getting himself indicted by Nixon's Justice Department for organizing anti-war demonstrations at U of Washington. Over the past half-century, he's written 11 books, including "The Left Hand of God: Taking Back Our Country From the Religious Right." And now. Rabbi Lerner has written a new book, Revolutionary Love: A Political Manifesto to Heal and Transform the World (University of California Press). 

Lerner, who has worked as a psychotherapist studying political and social movements as well as "studying the psychodynamics of American society (in part as principal investigator of an NIMH supported systematic study of the American middle class)" believes he has hit upon "a new strategy for healing and transforming our world before the life support system of the planet is destroyed and before reactionary white nationalism becomes the shaper of the politics of the 2020s and 2030s." 

So far, the book has been praised by Gloria Steinem, Keith Ellison, Cornel West, and Code Pink's Medea Benjamin. 

Lerner writes: "I think that my book will help many of my former allies understand the importance of broadening our movements for social change so that they are perceived as seeking not only economic and social justice, but also a world of love, kindness and generosity." 

Rabbi Lerner is about to embark on a nationwide book tour that begins in the Bay Area. Here are some of the key events. 

October 27: At 4 pm, Rabbi Lerner will host a reading and discussion at Book Passage in Marin County (51 Tamal Vista Blvd, Corte Madera).  

October 27: KPFA is sponsoring a 7:30 pm bookreading with the author at the Hillside Club (2286 Cedar St., Berkeley). 

These events will follow a special October 26 appearance at the Diesel Bookstore in Los Angeles (6:30pm to 7:30pm, 225 26th St, Santa Monica) where Lerner will be joined by investigative journalist Greg Palast (author of The Best Government Money Can Buy)

November 21: Lerner will speak at the International Association of Sufism at a dinner in his honor in San Rafael where the IAS will present the author with their annual "Humanist Award." 

The national book tour will include stops in: Ashland, Oregon; Cambridge, Massachusetts; Brooklyn, New York; Princeton, New Jersey; Portland, Oregon; Seattle, Washington; Boulder, Colorado; Denver, Colorado; Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Chicago, Illinois. 

KCBS Sends a Mixed Message on Drilling 

On October 5, KCBS broadcast a series of news reports featuring critical coverage of the Trump administration's plans to open up federal lands in California to oil drilling (including in the East Bay Hills!!). 

At the same time, KCBS began airing ads from a new client—Encore Oil. The ads invited listeners to "invest in your future" by subsidizing the expansion of the very fossil-fuel operations that are destabilizing the climate, accelerating mass-extinctions and threatening human survival. The ads promised 20 years of profits from investing in horizontally drilled wells and even claimed that income from such investments could be used to reduce an investor's federal income taxes. 

I sent the following email to KCBS: 

"Isn't your Ad Dept. listening to your News Dept? Not to mention the world's leading climate scientists, environmental organizations, and Greta Thunberg?" 

This new ad pitch ignores the latest International Panel on Climate Change warning that we may only have ten years left to avoid catastrophic disruptions in global weather—because of carbon pollution that is cooking the planet. How can KCBS be complicit in such misleading and dangerous promotions? I never expected to hear an ad for oil-drilling on the radio. I'm appalled to have heard this on KCBS." 

So far, KCBS has not responded but the Encore Oil ad appears to have been plugged. 

Prisons Are America's Biggest Book Banners 

The American Library Association and the National Coalition Against Censorship recently held their annual Banned Books Week and revealed their list of “The Top 11 Challenged Books of 2018.”) According to a report by Bay Area writer Bill Berkowitz, the leading institutional book-banners in the Land of the Free are the country's prisons, which routinely keep hundreds of titles out of the hands of jailed readers.  

