The Week

Mario's party crowd
Mario's party crowd


Flash: Stabbing Charge Dropped in Berkeley's People's Park Tree-Sit; Midnight Matt Released From Jail Around Midnight

By Ted Friedman
Tuesday April 05, 2011 - 01:38:00 PM

Follow the synchronicity.

Matthew Dodt, 53,aka "Midnight Matt", who defended himself with a camping knife from tree invasion in his tree in People's Park only to wind up in Santa Rita Jail, was released shortly before midnight Monday, according to a releasing officer at the jail.

He served 61 days in Santa Rita and 91 days in the tree. The synchronicity is in there somewhere. -more-

Press Release: April 2, 2011 Incident Involving Berkeley Police Department and Pit Bull

From David A. Frankel [Berkeley Police Department spokesperson]
Sunday April 03, 2011 - 05:19:00 PM

On Saturday, April 2, 2011 at approximately 3:30 p.m. the City of Berkeley Police Department (BPD) got a call from a resident in the 3200 block of Shattuck Avenue who reported that a man was firing a handgun in the rear yard of a nearby residence. BPD Officers responded immediately and met with the witness/caller who pointed out the home to the officers. Officers contacted the occupants who complied with officers’ orders to exit the home. During the process, a Pit-bull dog came out of the residence and refused to comply with the verbal commands issued by one of the occupants. The dog then growled and lunged at one of the officers causing that officer to fear for his safety. This officer fired one round from his pistol at the dog and it died instantly. -more-

Quick Action Needed to Stop Proposed Berkeley Anti-Sit Ordinance (Commentary)

By Sally Hindman, Youth Spirit Artworks
Sunday April 03, 2011 - 10:29:00 AM

The City of Berkeley is once again considering action on an anti-sitting ordinance, which would single out homeless people for ticketing, arrests, and possible jail if they are found sitting on the sidewalk in commercial districts. This "perennial weed" (anti-sitting/lying initiatives) is resurfacing, of course, in the worst economic recession in many years, and distracts our community from the step-by-step continued hard work we need to take toward ending homelessness.

Street Spirit will have material about this in its upcoming April issue. Homeless youth are a key target of the proposed effort--yet Berkeley currently has no drop in center for homeless young people and also only has a six month youth shelter with room for 25 young people open from 8pm til 8am. Where do folks expect youth to SIT, if not on the street, with no place to go!!!

The City of Berkeley Chamber of Commerce will be considering whether to push forward as the leader in this fight at its meeting on Monday April 4 Noon to 1pm at the Chamber office located at: 1834 University Avenue--near MLK. -more-

Updated: Brutality Charged as Berkeley Police Shoot Pet Dog

By Becky O'Malley
Saturday April 02, 2011 - 11:14:00 PM
Rock (nicknamed Big Baby)

The Planet at 9:21 on Saturday night received an email from Zviki ben Yishay, who lives in Los Angeles, alleging that Berkeley police officers shot and killed a pet dog belonging to his brother, who lives on Shattuck Avenue in South Berkeley. This is what he wrote: -more-


Saturday April 02, 2011 - 11:48:00 AM

We've been told that some readers didn't know that the Point Molate "story" below was an April Fool's joke cleverly hatched by Tom Butt, and that "There is a casino hearing on Tuesday and this could easily trick a lot of people (who want to voice their opinions on the casino) into missing the hearing." Don't be fooled any longer. April Fool's day is over. -more-

Berkeley Loves Telegraph Icons
Mario and Rosalinda Tejada
and Proves It at Gigantic Retirement Bash

By Ted Friedman
Friday April 01, 2011 - 05:28:00 PM
Mario, Manny Lopez--new owner, Mario Jr.

If you are throwing a retirement bash billed as "Berkeley Loves Mario and Rosalinda" (Tejada)—Berkeley had better mean it.

