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Press Release: Public Meetings Planned for AC Transit Redistricting Process

From Clarence Johnson, AC Transit Media Affairs Manager
Monday October 03, 2011 - 01:08:00 PM

Federal and state laws require the Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District to adjust its ward boundaries every 10 years in order to equalize populations following the completion of the federal census. -more-

Does Signing a Petition Give Parents a Voice in Schools?

By David Bacon
Monday October 03, 2011 - 12:19:00 PM

Parent trigger laws, according to their proponents, give parents power. Gregory McGinity, managing director of policy for the Broad Education Foundation, calls them "a way for parents' voices to be heard."

Sounds good. But is the parent trigger concept a way to put parents in charge of their kids' education, or is it part of a political agenda that will rob parents of even more control? While hardly anyone argues that parents don't want, and don't deserve, a voice in their children's schools, many educators, and even parents themselves, doubt that parent trigger laws increase their involvement.

Many teachers believe parent trigger laws are a way for charter schools to gain a bigger share of the education system. For McGinity, that's not a bad idea. The Broad Foundation promotes the proliferation of charter schools, which he says simply offer parents "a different way for a school to operate." Teachers, however, are alarmed. They see the expansion of a privatized education system, and view parent trigger laws as a means for rushing the process forward.

Their concerns illustrate the big stakes behind passing and implementing these laws. Several very conservative players in national education reform have made parent trigger proposals a key part of their agenda. As they're introduced in state after state, California's experience is being watched closely. -more-


Dr. Toy's Best Toys

By Stevanne Auerbach, Ph.D.
Monday October 03, 2011 - 11:25:00 AM

“Hot” is not what makes toys great, because “hot” gets cold fast. What is more important is play value of the toy, appropriateness for child’s age, interests and abilities plus the child’s ability to be playful, and engage with the right toy that best matches the child. Dr. Toy reminds parents and teachers that “play is children’s work” and should be respected and understood by all adults. We should be thinking: “What products or ‘tools for play’ can we obtain to provide wholesome experiences for children and plenty of positive play interactions?” -more-

Public Comment

Who has the Right to Remove Benches At Bus Stops? A Bus Stop Bench Story

By Lydia Gans
Monday October 03, 2011 - 12:51:00 PM

Berkeley's civic leaders have a reputation for making profound declarations on national and global politics but when it comes to decisions regarding quality of life issues of people right here in Berkeley they seem to be incompetent or uncaring. Much can be said about the treatment of people who are poor and homeless or mentally ill but even in small matters one might wonder how decisions are made about what and for whose benefit. My experience is an example.

I live in a senior residence near Dwight and Telegraph and enjoy the shops and restaurants as well as the street life along the Avenue. I also appreciate the easy access to downtown Berkeley on the #1 and the #1R bus which I use almost daily to go to the library and the YMCA. AC Transit is a boon – buses run fast and frequently, but no matter how efficient the system is, riders must always expect to have a wait. That's why benches are placed at bus stops. That's why there was a bench at the bus stop on the corner in front of Peet's on Dwight and Telegraph. On July 10 that bench was removed. That was extremely disturbing. -more-


Using Feudal Succession to Keep Berkeley Twee

By Becky O'Malley
Thursday September 29, 2011 - 11:32:00 AM

It’s one of those tedious on-the-one-hand on-the-other-hand kind of things. Berkeley City Manager Phil Kamlarz is retiring (with a pension uncomfortably close to $300k per year) and he’d like to put his thumb on the scale when the question of the successor to his powerful position is weighed by the Berkeley City Council. Is this good?

In theory, I’ve always been in favor of hiring from within an organization when at all possible. It saves the expense of conducting a national search for a replacement administrator, and the decision-makers (the city council, in this case) are likely to know the virtues and deficiencies of the candidate from first-hand experience.