Berkowitz cites a September 2019 PEN America report (Literature Locked Up: How Prison Book Restriction Policies Constitute the Nation’s Largest Book Ban) that found Texas prison authorities had banned Pulitzer Prize winning books by Alice Walker, Robert Penn Warren, and John Updike along with National Book Award winners Joyce Carol Oates and Annie Proulx and including Nobel Prize winners Pablo Neruda and Andre Gide. George Orwell and former Senator Bob Dole were also banished from prison libraries. Arizona prisons reportedly blacklisted Chokehold: Policing Black Men, a book that examines the effect of the criminal justice system on black men, while prisons in New Jersey and North Carolina banned Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. Both states lifted that ban after the ACLU sent them a briefing letter about the First Amendment. 

Where You Gonna Run To? 

Hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, tsunamis, famine, social unrest! We seem surrounded by harbingers of the Apocalypse. With temperatures and tempers rising, what are we supposed to do when someone yells "Fire! Head for the Exits!"? Where can we go? 

Weill, relax (a little bit): it turns out that researchers from the University of Otago have identified the best countries where people can hide if a global pandemic breaks out. Sorry: there's no defense against rising seas and killer heat in the report, but if you're just interested in avoiding The Plague, your best escape options involve the island nations—ideally ones without a lot of air-traffic. 

According to Nick Wilson, one of the co-authors of the report: 

"The risk of an extinctionlevel pandemic has probably never been higher, due to increasing population density and global interconnectedness but also due to advances in biotechnology. However, even without causing extinction, devastation from novel pandemic disease could still pose a threat of extensively or permanently curtailing human potential", 

The Top Ten best spots to evade global plagues include Australia, New Zealand, Iceland, Malta, Japan, Cape Verde, the Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, and Madagascar. 

Book your flights well in advance and carry your hand-sanitizer. 

ECLECTIC RANT: Impeachment now or continue the inquiry?

Ralph E. Stone
Thursday October 17, 2019 - 10:02:00 PM

The impeachment inquiry should continue even though there is already enough evidence of “high crimes and misdemeanors” to support impeachment. The evidence so far includes Trump’s admission that he solicited Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden, his possible opponent in the 2020 election, and his son Hunter Biden for corruption, in violation of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971. This alone is enough for impeachment.

Trump did not produce any evidence of this alleged corruption by Joe and Hunter Biden and none has emerged so far.

In addition, Trump conditioned the release of $391 million in mother relatives for Congressionally-approved military aid to Ukraine and a coveted personal visit to the White House, on this asked for investigation of Joe Biden. A quid pro quo. Then the White House attempted to cover-up the whistleblower’s complaint about the solicitation. 

Further, Trump has stonewalled Congressional attempts to obtain witness testimony and documents in furtherance of its impeachment inquiry. This was an article in the Nixon impeachment. 

A majority of House Democrats, which is a House majority, approved an impeachment inquiry but the full House has not voted on an inquiry, although, even Trump concedes that the House has enough votes to impeach. 

Then why continue the inquiry? — to gather more support for impeachment. According to a recent Gallup poll 52% say Trump should be impeached and removed from office and 46% say he should not be. This is roughly the opposite of a June poll. I would expect the revelations in the House investigation to continue this upward trend and hopefully more Congressional Republicans, especially Senate Republicans, will support impeachment. 

Arts & Events

Armenian Folk Singer Hasmik Harutyunyan Performs with Kitka

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Saturday October 19, 2019 - 06:32:00 PM

In a series of concerts October 17-19 in Rohnert Park, Oakland, and San Jose, renowned Armenian folk singer Hasmik Harutyunyan teamed up with the Oakland-based women’s choral ensemble Kitka. I attended the Friday, October 18, concert in Oakland’s St. Vartan Armenian Church. The program was entitled “Gorani: Love Songs to Lost Homelands.” Between 1915 and 1923, Armenians lost much of their several thousand year-old homeland when the Turks committed genocide on the Armenian population, driving survivors into the Armenian diaspora. This October 18 concert in Oakland’s St. Vartan Armenian Church thus presented a celebration of the resilience of the Armenian diaspora. It also offered Armenian-Americans the opportunity to celebrate the 150th anniversary of their revered national composer, Komitas Vardapet (1869-1935, generally referred to simply as Komitas), who gathered centuries-old Armenian folk songs and composed his own music based on these folk traditions. Some of the folk songs Komitas transcribed were featured on this concert program. 

