The Golden Age of May 1970

Phil Allen
Thursday May 14, 2020 - 11:07:00 AM

Another bright May, always a dependable blessing. Under the sun and with the time to do it, I am musing on bygone days..

It seems like only yesterday. In rainy autumn of ’64, I was a high-school sophomore who’d read the accounts of the burgeoning Free Speech Movement—before the name was coined—in the Chronicle I threw each dawn. Gratis the UC administration.

It seems like only yesterday, long before lower back pain made my first dozen steps out of bed taken carefully. In the smoky May of ’69 and now a sophomore in a nearby college I drove up to Berkeley to witness the wake of the establishment of People’s Park, and to march on Memorial Day with over 30, 000 others in protest of war in Southeast Asia and the death and blinding of two young observers by police on Telegraph Avenue. Gratis the UC planners.

2014 and 2019 saw the respective golden anniversaries of both seminal events, with activities well attended by veterans of both causes. They knew one another, some convening for signal observances all along, and many of the non-attending public had heard of a few by name. I declined to join the schmoozing, however, as I’d had no direct connection with either nor a desire to be an envious wallflower.

It seems like only yesterday, during the few weeks of another sunny May, in 1970, fifty years ago, that the last of Cal and Berkeley’s Sixties turmoils played out; by fall term, the cushion of summer months dissipated a lot of physicality in protest, as it became clear that Nixon & Co. were unmoved by demonstrations opposing the on-going Vietnam War, the invasion of Cambodia and the half-dozen student killings by armed authorities on two campuses, except as expletives. The drama I was now a part of as a transfer student did not include the several sieges of window smashing on campus by crowds of unknown origin. It did include campaign work for our earliest radicalized political candidates, and the election of Ron Dellums to Congress and Ken Meade to the Assembly. (Alas, George Brown lost his primary bid for the Senate to John Tunney, one of a string of dimwits California has sent to that august body.) But this time, UC came through. -more-

Public Comment

Secrecy-Shrouded Housing Mega-Bill Unreported by California Media Could Hurt Not Help

Livable California Board of Directors
Sunday May 17, 2020 - 11:20:00 PM

In a few days, the BIG ONE is coming to California, not a quake but a secrecy-shrouded housing mega-bill, unreported by the media and written in secrecy by Sacramento legislators who relied on guesswork and non-transparency.

We do know this, about the as-yet unnamed mega-bill: When COVID-19 shuttered the state Capitol on March 17, a closed-door state Senate task force had been working on the mega-bill for four-and-a-half months.

The task force is acting despite its ignorance of changing facts on the ground that will profoundly alter some things in California:

  • What the new $54 billion state deficit will do to the July 1 budget: unknown.
  • How many Californians will join the seldom-reported, decade-long population outflow from cities to suburbs and exurbs: unknown.
  • How housing demand will change due to the pandemic/post-pandemic: unknown.
  • How many of California’s 80,000+ now-vacant Airbnbs, largely commercially owned, will go up for sale or rent, a potentially vast bump in housing supply: unknown.
  • How many of California’s millions of new “remote workers” will telecommute permanently from suburban and ex-urban homes: unknown.
  • How many new employees won’t move to California, instead telecommuting from present homes: unknown.
The Senate housing task force is living in the past. We hear their bill has “something for everyone” — a bad omen. Good things like housing funds for the homeless will be married to ugly plans to override city powers and overrun communities with luxury apartments.

Below are the 11 Worst Bills we fear may make an appearance in the BIG ONE. -more-

Letter from Inside Corporate Medicine

Sunday May 17, 2020 - 08:15:00 PM

Editor's Note: This letter was written by a young physician who works doing primary care with a large hospital corporation. The Planet has agreed to anonymous publication because of the potential for corporate retaliation.

I am up early to try to squeeze in some work before the rest of the household awakens. But I'm taking a break to write this email, because I AM SO ANGRY!

We learned yesterday that all physician salaries are going to be cut "about 10-20%" in the 3rd quarter because [the corporation] has lost 50% of its revenue in the past 3 months because of COVID-19. This will effect everyone, primary care and specialists alike.

Apparently, we "are all in this together", as the staff have already been furloughed, and the executives are all taking a "5-50% pay cut" as well.