Boy, did Berkeley mean it, as hundreds jammed Mario's La Fiesta, next to Amoeba on Haste Thursday night for a lavish spread, free bar, and Mariachi band to pour out its heart to South side Berkeley's favorite couple. -more-

See Saturn Shining Bright in April

By Saul Sugarman (BCN)
Friday April 01, 2011 - 11:37:00 PM

Bay Area residents are dusting off their telescopes and braving chilly evening breezes in hopes of catching a glimpse of the planet Saturn, which is poised for optimal viewing during the month of April. Saturn will be at opposition beginning Sunday night, meaning it will position itself along a straight line with the Earth and sun, said Jeffrey Silverman, public liaison for the University of California at Berkeley's Astronomy Department. Silverman said the department calendar has no special event planned for the ringed planet's shining moment because the phenomenon itself is not that extraordinary. "Saturn is going to be slightly more interesting to look at, but not much," he said. "At opposition, its rings brighten for a few days, but beyond that, opposition doesn't mean anything really special for observers on Earth," he said. Still, a casual observer will note Saturn as one of the brightest objects in the night sky seen with the naked eye beginning Sunday until about the end of summer, Silverman said. More ambitious enthusiasts can use shorter-range telescopes to spot the planet's lustrous hoops and maybe a small moon or two. -more-

Flash: WARNING: APRIL FOOl!!! Breaking News - Feds Kabosh Point Molate Casino!

By Tom Butt, Richmond Councilmember
Friday April 01, 2011 - 09:52:00 AM

With a critical April 5 vote less than a week away, a convoluted and fast moving chain of events involving a trio of federal agencies has apparently terminated the more than six year odyssey intended to turn Point Molate into an Indian casino anchoring a destination resort. A deal was reached at 12:01 AM today, EDT, among all parties for an unprecedented land swap that will end the casino project forever. In the creative new plan, the Department of Agriculture will exchange approximately 2,600 acres in the Mendocino National Forest to the Guidiville Band of the Pomo Indians, the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation and investors in Upstream Point Molate LLC for their rights under the Land Development Agreement for Point Molate. Point Molate will then be conveyed by the City of Richmond to the National Park Service, which will set up an operational and development plan similar to The Presidio Trust. -more-

WARNING: APRIL FOOL!! Inspired by Parkmerced, San Francisco Unveils New Citywide Demolition Program--Berkeley to Follow Lead

By Reed M. Prack (BeyondChron)
Friday April 01, 2011 - 09:49:00 AM

At a press conference yesterday afternoon, Mayor Ed Lee and Supervisor Sean Elsbernd announced a new development strategy inspired by the proposed Parkmerced project. Under the new “Transit Oriented Demolition and Development” plan, the City will offer incentives to developers that agree to demolish existing low-density residential neighborhoods with older housing (“TODD zones”) and replace them with higher density, “transit oriented” development.

Berkeley officials who declined to be identified endorsed a similar proposal for the low-density area around the North Berkeley BART station, although they also declined to reveal the details of the plan. -more-

Berkeley School Superintendent Considers Safety Measures

By Jeff Shuttleworth(BCN)
Thursday March 31, 2011 - 07:06:00 PM

Berkeley school Superintendent Bill Huyett said today that he is considering a variety of measures to improve safety at Berkeley High School, where there have been a number of gun-related incidents this year. -more-

Flash: Berkeley Women Win Peabody Awards

Thursday March 31, 2011 - 11:26:00 AM

Projects spearheaded by Berkeley women have captured two of 39 prestigious national Peabody Awards, it was announced today:

Judith Ehrlich (and Rick Goldsmith) produced The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers, which was also nominated for an Academy Award last year.

Ellin O'Leary is Chief Content Officer/President of Youth Radio, founded in Berkeley but now in Oakland, which won for Trafficked: A Youth Radio Investigation. -more-

Parent Reports Seeing Gun Near Berkeley High

By Bay City News
Wednesday March 30, 2011 - 08:47:00 PM

A parent of a Berkeley High School student reported seeing someone with a gun in his waistband near the campus this afternoon, Berkeley police said. -more-

Press Release: Parent Sees Possible Gun on Young Man On Perimeter of Berkeley High School

From Sgt. Mary Kusmiss, BPD Public Information Officer
Wednesday March 30, 2011 - 08:44:00 PM

