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At 1 a.m. flames were still visible from the roof of the Sequoia Apartments on Telegraph at Haste.
M. H. O'Malley
At 1 a.m. flames were still visible from the roof of the Sequoia Apartments on Telegraph at Haste.


Sequoia Building Demolition Likely,
Say City Officials;
Not All Residents Accounted For

By Steven Finacom
Saturday November 19, 2011 - 05:06:00 PM
Steven Finacom
Steven Finacom
Steven Finacom
Steven Finacom
Steven Finacom

At a press conference held this afternoon on a closed-down Haste Street with the still smoldering Sequoia Apartment building in the background, Mayor Tom Bates, City Manager Phil Kamlarz, and Assistant Fire Chief Gil Dong said that it hasn’t been fully established whether all the occupants of the building got out during the five alarm blaze, and that the historic building, constructed in 1916, will probably be demolished in the immediate future. 

“We are not totally convinced that everyone is out of there”, Bates said. City Manager Phil Kamlarz added that the City is trying to obtain a list of tenants living in the apartments, and that the Rent Board should also have records since the units are registered. 

“This building has a history of having casual tenants”, Assistant Berkeley Fire Chief Gil Dong said. “We’re working with the building owner to get a final count.” They emphasized that there are not any reports of specific missing persons, but that some of the residents were apparently out of town, and the City hasn’t yet been able to establish how many people lived in the building and where they all are now. 

Kamlarz encouraged all the tenants of the building to call the Fire Department at 510-981-5900, so the City can prepare an accurate accounting of the number of residents and there current whereabouts, and also offer assistance. 

The fire destroyed or made 39 apartments unoccupiable, and also damaged and closed businesses on the ground floor including the popular Café Intermezzo and Raleigh’s Bar and Grill; the latter business would probably have been packed Saturday evening with Cal fans watching the Big Game being played at Stanford Stadium. 

Instead, the interior was dark, some windows were broken, and water was rushing out onto Telegraph Avenue from under the doors of Raleigh’s. “This is still actually an active fire”, said Dong. “We have void spaces that we can’t get into.” 

In addition to the five story Sequoia Building, the adjacent one story brick structure to the north housing Thai Noodle restaurant is closed and the City has evacuated a six unit apartment building immediately to the west of the Sequoia, on Haste Street. They were not damaged by the fire, but both are in what the City regards as a “collapse hazard zone” adjacent to the damaged building. 

The City representatives said they were working to restore business, pedestrian, and vehicle access on Telegraph Avenue and surrounding streets, but that it would be days, and could be weeks, before traffic and street access is back to normal. 

Progress of the Fire 

Dong said that the first alarm to the Berkeley Fire Department came at 8:48 pm, as a result of the alarm system going off in the building. “The first call we got was actualization of the fire alarm system.” One engine and one truck company responded from Station #5 on Shattuck Avenue. 

They found “light smoke”, initially, he said but when they “got inside saw a heavy fire.” The alarms escalated, with a fifth alarm being called at 9:32 pm. Fire companies from Berkeley, Oakland, Albany, and the City of Albany ultimately responded, Dong said, with additional crews coming from an Alameda County station in San Leandro, and from the County-run fire station at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in the hills above the UC Berkeley campus. 

17 fire companies were involved from those agencies, as well as incident commanders who responded from several other cities. Dong said he had no reports of firemen or women injured in fighting the blaze. 

This afternoon, there were two Berkeley companies remaining on the site and they would stay there to monitor still-smoldering portions of the building, Dong said. Behind the press conference a Berkeley truck raised a ladder at the intersection. 

One of the Berkeley companies that responded had been routinely monitoring the annual 7:00 pm Big Game Bonfire Rally in the Greek Theatre, on the eastern edge of the UC Berkeley campus. 

“Early on we had crews inside”, Dong said, but the fire was “running up chases” (vertical open spaces that convey mechanical systems between floors) and spread rapidly in the older building. “Within half an hour we had fire on three floors.” There were crews from Oakland in both of the main stairwells of the building, he said, trying to prevent it from spreading. 

“We have floors missing from the second and third floor”, he added. At present, the Fire Department is monitoring the building from the outside, but “we’re not going in.” 

The fire appears to have started in a lower, basement, area of the building Dong said, but given the structural condition there’s “a high probability that we won’t be able to search that area” where the fire started and investigate the cause in detail. “It’s unlikely. We still have an ongoing fire.”

Dong said there was little chance that residents or business owners would be able to enter the building to recover any unburned belongings. It’s “an unreinforced masonry building, (there’s) a wall that’s bowing, and it’s been burning for 16 hours”, he emphasized. 

“In my career I would characterize this as my biggest fire” after the 1991 Berkeley / Oakland Hills firestorm in 1991, Dong added. 

The building had a two alarm fire earlier this year that did some damage to the top of a stairwell. Dong said he knew of that fire, but “I don’t have any information about any (fire) inspection issues with this building.” The Daily Californian had reported in its coverage of the fire that “Residents said an inspection was done last week to replace batteries in the fire alarms, while the general safety inspection on Friday was to checked for things such as windows opening and closing.” 


Demolition Predicted 

Bates seemed fairly certain the building would be quickly demolished. “We’ll be taking this building down shortly”, he said at the beginning of the press conference. “It’s been deemed to be unsafe.”

“There will be two vacant lots here shortly”, Bates said, alluding to the old Berkeley Inn site across the street, where another historic residential building was demolished after 1980s and 1990s fires. 

“Our hope is out of this we can rise again and have a really wonderful development on both of these corners”, Bates continued. “As soon as we can we’d like to demolish that building”, he emphasized. 

Kamlarz clarified that the City had not yet made a demolition decision. “We are working with the property owner”, he said, and would contact insurance companies as well. “Our hope is that the property owner will cooperate”, Bates said. 

Kamlarz said that the building is currently red tagged, meaning its unsafe, but “the engineers haven’t been able to get inside yet” to evaluate its structural condition. 

“It’s a call from the building safety folks” as to whether a demolition is necessary, he added. “It’s just a safety call right now.” After an engineering evaluation, the next step would be a determination by the Acting Building Official on whether the building needs to be demolished. 

Bates, however, framed his comments with the expectation that the building would be quickly torn down. 

Dong said if there was a demolition, “we want to do it as soon as possible.” “This represents a structural hazard and we have to keep the street closed.” Telegraph was closed at both Dwight and Channing, and City crews were putting up barriers during the press conference. Haste was closed between Bowditch and Dana. 

Normal traffic access had resumed on Dwight Way, which had been closed east of Telegraph during the fire. “By Monday we will be able to reassess”, the streets situation, Dong said. But “the street closures will be days”, and possibly weeks, depending on demolition plans. 

It sounded likely that the street frontage immediately adjacent to the building on both Telegraph and Haste would be kept closed, although Dong said that one lane of northbound traffic might be restored on Telegraph soon. 

The Telegraph business community has been gearing up for the holiday shopping period, with the Telegraph Avenue Holiday Street Faire scheduled to open on December 16. Telegraph north of Dwight is traditionally closed to vehicle traffic during six days in December, and filled with crafts vendors and entertainment. 

One of the nearby businesses, “Café Mediterreaneum was very helpful with providing assistance to the firefighters last night”, Dong said. “We’re grateful for the merchants and residents on this block.” He said “we will try to get foot traffic up to Haste (along Telegraph) as soon as possible. No vehicles.” 

Pedestrian access would allow the businesses on the block of Telegraph south of Haste to reopen, including Amoeba Records on the corner diagonally across from the Sequoia Apartments. 

Dong said the City was working with AC Transit to figure out temporary rerouting of bus service in the immediate Telegraph area. 

Red Cross 

John Tulluck from the Red Cross, Alameda County, said that his agency had received a call at 9:30 last night and was “on scene before 10:30.” Friday night they talked to 30-35 residents displaced from the building and “the majority of them were able to find their own housing” for the night. The Red Cross accommodated eight fire victims in hotel rooms overnight. 

He said that the people the Red Cross had assisted “fit the neighborhood” demographics, but he was unable to provide details on the background of the displaced for privacy reasons. Other reports have indicated that many of the building residents were UC Berkeley students. 

Tulluck said that on Sunday, from 9-4, the Red Cross would have a large RV functioning as a mobile service center parked in the vicinity of Haste and Telegraph, and anyone who needs services as a result of the fire should look for it. Displaced residents can also call the Red Cross at (510) 595-4441. 

Tulluck said that anyone interested in donating to support the fire victims should go to RedCrossBayArea.org. There’s a “big blue donate button” on the website, and he said he thought it would be possible to specify that donations go to support those displaced by this particular fire. He said that because the Red Cross provides much of its assistance in the form of debit cards, it’s better for them to receive financial donations rather than gifts of items like blankets or clothing. 

Kamlarz said that the City Council had just passed a new ordinance strengthening relocation assistance provisions for tenants displaced from their housing. “Council did the second reading last week”, he said. “Theoretically it takes 30 days for it to go into effect”, so it might not benefit the tenants displaced last night. City staffers are checking, Kamlarz said. 

Rent Stabilization Board Chairperson Lisa Stephens, a strong proponent of the relocation ordinance, told me that she felt opposition from the Berkeley Property Owner’s Association had delayed its adoption.

Apartment Fire Still Smouldering

By Steven Finacom
Saturday November 19, 2011 - 11:45:00 AM
Andy Liu
Andy Liu
Andy Liu
Andy Liu
Steven Finacom
Steven Finacom
Steven Finacom
Steven Finacom
Steven Finacom

The fire that started in the Sequoia Apartments at Haste and Telegraph on the evening of Friday, November 18, was still burning the next morning. Berkeley Fire Department crews continued to pour water into the mixed-use structure, a historic apartment building that contains 39 units and restaurants popular with the campus crowd, including Café Intermezzo and Raleigh’s pub. The building has four floors—including the commercial level—along Telegraph and five levels on Haste.

A column of smoke was visible throughout Berkeley this morning above the severely damaged building. Along Telegraph the top floor apartments and some on the third floor below appeared gutted. The sky and charred lathe and plaster walls were visible through several of the fourth floor windows. Along Haste the damage extended down to the second floor, which was one of the first portions of the building visibly burning last night. Some of the aluminum window frames hung blackened and distorted above the street. 

Last night, a Cal student who said she lived in the building and was standing on Haste Street watching the fire said that residents had smelled smoke in the evening The rumor among residents was that there might be an electrical fire in the walls. The flames broke out before 9:00 pm. 

Streets were blocked in all directions, including Haste between Bowditch and Dana, and Telegraph from Channing south to Blake. Several fire engines remained, and visibly exhausted fire fighters walked about. 

Water poured from two ladder trucks on Haste Street into the gaping roof. A man who said he was with a company that stabilized damaged buildings said that fire personnel were not entering the building until the structural condition could be assessed, and efforts to completely extinguish the fire, now burning in the basement, might last until Sunday or Monday. 

He said that if the structure could be saved, the first step would be to erect temporary bracing along the street walls to secure them in place, then start to stabilize interior damage. 

As spectators watched along the quiet streets a steady pillar of grey smoke rose above the building into a blue, sunny, sky. Smoke occasionally puffed out of the windows. Telegraph and Haste were littered with charred debris in a flood of water that poured out the doors of the restaurants and down Haste Street, flowing blocks away. 

The Sequoia Apartments was built in 1916 and “is one of Southside’s most important historic structures” according to preservationist and historian John English, who has lived two blocks away since the 1960s. The distinctive exterior features a cream colored brick, decorated with patterned inserts of colored brick and tile. 

Among the businesses it once contained were Mario’s La Fiesta Restaurant (which relocated further up Haste Street some years ago, and is now a restaurant called Manny’s), and the Studio Guild theater, associated with famed movie critic Pauline Kael. 

The Daily Californian has posted a report with numerous interviews with student residents of the building.

Berkeley Fire at Sequoia Apartments on Telegraph Contained at 3 a.m., Chief Says

By Sasha Lekach (BCN)
Saturday November 19, 2011 - 08:53:00 AM

A four-alarm fire at an apartment building near the University of California at Berkeley has been contained more than six hours after the fire department first received reports of a fire, a Berkeley fire chief said. 

The fire at the four- or five-story building with 39 units on the corner of Telegraph Avenue and Haste Street was first reported at 8:48 p.m. Friday night. It was contained at 3:19 a.m., Berkeley fire Chief Sabina Imrie said. The fire spread throughout the entire building and took hours to contain, Imrie said. The building has commercial space on the first floor and 39 residential units on the above floors. 

Raleigh's Bar and Grill and Cafe Intermezzo are listed as businesses near the corner where the fire broke out Friday night. 

Residents were evacuated and no injuries have been reported. No firefighters were injured, Imrie said. 

Displaced residents who need assistance may call the Red Cross, who is providing alternative housing, at (510) 508-6172. 

Several agencies assisted in tackling the fire, including firefighters from Alameda County, Alameda, Albany and Oakland, according to the fire chief.

Flash: Huge Fire Raging at Telegraph and Haste in Berkeley

By Becky O'Malley and Steven Finacom
Friday November 18, 2011 - 11:30:00 PM
Fire bursts through the windows on the south side.
M. H. O'Malley
Fire bursts through the windows on the south side.
The fire at the Sequoia Apartments reaches the roof.
M. H. O'Malley
The fire at the Sequoia Apartments reaches the roof.
A lineman works above the heads of the crowd which has gathered on Haste Street.
M. H. O'Malley
A lineman works above the heads of the crowd which has gathered on Haste Street.
Steven Finacom
Steven Finacom
Steven Finacom
Steven Finacom
At 1 a.m. flames were still visible from the roof of the Sequoia Apartments on Telegraph at Haste.
M. H. O'Malley
At 1 a.m. flames were still visible from the roof of the Sequoia Apartments on Telegraph at Haste.

11:30 p.m.

A four-alarm fire is raging in the Sequoia Apartments building, on the northwest corner of Haste and Telegraph in Berkeley. The tile-faced five-story building, which dates from the early 20th century, has 39 apartments on its upper floors. The storefront on the first floor for many years housed Mario's La Fiesta Restaurant. There was a two-alarm fire in the building in February of this year. 

The fire seems to have started sometime before 10 p.m. The many firefighters and fire equipment on the scene came from Albany, Oakland and other surrounding jurisdictions as well as from Berkeley. A large group of spectators which had gathered on Haste Street were pushed back to Bowditch by firefighters at 11 p.m. as flames shot through the roof of the building. 

In the crowd many were in tears. A young woman named Annamaria, whose principal language is Spanish, sobbed in the arms of her husband Jose—both are employed in the building. Another weeping young woman, a resident, was being supported by friends on each arm. She said that she thought it was an electrical fire and was spreading through the walls, so that it would be impossible to extinguish. 

1:30 a.m. 

The fire is still burning, with flames still visible from blocks away, though it seems a bit calmed. 

Ken Sarachan, the proprietor of Rasputin's records a block north, and owner of several properties on Telegraph, told the Planet that he first saw the fire just before nine o'clock, and people on the street at that time told him it had been burning for a while by then. 

He observed at least 12 fire trucks and many firefighters, but he said he wondered why those on the scene didn't seem to be shooting any water on the building. 

He heard someone call from an upper story that it was "getting pretty smoky in here". 

By 1 a.m. it was apparent that it was not going to be possible to salvage the building—the interior was consumed in flames. 


View Larger Map 

Press Release: Occupy Oakland Takes to the Streets on Saturday at 2

From Kevin Seal
Friday November 18, 2011 - 07:18:00 PM

Occupy Oakland will take to the streets at 14th and Broadway this Saturday at 2:00 p.m. for a mass rally and march. 

The last week has seen a coordinated attack against numerous major occupations in the US– Portland, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, Seattle, Denver, Oakland, San Francisco, New York and other cities across the country. Several news reports have indicated that these simultaneous attacks were directed by the Department of Homeland Security, in consultation with local mayors and police departments. It should be clear to us that this is happening not because we are weak, but because we have become a real threat to the status quo, and the US government fears the new, more forceful direction the Occupy movement has taken in recent weeks. If our adversaries in the government can coordinate a national offensive against the Occupy movement, then we too can coordinate a response that draws upon the considerable depth, breadth and diversity of our occupations. Occupy Wall Street’s national call for a two month birthday celebration on November 17 is an important step in this direction. 

To continue this national momentum, we call on all other occupations to join our day of action against state repression on November 19. Oakland has already decided that, after our second eviction from Oscar Grant Plaza early Monday morning, this is the day for us to expand and re-establish our occupation. However, we encourage other occupations to participate whether they have been attacked recently or not. Each occupation is encouraged to interpret this call and respond to it as it sees fit. Through a day of coordinated actions we can demonstrate and build upon the potential that the occupy movement holds in fighting the ruling authorities. 

Relevant hashtags: #n17 #n19 #ows #oo #occupyoakland 

About Occupy Oakland: Occupy Oakland is an emerging social movement without leaders or spokespeople. It is one of 1,570 occupations currently occurring around the world in solidarity with Occupy Wall St. More information is available at: http://www.occupyoakland.org 

More information about the other occupations 

For streaming video of General Assemblies and mass actions: http://www.livestream.com/occupyoakland 

Contact: Laura Long, 415-385-9824; Cat Brooks, 510-506-2341

Occupy Cal Camp and Police Low Key on Friday Morning

By Steven Finacom
Friday November 18, 2011 - 12:48:00 PM
Steven Finacom

The “Occupy Cal” encampment seemed at an early morning ebb on Friday as I arrived on the UC Berkeley campus for work. After the police action on Thursday night that had cleared away the tents and most of the other objects and art—from pianos to sculpture—that had accumulated on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Mario Savio Steps of Sproul Hall displayed only a few signs, some black and white balloons, and perhaps a dozen Occupiers. 

For the first morning this week the parking areas around Sproul Hall weren’t filled with news vans. 

I spoke to one of the protestors who said that the Thursday night General Assembly had continued for four hours discussing, in part, a request from the University administration that the encampment send two “representatives” to meet with them on Friday. 

“That’s not our structure”, said the young man. The Occupy Cal movement, he said, doesn’t have leaders. He said the General Assembly finally agreed to send two people, but emphasized that administrators would need to come speak to the General Assembly as a whole if it wanted the movement to take any action. 

He added that a “Nap” protest was being considered for Monday. The Daily Californian reported in its Friday morning edition that students at Cal and Stanford were discussing a combined support march or event for the Occupy movement, to coincide with Big Game celebrations on the weekend. 

For the time being, the protesters on Sproul Plaza seem to be regrouping, while the University Police pursue a policy of low-key attrition. While I was there around 7:30 AM, a police officer came up the steps, inspected a sign and banner taped to the wall of Sproul Hall below a banner advertising this week’s Big Game Bonfire Rally. He apparently told the protestors to take the Occupy signs down, which they did. 

Elsewhere on the steps there were a number of signs propped up, most written on cardboard. Their messages included: “Since when has ‘force’ or ‘violence’ become the driving force of our demands? It Hasn’t! We, This Occupation, Are PEACEFUL.” “Books, Not Batons”. “You Just Bulldozed Mario Savio On His Own Steps.” “Speech Acts”. “OccupyoCAL-ypse”. “I am the committee.” “Lead 

Yourself.” “99.9999 percent.” “Occupy As Long As It Takes.” “Why Are You Afraid of Our Tents?” “Dissidence is the Greatest Form of Patriotism”. “This is just the Beginning.” “Money Can’t Speak, But It Can Shut the Other Person Up.” “My Student I.D. Is My Badge.” 

A cardboard tombstone reading “RIP Regentosaurus Rex – Another Victim of Police Brutality” stood where, during the large day-long demonstrations on Tuesday, protesters had constructed a red-painted dinosaur they dubbed “Regentosaurus”. 

Lower in the Plaza someone had started to re-construct a set of decorations on the Free Speech Monument, a wheel of granite set into the Plaza surface and commemorating the 1964 demonstrations that gave the Plaza its character as a protest site. 

An elaborate multi-part Mandela had been created there on Wednesday, then largely swept away Thursday morning. The new structure included a heart constructed of flower petals, grass clippings, and bark mulch, edged with bits of orange peel. It sat next to a sign that read “Welcome Home”, another one reading “Occupy Cal – For the Students, Teachers, Staff, The Next Generation”, and a dog-eared copy of “A Tale of Two Cities.” 

The balloon filled tents that protestors had brought to the Plaza Thursday evening, floating above the ground to avoid the restriction on erecting tents, were not in evidence. One protestor told me the owners of the tents had taken them home. There was a single teepee-like structure of white poles and white plastic sitting atop part of the Chavez Center. 

As I went on to the office a gentle rain began to fall over the Plaza. The Occupy demonstrators clustered in the slight protection of the doorways on Sproul Hall, above the steps. 


Scenes and signs from the “Occupy Cal” protest site early Friday morning. 

"Occupy Cal" Votes on Next Step

By Ted Friedman
Saturday November 19, 2011 - 12:11:00 PM
Students at the Occupy Cal general assembly on Thursday night voted to re-occupy Sproul Plaza on Monday.  Their sign was lifted off the steps by gas balloons to avoid retribution from UC police for violating rules banning installations at the site.
Ted Friedman
Students at the Occupy Cal general assembly on Thursday night voted to re-occupy Sproul Plaza on Monday. Their sign was lifted off the steps by gas balloons to avoid retribution from UC police for violating rules banning installations at the site.
Occupy Cal general assembly at Sproul Plaza, Thursday evening.
Ted Friedman
Occupy Cal general assembly at Sproul Plaza, Thursday evening.
Occupy Cal general assembly takes to the air, Thursday evening.
Ted Friedman
Occupy Cal general assembly takes to the air, Thursday evening.
"Our Space" banner seems to have a mind of its own as it moves on general assembly, Thursdsay evening.
Ted Friedman
"Our Space" banner seems to have a mind of its own as it moves on general assembly, Thursdsay evening.
A student at Occupy Cal showed up prepared for action after police removed tent encampment  early Wednesday.
Ted Friedman
A student at Occupy Cal showed up prepared for action after police removed tent encampment early Wednesday.
In the shadow of Mario Savio, Thursday night,  at occupy Cal. Plaque reads: "The most beautiful thing in the world is freedom of speech."--Diogenes
Ted Friedman
In the shadow of Mario Savio, Thursday night, at occupy Cal. Plaque reads: "The most beautiful thing in the world is freedom of speech."--Diogenes

Occupy Cal Plans to Re-Group

By Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Friday November 18, 2011 - 08:15:00 AM

About 200 Occupy Cal protesters gathered on the steps of Sproul Hall at the University of California at Berkeley last night for a general assembly meeting to decide if they will set up an encampment again.  

The meeting began about 15 hours after police officers from UC Berkeley and other agencies disbanded an encampment of about 21 tents that had been set up Tuesday night. Police also arrested two men for failure to disperse and unlawful assembly.  

Navid Shaghaghi, a senior majoring in electrical engineering and computer science, said Occupy Cal protesters will decide whether to try to set up an encampment again tonight or another time in the near future.  

He said they also would consider postponing a decision and instead travel to the Occupy San Francisco site because there are rumors that police might disband that encampment tonight.  

Shaghaghi said he was one of about 30 to 40 students who were camped out on the steps of Sproul Hall when 150 officers who he said were in full riot gear swarmed in to remove the tents that had been set up. He said most of the students "made a tactical move to avoid being arrested" so they could videotape officers while they dismantled the encampment.  

Shaghaghi said the students were upset that officers destroyed art work that had been set up in the area, such as a papier mache dinosaur called a "regent-a-saurus."  

Officers also destroyed the protesters' tents, although the protesters were able to keep their personal belongings, he said.  

The turnout of about 200 people is much smaller than the estimated crowd of about 3,000 people who came to Sproul Plaza Tuesday night for a general assembly meeting and a speech by public policy professor and former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich.  

But Shaghaghi said he thinks "the turnout is pretty good," although he admitted "you always want bigger." He said the gathering "is a very workable size."  

Occupy Cal protesters claim that the gathering Tuesday night was the largest general assembly meeting in the short history of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Signs from A Protest--Tuesday's Action

By Steven Finacom
Friday November 18, 2011 - 07:56:00 AM
Signs from A Protest
Steven Finacom
Signs from A Protest


A Last Look at Occupy Cal on Wednesday

By Steven Finacom
Friday November 18, 2011 - 08:14:00 AM

By Steven Finacom 

The “Occupy Cal” tent encampment on the Mario Savio Steps and Sproul Plaza at UC Berkeley appeared to have a relatively quiet day on Wednesday, November 16, 2011. 

Protestors came and went, there was a stream of curious spectators, and a handful of UC Police watched from a distance. Both sides—the University and the demonstrators—appeared to be taking a pause after the vigorous confrontations of last week, and last night’s climactic “General Assembly” that filled Sproul Plaza with thousands and voted to set up the tents again in defiance of UC directives. 

Each time I passed by—before work, on breaks, at lunch, and after work—the mood was subdued, but not somber. News vans kept vigil in nearby parking lots and there were frequent interviews being conducted. Some classes assembled on the nearby lawns or steps, while other individuals relaxed on the lawns or worked on lap top computers or new signs. 

Buses to take demonstrators to San Francisco and UC Police cars lined Bancroft Way in the morning, two vehicles deep. On the adjacent Barrows Lane there was a line of Alameda County Sheriff’s cars. 

Some protestors struck up an impromptu band in the early evening with a piano, violinist, and drums on the upper steps Others carefully laid out decorations on the Free Speech Memorial inset into Sproul Plaza.  

A “tent” of branches over carpet stands adjacent, as does an abstract wooden arch, both erected on Tuesday during the day. One of the lawns sports a “Regent-o-Saurus” made out of paper mache, also on Tuesday.  

The structures, decorations, scattered furniture, and closely packed small tents, gave the demonstration a somewhat festive, neo-“Burning Man” vibe today.  

Small pieces of Astroturf had been spread on the steps. Someone had started to line the light poles in Sproul Plaza with black and white photographs of students captioned with quotes, in a style similar to a recent University publicity campaign. 

A “Big Game Bonfire” banner, hung from the upper balcony of Sproul Hall, was an incongruous topper to the scene. A “Stanford is w/Cal” banner that had been carried in the Tuesday protests hung below a first floor window of Sproul Hall. Two floors above a blue and white “Occupy” banner with a peace sign hung from below an office window. 

Across the front of the steps was a display of pictures and posters recalling the Free Speech Movement. 

Half a plaza north, Gideon’s spent the morning, as they had on Tuesday, giving out free copies of the New Testament. They established their own little temporary encampment of signs, boxes, tables, and a moving cart adjacent to Sather Gate. 

Here are photographs from the day. 



Updated: Two Arrested in Berkeley Raid on Occupy Cal

By Jeff Shuttleworth
Thursday November 17, 2011 - 10:34:00 AM

Two people were arrested when police from the University of California at Berkeley and other agencies disbanded the Occupy Cal encampment on the steps of Sproul Hall early today, a university spokesman said. 

The two men were arrested for failure to disperse and unlawful lodging, UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof said. 

Occupy Cal protesters set up an encampment of about 15 tents Tuesday night after a general assembly attended by more than 1,000 people voted by a margin of 89 percent to 11 percent to do so, protesters said. 

