The Week



Fire Hits Great China Restaurant in Downtown Berkeley

By Scott Morris (BCN) and Planet
Thursday January 26, 2012 - 04:06:00 PM

A fire badly damaged a Chinese food restaurant on Kittredge near Oxford in downtown Berkeley on Wednesday night, Berkeley fire officials said. -more-

Press Release: Alameda County Bans Bags, Mandates Recycling

From Jeff Becerra,
Thursday January 26, 2012 - 10:20:00 AM

Yesterday the Alameda County Waste Management Authority (ACWMA) adopted two ordinances that will help the county achieve its long-term waste reduction goals. The first ordinance requires recycling of high market-value materials from larger businesses and multi-family properties. The second ordinance prohibits free distribution of single-use bags at check out in stores that sell packaged food. The initiatives are designed to reduce waste and litter, stimulate the local economy and create jobs. -more-

New: The Tea Party, Planning and Democracy(Part One)

By Zelda Bronstein
Wednesday January 25, 2012 - 10:08:00 AM

[Editor's Note: This is the first part of a two-part news analysis which explores some unexpected synergies between Tea Party protesters and progressive opponents of planning policies which are perceived as anti-democratic. Part 2 will appear on Friday.]

Most people regard meetings about regional planning, if they regard them at all, as soporific, PowerPointed affairs frequented by policy wonks. But on January 11, I attended a regional planning workshop in Dublin that was anything but dull. That’s because protesters from the East Bay Area Tea Party showed up along with some “fellow travelers” and nearly took the evening over. Their appearance was no surprise. -more-

New: Two Arrested as Suspects in December Berkeley Shooting

By HannahAlbarazi/JeffShuttleworth (BCN)
Wednesday January 25, 2012 - 10:31:00 AM

Police arrested two teens suspected of injuring two people in a daytime shooting in Berkeley last month, police said. -more-

Press Release: Study Shows Restored Wetlands Rarely Equal Condition of Original Wetlands

By Robert Sanders, UC Berkeley Media Relations
Wednesday January 25, 2012 - 10:45:00 AM

Wetland restoration is a billion-dollar-a-year industry in the United States that aims to create ecosystems similar to those that disappeared over the past century. But a new analysis of restoration projects shows that restored wetlands seldom reach the quality of a natural wetland. -more-

New: Ghosts of the Past: Blake's Re-opening on Telegraph Avenue as Pappy's--a Happy, If Haunted, Reminder of Berkeley's Past

By Ted Friedman
Wednesday January 25, 2012 - 09:54:00 AM
Sleek new lookout at Pappy's, Saturday, retains Blake's view of the Avenue, but not from tables.

Ghosts of Berkeley's Blake's past happily haunt us on Telegraph Avenue.

Don't expect a chronology here, but ever since I can remember, Larry Blake's on upper Teley, has been closing and re-opening. Re-opened once more as Pappy's Bar and Grill, Saturday, it is more Blake's than ever, thanks to "smart" Alex Popov, who runs Smart Alec's next door. -more-

Berkeley's Out as UC Chooses Richmond Site for LBNL

By Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Monday January 23, 2012 - 12:33:00 PM

The University of California announced today that it has chosen a site in Richmond as the preferred home for a second campus of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, which the university manages. -more-

Flash: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Chooses Richmond!

Monday January 23, 2012 - 09:42:00 AM
Proposed Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Design for Richmond Field Station Site

The Planet received this email this morning, forwarded by Richmond Councilmember Tom Butt:

I received a call this morning from Paul Alivasatos, Director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, informing me that they have decided to make the Richmond Field Station and the City of Richmond the home for their second campus.

I would like to thank the Richmond City Council for their enthusiastic support for this important economic development project, the many City of Richmond staff members who worked to provide technical support in the decision-making process, and the Richmond community for providing the warm welcome mat that was undoubtedly a major factor in their decision.

I will provide more details as they become available. In the meantime, please enjoy this great bit of news and let's look forward to continued success.

Bill Lindsay

[Richmond] City Manager

Further details will be available later today.

View Larger Map -more-

Press Release: LBNL Announces Choice of Richmond Field Station for Expansion Site

From Jon Wiener, LBNL
Monday January 23, 2012 - 09:50:00 AM

The University of California announced today that it has identified the Richmond Field Station as its preferred site for the proposed consolidation of its biosciences programs of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab). The University of California-owned site presents the best opportunity to solve the Lab’s pressing space problems while allowing for long term growth and maintaining the 80 year tradition of close cooperation with the UC Berkeley Campus. -more-

Occupy Cal is Back

By Steven Finacom
Thursday January 19, 2012 - 09:17:00 PM

As rain moved into the Bay Area for the first time since—when, November of last year?—Occupy Cal did in fact re-emerge on the UC Berkeley campus.