“On Wednesday, March 30, 2011 at about 3:10 p.m., the City of Berkeley Police Department (BPD) received a call from a Berkeley High School (BHS) staff member. The staff member reported that a parent had shared that he/she had seen a young man with a possible black gun in his waistband on the western perimeter of the campus. BPD Officers, Sergeants and a Lieutenant arrived at the school within 30 seconds of the call and began doing area checks for the young man who had been described. A BHS Safety officer followed the subject at a distance and reported that he was last seen on Martin Luther King Jr. Way just north of Bancroft Way.” -more-

New Union Allegations Against Equity Residential, Funder of Berkeley Measure R Campaign

Wednesday March 30, 2011 - 09:23:00 AM

The Planet has been contacted on behalf of Metallic Lathers Union Local 46, a New York City construction union that has been engaged in an effort to educate the public about the irresponsible practices of Sam Zell's development company, Equity Residential. -more-

Press Release: BAYER Shareholder Meeting on April 29 in Cologne, Germany:
Coalition Introduces Countermotions on Hazardous Drugs, Accidents in BAYER Plants, Bee-Killing Pesticides

From the Coalition against BAYER Dangers (Germany)
Tuesday March 29, 2011 - 08:49:00 PM

The Coalition against BAYER Dangers has introduced countermotions to BAYER´s Annual Shareholder Meeting on April 29. Environmental and social justice organizations [have asked to] discuss the proposals within the meeting. About 4,000 shareholders are expected to attend.

Beekeepers from all over Germany will conduct a rally at the entrance of the Cologne Fair to protest against BAYER´s bee-killing pesticides clothianidin and imidacloprid. Additional topics of the protests will be deformities caused by the hormone pregnancy test Primodos, accidents in BAYER plants, union busting and layoffs, side effects of the birth control pill Yaz, BAYER´s advocacy for nuclear power and the contamination of conventional rice by genetically modified strains. -more-

Telegraph's Been Down So Long
It's Starting to Look Like Up--
Even Mario's Has a Future

By Ted Friedman
Tuesday March 29, 2011 - 06:31:00 PM

Students returning from Spring break will find an upside to the downside on Telegraph Avenue--including a new life for Mario's La Fiesta, an avenue institution for half a century.

As the recently up-dated Berkeley Telegraph sales tax report makes painfully clear, Teley businesses have been struggling with declining revenues for decades.

But a spurt in new businesses on Teley is giving the Ave. new hope. -more-

Are There Health Risks in U.S. from Japan’s Nuclear Disaster?

New America Media, Question & Answer, Dr. Erin Marcus
Tuesday March 29, 2011 - 12:15:00 PM

Three weeks after the Japanese nuclear power plant disaster began, many U.S. residents are fearful about the possible health effects of radiation traveling across the Pacific. The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), an independent scientific research-based environmental advocacy group, has been monitoring the crisis closely. Below are some frequently asked questions from the UCS website regarding the health consequences of the Fukushima disaster, as well as information shared at news briefings by David Lochbaum and Edwin Lyman, nuclear safety experts with the UCS: -more-

Berkeley's Window on the Nuclear Crisis in Japan

By Bradley K. Sherman
Monday March 28, 2011 - 10:42:00 AM
Rainwater reveals whether radiation from Japan is reaching the Bay Area. This is the rain-swelled spillway at Jewel Lake in Tilden Park on March 27.

Berkeley residents have a telescope trained on the struggle to tame Japanese nuclear reactors damaged by the massive earthquake and tsunami of March 11th. To discover if the radioactive emissions are reaching California, U.C. Berkeley graduate students worked through Spring Break to establish the Berkeley Radiological Air and Water Monitoring Team. They are publishing their data, to the Internet as quickly as they can collect and analyze samples. -more-

Who's Behind the Push to Gut CEQA?