The concert opened with a Gorani medley sung by the Kitka ensemble, with various members taking solos over a humming vocal drone. An early highlight of the concert was the Greek song, “Aghni Parthene,” composed by St. Nektarios of Aegina (1846-1920). When I asked Shira Cion, Kitka’s Executive Artistic Director, after the concert whether this beautiful polyphonic Greek song had any special relation to the Armenian diaspora, she said, “No. It’s just a hymn to the Virgin; and we thought it fit in well with the iconic image of the Virgin Mary in this St. Vartan Church.” Generally, the songs involving Hasmik Harutyunyan with the Kitka choral ensemble were the most complex and satisfying of the first half of the concert. Hasmik generally took the lead, singing the opening verses, then was joined by the Kitka ensemble. In these pieces, Hasmik’s mezzo-soprano was brilliantly set off against the various female registers of the Kitka soloists. However, when Hasmik Harutyunyan sang a cappella solos in a medley of lullabies, things became quite monotonous. As my seat-mate put it, “By the third lullaby I was about to nod off myself.” However, the first half of the concert came to a rousing close with another of the program’s highlights , the song “Sand Ktsetsim,” — a lively traditional threshing song from Armenia’s Shatakh region.  

After intermission, Kitka performed two pagan Latvian chants. Then Hasmik Harutyunyan joined with Kitka in another highlight, the Armenian song “Yerkinkn Ampel E,” transcribed by Komitas, and a second piece transcribed by Komitas, “Hoy Nazan,” that offered beautiful harmonies. Then followed work songs in praise of sturdy oxen and robust fisherman who bring in the Black Sea catch. More Armenian lullabies were heard. Then came a Bulgarian song performed by Kitka, featuring the characteristic metallic Slavic soprano voice and many thrilling shouts of encouragement from the chorus. The final medley of the program involved Armenian dance tunes sung by Hasmik Harutyunyan and Kitka. A lovely encore was offered, a work by a student of Komitas, Parsegh Kanachian, who composed the mellifluous lullaby “Koon Yeghir Balas.”  

After the concert, a reception was held which offered the audience an opportunity to speak to many of the singers. Armenian hospitality was, as always, munificent, with delicious pastries served, including superb baklava and pistachio pastries. In short, an inspiring evening of music and Armenian culture!

Around & About--Theater, Dance: Ancient Kathakali Theater from South India in Special Performances Through This Weekend in Oakland Studio

Ken Bullock
Thursday October 17, 2019 - 09:51:00 PM

Kathakali, the ancient South Indian theater, one of the very earliest theater forms still surviving, featuring great virtuosity in stylized acting, dance and mime by actors in lavish costumes and stunning, colorful make-up that's like a facial sculpture, taking hours to apply, like a big, animated storybook of episodes from India's mythic epic poems, often full of humor and charm, backed by percussion and singing ...
And an excellent visiting ensemble from South India will be here performing episodes from a Kathakaki epic, from Thursday, October 17, through this weekend, at an intimate private studio in Oakland (advance tickets only--see below), with Kalamandalam Manoj, the same principal actor who performed beautifully at the Berkeley Hillside Club three years ago, almost to the day. (See my preview then, http://www.berkeleydailyplanet.com/issue/2016-10-14/article/45016?headline=Around-About-Theater-Dance-Kathakali-Ramayana-in-Berkeley-Monday-through-Wednesday-at-Hillside-Club-Ken-Bullock )
The four performances, including a Sunday matinée with a reception with the artists & a special event, are presented by Graeme Vanderstoel, that indefatigable guide to world arts, in association with the Paul Dresher Ensemble, with support from SACHI ( sachi.org )
The artists are the splendid Kathakali principal Kalamandalam Manoj (from the most famous Kathakaki institute, Kalamandalam, founded 90 years ago by a famous poet, in Kerala state) supported by Roshni Pillai, Jan Zeitlin (who some will remember from Kathakali performances with the Kunhiramans' Kalanjali dance company) and Janhari Pillai, with introductions by a fine speaker, Kaladharan Vishwanath.
Three episodes from an old tale will be performed: the hunter in the forest (Thursday night), the hunter discovers an abandoned princess asleep (Friday night), and the princess meets the Golden Swan with its song of love.
Kathakali's a rare thing to see anywhere, especially the episodes Graeme and the artists have chosen for these performances. And Manoj is a particularly fine actor in this ancient style. This's a performing arts and cultural event of the highest caliber.
This Thursday through Saturday, October 17-19, 7:30, and Sunday the 20th at 3. Tickets $10, children; $20, students and teenagers; $30, general--at:
Or: sachi.org

