Opinion

Editorials

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. -more-


The Editor's Back Fence

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.

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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. -more-


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. -more-


Cartoons

Cartoon Page: Odd Bodkins

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

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. -more-


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. -more-


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. -more-


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, -more-


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”. -more-



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). -more-


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. -more-


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

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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? -more-


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. -more-


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. -more-


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: -more-


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: -more-


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. -more-


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. -more-


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 ...

http://stevelimages.tumblr.com/


Additional pics ...

https://picasaweb.google.com/101309416971895678042/OccupyOakland11Nov2011 -more-


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.” -more-


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.” -more-