The Week



Updated: Berkeley Council Considers Redistricting and New Location for Meetings

By Becky O'Malley
Tuesday January 17, 2012 - 08:33:00 AM

Tonight's Berkeley City Council meeting, the first for 2012, has a few controversial items which might bear watching, either streamed tonight or in video form tomorrow. We’ll try to check out what happens, and if there are any truly dramatic moments we’ll post a video excerpt for your amusement.

First up is a public hearing on neighbors’ appeal to the Zoning Adjustment Board’s approval of the big Parker Place development proposed for the current Berkeley Honda dealership site on South Shattuck.

UPDATE ON WEDNESDAY MORNING: Developers Ali Kashani and Mark Rhoades got their permits after accusing the neighbors of being chronic litigants, for which they the developers were roundly scolded by some councilmembers. -more-

Gunpoint Holdup at Berkeley Chevron Station in the Claremont Neighborhood

Tuesday January 17, 2012 - 05:08:00 PM

Berkeley Police have reported that the Chevron service station at the corner of Ashby and Domingo was held up at gun point about two o'clock this afternoon. The gunman, described as a Hispanic male in his teens wearing a grey hooded sweatshirt, black pants and a black mask, fled on foot. -more-

Bay Bridge Closed Over President's Day Weekend, Starting Night of February 17

By Patricia Decker (BCN)
Tuesday January 17, 2012 - 05:01:00 PM

The upper deck of the Bay Bridge will be closed over Presidents Day weekend to make way for construction, bridge officials announced today. -more-

DISCLOSE Act Moves Through Assembly

By Richard Knee
Friday January 13, 2012 - 07:47:00 PM

The Assembly Elections and Redistricting Committee gave a 5-0 thumbs-up Monday to the California DISCLOSE Act (Assembly Bill 1148), which would require political ads on the web, radio and TV, and in print to identify who paid for them. -more-

Press Release: Mountain Lion Sighting Reported--Tips on Safety

From UC Berkeley Police
Friday January 13, 2012 - 09:04:00 AM

On Tuesday, January 10, 2012 at approximately 10:14 p.m., there was an unverified sighting of a mountain lion on top of a dumpster at the Smythe-Fernwald apartment complex. In December, 2011 UCPD received a report of an unverified sighting of two mountain lions running north on Lawrence Road toward Glaser Road at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory. Last year several sightings of mountain lions occurred in the hills above the Berkeley campus and carcasses of animals suspected to have been attacked by mountain lions were also discovered. -more-



Serving the Citizenry Should be the Goal of Berkeley Mayor's Staff

By Becky O'Malley
Friday January 13, 2012 - 05:42:00 PM

Who does the Mayor of Berkeley serve? The city charter provides for a “weak mayor” form of government, with the mayor theoretically having not much more power than an extra at-large councilmember who presides over meetings and cuts ribbons at civic events.

Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates, schooled in the ways of politics by 20-some-odd years in the state legislature and married to the former mayor, has made the most of the job. He is adept at squeezing every possible perk out of the job, though he can’t accept direct pay for his work without losing his state of California pension.

What he does have, and exploits to the max, is a great big city-paid office staff, huge considering what the mayor is supposed to be doing under the charter. When his wife had the job, she increased the staff head count from one (like all the other councilmembers) to four FTEs. They’re well-paid by the city of Berkeley—with 2010 salaries alone totaling close to a half-million dollars, before benefits, which in Berkeley are famously generous.

(These figures come from the San Jose Mercury’s Public Employees Salaries Database—but the city has refused to disclose how much is paid out in benefits despite repeated requests.)

What does the Mayor’s staff do for the citizens of Berkeley, exactly? -more-

The Editor's Back Fence

Updated: Berkeley City Council Cancels Redistricting Despite Receiving Six Viable Plans from Citizens

By Becky O'Malley
Tuesday January 17, 2012 - 11:18:00 PM

Well, folks, I just wanted to tell you that I've now watched what must rank as the single most disgusting display of hypocrisy in the close to 40 years I've been watching the Berkeley City Council in action. The council majority, comprised of former-Progs and former-Mods now allied to deceive the citizens as often as possible, employed specious semantics to claim that keeping a couple of thousand citizens from voting for city council in the upcoming election was not really "disenfranchising" them.