But in this case, it seems like just another example of how governance of Berkeleyans is looking more and more like feudalism instead of like a democracy. No one in recent memory has succeeded to office, either elected or appointed, without an active link to his or her predecessor. Outsiders just don’t have a chance. -more-


On Mental Illness: The Expectation of Employment

By Jack Bragen
Monday October 03, 2011 - 01:04:00 PM

Most persons who have severe mental illness would like to work, if they possibly can. We are often prevented from working by the barriers against us in society and not just by the disability. Having a severe mental illness is a perfectly legitimate reason for not having a job. It would not be accurate to call us bums or freeloaders, any more than someone who suffers blindness or a broken back. While our disability is invisible, it is just as real as a person’s disability that is plainly visible, such as a missing limb. -more-

Back Stories



Using Feudal Succession to Keep Berkeley Twee 09-29-2011

The Editor's Back Fence

This is the Weekend Issue 10-01-2011

Bill Gutting CEQA Passed in Sacramento, Signed by Brown--
Skinner and Hancock Voted Yes


Cartoon Page: BOUNCE: Internet Gnomes By Joseph Young 09-28-2011

Cartoon Page: Bake-sale vs. Buffet By Gar Smith 09-28-2011

Cartoon Page: Odd Bodkins: The Miracle Dan O'Neill 09-28-2011

Public Comment

Who has the Right to Remove Benches At Bus Stops? A Bus Stop Bench Story By Lydia Gans 10-03-2011

Laura's Law Revisited: Response to Ralph Stone By Jack Bragen 10-01-2011

Tom Friedman Tries to Scapegoat Baby Boomers -- He Should Remember That We Helped Forge American Prosperity By Ruth Rosen 09-30-2011

Letters: Mental Illness Column; Pension of City Manager; What is the Peak Democracy Open Town Hall Costing Us? 09-29-2011

Press Release: UC Students Stand for Diversity, Reject Affirmative Action Bake Sale, Push for SB185 From Darius L. Kemp, Director of Organizing and Communications 09-26-2011


Press Release: Public Meetings Planned for AC Transit Redistricting Process From Clarence Johnson, AC Transit Media Affairs Manager 10-03-2011

Does Signing a Petition Give Parents a Voice in Schools? By David Bacon 10-03-2011

Dr. Toy's Best Toys By Stevanne Auerbach, Ph.D. 10-03-2011

Tree-Sit Resumes to Protect People's Park Trees as University Fells Nearby Tree, Threatens to Buzz-Saw Tree Hosting the Sit By Ted Friedman 09-29-2011

Bake Sale Generates Debate, Peaceful Protests By Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN) 09-28-2011

Baked Goods and Arguments Retailed on Sproul Plaza By Steven Finacom 09-28-2011

Flash: Berkeley City Manager Phil Kamlarz
to Retire on November 30
By Becky O'Malley 09-26-2011

Report on Berkeley City Employee Costs, Proposed Savings and Action Plan Released:
An Updated Comparison of 12 Greater Bay Area Cities

UC Berkeley Groups Debate Affirmative Action at Campus Bake Sale By Hannah Albarazi1 (BCN) 09-27-2011

Alta Bates Summit, Nurses' Union Dispute Responsibility for Patient's Death after Replacement Administers Wrong Medication By Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN) 09-27-2011

"Parking Day" Comes to Berkeley By Steven Finacom 09-27-2011

Green Schoolyards: Creating A Greener Generation© By Stevanne Auerbach, PhD 09-26-2011


On Mental Illness: The Expectation of Employment By Jack Bragen 10-03-2011

The Public Eye: There is No Political Middle Ground By Bob Burnett 09-30-2011

Senior Power… My Generation’s War By Helen Rippier Wheeler 09-30-2011

Eclectic Rant: Response to Jack Bragen By Ralph Stone 09-29-2011

My Commonplace Book (a diary of excerpts copied from printed books, with comments added by the reader.) By Dorothy Bryant 09-28-2011

On Mental Illness: Cigarettes, Coffee and Metabolic Syndrome By Jack Bragen 09-27-2011

Arts & Events

BAY AREA CHILDREN’S THEATRE brings MAGIC SCHOOL BUS to life at Freight and Salvage thru Oct 23 By John A. McMullen 10-02-2011

Don't Miss This in October By Dorothy Snodgrass 10-01-2011

Sarah Palin: You Betcha! Film review by Gar Smith 09-30-2011

Eye From the Aisle: Lucrezia Borgia at SF Opera—Star Vehicle for a Celestial Soprano By John A. McMullen II 09-29-2011

Opera Review: Gounod's Romeo et Juliette at Livermore Valley Opera By Ken Bullock 09-28-2011

Film Review: Raul Ruiz's Mysteries of Lisbon at Shattuck Cinemas By Ken Bullock 09-28-2011

Book Review: Heart of a Soldier Reviewed by Dorothy Snodgrass 09-28-2011

Free Speech Day Is October 1! Two Unique Ways to Celebrate By Gar Smith 09-27-2011

"Jobs Not Cuts" Rally in Oakland October 15 By Zipporah Collins 09-27-2011