A previous attempt to set up an encampment last week was thwarted by UC Berkeley police and officers from other agencies, whose aggressive tactics have been criticized by Occupy Cal protesters. 

UC Berkeley has a policy against allowing camping on campus, but police didn't act immediately to remove the tents that were set up Tuesday night. 

Mogulof said university officials and police monitored the situation and waited for a time when they thought it would be safe and effective to remove the tents. 

He said they decided that 3:30 a.m. today would be a good time to take action, and he said the removal of the tents was "very peaceful" and there weren't any confrontations. 

Occupy Cal protesters were given hourly warnings by police that the encampment was illegal and they were subject to arrest, Mogulof said. 

The protesters were given time to take down their tents, Mogulof said. They also were given time to take away two pianos that they had set up on the steps of Sproul Hall for music sessions, he said. 

University staff members cleaned the steps of Sproul Hall after the tents were removed, according to Mogulof. 

He said about a dozen protesters remained in the area as of early this afternoon. 

A speaker at the general assembly Tuesday night said there would be more general assemblies at Sproul Plaza at 6 p.m. every night.

"Occupy Cal" Tents Torn Down by UC Berkeley Police-- Arrests Reported

By Sasha Lekach (BCM)
Thursday November 17, 2011 - 08:31:00 AM

It appears police in riot gear arrived at the "Occupy Cal" newly established encampment on the University of California at Berkeley campus this morning.

Footage from a livestream video at the campus showed police lined near Sproul Hall around 4 a.m. where Occupy Cal protesters had erected about 15 tents in violation of the university's ban on camping. 

Occupy Cal protesters began setting up the tents at about 8:30 p.m. Tuesday after the group's assembly voted in favor of doing so. A previous attempt to set up an encampment last week was foiled by university police, with the assistance of Alameda County sheriff's deputies. 

The videographer filming the encampment and police action this morning said two people were arrested after many of the protesters had left when police arrived before 4 a.m. 

A group "mic check," or community check-in, after the police raid confirmed that one UC Berkeley student was arrested, along with a protester from "Occupy Oakland." 

Twitter reports indicated police dismantled tents and moved protesters away from the Sproul Hall steps. 

Around 4:25 a.m. a small group congregated near Sproul Hall and briefly chanted, "Whose university? Our university!"  

Someone spoke to the small crowd and said he was upset that protesters were kicked out of their tents, but overall the raid was peaceful and police were not violent.

Updated: Police Say Man Fatally Shot by UC Berkeley Police Officer Was "Troubled"

By Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Wednesday November 16, 2011 - 04:47:00 PM

A student who was fatally shot by University of California at Berkeley police on Tuesday after allegedly brandishing a gun appeared to be troubled, university officials said today. 

Capt. Margo Bennett of the university's police department said friends and family members of 32-year-old Christopher Nathen Elliot Travis told police that "his behavior changed the last few weeks." 

However, Bennet said there's no information about why his behavior changed. 

Bennet said a campus police officer shot Travis after he brandished a Ruger 99 mm semiautomatic handgun in a third floor computer lab at the Haas School of Business shortly before 2:30 p.m. Tuesday. 

"His actions are from someone who was troubled," she said. 

Bennet said several university police officers responded to the computer lab after a business school staff member reported seeing what appeared to be a gun in his backpack. 

She said a video of the incident that investigators reviewed today confirmed officers' statements that Travis ignored several orders to drop his gun. 

One of the officers shot and struck Travis multiple times after he pointed his gun at the officer, according to Bennet. 

Nine other students were in the room at the time and three were in the officer's line of fire, she said. 

Those students were quickly removed from the line of fire before the shooting, Bennet said. 

Four officers, including the officer who fatally shot Travis, have been placed on paid administrative leave pending an investigation into the shooting, she said. 

Travis's gun was registered in his name in San Jose, Bennet said. However, there's no indication he had a concealed weapons permit, she said.  

She said Travis was a trainer in standard operating procedures for security guards. But she said investigators haven't yet been able to determine if he ever worked as a security guard. 

University spokesman Dan Mogulof said Travis was in his first semester as an undergraduate at the business school after transferring from another university. 

He said information about Travis's previous college experience isn't available at this time. 

Mogulof said it appears the shooting was an isolated incident and had nothing to do with the Occupy Cal protest that was occurring in another part of the campus.

ReFund Education March Takes over Bank of America--UC Berkeley Students Participate, Tents Pitched

By Dan McMenamin (BCN)
Wednesday November 16, 2011 - 03:29:00 PM

Dozens of protesters have pitched a tent inside a Bank of America branch in downtown San Francisco this afternoon and are refusing to leave.

At about 2:15 p.m., at least 100 protesters rushed into the branch on California Street near Davis Street, taking it over. They stood inside the branch chanting, "We are the 99 percent."

University of California at Berkeley graduate student Elise Youn said one of the aims of the march is to "make the connection" between the business interests of certain UC Regents and their work on the board.

The marchers were focusing on three regents: Richard Blum, chair of Blum Capital Partners; George Marcus, who heads a national commercial real estate brokerage firm; and Monica Lozano, who is a Bank of America board member.  

At about 2:40 p.m., police ordered the protesters, some of whom had been standing on desks in the bank, to disperse. 

Police in riot gear scuffled with protesters, shoving them out of the way to access the building's doorway. Some people had been trying to exit the bank and others were blocking the officers' path as they tried to enter. 

Many of the protesters left the bank, but about 30 of them remained inside as of 3 p.m. and had erected a tent in the middle of the floor. 

Some wore bandanas and some were standing on desks.  

Hundreds of other protesters were sitting in the middle of Davis Street, which is shut down.  

Meanwhile, members of a 24-Hour Fitness across the street watched the activity from their treadmills. 

As of 3 p.m., no arrests had been made. A large crowd had gathered in front of the bank where protesters marched this afternoon to call for more funding for public education. 

The "ReFund Public Education March" was organized in part to protest the cancellation of the UC Board of Regents meeting in San Francisco this week.  

The meeting was cancelled because of fears that violent protests would occur, according to the regents. 

"The 1 percent on the Board of Regents cancelled their meeting because we demanded they do the people's business," read a statement posted on the Occupy SF website about the march. 

"So now we're going to where they do Wall Street's business," the statement read.  

The site states that there would be a noon gathering at Justin Herman Plaza and a 1 p.m. march on banks, followed by a 4 p.m. "People's Assembly for Public Education" at the State Building at 455 Golden Gate Ave. 

Around 1:30 p.m., the protesters sat down on Battery Street between Pacific Avenue and Broadway, blocking traffic. 

Some protesters chanted, "Education must be free. No cuts, no peace." Marchers included a number of students and members of public-sector unions. 

CONTACT: San Francisco police (415) 553-1651 

EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: Images related to this story can be obtained from the following Bay City News Service Web links: www.baycitynews.com/images/ProtestersInBank11.16.11.jpg www.baycitynews.com/images/ProtestersInBankII11.16.11.jpg 


Copyright © 2011 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited. 


Cal State University Faculty on Strike Today

Thursday November 17, 2011 - 02:54:00 PM

California State University faculty from throughout the state are pouring in to two of the system's 23 campuses this morning to participate in a one-day strike to protest the cancellation of contractual raises for CSU faculty as tuition increases for CSU students, union officials said. 

California Faculty Association spokesman Brian Ferguson said that as of 9 a.m. today, hundreds had already gathered outside CSU East Bay in Hayward, one of the two convergence points today for CSU faculty, along with Dominguez Hills in Carson. 

Ferguson said faculty and students are arriving at the campus from as far north as Humboldt and as far south as Fresno, and that half of the professors at CSU East Bay have pledged to participate in the picket line. He said nearly two-thirds have pledged not to cross picket lines. 

Ferguson said the union hopes to cancel all CSU East Bay classes today.  

"Obviously that's not going to happen, but the vast majority of classes, as far as we can tell, are going to be empty today," he said. 

CSU East Bay spokesman Barry Zepel said that the campus is open today, and that unless an instructor notifies students that a class has been canceled, students should assume their classes will still be in session. 

He said nearly 600 classes are scheduled for as many as 8,500 students between 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. today, the hours of the strike. 

But he said the school has not been officially informed about how many faculty members may be striking. 

In addition to faculty and students, Ferguson said the strike has received support from K-12 public school teachers and other unions.  

Close to 100 K-12 teachers from Oakland, San Leandro and Castro Valley arrived at the picket line before their classes today, and the Teamsters union and delivery drivers have been honoring the strike by not making deliveries to the campus today, Ferguson said. 

A statement released Wednesday by the California Nurses Association encouraged union members to join CSU picket lines today as well. 

CFA treasurer Susan Green traveled to CSU East Bay from Chico this morning, and said there was a busload of about 50 faculty members, students and local public school teachers behind her. 

Green said she has found that CSU students are supportive of the strike.  

"We say the faculty working conditions are student learning conditions," Green said, adding that students have seen the effects of state budget cuts in larger class sizes and shorter office hours. 

"They also realize that the rhetoric of putting students first isn't true if you're always putting faculty last," Green said.

Student Shot By UC Police Featured in YouTube Video

Wednesday November 16, 2011 - 12:56:00 PM

A commenter on the Daily Cal web site has found a video of Chris Travis, the student who was shot yesterday by UC police for allegedly brandishing a gun in the computer lab at Haas Business School.

Student Fatally Shot by UC Berkeley Police Identified

By Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Wednesday November 16, 2011 - 12:41:00 PM

A man who was shot by University of California at Berkeley police after he allegedly brandished a gun at the Haas School of Business on Tuesday has died, university officials said today.

The man, identified by the university as 32-year-old Christopher Nathen Elliot Travis, died Tuesday night at Highland Hospital.

"We're very saddened by this new information," university spokeswoman Claire Holmes said.

Travis was an undergraduate transfer student, according to the university. 

UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau and business school dean Rich Lyons told business school students about Travis' death at a special meeting at 8:30 a.m. today, she said. 

Grief counselors are at the school to talk with students, Holmes said. 

She said Travis was from California but she didn't yet know which city he was from. 

The shooting happened around 2:25 p.m. Tuesday in a third-floor computer lab after officers responded to a report of a man with a weapon.  

Birgeneau said a female staff member was taking the elevator up to the fifth floor when a man who was in the elevator with her reached into his backpack and she saw what appeared to be a gun.  

She was "extremely concerned" and notified her supervisor, who called police, said Birgeneau. 

UC Berkeley police Chief Mitch Celaya said police received the call at 2:17 p.m., and by 2:19 p.m. several officers had arrived at the computer lab.  

He said that when the officers made contact with the man, he "pulled a firearm out in a threatening manner." 

They ordered him several times to drop the weapon, and one officer, fearing for his life, opened fire, Celaya said.  

No officers or students were injured.  

Birgeneau said there were at least four other students in the lab when police arrived. 

Celaya said officers yelled at the man to drop his gun numerous times but he failed to comply with their orders. 

Celaya said there is no indication the shooting was related to the Occupy Cal protests happening elsewhere on campus. 

He said the shooting was the first on the campus since a shooting at the Bear's Lair pub in the 1980s.

Thousands Gather on Sproul Plaza, Vote to Continue to "Occupy Cal" at UC Berkeley

By Steven Finacom
Wednesday November 16, 2011 - 12:46:00 AM
Steven Finacom
The Occupy UC crowd filled the center of Sproul Plaza.
Steven Finacom
The Occupy UC crowd filled the center of Sproul Plaza.
Steven Finacom
Sproul Plaza as Robert Reich delivered the Mario Savio Memorial Lecture.
Steven Finacom
Sproul Plaza as Robert Reich delivered the Mario Savio Memorial Lecture.
Tents were first set up in the middle of Sproul Plaza, then carried through or lifted over the heads of the crowd and repositioned in the steps.
Steven Finacom
Tents were first set up in the middle of Sproul Plaza, then carried through or lifted over the heads of the crowd and repositioned in the steps.
Steven Finacom
Occupy UC and Occupy Oakland protestors combined for the evening events.
Steven Finacom
Occupy UC and Occupy Oakland protestors combined for the evening events.
Steven Finacom
Thousands remained in the Plaza after 10:00 PM, watched by UC Police on the edges of the crowd and from the balcony of the Student Union, which was still festooned with “Occupy” signage from the lunchtime rally.
Steven Finacom
Thousands remained in the Plaza after 10:00 PM, watched by UC Police on the edges of the crowd and from the balcony of the Student Union, which was still festooned with “Occupy” signage from the lunchtime rally.
Scores of spectators climbed onto the hyperbolic paraboloid rooftops of the Chavez Center on the northwestern edge of Sproul Plaza.
Steven Finacom
Scores of spectators climbed onto the hyperbolic paraboloid rooftops of the Chavez Center on the northwestern edge of Sproul Plaza.
One demonstrator bought a stuffed Cal bear, with an “Occupy” T-shirt to the General Assembly.
Steven Finacom
One demonstrator bought a stuffed Cal bear, with an “Occupy” T-shirt to the General Assembly.

Thousands gathered on Sproul Plaza last night after a day of campus teach-ins and protests to re-ignite the “Occupy UC” movement. The evening “General Assembly” of protesters was preceded by marches through Berkeley that originated on, and returned to, the campus and the arrival of a contingent that had marched from the dispersed Occupy Oakland encampment. 

After work I watched the beginnings of the General Assembly, which convened at 5:00 pm. I returned to see the conclusion hours later when there was a mass vote to reinstall a UC-prohibited tent city on Sproul Plaza. The vote to start the encampment again, with tents, was endorsed by 1,267 individuals, which organizers said represented 88.5% of those voting.  

I estimated that more than a thousand people were sitting in Sproul Plaza at the time, with probably another thousand or more others standing on the periphery. The crowd grew as the night went on.  

“Seeds of resistance have been planted, and we will not be moved” one of the Assembly facilitators told the crowd, to cheers. “Power to the people, y’all. We’re here to stay,” concluded another as the tents were set up. Immediately after the vote tents appeared in the middle of the crowd and Plaza.  

The Assembly was followed by the annual Mario Savio Young Activist awards program, which decamped from its scheduled venue in Pauley Ballroom to the steps of Sproul. Lynne Hollander Savio, Mario’s widow, spoke, as did all three of this year’s winners. 

They were followed by Professor Robert Reich who spoke about the growing imbalance of economic power in the United States, concentration of wealth, and the consequent dangers to representative democracy. He told the Occupy protesters he was proud of them, of Berkeley, and their movement.  

As Reich finished his remarks and three UC Police officers videotaped the crowd from the Pauley Ballroom balcony of the Student Union, several tents were shifted through the crowd from the center of the Plaza to the Mario Savio Steps immediately in front of Sproul Hall. 

The crowd was in an upbeat, even festive, mood. When “I Will Survive” was played over the sound system, many broke into dancing on the steps. Although there were Occupy Oakland protesters in the crowd, and a fair number of older adults, it was manifestly a UC student occasion; it was readily apparent that the vast majority of those present were current students, both among the participants, and the curious spectators.  

Many raised their hands when asked by the facilitators if they were willing to spend the night. 

I’ll write in more detail about the evening and what the speakers said at a later date, when I have the chance. In the meantime, here’s a sequence of photos from the evening.

After Rally, Protesters Set Up Tents in U.C. Berkeley's Sproul Plaza

By Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Wednesday November 16, 2011 - 12:43:00 AM

Occupy Cal protesters began setting up tents at Sproul Plaza at the University of California at Berkeley campus again tonight after 88.5 percent of the group's general assembly voted to support the action. 

A small group of tents had been set up by 9 p.m. but UC Berkeley police, who thwarted an attempt to set up an encampment last Wednesday, stood by and didn't take any immediate action to remove them. 

Occupy Cal members have accused police officers of using excessive force last week, when 39 people were arrested. 

UC Berkeley spokeswoman Claire Holmes said tonight that, "We don't want a repeat performance of last week and we want to focus on maintaining safety on campus after the shooting at the Haas School of Business." 

She was referring to an incident shortly after 2:15 p.m. today in which campus police shot a man who allegedly was brandishing a gun. The man was taken to Highland Hospital in Oakland but there has been no word on his condition. 

Holmes said university officials and police will assess the situation on Sproul Plaza as the evening progresses before deciding how to respond to the new encampment. 

About 3,000 people gathered in Sproul Plaza for the general assembly and to hear a speech by professor of public policy Robert Reich, who served as Secretary of Labor under President Clinton. 

Reich was to deliver the 15th annual Mario Savio lecture in honor of the former student who started the free speech movement on the UC Berkeley campus in 1964. 

"It's a wonderful gathering," Holmes said. 

As of 9 p.m. the atmosphere was calm and there weren't any arrests. 

Before the vote on setting up an encampment was taken there were speakers who took both sides of the issue. 

A man who said his name is Alex and who's a graduate student in sociology said he was beaten up by UC Berkeley police last week and he supports trying to set up tents again because they seem to be an important symbol to university officials. 

A woman who identified herself as Amanda said, "We should continue to stay to assure that we have a truly free university." 

She said, "Without tents we can't stay if it rains." 

Amanda also said protesters need food tents and "with tents we can take care of each other and ourselves." 

But a man who said his name is William said setting up tents again and risking arrest might take away from what he said is the group's greatest resource, which he said is its intelligence. 

He said that if the protesters only set up symbolic tents the size of grocery bags they might have more success in getting their overall message across than if they insisted on setting up real tents. 

A woman who announced the results of the vote in favor of setting up the tents said, "The seeds of resistance have been planted and we will not be moved." 

The woman said Occupy Oakland members will meet at 6 p.m. Wednesday and every following day even if there are arrests tonight.

Berkeley's Running Wolf Now the Lone Wolf at Frank Ogawa Plaza; The Indian Lore That Empowers Him

By Ted Friedman
Wednesday November 16, 2011 - 02:05:00 PM
Tuesday. After seven days in a hoosegow in Yellowstone, Indian medicine on the res, and three failed Peoples Park tree-sits, Berkeley's Running Wolf is back on top at Frank Ogawa Plaza, where the latest tent encampment was removed.
Ted Friedman
Tuesday. After seven days in a hoosegow in Yellowstone, Indian medicine on the res, and three failed Peoples Park tree-sits, Berkeley's Running Wolf is back on top at Frank Ogawa Plaza, where the latest tent encampment was removed.
 Littlebird, last month during the latest ill-fated tree sit in People's Park.
Ted Friedman
Littlebird, last month during the latest ill-fated tree sit in People's Park.
Tuesday at Frank Ogawa Plaza, Oakland, where the latest tent encampment was removed early Monday, and groundskeepers graded it. Running Wolf says the grading is to allow Oakland to blame occupiers for destroying the lawn that was there.
Ted Friedman
Tuesday at Frank Ogawa Plaza, Oakland, where the latest tent encampment was removed early Monday, and groundskeepers graded it. Running Wolf says the grading is to allow Oakland to blame occupiers for destroying the lawn that was there.

At the latest evacuation of campers Monday from Oakland's Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, the epicenter of Occupy Oakland, a lone protester was able to escape the police evacuation. 

Maybe that's because he was up a tree. 

The lone protester was Zachary Running Wolf Brown, 48, a native of Berkeley, a recently announced Berkeley mayoral candidate, and an elder in the Blackfeet tribe of Montana. With his latest,protest, Running Wolf takes his candidacy to new heights. 

Saying he won't descend, until Oakland "co-operates" with the occupation of Ogawa Plaza, Running Wolf has settled in for another record-breaking tree-sit. 

Berkeleyans may recall the media madness that was the Oak Grove tree protest, Dec. 2006 to Sep. 2008, the longest urban tree-sit in North America. Running Wolf organized and ran the controversial protest.  

Sensing, Saturday night, the impending clearing of the plaza (there had been several orders to vacate the encampment), Brown went up a forty foot tree to rig two platforms, occupy the tree, and await events on the ground. 

When police removed the tent encampment early Monday, Running Wolf was already installed in the tree. 

By Tuesday, Running Wolf was receiving admiring visitors, offering political advice, and receiving so much food--passed up by rope in a canvas shoulder bag--he had to decline some of it. 

Police with point and shoots joined tourists with point and shoots. The scene was almost festive. 

The lone vigil in a tree, at 14th and Broadway, adjacent to the plaza, had been contemplated for several weeks, according to Running Wolf--perhaps in response to a failed tree-sit in People's Park last month which involved Indian tricks, an Eagle feather, and evil spirits. 

The failed People's Park tree sit, the seventh in two years and the third since January, may have fallen victim to evil spirits. 

In January it was a stabbing that ended the protest, and a few months later an inexperienced tree-sitter plunged from a tree and broke her back, as reported in the Planet. 

The latest failed People's Park protest was perhaps the most bizarre. Littlebird, self-styled "poet in a tree," apparently was talked out of the tree, after more than an hour of sweet talk with a university policeman, ending the struggling protest. This was the first time a cop in People's Park had been so successful in ending a tree-sit. 

Running Wolf, accepting full responsibility for mismanaging the tree-sits, vowed to fight on. "We've had seven tree sits in People's Park, and we'll hold many more," he boasted recently. "We like sitting in trees. That's what we do," he added. 

To see him lounging on his platform Tuesday giving pep talks to the crowd, you'd think trees were home to him--like Tarzan. 

But where did Tarzan go wrong when Littlebird went AWOL? 

The whole story becomes curiouser. See, it wasn't Littlebird who walked out of the tree, according to Running Wolf. Littlebird had left the tree earlier, because he had said from the start he'd only sit for a few days. Running Wolf admitted he was busy with Occupy S.F.--where he made the evening news--and had failed to provide Littlebird a stand-in. 

And we still haven't got to the Eagle feather, and Indian medicine rituals. 

According to Running Wolf, he was coffee-ing at the Cafe Mediterraneum, where he is popular with the owner, who wants to rid People's Park of people like Running Wolf, when a friend rushed in to say police were trying to talk to Littlebird in the tree. Only Littlebird wasn't there, (unknown to police, no one was there) and that if they learned Littlebird wasn't there, they'd pull down the platforms. 

Rushing to the scene, Running Wolf, deployed an old Indian trick. He pretended to be talking to Littlebird, who had flown the coop, as two UCPD officers looked on. Now Running Wolf had to act fast. He had enlisted a Littlebird replacement, Sun Shadow, at Occupy S.F., but needed to coax him some more. 

A 12 string guitar, from a donor in Oakland was offered, on loan, to Sun Shadow (a guitarist) as incentive. Don't call it a bribe. But Running Wolf attached an Eagle feather to the guitar strap to ensure the guitar would be returned. 

As Running Wolf instructed me, "Eagle feathers always come back." 

If only Sun Shadow had not succumbed to reason. According to the U.C.P.D. officer who out-reasoned Sun Shadow in a sweet-talk dialogue lasting more than an hour, Shadow believed the tree he was occupying was slated to be felled. No way, argued the officer, and if you come down you won't be cited. You can walk away. Sun Shadow walked, and university police confiscated the riggings and platforms. 

But Running Wolf sees this as a victory because Sun Shadow returned the guitar and the Eagle feather. 

"The Eagle feather came back," Running Wolf laughed, and "that's a win." 

Just another action in the busy schedule of the P.T. Barnum of Bay Area protest. 

Running Wolf had recently returned from his Blackfeet reservation in Montana, a momentous visit in which he "dropped medicine," an Indian ritual not to be confused with dropping acid, hoping to overcome an Occupy Oakland decision to ban tree-sitting. 

"We needed to elevate," after all the eviction threats at Ogawa, Running Wolf said Tuesday. 

But instead of elevating, RW, as he is called by friends (or just Zach), spent seven days in some hoosegow near Yellowstone National Park on a car tail-light beef that escalated. The car belonged to a friend. 

It took the intervention of Tony Serra, a well-known S.F. civil liberties attorney, to spring RW. Back at his Medhead haunt on Telegraph, RW was at his up-beat best, but the friend who had accompanied him to the rez was visibly shaken by the ordeal. 

Installed in his latest high-visibility tree-house Tuesday at Ogawa Plaza, Oakland, RW is back on top. 

Indian medicine can be empowering. 


Ted Friedman will travel to Oakland for South side stories, as necessary, especially to take a break from Occupy Berkeley.

Pictures from a Day of Protest

By Ted Friedman
Wednesday November 16, 2011 - 01:17:00 AM
General assembly, 2,000 strong, debates whether to flout university directives, Tuesday night.
Ted Friedman
General assembly, 2,000 strong, debates whether to flout university directives, Tuesday night.
Berkeley police, policing Berkeley Tuesday evening as 2,000 protestors mass in Sproul Plaza.
Ted Friedman
Berkeley police, policing Berkeley Tuesday evening as 2,000 protestors mass in Sproul Plaza.
Occuzilla makes an appearance, Tuesday night at General Assembly.
Ted Friedman
Occuzilla makes an appearance, Tuesday night at General Assembly.
Invasion of the media, Tuesday night, as Cal protest goes viral. Looka them Antennae.
Ted Friedman
Invasion of the media, Tuesday night, as Cal protest goes viral. Looka them Antennae.
Frat boys cycling with Occupy Cal. Cycling for the disabled, Tuesday night at General Assembly.
Ted Friedman
Frat boys cycling with Occupy Cal. Cycling for the disabled, Tuesday night at General Assembly.

New: Mayor's Chief of Staff Leaves City of Berkeley, Joins UC Berkeley's Community Relations Office

Thursday November 17, 2011 - 07:55:00 AM

Julie Sinai, the long time chief of staff to Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates, is resigning to take a job as the new director of Local Government and Community Relations at UC Berkeley.  

She’ll replace Caleb Dardick, who abruptly resigned from that position earlier this year after two years to take a job with an environmental non-profit in the Sierra foothills, near his family home. 

In a widely circulated and forwarded email this week addressed to “Friends and Colleagues” Sinai announced her departure. She’ll leave the Mayor’s office on November 30, take a month off, and start work at UC Berkeley on January 2, 2012. 

The Mayor’s website says Sinai “serves as the Mayor’s policy advisor on youth, education, jobs, health, social service issues, inter-government relations and is the press contact for the Mayor's Office.” 

The office of Government and Community Relations at UC Berkeley has a mission defined as “…to demonstrate the value of UC Berkeley as the nation's leading public research university to elected officials, government agencies, the local community, and the public at large; to assist governmental entities in the development of public policy; and to increase public support for the University and UC Berkeley's interests.” 

Some of the projects on the local government website include “Student Neighbor Relations” including dealing with party noise in off campus student housing and student discards at the end of the semester, the Chancellor’s Community Partnership Fund which gives grants to community groups, the CalNeighbors Newsletter, and management of People’s Park. 

The local government office website still lists Dardick as Director, although he left months ago for a job as Executive Director of the South Yuba River Citizens League in his home town of Nevada City. His father, a former County Supervisor there, died in May. 

Sinai is not the first individual to make the jump from a city position to the UC administration. Dardick himself had worked for Berkeley Mayor Shirley Dean before coming to the University. In the 1980s Daniel Boggan, Jr. the Berkeley City Manager, resigned to take a Vice-Chancellor’s position at the Berkeley campus. In the 1960s Berkeley Police Chief William Beale became the UC Police Department Chief at Berkeley. 

