The Week

The stone medallion which decorates the front of the West Berkeley branch library.
Gail Garcia
The stone medallion which decorates the front of the West Berkeley branch library.


Flash: Fire in Telegraph Apartment Building Extinguished Quickly by Berkeley Firefighters

By the Planet (Updated)
Tuesday February 22, 2011 - 05:02:00 PM

The Sequoia Apartments at the corner of Telegraph and Haste, the building which housed Mario's La Fiesta for more than 30 years, experienced a big, smoky fire two-alarm fire this afternoon, attracting fire crews from all stations in the city of Berkeley. -more-

Berkeley City Council Fails to Pass Controversial Resolutions

By Charlotte Perry-Houts
Tuesday February 22, 2011 - 10:11:00 AM

            Last Tuesday the Berkeley City Council discussed open government, Bradley Manning, the Affordable Housing Impact Fee, and PG&E's pipelines in Berkeley.


Updated: Downtown Berkeley's Arpeggio Building is in Trouble

Friday February 18, 2011 - 09:32:00 AM
Exterior of the Arpeggio Building in December, 2010.

It looks like the nine-story SNK Realty Group’s Arpeggio building, under construction on Center Street in downtown Berkeley, is on hold, at least for the moment. Passersby have noticed that construction has been halted for several weeks. The sales office on the site has closed, and the Planet’s calls to the sales number listed on the project’s website instead reached an independent Oakland real estate broker, who said that units would not be for sale until at least June. -more-

Last Council Meeting on West Berkeley will be Tuesday

Friday February 18, 2011 - 11:03:00 AM

The last public hearing on proposals to amend the West Berkeley plan and its zoning will be held in the City Council chambers of the Maudelle Shirek (Old City Hall) Building on Tuesday, February 22 at 7 p.m. The agenda and new written communications from West Berkeley business owners can be found here. -more-

Berkeley Police Seek Holdup Suspect

Friday February 18, 2011 - 10:43:00 AM

The City of Berkeley Police Department has released a photo and description of a suspect in the January 6 holdup of the CVS phamacy on Shattuck. It can be seen here. -more-

Flash: COMPUTER PROBLEMS! Try again soon if you get an error message.

Thursday February 17, 2011 - 05:40:00 PM

We're sorry to inform you that we've been experiencing intermittent outages on the server which a local company maintains for us with the Planet's data. We (and they) are working on the problem, but it might take a while to fix. In the meantime, if you get an error message from our site, try again in a few minutes--that's the best we can do for now. -more-

Berkeley Council Fails to Pass Guantanamo Detainee Refuge Resolution

By Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Wednesday February 16, 2011 - 09:49:00 PM

The Berkeley City Council has rejected a resolution that would have invited "one or two" Guantanamo Bay detainees to resettle in Berkeley. -more-

School District Committee Plans to Allocate Taxpayer-Provided Funds

By Raymond Barglow, Berkeley Tutors Network,
Wednesday February 16, 2011 - 11:33:00 AM
The information above comes from the BSEP website:

Berkeley public schools are supported by supplementary funds coming from the “Berkeley Schools Excellence Program” (BSEP). These funds are provided by Berkeley voters, who once again this past November passed bond measures in support of the schools. The funds are, by law, allocated for specific educational purposes, and a “Planning and Oversight Committee” (P&O) oversees implementation.

Last week, the BSEP P&O Committee met to hear a report from Superintendent Bill Huyett about allocating funds for the next school year. Huyett noted that it is possible to shift some BSEP funding to compensate for state funding shortfalls, but that this has to be done in accordance with the will of the voters as expressed in the BSEP guidelines. P&O Chair Dan Lindheim also spoke about the importance of maintaining the trust of the voters, while acknowledging that “There is lots of debate about the meaning of words in the regulations.” -more-

Barbara Lee Takes Afghanistan Issue to Democratic Party National Committee

By Tom Hayden / The Peace Exchange Bulletin
Tuesday February 15, 2011 - 09:56:00 PM

Rep. Barbara Lee is proposing that the Democratic National Committee officially commit itself to a policy of "prioritizing job creation and a swift withdrawal of US armed forces and military contractors in Afghanistan which must include a significant and sizable reduction no later than July 2011." The DNC will take up the resolution at its Feb. 24-26 meeting in Washington, D.C. -more-

Updated: The Crowd-funding Revolution and the Reinvention of Capitalism

By Gar Smith
Tuesday February 15, 2011 - 07:59:00 PM

It's never easy raising cash to start a new business. This truism was the focus of a recent meeting of the Sustainable Business Alliance (SBA).

