A throng of well-wishers turned out on a sunny Saturday, April 9, 2011 to formally dedicate the Ed Roberts Campus adjacent to the Ashby BART station in Berkeley. -more-
Planet reader Carlos Navarro sent us pictures of the tower of water from the hydrant that burst at Shattuck and Center yesterday. He was there and captured almost all of it with his camera. More of his pictures can be seen on Flickr at -more-
Firefighters dealt with downed power lines and a gas leak while battling a blaze at a home in Berkeley this morning, a fire official said. -more-
Over a thousand events took place across the U.S. on April 4 to support the workers and unions in Wisconsin and the Midwest, where Republican-dominated state governments are trying to eliminate collective bargaining for public workers, and cut their healthcare and pensions. In California alone, almost every central labor council organized a rally or march. Two of them took place in Crockett and San Francisco. The events were all called "We Are One" to draw attention to the solidarity of workers and unions nationally in facing this attack. -more-
Should the number of Berkeley households increase by 34% over the next 25 years, adding as many as 35,000 new residents to the city?
That seems to be the premise of a low profile but significant item being transmitted to the Planning Commission for discussion on Wednesday, April 6, 2011. -more-
The annual agony of tax filing is always a headache but this year the average taxpayer may be complaining of migraines (and a sickening feeling in the stomach) following the New York Times’ revelation that General Electric paid no 2010 taxes despite US profits of $5.1 billion. (GE even asked for a “refund” of $3.2 billion.) It seems the argument that “corporations are people” endowed with First Amendment rights (to, say, spend millions of dollars on public elections) does not extend to include the concept that corporations also have social obligations (like abiding by the law, facing jail-time for criminal behavior, or paying taxes). -more-
Stabbing Charge Dropped in Berkeley's People's Park Tree-Sit; Midnight Matt Released From Jail Around Midnight
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-
The Richmond City Council voted Tuesday night not to continue with plans to develop an Indian casino at Point Molate after more than six years of back-and-forth about development of the former Navy base. -more-
On Thursday, April 14th at 6:00 PM in the City Council Chambers at 2134 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way, there will be a special joint meeting of the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) and the Zoning Adjustments Board (ZAB) to consider issues related to the Branch Libraries Projects. The LPC will consider whether or not to approve the demolitions of the South and West Branch Public Libraries. (The West Branch is a Structure of Merit, and both buildings are potentially historic under California law.) The ZAB will consider whether or not to grant use permits for the construction of new libraries at these locations and whether or not to certify the Final Environmental Impact Report concerning these projects. -more-
It’s common today to date the beginnings of progressive politics in Berkeley to “The Sixties”. But leftist activism and idealism on the local scene date back at least half a century earlier. -more-
In the first days of April, Tri-Valley CAREs (Communities Against a Radioactive Environment), the nuclear watchdog organization based in Livermore, dispatched a team to Washington to lobby for a host of targeted reductions in the US nuclear weapons budget. Tri-Valley CAREs (TVC) is working withthe Alliance for Nuclear Accountability, a coalition of nuclear watchdogs from across the country that has scheduled 100 meetings with Members of Congress, committee staff, and the Obama Administration. -more-
Spending the first part of last week in Washington D.C., and the latter part in Berkeley, I was charmed to see that ornamental cherry trees were coming into bloom in both places on almost exactly the same schedule. -more-
Two weeks ago, the Berkeley Daily Planet published a commentary by Charles Siegel entitled, “BRT, NIMBYs, and the New York Times” (March 22, 2011). It is helpful that Mr. Siegel offered readers such an illustrative example of how BRT supporters have distorted the facts in an attempt to discredit BRT opponents in Berkeley. Their arguments could be regarded as merely humorous if they had not been used in such a vicious and manipulative manner during the campaign for BRT. And it certainly is clear from Siegel’s writing why he and other BRT zealots repeatedly refused offers to debate this issue in public. They would have been humiliated if they had done so. -more-
In 1997 Berkeley repealed its ordinance prohibiting sitting and panhandling after an ACLU challenge. But the Downtown Berkeley Association, which initiated the ordinance, never stopped pining for some way to clear the streets of homeless people and panhandlers, whom they blame for a decline in retail sales, and is currently lobbying for an anti-sitting law similar to San Francisco’s.
Berkeley has panhandlers. But it also has hundreds of empty storefronts owned by landlords reluctant to rent at lower commercial rates, empty storefronts which burden a once-vibrant downtown. Commercial leases tend to be long, so locking into even three years at a lower rate is less appealing than taking a tax write-off for the previous, higher rate. Even a business like Amanda’s Feel Good Fresh Food, which won entrepreneur of the year and design awards, cited the inflexibility of the rental rate as the reason it closed in December after two and a half years. -more-
Dear Berkeley Neighbors:
We tried to save our local community post office on Sacramento St over the past two years. -more-
I would like to thank Mayor Quan for reaching out to the various Oakland communities to hear what is on our minds and to help set her agenda. There is no doubt that there are many areas Oakland needs work on, including improving our school system, strengthening our police force and filling potholes. These all need attention and we feel those needs dearly, every day.