January 18, 2012, the second day of classes for the Spring semester, saw two illicit banners hung from campus buildings. The most prominent, a long, colorful streamer apparently painted on plastic and bolstered with wood at top and bottom, hung down the west face of the Sather Campanile. -more-

New: Richmond Leads in Transportation Choices - Circular Shuttle and Easy Go Richmond

By Councilman Tom Butt, Richmond
Sunday January 22, 2012 - 11:04:00 AM

Two pioneering and largely free transportation programs providing shuttles, electric car rentals, bicycle sharing, van sharing, kid’s cab service and 40% off transit passes are now up and running in Richmond, dramatically increasing access to transportation and transportation choices to persons previously transportation challenged.

The FREE Richmond Circular Shuttle began operation through its service provider- TransMetro, Inc. on July 1, 2011. The service is funded through the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, and can be accessed within a five mile radius to multiple health facilities and clinics, pharmacies, businesses, recreation, residential communities, and employment centers for those traveling to and from the El Cerrito Del Norte and Richmond Intermodal BART stations. -more-

Press Release: AC Transit Chooses New Bus Rapid Transit Director

From Clarence Johnson AC Transit Media Affairs Manager
Monday January 23, 2012 - 09:50:00 AM

AC Transit today announced the hiring of a veteran transit engineering expert to head the agency’s Bus Rapid Transit Program. Arul Edwin, who has successfully managed similar transportation projects from Boston to Seattle, is now the Program Director for a BRT plan that will modernize and improve East Bay bus service. -more-

Press Release: Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life to Open in Downtown Berkeley

By Kathleen Maclay,UCB Media Relations
Friday January 20, 2012 - 12:51:00 PM

The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life at the University of California, Berkeley’s Bancroft Library, the latest addition to the city’s burgeoning downtown arts and culture district, is opening to the public on Sunday, Jan. 22. -more-

Squeaky Wheels on Telegraph Bring Down the Heat

By Ted Friedman
Thursday January 19, 2012 - 09:02:00 PM
Urban Strider can't wait to eat the store, now that's he's won a month's pig-out in a drawing.

On the way back from a photo shoot, Friday, at Pepe's pig-out , an all-you-can-eat near campus, I stumbled into a civic meet-on-the-street. The street was Telegraph Avenue, known throughout the world for riots and weird. -more-

My Palm Springs Adventure (First Person)

By Dorothy Snodgrass
Friday January 20, 2012 - 03:45:00 PM

Those of us fortunate enough to live in the wonderful, vibrant Bay Area tend to dismiss, indeed look down on other towns and cities in our Golden State. This is a totally incorrect perception, as I hope to prove in the account of my trip to Palm Springs last week. On January 9th, along with 27 members of the Emeryville Senior Center, we met in the parking lot of the old City Hall, and boarded a bus, with driver Greg and a very efficient tour director, Mary Soo-Hoo. Our destination was Palm Springs -- a ten hour trip given rest stops along the way and lunch in Fresno. Driving through the Mojave Desert we arrived at the Hyatt Regency Hotel on North Canyon Drive, too weary for dinner. Ah, but the next morning we woke to brilliant sunshine and had our first glimpse of this beautiful city with its Spanish Colonial architecture and massive Mount San Jacinto mountains in the background, to say nothing of row after row of soaring palm trees. -more-

Johnny Otis, Raised in Berkeley, Dies at 90

Friday January 20, 2012 - 04:35:00 PM

Berkeley's own Johnny Otis died yesterday at the age of 90. His Greek-American family ran a corner grocery store in an African-American Oceanview neighborhood, and young Johnny fell in love with Black culture, especially music, and joined up for the duration. Here's a good obit: from the Chronicle. -more-



Would a Fourth Term for Mayor Bates Make Berkeley "The Best It Can Be?"

By Becky O'Malley
Friday January 20, 2012 - 10:57:00 AM

This week I was sorting through the voluminous boxes of paper that came home when we closed the office a couple of years ago and I ran across a handsome glossy brochure headed “MAKING BERKELEY THE BEST IT CAN BE” with subhead “To Do List”. It featured 5 sincerely charming photos of Tom Bates, whose signed statement on the outside describes the document as “my ‘to do’ list for making Berkeley a healthy, vibrant, and green city.”