On February 7, scores of local entrepreneurs poured into The Hub, on the forth floor of Berkeley’s David Brower Center (corner of Oxford and Addison), to hear a panel of fund-raising experts discuss a host of cash-chasing solutions -- ranging from community financing and crowd-funding, to peer-lending, socially responsible investment funds and direct public offerings. -more-

In Berkeley's People's Park: A Slow Week in Lake Woebegone
Except for Rats, as Park Activists Eschew Violence,
Focus on 42nd Anniversary

By Ted Friedman
Tuesday February 15, 2011 - 08:07:00 PM

It was a slow week in Lake Woebegone, aka People's Park. Park rats kept to schedule, however. -more-

Joanne Kowalski, 1938-2011

By Nancy Holland
Tuesday February 15, 2011 - 10:09:00 PM

A neighbor's chalk on sidewalk tribute to Joanne reads " to be smart is fine, to be kind is better, to be both can be divine." -more-

In Memory of Fast Eddie

By Lydia Gans
Tuesday February 15, 2011 - 10:30:00 PM

A year ago we ran a story about the weekly drum circle at the Ashby BART station. One of the people featured was Fast Eddie who for years had set the rhythms and inspired many of the other drummers to work on their techniques and to appreciate their African heritage. Last weekend there was a bowl of flowers at the base of the tree by the drum circle and a notice of a memorial service for Eddie. Someone came by and placed a candle with the flowers. Eddie Jones was killed on January 23. He was 62 years old. It was not a random killing. -more-



Manufacturing Consent in Berkeley

By Becky O'Malley
Wednesday February 16, 2011 - 11:43:00 AM

In case you ever wondered why things happen the way they do in the People’s Republic of Berkeley, our putative democracy, consider this:

The local Berkeleyside website recently reported on what was billed as a “novel forum”, a very pricey online poll paid for (with city funds?) by the councilmembers from Berkeley’s three most affluent council districts: District 5’s Laurie Capitelli (Thousand Oaks etc.), District 6’s Susan Wengraf (the high Berkeley Hills) and District 8’s Gordon Wozniak (Claremont-Elmwood). The pollster was Peak Democracy, a self-described “non-partisan company whose mission is to broaden civic engagement and build public trust in government.”

Non-partisan? Well, they might not be big-D Dems or big-R Repugs, but they do have an oar or two in the water. -more-


Cartoon Page: Odd Bodkins, BOUNCE

Thursday February 17, 2011 - 02:07:00 PM

Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Tuesday February 15, 2011 - 08:21:00 PM

What Would Dr. King Do? -more-

Say It Loud!

By Angela Tomeoni
Wednesday February 16, 2011 - 10:35:00 PM

Oakland“Plant Blight” Shakedown Update #3: Yes, It’s More Than Just About The Rosebushes!

By Bob Brokl
Tuesday February 15, 2011 - 08:50:00 PM

My partner and I paid a huge $1279. fine for our “plant blight” violation on a California bungalow rental property. We were targeted by an angry neighbor enlisting a Public Works Dept. employee as inside advocate. But, to quote the old cliché about lemonade out of lemons, our shakedown has been the spur for a morbidly fascinating study of the dark side of the community and Economic Development agency (CEDA) Building Services Dept. This department makes up and applies its own rules, levies stiff fines, fees, and liens as it sees fit, and then forgives and removes same for those with the right juice. Moreover, their in-house “appeal process” is a bogus kangaroo court. -more-

Demolition of Branch Libraries – Not What the Voters Approved

By Gale Garcia
Tuesday February 15, 2011 - 05:46:00 PM

I grew up loving Berkeley’s historic architecture. Until age nine, I lived about seven blocks from the West Berkeley Branch Library. I viewed this Classical Revival structure fondly every time I went down University Avenue. Its stone medallions, representing the curved pages of an open book, seemed to invite one into the joy of reading and the magic of books. How appropriate for a library! -more-

HUAC** at Peace and Justice Commission?

By Gene Bernardi
Tuesday February 15, 2011 - 07:59:00 PM

A rather startling interruption occurred during the Peace and Justice Commission’s (P&J) discussion of a motion at its February 7, 2011 meeting. The motion was to send a letter drafted by the P&J’s Nuclear Free Berkeley Act (NFBA) subcommittee to Library Director Donna Corbeil, asking for “clarification as to whether the risk of unsupported checkout systems, a possible result of the identified gap between the end of the 3M contract and installation of the Bibliotheca system, places at risk the termination of the 3M contract by 14 March, 2011.” -more-

Tree Sit, Tree Sit, Tree Sit

By Dan McMullan, Disabled People Outside
Wednesday February 16, 2011 - 08:57:00 AM