The Berkeley Activist's Calendar, October 20-27

Kelly Hammargren, Sustainable Berkeley Coalition
Saturday October 19, 2019 - 06:28:00 PM

Worth Noting and Showing Up:

The Update Report on Vision 2020 (racial equity in Berkeley Public Schools) which is to be presented Tuesday evening at City Council is quite startling and can be read online. https://www.cityofberkeley.info/Clerk/City_Council/2019/10_Oct/City_Council__10-22-2019_Special_Meeting_Agenda.aspx

The links and agenda highlights for the October 29 City Council meeting follow the weekly meeting list.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

City Open House, 11 am – 3 pm, Civic Center Park, Family oriented event to introduce residents to City Services and Staff https://www.cityofberkeley.info/CalendarEventMain.aspx?calendarEventID=16335 

Monday, October 21, 2019 

Berkeley City Council – Special Meeting (Retreat) 9:00 am – 2:00 pm, 2031 Bancroft Way, Main Branch Library Community Room, Agenda: Budget, Council Referrals, Strategic Plan and Council Rules and Procedures 


Homeless Commission Encampment Subcommittee, 4:30 pm at 2501 Telegraph, Peet’s 


Homeless Services Panel of Experts Agenda and Work Plan Subcommittee, 7:30 pm at 1724 San Pablo, Café Leila 


Measure O Bond Oversight Committee, 2180 Milvia, Cypress Room, Agenda: 5. a. RFP Subcommittee Recommendations to Fund 2527 San Pablo, 1740 San Pablo, 2321-2323 10th St, b. 2001 Ashby Development 


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 22, 2019 

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

4:30 pm, Council Closed Session, Conference Pending Litigation: 1444 Fifth Street LLC v. City of Berkeley Superior Court Case No.19032434, Gilmore V. City of Berkeley Case No. RG 189525180 

6:00 pm – 11:00 pm, Council Special Session, Agenda: 1. Update 2020 Vision (racial equity in Berkeley public schools), 2. Census 2020, 3. Short-Term Rentals 


Community Meeting: Citywide Restroom Study, 6 – 7:30 pm at 2090 Kittredge, Central Library, 2nd of Four Meetings to assess existing public restrooms and develop strategies to meet current and future needs. 


Commission on the Status of Women Santa Rita Jail Subcommittee, 6:45 – 8 pm at 2000 University, Au Coquelet, Agenda: Review of Progress, Safety Cells, Pregnancy, Transport 


Wednesday, October 23, 2019 

Civic Arts Commission, 6 – 8 pm at 1901 Russell St, Tarea Hall Pittman South Branch Library, Agenda: Framework for Affordable Housing for Artists, Restrict use of BART Plaza for Sound Installations and Live Events, 


Disaster and Fire Safety Commission, 7 – 9 pm at 997 Cedar St, Fire Department Training Center, Agenda: 4. Seismic Transfer Tax Rebate, 5. Local Hazard Mitigation Plan Update, 7. Special Tax Assessment for Wildfire Prevention, 8. October Public Shutoff 