Here’s the text of the e-mail Sinai circulated: 

“Greetings Friends and Colleagues, 

I apologize for the mass email, but I wanted to let you all know that I’ve accepted the position of UC Berkeley’s Director of Local Government and Community Relations.  

As you are likely aware, I left the Berkeley Unified School District in 2002 to work with Mayor Bates on his top agenda issue of youth and education. Now, with all levels of education massively under siege from multiple fronts, I’ve decided that this is where I need to refocus my professional efforts. This position gives me the opportunity to work for accessible and quality education by strengthening the partnerships between the University and Berkeley, the East Bay, the greater Bay Area, and the private sector. 

I want to extend the warmest of heartfelt thanks to Mayor Bates for letting me have the honor of serving him and the City of Berkeley for these past nine years. These have truly been the some of the most fulfilling years of my career. Mayor Bates is a visionary leader who has the rare ability to transform his values and ideas into actions and results.  

I also want to thank the wonderful team we’ve had in the Mayor’s Office – Calvin, Sbeydeh, Nils and Cisco – for sharing their commitment, expertise, and good humor. It has been a joy to work with this dynamic people over the years. 

I look forward working in my new capacity with the City Council, City staff, 2020 Vision for Berkeley’s Children and Youth, the East Bay Green Corridor Partnership, and all our community partners to make Berkeley, Cal and the East Bay the best place in the world. 

My last day in the Mayor’s Office will be November 30th. After a relaxing month of December, I will begin my new position at UC Berkeley on January 2, 2012.” 

Flash: U.C. Berkeley Police Shoot Person Alleged to Have A Gun in the Computer Lab at Haas Business School

By Becky O'Malley and Bay City News
Tuesday November 15, 2011 - 03:38:00 PM
Kaulin Krebs, 24, a junior at UC Berkeley, heard shots but did not directly witness the shooting in the computer lab.
Kaulin Krebs, 24, a junior at UC Berkeley, heard shots but did not directly witness the shooting in the computer lab.
A UC Police officer guards the entrance to Haas School of Business after the shooting.
A UC Police officer guards the entrance to Haas School of Business after the shooting.
Haas Business School students were confined in the building during police investigation of today's shooting.
contributed photo
Haas Business School students were confined in the building during police investigation of today's shooting.

At 2:15 this afternoon a person alleged to have a gun was shot by UC Berkeley Police in the computer lab of the school's Haas Business School, according to UC Police Officer Alex Yao. The victim's name has not been released. Yao said at a 3:15 press conference that he is now being transported to Highland Hospital.  

Kaulin Krebs, 24, a junior at UC, said he was just going into the lab when he heard what sounded like about ten shots. Looking into the room, he heard someone say, "Drop to the ground, a guy has a gun," and saw about 15 of his fellow students crouched on the floor. He did not see the person who was shot, but he said that it appeared to him that no one else had been shot, which was confirmed by Officer Yao.  

"All students and faculty have been evacuated," university spokesman Dan Mogulof said. "The suspect, who was brandishing a weapon, has been taken into custody."  

The shooting happened in a third-floor computer lab. 

Mogulof said an employee spotted what appeared to be a weapon in the suspect's bag and told a supervisor, who then contacted police. 

Haas School of Business spokesman Lyle Nevels said he was working on the fifth floor when he heard something was happening and headed downstairs to the computer lab.  

He said he saw the suspect, whom he described as a man in his 20s weighing about 180 pounds, sitting at a computer terminal. He said the man didn't look out of place in the lab. 

Nevels didn't see the shooting but said several police officers showed up at the computer lab and he heard at least one yell "Drop your gun, Drop your gun!" 

He said he then heard several shots fired. 

No more information has been released at this time, but in answer to questions at the press conference Yao said it was "an isolated incident" not necessarily connected to the Occupy Cal protest going on at the same time.

Protestors Block Traffic on Bancroft in Berkeley

By Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Tuesday November 15, 2011 - 03:38:00 PM

Hundreds of protesters blocked traffic on Bancroft Way near the University of California at Berkeley this afternoon.  

The protesters marched through campus and had filled the street at Bancroft Way and Telegraph Avenue at about 2:30 p.m.  

They carried signs, some reading "Make banks pay," and "Student power."  

Afterwards, the march moved on to downtown Berkeley. 

The protesters are part of the Occupy Cal movement, which drew about 2,000 University of California at Berkeley students and workers to a noon rally at Sproul Plaza today. 

The crowd is expected to be joined later today by Occupy Oakland protesters, who are scheduled to march from Frank Ogawa Plaza to the campus at 2:30 p.m. 

Occupy Cal protesters will hold a general assembly at 5 p.m., at which they are expected to decide whether to make another attempt to set up an encampment on campus.

New: Students to Visit UC Regents' Corporate Offices in San Francisco on Wednesday

From Emma Woods
Tuesday November 15, 2011 - 04:26:00 PM

Protestors will call on bank execs on higher education boards to “make banks pay” to end cuts to higher education 

Following widespread student protests and an emerging #OccupyCal movement calling on higher education board members to make banks pay instead of cutting funds to higher education, thousands of students will converge on the corporate offices of the UC Regents in the San Francisco Financial District and at the CSU Trustees' meeting in Long Beach on Wednesday. 

The location of the convergence in San Francisco was changed yesterday to reflect the UC Regents’ decision to cancel their meeting, previously scheduled to take place on Wednesday at UCSF Mission Bay. The thousands of students, teachers, and others who planned to go to the meeting will gather at Justin Herman Plaza in San Francisco, followed by a march on banks and corporate offices of the UC Regents and ending with a People's Assembly for Public Education at the State Building. Students in Southern California will proceed with the planned convergence at the CSU Trustees meeting in Long Beach, where the Trustees are set to consider proposed fee increases for the 2012-2013 academic year (see full schedule and site contacts below). 

Last week, over 10,000 students across California took to the streets, blocking traffic and marching on banks, demanding that bank executives and other corporate elite on the three boards overseeing California’s higher education system sign a pledge to make banks pay to stop cuts to higher education. Over 14 college campuses saw protests and rallies including Fresno State, CSU Sacramento, UC Davis, UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz, UC Santa Barbara, UCLA, CSU Long Beach, UC Riverside, UC Irvine, UC San Diego, San Diego State and San Francisco City College. The Berkeley protest ended when police used violence against the students and workers, who continued to be non-violent in the face of the baton-wielding police. On Tuesday, Berkeley students and faculty held a general strike to reject the actions taken by police and continue to call on higher education board members to sign a pledge to make banks pay to refund higher education. 

Many members of the university boards hold leadership positions at some of the nation’s biggest banks, financial institutions and corporations, which are the target of nationwide Occupy protests – including Monica Lozano, UC Regent and Bank of America Board Member. As these banks and their executives continue to profit, the California higher education system has suffered deep budget cuts resulting in the layoffs of thousands of teachers and workers, cuts to research projects vital for progress in public health and other areas, and record tuition hikes that have caused students – especially students of color – to drop out or delay education plans. 

The effort is being organized by Refund California, a statewide coalition of students, teachers, homeowners, workers, community members and faith leaders working to make Wall Street banks pay for a crisis they helped to create. 

Leading up to last week’s protests, the coalition sent a letter to the members of the Board of Regents of the University of California, the California State University Board of Trustees and the Community Colleges Board of Governors, calling on them to sign a pledge saying they will support five specific demands that will make banks pay their fair share to stop cuts to higher education, restore needed state revenue and improve the economy for California families. The demands include a federal sales tax on Wall Street financial transactions, which would generate needed revenue for education, and the reduction of underwater mortgage debt, which would put more money in the pockets of middle class families. 



Convergence on corporate offices of the UC Regents in the San Francisco Financial District 

12 pm - Rally at Justin Herman Plaza 

1 pm - March on banks in San Francisco Financial District 

4 pm - People's Assembly for Public Education at the State Building, 455 Golden Gate Ave 

Site contact: Charlie Eaton, 510-220-1520 


Convergence at CSU Trustees Meeting, Chancellor’s Headquarters, 401 Golden Shore Drive 

8:30-9:30 am - Students arrive at meeting (Trustees expected to vote on fee cut around 10am) 

Immediately following - March on banks along Ocean Boulevard, ending at Wells Fargo, 111 West Ocean Boulevard 

Site contact: Bahar Tolou, 323-899-3399 



Facebook – “Like” Make Banks Pay California for updates, links, pictures, and videos. 

Twitter – Follow @ReFundCA and the hashtag #makebankspay 

Web – www.MakeBanksPayCalifornia.com

New: UC Berkeley Students Rally, Teach, March in Support of Occupy Cal Strike

By Patricia Decker (BCN)and Planet
Tuesday November 15, 2011 - 08:48:00 AM
Michael O'Malley

Students, workers, faculty and community members rallied on the University of California at Berkeley campus today as part of the Occupy Cal strike. 

Last week, hundreds of people who participated in a Nov. 9 general assembly on the campus voted for a campus "strike" to be held today. 

More than two-dozen teach outs, workshops and performances were scheduled between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. People converged on Sproul Plaza at noon, and a general assembly is scheduled for 5 p.m. 

According to the university, the protesters have renewed a call for establishing an encampment, which campus administrators have said is prohibited. 

Members of the Occupy Oakland protest were expected to march to the Berkeley campus, meeting at 2:30 p.m. at Frank Ogawa Plaza, according to the Occupy Oakland website.  

Robert Slaughter, who said he was one of the demonstrators who was arrested during the Nov. 9 Occupy Cal protest, spoke about his arrest and detention at a rally near campus at Bancroft and Telegraph avenues. 

Slaughter, a student at St. Mary's College in Moraga, had been issued an order to stay away from the Berkeley campus. He claims he was racially profiled and harassed by police and sheriff's deputies, and that after his arrest he was separated from the rest of the protesters in county jail and was held longer than anyone else.  

This evening, an annual lecture that honors the memory of Mario Savio, a key member of the 1964 Free Speech Movement that began on campus, was moved to Sproul Plaza from its original location in Pauley Ballroom, which is in the student union across from Sproul Hall.  

Robert Reich, professor of public policy at UC Berkeley and former U.S. labor secretary, will deliver the annual memorial lecture at 8 p.m. on the steps of Sproul Hall.  

UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau on Monday issued a statement about last week's protests and granted amnesty to the students arrested for attempting to prevent the removal of the occupation's tents.  

Birgeneau also announced the creation of a review board to assess the police response to the protests. Several people, including Slaughter and Celeste Langan, a tenured associate professor in the English Department, have accused police of using excessive force.  

"When the student in front of me was forcibly removed, I held out my wrist and said 'Arrest me! Arrest me!" Langan wrote in a blog post about her experience.  

"But rather than take my wrist or arm, the police grabbed me by my hair and yanked me forward to the ground ... The injuries I sustained were relatively minor ... but also unnecessary and unjustified," she said.

Cal Protestors Announce Lawsuit Against UC Berkeley, Campus Police

By Laura Dixon (BCN)
Monday November 14, 2011 - 06:01:00 PM

A group of University of California at Berkeley students and community protesters who say they were victims of police brutality during a Nov. 9 "Occupy Cal" demonstration announced today their lawsuit against the university and multiple UCPD police officers. 

Ronald Cruz, a lawyer with the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration and Immigration Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary, or BAMN, said today that the organization is planning to file the suit on behalf of seven protesters who claim to be victims of police violence and false arrests. 

In the lawsuit, which Cruz said BAMN plans to file later this month, the plaintiffs will also call on Chancellor Robert Birgeneau to resign. 

University spokeswoman Janet Gilmore said this afternoon that university administrators were unaware of the planned lawsuit and declined to comment on any pending litigation. 

Gilmore said Birgenau plans to issue a memo to the campus community today related to the Occupy Cal movement. 

"The police repeatedly beat students, especially women students, in the ribs, stomach, arms, legs and face," UC Berkeley senior and BAMN organizer Matt Williams said in the statement released today. 

Yvette Felarca, a BAMN national organizer, said she was one of the first women targeted by police during the Nov. 9 protest. A now-viral YouTube video shows a police officer yanking her by the hair, Felarca said. 

Felarca said she is still recovering from a beating she endured at the hands of UC Berkeley police officers that day. 

"I was one of the people beaten pretty badly -- and I saw so many other people, especially women, who were viciously attacked and I feel very much that it's a matter of principle that we have to hold those police officers accountable, and hold the chancellor accountable," Felarca said today. "Nobody had the right to beat us, much less police ordered by administrators." 

Cruz said Felarca has been instrumental in bringing together many of the students who say they were victimized or falsely arrested by UC Berkeley police officers that day. 

The number of plaintiffs in the lawsuit may grow as BAMN organizers are considering finding more protesters who were victimized by campus police on Nov. 9, he said. 

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit plan to join thousands of other UC Berkeley protesters Tuesday in an Occupy Cal strike with a planned afternoon march from Oakland to the UC Berkeley campus, Cruz said.

Press Release: St. Mary's College Student Arrested Wednesday at Occupy Cal Plans to Address Rally Off-Campus in Berkeley Tomorrow

From Zack Aslanian-Williams
Monday November 14, 2011 - 08:05:00 PM

Robert Slaughter, a political science major at nearby Saint Mary’s College, was one of those arrested during the 'Occupy Cal' protest on the night of Wednesday, November 9th. Slaughter, who is Black, was subjected to what appears to be a clear case of racial profiling. 

Slaughter has been charged with three misdemeanors and has been issued a stay-away order from the Berkeley campus, but he plans to hold the UC administration to account by speaking about his arrest and detention at a 2:20pm rally just off campus on Bancroft and Telegraph during the upcoming student strike on Tuesday, November 15th. 

After being thrown to the ground and beaten by police in the process of arrest, he was separated from the rest of the protesters in County Jail and held longer than anyone else. 

After being bailed out by the UNITE HERE hotel workers union on Friday afternoon, Slaughter, who had never been arrested before, recounted how Alameda County Sheriff’s deputies had harassed him: “They yelled at me ‘what gang are you in!?’ and ‘where are your tattoos!?’” 

Rob was put in a separate area that held black and brown people who were there for gang related activity. The initial holding cell was filthy with urine and fecal matter.

Press Release: Police Brutality Doesn't Add Up! Mathematicians Speak Out

From Nathan Ilten
Monday November 14, 2011 - 05:58:00 PM

The kind of violence exhibited by police against peaceful protesters at Occupy Oakland and Occupy Cal in the past weeks is unnecessary and intolerable. We (a group of mathematicians at UC Berkeley and SF State) are taking a stand against police brutality by doing what we do best: mathematics! Come to our anti-police-brutality teach in on Wednesday, November 16th from 11am to 5pm. We will be lecturing at Dwinelle Plaza (just north of Sather gate). 

Tentative Schedule of Talks:

Time Topic Speaker Intended Audience
11am Introduction to Tropical Geometry Chris Manon Math Undergraduates
12pm The Mathematics of Altruism and Civil Involvement Andrew Critch General Public
1pm The Mathematics of Voting Systems Charlie Crissman General Public
2pm Introduction to the Riemann Hypothesis Eugenia Rosu Math Undergraduates
3pm The Plank Problem Piotr Achinger General Public
4pm Geometry, the Majority Vote and the Power of Agenda Control Felix Breuer General Public

For more information, contact Nathan Ilten. You can also visit us on Facebook

We are being support by the wonderful folks at the MGSA! They have been so kind as to make us a great poster


  • Introduction to Tropical Geometry: Instead of addition and multiplication, tropical arithmetic uses alternative ways of combining numbers. I will describe some basic features of tropical geometry, which is the study of the solutions to equations in these alternative operations. If time permits, I'll describe how tropical geometry makes an appearance in some interesting places, like mathematical biology.

  • The Mathematics of Altruism and Civil Involvement: Mathematics can, and should, inspire hope! No one person has the power to change everything, but simple order-of-magnitude calculations can often show that altruistic behaviors like voting and civil involvement have a huge expected impact. For example, if the goal is to benefit yourself, voting probably isn't worth the 30 minutes it takes out of your day, but if the goal is to benefit others, then well-informed voting can be a highly effective charity, equivalent to something like turning $1 of your own money into $1000 for your country. We'll also talk about how to represent doing-your-part activities (like half-vegetarianism, carpooling, recycling, and saving water) as "curve moving", which looks and feels a little like moving a mountain all by yourself.

  • Introduction to the Riemann Hypothesis: The aim of the talk is to familiarize the listeners with one of the greatest unsolved problems of the century. In order to be able to formulate the Riemann Hypothesis, I will define the Riemann-Zeta function and present some of its properties. Moreover, I will try to explain the importance of the Riemann Hypothesis in modern mathematics.

  • The Plank Problem: This talk will address a simple question with an obvious yet hard-to-prove answer: Is it possible to cover a disc with a number of planks whose total widths are less than the disc's diameter?

  • Geometry, the Majority Vote and the Power of Agenda Control: Many political choices, such as budget decisions, can be represented as points in space. This has huge consequences for the dynamics of the majority vote: An individual with the power to control the agenda (to decide which bills are up for vote) can lead voters to agree to *anything* of their own free will!


  • Q: What is the nature of the teach in? A: We will be giving introductory lectures on a number of exciting mathematical topics. Each speaker has chosen his or her own topic; some topics were specifically chosen to have more direct societal relevance, while others were chosen because they are just plain cool.

  • Q: How does this do anything about police brutality? A: We could host a debate about exactly when what forms of violence are justified, and if linking arms constitutes nonviolent protest, etc. Instead, we'll leave that to the experts, and do what we are expert at: mathematics. However, throughout the day, we'll be reminding listeners why we are outside instead of cooped up on the top floors of Evans Hall. We do not condone the kind of violence used by police against students at Occupy Cal on Wednesday, November 9th. We hope that our presence at Dwinelle will make this statement loud and clear.

  • Q: What can I do to help? A: Come to the lectures! Invite your friends, students, family, and enemies! Bring snacks for everyone. If it looks like it will be cold, bring tea and blankets to share.

  • Q: Why aren't you doing this on Tuesday during the general strike? A: Firstly, some of our lecturers had other obligations on Tuesday. Secondly, while many of us sympathize with Occupy Cal, we are promoting a distinctly different message, namely, a condemnation of police brutality.

  • Q: What about the Occupy Regents on Wednesday? A: We don't want to discourage anyone from attending the Occupy Regents protest. If you were planning on doing so but now are torn between going there and coming to our teach in, please go there. We believe that there are a large number of people who will be interested in our teach in who weren't planning on going to Occupy Regents.


  • Petition condemning police violence for teachers at UC Berkeley.
  • An open letter for memebers of the UC Berkeley Mathematics Department.

Regents Cancel Meeting Because They Fear Violence

By Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Monday November 14, 2011 - 04:01:00 PM

The University of California Board of Regents announced today that it is canceling its meetings in San Francisco this week because of "credible intelligence" indicating that violence was possible. 

The regents' announcement follows criticism that University of California at Berkeley police were overly aggressive in responding to "Occupy Cal" protests on Wednesday that drew thousands of people and resulted in dozens of arrests. 

UC regents were scheduled to meet at UC San Francisco's Mission Bay campus on Wednesday and Thursday. 

But Board of Regents chair Sherry Lansing, vice chair Bruce Varner and UC President Mark Yudof said in a statement today that "late last week, University of California law enforcement officials came to us with concerns about credible intelligence they had collected in advance of the Board of Regents meeting." 

"From various sources, they had received information indicating that rogue elements intent on violence and confrontation with UC public safety officers were planning to attach themselves to peaceful demonstrations expected to occur at the meeting," they said. 

Lansing, Varner and Yudof said it appears there was a real danger of "significant violence and vandalism." 

"They have advised us further that this violence could place at risk members of the public, students lawfully gathered to voice concerns over tuition levels and any other issues ... They recommended to us, in the strongest of terms, that we cancel or postpone the meeting as scheduled," the statement read. 

They said the meeting would be rescheduled, possibly at another venue, and that they would announce the date as soon as possible. 

They declined to disclose details about the intelligence or the potential violence.  

The agenda for this week's meeting included updates from UC staff members on several initiatives that have been launched in an effort to offset state disinvestment in the university and provide alternate revenue streams beyond tuition and taxpayer support. 

They said that work will continue to go forward and "contrary to some public misperceptions, a tuition increase was never a part of the agenda for this meeting."

Press Release: Berkeley Students, Faculty to Strike Tomorrow to "Make Banks Pay" to Refund Higher Education, Reject Police Violence Against Peaceful Protestors

From Emma Wood
Monday November 14, 2011 - 04:19:00 PM

Leading up to protests at Wednesday’s UC Regents and CSU Trustees meetings, strikers will call on UC, CSU board members to sign pledge to make banks pay to end cuts to higher education . [Editor's Note: The Regents' meeting has been cancelled.}  

Following excessive police force used against last week’s protests to make banks pay to end cuts to higher education, Berkeley students and faculty will strike on Tuesday to reject the actions taken by police and call on higher education board members to sign a pledge to make banks pay to refund higher education. The all-day strike will include a massive non-violence training at noon, a 2pm rally at Sproul Plaza followed by a march on banks in downtown Berkeley, and the reestablishment of the Occupy Cal Encampment (see full schedule of events below). 

The effort is being organized by Refund California and Occupy Cal as part of a Refund California week of action. Refund California is a statewide coalition of students, teachers, workers, homeowners, community members and faith leaders working to make Wall Street banks pay for a crisis they helped to create. 

Last week, over 10,000 students across California took to the streets, blocking traffic and marching on banks, demanding that bank executives and other corporate elite on the three boards overseeing California’s higher education system sign a pledge to make banks pay to stop cuts to higher education. Over 14 college campuses saw protests and rallies including Fresno State, CSU Sacramento, UC Davis, UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz, UC Santa Barbara, UCLA, CSU Long Beach, UC Riverside, UC Irvine, UC San Diego, San Diego State and San Francisco City College. The Berkeley protest ended in an attack by police on non-violent protestors and nearly 40 arrests. 

Statement on the Nov. 15 UC Berkeley Student Strike by the Partners of ReFund California: 

Today we announce a student strike at UC Berkeley on Tuesday, Nov. 15th to reject the excessive police force used against our protests to make Wall Street – and the corporate elite on the boards governing our universities – pay for refunding public education. Some faculty are expected to join the student strike, and the actions will add to the growing momentum for statewide convergences at the CSU Trustees meeting in Long Beach and the UC Regents meeting at UCSF Mission Bay on November 16th. 

We call on the UC Regents and CSU trustees to devote their meetings on November 16 to a discussion of how they - many as corporate leaders - can carry out the ReFund California Pledge to make the 1% pay to refund public education. The CSU and UC boards should open the meetings to all as equal participants. And we ask that they promise not to use police force against nonviolent mobilizations at these meetings and during the Tuesday strike. 

There is a crisis today for California’s students and their families, but not for the Wall Street and corporate elites who control the economy and dominate the governing boards of California’s universities. 

California leads the nation in tuition increases with nearly 100 percent rise in tuition costs since 2008, inflating student loans to $1 trillion nationally. We keep paying the price while Wall Street and corporations are left off the hook. We didn’t cause the economic crisis—they did. 

That's why we call on the board members and executives of our universities to sign the ReFund California pledge to support real solutions to fund public education and improve the economy for California families. They should join the community whose interests they say they represent instead of irresponsibly using police force to silence our freedom of expression. 


Academic Professionals of California, CSU - Mobilizing Committee AFSCME 3299 - UC patient care and service employees Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment 

Berkeley Faculty Association 

California Nurses Association Communities for a New California The Council of UC Faculty Associations 

SEIU 721 - Southern California school and public service employees SEIU - United Service Workers West 

UAW 2865 - UC student employees UAW 4123 - CSU student employees UAW 5810 - UC postdoctoral researchers UC Berkeley Student Labor Justice Project 

UC Student Association UPTE-CWA, 9119 - UC professional, research and technical employees 


Schedule for Tuesday, Nov. 15th Student Strike 

8am-5pm: All day open university activities (teach-outs, workshops, public readings, installations, etc.) at Sproul Plaza and surrounding areas. 

Noon: Mass convergence at Sproul Hall and formal inauguration of day-long open university. 

Noon – 2pm: Teach-outs in Sproul Plaza. 

2pm: Rally against violence by police and the 1% against students and workers. 

2:30pm: March on the banks to be joined by Berkeley City College and Berkeley High. 

5pm: General Assembly at Sproul Plaza. 

Around 8 pm: Reestablishment of Occupy Cal Encampment. 

8pm: Robert Reich will move his annual Mario Savio lecture to the steps of Sproul Hall where the encampment will be set up.

Oakland Chief: Raid Went Smoothly;
Berkeley's Running Wolf Still in Tree

By Jeff Shuttleworth
Monday November 14, 2011 - 03:54:00 PM

Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan said police will allow protesters to re-enter Frank Ogawa Plaza late this afternoon but will remove anyone who tries to camp out there.

He said the police sweep at the plaza early this morning went more smoothly than the raid three weeks ago, in part because he said no one threw rocks at officers this time.

All of the protesters were gone from the plaza, except for Zachary Running Wolf, a tree-sitter raised in Berkeley who is perched atop a small wooden platform in a tree there.

Jordan said police are leaving him alone for now as they look into what his legal rights are to be there.

This morning, he could be heard shouting from the tree, "This is native land. I'm not coming down."  

Thirty-two people were arrested in the raid this morning, and another person was arrested around noon for spitting at an officer at 14th Street and Broadway.  

Police spokeswoman Johnna Watson said that in addition to spitting at officers, that man threw a gallon of water onto them and knocked down barriers at the plaza.  

Jordan said that once the city finishes cleaning up the plaza, people can't be kept away because it is a public space. But he said police will monitor the plaza all night to make sure tents aren't set up again.  

He also said that if anarchists show up tonight trying to cause trouble, "We intend to have sufficient officers to arrest people who break the law." 

Jordan said officers from other agencies will be available again tonight if necessary. 

This morning, Oakland police were assisted by officers from the San Leandro, San Francisco, Hayward and Fremont police departments, and sheriff's deputies from Alameda, Santa Clara and San Mateo counties. 

Jordan said nearly 100 Oakland police officers and 300 officers and deputies from other agencies participated in this morning's enforcement. No injuries were reported to officers or protesters, he said. 

City Administrator Deanna Santana said Oakland is paying between $300,000 and $500,000 for today's mutual aid. 

Oakland is paying in full for the assistance, since the raid was a planned event, Jordan said. However, if protests get out of hand tonight, that would constitute an emergency and a mutual aid agreement would be activated, meaning Oakland wouldn't have to foot the whole bill for the response. 

Occupy Oakland protesters plan to hold a rally at 4 p.m. today. 

"We expect a large, peaceful rally," Jordan said. 

He said police will "facilitate" the rally by escorting protesters as they march from the Oakland Public Library to Frank Ogawa Plaza.  

Jordan said there are about 25 tents at a second encampment at Snow Park, near Lake Merritt, which is about half a mile away from Frank Ogawa Plaza.  

He said police plan to remove people in the tents from the park eventually but that it's not a high priority now because "Snow Park has never been a problem for us since there has been no violence or drug dealing." 

Crews were still cleaning up Frank Ogawa Plaza early this afternoon.