I walked into the break room yesterday and one of the phone ladies in our office was crying. She said she'd just learned that furloughs were extending through July, and she's worried because she supports herself (a widow), her mother who has dementia, and her daughter who is addicted to drugs. She's the sole breadwinner for all, and she's worried that she won't be able to provide for them. -more-

Preparation for a Potential Wildfire Disaster: Open Letter to the Berkeley City Council and Mayor

Jurgen Aust, AICP
Sunday May 17, 2020 - 08:12:00 PM

This spring has been a most unusual one for all of us. The coronavirus has taken over all of our attention and energy and it seems that it will continue on into the summer. There is another potential disaster waiting to happen to Berkeley and the East Bay hills. All indicators point to a continued major drought, which means that an increasing amount of dried-out vegetative material could result in an immense fire load. -more-

Rumford, Reagan’s Ascent, and the Marin Legacy

Eva Chrysanthe
Friday May 15, 2020 - 10:48:00 PM

In 1980, the evening news televised Ronald Reagan championing “states’ rights” at a campaign stop in Mississippi where James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner had been lynched. -more-

Lock Him Up

Jagjit Singh
Friday May 15, 2020 - 03:56:00 PM

I am appalled and profoundly saddened by the blatant action of the Justice Department to undermine its own prosecutors in its case against Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty twice to lying to F.B.I. investigators and Vice President, Mike Pence attempting to collude with the Russians.

This is a political move, orchestrated by Attorney General Bill Barr to help his boss, Donald Trump to divert public attention away from this administration’s inadequate response to the virus and to rile up the president’s political base. I hope the presiding judge will ignore the AJ’s recommendation to dismiss the charges, as the judge has already ruled that those charges are warranted. But it is still likely that the president will pardon Mr. Flynn, citing his decision the Justice Department’s conclusion that there is no evidence of Flynn’s guilt. Sadly, the Justice Department is moving in lockstep with a highly dysfunctional president and Republican Party who have lost their moral bearings. -more-

Coming Right Up: Open Air Dining for the Wealthy

Carol Denney
Friday May 15, 2020 - 03:40:00 PM

The Berkeley City Council can't quite turn the crank on housing poor people still living in tents during the coronavirus pandemic. But they're hot on the case of solving the difficulties of wealthy diners tired of their own kitchens and cooking.

"Berkeley Safe Open Air Dining" proposed for the June 2, 2020 Action Calendar would "identify locations throughout Berkeley, including but not limited to wide sidewalks, street medians, building curtilages, surface lots, public parking areas, and parks, for the placement of tables and chairs to be used for open air dining..." This will all be arranged on behalf of the same publicly funded lobbying groups that bent themselves into pretzels and violated campaign finance laws to try to criminalize sitting on a chair or a milk carton if you're poor. -more-


Building for the Future, Not for the Past

Becky O'Malley
Sunday May 17, 2020 - 02:07:00 PM

“Never allow a good crisis go to waste. It’s an opportunity to do the things you once thought were impossible.”

This quote, from Rahm Emanuel, the frequently disliked ex-mayor of Chicago, is often cited by paranoids left and right who see things happening that they worry about.

But as we know, even paranoids have enemies, so attention must be paid.

Let’s just take a look, in no particular order, at current attempts to push through causes beloved of a variety of interests while the noisy public shelters in place.

They have common threads. Many are related to the lately-challenged theory that making dense cities even denser by feverish construction is a social good. That’s so last year, if you’ve been watching the analyses of what’s gone wrong with the rapid spread of COVID-19.

If you don’t believe me, take a look at an op-ed in this week’s online (and Sunday’s print) New York Times, from a UC Berkeley B-School faculty administrator and urban planner: Now Is the Time to Embrace Density. It’s a thorough explication of the dogma of density as the cure for all social ills.

Then take a look at the comments from readers. The Times closed them out at 254—and my quick reading didn’t see more than 5 which supported the writer’s thesis. It turns out that when you’re confined to home having a modest backyard -- open space with a little sunlight--is more appealing than ever. And also, density helps disease to spread faster.

So what’s up in the beleaguered Bay, density-wise? -more-


THE PUBLIC EYE:The U.S. Reaches the Tipping Point

Bob Burnett
Friday May 15, 2020 - 04:27:00 PM

The United States has reached a critical juncture in the 2020 battle against COVID-19, a "tipping point." This is epitomized by a small but hugely symbolic action: Donald Trump's refusal to wear a protective mask.

In his 2000 book, "The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference," Malcolm Gladwell defines a "tipping point" as a moment when there's a critical change of social perspective because a key determinant has reached critical mass. Donald Trump's refusal to wear a protective mask symbolizes his attitude about the pandemic: he's quit fighting it.