By Deirdre Des Jardins
Tuesday March 29, 2011 - 07:08:00 PM

The Republican 5 have demanded a broad rollback of protections in California’s Environmental Quality Act as part of negotiations over a $12.5 billion tax extension. Passed in 1970, CEQA has been used in lawsuits by environmental and community groups over water use, air quality, environmental justice, land use, and greenhouse gas emissions. -more-

Press Release: Beyond the Numbers of the Schools-to-Prisons Pipeline:
Senator Mark Leno and Assembly Speaker Pro Tempore Fiona Ma to Discuss Crisis with Students, Parents, and Community Organizations at Golden Gate University School of Law

From Jonah Minkoff-Zern
Wednesday March 30, 2011 - 12:39:00 PM

California faces a crisis of students not completing high school. In an effort to develop solutions combating the systemic problems of truancy, dropouts, exclusionary discipline, and a large school-to-prison pipeline, Golden Gate University is proud to host California Senator Mark Leno and Assembly Speaker Pro Tempore Fiona Ma in a two- part series of discussions with bay area students, parents, and community. The event is sponsored by Dignity In Schools student organization at Golden Gate University, and is supported by a coalition of community organizations, as well as the following student organizations at Golden Gate University: Queer Law Student Association (QLSA), Black Law Students Association (BLSA), La Raza, ACLU, National Lawyers Guild (NLG), Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), and the American Constitution Society (ACS). Assemblywoman Ma will be speaking on Friday, April 8th from 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm, and Senator Leno will be speaking on Saturday, April 16th, 9:00 am - 12:00 noon. -more-



Solutionism Reigns in Berkeley

By Becky O'Malley
Wednesday March 30, 2011 - 09:42:00 AM

When I was toiling in the high tech vineyards in the go-go 90s, the buzz word (the successor to the 60s “plastics”) was “solutions”. Everyone was selling solutions—no one cared much about problems. That mentality is still around, even though many solutions which are tried fail because the problems never materialize as anticipated.

Solutionism is alive and well in Berkeley today, as always more than a few beats behind the measure in reflecting social trends. Last night’s Berkeley City Council meeting illustrated how the process operates.

For example, take the current push to convert industrial space in West Berkeley to high tech office-oriented developments, spearheaded by a collusion between the moribund Berkeley Chamber of Commerce, the big West Berkeley property owners and the aging pols whose campaigns they’ve funded—with the whole process orchestrated by the city’s clueless Economic Development and Planning Departments. Another act in this on-going soap opera played out at the meeting. -more-

The Editor's Back Fence

New: Berkeley City Manager Targets Citizen Commissions--Again

Sunday April 03, 2011 - 09:48:00 AM

Berkeley City Manager Phil Kamlarz and his staff want to get rid of some of Berkeley’s citizen commissions, according to a story in Sunday’s printed San Francisco Chronicle, which will not be available online until Tuesday. His excuse this time: Berkeley’s budget crunch—a total cost of about $1 million to run all commissions which Kamlarz cited in 2008 is quoted in the article, weighed against a projected budget shortfall of about $12 million. But it’s no secret in Berkeley that the unpaid but mouthy citizen commissions have always been a thorn in the side of Berkeley politicos of all stripes and of the paid staff who work under Kamlarz’ direction. -more-


Cartoon Page: Odd Bodkins, BOUNCE

Tuesday March 29, 2011 - 10:44:00 PM

Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Tuesday March 29, 2011 - 10:02:00 PM
Two images of Warren McKenna, as a young man, and more recently

Remembering Warren McKenna; Government Education is an Oxymoron; Football Safety Hearings; Stonewalled by Stonemountain; Berkeley High School and the Lack of Shops; Obama Didn't Tell the Full Story; New Beginning? -more-

Public Concerns Brushed Aside as Berkeley City Council Approves Claremont Branch Renovation Contract With No Questions Answered, No Discussion

By Peter Warfield
Wednesday March 30, 2011 - 01:39:00 PM

Berkeley’s City Council voted last night, March 29, 2011, to award a contract valued at up to $3.3 million for a Claremont Branch Library renovation that will degrade library service to the public there for a generation or more, substantially reducing shelving for books and materials, decreasing floor space for the public, eliminating the current separate reference desks for children and adults that are apart from a busy circulation desk, and other changes. The vote was unanimous as part of the consent calendar. -more-

Toto! Are We in Kansas?