Updated: Oakland Protestors Meeting Tonight

By Bay City News
Monday November 14, 2011 - 07:50:00 PM

Hundreds of "Occupy Oakland" protesters have gathered in Frank Ogawa Plaza this evening for a general assembly meeting after their encampment was dismantled by police this morning. 

City officials released a statement late this afternoon saying that the plaza was open to the public after crews completed debris removal at Frank Ogawa Plaza less than 12 hours after this morning's raid at around 4:30 a.m. 

Public works personnel removed more than 27 tons of debris and about eight tons of green waste, according to the city. 

As of 6 p.m., the protest has been "very peaceful," according to police spokesman Jeff Thomason. 

There are more officers at the plaza this evening then there were on Oct. 25 after the city's first raid on the encampment, Thomason said, however their presence is still moderate. 

City officials said this afternoon that there will be a strong police presence at Frank Ogawa Plaza 24 hours a day and that mutual aid is available to assist Oakland police this evening. 

City officials also said that they are monitoring activities at Snow Park, where about 25 tents were set up as of this afternoon. The Snow Park encampment will be cleared in the near future, authorities said.

Police Arrested 32 in Occupy Oakland Raid

By Zack Farmer (BCN)
Monday November 14, 2011 - 10:10:00 AM

Thirty-two people were arrested this morning in what appears to have been a largely peaceful police sweep of Frank Ogawa Plaza to clear out the Occupy Oakland encampment that has stood outside City Hall for weeks.

At a morning news conference at the city's Emergency Operations Center after the raid, Police Chief Howard Jordan said only nine of the people arrested are Oakland residents.

He said there were no injuries to police officers or protesters. 

"I'm very proud of the way the officers acted today," Jordan said. 

Oakland police were assisted by officers from the San Leandro, San Francisco, Hayward and Fremont police departments, and sheriff's deputies from Alameda, Santa Clara and San Mateo counties, he said. 

City Administrator Deanna Santana said Oakland is paying between $300,000 and $500,000 for today's mutual aid.  

Mid-morning, cleanup crews were going through the disassembled encampment and there were no protesters in the plaza, except for a man who has climbed a tree and refuses to come down, Jordan said. 

Jordan said the city is looking into the man's legal rights to be there before trying to remove him.  

Meanwhile, city employees were being told not to come to work until 10 a.m., and residents are advised to avoid visiting City Hall today unless they have urgent business there.  

Downtown merchants were being asked to consider delaying the start of their work days as well.  

Mayor Jean Quan sounded hoarse as she spoke at the news conference, saying a number of protesters left the encampment voluntarily before police moved in. 

"We met with multiple groups within the camp and asked them to leave," Quan said. "Many of them have, and I want to thank them for that." 

She asked people throughout the Bay Area to respect the city's decision to shut down the encampment, and refrain from engaging in "destructive acts." 

After the camp was raided the first time on Oct. 25, protests downtown turned violent, resulting in injuries to both police and protesters, and downtown businesses were damaged.  

In response to a reporter's question, Quan also briefly discussed the departure of her unpaid legal adviser Dan Siegel, who resigned over Quan's decision to raid the camp.  

She said she and Siegel went to college together and sometimes disagree.  

"He's moving on, I'm moving on," Quan said.  

The mayor admitted to being tired today.  

"As the mayor of Oakland, this has been a very difficult situation," Quan said.  

She said she believes the "Occupy" movement is morphing into a movement larger than just encampments, but that the protesters who were removed from Frank Ogawa Plaza today are trying to find private property to move onto.  

In the meantime, some of the campers have relocated to Snow Park, near Lake Merritt.  

Jordan said there is no plan to raid Snow Park today. 

Santana said city officials hope to have Frank Ogawa Plaza cleared and available for public use, including demonstrations, by 6 p.m. She said, however, that camping will not be allowed. 

Jordan said there will be a "strong police presence" at the plaza.  

"We are going to be having a very strict no-lodging policy," he said. 

Police moved in on Frank Ogawa Plaza beginning at 4:30 a.m., and by 5 a.m. officers in riot gear had blocked streets surrounding the plaza. 

Rumors had spread among Occupy Oakland protesters that a police raid was imminent this morning, and protesters gathered in the street at the corner of 14th Street and Broadway early this morning to wait for police action. 

Protesters announced on the Occupy Oakland website that they plan to reconvene at the Oakland Public Library at 125 14th St. at 4 p.m. 

Police plan to hold another media briefing at 1 p.m.

Mario Savio Memorial Lecture on Tuesday in Berkeley Will Be Moved to Sproul Plaza

Monday November 14, 2011 - 07:45:00 AM

Lynne Hollander Savio has informed people on the Will Call list for the Mario Savio Memorial Lecture, this year to be delivered by Professor Robert Reich, that the event, orginally scheduled for Pauley Ballroom on the UC Berkeley campus, has been moved to the Mario Savio Steps in Sproul Plaza. It will take place at 8 p.m. on Tuesday. 

Here is the text of her email: 

The Mario Savio Memorial Lecture and Young Activist Award Board of Directors and Robert Reich, the scheduled lecture speaker, have been asked by the Occupy Cal General Assembly to transfer the event to the Mario Savio Steps in Sproul Plaza at 8 p.m. Tuesday evening, instead of holding it inside Pauley Ballroom. This is in protest against the use of excessive police force against non-
violent demonstrators who were peacefully exercising their First Amendment rights to free speech in a symbolic encampment. Although we recognize that this change of venue may pose a physical hardship for some of the attendees, it was unanimously agreed that we would be violating our mission statement (see below) to reject the request. Depending on the exact circumstances at the time, a somewhat shortened presentation of the Young Activist Award will be held, and the award winners will speak.

The following efforts are being made to ensure people's comfort and safety as far as possible.

1 - The students are planning to erect a few tents on the grass in front of one side of Sproul Hall at 6 p.m. Based on past experience, they believe the police will either seize the tents pretty
immediately or wait until late at night. In other words, a confrontation is very unlikely to occur during the period of the lecture, especially with a large number of people in the Plaza.

2 - Professor Reich is likely to start speaking at 8:40, not earlier. This will be preceded by the Young Activist Award speakers.

3 - the students intend to set up an area with chairs for those in need. If you can sit low down and still get up, please bring a cushion or a low beach chair. All of the rest of the audience will also be asked to sit on the ground so as not to block the view..

3- Dress warmly. Rain is not expected. The temperature is likely to be in the low 50s.

4 - There will be amplification.

Please do not attend if you feel the circumstances would be too difficult for you. We also want you to be aware that it is possible (though the students feel it is unlikely), that if the tents are taken down earlier, the
atmosphere might remain too charged and too chaotic for the lecture to be held.

If you contributed to the Lecture fund in order to secure seats in the reserved section, you may choose between having your donation refunded or letting us keep it and receiving a CD of the lecture, if one can be made.

We apologize for your inconvenience and disappointment, but, as Mario Savio said: There comes a time...

Thank you for your interest and your support.

Lynne Hollander Savio and the Board of the MSML&YAA

Mission Statement: To honor the memory of Mario Savio and the spirit of moral courage and vision which he and countless other activists of his generation exemplified;

To promote the values that Mario Savio struggled to advance throughout his life: human rights, social justice, and freedom of expression;

To provide a forum where young people can connect with older activists to understand their common ideals and find inspiration and nourishment for activism today;

To recognize and encourage young activists engaged in the struggle to build a more humane and just society.

Flash: Police Tear Down Occupy Oakland Encampment, Arrest Protestors--Now Withdrawing from Ogawa Plaza

By Scott Morris (BCN)
Sunday November 13, 2011 - 10:05:00 PM

Police began withdrawing from Broadway at around 6:30 a.m. today, after blocking off Oakland's Frank Ogawa Plaza and arresting people remaining in the plaza.

Police are in the process of dismantling what remains of the Occupy Oakland camp that has occupied Frank Ogawa Plaza for most of the last month.

Police blocked off the plaza shortly before 6 a.m. today with lines of riot police. Most protesters had already moved into the street at 14th Street and Broadway before police arrived.

One protester [identified by the San Francisco Chronicle as Zachary Running Wolf of Berkeley] climbed a tree in the plaza and has remained there for several hours. It was not immediately clear if police arrested him when they blocked off the plaza. 

Protesters on Broadway chanted and played music as they watched police dismantling the tents. 

"We've got the power, people power" protesters chanted as arrestees were led out of Frank Ogawa Plaza. 

Some of those arrested were from the camp's Interfaith Leaders tent, who held a vigil tonight waiting for police to arrive. 

Dozens of Oakland police, assisted by Alameda County Sheriff's deputies and several other local police agencies from as far away as Pacifica and Foster City moved into the area around Frank Ogawa Plaza this morning to enforce continuing violations in the plaza related to the encampment, according to city of Oakland officials. 

Police moved in beginning at 4:30 a.m. and by 5 a.m. officers in riot gear had blocked streets surrounding the plaza. 

Rumors had spread among Occupy Oakland protesters that a police raid was imminent this morning, and protesters gathered in the street at the corner of 14th Street and Broadway early this morning to wait for police action. 

The 12th Street BART station in Oakland remains closed thi s morning due to the police activity in the area, BART officials said. Protesters announced on the Occupy Oakland website that if the camp is evicted they will reconvene at the Oakland Public Library at 125 14th St. at 4 p.m. 

Occupy Oakland amassed at the same library on Oct. 25 after a raid earlier that morning forcibly evicted protesters from the camp.  

Dozens were arrested as police tore down tents, dragged sleeping protesters out of the area, and reportedly used smoke grenades and tear gas to disperse campers. 

Protesters had occupied the plaza in front of Oakland City Hall since Oct. 10. 

After gathering at the library in the afternoon, protesters marched back to 14th Street and Broadway, just outside of the plaza, but were blocked from proceeding by barricades and dozens of riot police. 

Police used smoke grenades, tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the protesters, who reconvened and returned to the corner repeatedly throughout the night. 

After the raid drew international media attention and many criticized Oakland Mayor Jean Quan and interim police Chief Howard Jordan's handling of the protests, police presence was minimal the following day and protesters were allowed to return to the plaza. 

After staging a one-day "general strike" that peacefully shut down the Port of Oakland on Nov. 2, smaller protests that night again ended in confrontations with police involving tear gas. 

Dozens of downtown Oakland businesses were vandalized during the clashes, and pressure began mounting for city officials to again remove the camp. 

The Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce issued several statements that said the ongoing encampment was harming downtown businesses, a claim which protesters disputed. 

After 25-year-old Kayode Ola Foster was fatally shot near the camp on Thursday, Quan and police increased pressure for protesters to leave the plaza peacefully.  

Police have issued several eviction notices over the last several days, demanding protesters immediately leave the area, but many protesters have remained camping in the plaza.

Man Killed Near Occupy Oakland Identified, Confirmed as Camp Resident

By Sara Gaiser (BCN)
Sunday November 13, 2011 - 08:09:00 AM

The man killed in Thursday's shooting near the Occupy Oakland encampment has been identified as Oakland resident Kayode Ola Foster, Oakland police said this evening.

Foster, 25, had been staying at Frank Ogawa Plaza in the protest camp, according to his family, said Officer Johnna Watson.  

Foster was killed just before 5 p.m. in the 1400 block of Broadway on Thursday.  

Witnesses have said the suspect was also a frequent resident at the camp in the days before the shooting. He has been described as a male African American, 20-25 years old, 5 feet 9 inches tall and 150 pounds with short hair. He was wearing a white t-shirt.  

Police are also seeking a second suspect, described as an African American male, in his 20s to 30s, 5 feet 9 to 5 feet 11 inches tall, 250 pounds and wearing long dreadlocks with red tips. He may have had a tattoo on the back of his neck, and was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt. 

Oakland Police and Crime Stoppers are offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to an arrest and conviction in this shooting.  

Anyone with information is asked to contact major crimes unit at (510) 238-3529.

Oakland Issues 3rd Vacate Notice to Protestors--Police Say Shooting Linked to Camp

By Sara Gaiser (BCN)
Saturday November 12, 2011 - 09:09:00 PM

Pressure on Occupy Oakland protestors increased today, with police issuing a third notice this afternoon ordering protestors to vacate the area-and all city parks.

The most recent notice notifies protestors that they do not have permission to stay on any city property or parks, including Frank Ogawa Plaza, Lafayette Square Park, Jefferson Square and Snow Park.

Some Occupy Oakland activists issued a statement this afternoon noting that there were rumors some protestors might have met with the mayor and discussed moving the protest to Jefferson Park. However, the group indicated that if such a conversation had taken place, it did not represent Occupy Oakland's General Assembly-and the city's notice to vacate does not exclude any parks.

Protestors were issued a formal notice to vacate Frank Ogawa Plaza on Friday after a fatal shooting near the camp.

A man in his early 20s was killed just before 5 p.m. in the 1400 block of Broadway in Thursday's shooting. His identity is being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

Police said today that the suspect, described as a male African American, 20-25 years old, 5 feet 9 inches tall and 150 pounds with short hair, has been a frequent resident at the encampment over the past several days.  

They are also seeking a second suspect, described as an African American male, in his 20s to 30s, 5 feet 9 to 5 feet 11 inches tall, 250 pounds and wearing long dreadlocks with red tips. He may have had a tattoo on the back of his neck, and was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt. 

Police also issued a warning on Saturday to members of the media, noting that a member of the media had been assaulted while reporting on the shooting on Thursday. Police said an anarchist blog had also called for violence on the media, and warned news personnel that their safety might be at risk. 

Police have also reported that emergency personnel were called to the camp at 4 a.m. Friday to assist a 20-year-old man who seemed to be suffering from an overdose.  

That same day, at about 7:25 a.m., police responded to a disturbance where people were reportedly armed with 2x4s in front of City Hall. 

Also, ongoing problems with vandalism have been reported near the encampment. 

There were 160 tents today, down from 180 on Nov. 8, according to Quan's office.

On the Ground with the Movement against Mountaintop Removal (Review)

By Carol Polsgrove
Saturday November 12, 2011 - 09:13:00 PM

For insight into the Occupy movement, one of the best places to look is Tricia Shapiro’s new book on the movement against mountaintop removal – Mountain Justice, published by AK Press in Oakland.

When young urban anarchists joined with longtime Appalachian residents in the Mountain Justice Summer campaign of 2005, Shapiro signed on as the campaign’s chronicler. She sat in on strategy sessions and scrambled up a mountain during the night with demonstrators. She listened. She asked questions. She recorded what people said, and she understood what she heard.

An experienced author of young adult histories and biographies under the name Tricia Andryszewski, Shapiro had written about the movements for civil rights and gay rights. She had described the devastation of the Dust Bowl. She wrote then as a historian.

For Mountain Justice, she has written as a reporter, and the movement could not ask for a better one – she is both sympathetic and honest, frank about the disagreements that arose, clear about the failures as well as the successes. 

I wish the book had included images of the devastated wastelands that were once tree-covered mountains. They are a graphic symbol of what happens when corporate power meets political power: the target of the Occupy movement. But those images are abundant on the web (see http://ilovemountains.org/multimedia#photo_gallery). 

What Shapiro has given us is a powerful story—its end not yet in sight. When I talked with her recently in Asheville, she said she had thought the book would be just about Mountain Justice Summer – that it would be a story with a clear end. Instead, she found herself still writing several years later, following the twists and turns of the struggle against coal companies and government agencies until finally, the story unfinished, she ended the book: 

“The fight against MTR in Appalachia is also a fight for better choices for all of us. Free people are choosing to engage in that fight not just to defend their own freedom….but also to make it possible for more and more of their fellow citizens to freely chose to live, in grace and comfort, in ways that are good for the land and its people everywhere. Their fight is our fight too.” 

(Carol Polsgrove is author of Divided Minds: Intellectuals and the Civil Rights Movement. For her interview with Tricia Shapiro, see http://carolpolsgrove.com.) 




Will Berkeley's Occupy Cal Save the World?

By Becky O'Malley
Wednesday November 16, 2011 - 09:40:00 AM

Carol Denney, a frequent contributor to these pages, is fond of saying that the reason the Free Speech Movement took place at the University of California at Berkeley was NOT because free speech flourished on this campus. Quite the contrary: it’s been the tradition at Cal, going way back in pre-history before I was an undergraduate, for arrogant administrators to try to keep the lid on student speech. It could be described as a form of hubris (a ten-dollar word I learned in Cal’s English department): “we’re the top …students are damn lucky to be here…so they should shut up and drive.”

At the University of Michigan, another school I had the opportunity to observe in the 1960s after I graduated from Cal, the bosses took the opposite tack. By and large, they ignored student protests, so there were never any major riots on the part of either students or police. Eventually the more radical students got bored, founded first SDS and then the Weathermen, and went off to tear up Chicago instead, which was much more satisfying—and now like Bill Ayres they’re almost all professors somewhere or other.

But at Cal, as we called it back in the day before the name of the town was appropriated by the university’s PR department, decision-makers have always provided satisfying opposition to student action which has historically stimulated more student action. And the current crop of well-paid administrators is keeping up the tradition. Lots and lots of them, including Chancellor Birgeneau ($428,712.84) who okayed the police action last Wednesday where heads were bashed and stomachs jabbed with batons, are firmly part of the richest 1%, and they have no qualms about asserting their power over impecunious and mouthy students because of it. 

The new availability of on-line video might possibly change that. The whole world has watched last week’s police misconduct at UC on YouTube, linked by many publications including this one. Even the Faculty Senate, sometimes slow off the dime, has taken up the inquiry into the use of excessive force, according to Professor Brad DeLong’s blog

The next few days will reveal whether today’s administrators have learned anything from the past or will be condemned to repeat it. I wouldn’t take any bets that they will do the smart thing. 

Meanwhile, the Occupy encampments in Oakland and New York City have been busted. Loyalists are regrouping, with and without tents and with or without the benefit of judicial support for their right to be in their chosen locations. This might be a good time to examine the value of the various forms of protest which have been employed. 

Few, even its detractors, would argue that Occupy Wall Street was anything but brilliant. In a flash (well, a delayed flash in the ponderous national quasi-liberal media like NYT and NPR) everyone was made aware of the real causes of the problems besetting America’s underwater citizens: rampant speculation followed by shameless profiteering in the financial sector. The reason it worked so well, to appropriate a real estate industry cliché: Location, Location, Location. 

Many copycat Occupys, including those in Oakland and downtown Berkeley, muddied the message a bit. The protestors showed that they were good liberals at heart, people who believe in the power of government to solve problems, by settling down in locations that symbolized government power rather than corporate hegemony. 

Oakland’s city government should be the very last place for protesters to look for help with the ongoing financial tsunami, since it’s threatened with going under along with its citizens. In Oakland, the captains of industry, the malefactors of great wealth, have just about left the building. Occupy Piedmont would be a more appropriate symbolic site for Oaklanders. 

Unlike some, I actually believe that Mayor Jean Quan is telling the truth when she expresses sympathy for the small-time merchants who have been harmed by the Occupy encampment—she’s not just squeezing out crocodile tears to aid her political position. As she’s fond of saying, her parents ran a mom-and-pop Chinese restaurant, so she knows about hard work for little pay, and the risks to family survival which small businesses near Oakland City Hall have faced from the Occupy settlement. The nascent movement will not benefit from harming people like this. 

Downtown Berkeley is a joke—the 1%-ers around here live discreetly in the hills and seldom venture downtown. Around here, the giant octopus that threatens to devour the town and its residents, especially in West Berkeley and Strawberry Canyon, is the University of California—firmly part of the 1% if you look at administrative salaries and most regents’ more-than-enormous net worth. Our city electeds and the managers who run them are certainly guilty of tap-dancing to UC’s tune at every opportunity, so the little settlement in Berkeley’s Civic Center Park is not all that inappropriate, but participants now seem to be gravitating toward the on-campus action. 

The Cal campus is ideal for occupation. As noted above, the people in charge can be counted on to make embarrassing mistakes which will bring major publicity. As of this writing all is Gemütlichkeit on Sproul steps, but sooner or later someone will slip up. 

Yesterday’s noon rally was a love fest for young and old. The minute I arrived my buddies in Grandmothers Against the War hung one of their big signs around my neck, and for the rest of the event enthusiastic young people insisted that we pose for their cell phone photos. And even better photo ops abounded—you will see some of the products here. 

Everyone did what they do best as a show of support. There was a terrific gospel/jazz group, seemingly students and their professor, who led the participants in song. 

Later, an impromptu assemblage of a beat-up trumpet, a power megaphone used as a kazoo (didn’t know you could do that) and some improvised percussion instruments accompanied splashy dancing by what appeared to be an art class. When the trumpeter belted out “hava nagila” and the dancers segued into a sort of hora, George Lakoff, who was standing next to me, quipped “Occupy Hillel?” For a moment, I thought he might be right, because some of the artists were working under a structure woven from branches that looked like a sukka, but then I realized that it’s November already and Sukkot (the traditional Jewish harvest festival where such structures are featured) has come and gone. 

The good vibes can’t go on forever. It’s serious business they’re about, these students, for all their charm and enthusiasm. One particularly good set of posters I saw featured individual regents and administrators with documentation of their copious links to corporate riches. 

Central to all the injustices created by the unfair distribution of wealth in this country is the privatization of public goods, and the University of California is the poster child for that abuse. More and more of its funding comes from sources who expect to profit from participation, whose goal is not education of the young but enrichment of the old. See, for example, U.C. Berkeley’s deal with BP, the company formerly known as British Petroleum, amply reported on by the Planet. 

Today’s students will inherit the earth, whether they want to or not. At Cal, they’re in a uniquely good position to make sure that it’s the right kind of world. Seeing the outpouring of support for Occupy Cal could convince me that they just might make a go of it. 

P.S. You can catch the Planet's report of the action on yesterday's Rachel Maddow Show. 




The Editor's Back Fence

What Would You Do if You Ran UC Berkeley? Suggestions...

Monday November 14, 2011 - 09:34:00 PM

Berkeley's small but vocal band of ignorami has been wondering aloud in venues open to them about what critics of last Wednesday's UC Berkeley police riot would have done instead. Here's a sample quote from an anonymous bloviator on a local site: "You'd think that people who were so worked up would have their much better solution at the ready, but I guess not. "

Well, actually, Ty Alper, Assistant Clinical Professor of Law and Associate Director of the Death Penalty Clinic at UC Berkeley School of Law, has explored the topic on Huffington Post.

He notes that "In response to November 2009 violence between police and protestors at UC Berkeley's Wheeler Hall, the Police Review Board issued a thorough, comprehensive report recommending all sorts of improvements to the way it handles exactly the kind of demonstration that occurred again on campus this week."

Unsurprisingly, Professor Alper concludes that the Review Board's advice was not followed on Wednesday—to say the least.

UC Executive Salaries

Monday November 14, 2011 - 08:08:00 PM

How many of them are in the 1%? Figure it out. Thanks to Zelda Bronstein for this link.

Whose Oakland? (Whose Berkeley?)

Monday November 14, 2011 - 07:32:00 AM

There's an interesting article in the San Francisco Bay View about the influence of business improvement districts in Oakland and elsewhere. A business improvement district has been approved for downtown Berkeley. 




Cartoon Page: Odd Bodkins

By Dan O'Neill
Wednesday November 16, 2011 - 03:16:00 PM


Dan O'Neill


Public Comment

An Open Letter to Cal Parents and Alumni

By Peter Ernst, San Diego
Friday November 18, 2011 - 07:21:00 PM

Dear Parents and Alumni of Cal:

Like many of you, I have been so proud that our daughter is attending an institution with the stature of Cal. Until last week. While the context of the protests have not been thoroughly reported nationally and are difficult to judge, students linked by their arms should not be bludgeoned. Did the students err? Quite possibly. Did they deserve to be beaten? Absolutely not. Any respect the students and the rest of had for the judgment of the Cal police and administration has been lost by this senseless response.  

When Chancellor Birgeneau stated that the protests were “not non-violent” and since he has failed to criticize the actions of the police immediately, he has essentially, endorsed them. An Internal Review may be helpful but it is his admission that he lacks the courage and wisdom to protect the well-being of our children and the citizens of the Berkeley community. This, I am afraid Chancellor, is the beginning of the end of your term. You have just matched the terminated President of Penn State in failing to recognize the victims. It is inconceivable that the “leadership” who created this problem has the skills to resolve it. If the parents and alumni want to motivate the Regents to fashion an effective response, they should reserve their generosity for a future leadership team. 

Peralta Colleges Take Steps to Reinvest Money in Community-Based Financial Institutions

By Abel Guillen
Friday November 18, 2011 - 07:24:00 PM

This week, the Peralta Community College District Board of Trustees adopted a resolution for the local reinvestment of its student fees and community tax dollars that will move the East Bay colleges’ funds from large, for-profit banks to community-based financial institutions. 

At every level of government, our elected representatives must foster policies and programs that support the larger economic and social goals of the Occupy Wall Street Movement, so that the people’s energy and outrage on the streets can be channeled into constructive economic actions instead of toward violence and vandalism that drain our already limited public resources. This practical action is a clear expression of our community values and can make a real difference. 

This decision will redirect our colleges’ funds and spending power into community-based financial institutions and serve the public interests of our students, teachers, staff and all of the East Bay residents who make up the 99%. 

By helping to keep our education and tax dollars in the East Bay, this move will also help maximize our region’s ability to spur local jobs and economic growth. 

The Peralta Colleges – Berkeley, Alameda, Laney and Merritt – serve more than 45,000 students, employ more than 1,500 teachers and staff, and have an annual budget of $140 million. 

The resolution states that Peralta’s mission “is better aligned with the goals of Community Banks, membership-based Credit Unions, and Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), that often operate from a “triple-bottom-line” that allows them to place importance on educational, financial, social and environmental goals while meeting the needs of its communities.” 

We envision “a finance and banking industry that is fair to the person with the least bargaining power; provides access to financial services for all our communities, particularly the traditionally underserved; results in the long-term prosperity of responsible consumers; promotes financial system stability; and contributes to the sustainability of environmental concerns.” 

The failed investment practices of our country’s major banks and other private-sector financial institutions has weakened California’s state budget and the ability of the state to fund public schools, colleges and universities throughout the state. The Peralta Colleges have suffered drastic reductions in the number of courses it can offer students and damaging cuts to essential student services. 

These steps are imperative to ensure that our educational resources remain intact and strong, and will help Peralta ensure equitable access to educational resources and opportunities for our students. 


Abel Guillen is a Peralta Community College District trustee.

Letter to Chancellor Regarding Violence Against Students

By Nathan Danielsen, Class of 2007, US Peace Corps in Senegal from 2007 to 2010
Friday November 18, 2011 - 07:27:00 PM

Dear Chancellor, 

You have spoken several times about what makes Cal special. Two of which is Cal's Peace Corps leadership and its commitment to values such as excellence, fairness, and justice. 

After I graduated in 2007, I served with the Peace Corps in Senegal, West Africa for over three years. I worked in agriculture and community development. Living and working with Senegalese farmers, I helped implement President Obama's Feed the Future initiative. An agribusiness I helped launch during my service is now working with over 400 women farms in 25 communities and is expanding. 

The education and preparation I received at Cal was a key determinant in my success in the Peace Corps. Today I work for a USAID-funded project that improves the quality and performance of public health institutions in the developing world. Everyday, I practice what I learned at Cal and use my experiences from the Peace Corps to guide my approach to working with counterparts who are citizens of developing nations. 