Less immediate but equally important to all of us, is the design of our small commercial streets and how live-able walking streets are made, preserved and enhanced. In North Oakland we have several streets and neighborhoods that bustle during the day and into the evening — I am speaking of Piedmont Avenue, Temescal, and College Avenue. It is in our small-neighborhood, vital interest to protect these areas and make sure that they continue to function as the local hubs that they are. People are drawn to them for their liveliness and vitality. Let there be no doubt —these are not shopping malls—these are real, living, small neighborhood places, that are fantastic to the tax roll and foster entrepreneurship. -more-
Throughout the United States, pro-labor activists are beginning to realize that the right to collective bargaining—currently under assault—is intertwined with the right of employees to choose their union, free from fear and intimidation.
That’s why a long-overdue trial is taking place in the NLRB hearing room in downtown Oakland, where the Kaiser Permanente union election (October 7, 2010), the largest private-sector election in 70 years, faces a well-documented challenge from NUHW (National Union of Healthcare Workers). -more-
Editor's Note: The latest issue of the Pepper Spray Times is now available. -more-
The current tempest at KPFA is deeply troubling to those of us who value independent radio journalism. And it is confusing because so much of what we read and hear seems so vitriolic and biased. The following petition is a call for fairness on KPFA's air. Please read this petition, and if it seems fair to you please sign it: -more-
In this time of budget crises we are hearing increasing calls to tax the rich. Working people paying the cost of our wars with both their lives and their taxes are outraged that corporations like General Electric, with huge profits, pay nothing toward the many government services which allow them to make so much money. -more-
In Commemoration of Cesar Chavez--a shot across the bow for immigrants rights to health care in CCCC!!
Today, Yesterday, April 5, 2011, the Contra Costa County, CA Board of Supervisors conducted their 18th annual commemoration of the life and work of Cesar E. Chavez founder of the United Farm Workers Union. In response, a group of 15 representing the Richmond Progressive Alliance, doctors and other staff at the Contra Costa County Public Clinic system and the Health Care Action Team-East Bay let the Board know that their decision in 2009 excluding undocumented immigrants from public clinics must be reconsidered, is unacceptable, stands in contradiction to their honoring Cesar Chavez and shall not stand.
Do you love love love Cheese Board pizza? Is your idea of heaven standing in line for a slice and then eating it picnic-style with friends on the grassy strip down the middle of North Shattuck in what’s called “The Gourmet Ghetto” in the New York Times Style Section?
Well, think again, because the clueless merchants of North Shattuck are scheming to make it illegal.
Or maybe it’s not actually you and your lunch buds that they’re out to get, but if equal protection is still the law of the land you’ll have to be on the radar too if they have their way.
(Please note: we do NOT include the Cheese Board among the clueless, but some of their neighbors on the other hand…) -more-
Was American CIA agent Raymond Davis secretly working with the Taliban and al-Qaeda to destabilize Pakistan and lay the groundwork for a U.S. seizure of that country’s nuclear weapons? Was he photographing sensitive military installations and marking them with a global positioning device? Did he gun down two men in cold blood to prevent them from revealing what he was up to? These are just a few of the rumors ricocheting around Islamabad, Lahore and Peshawar in the aftermath of Davis’s arrest Jan. 27, and sorting through them is a little like stepping through Alice’s looking glass. -more-
This week’s column is a potpourri-- a collection of miscellaneous or diverse items. -more-
Smoking is linked with lung cancer, emphysema, and other diseases. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (each year about 443,000 people die prematurely from smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke, and another 8.6 million live with a serious illness caused by smoking. Despite these risks, approximately 46.6 million U.S. adults smoke cigarettes. And cigarette smoking costs more than $193 billion, $97 billion in lost productivity plus $96 billion in health care expenditures. -more-
The inexorable march of the wild turkeys continues. Lately we’ve been seeing them at the Gill Tract in Albany, feeding in the fields that the Canada geese occupy in winter. Maybe there’s a time-share arrangement. -more-
Medicating the brain is a serious matter; it should not be considered with an off-hand approach. It seems there are some psychiatrists who prescribe during a fifteen-minute session, with as much contemplation as someone shooting down fake ducks in a shooting gallery. Especially, when you are medicating a child, other avenues of accomplishing the same objective (whatever the objective is) ought to be investigated. -more-
Arts & Events
Beardo, Jason Craig's (Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage—A Songplay) latest at Shotgun, with splendid music (Slavic Country Swing?) by Dave Malloy—played by an augmented string quartet among the birches (Lisa Clark's set) and directed by Shotgun founder Patrick Dooley—who's assembled a team that's given the show unusually high production values (especially Christine Crook's costumes and Michael Palumbo's lighting) slips half-drunkenly over and over between two stools that rascal Rasputin balances his backside on: musical comedy burlesque and a deadpan conceptual put-on. -more-
Ruined, Lynn Nottage's Pulitzer Prizewinner--now in its last week at Berkeley Rep--presents a conundrum to theater-goers, one often enough found in regional rep productions: a thoroughly professional stage production of a newer play, offset by a kind of aimlessness of dramatic intent dogging a well-meaning script that seems to aim at all the academic verities of the craft. -more-
On April 4, 2011, the SF Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Awards presented their 35th Annual Awards Ceremony, celebrating outstanding achievement in Bay Area theatre during 2010, at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre Lobby. [The complete list of award winners may be found at the end of this press release.] -more-
Mystics, prophets, and seers often move kings and empires. Think of Daniel, think of Joseph; then think of Rasputin. We stand outside the stories that vaunt their deeds and read and hear them as tales of the hero—or rascal. BEARDO is a look into the mind of that hedonist mystic Rasputin, who most Westerners may think of as the charlatan who beguiled the Tsarina and was part of thecause of the revolution. -more-