Energy Commission, 6:30 – 9 pm at 1947 Center St, 1st Floor Spruce Room, 4. Building Electrification, 6. Update on Nov 5 Electrification workshop for Home Builders and Designers, 


Joint Subcommittee for the Implementation of State Housing Laws, 7 – 10 pm at 2180 Milvia, 6th Floor Redwood Room, Agenda: 10. Objective Standards for Shadows 


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

5:30 pm, Lexipol Policies,  

7 – 10 pm, Regular Meeting, Agenda: 8. Subcommittee Reports, Lexipol Policies, Probation & Parole Questioning, MOU Compendium, Standard of Proof, Use of Force, 9. Presentation Special Response Team, 10. Suveillance Use Policies, 11. a. Policy complaint regarding enforcement of traffic laws against bicyclists who run stop signs, b. Proposed amendment to PRC Regulations handling of informal of informal complaints, c. Lexipol Policies 


Public Works Commission Utility Undergrounding Phase 3, 4 – 5 pm at 1947 Center, no agenda posted 


Community Meeting: Frances Albrier Community Center Project Open House, 4 – 7 pm at Frances Albrier Community Center, T1 Bonds at Work, meet design team, see conceptual layout 


Thursday, October 24, 2019 

City Council Land Use, Housing & Economic Development Committee, 10:30 am, at 1947 Center, 3rd Floor Magnolia Room, Agenda: Amnesty Program for ADU, 3. Legal Rights for Legal Tender, 4. Fair Chance Access to Housing, 5. Allocation of U1 Funds to increase affordable housing and protect residents of Berkeley from homelessness, 6. Sell City Property 1631 Fifth and 1654 Fifth 6. Requiring Inclusionary Housing in Opportunity Zones https://www.cityofberkeley.info/Clerk/Home/Policy_Committee__Land_Use,_Housing___Economic_Development.aspx 

Community Health Commission, 6:30 – 9 pm at 2939 Ellis St. South Berkeley Senior Center, 


Mental Health Commission, 7 – 9 pm at 1947 Center St, Agenda: 3. Interview and vote on nomination Farzaneh Izadi, 5. Crisis Response Consultant RFP, 


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

2422 Fifth Street – Construct 3-story mixed use with 967 sq ft medical office and 2 dwelling units on rear of lot with existing duplex, request waive 2 residential parking spaces, on consent 

3108 Deakin St – raise single family dwelling by 2’7”, add second dwelling unit and garage on ground floor, demolish 294 sq ft at rear of building and construct 560 sq ft addition, on consent 

2110 Vine – convert 2 existing commercial spaces to one optometry practice office, on consent 

2015 Eighth Street – demolish detached 2-car garage, construct new 2-unit 2200 sq ft building with roof deck, 2 uncovered parking spaces and reduce setback from 15’ to 5’ 

1581 Le Roy Ave – convert vacant elementary school to residential use, establish 50,000 sq ft main building as single-family dwelling incorporating art studio, unenclosed swimming pool, ADU, outdoor art space, 

2352 – 2390 Shattuck – demolish existing commercial buildings, split lot, construct two 8-story buildings with 204 units (including 14 Very Low income units, 12,154 sq ft commercial space, 17,012 sq ft open space, 90 parking spaces, 

2716-2718 Durant – lift 2-story dwelling to create 3-story dwelling, demolish single story dwelling at rear of lot and construct three 3-story townhomes, eliminate 1-car parking space and not provide required 3 parking spaces on site, staff recommend approve rehab front unit and deny variance to not provide parking, 


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


Friday, October 25, 2019 

Councilmember Cheryl Davila Open Office Hours, 2 – 4 pm at 2033 San Pablo, Lanesplitter Pizza 

Saturday, October 26, 2019 

No City meetings or events found 

Sunday, October 27, 2019 

No City meetings or events found 


Plan Ahead: 