I was disgusted to see the video of the UCPD beating students on Wednesday. Your letter to the campus blaming the victims and justifying this crime of violence casts a poor light on Berkeley's principles and values. It shows an amazing lack of wisdom and common decency for you to accuse the Cal students of not engaging in non-violent protest. I am terribly offended by your commentary and the actions of UCPD. They cast a dark light on Berkeley's legacy and standing in the world. 

I am active in the Cal Alumni Association of Washington, DC. Every Cal alumni member I have talked to is concerned by this. It reflects poorly on UC Berkeley as an institution but also on those who have attended and studied there. 

The police actions and your lack of leadership and responsibility are inimical to the values I learned at Cal. 

With full sincerity, and in the great tradition of Cal, I call on you and the UCB police chief to resign immediately.

Unequal Pay

By Robert Clear
Friday November 18, 2011 - 06:46:00 PM

I just finished reading a stock proxy. Like most proxies, it has a section on compensation for its five named executive officers. Also, not atypically, this section was a full third the length of the full proxy, in this case despite the fact that there were two appendices with a restatement of the articles of incorporation. What is particularly relevant to current events in this proxy, was that the compensation section, like all such sections I have read, had no discussion of how executive compensation compares to the compensation of any of the other employees of the company. In the corporate pay structure there is no connection between executive compensation, and worker compensation.

It gets worse. Worker compensation is a cost, and a well-run business does what it can to limit this cost. This includes automation, outsourcing, temporary or part-time employment without benefits, layoffs, and even efforts to eliminate minimum wage laws. On the other hand, the compensation philosophy espoused in proxies almost guarantees pressure to increase executive pay. Companies present themselves as being in competition to attract and hold scarce executive talent. Every compensation section I have read has an extensive discussion of the pay in comparable companies. To ensure company success, target compensation for their executives is almost always at or above the median of their competitive group. At or above, that is the rub. All companies cannot be at or above the median, at least not all the time. A company can, however, raise its pay to the median or above at a particular time. It will then be at or above the median until its competitors raise their executive pay so that they are at or above the median. 

There is, of course, some variability in the year-to-year pay. A company may not meet its targets, with the result that actual pay for the year will be lower. A company could also set set extremely high performance targets, but then the bonuses and options would not be perceived as a real incentive, and the company risks losing, their supposedly scarce executive talent. Instead, performance targets get adjusted to meet the economic conditions, with the result that the target pay shows an ever increasing trend upward. 

The bottom line is that worker and executive pay will increasingly diverge, unless changes are made in the structure of the compensation process. Currently, the public, and even most stock holders, have little leverage to accomplish changes. Companies currently provide a "say on pay" resolution to the stockholders, but this is just a yes or no vote. Even if people vote no, it is just an advisory vote, so the company does not have to respond. In addition the vote does not provide the company any information on whether the stockholder thinks the pay is too high or too low, or whether the objection is to the process - not just for the current year, but in general. Stockholders can also vote against the directors on the compensation committee, but again this does not provide specific information regarding the stockholder's concerns. In addition, a company does not have to respond to a vote unless it is a majority vote, and in general individual small stockholders represent a minority of most stock ownership. 

Companies are not going to want to change their compensation structure as long as they believe that they are in competition for scarce executive talent, and are in a buyer's market for workers. Although there is evidence that this belief is incorrect, it is likely that many directors would feel that they might face stockholder ire, and possibly even legal action, if they took such action and they lost top management and, no matter what the reason, had a downturn in company profits. The alternative is that structural changes have to be imposed by a vote of the majority of the shareholders, or by regulation.  

Shareholders resolutions are either resolved by discussion with management, or are put to vote by the shareholders as a whole. The process takes an investment of time and sometimes money, and is therefore often carried out by social or religious groups. People who are not shareholders cannot vote or submit resolutions, however many shares are held by money market and retirement funds. Pressure on these groups provides an alternative method to affect compensation for those who do not directly own stock in a given company. In addition, since these groups own significant fractions of a company's stock, there is a higher likelihood of a resolution being accepted if these groups are on board. 

It is unlikely that laws can directly limit run-away executive compensation, but it can force disclosure or tax excess compensation. Perhaps a more effective tack here is to note that organizations such as the University of California are essentially public bodies, and thus can be influenced by public pressure. The University of California has the potential to have significant leverage on executive compensation through its retirement fund, as well as by reining in the excess salaries of its own administration. 

Occupy Wall Street, and its progeny, have finally brought the issues forth. Now it is time to start putting the actions in place to reverse the increasing disparity between the rich and poor. I suggest that proxy resolutions and direct public pressure to reform the compensation model and structure are two such actions. 

Robert Clear

Shock and Awe: Berkeley Mayor and Councilmembers attempt late-night switch in redistricting plans

By Jacquelyn McCormick
Wednesday November 16, 2011 - 01:06:00 PM

Shock and Awe is a good description of the mood in the late night hours of last night’s City Council Meeting as a play was made to postpone redistricting until after the November 2012 election. Whether it was a strategy to form two student districts in order to unseat councilmembers Arreguin and Worthingtonm, or an attempt to consolidate two existing districts into one in West Berkeley to leverage development, or some other goal, it was, as Councilmember Worthington stated: “possibly the most thoroughly undemocratic motion ever before Council”. 

The redistricting public hearing, while called prior to 10pm, was not heard until almost 11pm and then in a truncated, 1 minute per speaker/presenter manner. Following public comment, Mayor Bates determined that the matter before council was to either: 1)continue with the redistricting process, or 2) postpone it until after the 2012 election. A pending charter reform amendment proposed by student leadership and the creation of student districts was the impetus for the proposed postponement.  

Earlier this year the process for redistricting was addressed in great detail and a decision was made by Council to accept proposed redistricting plans from the public and to complete the redistricting process in time for the November 2012 election. All has proceeded according to plan until last night. 

Due to the very late hour, none of the plans were provided their 5 minute presentation and maps were not brought into Council Chambers for those watching the broadcast. The motion made by Councilmember Wozniak to postpone the redistricting process was supported by Mayor Bates and Councilmember Capitelli. Councilmembers Arreguin and Worthington voted against the motion and noted that, if tedistricting were postponed, almost 4,300 people would be disenfranchised – it would be stealing votes from the citizens of Berkeley. The remainder of the councilmembers abstained , with the only other comment coming from Councilmember Maio, “I am a supporter of the process. I am not prepared to make a decision tonight”. 

A second public hearing is scheduled for January, which gives plenty of time for those councilmembers supporting postponement to develop a new tactic or convince those who abstained to support it. The democratic process, voting and the right to free speech are the basis for this county’s founding. Actions as represented by these late night tactics and disenfranchising voters are in blatant opposition of the core values that define Berkeley.

To Occupy or Be Occupied---a bird’s eye view

By Marc Sapir
Wednesday November 16, 2011 - 02:39:00 PM

I’m 70 and on Medicare and Social Security. I still pay-in and I still work. I’m a semi-retired primary care doc now working part time at Alameda County’s Winton Wellness Center. Recently, I’ve spent some hours at the Medic tent at Occupy Oakland. 

* * * * 

Actuary tables predict that on average a 70 year old U.S. male will live about 8 years. By then I would have taken out about what I paid into Social Security. Elder citizens don’t cause public debt when we get paid back what we put into these funds unless someone hasn’t adjusted the deduction formula rates to account for longevity changes. But Congress and the Presidents who believe Capitalism’s thirst for concentrating power and wealth is far more important than the needs of the population, siphoned off and used up trillions from the Social Security trust fund and now plan to cut benefits to the 99%. Yes, out and out theft. 

Over the past few years the public clinic where I work has seen many people who’ve lost their Kaiser (or other) Insurance when they were laid off or downsized or lost employment in a bankruptcy. And now many people who have been evicted or foreclosed, living on the streets, in cars, in shelters or with their adult kids (or visa versa). Capitalism’s 1% created this mess yet some of the “haves” seem unable to apprehend how they forced these terrible necessities on us. Among our patients are folks who were working and not mentally unstable, now becoming more and more dysfunctional. Such folks are all around us in society, and so they are part of any change movement. 

And yet, while the current near collapse of U.S. Capitalism has been ugly for so many millions, what biased media and political elites suggest with rhetoric turning more critical of Occupy Wall Street --with talk of the unclean and unkempt homeless, the mentally disturbed, the drug users and the violence seeking anarchists-- is that the tent cities—rather than what caused them—have to be made to disappear. In this way they minimize the disgrace of the system’s out of control political-economic ethics and the crises in the lives of millions. They conceal that in the 1920s the political response of the disenfranchised, unemployed and homeless was exactly this: to set up tent cities all over the U.S. (called Hoovervilles to ridicule the President for his inaction). The mouthpieces for the 1% tell the 99% to work for better candidates. But truth is there will not be better viable candidates than Jean Quan or Barack Obama. This system is corrupt and locked down in “park.” 

As Robert Reich and others have made clear, the outrageous economic inequality gap is not only wrecking any semblance of cultural coherence in the U.S., but seriously diminishes any chance of Capitalist economic recovery. The 99%—from the undocumented, to the unemployed to doctors forced to abandon their medical ethics under Wall Street pressures--are all under attack by this cruel culture of bottom line-ism seeking nothing less than to gamble away our futures in order to stay on top. Simply by the numbers, this imploding process can not be kept out of public sight, can no longer be repressed block by block. This is the message America’s Occupy Wall Street represents, an all-American message. The 99% seek visibility, a voice, and justice. 

Hear this: public space and public discourse not only belong to the people but will be enlarged and validated with or without permission. In the S. F. Chronicle’s Insight section, November 13, Susan Gluss wrote condescendingly: “You have no unified message…Quit fighting for the right to camp out in a public park. This movement is not about holding ground.” But Ms. Gluss is wrong. As in Egypt’s Tahrir Square, holding public ground imparts precisely the Occupy movement message and is materially and metaphorically right on target—“the people” must become part of the political discourse. 

Calling upon police forces to destroy Occupy tent cities can not put that genie back in the bottle. Telling the 99% to go back to electoral work in a political system (if not a job) that has shown little capacity to respond to the many crises confronting us is to shout at the wind. Saying Occupy needs clearer demands and focus, practical leaders and practical methods that work, is hollow nonsense. 

“Progressive” politicians, like Jean Quan, whom I know personally, have chosen to rise up into positions of power in a political-economic system that often requires leaders to compromise their values in order to rule. Believing in the “good” matters only a trace at these moments when one’s appointed role is to enforce the order of the powerful. The Occupy movement might like to tell Jean, as well as President Obama, that “good intentions” are a currency without value. 

Who knows what will become of the Occupy movement—so young, so diverse, so vibrant and so potentially divisible? But the anger and frustration of millions in trouble is not easily repressible without the U.S. becoming a more overt fascist state. There are, of course, many signs that this process has been developing—eg. particularly the abuse within, and unregulated privatization of, the prison system and the breaking up of the families of millions of honorable immigrant laborers. Obama has backed both. Occupy Wall Street is being attacked by media and politicians and police force. If we fall for the rhetoric about “threat to public safety and health”, a door to much wider repression may open under these conditions of dysfunctional rule. I urge that readers resist efforts to make the public ambivalent toward Occupy. If it’s our country, but money owns it and runs it all, what is left, people, but to occupy and then to fill the jails. 

Marc Sapir is a family physician, former Medical Director of the Center for Elders’ Independence in Oakland, member of the touring group www.madashelldoctors.com (for Medicare for All), founder of the Berkeley High School Health Center, a former public health officer, a current AFSCME union member, the founder of www.retropoll.org. He can be reached at marcsapir@gmail.com 








Occupy the Pentagon: Add Your Voice to Reducing the Military Budget

By Nick Carlin
Wednesday November 16, 2011 - 01:51:00 PM

I am currently on the California State Democratic Party Platform Committee and am chair of the National Security plank. We are in the process of drafting the 2012 platform and I would like to get support for the National Security plank to say that we support reducing the military budget to a level that reflects our true defense requirements, as opposed to a world domination budget – I suggest $200 billion.

Our current projected level of military expenditures for 2012 is $1.03-$1.415 trillion , while the next highest spending county in the world on their military - China - "only" spends about $100B, less than 10% of us. And all other countries are far far less than that, including Russia, at around $50B (still an obscene amount of money but less than 1/20th of what we spend). 

Our current budget deficit is projected to be $1.1 trillion, virtually the entire military budget. 

Independent studies show that a true strong military defense (as opposed to world domination) budget would actually cost only around $160B. And yet we have people in Washington, including Democrats like Leon Panetta, who whine that we can’t even cut $30 or $40B a year from the military. 

As Eisenhower famously said: "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. The world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children....This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from an iron cross." 

This is truer now than ever, but to spend over $1 trillion a year on the military is not simple theft; it is grand larceny from the people of the United States on a scale never before imagined. 

Especially now, when we have massive unemployment. Every $100B reallocated from the military could employ 4 million people at the median wage of $26K/yr. [The US Military employs around 1.5 million active personnel. That’s around $660,000 per employee.] Reallocating $400B of military expenditures to employment could employ 16 million people. That’s more than the 14 million unemployed! This is how skewed our budget and politics are in this country. If we just acted somewhat rationally with respect to the military budget, we would have no unemployment and no fiscal problems whatsoever. We don't have a budget problem. We have a military budget problem. 

Accordingly, I would like to propose that the National Security plank of our party platform call for reducing the level of military spending to a level more in keeping with our true defense needs and with the rest of the world, say $200B/year – still double our highest spending potential adversary. 

Given the huge vested interests in the massively bloated military budget, I cannot do this alone. I need to be able to show as much support from rank and file Democrats as possible. If you want to support this effort, please fill out the online submission form . Do it under the "National Security" plank (there is a drop down menu on the form). Say that you want to reduce the military budget to $200B a year, or whatever other number you feel comfortable with. The deadline is November 18, so don't delay. 

In addition, we are having our final platform committee meeting and hearing on November 18 in Burlingame. . I urge everyone to come to this meeting and make your views known. 

he deadline to have any input on this is THIS FRIDAY, so do it now

Have Yourself a Slice of Occupy, a ragtime salute

By Carol Denney
Tuesday November 15, 2011 - 08:48:00 AM

we are having quite a slice of occupy
hot, fresh, wild, delicious occupy
stir it up a nice hot cup of occupy
share it with your friends and neighbors
taste the fruit of all your labors
be the first one on your block to occupy
wind it up and set your clock to occupy
tell the cops and tell the mayor
you’ve become an occuplayer
have yourself a slice of occupy


grab your tent and screw the rent come occupy
join the slackers and the hackers occupy
meet the folks who lost their homes
meet the folks who never owned one
meet the folks down to the bone you’ll
find you’ll never be alone
grab a sign and join the line at occupy
admit you’re the 99 and occupy
if your tent don’t get reception
change your channel of perception
have yourself a slice of occupy


don’t you love the great outdoors
there’s no bureaucracy
but your meeting might be endless
it’s democracy – you gotta love it


don’t be late no need to wait just occupy
have yourself a heaping plate of occupy
hop on your bike and be the mike at occupy
the rich are going to miss the fun
but afterwards we’ll all be one
lose your frown and dance around at occupy
boot the blues and make the news at occupy
this ain’t no occupy in the sky
and there’s more to occupy than meets the eye
come have yourself a slice of occupy
(we really mean it)
have yourself a slice of occupy


Whose Streets? Oakland’s Shadow Government Presses City Hall to End the Occupation

by Adrian Drummond-Cole and Darwin Bond-Graham
Monday November 14, 2011 - 06:27:00 PM

In a letter [2] addressed to Oakland’s Mayor Jean Quan on Nov. 8, two little-known entities, the Lake Merritt/Uptown District Association (LMUDA) and Downtown Oakland Association (DOA) implored Mayor Quan to “step up and provide cohesive, common sense leadership.” Cohesive leadership, according to these two organizations, means giving the Oakland Police Department a green light to eradicate the now month-old Occupy encampment. “It’s time for Frank Ogawa Plaza to be given back to the people of Oakland,” they conclude.

Who are the LMUDA and DOA? What gives them the authority to make such demands? Further, who are the “people of Oakland” referred to in their letter? If those occupying the plaza do not constitute the people of Oakland, then who are the rightful owners of this contested public space? 


The privatization of public administration

“Lake Merritt/Uptown” and “Downtown Oakland” are not community associations or neighborhood groups comprised of Oaklanders with historic roots or identity in Oakland’s larger patchwork. Rather, they are business improvement districts, or “BIDs,” an apt acronym given their focus on commodifying and privatizing government and public space. Both LMUDA and DOA were founded in 2008. BIDs are commercial districts within cities where special taxes are collected on properties for use towards activities determined by the BID’s board of directors. As hybrid public-private entities, their explicit purpose is to increase property values and rents and to cultivate other profitable opportunities in designated geographic areas. 


Because they have the power to levy and spend taxes, BIDs must be formed via a petition process and then by majority vote of businesses and property owners within the chosen area and finally approved by the City Council. However, once the BID is established, it largely operates under its own discretion. It does what it wants with its money, which can involve funding events, contracting for extra sanitation and trash services, and even hiring private security to patrol public space. 

The Lake Merritt/Uptown District and Downtown District are two of nine BIDs established in Oakland since 2001. The others include Fruitvale, Koreatown/Northgate, Lakeshore/Lake Park, Laurel, Montclair, Rockridge and Temescal/Telegraph Avenue. 

BIDs began to emerge nationally in the 1970s as vehicles for gentrification and the militarization of urban space. Laws enabling the incorporation of these districts have spread to nearly every state, and most major U.S. cities contain multiple special districts run mostly by real estate developers and large tourism and entertainment companies, with smaller businesses – restaurants and retailers – as junior partners. BIDs especially took off in the 1990s as real estate capital focused its energy on urban zones from which it had previously divested. 

BIDs are a strategic response of real estate businesses to the political backlash against the Civil Rights Movement. Because much of the public sector was de-funded through tax cuts and capital and wealth were withdrawn into newly rich suburban enclaves buoyed by white flight or into private institutions, cities found themselves tax-starved and unable to raise revenues for the public services that many place-dependent businesses once depended on. Many small urban businesses were ruined. 


BIDs are a strategic response of real estate businesses to the political backlash against the Civil Rights Movement.

Rather than fighting against these racist forces of disinvestment, most remaining local business establishments instead turned to a solution provided by consultants working for large real estate companies – privately run districts with special tax powers that don’t have to share the wealth. BIDs have the “advantage” of not requiring tax increases to support services that do not directly enrich the businesses paying the tax. These funds are not shared with populations outside the BID’s geographic boundaries and need not pay for things like schools or streetlights in working class residential neighborhoods. 


The LMUDA and DOA districts are administered by nonprofit management corporations under contract with the City of Oakland. Each corporation is governed by a board of directors. The acting presidents, J.C. Wallace and Deborah Boyer, are employees of San Francisco-based real estate investment and management companies SKS Investments and the Swig Company, respectively. Both have speculated on properties in Oakland and stand to profit from increased rents generated by gentrification. 

Before joining SKS, J.C. Wallace was a “relationship manager” with Wells Fargo’s Real Estate Group, responsible for a $300 million portfolio. John Bruno of the Los Angeles-based CIM Group, a real estate investment firm with over $9 billion in managed assets, sits on both boards, as do members of the San Francisco-based CAC Real Estate Management Co., Inc. The board of the DOA also boasts two employees of Los Angeles-based CB Richard Ellis, the world’s largest commercial real estate services firm, which owns much property in Oakland. 


The Occupy Oakland encampment has brought some of the issues previously discussed only in the hood to downtown, where big business rightly feels threatened. – Photo: Dave Id, Indybay
Under the BID paradigm, property owners, many of them absentee corporations – not the people of Oakland – dictate the terms of services once considered the purview of the city administration. BIDs effectively remove services from the political arena, making everything from sanitation to security privately managed. 


The LMUDA, for example, can circumvent the law enforcement pensions deadlock and yearly general fund budget shortfalls affecting the city’s police force and subcontract instead with the private security company Block by Block to provide additional security personnel in the downtown area. 

A subsidiary of the SMS Holdings Corp., which made Inc. magazine’s list of fastest growing private companies in 2011, Block by Block specializes in staffing BIDs. Block by Block runs BIDs in 42 U.S. cities, including Berkeley, Oakland, Pasadena, LA, West Hollywood and Santa Monica. Block by Block’s non-union, minimum wage workforce effectively reduces the costs of city services for corporations and allows these same corporations to determine who benefits from these services, while undermining better-paid, unionized city employees who would provide services to all residents under the ultimate authority of elected officials, not private corporate boards. 


A small gang of primarily non-Oaklanders

In their letter to Mayor Quan, LMUDA and DOA remark that the city needs to focus on “identifying the small gang of primarily non-Oaklanders,” those they deem responsible for property destruction, vandalism and skirmishes during the police riot that followed the General Strike. Ironically, most of the leadership of both BID management corporations take their orders directly from companies based outside the city. 


This small gang of corporate directors and their associated companies are equipped with the resources needed to disrupt the encampment and discredit the organizing coming from the steps of City Hall. SKS, for example, has four lobbyists registered in Oakland since February 2011. SKS has maintained a lobbying presence in Oakland for years, most recently meeting with Mayor Quan to discuss what sorts of business development activities she envisions as the new mayor. 


The interests of big business have become the law of the land.

The interests of big business have become the law of the land. The fictive “people of Oakland” invoked by the LMUDA and DOA are nothing more than the personified corporations who want to turn Oakland into a gentrified metropolis devoid of any real public space. 



The people of Oakland vs. the product Oakland

“Since the early 1990s, there has been an explosion in private and public efforts to revitalize older urban, street-based business districts,” explains New City America Inc., the San Diego firm that wrote the legislation to establish both the DOA and LMUDA and has spearheaded similar efforts in 61 other cities since 1995. “Historic downtown and urban neighborhood commercial corridors and urban mixed-use neighborhoods valuable for their setting for human experiences, places of social change and fond memories, are experiencing a renaissance.” But in order for this renaissance to take place, New City America advises that, “property owners … must take the first step – organizing themselves – to respond to the changes occurring in the evolution of our urban areas.” 


The transition New City America and similar consultants are promoting – the neoliberal urban shift – ultimately boils down to the privatization of public space and the elimination of democratic politics from city budgeting and services. In the words of New City America: 

“The business district must be seen as a product to be defined, marketed and sold to a target audience. A business district, just as a business product, is subject to the laws of supply and demand. The district must distinguish itself from other districts or malls because of its own unique assets and resources.” 

The encampment at Frank Ogawa Plaza, now dubbed Oscar Grant Plaza, offers many alternative visions of what the people of Oakland desire for the future of their city. In the section of the Oct. 8 statement of the General Assembly addressed to the people, Occupy Oakland declared, “The purpose of our gathering here is to plan actions, to mobilize real resistance, to defend ourselves from the economic and physical war that is being waged against our communities.” 

In the days to come, as speculation swirls regarding a second police raid and demolition of the encampment, the larger war rages on to determine who are the rightful people of Oakland, and whose vision will be adopted for a future as yet unwritten. 

Adrian Drummond-Cole is a writer, organizer and musician who lives in Oakland. Darwin BondGraham is a sociologist and author currently visiting Occupy encampments across the U.S.; he can be reached at darwin@riseup.net [4]. 



Related Posts

Article printed from San Francisco Bay View: http://sfbayview.com 


URL to article: http://sfbayview.com/2011/whose-streets-oakland%e2%80%99s-shadow-government-presses-city-hall-to-end-the-occupation/ 

URLs in this post: 

[1] Image: http://sfbayview.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Occupy-Oakland-Alameda-County-Sheriff-deputies-in-riot-gear-102511-by-Jay-Finneburgh.jpg  

[2] letter: http://www.indybay.org/uploads/2011/11/08/11.8.11.oakland_letter_fin-mayor.pdf  

[3] Image: http://sfbayview.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Occupy-Oakland-Welcome-to-Oscar-Grant-Plaza-102111-by-Dave-Id-Indybay.jpg  

[4] darwin@riseup.net: mailto:darwin@riseup.net  

[5] The police raid on Occupy Oakland was nothing new for this city: http://sfbayview.com/2011/the-police-raid-on-occupy-oakland-was-nothing-new-for-this-city/  

[6] My thoughts on Occupy Oakland after the murder and one-month anniversary: http://sfbayview.com/2011/my-thoughts-on-occupy-oakland-after-the-murder-and-one-month-anniversary/  

[7] Notes from Occupy Oakland : http://sfbayview.com/2011/notes-from-occupy-oakland/  

[8] Call for GENERAL STRIKE Nov. 2 – plus Occupy updates: http://sfbayview.com/2011/call-for-general-strike-nov-2-%e2%80%93-plus-occupy-updates/  

[9] Gang injunctions, unfettered police power gentrify Oakland: http://sfbayview.com/2011/gang-injunctions-unfettered-police-power-gentrify-oakland/

Press Release: UC Students Oppose Regents Decision to Cancel November Meeting

Darius Kemp, UCSA Communications and Organizing Director
Monday November 14, 2011 - 04:09:00 PM

The UC Student Association learned this morning that the UC Regents have cancelled this week’s meeting in response to concerns about public safety. UC students are strongly opposed to this decision.  

“The decision to cancel this week’s Regents meeting came abruptly and without any consultation with students or other stakeholders. We do understand the concerns about public safety, yet the Regents also have a responsibility to the students and people of California to hold open meetings that allow for public access and participation. Cancelling the meeting is not a solution to any short term issues,” said UC Student Association President Claudia Magana.  

UCSA would expect the UC Regents and UC Police Department to have better prepared plans to ensure that Regents meetings can take place, so that students and others can exercise their free speech rights, and that public safety is protected. “It is concerning that the UC Regents and UCPD were not properly prepared for this meeting, given the ‘credible intelligence’ that was gathered. UCPD deals with student demonstrations on a regular basis, and their top priority should be ensuring student’s ability to demonstrate safely. By cancelling this meeting, the UC Regents have done a great disservice to students, and our ability to participate in the governance of our University system,” said Magana.  

UCSA is part of the ReFUND Coalition, made up of student groups, labor unions, and other stakeholders, which helped to organize the planned peaceful demonstrations for Wednesday. Along with the other members of the coalition, UCSA calls on the UC Regents to stand with us in advocating for new taxes on the wealthy and big businesses in 2012 and reforming Prop 13. “The UC Regents need to stand with us, not run away. In order to fully fund education, the state needs new revenue, and our UC Regents should support this goal. This is all that students wanted to hear this week from the UC Regents,” said Magana.  






The University of California Student Association is the official voice of over 200,000 undergraduate, graduate, and professional students from the eleven UC campuses. It is our mission to advocate on behalf of current and future students for the accessibility, affordability, and quality of the University of California system.

Exchange of Letters about Occupy Oakland

By Rabbi Michael Lerner, Jordan Ashe
Monday November 14, 2011 - 09:59:00 AM

Editor's Note: This was received by the Planet before the Occupy Oakland protestors were evicted, but some of the points made by the correspondents are still relevant to the discussion of what happened there.