In fact, it was Bates’ 2008 campaign mailer, sent to every voter in Berkeley, a majority of whom bought his Kool-Aid and re-elected him to a third term.
Since today’s rumor mill reports that Mayor Bates, now almost 73, has decided to run again, in tandem with his wife Loni Hancock’s decision to seek another state senate term, it might be a good time to evaluate his performance using his own checklist. He’s been in office close to a decade now, so he’s had his chance to accomplish something if he’s ever going to. .
Here are his goals (in italics) followed by grades: -more-

The Editor's Back Fence

THIS JUST IN! New Lab to Be Build on UC Berkeley's Richmond Property!

Tuesday January 24, 2012 - 11:31:00 AM

The giant whoop-de-doo over Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory's decision to expand its bioscience research to U.C. Berkeley's Richmond Field Station is mind-boggling. Front page headline in the metro daily! Dog Bites Man--Read It Here!

What's mysterious is why such a fuss was made in the first place with purported consideration of other sites, given that the university already owned this obviously perfect site. The only explanation that makes sense is that it's The Planners' Full Employment Stimulus Program, given that hundreds of thousands of dollars were expended on fancy video-enhanced bids that, rightfully, should never have had a chance.

What if—just what if—the powers that be at the two UC-related players had simply announced that "we own a lovely site down by the bay, and we're putting our new labs there"? Period.

Who could cavil? Just sayin'. -more-

Want to Run for Mayor of Berkeley? MoveOn Wants You!

Monday January 23, 2012 - 12:20:00 PM

Yes, yes, I know the email from MoveOn reprinted below is just a fill-in-the-blanks template, and not a comment on the state of the city here in Berkeley, but it makes you think, doesn't it? Anyone up for the challenge? Just click on the links below and see what happens!

The part about making "sure city employees don't lose their pensions" might not resonate the same way with all of us, of course.....

From Kat Barr, Political Action
If you were mayor of Berkeley, what would be the first thing you'd do? Make sure city employees don't lose their pensions? Support green business startups? Or maybe fight back against cuts to crucial local services?

This isn't just a hypothetical scenario—it's exactly what more than 4,000 MoveOn members just like you have been thinking about since taking the first step to run for elective office. And they're not just running for mayor. They're exploring running for offices including school board, town council, and state legislature in cities and towns across the country.

If you've ever thought, "I've got some ideas for doing things differently in Berkeley," or seen a local politician and thought, "If that were me, things would be different," then it's time to join thousands of other progressives across the country and run for office. -more-

Public Comment

New: Self Immolations and Tibet

By Tenzin Dorjee
Thursday January 26, 2012 - 09:17:00 AM

The Mayan prophecy that the world will end in 2012 has spawned hundreds of books, films, plays and satires. Although the public fascination with apocalyptic stories does not necessarily translate into real belief, I admit to secretly subscribing to an alternative vision of a 2012 apocalypse—one where the world is cleansed of tyranny, colonialism, and totalitarianism. -more-

New: Jerusalem Concert by Children's Orchestra Cancelled by Israeli Government Action

By Samia Nasir Khoury
Tuesday January 24, 2012 - 09:20:00 AM

Friends and family who know me well know how I would love to hibernate in winter. I am just not a winter person, and I would never contemplate stepping out of the house on a rainy day, especially these days when my falls have become unpredictable. Last Sunday seemed to be a nice sunny day, but by noon it turned to be a very rainy and wet day. The Jerusalem children’s orchestra of the Edward Said National Conservatory was scheduled to perform at the Cultural Palace in Ramallah, and the next day at the National Theatre in Ramallah. I already made up my mind to go the next day to Jerusalem and avoid the drive through Kalandia where the road ends up more like a river when the heavy rains fall. But alas the last minute the concert in Jerusalem was cancelled because the children from the West Bank were not granted permits. -more-

Welcome Back Streicher!- The Alabama-Arizona Immigration Laws Recall 1935 Germany

By Jean Damu
Tuesday January 24, 2012 - 09:21:00 AM

Is Kansas Secretary of State, Kris Kobach, he who roams the nation promoting vicious anti-immigration laws and ordinances a latter day Julius Streicher? -more-

One Person, One Vote (Except in Berkeley)

By the Occasional Curmudgeon*
Tuesday January 24, 2012 - 08:32:00 AM

The Curmudgeon Light was shining on the side of the Campanile the other night, my signal from Planet Editor Becky O’Malley that she wanted me to check in after she’d gotten copies of some emails I’d sent to councilmembers.

