Bates Gives His Annual Assessment of the City

By Judith Scherr
Friday February 16, 2007

Mayor Tom Bates praised the city’s role in protecting the environment and the economic growth in many of Berkeley’s shopping districts, but spent most of his State of the City address Tuesday evening setting the stage for the future: -more-

Editorial: Astroturf and Related Plants

By Becky O'Malley
Tuesday February 13, 2007

A recent issue of the snarky British magazine New Scientist discusses a concept we must have missed, one which clearly is a good description of the web-wired political landscape. The writer notes that some large entities, an oil company in the particular example, are starting fake grass-roots political campaigns to promote ideas advantageous to the promulgators, for example touting the environmental soundness of running cars on corn. (Where have we heard that one recently?) They generate email letters to the editor which seem to be from real people, but aren’t. This kind of faux-grass-roots politicizing is coming to be known as “astroturf,” after the simulated grass now seen on many an American football field. -more-

Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Friday February 16, 2007


Commentary: Young People Need Help When Foster Care Ends

By Tony Thurmond
Friday February 16, 2007

Meeting my father for the first time in 38 years forced me to think about the experience of many young adults who transition out of the foster care system and proceed through life without forging connections to caring adults. -more-

Commentary: Brower Center, Oxford Plaza Separate but Linked

By Peter K. Buckley
Friday February 16, 2007

After years of public process, the David Brower Center and Oxford Plaza Family Housing are scheduled to break ground in April. Any major project, especially in Berkeley, receives close study. The City Council, all the various City agencies, commissions, and departments that have a voice in this civic process have carefully considered these two projects, and all have given their approvals. -more-

Commentary: Rent Increase Too Much for BHA Tenants

By Eleanor Walden
Friday February 16, 2007

The Berkeley Housing Authority Special Meeting held on Tuesday Feb. 13th was an unusual event. Not only was it not previously announced, we read about it in the Daily Planet in the Tuesday edition, consequently it was not well attended by people whose shelter depends upon BHA. With the exception of one woman who spoke right to the point: that the City Council, who sits as the Housing Authority Board of Directors, have failed for 4 or 5 years to lift the agency out of it’s “troubled,” read failing, status, the other speakers recited jargon, statistics, and acronyms. I watched the performance, or should I say charade, on television. I was shocked at the lack of passion, outrage, or meaning that was expressed by Tia Ingraham, BHA Managing Director, or Steve Barton, Berkeley Housing Director, or the City Council members. Have none of these people ever suffered insecurity? Have none of these people ever serious been faced with the prospects of poverty? Darryl Moore thanked the two for an “informative report.” I was as mystified by his accolade as if indeed English was not my native language! -more-

Commentary: Center Street Closure Needs Careful Scrutiny

By John N. Roberts
Friday February 16, 2007

The DAPAC recently recommended limiting the options for a future design study of the Center Street corridor in Downtown Berkeley to that of closure to vehicular traffic (except for service and loading) and allowance for a maximum feasible creek. In making this recommendation, the DAPAC has rejected alternate street right of way considerations that would accommodate vehicular traffic and/or parking in some manner. -more-

Letters to the Editor

Tuesday February 13, 2007


Commentary: Brower Center Project Is Misguided

By Gale Garcia
Tuesday February 13, 2007

There’s been so much spin about the “Brower Center” that I assumed most people in Berkeley had heard about it. Those of us who watch local land use in stunned dismay certainly have. -more-

Commentary: Against Divisiveness At North Shattuck

By Julie Ross
Tuesday February 13, 2007

There is no need for divisiveness about the North Shattuck Plaza at Shattuck and Vine. We’re going to build anyway, so why should there be rancor about it? There is no need for you to worry about it, talk about it or disturb yourselves. We have already obtained the approval of the City Council for its development. For the good of the community. We got the council’s approval based on your approval. If you don’t remember approving, trust us. You did. Your failure to object loudly will be deemed further approval. -more-

Commentary: Both Right and Left Hold Bizarre Views

By Rabbi Jane Rachel Litman
Tuesday February 13, 2007

Sometimes the writings of the far end of the political spectrums, both on the right and on the left, are so bizarre, one is left shaking one’s head in near disbelief. Joanna Graham’s strange conflation of unprovoked personal attacks; justification for and rationalization of what she characterizes as “the rise in anger against Jews” (what I would call anti-Semitism); and cryptic allegations of conspiracies between a local developer, the “Israel lobby machine,” and the rabbis of Congre-gation Beth El is one such example. -more-