I think you might find this exchange between a student and me about Occupy Oakland and the Oakland community of some interest. There is a rumor that there may be a new violent confrontation hours from now as the occupiers refuse to leave (the mayor had previously offered for us to be able to stay 24/7 but without tents--in other words, just as people coming to present our ideas, but not as occupiers. Let me hasten to add that I believe that the police riot 12 days ago was totally unjustified, and believe that the police who were involved should be sent to prison like others who violate the law. The violence of Oakland police is a daily reality for people of color in Oakland and many other American cities, and always a shock to everyone else because it is only when it happens to white people that the media stays on the story for more than a day or two!

So here is the letter I received on email this morning: 


Dear Rabbi Lerner: 

My name is Jordan Ashe and I am a student member of your Tikkun community. I attended the Oakland camp yesterday. I washed dishes, observed, and engaged in conversation. My children left sidewalk chalk drawings as gifts to the occupiers. It felt good to be part of the 99%. It felt good to give of myself to others and to see my legacy-my family-do the same. 

To my horror, however, I observed and heard things that left me in a state of great concern. The 99% need healing, they need repair, they need transformation. The camp was ripe with hostility towards police. My conversations with the occupiers revealed little or any willingness to forgive and seek atonement from the police. Even more horribly, the occupiers seemed content to forget or even ignore the basic lessons our great non-violent leaders left for us. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said the most dangerous thing about violence is its futility. This great leader recognized that fighting violence with violent resistance leads to a continuing cycle of inter-generational trauma and hatred. 

Yet many of the occupiers seemed ready for a violent fight-some welcomed it- and many more were unready to forgive. I fear this movement is in need of spiritual guidance less it lead to the same horrible cycles history has witnessed many times over. This guidance was sorely lacking at the occupation and even as I journeyed throughout the camp, I was unable to find a spiritual center. It is the lack of spiritual consensus and guidance that, I believe, is responsible for what I observed next. 

The highlight of the day was a speech and a reading from the Egyptian movement that was followed by a "Solidarity March." The reading was disturbing to hear because its focus was on the justification for violent resistance. Although the need for violent aggression may be debatable in Egypt, it is not here in America. The activists of our past changed this county by being willing to die, not by being willing to kill. What shocked me more was that no one (including myself) booed or hissed. We sat there and many applauded. Worse followed. 

A leader of a Palestinian youth group read his own speech. "Down with Israel," he said near the end of a speech that focused on past wrongs. There was resounding applause. Then one of the leader's crew standing next to me said "fucking Jews," and in the face of this I could stand it no longer. I told him that I believed it was racist to say that and that forgiveness and atonement is the only hope for peace in the middle east. I told him that I forgave him and he should be careful with his thoughts and words. I told him that my best friend is Palestinian and I am close to many Jews and I wished sincerely to see the differences reconciled for the sake of the innocent generations of the future. Then I had to leave because I was overcome with tears and wanted to scream out to the crowd (I wish I had). The Solidarity March went out shortly thereafter but some people stayed out of the march for the same reasons I did. After all, it makes no sense to march in a "Solidarity March," when the speeches before the march openly contradict the concept of solidarity. 

I wish our American youth and people around the world would use the tools passed down by the legacy before them. Organized Non-Violent Non-Cooperation is a gift of strategy from our greatest activists. MLK, Gandhi, Cesar Chavez-these are men who changed the world by doing but not by killing and we squander their memory and their message when we ignore their teachings. How quickly the world forgets. To the religious and faithful and spiritual around the world (those like myself), I would ask: Does God want us to kill in God's name? Or, Does God want us to be willing to die in God's name? Shall we sacrifice the lives of others before we sacrifice of ourselves? Shall we win the battle against our external enemies yet loose the battle against our inner self? In the struggle against oppression, against fear, against the machine of death and war, perhaps our greatest weapons will be forgiveness, atonement, selflessness, and love. I hope people arm themselves with these weapons and I hope they fight back with all their might. I would give my life to that kind of fight. 

I am not sure why I wrote to you. But I am sure that writing to you helped me put the sadness of this event behind me. Thanks for reading and for being there. 

-Jordan Ashe 

Law Student, Father, Husband, 99%er 

Dear Jordan, 

Thanks so much for this letter. I share your sadness at the distortions within Occupy Oakland. 

I have been participating both in Occupy Oakland and Occupy San Francisco, and I feel that the Occupy movement nationally has made a tremendous contribution to our society. By formulating things in terms of “the 99%” it finally did what many other progressives have failed to do—namely, identify us as having a common interest in protecting ourselves from the class war that has been waged against us, all of us, for the past 30 years by the 1% and their representatives in the government, media, academia and military. So I remain a passionate supporter of this movement. 

Yet some of the strengths that exist elsewhere are notably lacking in the core group that led people into the struggle in Oakland. Let me be clear, however: I know that at least 90% of the people who marched on Nov. 2nd during the General Strike and marched to the Port of Oakland are people who agree with you. But there is a determined group of violent self-described "anarchists" who ideologically believe in violence and seek it out. They correctly note that destruction of property is not the same as destruction of human beings, and they correctly note that the amount of violence against human beings built into our global economic and political systems makes any violence that they do pale in comparison. Moreover, the violence of the Oakland police has been a central reality in the lives of people of color in Oakland, and only stays in the attention of the media for more than a day or two when the victims are white (or in this case, a former US soldier back from Iraq and Afghanistan). So there is a built in hypocrisy when the media makes the story "the violence of the demonstrators." 

But those arguments are, in my view, not good reasons to allow violence or provoke violence or property destruction by demonstrators, for two reasons: 1. We should be non-violent because it is the right way to treat other human beings created in the image of God, and should not seek to create circumstances in which police violence is inevitably triggered unless we do so by ourselves being totally nonviolent in action and words. I'm in favor of non-violent disruptions of oppressive institutions (e.g. a sit-in in the Bank of America or in a Wall Street firm or in a corporation involved in illegitimate foreclosures or in producing military equipment or at the State Dept or the various offices of the Immigration and Naturalization Services given their vicious processes) as long as we keep a 100% non-violent stance. I do not think people need to sit down and get arrested--though that works in many cases; it is also legitimate to do nonviolent disruptions using mobile tactics in which demonstrators disrupt and then withdraw to disrupt somewhere else--as long as the demonstrators avoid destruction of property or creating a situation in which violence is inevitable. Non-violence does not mean passivity, but it must mean a fundamental respect for human life and for the dignity of human beings, including those with whom we strongly disagree. Our actions must reflect that sense of respect for the humanity of the Other--because that is precisely what is absent from the policies and practices of the 1% and those who do their bidding. 2. Though breaking windows or destroying property is not the same as breaking bones, it is perceived by much of the American public as a wrongful act, and a movement that engages in that activity quickly loses public support and isolates itself no matter how much the American public agrees with its goals. That is why the FBI and other elements of the "security apparatus" of the US government have consistently planted their youngest employees inside social movements with the goal of trying to encourage acts of violence so as to provide an excuse to repress those movements with public approval. 

But non-violence has not been the stance of the inner core at Occupy Oakland. I was deeply disturbed, and have withdrawn from active involvement with, a group of clergy who were meeting to discuss how they could assist in Occupy Oakland. At the third meeting I attended I proposed that we urge Occupy Oakland to officially endorse non-violence, train monitors to non-violently restrain violence-oriented demonstrators, and appeal to the majority of demonstrators to support these monitors to restrain the violence-oriented ones. To my shock, the clergy voted that down. They were only willing to endorse a resolution saying that they themselves supported non-violence, but they objected to the notion that they should call upon OO to share this same orientation. 

Not surprisingly, then, a few days later when one of the participants at OO suggested a resolution for non-violence, without the active support of this clergy group the people who agreed with him felt silenced after some part of the crowd actively booed when he mentioned Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi's commitments and teachings for non-violence. 

The dominant reason given by the clergy for their cowardice was that "we have no right to impose our view on those who are taking the risks of sleeping outside at Occupy Oakland; we should respect their process." But advocating is not imposing, and a movement that claims to speak for 99% of the population ought to have some mechanism to pay attention to the sensibilities of the people whom they claim to be speaking for! If those of us who have been in the movement, marched with the movement, and publicly advocated for the movement, do no have a legitimate voice in that movement, it seems transparent that such a movement cannot claim to be fighting for democracy. It thus undermines itself. 

I watched this same thing happen in the 1960s and early 1970s when a small group of violence-oriented Weathermen, and the FBI agents who infiltrated the anti-war movement and a few of their more suggestible followers, managed to play an important role in undermining support for the entire movement by demeaning people who weren't ready to "prove their commitment" by violent or property-destroying acts. Not only did the violence provide public justification for an increase in repression of the anti-war movement, it also soured the millions of people who were attracted to the possibility of building a different kind of world based on love, kindness, generosity and caring for others. The mass of participants in our movement abandoned it once the violence-prone got the attention of the corporate media, and I fear that the same thing is happening now. 

There's yet another twist in our current situation. The Occupy movement is meant to challenge the class war being waged against the 99% by the 1%. Sitting in front of a particular building to make that point was a useful tactic. But the people who are there have turned the tactic into a fetishization of the encampments, as though the movement was really about their right to set up tents and stay their all night, rather than about challenging the materialism and selfishness of the global marketplace and the lack of democracy in a society that allows the wealthy and the corporations to give endless monies to elect people (in both major parties) who in turn support the corporate agenda and the tax benefits for the rich. I personally believe that the city governments should actively help the demonstrators find a place to demonstrate in an area adjacent to the forces they are demonstrating against. But if they don't, we should not make that the center of the struggle, because there are a myriad of other tactics to keep the issue on the front burner. 

I share with you a deep distress at the hatred toward Israel and/or toward Jews you encountered. I've seen little of that in the days that I've been down there, but I'm not surprised that a handful of people retain those feelings. Again, I feel it is the obligation of the clergy and the adults to stand up to this publicly, raise the issue and challenge those who misuse legitimate outrage at the current policies of the current government of the State of Israel as their excuse for delegitimating the State of Israel itself or for expressing anti-Semitism. While I fully reject the attempt to label all criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic, and have myself been subject to attacks and death threats from right-wing Zionists who have labeled me a "self-hating Jew," I do think that we should insist that our friends in the Occupy movement or any other activist movement of progressive bent challenge anti-Semitism or the double standard applied to Israel by a handful of people who thereby sully our movements and give ammunition to those who seek to discredit us entirely! 

Warm regards, 

Rabbi Michael Lerner, 

Editor, Tikkun & Chair,The Network of Spiritual Progressives 

Call for Open University Strike and Solidarity Actions on November 15th

Issued by Occupy Cal
Monday November 14, 2011 - 07:51:00 AM

After a mass rally and march of over 3,000 people, and repeated police assaults on the Occupy Cal encampment, the general assembly at UC Berkeley decided on the night of November 9th -- with over 500 votes, 95% of the assembly -- to organize and call for a strike and day of action on Tuesday, November 15. We ask that all classes be cancelled or held at Sproul Plaza. 

The Open University strike is both a response to the University’s violent raid on the encampment, and an action against the defunding and privatization of public education in California. 

We will strike to reassert our collective right to freely assemble, both at the University and elsewhere, so that we are able to build public spaces where we can discuss and counter the various crises affecting our communities. We stand in solidarity with the Occupy movement, and especially with Occupy Oakland, which has been, and may again soon be, repressed by the city of Oakland and the Oakland Police Department. 

We will also strike to reaffirm our determination to fight for a truly public and free University, and for the refunding of all levels of public education and public services. Since the crisis of 2008, the UC Regents have accelerated their push to privatize the University, subjecting students to unsustainable levels of debt, excluding increasing numbers of students, and further re-segregating public education in California. The policy of privatization also subjects workers to layoffs, work speedups, and drastic benefits reductions. All these regressive transformations are forms of structural violence, which the police enforced against the assembled students, faculty, and workers on November 9th. 

We call upon all sectors of public higher education in California to take actions on Tuesday, November 15th, up to and including strike actions, and to join the mass convergences on November 16th at the UC Regents meeting and the CSU Trustees meeting. We also call upon workplaces and K-12 schools to join us, either by taking actions at their sites or by converging on UC Berkeley and helping us to open up and transform the University from which most Californians have been systematically excluded. 

We do not think that property destruction is a useful tactic and we ask those who join the Open University to respect this sentiment. At the same time, we do not think that it is a good strategy to use physical force against those who might engage in such acts. 

Please join us on November 15th as we stop business as usual at our University in order to open up and transform our campus, and as we reestablish the Occupy Cal encampment. 

Occupy Cal’s Demands

Local Demands

- Respect Free Speech, Including the Right to Set Up Tents. - Immediate Resignation of Robert Birgeneau, George Breslauer, Harry LeGrande, and Mitch Celaya. Democratic Election of their Replacements by Students, Faculty, and Staff. - Charge the Police Responsible for Brutalizing Protesters. No Use of Force Against Protests on Campus. - Amnesty for All Protesters. - Make UC Berkeley a Sanctuary Campus for Undocumented People. Pass the UC-wide Dream Act. - Equal Benefits and Retirement Security for UC Union Workers. 

Statewide Demands

- Reverse the Fee Hikes, Cuts, and Layoffs To At Least Their 2009 Levels. - Refund Public Education and Public Services: Tax the Banks and Billionaires. Repeal Prop 13. - Full Implementation of Affirmative Action. Overturn Prop 209. 

Nationwide Demands

- Stop the Privatization of Public Education. - Bail Out Schools and Public Services. Redirect Military Funding to Education. - Immediate Forgiveness of All Student Debt. - Repeal Race to the Top. - Stop the Attacks on Teachers Unions. 


Schedule for November 15 Open University Strike at UC Berkeley

8am-5pm: All day Open University activities (teach-outs, workshops, public readings, installations, etc.) at Sproul Plaza and surrounding areas. 

Noon: Mass convergence at Sproul Hall and formal inauguration of day-long Open University. 

Noon – 2pm: Teach-outs in Sproul Plaza. 

2pm: Rally against police violence and other, related forms of violence, including dispossession, privatization, and debt. 

2:30pm: March to Berkeley High and Berkeley City College. 5pm: General Assembly at Sproul Plaza. 


Endorsers of the Nov. 15 Strike and Day of Action

Occupy Cal, UC Berkeley Faculty Association, UCSF Faculty Association, UC Davis Faculty Association, UC San Diego Faculty Association, UC Council of Faculty Associations, AFSCME 3299, ACCE, California Nurses Association, Communities for a New California, UAW Local 2865 (UC), UAW 4123 (CSU), UC-AFT. 

On Wednesday, November 16 there will be a mass convergence starting at 7am at the UC Regents meeting at the UCSF Mission Bay campus to protest cuts to all levels of public education and to call to refund California by making the banks and super rich pay.

An Open Letter to Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau from a Madison Mother

By Corinne Heath, Madison, Wisconsin
Saturday November 12, 2011 - 05:47:00 PM

An Open Letter to Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau, University of California, Berkeley

Cc: President Mark G. Yudof, George W. Breslauer, Henry Le Grande, Jonathan Poullard

Re: A concerned parent's objection to police in riot gear beating non-violent students on University grounds on the evening of November 9, 2011

I am a parent of a student at University of California, Berkeley. I was appalled to see police in riot gear using excessive force on the evening of November 9, 2011 against peaceful student protesters on the grounds of the University of California, Berkeley.  

When I inquired as to who was responsible for sending the police in riot gear against students, I was told you are in command. If you are not to blame for this particular incident, your position, nonetheless, incurs responsibility. I am expressing parental, civic and moral disapproval of your actions. 

As a parent I disapprove of your actions in the strongest possible terms. It is inappropriate for you to bring in riot police to harm non-violent students. I am angered that you have allowed police to use excessive force on these young people. In this incident, the students' welfare was in your hands and you failed miserably. 

I offer civic disapproval in the strongest possible terms. As a young person in the Occupy Movement said, "If money is free speech, then tents are free speech." This logic is compelling. Riot police clearing student tents with force, is an abysmal over-reaction. Berkeley has strong ties to the Free Speech Movement. I ask you to remember this history. 

I am expressing moral disapproval in the strongest possible terms. Your thoughtless and reckless treatment of young people is unconscionable. A Chancellor of a great University should have the ability to walk among students and talk to them. It is called education. It is called dialogue. These bright and engaged students may have something to teach you. They are our future. Try listening and perhaps they will listen in return. 

Sending in riot police is a knee-jerk reaction that is unworthy of your office and of the University you serve. It is a shameful act. I am saddened to say, that if you sanctioned these police actions, then your approval of violence against students, has trampled the civic and the moral fabric of a great University. Not to mention, physically harming students. I am very disappointed as a parent, as a citizen and as a moral human being. 

With all due respect, I ask you to cease using violence against peaceful student protesters at Berkeley. Their discontent is obviously part of a larger movement in our country to seek redress of grievances. It is time to listen to the students and not over-react. It is time to teach. Find the compromise that is needed so their voices can be heard and the security of Berkeley can be maintained. The future is theirs and they are trying to shape it. 

I ask that a person of your eminence and standing in the community, reconsider your position from the standpoint of a larger and more inclusive picture of moral and civic responsibility. Education takes place all over the grounds at Berkeley, not just in the classroom. The police, under your guidance, can do better than to beat unarmed students. Use the least amount of force to secure Berkeley. Act with restraint. Act with the mental and physical welfare of the students in mind. 

As a Berkeley parent, I ask that no more students be harmed.

Labor Activists Issue Urgent Call to Alameda Labor Council for Labor Defense of Occupy Oakland

Saturday November 12, 2011 - 05:29:00 PM

Who: Ad Hoc Labor Activist Assembly of veteran Oakland area labor organizers
What: Urgent Call to Alameda Labor Council for Labor Defense of Occupy Oakland
Why: Threat of Imminent Police Action to Attack and Evict Occupy Oakland
When: November 12, 2011

The following urgent proposal was unanimously adopted today at an ad hoc Labor Activist Assembly, and signed by more than 30 veteran labor activists: 

We, the Ad Hoc Labor Activist Assembly, in light of the imminent threat of police action to evict Occupy Oakland, call on the Alameda Labor Council Executive Board to adopt and implement the following: 

The Alameda Labor Council declares the Occupy Oakland encampment to be a sanctioned picket line. The Council's Executive Board calls on every one of its affiliates to immediately mobilize members to defend the encampment, dispatching pickets in shifts, beginning tonight (November 12) and continuing as long as the threat persists. 

SIGNATURES (organizations listed for identification only) 

Jack Gerson, OEA retired 

Zev Kuithy, CFT 

Susan Schacher, Peralta Federation of Teachers 

Bob Mandel, OEA/AFT retired 

Peter Brown, Peralta Federation of Teachers 

Steve Miller, OEA 

Loretta Franke, Operating Engineers retired 

Jack Heyman, ILWU Local 10 retired 

Stan Woods, Transport Workers Solidarity Committee 

Richard Tan, Librarian 

Pete Turner, IFTPE 21 

Henry Johnson 

Richard Mellor, AFSCME 444 retired 

Robert Irminger, IBU/ILWU 

Caray Dau,ILWU 6 

Adam Balou, Occupy Oakland 

Jenna Woloshyn, IBT 10 

John Reimann, IWW 

Matt Meyer, BFT 

Marcus Holder, ILWU 10 

Mary Beth Schuler 

Mike Parker, UAW 1700 

Bill Balderston, OEA 

Bill Cherneau, SEIU 1021 

Ruth Maguire, Grandmothers against the war 

Ying Lee, BFT retired 

Ann Weills, National Lawyers Guild 

Michael Rubin, SEIU 

Rosalind Makris OEA 

Dave Welsh, Letter Carriers 214 

Frank Martinez Campo, SEIU 1021

An Open Letter To the Berkeley and University Community and Friends of Nonviolence Everywhere

Kriss Worthington, Councilmember, City of Berkeley, District 7
Saturday November 12, 2011 - 05:39:00 PM

The U.C. Police Department recently used violence against Berkeley students, workers, faculty and community supporters on November 9. This was unprovoked, unexpected, unjustified and unreasonable. The General Assembly at the event had publicly and clearly committed to nonviolence, and the participants appear to have maintained their nonviolence despite the violence inflicted on them. The police clearly could have arrested individuals rather than repeatedly hitting them with batons and grabbing them by their hair. There are multiple videos documenting the police use of excessive force. The Stephen Colbert commentary mentions “spearing a small Asian girl in the spleen first” but there appeared to be a true reflection of diversity in Black, White, Asian, Arab and Latino students and workers equally assaulted by the Police. 

I believe it is important for the community to stand up and speak out against this injustice. See suggestions below. To avoid confusion, the City of Berkeley Police have not been reported to be part of this violence, it is the U.C P.D. 

U.C. Police also appear to have violated multiple people’s legitimate rights to free speech and freedom of assembly. There are reports of U.C. Police tearing down legally posted notices of the event. U.C. Police also confiscated at least one banner and a banner or poster at the event and the U.C. Police Chief declined to answer my questions why. Instead the U.C. Police Chief’s unprofessional response was “I know what I am doing. I’ve been in law enforcement for twenty-nine years, and how many years have you done it?” From the antagonistic tone of the response I knew this was an overly stressed person, but I counted on the Chancellor to provide leadership, so I emailed both the Chancellor and the Chief. Unfortunately the Chancellor was apparently out of town and has subsequently sought to justify the U.C. Police violence by blaming the nonviolent protesters. I was personally present for most of the afternoon and evening and saw only one-sided violence by the Police and none by the students. (Admittedly, some of that time, I was on my cell phone addressing blighted buildings, helicopter noise complaints, returning calls, and taking care of City business, but I still had my eyes and ears out for any problems on Sproul.) 

As I stated in my email to the Chancellor before the U.C. Police violence: “ These students have made a firm commitment to no violence and no vandalism . The University should be commending the thousands of students that are participating. For many, this could be their very first political protest of their lives. They are protesting specifically for additional financing for the University of California. The University should support this enthusiasm and help encourage this to be an effective protest that helps the University and our country. “ 

I believe it is important for the community to stand up and speak out against this injustice. This is a moral issue, not just a political issue. There are multiple ways to help. These include: 

1. Writing a letter or email to the Chancellor, and/or the media. Chancellor@berkeley.edu 

2. Asking your friends or groups to write letters or sign petitions. 

3. Become an observer to reduce the likelihood of violence when more people are watching. 

4. Donate time or money to support these courageous students, and/or hold a fundraiser/educational event. 

5. Show up on Sproul on Tuesday November 15 starting at noon. 2 p.m. is the rally and 5 p.m. is the General Assembly for the follow up event organizers have titled Open University 

6. Join those of us who are pledging to put our bodies with, or in between the U.C. Police and the students to discourage U.C. Police from further violence. Please email Alejandro Soto-Vigil if you are willing to make this pledge at asoto-vigil@cityofberkeley.info 

7. Advocate for dropping the trumped up charges against these nonviolent protesters. 

8. Please feel free to contact me if you would like to help, or have any suggestions for what we should do. 

UC Berkeley Policy on Civil Disobedience

By James Alnas-Benson
Saturday November 12, 2011 - 05:44:00 PM

Chancellor Birgeneau emailed the UC Berkeley Community on Thursday. I quote: “It is unfortunate that some protesters chose to obstruct the police by linking arms and forming a human chain to prevent the police from gaining access to the tents. This is not non-violent civil disobedience.” 

The idea that linking arms and blocking officers is violent (what “not non-violent” means) is wrong, and taken to it’s logical conclusion denies the possibility of effective non-violent civil disobedience and justifies the use of force in response. This is bad thinking leading to bad policy and wrong action. 

The Chancellor distinguishes between “true non-violent disobedience” and “not non-violent disobedience.” There is a difference, but the student’s disobedience is violent only if they prevent police from stopping a violent crime. Otherwise wherein lies the violence? If the linking of arms is violent on its own merits we are forced to conclude that violence stems from disobedience, and therefore there can be no disobedience without violence. 

If this is true there can be no non-violent disobedience. And if this avenue is closed, then what recourse is left? The Chancellor’s position on this matter is dangerous indeed.

OPD Turns Off Lights Then Complains About Crime

By Steve Leibel
Saturday November 12, 2011 - 05:37:00 PM

Somebody needs to report this story. During Chief Jordan's press conference Thursday someone yelled, "Turn on the lights," but Jordan ignored the comment and this issue hasn't hit the MSM yet. But it should. If OPD knew the camp was dangerous and deliberately turned off the lights, then they're culpable in the killing that followed. Tonight the lights are still off and it's pitch black in there. The Fire Dept has brought in a large floodlight to illuminate the area where the victim was killed. Evidently the Fire Dept is the only agency in town with any common sense.

Blog comments and a photo story ...


Additional pics ...


What Are the Occupy Protestors across the Nation Saying?

By Romila Khanna
Saturday November 12, 2011 - 05:41:00 PM

The other day I was at a bus stop in Berkeley waiting for a bus to Oakland. The bus was late. I had already walked a distance to get to my stop. I kept checking the arrival time indicated on the bus route board. A fellow commuter looked at me and said, “Are you joining the protestors today to benefit the millions who live in Oakland? “I am going to a professional meeting,” I said, “but my method would be to peacefully ask those who are well-off to support the needy. I don't like to hurt anyone even they are hurting us all the time through their discriminatory actions. I believe in the Gandhian way of finding common ground. Activating natural kindness in people will take us closer to our goal. Until then we have to remain calm and peacefully demand our rights. We should not forget our human duties to others even when we are being taken advantage of.”  

By then the bus arrived and my fellow-commuter and I got separated. But I kept thinking as I rode the bus that in the midst of all the confusion and discrimination prevailing today democracy is still alive in the US. The commuter and I were able to talk without any ill feeling between us.


The Public Eye: Politics 2012: They’ve Gone Too Far

By Bob Burnett
Friday November 18, 2011 - 06:54:00 PM

While the 2012 elections are twelve months away, Republicans have handed President Obama and Democrats a winning theme: ”they’ve gone too far.” 

First there was the Occupy Wall Street movement. Then came the results of the November 8th elections: Mississippi’s rejection of a “personhood” amendment; Ohio’s reaffirmation of collective bargaining rights; Arizona’s recall of a reactionary politician; and other hopeful votes. Indications that Americans are rejecting right-wing politics. 

The mood of the electorate changes slowly. In the 2008 presidential election, there was hope for fundamental change and preference for youth (Obama) over age (McCain); Democrats prevailed. In the 2010 midterm election, many voters were disheartened by the recession and did not vote; Republicans prevailed. A year later, mainstream Americans are reenergized. Disappointment with President Obama and Democrats has been supplanted by outrage at Republican extremists. 

Occupy Wall Street may produce a new progressive movement but its most important contribution has been as a “mood elevator” – a wakeup call to mainstream Americans who aren’t activists, who generally watch political events on TV from the comfort of their front room. Millions of Independent voters are reengaged, beginning to chant, ”We are the 99 percent.” 

The sea change in public opinion is reflected in the most recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll that asked respondents to react to this statement: “The current economic structure of the country is out of balance and favors a very small proportion of the rich over the rest of the country. America needs to reduce the power of major banks and corporations and demand greater accountability and transparency. The government should not provide financial aid to corporations and should not provide tax breaks to the rich." 60 percent strongly agreed and 16 percent mildly agreed. Mainstream America believes the middle class is broken and perceives the dominant 1 percent have too much money and political power. 