November 12, City Council will be holding a special meeting on Traffic Circles. The Traffic Circle Task Force recommends retaining trees.” City staff/employees are preparing an opposition report to cut down trees. For more detail read the op-ed on threat to trees in traffic circles http://www.berkeleydailyplanet.com/issue/2019-10-04/article/47899?headline=Trees-in-Traffic-Circles-Are-Still-Threatened-by-the-City-of-Berkeley--Becky-O-Malley and Traffic Circle Task Force Recommendations as recorded in meeting minutes https://www.cityofberkeley.info/uploadedFiles/Mayor/10.2.19%20Draft%20MinutesTraffic%20Circle%20Task%20Force.pdf 



City Council October 29 meeting is available for comment email council@cityofberkeley.info 

Access full meeting agenda at https://www.cityofberkeley.info/Clerk/City_Council/2019/10_Oct/City_Council__10-29-2019_-_Regular_Meeting_Agenda.aspx 

CONSENT: 4. Council Rules of Procedure revisions, 3. Conflict of Interest Code, 6. Contract $7,966,000 Berkeley Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, d.b.a. Visit Berkeley, 8. Contract Nov 2019 – July 31, 2021 for $45,000 with Management Partners to evaluate City Manager, 9. Add $300,000 to contract with First Alarm Security & Patrol, Inc for Citywide unarmed security total $3,084,798, 10. Add $150,000 to contract total $225,400 with Street Level Advisors for Zoning and Development Fee Feasibility Analyses, 11. Add $200,000 to contract total $250,000 with Redwood Toxicology Services for Drug and Alcohol Testing, 13. City Auditor Recommendation – City needs Domestic Violence Policy. 16. Add $200,000 to budget for lighting, camera, and signs to deter illegal dumping. 17. Referral to Civic Arts Commission to develop grant program for retaining creative spaces for artists, 18. Request for Presentation on City Code Enforcement Practices for Residential Properties, 21. Budget Referral $27,000 Landmarks Preservation Grants, 22. Referral to Disaster and Fire Safety Commission to consider amending Gas Shut-Off Valve Requirements, 23. Oversize vehicle restriction to prohibit commercial trucks exceeding 3 tons gross weight on streets impacting bicycle blvd networks, 24. Cameras at Ohlone Park Mural, ACTION: 27. Add North Shattuck Metered Parking to goBerkeley Program,28. Lava Mae Mobile Shower, 29. Wage Theft Prevention, 30. Referral: Telegraph Shared Street, 31. Develop Bicycle Lane and Pedestrian Street Improvements Policy, 32. Reserving General Funds for Housing trust Fund $500,000 SAHA 2527 San Pablo, $1,200,000 RCD 2001 Ashby, $50,000 NCLT 2321-2323 10th Street, 33. a.& b. Modify Enforcement Policies of Berkeley Smoke Free Multi-Unity Housing Ordinance, 34. Proposed Formula Retail (Chain Store) Regulations, 35. Referrals to address Traffic Enforcement and Bicycle Safety, INFORMATION REPORTS: 36. Referral Process, 37. City Property for Affordable Housing and Modular Micro-Unit Buildings. 41. goBerkeley Parking Rate and Time Limit Adjustments for North Shattuck Area for Dec 1, 2019. 




Public Hearings Scheduled – Land Use Appeals 

0 Euclid – Berryman Reservoir TBD 

2701 Shattuck 11-12-2019 

Remanded to ZAB or LPC With 90-Day Deadline 

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

Notice of Decision (NOD) With End of Appeal Period 

2909 Acton 10-30-2019 

1825 Berkeley Way 10-21-2019 

1226 Parker 10-28-2019 


1440 Hawthorne Terrace 

1450 Hawthorne Terrace 

2018-2036 University for UC Theater 




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

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

Jan 14 – Civic Center Visioning, Systems Realignment 

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

March 17 –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 



Update goBerkeley (RPP) 

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