1.Trump doesn't take the pandemic seriously. During the COVID-19 crisis, Trump has been inconsistent about many things -- for example, the role of the Federal Government -- but steadfast in his refusal to wear a mask. On May 5, Donald toured an Arizona facility making N-95 protective masks but refused to don one. (The factory had multiple signs, "masks required.") On May 11, when Trump announced that all White House staff would wear a mask, he remarked that he would not. -more-


Conn Hallinan
Saturday May 09, 2020 - 11:27:00 AM

“There have been as many plagues as wars in history, yet plagues and wars take people equally by surprise”

--Albert Camus, “The Plague”

Camus’ novel of a lethal contagion in the North African city of Oran is filled with characters all too recognizable today: indifferent or incompetent officials, short sighted and selfish citizens, and lots of great courage. What not even Camus could imagine, however, is a society in the midst of a deadly epidemic pouring vast amounts of wealth into instruments of death.

Welcome to the world of the hypersonic weapons, devices that are not only superfluous, but which will almost certainly not work, They will, however, cost enormous amounts of money. At a time when countries across the globe are facing economic chaos, financial deficits and unemployment at Great Depression levels, arms manufacturers are set to cash in big.

Hypersonic weapons are missiles that go five times faster than sound—3,800 mph—although some reportedly can reach speeds of Mach 20—15,000 mph. They come in two basic varieties, one powered by a high-speed scramjet, the other –launched from a plane or missile—glides to its target. The idea behind the weapons is that their speed and maneuverability will make them virtually invulnerable to anti-missile systems.

Currently there is a hypersonic arms race going on among China, Russia and the US, and, according to the Pentagon, the Americans are desperately trying to catch up with its two adversaries.

Truth is the first casualty in an arms race. -more-

ECLECTIC RANT:U.S.: Hands Off Venezuela

Ralph E. Stone
Thursday May 14, 2020 - 05:32:00 PM

I’m sure everyone would agree that Venezuelans deserve a better government. Let’s face it, the late Hugo Chávez's vision of a modern day “Bolivarian revolution” — a Latin American political block with a socialist bent as an alternative to U.S. hegemony. — has descended into repression and economic decline under Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. About 5 million Venezuelans have migrated elsewhere. -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Causes and Effects of Brain Fatigue

Jack Bragen
Friday May 15, 2020 - 03:59:00 PM

Brain fatigue can be caused by a number of things. It can limit how much a person can handle, and it can affect numerous areas of one's life. When the brain is fatigued, it should be rested. If you do not give your brain some time off, you will not be able to rebuild capacity following a mental exertion.

Brain-intensive activities are affected by brain fatigue. Reading dense material or writing can be highly brain intensive. Many things are potentially brain intensive, including some that might surprise you.

Strong emotions seem to affect mental capacity. I know that following an episode of nervousness, it is harder to concentrate on something neutral.

I know that I am more subject to brain fatigue than most people, and it takes me longer to recover. This is a factor that limits my ability to handle anything that resembles professional employment. When my brain needs rest, it needs rest. In many "thinking jobs" a worker doesn't have that opportunity--they are expected to maintain an acceptable pace for eight hours or more, five days a week. -more-

SMITHEREENS: Reflections on Bits & Pieces

Gar Smith
Friday May 15, 2020 - 04:19:00 PM

What's in a Name? Flowers and Rocks

Recently, I found myself wondering: How many ladies have been named after flowers? In the English language alone, we have Lily, Daisy, Rose, Rosemary, Ivy, Holly, Poppy, Violet, Jasmine, Willow, Iris, Juniper, Petunia, Ayana, Heather, Dahlia, Magnolia, Azalea, Marigold and Myrtle.

And then there's my Goth cousin, Hydrangea.

But what floral names come to mind when we're talking about guys? I could only think of one: Bud.

According to Google lore, there are only a few floral options for boys. "Ren," in Japanese, means "lotus." (Kevin Bacon's character in the film Footloose was named Ren.) "Jared," is the Hebrew word for "rose." And there's a flower called "Sweet William" but that's more a case of a flower being named after a boy. It's more likely that a boy would bear the name of a tree (as in: Alder, Cedar, Clem, Elm/Elmore, Oak, or Sequoia) than a flower. ("Elon" is also a tree-name for boys but, according to Nameberry.com, the name's popularity planked 50% after Elon Musk illegally re-opened his Tesla auto assembly plant.) "Trevor" comes from Shatrevar, the Persian word for "flower" but when's the last time you met a fellow named Arnit, Cypress, Florent, Indigo, Moss, Oleander, Saffron, Sage, Sorrel, or Yarrow (all present on a list of potential "baby names for boys")?

It's more likely that boys are going to be named after a mineral than a flower. I'm thinking of Rocky, Stoney, Cliff, Clay, Claude (pronounced "clod"), Flint, Diamond, Garnet, Granite, Jasper, Mica, Slate, Steel, and Sterling. (The ladies garner the following hard-rock titles: Amber, Crystal, Emerald, Jade, Jewel, Opal, Ruby, Sapphire, and Zirconia.)

