[EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the introductory section of an eight-part series sponsored by the Berkeley Daily Planet in cooperation with several other publications, organized by the spot.us non-profit organization. The whole series can be found here on the spot.us site.]
“As universities become glorified vocational schools for corporations they adopt values and operating techniques of the corporations they serve.” – Chris Hedges (Empire of Illusion, 2009)
Part One: Overview of the investigation
Experts identify multiple conflicts of interest among an elite group that oversees investments for the University of California.
Last fall, amid an unprecedented state budget crisis, the University of California Board of Regents took extraordinary measures to cut costs and generate revenue. Lecturers were furloughed, classes eliminated. The board reduced admissions for in-state students, while increasing the admission of out-of-state students, who pay higher fees than state residents. And to the consternation of tens of thousands of students, undergraduate tuition was raised by 32 percent, with more hikes to come.
It now costs about $30,000 per year to attend the University of California (UC) as an undergraduate, including tuition and expenses. Even with student aid, it’s a sum beyond the means of many students and their families.
While education took a beating, the regents authorized $3 million in bonuses to a handful of top administrators, and reduced the salaries of janitorial staff. The regents approved new construction projects, including a sports stadium. They assured Wall Street bond underwriters that periodic tuition increases would help pay off hundreds of millions of dollars in new construction loans.
Objecting to the tuition increases, UC students, employees, and professors staged demonstrations at regents’ meetings and on campuses across the state. Some protestors accused the regents of “privatizing” the university to benefit industrial corporations and Wall Street investors. While it is true that the university’s ties to corporate and banking interests are many and legion, there is a special kind of privatization taking place behind closed doors.
Our eight-month investigation reveals that some members of the regents’ investment committee, who are also Wall Street heavy-hitters, have modified long-standing investment policies in a way that benefited their own financial holdings. The fallout: multiple conflicts of interest. -more-
Last Thursday, the Berkeley High School Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) met at the school’s Florence Schwimley Theater. This assembly at the beginning of each school year gathers the BHS parents/guardian community, and on this evening, the grassroots energy and enthusiasm were abundant. -more-
Two Berkeleyans Win Big in Bay Area Contests: Singer Angela Arnold and Environmentalist Mark Liolios
Soprano Angela Arnold of Berkeley has won the competition to sing the National Anthem at Opera at the Ballpark, San Francisco Opera’s free simulcast of Verdi’s Aida, Friday, September 24, 8pm at AT&T Park in San Francisco. Angela is the Circulation and Stacks Supervisor at UC Berkeley's Hargrove Music Library and a professional soloist – you can hear her with the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra Chorale! You can see her winning video here. . -more-
Community members have real health concerns re pollution from Pacific Steel Castings company located at 2nd and Gilman. Here are a few of the problem chemicals: -more-
Providing further proof that trash in San Francisco Bay is a serious pollution threat to people and wildlife, Save The Bay's 5th Annual Bay Trash Hot Spots includes 225 creeks and shoreline areas where cities identified toxic levels of plastic bags, cigarette butts, fast food containers, old tires and more. Trash is a dangerous pollutant that harms wildlife, spoils water quality, threatens public health, and smothers sensitive wetland habitat. Interactive maps showcasing the 225 hot spots can be found at: www.saveSFbay.org/baytrash . -more-
Pool Politics Revealed
Normally Daily Cal news items are made available through the Google news search. However a recent news story, "Election Politics May Have Swayed Council Pool Vote", which did see print on paper and is archived online does not appear in the Google news search. Since websites can control accessibility though Google news, it would seem that the Daily Cal is keeping the story from appearing in search results. That story reveals that two city council members voted against the Worthington-Wozniak compromise because they didn't want Kriss Worthington to have a success before the election. So two city council members, George Beier does not tell their names, voted against children in an attempt to sabotage Worthington's re-electability. Those two council members should oust themselves from office immediately. Playing politics with youth recreation is revolting. Those two council members are in support of Beier obviously, who is running in unity with Wozniak; yet the vote was against a compromise Wozniak co-created. Lastly, in an issue separate from the pool, Beier was invited to the People's Park committee meeting this week, and he did not show up, even though he is running on a platform to change People's Park.
Nathan Pitts -more-
When I was elected as school member 20 years ago, the city had not done any major repairs, modernization or expansion in 20 years. Many of schools had not been seismically retrofitted. During my time as school board member, I changed state laws to get more funding for Oakland and other urban districts and I raised local bonds. This allowed us to expand and reduce class sized to 20 in grades K-3, and modernize and retrofit our schools. -more-
OK…if Bill Maher has the cojones to speak up, so do I.
