Richmond Councilmember Tom Butt writes: "The City of Richmond has a tradition of fireworks and the Oakland-East Bay Symphony on July 3 at at the Craneway Pavillion, part of the rehabilitated former Ford Assembly Plant and also part of Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park. As the fireworks begin, the Symphony breaks into a medley of stirring John Philip Sousa marches. This is the best Independence day celebration in the Bay Area." -more-
ATHENS, Greece - 235 years after the American colonies declared independence from Britain, the passenegers on the U.S. Boat to Gaza call for a new American Declaration of Independence, this time from Israel. -more-
Natural gas pipelines — like the one that erupted in a deadly 2010 blast that killed eight people in San Bruno — run along the margins of West Berkeley, parallel to the Eastshore Freeway. This has been known for some time but earlier this week, PG&E quietly mailed letters to a number of Berkeley businesses and residents warning that they may be located “within 2,000 feet of a natural gas transmission pipeline.” A Planet investigation reveals that several PG&E gas lines lie buried beneath 31 city blocks, with one major pipeline running right through the downtown — alongside the Police Department, City Hall, the Main Post Office, BART and the Shattuck Hotel. -more-
A historic Berkeley building derided by some just last year as vacant and obsolete has been reborn as a handsome renovated structure providing expanded Berkeley quarters for a private cooking and nutrition school as well as a taste of important Berkeley history and distinctive architectural character. -more-
Can anyone name all the Berkeley neighborhoods? I've only lived here forty years and still can't, but I think I've discovered one I was overlooking while digging in on sinister Southside.
My discovery is not listed anywhere as a neighborhood but is near the historic Lorin district and is part of South Berkeley. Although in the Berkeley flats, my "discovery" lacks a name.
I'm calling it south of Ashby on Shattuck or SOAS. Darn. We just missed SOUS. I'm still working on it.
I was South-of-Ashby-on-Shattuck recently to check out the smoked barbecue brisket at Smokey J's, opened for less than a month and attracting overflowing crowds from word of mouth and twenty-five ecstatic YELPs, yielding a five of five rating. -more-
Once again, the understandable anxiety about the guns which have been recovered from students at Berkeley High has surfaced, this time as a report from a committee formed to see what could be done about the problem. The group was convened after a series of frightening incidents where Berkeley High students were discovered to have guns on campus. Since then, the situation has attracted quarts of virtual ink. -more-
The Editor's Back Fence
Journalism 101: What Might Have Happened at the Latest City Council Meeting, or Rashomon Plays Berkeley
Because of vacations and other complications, no one from the Berkeley Daily Planet’s All Volunteer Army of unpaid reporters was available to watch the Berkeley City Council on Tuesday. I usually do that myself on the internet from the comforts of home, but I had previously signed up to take two ten-year-olds to watch Wagner from standing room at the San Francisco Opera. (Yes, yes, you might think I’m crazy, but they loved it—just like the mythology novels consumed in quantity by today’s literate pre-teens.)
Eventually I, and you, might watch the video online, and someone from the Planet crew might even post an analysis, but for a quick take it is instructive to check out how our colleagues at three of the sources which are now attempting to crack the less-than-lucrative Berkeley market saw the meeting. -more-
I object to spending $5 million in Berkeley taxpayer bond revenues to provide facilities for students that may not even live in Berkeley while our own BUSD high school students lack sufficient classrooms. On June 29th you will be asked by BUSD officials to approve an agreement with REALM Charter School to fund their classrooms. Act responsibly to Berkeley taxpayers and students and vote NO. -more-
It would be a very serious mistake for the City Council to approve the proposed “contract extension” with SEIU Local 1021 (Council item 48a on the June 28 Agenda). This agreement would effectively freeze and extend for three years a labor contract that pre-empts serious pension and fiscal reform in a time when local and national economic conditions are worsening. There is no need for precipitous action now before all pertinent factors are carefully considered, precipitous action that could have disasterous consequences. -more-
Why are there budget cuts after budget cuts to California's education system, to our state parks, environmental protection and to so many more of the institutions that had made California the best of our 50 states? The reason is that our state government is not a democracy. In our state, the majority is ruled by the minority. Necessary governmental investments in California's future quality should be maintained with a majority of the legislature voting to close tax loopholes on the very wealthiest corporations in our state. Democracy means majority vote decides. -more-
The 2,240-word screed on alleged “turf battles” over a community garden in North Oakland, published last week in the Berkeley Daily Planet, mischaracterizes what is essentially a kerfuffle of the author’s own making. In truth, there would be no controversy to speak of had Robert Brokl and his partner, Alfred Crofts, not grumbled to the city of Oakland about potential hazards posed by some citrus and avocado trees that are part of this modest food-growing effort. -more-
The realization will hit any day now. It will be brutal for those who thought they could somehow create Rodeo Drive out of Telegraph Avenue, but the upside is that it will save years of police riots, court costs, and the bewildering schizophrenia of having the richest property owners in town kill off tourism by bad-mouthing Berkeley.