Winston Burton, Board of Library Trustee
Tuesday March 29, 2011 - 06:35:00 PM

I’m in a dream or maybe a nightmare. The Board of Library Trustees, Berkeley Public Library staff , the City Council and even community members are being berated by the Tea Party and the Birthers, and misinformation is being masqueraded as the truth. Are they going after Obama? No! It’s the library plan to develop safe, up to date and more spacious branch libraries. I realize that I’m actually awake and a few individuals are presenting themselves as speaking for the people, while attempting to deny and negate a transparent process – endorsed by a substantial representation of the community, supported by their words, presence and their actions. A contentious few seem to continuously want to slow or derail the much anticipated upgrade and construction of the 4 branch libraries, by any means possible, although most of them don’t even live in the neighborhoods they are obstructing. -more-

Open Letters to Berkeley School District Officials Re BUSD Transportation Policy

By Kasey Harboe Guentert, David Alumbaugh
Tuesday March 29, 2011 - 07:38:00 PM

I am writing to advocate for the addition of a policy within the Transportation group at BUSD. The policy I am requesting would read something to this effect:

1. If children are placed in schools outside of their home zones when they requested only schools within their home zones, transportation will bus these children to the schools in which they were placed.

2. If a critical mass of children are in this situation defined above – a dedicated bus will take them from the zone to the school so as not to place unreasonable travel time burdens on our children beyond the home zone. -more-

On PGE's Bogus Opt-out Option

By Steve Martinot
Tuesday March 29, 2011 - 07:01:00 PM

PGE has proposed an opt-out option that is not one. On March 10, the PUC directed PGE to develop an alternative to Smartmeter installation, in response to the massive upheaval and objection against the Smartmeters that has emerged throughout California (over 35 local governments, including Berkeley, have banned or called for the banning of these Smartmeters, pending further study). PGE came up with a plan last Thursday (March 24). But in their plan, they have ignored what people have been calling for, that is, a non-installation that would leave in place the old analogue meter. Instead, PGE has proposed a modified form of Smartmeter installation. In place of an opt-out plan, it proposes a minor modification of the original plan. But as a minor modification (rather than a non-procedure), it will be associated with major charges to customers. And therein lies a serious element of extortion. -more-

The United States Middle East Foreign Policy Cul-de-sac

By Rizwan A. Rahmani
Wednesday March 30, 2011 - 12:00:00 PM

When the UN resolution against Israeli settlements—which was co-sponsored by 130 countries—came up for a vote and all fourteen members of the Security Council voted for the resolution except for the United States: it vetoed the resolution with a statement that was peculiarly full of absurd logic, contradictions, and balderdash which bordered on inane. And it was not the first time the U.S. found itself alone on a limb on this issue. So why the U.S. is being made to walk this razor sharp knife edge of a Middle East policy, shoeless and bloodied in the process? Moreover, it stuck to its counter intuitive policy at a time when any gesture towards Middle East peace may actually win goodwill for the United States, now that the Middle East is making overtures to democracy all over the region—and the rather incongruous paradox to all the newly kindled democratic fervor is that United States didn’t have to fire a single shot to realize these changes (I realized I spoke too soon after hearing the news of the air attack on Libya). -more-


Unnatural Enemies

By Joe Eaton
Tuesday March 29, 2011 - 12:37:00 PM
Adult male tricolored blackbird: endangered but unprotected.

One of the recurring dilemmas of conservation biology is whether, and how far, to intervene in predator-prey relationships: in particular, what action is appropriate when an endangered species is being eaten to extinction by a more common one. That question has come up with raven predation on desert tortoises in the Mojave, golden eagle predation on island foxes on Santa Cruz Island, California gull predation on western snowy plovers and least terns in the South Bay. -more-

Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libyan Wars and the California Tradeoffs

By Ralph E. Stone
Sunday March 27, 2011 - 08:38:00 PM

The United States national debt exceeds $14 trillion and is climbing. Nearly 14 million Americans are unemployed, about 2.2 million in California. Americans continue to lose homes to foreclosure. Public health, education, social services, and police and fire departments are facing cutbacks. Yet, we can spend more than $1 trillion dollars in wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya. Yes, if we bomb and strafe Libya, we are at war with that country. Greed, uncontrolled corporate power, and our addiction to foreign oil have led us to perpetual war, and economic and moral decline. -more-