Who are the 24 percent that do not agree? Staunch Republicans. The latest Pew Research poll characterized the US electorate. In 2012, Pew believes that 10 percent of potential voters, mostly young people, will not vote. Pew allocates the remaining 90 percent of potential voters to three groups: “Mostly Republican,” 25 percent, “Mostly Independent,” 35 percent, and “Mostly Democratic,” 40 percent. 

The Pew poll divides Republicans into two groups: “Staunch Conservatives” (11 percent) who are the Tea Party activists and “Main Street Republicans” (14 percent). Since 2010, their attitudes haven’t changed and continue to be reflected by GOP members of Congress. Republicans are dogmatically defending the most powerful 1 percent but are having less impact on the electorate in general. 

According to Pew Research, the Democratic base consists of “solid liberals” (16 percent of registered voters), “hard-pressed Democrats” (15 percent), and “new coalition Democrats” (9 percent). Since the 2010 election they’ve been reenergized by Occupy Wall Street, Republican attacks on women and labor, and the behavior of the GOP-controlled House of Representatives. As a consequence, the national dialogue has shifted from fiscal austerity to job-creation and economic inequality. 

Meanwhile, Republicans have paid no attention to the change in public sentiment. They’ve stuck with policies that promote the well being of their base, the dominant 1 percent, “the haves and have mores.” 

This dogmatic Republican stance bodes well for Democrats who challenge Republican members of the House of Representatives. Voters are very unhappy with members of Congress.. A recent New York Times poll found that “only 33 percent of registered voters believe their own member [of Congress] deserves to be re-elected.” During the 112th session of Congress House Republicans have taken a number of controversial votes – for example, approving the “Paul Ryan” budget that repeals Obama’s healthcare act and cuts billions of dollars from Medicare and Medicaid – that can be used against them in the next election; serve as evidence “they’ve gone too far.’ 

The latest Gallup Pollshows Obama slightly ahead of the generic Republican candidate. Given the persistent recession, this is good news for the President – who continues to have positive favorability ratings

To prevail in 2012, President Obama needs to establish himself as the champion of the 99 percent, the defender of the middle class. He needs to continue to fight for jobs and be identified as a fighter, in general. 

Obama has tried to work with the GOP. Now he can tell voters, “Republicans have proved they do not care about the middle class. They’re only interested in defending the 1 percent. Republicans have gone too far.” 

Bob Burnett is a Berkeley writer. He can be reached at bburnett@sonic.net

Eclectic Rant: What Next for Occupy Wall Street after Adverse Court Ruling?

By Ralph E. Stone
Friday November 18, 2011 - 07:03:00 PM

On November 15, 2011, New York City Police evicted Occupy Wall Street (OWS) from lower Manhattan's Zuccotti Park. Later that same day, OWS obtained a temporary restraining order (TRO) requiring that they immediately be allowed back into Zuccotti Park with their tents, tarps, and sleeping bags. But the next day, the New York County Supreme Court In the matter of Waller V. The City of New York, et. al. declined to extend the TRO. Thus, the OWS eviction stands, although OWS's application challenging the eviction will continue.  

It should be noted that the application was not only brought under New York State law, but also under the federal Civil Rights Act, 42 USC §§ 1983 and 1988.  

On September 17, 2011, OWS began occupying Zuccotti Park on a 24-hour basis to bring attention to the growing disparity of wealth and power in the United States. Afterwards, OWS progeny sprung up in many cities across the nation and in a number of foreign cities. 

Zuccotti Park, by the way, is a privately-owned park, established in 1968 pursuant to an agreement under which Brookfield Office Properties -- the owner and one of the defendants -- received development rights for adjacent properties in exchange for maintaining the park as a "public amenity." Under the agreement, the park must be open to the public and maintained for public use 365 days per year. 

Sometime after OWS occupied Zuccotti Park, Brookfield promulgated rules, prohibiting, among other things, camping and/or the erection of tents or other structures; lying down on the ground, or lying down on benches; the placement of tarps or sleeping bags or other covering on the property; and storage or placement of personal property on the ground, benches, sitting areas or walkways which unreasonably interferes with the use of such areas by others. These rules were clearly aimed at OWS. 

At the court hearing, Brookfield represented that after Zuccotti Park is cleaned and restored, OWS will be permitted to reenter the park and resume using it, in conformity with the law and the owner's rules.  

The parties disputed whether the First Amendment applied to a privately-owned park even though it was maintained as a public amenity. For purposes of OWS's application for an extension of the TRO, the court ruled that the First Amendment did apply, but the owner of the park had the "right to adopt reasonable rules to permit it to maintain a clean, safe, publicly accessible space consonant with the responsibility it assumed to provide public access according to law." The court further ruled that OWS did not demonstrate that the rules were "not reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions permitted under the First Amendment." 

Finally, the court noted that New York City prohibits the erection of structures, the use of gas or other combustible materials, and the accumulation of garbage and human waste in public places. Thus, according to the court, Brookfield's rules appeared to be reasonable to maintain the space in a hygienic, safe, and lawful condition, and to prevent it from being liable for violations of New York City laws. 

What next? The case is not over. The parties must submit all briefs to the court by December 1st. I assume a final court decision will follow shortly thereafter. However, the court has already signaled that, although the First Amendment applies, Brookfield's rules are reasonable, and furthermore, the occupation probably violates a number of New York City laws. Therefore, I predict that the OWS eviction from Zuccotti Park will stand. Should OWS set up camp in another public location, the expected court ruling will probably justify an eviction from that new location. 

Although any court ruling upholding the eviction of OWS is applicable only to New York state, the ruling will probably prove influential in other possible court actions involving similar occupations in other U.S. cities. 

What are OWS's options in light of the expected adverse court action? OWS can appeal the lower court's ruling. It can defy the court's ruling and force a series of confrontations with the authorities. Or it can continue to protest and demonstrate in accordance with Brookfield's rules and the laws of New York City. 

OWS may lose the court case but hopefully they have not lost the spirit and determination of the movement.

SENIOR POWER… A Play for an Older Actress

By Helen Rippier Wheeler
Friday November 18, 2011 - 07:32:00 PM

This week I saw and heard Bill Cain’s play, How to Write a New Book for the Bible, world premiered at the Berkeley Rep. In short, “A man moves in with his mother when she can no longer care for herself… Their reunion heals old wounds, opening a heartfelt and humorous new chapter in their relationship … this timeless tale celebrates a mother’s love and a son’s devotion.” 

Beforehand, I thought this might be the same play that had been part of South Coast Repertory’s 2010 NewSCRipts staged reading series subtitled A Play for an Older Actress. There is but one brief reference in the forty-three page playbill to “a play for an older actress.” The playwright responds “It just is” when asked to “… talk a little bit about why you included the subtitle A Play for an Older Actress. 

Cain, a Jesuit priest, wrote the story of the play as a book, still-unpublished, which he then adapted into this autobiographical play about his family. Linda Gehringer, who plays Mary (what else?), his mother, is superb. I have no idea of her age nor even her vintage. 

The audience, mostly older people, laughed a lot. I try but can’t find humor in most portrayals of old people’s antics, especially old women. 

The Berkeley Rep volunteer ushers are old women who make a lot of sense while being helpful. (I recall one old man some time back – he too was spry and helpful.) 


Sharon Gless is on the London stage as a mature woman who decides to try to find love after decades in the wilderness. Gless is the sixty-eight year old actor who co-starred in 1980’s Cagney and Lacey TV cop show. Jane Prowse adapted and directed Jane Juska’s best-selling 2003 A Round-Heeled Woman: My Late-Life Adventures in Sex and Romance, which chronicled the real-life adventures resulting from a personal ad in the New York Review of Books: “Before I turn 67 - next March - I would like to have a lot of sex with a man I like. If you want to talk first, Trollope works for me.” Juska received 63 replies, from men aged 32-84. Along her courageous journey, she fell in love, had her heart broken, suffered rejection and humiliation, had a lot of laughs and her first orgasm with a man after thirty years. 

Gless considers the Juska role "a gift" for an actor her age. "… in Britain there are roles for Judi Dench (born 1934), Maggie Smith (born 1934), Helen Mirren (born 1945) and Julie Walters (born 1950), who are all still highly sexualized in their work. The British are much more accepting of older women having libidos and being sexual." [BBC News, Oct. 16, 2011 ] 

Claire Bloom at sixty-five, wrote, in her 1996 Leaving a Doll’s House memoir, “There comes a time in every actress’s career when her chronological age defines her public identity, thus limiting her ability to attract new offers; consequently, she desperately tries to cling to her youth. I’ve heard it said that, in the current film world, this dynamic has changed, but my impression is that, some notable female initiatives apart, there are as many insecure actresses today as before. Unlike men, the roles for women alter radically after fifty. Gone then are the lovers, the suitors. Now, in stead succession, come the mothers, aunts, spinsters, and only with the lucky ones who stay to the bitter end, the grandmothers, the crones. A painful transition for any woman.”  

A crone is, according to several dictionaries, an ugly, withered old woman. As a stock character in folklore and fairy tale, she is usually disagreeable, malicious or sinister in manner, often with magical or supernatural associations that can make her either helpful or obstructing. Although marginalized by her exclusion from the reproductive cycle, her proximity to death is said to place her in contact with occult wisdom. Eh gad. 


Ageism and sexism are closely linked. The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) claims to encourage positive images of women and older persons in film and television in order to end stereotypes and to educate the industry about their representation, both in numbers and quality of representation. From 1981-85, Leslie Hoffman, first stuntwoman elected to the Hollywood Screen Actors Board, worked towards hiring more women, minorities, seniors, and disabled performers. She was blacklisted by the SAG Board and by Stuntmen Groups. In 2003, only 37% of all SAG television and film roles went to women. In 2010, a study carried out by the Annenberg School for Communication and the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in the Media found that male characters outnumber female characters by three to one in top-grossing American films.  

The little old lady is a stock character. CraigsList: “Need Older Actress to Play a Little Old Lady (Los Angeles). An older actress is needed to play a Little Old Lady out walking her dog for a commercial we are shooting on Tuesday (November 15th.) Approximate Call Time is 6:30 AM and you will be done by 11 AM. Please email headshot(s) and resumé.” 

A “casting notice for an Older Non Union Actress For Off-Broadway Show at Play Dead Productions in New York NY- Part Time Job. The show was created by Todd Robbins (Carnival Knowledge) and Teller (of Penn & Teller)… not a typical play, but a theatrical thrill ride -- here and now in an ‘abandoned’ theater -- … We are looking for: A 50 actress to play ghost of Italian peasant con woman- no dialogue -- dance or movement background preferred but not required-- nudity required, non union Salary: This is a paid role.” 

Of Prince Charles’ art exhibit, the London Evening Standard newspaper’s art critic wrote, “Small and persnickety watercolor currently on view at the Royal Academy. Any old lady can dabble away in watercolors on a wet Sunday afternoon.” The Berkeley Voice newspaper reported that “There’s no credible evidence that landlords sit around and figure out how to evict little old ladies.” (Which, as it happens, may indeed be the case.) 

Consider the media image of old people in some funny ha ha cartoons. “Gaijins [foreigners] can’t believe that little old ladies are waiting to clean the urinal while they’re using it!” captioned the cartoon of an embarrassed male and a bored, waiting on him, babushka-type elder woman. (Mainichi Daily News.) “And do you have large print microform books?” an old, albeit quaint, bespectacled woman leaning on a cane queried an astonished man (an American Library Association periodical). Political cartoonists who earn a living while assertively recognizing and acknowledging the potential damage of ageist and sexist cartoons are rare. BulBul is the only one I can think of. 

TV is our Number One socializer. Media portrayals are not meaningless entertainment but an index to what it means to be old [and female] in our society, including the available options and the dimensions of the role. Viewers perceive TV as representative of reality. Sex/gender roles, occupational roles, and age roles are of great importance. 

The TV sitcom, Golden Girls, was hailed as a media breakthrough by some, while others were reminded of the old saying that the most oppressed people are those who do not recognize their oppression. Belittling humor was the Girls’ mainstay. Gray Panthers of San Francisco, Minneapolis and several other cities protested. There were some pluses, however—the characters had a sense of humor, shared housing, were sexual beings, and the mother of one of the “girls” lived with them. 

Bette Davis (1908-1989) in her later years appeared in a black and white TV program drama that I can’t find in any of her filmographies. I recognized the backdrop –Tiemann Place, a block long locale in Upper Westside Manhattan, International House vicinity. Davis played a woman who had lived in an apartment house for years, but she must vacate. The building was undergoing changes, or she had no income. She tried to sell her possessions and gradually gives them away, to emerge from her building into New York winter with two shopping bags. To a non-life on the street. 

Martha Boesing's deeply moving play, Song of the Magpie, is a one act, hour-long monolog about a sixty-nine year-old woman who goes out to experience the world as a homeless person. It follows her journey for a week, and then morphs into a street person speaking about what it is like actually to be old, homeless, and living in the San Francisco Tenderloin, portraying the dangers, hardships and unexpected humanity found there. The play was performed at the Faithful Fools Street Ministry in San Francisco in March 2006. Seventy-five year old Oakland resident Boesing has written 40+ produced plays, led workshops, and directed plays for theaters throughout the country.  

The mass media that influence the popular image of old people include newspapers (editorials, columns, reviews, political cartoons;) radio and TV (commercials, PBS, cable; news, editorials;) motion pictures; books (fiction and nonfiction, adult and children’s); greeting cards; advertisements, commercials, paid announcements. In your role as consumer, voter, tax payer, local resident, reader, subscriber… when was your last Letter to an Editor, with cc to advertisers, sponsors, ad agencies, networks, stations? 



New poverty figures from the U.S. Census Bureau show a large increase in the number of poor Americans, specifically older adults. Using a new formula that factors in health care costs, the agency found that the number of Americans aged 65+ in poverty nearly doubled to 15.9%, or 1 in 6 individuals. 

The National Council on Aging reports that the 12-member Congressional Supercommittee, formed to find a way to reduce the deficit, is working toward a Nov. 23 deadline to finalize its proposal. Advocates for seniors remain concerned that an agreement may not strike the appropriate balance between spending cuts and revenues, may shift unaffordable costs onto Medicare beneficiaries, and/or may cut safety net programs, harming low-income seniors. Prospects for a deal do not look good. 

Seniors with low incomes are more likely to develop heart failure than those with higher incomes, even if they have Medicare coverage and are college-educated, an American Heart Association study finds. Researchers examined records of 5,153 Medicare-eligible seniors living independently without heart failure in the early 1990s. Thirteen years later, 18 percent of the seniors with a high level of education and high income had developed heart failure. Similarly, 17 percent of the older adults with low education but high income developed heart failure. On the other hand, 23 percent of seniors with low income developed heart failure regardless of their education. Patients with low education and low income were at the greatest risk, with 29 percent developing heart failure. Low-income patients may not be able to afford out-of-pocket costs associated with their Medicare coverage. Income also affects people's access to healthy foods and safe, affordable places to exercise. The researchers concluded that older people need low-cost ways to stay healthy and eat right.  

The University Health Network (UHN) reports that Whole-body-vibration, a popular exercise that uses a vibrating platform, sometimes advertised as being able to boost bone, is not an effective therapy for the prevention of bone loss and density. A one-year-study on healthy postmenopausal women has shown that it has no such effect. The study entitled, Effects of 12 Months of Whole-Body Vibration (WBV) on Bone Density and Structure in Postmenopausal Women: A Randomized Controlled Trial, is published in the November 15, 2011 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine. 


The Public Policy & Aging Report (PPAR) explores policy issues generated by the aging of American society. Each thematic issue is designed to stimulate debate, highlight emerging concerns and propose alternative policy solutions. The Summer 2011 issue, cosponsored by Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) is titled “Integrating LGBT Older Adults into Aging Policy & Practice.” It is estimated that one in two Americans living with HIV will be age 50+ by 2015.  

Aging and health issues facing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender baby boomers have been largely ignored by services, policies and research. These seniors face higher rates of disability, physical and mental distress and a lack of access to services, according to the first study on aging and health in these communities. The study, released Nov. 16, 2011 and led by Karen Fredriksen-Goldsen and colleagues at the University of Washington’s School of Social Work, indicates that prevention and intervention strategies must be developed to address the unique needs of these seniors, whose numbers are expected to double to more than 4 million by 2030. 

Elderly patients are less likely than middle-aged patients to receive pain medications in U.S. hospital emergency departments, even when they have severe pain. Researchers analyzed data collected from U.S. emergency departments between 2003 and 2009. Among patients with a primary complaint of pain, an analgesic (such as morphine, oxycodone or ibuprofen) was given to 49 percent of patients age 75+, and 68 percent of patients aged 35 to 54. An opioid (such as morphine or oxycodone) was given to about 35 percent of elderly patients and 49 percent of middle-aged patients. Age-related differences in the use of pain medications remained even after the researchers adjusted for factors such as sex, race/ethnicity and pain severity. Elderly patients were nearly 20 percent less likely to receive an analgesic and 15 percent less likely to receive an opioid than middle-aged patients. Even among those with severe pain, elderly patients were less likely to receive pain medications than middle-aged patients (67 percent versus 79 percent, respectively). The study was published online and in the Annals of Emergency Medicine. Each year in the United States, patients age 65+ make more than 20 million visits to hospital emergency departments; nearly half of those visits are pain-related. [Nov. 16, 2011 HealthDay News] 


MARK YOUR CALENDAR: Be sure to confirm. Readers are welcome to share by email news of future events that may interest boomers, elders and seniors (define these any way you like!) Daytime, free, and Bay Area events preferred. pen136@dslextreme.com.  

Thursday, Nov 17. 10 A.M. – 12 Noon. Free dental consultation with Dr. Alfred Chongwill. By appointment only. Mastick Senior Center, 1155 Santa Clara Av., Alameda. 510-747-7506 

Thursday, Nov. 17. 10 A.M. Computers for beginners. Central Berkeley Public Library. Kittredge at Shattuck. 510-981-6800.  

Thursday, Nov. 17. 12:30 P.M. Birthday Celebration. Mastick Senior Center, 1155 Santa Clara Av., Alameda. 510-747-7506 

Thursday, Nov. 17. 1:30 P.M. Volunteer Instructor William Sturm presents “Musical Grab-Bag” medley of pieces by composers discussed in the Music Appreciation Class for 2011. Mastick Senior Center, 1155 Santa Clara Av., Alameda. 510-747-7506 

Thursday, Nov. 17. 6 P.M. Lawyers in the Library at Berkeley Public Library West branch, University above San Pablo. 510-981-6270.  

Saturday, Nov. 19. 10 A.M. – 4 P.M. Friends of the Albany Library Book Sale, 1247 Marin Av. Includes sales of collectibles and holiday items as well as books. Please, do not bring donations the week prior to the sale. 510-526-3720 x 16. Also Sunday, Nov. 20 11 A.M. – 4 P.M. 

Saturday, Nov. 19. 11 A.M. Landlord/Tenant Counseling. Central Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge. 510-981-6241. 

Sunday, Nov. 20. 1:30P.M. Book Into Film. An Education. From a chapter of Lynn Barber’s 2009 memoir of the same title. Central Berkeley Public Library. 2090 Kittredge. Free, but registration is required. 510-6148. 

Monday, Nov. 21. 6 P.M. Evening computer class. Central Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge. 510-981-6236. Also Nov. 28.  

Tuesday, Nov. 22. 3 P.M. Tea and Cookies. Central Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge. 510-981-6236.  

Wednesday, Nov. 23. 12 Noon. Playreaders. Central Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge. 510-981-6236. Also Nov. 30.  

Wednesday, Nov. 23. 1:30-2:30 P.M. Great Books Discussion Group: John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley. Albany Library, 1247 Marin Av. 510-526-3720.  

Wednesday, Nov. 23. 1:30 P.M. Gray Panthers’ monthly meeting. At the North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst. Free. 510-981-5190, 548-9696.  

Monday, Nov. 28. 2 – 3:30 P.M. “Vigee-LeBrun: Woman Artist in an Age of Revolution” presentation by Brigit Urmson. Mastick Senior Center, 1155 Santa Clara Av., Alameda. 510-747-7506. 

Monday, Nov. 28. 7 P.M. Book Club. Silas Marner by George Eliot. Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Ave. Free event. 510-524-3043. Each meeting starts with a poem selected and read by a member with a brief discussion following the reading. New members are always welcome. 

Wednesday, Nov. 30. 12:15-1 P.M. Gamelan Music of Java and Bali. Performed by classes directed by Midiyanto and I Dewa Putu Berata, with Ben Brinner and Lisa Gold. UC,B Hertz Concert Hall. Free. 510-642-4864. 


Saturday, Dec. 3. Noon-1 P.M. UC,B University Chamber Orchestra. Hertz Concert Hall. Mozart "Overture to Don Giovanni" - Miriam Anderson, conductor. Stravinsky "Pulcinella Suite" - Garrett Wellenstein, conductor. Schubert "Symphony No. 5" - Melissa Panlasigui, conductor. Free. Event Contact: m.panlasigui@gmail.com 

Monday, Dec. 5. 6:30 P.M. "Castoffs" Knitting Group. Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Ave. Free. 510-524-3043. An evening of knitting, show and tell and yarn exchange. All levels welcome. Some help will be provided.  

Wednesday, Dec. 7. 12:15-1 P.M. Music for the holiday season. UCB Music Department Noon concert. Hertz Concert Hall. University Chorus and Chamber Chorus, Matthew Oltman, guest director. Free. 510-642-4864.  

Wednesday, Dec. 7. 6-8 P.M. Lawyer in the Library. Albany Library, 1247 Marin Av. Free. 510-526-3720.  

Monday, Dec. 12. 12 Noon. Senior Center Lecture - J-Sei Center Center - 1710 Carleton Street, Berkeley "Fall Prevention" Speaker: Andrew Teran - Bay Area Vital Link. To place a reservation for the lecture and/or lunch at 11:30 A.M., call 510-883-1106. 

Monday, Dec. 12. 7:00 P.M. Swedish Folk Music with Mark and Jennie Walstrom. Their instruments include the Swedish Säckpipa (bagpipe) and Nyckelharpa (key fiddle). Tonight’s music will center on the Swedish winter holidays. Kensington Library, 61Arlington Avenue Free. 510-524-3043. 

Wednesday, Dec. 14 6:30-8 P.M. Drop-In Poetry Writing Workshop. Albany Library 1247 Marin Av. Free. 510-526-3720.  

Monday, Dec. 19. 7 P.M. Book Club. Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey. Tey is known as the mystery writer for those who don’t like mysteries! Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Ave. Free event. 510-524-3043. Each meeting starts with a poem selected and read by a member with a brief discussion following the reading. New members are always welcome. 

Wednesday, Dec. 28. Great Books Discussion Group. Albany Library, 1247 Marin Av. Holiday lunch and selection discussion. 510-526-3720 x 16. 










On Mental Illness: Psychosis or Depression, Take Your Pick

By Jack Bragen
Friday November 18, 2011 - 06:40:00 PM

Living with schizophrenic illness entails several different “catch-22’s” in which the options are limited. One of these conflicts is the choice between being overmedicated and thus depressed, versus not taking enough medication and being mildly psychotic. It seems, for me at least, there is little or no middle zone between these. 

It is useful to know that antipsychotic medications are effective probably because they slow down the brain by blocking certain neurotransmitters. This sometimes translates into medication induced low-energy, which can become depression. And depression is apparently the polar opposite of psychosis. 

There can be no argument disputing that the antipsychotic medications can be very sedating. When someone is overly sedated, once again, you end up with a depressed person. 

Depression isn’t comfortable, nor is it any fun. It seems like an eternal, magnified case of the blah-s. Constant depression makes it hard to get physical exercise, and it seems to preclude working at most jobs; because working usually requires a fair amount of energy. 

When on a lot of medication, napping during the day will happen in addition to sleeping at night. It is hard to practice meditation because it is hard to get the brain to wake up enough for that. Anxiety attacks, believe it or not, can be a symptom of depression. And when the anxiety is getting treated it may involve additional sedating medication. 

Those in charge of the mental health treatment system are not unhappy if mentally ill people live this way. If you’re snoring away the afternoon, it implies that you are not assaulting anyone. Neither are you fleeing from invisible commandos. When highly sedated, one tends to be agreeable to most things. 

When trying to rise up from medication-induced depression, I am soon at the level of being mildly psychotic. This includes some amount of belligerence, and some amount of being delusional. At this level of existence it is easy to make a few bad decisions that will have bad consequences. If mild psychosis happens frequently, it is necessary to program oneself with some type of “failsafe” that prevents carrying out actions, or even speech, when delusional; one can easily wreck one’s life circumstances and can do this in a very short time. 

I have learned not to act on a number of the thoughts I experience. Part of my consciousness seems to be aware that the thoughts are questionable. In some cases, this failsafe fails because the delusion is clever enough to convince me that it is quite accurate. In cases like that of believing in my delusions, I have been lucky not to say or do anything with results that are irreversible. 

It seems that I don’t have a “happy medium” available in which I am neither paranoid and delusional nor depressed. I can choose one or the other. I tend to fluctuate back and forth on this scale. The symptoms are mild enough that I have a pretty normal life in which I behave normally most of the time. I take both antipsychotic medications and an antidepressant. 

If I go too high on the antidepressant, it triggers delusions. If I take too much antipsychotic medication, I will experience a lot of very uncomfortable side effects, and I will also become very depressed. 

Working at a job is not really an option because the amount of energy required to be efficient or competitive at work would ultimately be enough to bring me into the psychotic zone. If I try to work while depressed, I will hate the job so much that it will be unbearable. 

The above describes an aspect of my life as a person with severe, paranoid schizophrenia. It is not something that I can make go away by making a decision of any kind; I’m stuck with it, whether I like it or not. I have no other reasonable or acceptable options but to continue muddling through this existence, which actually much of the time isn’t half bad in spite of the condition I must live with.

New: Eclectic Rant: Will Contributions Negatively Influence Super Committee?

By Ralph E. Stone
Thursday November 17, 2011 - 10:21:00 AM

The Budget Control Act of 2011created the 12-member, bi-partisan Super Committee with extraordinary powers with the goal of achieving at least $1.5 trillion in budgetary savings over 10 years. What they ultimately decide -- or fail to decide -- by the deadline of November 23, 2011, will shape the economic future of this country for many years to come. Thus, it is important to know the identity of interest groups seeking to influence the Committee members. 

The public has the right to know what members have ties to what industries or lobbies, not only in the past, but also since the Super Committee was formed. For example, public action committees (PACs) associated with lawmakers on the Committee have shown a surge of contributions, and PACs representing corporate biggies like Pfizer and Lockheed Martin contributed more than $83,000 during August alone.
After last year's U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, Super PACs are permitted to raise unlimited amounts of money from donors -- individuals, corporations and unions -- which can be used to fund political advertisements for or against federal candidates and to otherwise support or oppose candidates.