I suggest that when Wikipedia comes back up all of these self-righteous pseudo-pedants should check out the meaning and usage of the term.Until then, plain old Merriam Webster will have to suffice:

"to disenfranchise: to deprive of a franchise, of a legal right, or of some privilege or immunity; especially : to deprive of the right to vote." Seems clear to me.

The worst among them was Councilmember Darryl Moore, who defiled the sacred memory of the civil rights movement (Yes, Darryl, I was there—where were you in 1962?) to suggest that it's really okay to deprive some people of their vote for some kinds of offices some of the time.

No, it's not.

Residents were asked to submit plans, and six good plans, any of which would meet the requirements of the Berkeley City Charter, were submitted. But the council majority seized on the excuse provided by a proposal supported by a subset of student pols to postpone redistricting until a charter amendment changing the rules can be devised and passed.

Surely this will happen sometime soon. As Woody used to sing, there'll be pie in the sky by and by.

And while they wait for this blessed day, some number of thousands of voters, including a couple of thousand students, will be deprived of the right to vote for the councilmember who will represent them. But that's not disenfranchisement? Give me a break.

Anyone who has kept their eyes on the prize knows that the real purpose of this delay is to give the council majority time to figure out a way to shove most campus-area students into a single district, thus knocking off the two remaining genuine progressives on the council. Worthington and Arreguin depend on student votes to retain their seats, and their homes could even be cut out of the districts they now represent if lines are redrawn as Councilmember Wozniak proposes.

Wozniak clearly hopes to be left with an all-homeowner District 8, making an even safer seat than he now enjoys. But even homeowners, even comfortable Elmwood homeowners, might eventually get tired of this kind of naked gerrymandering. As might the constituents of the hypocritical Councilmember Moore, who is up for election this November.

This is one council performance that anyone who cares about good government, whether Prog, Mod, Radical, Liberal or just plain old Democrat, should watch. Here it is:

Get Microsoft Silverlight -more-

Berkeley Business in the News

Saturday January 14, 2012 - 11:01:00 PM -more-


Odd Bodkins: The Giraffe Suit (Cartoon)

By Dan O'Neill
Thursday January 19, 2012 - 05:11:00 PM

Bounce: That Ship Has Sailed (Cartoon)

By Joseph Young
Thursday January 19, 2012 - 05:18:00 PM

Public Comment

Will Berkeley City Council Consider Real Alternatives to West Campus Council Chamber Site?

By Katherine Harr
Monday January 16, 2012 - 09:35:00 PM

Tonight, Tuesday January 17, the Berkeley City Council will review the staff report on “alternate” locations for City Council meetings. Alternate to what? The corner of Browning and Addison – the residential side of BUSD’s West Campus property.

As the DP wrote, "West Campus is relatively far from the action, and would probably impede rather than facilitate citizen attendance at meetings—but perhaps that’s the rationale behind what appears to be the current plan."

Unfortunately, the report doesn’t provide much in the way of facts or details, and two of the three leading locations identified in the report have many of the same problems that West Campus does: The Longfellow School and NB Senior Center are both in residential areas not well served by late-night transit.

Yet so far the only opposition has been from those of us likely to be dismissed as NIMBY ROBOTS, the neighbors. -more-

How Do We Handle Industrial Evil?

by Gar Smith
Tuesday January 17, 2012 - 05:54:00 PM

"What does it matter to us? Look away if it makes you sick"

— Heinrich Himmler in response to complaints about Auschwitz

They conspired to murder millions with lethal gases. They plotted to seek out and kill children. When challenged about what they had done, they lied, they covered up, they tried to silence their critics. They ranked among the country's wealthiest executives. They are the officers of the US tobacco industry. -more-

Mic Check! Occupy the Courts Jan 20: beginning 8:00 AM in Oakland; noon in SF.