This is a college town. -more-
Last week, renowned preservation architect Todd Jersey issued an apology to the City of Berkeley for consulting with Concerned Library Users (CLU) in conjunction with our lawsuit against the City. Our lawsuit arose from the illegal use of Measure FF funds to demolish, rather than renovate, two branch libraries – contrary to the plain language of the measure. What Todd did not apologize for – and what he shouldn’t apologize for – was his excellent work, which proved that the City was wrong about the need to demolish the South and West Branch Libraries. -more-
A page from My Commonplace Book ( a very old, traditional, personal literary form—a diary of short excerpts copied from printed books, with comments added by the reader): -more-
On June 16th, political pundits observed that liberals are unhappy with President Barack Obama and conservatives are displeased with GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney. If the 2012 presidential contest matches Obama and Romney, and their bases are turned off, how will this affect the outcome? -more-
It’s been a while since we got backstage at the California Academy of Sciences. Last Friday evening was Curators’ Night, with various entomologists, anthropologists, and others available to discuss their work, plus guided tours of the collections. The museum put on a nice spread, too, including mysterious blue cocktails (alas, not Romulan Ale.) -more-
Despite the Department of Defense's (DoD) official prohibition on women in combat roles, 111 female soldiers have died in Iraq and 28 have died in Afghanistan. Sixty percent of these deaths were due to hostile acts. About 200,000 women have served in Iraq or Afghanistan. Women make up 14.6 percent of active duty military. Women attack insurgents with strike fighters and helicopter gunships, machine guns and mortars, ride shotgun on convoys through IED (improvised explosive device) terrain and walk combat patrols with the infantry. Actually, DoD and the military services have difficulty defining what it is that women cannot volunteer to do. What makes the Iraq and Afghanistan "hostilities" different from other hostilities is that there are no clear front lines. Therefore, the line between a combat job and a support job is oftentimes blurred. The question that must be asked, why shouldn't a woman be assigned a combat job if she is qualified and properly trained? -more-
From 1967-2005, Canadian writer-director-producer Allan King created notable documentary films, usually with only a camera operator and sound technician, typically without interviews and narration. Five of them are on DVD collectively titled The Actuality Dramas of Allan King: Warrendale (1967,) A Married Couple (1969,) Come on Children (1972,) Dying at Grace (2003, 148 minutes,) and Memory for Max, Claire, Ida and Company(released in 2010, 112 minutes.)
Dying at Grace commences with the on-screen declaration that “This film is about the experience of dying.” Close examination of the final days and nights of two men and three women follows. They are terminally ill patients in the Salvation Army’s Grace Medical Center Palliative Care Unit in Toronto. Fourteen weeks.
When asked why he made this film, King responded, “Self-interest is the reason I make most of my films. I'm getting older and I'm going to die. I thought I'd better find out what it's about.” And he expressed interest in hospice. -more-
It would not be truthful to say a person with a major mental illness can have and do all the things that someone without a mental illness can. A major mental illness has ramifications that affect all parts of a person’s existence. “Why me?” is a commonly asked question, of a person who feels that he or she has been dealt an unfair hand by fate. One could come up with many answers to such a question. In fact it seems we are all dealt cards that are not “chosen” but are random, and it is up to each person to play those cards to the best of their ability. If you believe in God, it doesn’t have to include the narcissistic belief that God likes you better than someone else. Some people get cancer, a physical deformity, or could be given an apparently “perfect” body and then could later become a burn victim. There is not necessarily any “reason” why life gave someone a mental illness and someone else, not. (Neither is it a sign that you have done something wrong and are being punished for it.) -more-
Arts & Events
Should it have slipped your memory, July 4th is just around the bend. With it comes the activities one associates with this favorite American holiday --especially the Oakland Municipal Band Concert, beginning at 1 p.m. at Lakeside Park. So bring our picnic and lawn chairs to the park to hear the opening concert, "All Sparkling Red, White and Blue." -more-