The Week

Chief Meehan, Thursday night, at Northside hills murder forum--winning hearts and minds.
Ted Friedman
Chief Meehan, Thursday night, at Northside hills murder forum--winning hearts and minds.
 

News

Updated: The Deal's Gone Down [maybe]: Oakland's Angstadt Reported to be Berkeley's New Planning Director

By Becky O'Malley
Monday March 12, 2012 - 03:41:00 PM

UPDATE at 7: Well, not so fast. When we raised the question in the public comment period that preceded today's special 5:30 Berkeley City Council meeting, councilmembers roundly denied that Oakland's Eric Angstadt already had a lock on the city's director of planning job. -more-


Statements from City Manager and Police Chief

Saturday March 10, 2012 - 11:42:00 PM

Editor's note: These statements were published on the berkeleyside.com blog at 2:30 on Saturday afternoon. After I wrote to the city manager at 5.58 p.m. asking why they were never sent to the Planet, we received a copy at about 6:15. While city staff is brushing up on media etiquette, someone might take the time to compile a press list through which they can release information to all media outlets at the same time. -more-


Berkeley Hills Murder Update: Raucous North Side Mob Charmed by Berkeley Police

By Ted Friedman
Friday March 09, 2012 - 04:26:00 PM
Chief Meehan, to right, 3rd, taking the heat Thursday night at community meeting on Hills murder. Officer White, left; Dispatch supervisor Lauborough, middle

Berkeley police representatives charmed an initially raucous mob assembled at Northbrae Community Church Thursday night to discuss last month's murder in the hills. -more-


Watch Out for Whales in the Bay

By Scott Morris (BCN)
Friday March 09, 2012 - 04:24:00 PM

At least one gray whale was spotted in San Francisco Bay near Alcatraz Island again today, and the U.S. Coast Guard is alerting boaters of the location of whales so that mariners can steer clear, a Coast Guard officer said.

There have been several whale sightings in the Bay over the last several days, including a mother and a young calf, as whales are migrating from breeding areas near Mexico to feeding areas near Alaska, officials from the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary said.

This morning at least one gray whale has been seen near Blossom Rock, a submerged rock near Yerba Buena Island. -more-


Opinion

Editorials

Downtown Berkeley To Be Re-Jiggered for the Benefit of Some

By Becky O'Malley
Friday March 09, 2012 - 08:19:00 AM

Don’t know why I keep doing this, but I did it again—watched the Berkeley City Council meeting online—and friends, the news is not good. The councilmembers, with a couple of semi-exceptions, continue their inexorable march toward re-shaping downtown Berkeley in the image of Manhattan.

The putative excuse is Measure R. About two-thirds of the Berkeley residents who showed up at the polls a couple of years ago were suckered into voting for Measure R with no real understanding of what it entailed. The slick professional campaign to rezone downtown Berkeley was funded by, among others, the biggest downtown apartment owner, Equity Residential, which is owned by the notorious Sam Zell, now reputed to be back in the real estate market after his disastrous fling with being a media mogul, which left the Chicago Tribune and the L.A. Times in ruins. To its eternal embarrassment, the too-often-fooled Sierra Club lent its good name to the Zell enterprise for a glossy mailer which probably tipped the scales, tricking infrequent voters who weren’t aware of who was actually behind the measure.

The new Downtown Plan is billed as the implementation of Measure R. -more-


The Editor's Back Fence

Berkeley Police Chief Sends Sergeant (Armed) to Reporter's Home at Midnight to Complain about a Story

By Becky O'Malley
Saturday March 10, 2012 - 08:45:00 AM

Now here's one that's truly unbelievable, but it seems to have happened. It appears that Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan ordered Sergeant Mary Kusmiss to go to Bay Area News Group reporter Doug Oakley's house at 12:45 a.m. to complain about errors in a story he'd just filed about Meehan's appearance at the North Berkeley forum which discussed the recent hills murder. Here's the story:

http://www.insidebayarea.com/top-stories/ci_20143269/berkeley-police-chiefs-decision-send-sergeant-reporters-home

To his home? After midnight? What could the chief have been thinking? And what was Mary Kusmiss thinking? Couldn't she have talked him out of it? She works Monday through Thursday, and technically this incident was early Friday morning, when she too should have been home in bed. -more-


Berkeley Police Story Goes Viral

Sunday March 11, 2012 - 10:31:00 AM

The ruckus about the midnight visit that reporter Doug Oakley received from the Berkeley police's public information officer has been widely discussed. Here it is on ABC TV: -more-


Updated: Berkeley Council Will Meet in Closed Session on Monday to Consider New Planning Director, Labor Negotiations

Friday March 09, 2012 - 04:49:00 PM

The Berkeley City Council will meet in a special closed session on Monday, March 12, at 5:30 P.M. in the Cypress Room at City Hall, 2180 Milvia Street, 1st Floor to consider two topics, hiring a new director of planning and ongoing labor negotiations. The Brown Act, the state law about open government, permits these topics to be considered in closed session because they are personnel matters, exempt from the usual open meeting rules. However, the public may comment before the session on these topics.

First, the council will consider and possibly act on filling the key position of Director of Planning for the City of Berkeley. As of Friday afternoon, according to Councilmember Kriss Worthington, even council members had not been informed about who the choice might be, if indeed a choice has been made by the Acting City Manager. A public comment period will precede the meeting, but since the name or names of the candidate or candidates has not been revealed, the public might find it difficult to provided meaningful input into the council's decision process.

Saturday morning update: The chosen candidate is now rumored to be Eric Angstadt, currently listed on the city of Oakland website as Deputy Director of Community & Economic Development in Oakland's Community & Economic Development Agency.. Oakland readers, what do you know about him?