In November a crucial measure will be put to a vote:
Proposition 19—The Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010 -more-
If I stood on a public street and sprayed school kids with bug spray, I hope you would be outraged. -more-
Berkeley’s Pacifica Radio Station KPFA’s (94.1 FM) jazz programmer or jazz activist, as he sometimes referred to himself, “The Doug of Edwards” died in the mid morning of September 19, 2010 at the age of 80. Earland Edwards was his legal name, but he was called Doug by most. For the past thirty years, beginning in May of 1980, never once arriving late for his show, Doug was heard live from 11 PM – 1 AM on Saturday nights hosting his jazz program, Ear Tyme. Sometimes called “Sir Doug of Edwards” by his close KPFA friends Afikahn Jahmal Davys and Ken Pruitt, from the time he joined KPFA until failing health led to his hospitalization a few weeks ago, Doug punctuated virtually every show with his signature theme music, Milt Jackson’s Blues for Roberta, signaling the identity of the show and transitions . -more-
When the New York Times gives a West Coast person, other than a politician, an obituary that is almost news in itself. So I was happy to see that the death last week of William Coblentz, the San Francisco attorney, made it to the Times, not least because of his long service as a regent of the University of California. As a land use attorney Coblentz, or at least his firm, was not always on the side of the angels, in San Francisco or here in Berkeley, but on the Board of Regents he was a refreshing voice of progressivism. -more-
This week, ladies and gentleman, we offer for your viewing pleasure the return of one of the greatest shows on earth—well, anyway, one of the scariest shows in Berkeley. Yes, Mesdames et Messieurs, the Berkeley City Council is finally back in town, appearing occasionally at a venue near you, and visible from time to time on your computer screen for sensational at-home entertainment. Live and/or taped coverage can also be enjoyed on cable television Public Access Stations B-TV Channel 28 and C-TV Channel 33. -more-
Big predators have a powerful mystique, a theme explored by David Quammen in his book Monsters of God. If the police had shot a coyote on Shattuck Avenue, would anyone have set up a shrine in its memory? -more-
Peace talks involving the Taliban and its allies are apparently underway, according to the Asia Times (AT), and from most accounts a deal appears doable. AT’s Pakistan bureau chief Syed Saleem Shahzad reported Sept. 11 and 15th that, under the auspices of the Pakistan military and intelligence services, “serious negotiations” were taking place, with Saudi Arabia serving as the go-between to the U.S. -more-
Reporter: “Are you a mod or a rocker?”
Ringo Starr: “No, I’m a mocker.”
Since last October I’ve been engaged in trying to get a HAMP modification for my mortgage. I was rejected outright once, began the reapplication process in May (because you have to start all over once you’re rejected), flew to Washington DC in mid-July to attend an event sponsored by the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America, where I was told I would have a reply from Fannie Mae in a week. You may have noticed it is now September. The GMAC representative will not return my calls or e-mails. -more-
Thinking of adopting a cat? This column is both an invitation to do so and a warning not to. -more-
It’s six months since the first “Senior Power” column. I’ve received emails from as far as New Zealand and even Texas! I appreciate the positive comments. Some of the questions deserve an attempt at response. As Levi Strauss put it, “ An expert knows all the answers - if you ask the right questions. ” Here goes Q & A. -more-
Arts & Events
The Berkeley Film and Video Festivals marks its 19th year this weekend with another vast and varied program of independent productions. If there’s a theme to the annual festival, the theme is that there is no theme; it simply showcases independent film in all its unruly diversity, from the brilliant to the silly, from mainstream to left field, from documentaries and drama to comedy and cutting-edge avant garde. -more-
Joana Carneiro will ascend the podium Thursday evening at 7 to inaugurate Berkeley Symphony's new season at Zellerbach Hall with two violin concertos: Beethoven's Violin Concerto in D major, opus 61, and John Adams' Violin Concerto--with violinist Jennifer Koh, 2008 Grammy nominee, as guest soloist. Following the concert will be a dinner for subscribers at Zellerbach to celebrate the new season--and the music of John Adams. $20-$60. 841-2800; berkeleysymphony.org -more-
Truth be known, in my house we watch TV reruns of “Criminal Minds” just to see Mandy Patinkin. -more-
Howl is an unusual hybrid — a feature film and a documentary interrupted by a turbo-charged acid trip. It’s a film of three parts: a POV interview with the poet, a courtroom drama, and an animated evocation of Ginsberg’s breakthrough poem. -more-
Those of you avid lovers of music, dance and drama will be in absolute Seventh Heaven on Sunday, September 26th when Cal Performances presents its "Fall Free for All" program, starting at 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. These programs, too numerous to mention, will take place at Zellerbch Hall, Hertz Hall, Wheeler Auditorium and Lower Sproul Plaza. -more-
Every year since our first Berkeley pow wow in 1993, I have borrowed a chalker from the city parks department—the kind with wheels that they use for marking softball playing fields—to lay out the pow wow circle. In the late afternoon of the day before the event, our pow wow committee meets on the grassy lawn of Civic Center Park. I bring a rope about 12 paces long, the chalker, and a large bag of powdered chalk. We explain what we are doing to all the high school students relaxing there or playing Frisbee, and once they understand they gladly move to one side. A member of the committee holds one end of the rope in the exact center of the park. We tie the other end of the rope to the chalker and another person pushes it in a perfect circle with about a 60 foot diameter. On the east end of the circle we chalk a turtle’s head, on the west end a tail, and four turtle feet in between. It has now become a special place, the pow wow arena. -more-