“Write something satirical, Curmudge,” Becky ordered, referring to the stultifying subject of voter redistricting, the process of redrawing election districts that follows every decennial census. But how can you be funny about something like redistricting? -more-

There's More to Tobacco Story

By Carol Denney
Tuesday January 24, 2012 - 12:03:00 PM

Thank you for Gar Smith’s excellent and detailed review of Addiction Incorporated (Addiction Incorporated: The Other Insider 1-17-2012 ) at the Shattuck Cinemas.

The tobacco industry’s manipulation of the public, cigarette additives, and the scientific community is still going on, and this movie does a great job of telling whistleblower Victor DeNoble’s insider story of doing research at Philip Morris like the great suspense thriller it is.

But the film leaves out a big part of the tobacco story – the dogged, dedicated citizens, parents, public health professionals, policymakers, teachers, casino workers, truck drivers, musicians and others who continue to fight ordinance by ordinance, city council by city council, for clean air despite the billions the tobacco industry spends to try to thwart common sense public health policy. -more-

Happy New Year, Berkeley--The Chickens Have Come Home to Roost

By Jim Fousekis, Berkeley Budget SOS
Tuesday January 24, 2012 - 08:35:00 AM

For the last several years, Berkeley Budget SOS has attempted to focus our City government on the realities of Berkeley’s financial crisis; unfortunately, our pleas for fiscal reality and transparency have fallen on deaf ears. During 2011, most Berkeley City leaders appear to have remained deluded by the comments of Councilman Laurie Capitelli, who proclaimed “We are in better fiscal shape than virtually any other jurisdiction in the Bay Area and I would suggest even California”. The fallacy of that comment was repeatedly evident last year. The chickens have indeed come home to roost. -more-

OAKLANDERS BEWARE: Mini-lot Development Coming to Neighbor's Yard or Vacant Lot Next to You

By Bob Brokl
Friday January 20, 2012 - 01:30:00 PM

Our MacCall St. neighbors group lost the $1400 appeal over a mini-lot subdivision, a vacant lot at 5919 MacCall where formerly there was a single family home. Two 1,452 sq. ft., two story buildings on the substandard 4,140 sq. ft. lot where 5,000 sq. ft. would be required were approved at the Residential Appeal Committee Jan. 11. Two of the 3 commissions, Jonelyn Whales, a City of Richmond planner recently appointed by Quan, and Blake Huntsman, a SEIU rep and Dellums appointee, heard the appeal. Both followed the staff recommendation, made no modifications, and peremptorily voted us down. (We're assuming the proposed project at 4812 Lawton in Temescal—check out is also a mini-lot development.) -more-


DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE: The U.S., Indonesia & The Times

By Conn Hallinan
Tuesday January 24, 2012 - 10:59:00 AM

Why is the New York Times concealing the key role that the United States played in the 1965 coup in Indonesia that ended up killing somewhere between 500,000 and 1 million people? In a story Jan. 19—“Indonesia Chips Away At the Enforced Silence Around a Dark History”—the Times writes that the coup was “one of the darkest periods in modern Indonesian history, and the least discussed, until now.” -more-

New: WILD NEIGHBORS; The Short but Intense Life of the Tidewater Goby

By Joe Eaton
Wednesday January 25, 2012 - 09:47:00 AM
The endangered and California-endemic tidewater goby.

Watching a predator eat an endangered species is always awkward. Should you intervene? Yell, wave your arms, throw things? I went through that train of thought a couple of years ago as a great blue heron and a great egret ate their way through the California red-legged frog population of a small stock pond at Point Reyes. -more-

MY COMMONPLACE BOOK: (a diary of excerpts copied from printed books, with comment added by the reader.)

By Dorothy Bryant
Tuesday January 24, 2012 - 11:26:00 AM

“ . . . how much easier it is to let the mind, rather than the body, do the traveling. No tickets or schedules, no borders, no passports. Thought is the one thing that remains free no matter what changes outside the head.”
Not Now Voyager (2009), Lynne Sharon Schwartz, (contemporary writer) -more-

ECLECTIC RANT: Precedent-Setting Human Trafficking Case

By Ralph E. Stone
Friday January 20, 2012 - 03:38:00 PM

When most people think of human trafficking, they envision victims trafficked into the international sex trade. But consider the complaint filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center in the class action case of Mairi Nunag-Tañedo, et al. v. East Baton Rouge Parish School Board, et al. , filed in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles under the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), 18 U.S.C. §1589, et seq.

The Plaintiffs in this case are 350 Filipino teachers who were recruited by Universal Placement International, Inc. located in Los Angeles and PARS International Placement Agency located in Quezon City, Philippines, to work in Louisiana public schools.