By Christina Tuccillo and Phoebe Anne Sorgen
Wednesday January 18, 2012 - 12:18:00 AM

For excellent reasons, dozens of organizations and hundreds of thousands of people support the need for a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United v Federal Election Commission Supreme Court ruling of Jan. 21, 2010 and prior anti-democratic SCOTUS rulings that a corporation is a person and that money is speech. A Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 80% of Americans oppose the Citizens United ruling, and a Harris poll found that 87% think big companies have too much influence in Washington.

The Occupy Berkeley General Assembly reached consensus twice to support two local Jan. 20, 2012 "Occupy the Courts" actions organized by members of Move to Amend, Occupy Oakland, and Occupy SF. These are outdoor, permitted protests: -more-

Letters to the Editors

Friday January 13, 2012 - 06:10:00 PM

Kamlarz Rip-Off -more-

The Other Gray-Haired Brigade

By Roger O. Blais
Friday January 13, 2012 - 07:02:00 PM

A self-described patriotic friend recently sent me a letter entitled, “The Gray Haired Brigade". He apparently believed I would be receptive to its suggestions that, “You have tasted socialism and seen evil face to face, and have found you don’t like it after all”, and “We didn’t fight for the Socialist States of America, we fought for the ‘Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave’”.

I told my friend I am not threatened by the U.S. Postal Service, Social Security, the National Guard, U.S. Marshals, our National Parks Service, the FBI or public schools. That’s the socialism I have tasted.
I explained that my wife and I are both military veterans, and our son is currently serving in Naval Special Forces. We place our hands over our hearts when saying the words, “With liberty and justice for all”. To us, “all” refers to Americans regardless of religion, race, color, income, sexual orientation, or health conditions. -more-

Worldwide Candlelight Vigil to Unite Movements for a Better World--
MLK, Jr. Birthday, January 15, 7pm

By Kenn Dzaman
Friday January 13, 2012 - 06:38:00 PM

On his birthday and in the spirit of Dr. King’s vision for racial and economic equality, peace, and non-violence, we are holding candlelight vigils at 7pm in each time zone to unite our world in a global movement for systemic change. On January 15, wherever we may be, whether in our homes, in city squares, online, Occupies, places of worship, or at work, we lift a beautiful message high above the political dialogue. We light the dream of a more equitable world in our hearts. We can overcome! -more-

No Birth Control for America's Last Wild Buffalo!

By Sandy Sanders
Friday January 13, 2012 - 07:43:00 PM

Papers across the country are revealing horrific plans by the USDA-Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service to sterilize members of America's last wild buffalo population, the beloved herds of Yellowstone country. -more-


THE PUBLIC EYE: The Republicans' Mitt Romney Problem

By Bob Burnett
Friday January 13, 2012 - 09:06:00 AM

After Rick Santorum’s surprising showing in the January 3rd Iowa caucuses, many observers asked, “Why didn’t Mitt Romney win? What explains Santorum’s late surge?” The answer lies at the core of contemporary Republican politics: they don’t have one candidate that appeals to their fractured base. -more-

ECLECTIC RANT: Occupy Groups Move to End Corporate Personhood, Restore US Democracy

By Ralph E. Stone
Friday January 13, 2012 - 09:10:00 AM

January 21st marks the second anniversary of the infamous January 21, 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case, where the Supreme Court held that the First Amendment prohibits government from placing limits on independent spending for political purposes by corporations and unions. In other words, money equals speech. Move to Amend is planning occupations and rallies on January 20th to protest this Supreme Court decision. -more-

SENIOR POWER… The crime of the 21st century

By Helen Rippier Wheeler
Thursday January 12, 2012 - 07:32:00 PM

Many of the nation's fast-growing, elderly population are prime targets for abuse — physical, financial, sexual or emotional. Concern among the elderly and their advocates mounts as the number of seniors soars and more of them live longer. The Cedar Village Retirement Community in the Cincinnati suburb of Mason has opened a long-term care facility to victims of abuse. It is the first elder abuse shelter in Ohio and one of only a half-dozen in the country. All are funded by non-profit groups. -more-