The second topic might engender even more public comment, since it is scheduled to involve participation of Police Chief Michael Meehan, now under heavy criticism because he sent an officer to a reporter's home after midnight early Friday morning in an effort to get a story changed.

It's billed as a conference with labor negotiators Christine Daniel, Interim City Manager, David W. Hodgkins, Director of Human Resources, Teresa Berkeley-Simmons, Budget Manager, Margarita Zamora, Senior Human Resources Analyst, Michael Meehan, Chief of Police, Mark Zembsch, Deputy City Attorney, Margaret Edwards, Associate Human Resources Analyst. and employee organizations IBEW Local 1245; Public Employees Union, Local One; and SEIU Local 1021, Community Services and Part-Time Recreation Leaders Association, Unrepresented Employees, Berkeley Police Association.

Citizens who have opinions on what should be done on either front are encouraged to come at 5:30 and speak their minds. -more-


Cartoons

Odd Bodkins: Rhat Cat is Dead (Cartoon)

By Dan O'Neill
Friday March 09, 2012 - 04:18:00 PM

Bounce: 'lectric Footprint (Cartoon)

By Joseph Young
Friday March 09, 2012 - 04:22:00 PM

Public Comment

Downtown for the 1%?

By Stewart Jones
Friday March 09, 2012 - 01:12:00 PM

We are poised to be an international center for the development of new environmental technologies… That opportunity grew with the award of a $500 million biofuels research center to UC Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Lab two weeks ago.

—Mayor Tom Bates, February 2007

Mr. Li, a humanitarian leader and visionary, acts upon the values that emanate from his own life.

—UC Chancellor Robert Birgeneau, October 2011

Of course you have noticed Berkeley’s two new high tech research laboratories looming over Oxford Street, at Hearst Avenue — one on the UC Campus and one in the Downtown. Even though they are big buildings they remain mostly a mystery to everyone. -more-


Next Downtown Plan Hearing Will Be March 13

By Martha Nicoloff, former Planning Commissioner
Friday March 09, 2012 - 03:01:00 PM

Tuesday’s hearing on the down town area plan at the City Council was continued until March 13 because of public interest. The following statement was presented to Council members : -more-


Columns

FIRST DRAFT: Contraception: The New American Soap Opera

By Ruth Rosen
Friday March 09, 2012 - 01:30:00 PM

For weeks, bewildered Americans have witnessed politicians debate whether or not contraception should be covered by President’s Obama’s new health care plan. On March 1, after some of the most bizarre theatrical antics remembered in this nation’s political history, the U.S. Senate finally interrupted this surreal soap opera with a cliff hanger. By only two votes, they defeated an amendment that would have allowed religious employers to refuse to pay for the contraception of their employees. -more-


THE PUBLIC EYE: Four Lies About America’s Energy “Crisis”

By Bob Burnett
Friday March 09, 2012 - 01:06:00 PM

Oil prices are escalating and Americans soon may pay $5 for a gallon of gasoline. This grim fact has not escaped the notice of politicians. America’s latest energy crisis has prompted heated rhetoric from Republicans and Democrats. Here are four lies that have been bandied about. -more-


ECLECTIC RANT: The Privacy Implications of Facial Recognition Technology

By Ralph E. Stone
Friday March 09, 2012 - 08:19:00 AM

By using facial recognition software, a law enforcement agency can use its video surveillance system to pull an image of an individual, run that image through the database to find a match, and identify the person. It can pick someone's face out of a crowd, extract the face from the rest of the scene and compare it to a database of stored images. -more-


WILD NEIGHBORS:A Choice of Owls

By Joe Eaton
Friday March 09, 2012 - 02:23:00 PM
Does the northern spotted owl face extinction by assimilation? Credit:

Last week I wrote about a new proposal by the US Fish and Wildlife Service to study the impact of the barred owl on the endangered northern spotted owl by experimentally removing, lethally or otherwise, barred owls from selected sites where the two species overlap. The barred owl, a common and widespread Eastern species, has invaded the range of its close relative and appears to be displacing it in some areas. The two owls are interbreeding, raising concerns that the spotted owl may be genetically swamped by the larger, more fecund, and more adaptable barred owl. -more-


SENIOR POWER: The Little Red-Haired Girl

By Helen Rippier Wheeler
Friday March 09, 2012 - 01:47:00 PM

(The Little Red-Haired Girl is an unseen character in the Peanuts comic strip by Charles M. Schulz, a symbol of his unrequited love.) -more-


ON MENTAL ILLNESS: The Despair That Fuels Noncompliance

By Jack Bragen
Saturday March 10, 2012 - 08:29:00 AM

Even when ill with a physical disease, most people without a mental illness take for granted the normal functioning of their physical bodies and their comfortable presence in their environment. Most people have no concept of living in the misshapen world created by medication side effects. Antipsychotic medication creates a continuous suffering that I will try to describe for you. -more-


Arts & Events

Around & About Theater: CalShakes Dramaturge Phillipa Kelly at Commonwealth Club

Friday March 09, 2012 - 01:47:00 PM

Berkeley resident and CalShakes Dramaturge--and author of 'The King & I,' about her lifelong fascination with 'King Lear'--Philippa Kelly will speak next Tuesday, March 13 at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, 6-7 p. m., "Only Connect: Dramaturgy & Shakespeare's Living Theatre,' on theater and how "we pick up the fragments of our lives, make momentary sense of what has happened to us; how theater comforts us in grief and gives us merriment, as well as those moments of passion we use to define our lives." Actors Anna Bullard and Daniel Heath will read relevant lines from Shakespeare, and Cal Shakes artistic director Jonathan Moscone will converse with Philippa. 595 Market, San Francisco. $7-$20. commonwealthclub.org or 597-6000 -more-