Someone sent me a crazy letter that was sent in to the Planet about People's Park. I could go on point by point ad nauseum, about its crazy assertions So I will. As a disabled person who was thrown on the streets after over a year in the hospital.In one fine day I lost my leg, use of an arm, my pelvis broken in 7 places, back, head and clavicle fractures and 5 broken ribs. These kind of injuries can make work a challenge so excuse me if I take offense at the "get a job" B.S. -more-

Support KPFA's Winter Fund Drive Feb 14 - Mar 4

By Akio Tanaka, KPFA Local Station Board member
Tuesday February 15, 2011 - 10:36:00 PM

Last year KPFA was on course to a fiscal train wreck. (See the graph above). The Pacifica National Board (PNB) stepped in to bring the KPFA finances under control which necessitated some cuts in staff. Seven people took voluntary severance, and in the end two people were laid off. -more-

Mubarak Resigns: YAH-YA MISR – “Long Live Egypt”

By H. Scott Prosterman
Tuesday February 15, 2011 - 10:26:00 PM

Hosni Mubarak has finally resigned. The man who was a cautionary, pro-American caretaker for 30 years morphed into one of the most brutal and autocratic dictators on the planet. In the interim, he milked the U.S. State Department for $billions as a legacy of the Camp David accords, and hopefully closed the chapter on the American policy of supporting autocratic regimes, friendly to Western interests, at the expense of human rights and real liberalization. Until recently, a dictator could carefully control the information by shutting down newspapers, radio and TV stations. Thanks to the global information network, that tactic is now a sure backfire. -more-


Dispatches From The Edge: The Irish Elections & the Ghost of Padraic Pearse

By Conn Hallinan
Tuesday February 15, 2011 - 10:17:00 PM

“I say to the masters of my people, beware. Beware of the thing that is coming, Beware of the risen people who shall take what yea would not give.”
Padraic Pearse, Irish poet and revolutionary, executed May 16, 1916 for his part in the Easter Rebellion.

It is almost a hundred years since Pearse and his comrades were executed in the aftermath of the failed rising of 1916, but the people who run the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Union (EU) might take a moment to read his poem—originally read over the grave of the great Fenian leader, Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa—and take notice: an election is scheduled for Feb. 25, and Irish eyes are not smiling.

At stake is whether Ireland will lock itself into decades of high unemployment, burdensome taxes, and eviscerated social services in order to bail banks and real estate speculators out of trouble, or rise up and say “enough.” -more-

The Public Eye: Republicans Renew Their War on Women

By Bob Burnett
Tuesday February 15, 2011 - 08:46:00 PM

The new Republican House majority had no sooner settled into their offices than they proposed savage restrictions of women’s reproductive rights. Americans might question the GOP actions, since the new laws have nothing to do with Republican campaign promises to create jobs and reduce the Federal deficit. But it’s consistent with their archconservative ideology, yet another brutal attack in the three-decades-old Republican war on women. -more-

Eclectic Rant: Time for the U.S. to Cease Support of the Museveni Regime in Uganda

By Ralph E. Stone
Tuesday February 15, 2011 - 08:37:00 PM

Last October, a Kampala, Uganda tabloid newspaper ran a diatribe identifying 100 individuals it described as "Uganda's top homos." The article was accompanied by a front-page picture of David Kato, the most outspoken gay rights advocate in Uganda, saying "Hang Them." On January 26, 2011, David Kato was beaten to death at his home outside Kampala. No one really believes the murder of Kato was not related to the article and Uganda's governmental animosity towards homosexuals. -more-

On Mental Illness: Common Misconceptions

By Jack Bragen
Tuesday February 15, 2011 - 08:35:00 PM

When someone uses the word, “Schizophrenic,” (applied to a mentally ill person and not used as modern slang to represent a dichotomy) the first association for many people is “split personality.” However, Schizophrenia is not the same thing as multiple personalities. When a doctor uses the term split personality, it means that the afflicted person’s personality has split off from reality. The personality could be intact, but stuck in an internally generated false world. Input from the five senses gets reinterpreted in bizarre and strange ways. An obvious fact could be ignored, dismissed, or given a completely different interpretation. -more-

Senior Power: Age Well

By Helen Rippier Wheeler
Tuesday February 15, 2011 - 08:25:00 PM

There’s too little emphasis on seniors as individuals as well as on their involvement in senior center programming. -more-

Arts & Events

Theater Review: Collapse, at the Aurora

By Ken Bullock
Wednesday February 16, 2011 - 08:11:00 AM

"On a mission ... embracing the fear!" A couple trying to have a baby—“All we can do is go to the clinic and hope for the best!"—is suddenly confronted at home by the wife's ecstatically homeless sister, returning from a trip to move in with them ... and carrying a package to be delivered to some party with a gamey handle ... -more-

Around and About

By Ken Bullock
Tuesday February 15, 2011 - 07:56:00 PM

Poetry Reading/Photography Exhibit -more-