From 2006 to the filing of the lawsuit in 2010, the defendants recruited experienced Filipino teachers to work in Louisiana public schools under the H-1B guestworker visa program. Most of the teachers had to borrow money to pay the recruiting fees, which ranged from $5,000 to $5,500. This is about one and half times the average annual income in the Philippines. The teachers were not told until after the first fee had been paid that they would be required to pay the first three months of their projected salary before they could leave for the United States. The first two months was collected in advance. The third month's salary was to be collected after the first year of employment. If the teachers resisted paying the third month's salary, they were threatened with being sent back to the Philippines and losing the thousands they had already paid. -more-

THE PUBLIC EYE: America’s Mobility Problem

By Bob Burnett
Friday January 20, 2012 - 12:38:00 PM

2012’s dominant political will be jobs and income inequality. Recent studies suggest that we add social mobility to the list: an American born into poverty is increasingly unlikely to be able to move up and out. -more-

WILD NEIGHBORS: Careful, the Snake Might Hear You

By Joe Eaton
Friday January 20, 2012 - 01:00:00 PM
A little cello music for the ball python?

I’ve lived with a ball python named Shep for something like eight years, and all that time I’ve assumed he was effectively deaf, as snakes were supposed to be. He has never seemed to respond to music, even to bass lines (in contrast to Matt the cat, who leaves the room when fiddle music is in progress.) We all know that the Indian snake-charmer routine works because the cobra responds to the flute-player’s movements, not the sound of the flute. -more-

SENIOR POWER: Food as metaphor

By Helen Rippier Wheeler
Friday January 20, 2012 - 01:13:00 PM

When my parents separated in 1931, my mother moved to a suburban apartment. Some of the furniture and I accompanied her. Shanin the landlord was busy with his principal business— collecting and shipping boatloads of scrap metal to Japan. On the first of each month, his agent, an amiable woman with a withered arm, knocked on his buildings’ apartment doors to collect the rents and to chat. -more-

My Commonplace Book (a diary of excerpts copied from printed books, with comments added by the reader.)

By Dorothy Bryant
Friday January 20, 2012 - 01:06:00 PM

Spiritualists believe in personal immortality as far as any mortal can believe in such an unimaginable horror.

— George Bernard Shaw(probably from the preface to Back to Methuselah or another of his late, long, never-performed plays) -more-

Arts & Events

New: AROUND & ABOUT MUSIC: Berkeley Symphony This Thursday: Debussy, Dutilleux, Shostakovich

By Ken Bullock
Tuesday January 24, 2012 - 12:03:00 PM

Berkeley Symphony, directed by Joana Carneiro, will perform another engaging program of modern orchestral music, featuring works of Debussy, Henry Dutilleux and Shostakovich, this Thursday at 8, preceded by a talk at 7:10, at Zellerbach Hall on the UC campus, near Bancroft and Telegraph. -more-


By Ken Bullock
Wednesday January 25, 2012 - 05:22:00 PM

Tom Stoppard's 'Arcadia' at Actors Ensemble; John O'Keefe at Theatre of Yugen, free, on Sunday Only; Ragged Wing Ensemble performs 'A Fool's Errand' -more-

Don't Miss This

By Dorothy Snodgrass
Tuesday January 24, 2012 - 11:31:00 AM

Hooray and Hallelujah! The New York Times recently rated Oakland as one of the world's top tourist destinations in 2012 because of its stellar restaurants and bars. We knew that. For a year Bay Area Photographers have been documenting First Friday's diverse and eclectic audiences in a show, "Portraits from Oakland." This show can be seen through Feb. 18 at PHOTO, 473 25th Street, Oakland. (510) 847-2416. -more-

Stagebridge Mounts New Play by Joan Holden at Berkeley's Ashby Stage, Opening Feb. 3

By John A. McMullen III
Friday January 20, 2012 - 05:10:00 PM

The year Reagan was elected, I saw my first SF Mime Troupe show, which was written by Joan Holden:Americans, or Last Tango In Huahuatenango, a musical comedy of tropical and topical intrigue. Little did we know what evil would lurk in the next 8 years in Central America.

A decade later—though I saw many more by Joan Holden in between—I saw Back To Normal, in which a mother does not cheer when her son comes home from the two week bombing raid we called the Gulf War. In retrospect that work augured more war evil to come in the decade to follow.

Whether or not she has a touch of the Sybil or can just read the writing on the wall a decade in advance, Joan Holden, whose latest play opens in Berkeley at the Ashby Stage on February 3, has been a force in the theater and, as principal playwright, was a significant reason why the Mime Troupe garnered a Tony for Best Regional Theater. -more-