Dispatches From The Edge:The U.S., Oil & the Libyan War

By Conn Hallinan
Saturday March 26, 2011 - 03:14:00 PM

Cynicism is not a healthy sentiment, and as the late Molly Ivins pointed out, it absolutely wrecks good journalism. But watching events in the Middle East unfold these days makes it a pretty difficult point of view to avoid. -more-

Deconstructing America’s Nuclear Cult

By Bob Burnett
Saturday March 26, 2011 - 03:10:00 PM

The August 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki both ended World War II and precipitated the United States’ 65-year-long addiction to nuclear power. In the light of the catastrophe at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi facility, it’s time to reconsider America’s lethal habit and our cult of atomic energy. -more-

On Mental Illness: Persons with Mental Illness and Cults

By Jack Bragen
Saturday March 26, 2011 - 03:21:00 PM

At least in young adulthood, it seems common for a person with a mental illness to seek answers to the predicament of being mentally ill. This leads to a vulnerability to cult followings, since their spiritual teachers usually claim to have all the answers to life’s quandaries. -more-

Senior Power: Japan Elders News, continued

By Helen Rippier Wheeler
Saturday March 26, 2011 - 03:28:00 PM

Here is information from Rikuzentakata, which is part of Iwate Prefecture, one of 6 that constitute Tōhoku ("northeast")region. It is abstracted from "Hope for missing fades in Japan; elderly hard-hit" (Associated Press Online, March 17, 2011): -more-

Arts & Events

A Concert for Her Homeland
Japanese Piano Teacher Holds Student Concert Fundraiser

By Barbara McDonald
Tuesday March 29, 2011 - 07:58:00 PM

Tomoko Sakai, a piano teacher from Japan, is coordinating a concert and bakesale to benefit victims of Japan's recent earthquake and tsunami. With donations of talent and treats from her many students, Sakai hopes to raise money to donate to the relief fund in her homeland. -more-

Directing Duet’s Marriage: College Dreams Come True with Bette & Boo

By John A. McMullen II
Tuesday March 29, 2011 - 06:51:00 PM
David Weiner, Michelle Pond, Anne Collins, Ellen Brooks

When DC Scarpelli and Peter Budinger met as undergrads at Yale, they shared a love for the theatre, and decidedly for another Yalie’s work: Christopher Durang’s The Marriage of Bette & Boo.

They came to the Bay Area, and started TheatreTremendo. Two of their entries won Best of SF Fringe. It Came from Beneath the Kilt! in 2000, and Where the Sun Don’t Shine in 2006, Both actively perform, mainly in musicals.

They are consummating another part of their dream by co-directing Durang’s play at the Masquers Playhouse. -more-

Film Review: Queen of the Sun: What Are the Bees Telling Us?

Reviewed by Gar Smith
Tuesday March 29, 2011 - 06:05:00 PM
Queen of the Son

Queen of the Sun is hardly the first documentary about the world’s vanishing honeybees but it may well be the best. We’ve already seen The Vanishing of the Bees (narrated by Ellen Page) and Kevin Hansen’s Nicotine Bees, but Taggart Siegel’s Queen is the first Bee-Movie that has the potential to reach a mainstream audience with an essential “tipping-point” message.

Let’s hope there is still enough time left to make a difference. -more-

Don't Miss This!

By Dorothy Snodgrass
Tuesday March 29, 2011 - 12:37:00 PM

Grateful that we weren't all swept out to sea during those eleven days of constant rain, bay area residents will doubtlessly be looking for enjoyable and stimulating programs to lift their spirits. Certainly there's plenty out there to satisfy that need. Listed below, in no particular order, are just a few of the events that may strike your fancy. -more-

Theater Review: Beekeeper, by Virago at Rhythmix

By Ken Bullock
Wednesday March 30, 2011 - 12:37:00 PM

Beekeeper, Jennifer Lynne Roberts' play in its premiere by Virago Theatre Company at Rhythmix Cultural Works in Alameda, is going into its last weekend. Set in rural Oregon, the story is of an eccentric, single parent beekeeper and his daughter, Oleta, who also has a passion for the bees. A tragic accident that comes of her childhood enthusiasm makes a rift between father and daughter ... and as a young woman, she goes off to study, returning home after her father's death to visit her aunt and uncle--and confront the past, swarming like a hive around her. -more-