Arts & Events

Around & About Chamber Music: The Israeli Chamber Project at the Berkeley City Club, Tuesday January 24

By Ken Bullock
Sunday January 22, 2012 - 03:47:00 PM

The Israeli Chamber Project--Tibi Cziger, clarinet; Michael Korman, cello; Sivan Magen, harp; Assaff Weisman, piano; Itamar Zorman, violin--will play Bartok's 'Contrasts'; Brahms' Clarinet Trio in A minor, Opus 114; Paul Ben Haim's 3 Songs Without Words for Harp & Clarinet; Shostakovich's Piano Trio No. 1 in C minor; and Sebastian Courier, Night Time for Harp & Violin, at 8 pm, Tuesday, January 24, Berkeley City Club, 2135 Durant. $12.50 (post-high school students), $25 general, students high school & below, free. 525-5211;

Around & About: The Edwardian Ball

By Ken Bullock
Wednesday January 18, 2012 - 10:20:00 AM

Long a San Francisco and Bay Area tradition, costume balls and masquerades have often been an integral part of theatrical events, like the SF Opera's Black & White Ball. -more-

Clerestory 'Resolutions'--Choral Music for the New Year

By Ken Bullock
Tuesday January 17, 2012 - 11:18:00 PM

Clerestory, men's choral group--the name comes from "clear cathedral windows that let in sunlight" (Middle English, clear + story)--opens its New Year Bay Area concerts with 'Resolutions,' "A kaleidoscope of favorites" of the group's first five years, from early Renaissance through English choral music to modern American composers (including Eric Banks, Paul Crabtree and Steven Sametz), this Saturday evening at 8 at the Chapel of the Chimes, 4499 Piedmont Avenue in Oakland. Other Bay Area concerts follow, concluding with a Sunday matinee on the 29th in San Francisco, presented by the Noe Valley Chamber Music series. -more-

Theater Review: Ghost Light at the Berkeley Rep

By Ken Bullock
Tuesday January 17, 2012 - 05:55:00 PM

"What kind of son internalizes that curse? If we solve the ghost, we solve the play."

A 14 year old boy watches color TV onstage ... sitcoms of the 70s: Mary Tyler Moore, The Bob Newhart Show ... An interruption, and close-up of a young Dianne Feinstein, President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, announcing Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk have been shot—and that the suspect is Supervisor Dan White

The boy leaps up. He's Moscone's son Jonathan, the dead mayor's youngest child.

The date is November 27, 1978. -more-

Addiction Incorporated: The Other Insider
Opens January 20 at the Shattuck Cinemas

Reviewed by Gar Smith
Tuesday January 17, 2012 - 05:50:00 PM
Director Chris Evans, Jr. and whistle-blower Victor DeNoble

In the 1999 movie, The Insider, Russell Crowe starred as Jeff Wigand, a former tobacco industry researcher for Brown & Williams, who dares to reveal the dangers of nicotine to Berkeley-based 60 Minutes producer Lowell Bergman.

This week, Berkeley-grad Charles Evans Jr.,'s Addiction Incorporated hits the Big Screen to tell a parallel story of Philip Morris researcher Victor DeNoble, the whistleblower whose revelations triggered the Congressional hearings and class action lawsuits that forever tarred the reputation of Big Tobacco. -more-

Around & About Theater: Community Theater Openings—Actors Ensemble of Berkeley, Masquers Playhouse, Altarena Playhouse

By Ken Bullock
Wednesday January 18, 2012 - 10:16:00 AM

A big weekend for local community theaters--three will open new shows on the 20th: -more-

EYE FROM THE AISLE: Theater Review: GHOST LIGHT at Berkeley Rep

By John A. McMullen II
Sunday January 15, 2012 - 09:45:00 AM
Rep, Danforth Comins and Christopher Liam Moore (right)

When I first heard that Jon Moscone was the new artistic director of Cal Shakes, my brain went “Moscone? Any relation?” When I found that he was, it always set me to wondering in the way we wonder about John-John and Caroline and other scions of assassinated good-guys. -more-