Charles Manson's Greatest Hits

In his May 10 Chronicle column, film critic Mick LaSalle responded to a letter from a reader who challenged LaSalle's statement that people like Adolf Hitler, Osama bin Laden, and Charles Manson were incapable of accomplishing anything "humane or beautiful." While stipulating his belief that Manson should have been "executed," the reader noted that the murder-cult leader—unlike Hitler or bin Laden—had written and recorded a number of serviceable ballads and he invited LaSalle to audition Manson's "Look at Your Game, Girl."

LaSalle gave a listen and conceded: "I've heard worse on the radio—and he was a good singer." However, LaSalle added: "If we're talking about good songs by evil people, you could also make the case that The Horst Wessel Song has a good beat and you can dance to it." (Note: this Nazi anthem has been banned from YouTube.)

Many of Manson's songs bore appropriately dark titles including ""Cease to Exist," "People Say I'm No Good," "Love's Death," and "Don't Do Anything Illegal."

There's even a full-length album titled "The Manson Family Sings the Songs of Charles Manson." Among the 12 songs on the LP are: "No Wrong," "I'll Never Say Never to Always," "Goin' to the Churchyard," and "I'm Scratching Peace Symbols On Your Tombstone." -more-



Kelly Hammargren, Sustainable Berkeley Coalition
Saturday May 16, 2020 - 03:51:00 PM

Worth Noting and Responding with phone call or email:

There are six public meetings this coming week with three on Tuesday and three on Thursday.

Tuesday - Budget Committee - While the State of California projects a 22.3% drop in revenue for the 2020-2021 year, a $54.3 billion deficit, a 27.2% drop in sales tax revenue, 18% unemployment for the budget year and a peak of 24.5% unemployment, a drop in personal income tax revenue of 22.5%, https://laist.com/latest/post/20200514/california-budget-revision-and-coronavirus-updates-may-14-2020 , a drop in revenue from hospitality industry of 50%, a reduction in new building permits by 21%, an increase in costs responding to COVID-19, and it is all layered over drought and wild fires. The City of Berkeley asked departments to look at deferrals/budget adjustments of 10%, 12% and 15%. For the present the Council Budget Committee meets weekly, but despite a projected City revenue loss of $25.5 million the City Council Agenda items still point to contract commitments and expenditures that paint a significant rosier picture than what was presented by the Governor on May 14.

Thursday - Design Review is meeting with preliminary review of three projects.

The City Council Agenda for the May 26 meeting is available for comment (agenda follows daily calendar) and contains some mind-boggling items and agenda order. Take a look at items 18, 19, 20, 21 and 27. Item 18. $6.1 million on recyclable materials, items 19., 20., 21. total $10,193,714 in contracts to generate parking revenue through fees and fines and item 27. The Emergency Ordinance to enhance tenant protections during the pandemic is placed as the very last item on a long agenda. Will the Council even get to tenant protections.

The Saturday noon Town Halls with the Mayor continue. Since questions need to be submitted in advance by 9 am on Saturday using this form and there is no live interchange with the public watch anytime on the Mayor’s YouTube site or watch as it is live streamed on jessearreguin.com. Video Updates from the Mayor on COVID-19 are on Mondays and Wednesdays and are posted on the Mayor’s YouTube page, the same site as the posted Town Halls. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgXaP2idglejM_r7Iv7my6w -more-

Back Stories



Building for the Future, Not for the Past 05-17-2020

Public Comment

Secrecy-Shrouded Housing Mega-Bill Unreported by California Media Could Hurt Not Help Livable California Board of Directors 05-17-2020

Letter from Inside Corporate Medicine Anonymous 05-17-2020

Preparation for a Potential Wildfire Disaster: Open Letter to the Berkeley City Council and Mayor Jurgen Aust, AICP 05-17-2020

Rumford, Reagan’s Ascent, and the Marin Legacy Eva Chrysanthe 05-15-2020

Lock Him Up Jagjit Singh 05-15-2020

Coming Right Up: Open Air Dining for the Wealthy Carol Denney 05-15-2020


The Golden Age of May 1970 Phil Allen 05-14-2020


THE PUBLIC EYE:The U.S. Reaches the Tipping Point Bob Burnett 05-15-2020

DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE: Plague & War Conn Hallinan 05-09-2020

ECLECTIC RANT:U.S.: Hands Off Venezuela Ralph E. Stone 05-14-2020

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Causes and Effects of Brain Fatigue Jack Bragen 05-15-2020

SMITHEREENS: Reflections on Bits & Pieces Gar Smith 05-15-2020

Arts & Events

THE BERKELEY ACTIVIST'S CALENDAR:May 17-24 Kelly Hammargren, Sustainable Berkeley Coalition 05-16-2020