Lawyers and law firms were the largest contributors by industry, with nearly $32 million into election efforts. Securities and investment sector and health professionals placed second and third. Other top contributors include the conservative Club for Growth, Microsoft, the University of California, Goldman Sachs, EMILY'S List, Citigroup, and JP Morgan Chase. In short, there is much money going to the twelve Super Committee members.
MapLight has conducted an analysis of the total campaign contributions to the twelve members of Congress appointed to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction. The totals by contributor can be found here .
At the same website, you can click on an individual Super Committee member to see an analysis of campaign contributions to that committee member.
As Jesse Unruh, former Speaker of the California Assembly, once said, "Money is the mother's milk of politics." Because of Citizens United, we can do little to stem the flow of money to politicians, but the public is entitled to know where the milk is coming from.
For more info on the Super Committee see this previous discussion.

Wild Neighbors: At Least One Leg to Stand On

By Joe Eaton
Wednesday November 16, 2011 - 02:30:00 PM
Greater white-fronted goose: why doesn't it fall over?
Alan Vernon (Wikimedia Commons)
Greater white-fronted goose: why doesn't it fall over?

Someone once asked the science fiction writer Barry Longyear where his ideas came from. “Schenectady,” he replied. I think he eventually published a book called It Came From Schenectady. The column-writing process is similar. Ron and I recently had an article on the autumnal florescence of garden, AKA pumpkin, spiders in another publication. It drew a fair amount of reader response, one of which could be paraphrased: “If you know so much about spiders, how do birds manage to stand on one leg?” 

I found an answer for him and responded. And then I thought: “This stuff is too good to waste on one email.” Hence today’s venture into biomechanics. 

If you’ve spent any amount of time around birds, you’ll have observed the one-legged stance. Large waders like flamingos and storks are notorious for it, but waterfowl (see goose photo), shorebirds, and songbirds do it too. There are also, just to confuse things, a few genuinely one-legged birds around: usually seabirds and waterbirds. Spend a lot of time floating on the surface of the water with appendages dangling and something may take a bite. 

At least one travel guide to Hawaii lists the one-legged owl among the islands’ extinct avifauna. This appears to be a garbled version of the long-legged owl, or alternatively the stilt-owl. There are no congenitally one-legged bird species. 

Why do they do it? It’s all about thermoregulation, minimizing heat loss. There’s a part of the avian circulatory system called the rete mirabile that allows a counter-current heat exchange. The arteries that transport warm blood from the heart to the legs are in contact with the veins that return cooler blood to the heart. The arteries transfer some of their heat to the veins. Standing on one leg halves the amount of heat lost through the featherless legs. (But do birds with feathered legs, like the rough-legged hawk or the great horned owl, stand on one leg?) According to one study, flamingoes assume the one-legged posture more often when standing in water than when standing on dry land, and in cooler as opposed to warmer temperatures. 

As for the how, I am indebted to the web site of Professor Doctor Reinhold Necker, formerly of the University of the Ruhr in Bochum, Germany, for his detailed explanation of why these birds don’t topple over (www.reinhold-necker.de/seite11a.html.) Necker says it’s long been speculated that long-legged birds like flamingoes, at least, had some kind of snapping mechanism that locked the intertarsal joint of the extended leg in place. However, such a mechanism has only been demonstrated in the ostrich, which does not stand on one leg. Other long-legged birds have a structure in the trochanter, where the femur attaches to the hip, that prevents the body from tipping over forward and stabilizes it against rotation toward the non-supported side. 

Bear in mind that a bird’s leg is not quite like a human’s, although the basic structures are similar. Birds walk on their toes; what appears to be a reversed knee is actually their ankle joint. The true knee—the thick end of the drumstick—is concealed by feathers. When standing, a bird’s knees are flexed and the knee joint is near their center of gravity. The femur is nearly horizontal, held in place by the ligaments of the hip joint. 

Necker also writes that birds have balance regulators in their inner ears, as we do. They also have an auxiliary equilibrium sensor in the lumbosacral region of their vertebral column that acts directly on the motor system of the legs. 

So it seems to be a combination of bone structure and sensory apparatus that does the trick. None of this, of course, applies to the various human cultures that have adopted a one-legged posture, like those cattle-herders in South Sudan who used to be a National Geographic staple. 

Eclectic Rant: Thoughts on the Penn State Pedophile Scandal

By Ralph E. Stone
Monday November 14, 2011 - 04:11:00 PM

I am an indifferent viewer of sports. If another activity such as a movie, a concert, the theater, or a social activity beckons, I choose that activity over watching a game. However, I am interested in how the 49ers, the Raiders, Stanford and Cal football did. I therefore read the sports section of the newspaper or turn on ESPN for the latest scores. Recently, the media -- ESPN in particular -- has been overly absorbed in the Pennsylvania State University (PSU) scandal where Jerry Sandusky, a long-time assistant to now former PSU football coach Joe Paterno, allegedly molested eight troubled young boys over a 15-year period at times at PSU satellite campuses. PSU administrators knew about it but allegedly covered it up. 

Unfortunately, very little media attention is being paid to the betrayals of trust that these young victims had for their mentor. The effects of this sexual abuse can include depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, propensity for further victimization in adulthood, and even physical injury to the child. What if anything, will be done for these already troubled children? Why hasn't the media focused on the effects Sandusky's alleged molestation will likely have on these young victims? Did PSU reach out to the parents of these children and offer the children counseling? Or would that be admitting liability?  

I assume there will be many future lawsuits against Sandusky and PSU.  

Unfortunately, the media frenzy surrounding the scandal is more a concern about the effect it is having on PSU, Joe Paterno's legacy, and even last Saturday's football game against Nebraska. There is no mention of what role big-time sports might have had on the coverup, or what kind of role models coach student-athletes at universities like PSU. I get the feeling that PSU just wants the scandal to fade away. 

It is no secret that big-time college sports are fully commercialized. Billions of dollars flow through them each year. The NCAA makes money, and enables universities and corporations to make money, from the unpaid labor of young athletes.  

PSU gets its share of the money pie. PSU's athletic department is a self-sufficient auxiliary unit of the university. The income generated by the unit is greater than its expenses. The PSU athletic department’s self-sufficiency places it in elite company. According to a report released by the NCAA, only fourteen Division 1 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) schools reported profits from their athletic departments in 2009. PSU athletics made $18 million in profit in 2009-2010. No tuition money goes towards the PSU athletic department. In fact, the athletic department contributed $12 million to the University’s general operating budget in the form of tuition for all of its scholarship athletes. PSU must be worried about the effects the scandal will have on future fund raising for its profit-making athletic department 

What should the role of a coach be at colleges or even high schools? The primary role should be to teach athletics. In turn, college athletes look upon their coaches as leaders, teachers, and mentors. Coaches teach discipline, teamwork, and sportsmanship. Coaches often become the face of the university, especially coaches like Paterno, the winningest college football coach in history. I wonder how much the average American knows about PSU other than its football coach was JoePa (an affectionate nickname for Joe Paterno).  

The classical ideal of athletics is a sound mind in a sound body. Athletics should be about fair play, hard work, dedication, personal excellence, obedience to rules, commitment, and loyalty. However, a win-at-all cost mentality can lead to elitism, sexism, racism, nationalism, over competitiveness, abuse of drugs, gambling, and a number of other deviant behaviors. When the administration and coaches at PSU allegedly ignored and covered up the sexual molestation of children by one of its coaches, the true spirit of sports was lost. Can it be regained? Only time will tell. 

PSU at one time was known as Happy Valley. Happy Valley is anything but these days.

My Commonplace Book (a diary of excerpts copied from printed books, with comments added by the reader.)

By Dorothy Bryant
Monday November 14, 2011 - 04:18:00 PM

oh, celestial, soothing, sanctifying process, with all the high, sane forces of the sacred time, fighting through it, on my side. Henry James (1843—1916) 

Written in the last decade of his life, when James was in a bad patch and trying to summon up the energy to get back to writing, this has the tone of fervent prayer. We don’t know what was troubling him; he was not the kind of writer who exposes his personal travails all over the page. 

What we do know from this “prayer” is that James was not the kind of artist who said, “I can’t do my work because (someone or something) makes it impossible for me to think or work creatively!” He knew that sitting himself down to the work, the “soothing, sanctifying process,” was the thing most likely to bring “sane forces . . . fighting through it, on my side.” 

In other words, that, when all else is wrong in the world (and it always is) one thing—the work—is always on my side, keeping me sane, and even, perhaps, producing something worthwhile. 

He sets a vital example, not only for writers and artists, but for everyone, whatever the work—mental/physical, major/menial, interesting/boring—provided the work harms no one. The only people who are deserted by the “high, sane forces of the sacred time” are those whose work does harm, no matter what admiration and riches it may accumulate. 











(Send the Berkeley Daily Planet a page from your own Commonplace Book)

Arts & Events

Eye from the Aisle: The Hot Mikado at Pt. Richmond MASQUERS, Uneven but Thrilling

by John A. McMullen II
Friday November 18, 2011 - 09:04:00 AM
Amy Lucido as Yum-Yum
Jerry Telfer
Amy Lucido as Yum-Yum

It started out like a typical community theatre musical, kind of lackluster, some good actors and singers, some mediocre, the set very Japanese but everyone dressed for Guys and Dolls. It was the Point Richmond Masquers Playhouse production of The Hot Mikado, a swing era rewrite of Gilbert & Sullivan. For the most of the first act I was in and out, occasionally nodding. The band was flat and non- ensemble with no drummer (!?). The choreography seemed uninspired. There was a good barbershop-like harmony at one point. There is one truly impressive baritone, a couple of pretty girls, one a guy who had great moves, but pretty unmemorable all around.  

Then, about three-quarters through the first act, Debra Harvey came out, an African American woman in a blonde wig and full kimono and with a gospel/swing voice, hitting low notes I couldn’t get to get to, and she rattled the windows and shook up the show. The energy infected everyone on stage, the play came alive, the choreography jumped, the acting became perfectly comic, and the play ramped up like the price of gold in 2007.  

If you can wait out the first part, it’s worth it, because it becomes Broadway-worthy at successive intervals. 

The set by Bruce Lackovic is quite good, with sliding Japanese shoji screens and a large upstage oval gateway in counterpoint to downstage cabaret tables as if this were happening in a 30’s Jazz Club. The band is onstage but their presence does not detract from the stage picture. The costumes by Jo Lusk are colorful, larger than life, perfectly period, and award-worthy. Shanti Davis adept choreography for non-dancers picks up nicely in the second act. The musical direction by David Howitt was uneven in casting and accompaniment, but the pros he chose carry the show. Ellen Brooks direction moves the actors well, and allows the experienced the latitude to express themselves; more coaching is probably needed in a community theatre production from directors for the less experience actors.  

The principals Steve Beecroft as our hero Nanki-Poo who will gladly trade a month of happiness for a certain beheading to marry his beloved Yum-Yum played by Amy Lucido fulfill the lovers’ roles with aplomb.  

Memorable moments:  

  • Coley Grundman as a Stan Laurel-like Koko in a duet of “Tit-Willow” with Debra Harvey,
  • Anthony Lucido’s (Pish-Tush)versatile jazz riffs in his tenor and his athletic dance moves,
  • anytime Gill Stanfield (Pooh-Bah) sing (stiff in his acting, but when he opens his mouth!),
  • Katie Francis (Pitti-Sing) combination of dance and song in the right style,
  • Kimberly Miller’s posing like a “Vargas Girl” in counterpoint to a musical number, and her dancing in general,
  • the imposing figure of The Mikado, played by Keith Stevenson, reminiscent of Sheldon Leonard’s Harry the Horse in Guys and Dolls, with a British accent, and sung is an amazing voice in perfect fusion of G&S Light Opera and this swing version.
Gilbert & Sullivan wrote The Mikado in 1885, and placing it in exotic, faraway Japan, a country with which the British public was then fascinated, was only a ploy to place to disguise the parody of British politics of that time. The characters' names in the play are not Japanese names, but rather (in many cases) English baby-talk or simply dismissive exclamations. For instance, a pretty young vocalist is named Pitti-Sing; the beautiful heroine is named Yum-Yum; the pompous officials are Pooh-Bah and Pish-Tush; the hero is called Nanki-Poo, baby-talk for "handkerchief" (Wikipedia, The Mikado). 


Adapted by David H Bell 

from The Mikado by Gilbert & Sullivan 

Through December 17th 

The Masquers Playhouse 

105 Park Place,
Point Richmond, CA 

(510) 232-4031./ www.Masquers.org 


Director Ellen Brook, Musical Director David Howitt, Set Design Bruce Lackovic, Choreography Shanti Davis, Costume Design Jo Lusk, Lighting Design Ellen Brooks, Props Linda Ellinwood. 


WITH: Sean Beecroft. Steve Beecroft, Laura Domingo, Pam Drummer Williams, Katie Francis, Bob Galagara, Coley Grundman, Debra Harvey, Kelly Lotz, Amy Lucido, Anthony Lucid, Kimberly Miller, Gill Stanfield, Keith Stevenson. 


John McMullen is a member of the Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle, American Theatre Critics Association, and Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers. Editing by EJ Dunne. 


Theater Review: David A.Moss in 'Cracked Clown' at the East Bay Media Center

By Ken Bullock
Friday November 18, 2011 - 09:06:00 AM

"I'm so glad you came to see me ..." 

Turning on the ebullient charm of the seasoned performer, David Moss smiles broadly at the spill-over crowd in the East Bay Media Center, seemingly welcoming them, more than a little unctuous ... 

But quickly it's apparent that only the face is Moss'; the figure standing before us is the personification of crack cocaine, the greeting to Moss himself, alone except for his obsession and its specter in a motel room ... 

Playing it half as a joke, half in deadly—vicious—earnest, the figure of crack rubs it in to his victim that he knows "you love me" and what that exacts: "See that smoke? That's your soul." 

Then paranoia in a motel room: "Hide me in the Bible!" 

And all the ghosts, the demons of a life leading up to the moment of attempted escape flash before Moss' eyes—and ours. 

Retrieving memories—some very funny; others sad, even pathetic—Moss succeeds in that great histrionic search—he makes time stop, onstage and off. Mixed in with observations, declarations, running gags and repetitions of gestures, behavior, he parses out a life that questions itself, having run aground. The mood swings become part of the stagecraft—'way up, and 'way, 'way down ... The dynamics of 'Cracked Clown' can be vertiginous. Moss isn't just the clown, he's an aerialist, a contortionist, the whole circus. 

Acting out a plethora of characterizations, from caricatures to well-rounded portraits, Moss morphs from himself and his tormentor to his younger self, to that kid's GI Joe action doll ("a POW" when confiscated at school), his "nine-foot tall German teacher with purple lips" ("Ever see anybody who has purple lips who ain't dead?"); his alcoholic—and increasingly sympathetic—black father, condemned to drink "not because he married my [white] mother, but because he had a country name ... he had to wake up every morning and say, 'Goddam! My name's Elwood! I need a drink!'"); his "white—Catholic!—stepfather," another alkie, who takes it upon him to show his stepson how badly the world can treat someone of color ... 

And taking it up a notch, Jesus, a little plastered at the wedding in Cana, complaining about having to turn the water into wine ... "I'm not an alcoholic; I'm a Christian!" Moss cries out in an epiphany—for somebody else. 

"Half-white, half-black—what does it mean? My first car was a Cadillac with a gun-rack in back!" 

David Moss has been acting in plays—the last I saw him in: 'War Music' at ACT, in which he was vigorous, mercurial, arresting—and gigging around the Bay and elsewhere in stand-up comedy for years now. In this, his most personal performance, he brings the same intensity to playing himself, acting out his own thoughts and obsessions as he's brought to great roles, both comic and dramatic on the stage—to Malvolio; to Mack the Knife, to an American muslim held as a terrorist in Central Works' 'Enemy Combatant.' 

This isn't something easy. Exactly the point of Moss' play: the real person you are is hard to catch, never to be impersonated. 

He's performed 'Cracked Crown' before, most recently in August at the Media Center, to sold-out crowds, which provoked his return over two nights last weekend. He'll be doing it again before long, somewhere around here—and it should be seen. It's an unusual solo show, more intense, thoughtful and funny that most. And it's funniest in places where most unexpected. And in the midst of hysterical humor, Moss turns on a dime to confront the most sobering of realities. Then laughs! 

The East Bay Media Center has presented four live performances recently, according to co-founders Mel Vapour and Paul Kealoha Blake, and there're hopes of many more, plus screenings, discussions—and a remodeling, or at least, rearrangement of the house. A sometimes neglected community gem, surrounded by more recognized venues of different sorts, the EBMC is one with maximum integrity and intensive usefulness, on Addison near Milvia "at the frontier of the Berkeley Arts District," as Vapour puts it with a smile.

Around and About Theater

By Ken Bullock
Wednesday November 16, 2011 - 02:23:00 PM

Around & About Theater: 'Rumi x 7' in Oakland; Beckett's 'Endgame' & 'Watt': Dublin's Gate Theatre in Berkeley; Virago's 'Shoot O'Malley Twice' at Stagewerx 

—Translations of the medieval Persian poet and Sufi figure Jalaluddin Rumi have rivaled the record of Edward Fitzgerald's translation of 'The Ruba'iyat of Omar Khayyam' as the most popular book of poetry published in English. Rumi's longest poem, 'The Masnavi,' is told in great part by stories, illustrating what spiritual points he wanted to get across with secular folkloric color, often wry humor. 

Golden Thread Productions—whose annual ReOrient festival of one act plays on the Middle East has been produceded in Berkeley—has joined forces with the Islamic Cultural Center of Northern California in Oakland to stage seven of Rumi's tales, like "The Elephant in the Dark" and "The Grammarian and the Boatman," in modern theatrical styles featuring clown and Commedia shtick by Hafiz Karmali, a splendid director, as the first in a series of programs he'll direct over the coming three years, entitled Islam 101—this Friday night at 7:30, Saturday at 3:30 and 7:30, at the Center, near the Main Library in downtown Oakland, staged in the sumptuous ceremonial hall of this old Masonic building, all in Moorish Revival style, just over a century old. 1433 Madison at 14th—kitty-corner from the Main Library—downtown Oakland. $10-$20. 832-7600; iccnc.org; goldenthread.org (There's also an exhibit of Rumi-related artwork at the Cultural Center.) 

—Cal Performances is presenting "the other Dublin theater" besides the Abbey, the venerable Gate Theatre, founded in 1928 as purveyor of European modern drama while the Abbey presented an Irish repertory. Orson Welles, James Mason and Michael Gambon all cut their teeth as actors on the Gate's stage. In the '90s, the Gate presented the first-ever complete retrospective onstage of Samuel Beckett's plays, and also gave Harold Pinter's dramatic work its first comprehensive retrospective. 

The Gate will play Beckett's greatest stage work, 'Endgame,' preferred by the author to his 'Waiting for Godot,' and a staging of passages from his early novel 'Watt,' both featuring famed, acclaimed Beckett interpreter Barry McGovern. 'Endgame' (directed by Alan Stanford) plays at 8 on Friday and Saturday, and at 3 on Sunday; 'Watt' (directed by Tom Creed) plays at 2 on Saturday, 8 on Sunday. (Thursday's show featuring both productions is sold out.) Zellerbach Playhouse, behind Zellerbach Auditorium on the UC Berkeley campus. $32.50-$65. Box office open 12-5 weekdays, 1-5 weekends, & an hour before shows. 642-9988; calperfs@berkeley.edu 

—"A child's game, played by dissolute adults" is how Bay Area playwright Jon Brooks' ('Better Than Hitler,' 'Catcher in the Rye Cancelled,' 'The Opposite of Romance') new play 'Shoot O'Malley Twice'—premiered by Alameda's Virago Theatre Company at Stagewerx 433 in San Francisco's Mission District—has been described ... What starts out with the New York Giants and the Brooklyn Dodgers and ends up with "predestination, alternative realities, race relations, Robert Moses, quantum mechanics, besides baseball," is acted out in a sleazy hotel room by characters like psychic Billy Future and the Savannah Kid. Directed by Angela Dant. Thursdays through Saturdays at 8, through November 26. 433 Valencia, between 15th & 16th, San Francisco (not, as per a previous listing, on Sutter Street). $15-$25. 832-7600; viragotheatre.org—

Eye From the Aisle: THE CHALK BOY at IMPACT---Go See Four Very Good Actresses

By John A. McMullen II
Monday November 14, 2011 - 05:33:00 PM
Chris Quintos, Maria Giere Marquis, Luisa Frasconi, Caitlyn Tella
Chesire Isaacs
Chris Quintos, Maria Giere Marquis, Luisa Frasconi, Caitlyn Tella

Truth be known, when you pass the big six-oh, sleep doesn’t come easy. Six am the eyes click open like some crazy baby doll and there is no rolling over to snooze. The tension –filled job, a world of worry, and the double espressos don’t help. By 8:30 pm dozing sets in. Not great for a theatre critic, but if my anecdotal observation is true, I seem to be the median age of the average theatre-goer, so it’s a good barometer. And when you see two or three plays per week, often one’s concentration slips, “watcher-fatigue” sets in, and the mind wanders. Thus, if I don’t doze, if I am rapt throughout, it is a good barometer of the quality of the production and performance.  

At IMPACT THEATRE on a Thursday I was not bored for a moment and completely engaged with the performances in THE CHALK BOY by Joshua Conkel. Four talented young women, vastly unlike one another physically, temperamentally, even in vocal timbre, take an interesting but young playwright’s work and give us insight into the world and worries of high-schoolers in this early 21st C.  

A classmate has disappeared, and he’s the most popular, cutest boy in the school. The disappearance of young men has been a regular, if sporadic occurrence in a small Northwestern town. The women’s involvement with Jeff Chalk, real or vicarious, is a pivot point of the play. Christianity, witchcraft, homoerotic love, vicious gossip and vindictiveness, preemptive spreading of rumors and reputation busters, the shifting friendships and allegiances of BFFs are all in play here. 

Luisa Frasconi is the in-denial rebel looking for love. I’ve lauded this new actress’s performance in Impact’s “Romeo & Juliet”; she captures the eye and has never failed to give a shining performance. Maria Giere Marquis plays the Christian moral and scholastic exemplar with her own secrets; she shone in “Of Dice and Men,” and her transformations of character make you shake your head to remember it’s the same actor. Newcomer to Impact Caitlyn Tella delivers a cinematic naturalism that doesn’t happen often on the stage; portraying the would-be lover of the rebel girl in the throes of her first lesbian crush, it’s hard to take your eyes off her. Chris Quintos is the whining girl with that teenager drone, and does it so well and true that you want to smack her; she ping-pongs between vulnerability and emotional disconnect which is seemingly true of young women in this confusing time. Her comic portrayal of a snuffling wreck of a teacher with coke-bottle glasses is a blend of just real enough and caricature to invest your imagination and make you laugh.  

The direction of Ben Randle in that band-box of stage underneath the pizza joint is easy and apt with no false moments of staging. He does not seem to have interfered with their natural talent and expression. 

It is a bare set of a few hardback chairs, and backpack full of props. The green chalk boards lining the walls on which the women mark the play’s progress is a brilliant device, whether concocted by the playwright or the director. Monochromatic wavy special projected effects periodically are used well to translate dream states/drugged states that come straight from the experience of near-psychotic anxiety or chugging a bottle of Robitussin. 

The writing is episodic and gives the women a template to revisit all the vicissitudes of adolescence they have recently graduated from. Most translations of female teenage angst in our culture are often cartoonish, from “Heathers” to “Mean Girls” to after-school specials. Only occasionally do we get a “Girl, Interrupted” foray into the stress of going through that confusing chrysalis. And too seldom are their circumstances investigated in the theatre. Young playwrights writing for young audiences is a genre Impact embraces, and their offerings are most absorbing and less pretentious than most new drama. More six-oh folks should go up to Euclid off Hearst and eat pizza, drink beer, and find out what’s in the minds of young folks these days. 

THE CHALK BOY by Joshua Conkel runs Thu-Sun through December 10 

Impact Theatre performs at La Val's Subterranean, 1834 Euclid, Berkeley 


John A. McMullen is a member of SFBATCC, ATCA, SDC. Edited by E J Dunne.

Don't Miss This after Thanksgiving

By Dorothy Snodgrass
Monday November 14, 2011 - 04:30:00 PM

With Thanksgiving less than two weeks away, many of us are thinking Turkey, cranberries and pumpkin pie. Sadly however, the term "Thanks" has given way in recent years to "Spend", with department stores remaining open all day, followed by "Black Friday" -- an oxymoron if ever there was one.
Despair not, friends -- there are a host of heart warming and traditional holiday programs awaiting your pleasure through November and into January, as you'll see from the list to follow.  

Unless you're "Nutcrackered" out, you may want to see the S.F. Nutcracker Ballet, Dec. 9 - 27 at the War Memorial Opera House. From the ornate drawing room of a Victorian home to the dazzling halls of the 1915 Panama Pacific International exposition. (415) 865-2000.
"The Christmas Ballet: Beyond Belief", Smuin Ballet, Lesher Center for the Arts, Nov. 26, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. (925) 943-7469.
"Hot Mikado", Masquer's Playhouse, Richmond, Fridays and Saturdays through Dec. 17, also 2 p.m. Nov. 20 and Dec. 4. $20. (510) 232-4031.
"The Velveteen Rabbit", a tale of love, loyalty and hope. Novellus Theatre, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Nov. 25 - Dec. 11. Tickets start at $15. (415) 678-5956.
"The Soldier's Tale", based on Igor Stravinsky's 1918 musical, directed by Tom Ross, through Dec. 18. 1/2 price tickets for people under 30. (510) 843-4822.
Shen Yun (an exhilarating show of classical Chinese dance and music) Jan. 3 - 8, S.F. Opera House. (888-633- 6999).
Dunsmuir-Hellman House, a 37-room Italianate revival mansion. The Hellman family lived there for several decades. Dec. 3 -4, 10-11, and 17-18. 2960 Peralta Court, Oakland. (510) 615-5555.
Holidays at Ralston Hall Mansion, 1860's Italianate Villa, now the campus of Notre Dame de Namur. Nov. 20, tickets $45-50. (650) 508-3501.
"The Laramie Project", a docudrama that explores the murder of a gay college student in Wyoming. Cal State East Bay, Hayward, Nov. l8-l9, 8 p.m. and 2 p.m. Nov. 20. (510) 885-3118.
"Fella," an ecstatic phenomenon, radiating joy, with Shawn "Jay-3" Carter. Curran Theatre, Nov. 15 - Dec. 11. (888) 746-1799.
Christ the King Annual Holiday Boutique, Sat. Nov. 19, 1 p.m. - 7 p.m. Sun. Nov. 20, 7 a.m. - 2 p.m. 199 Brandon Rd. Pleasant Valley.
"A Christmas Carol" , Charles Dickens' definitive yuletide tale. Previews begin Dec. 1. Runs Dec. 6-24. American Conservatory Theatre, 418 Geary St. S.F.
(415) 749-2228.
Contra Costa Ballet (another Nutcracker!) Dec. 1, 7:30 p.m., Dec. 2 ,4:30 and 7:30. p.m. www.Contracostaballet.org.
Finally, if you're not keen on preparing a big dinner, you can have a Thanksgiving Feast at the Claremont Hotel for a mere $89. (Children free!)