A woman who died in a fire at a multi-unit Berkeley home early this morning has been identified as 26-year-old Meredith Ann Joyce, according to the Alameda County coroner's bureau. -more-
A woman was killed and two others were injured in a two-alarm fire at a multi-unit Berkeley residence early this morning, fire officials said.
Firefighters responded to the 2900 block of Lorina Street, a residential street near the intersection of Ashby and Shattuck avenues, at 2:36 a.m. -more-
In a prelude to a possible wrongful death lawsuit, the widow and two sons of a Berkeley homeowner who was killed by an allegedly mentally ill intruder in February filed a claim against the city of Berkeley today. -more-
An Alameda County Superior Court judge was arraigned today on charges that he stole at least $1.6 million from a 97-year-old neighbor in the Berkeley hills over the course of more than a decade. -more-
New: Berkeley Congresswoman Lee and Colleagues Hail Move by Obama to Defer Deportation for Some Undocumented Immigrants
Bay Area officials today hailed a move by President Barack Obama to provide temporary relief from deportation to undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children.
Among those voicing their support for the new policy today were elected officials from San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon to U.S. Reps. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo and Barbara Lee, D-Oakland. -more-
Disputed Berkeley Ban on Street Sitting to Go to Voters as Fur Flies, Temperatures Rise, and Rhetoric Rolls Through City Hall
Tuesday's Berkeley City Council six-hour donnybrook turned ugly, the most rowdy in years, according to council watchers. -more-
An independent report released today said the Oakland Police Department was poorly prepared and used outdated crowd control tactics in responding to an Occupy Oakland protest last Oct. 25. -more-
The Coalition for a Safe Berkeley will ask the City Council on this Tuesday, June 19, to bring police practices in line with constitutional standards. The Council will hold an historic workshop on protecting civil rights and civil liberties in local law enforcement. Following the workshop, the Council will vote on changes proposed by community groups. -more-
Rally for a Nuclear-Free California will take place on Tuesday, June 18th, 2012, at 6:00 PM on the steps of Old City Hall, 2134 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way, in Berkeley, prior to the Special 7:00 PM Berkeley City Council Meeting. The rally, sponsored by the Berkeley Peace and Justice Commission, will include Daniel Ellsberg, of Pentagon Papers fame, Eco-philosopher Joanna Macy, Dan Hirsch of the Committee to Bridge the Gap, Jacqueline Cabasso of Western States Legal Foundation, and Bob Meola of the Berkeley Peace and Justice Commission. -more-
Press Release: Ecology Center Farmers' Market Brings Fresh, Local Foods to New South Berkeley Location
This summer, the Ecology Center's Farmers' Markets will increase access to fresh, healthy foods by moving its South Berkeley market to the historic Lorin District. The farmers' market will debut at the new location - in the parking bay at Adeline and 63rd Street - on Tuesday, July 10th, from 2:00pm to 7:00pm. -more-
Copyright © 2012 by John Curl. All rights reserved.
This is the first in a series of excerpts from John Curl’s long article about Mayor Bates and his effects on the city. The bulk of the article follows Bates and the progressive movement in city government from the beginning of his career up to the present, based on extensive quotes from Bates’ own oral history and interviews with other players in the political events. This excerpt consists of the beginning and the end of the article.
You can also download a Full PDF. of the entire article.
If you meet with mayor Tom Bates in his office at Berkeley city hall, you’ll see an old photo on the wall behind him of Emiliano Zapata, hero of the Mexican revolution, champion of the downtrodden. I have been in his office only two times in Bates’ decade in power, and on both occasions I was stopped short by the jaw-dropping contrast. What can Bates be thinking? Can he really be comparing himself with Zapata, can he really think of himself as a visionary champion of social justice? If Zapata were alive and saw this career politician using his image, I wonder what would he do.
If all you knew about Mr. Bates was his official resume, you might be bewildered by my saying that. Before his decade as mayor, he was a liberal standard bearer for twenty years in the California State Assembly for his East Bay district, and during that time was considered one of the legislature's most progressive members. Yet despite being in the public eye for over forty years and currently running for yet another mayoral term, Tom Bates is a public figure hiding in plain sight, with a long shadowy history not widely known. -more-
Les Radke died suddenly on the evening of Saturday, April 21st. Les’s interests and involvements spanned the world. He had a strong belief in the power of friendship and solidarity exemplified by his unusual ability to bring people together. Les was a small town kid from Sheboygan, Wisconsin who stepped out to engage the world in all its complexity and diversity. He was passionate about justice and equality. His lifelong commitment to a socially just world, and his generosity are well known to anyone who ever came in contact with him. -more-
Lois Swirsky Gold, a political scientist who became a self-taught expert on the toxic and carcinogenic effects of chemicals, died May 16 at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, Calif., after a brief battle with cancer. Gold, a resident of Oakland, was 70. -more-
In almost every culture gangs of street thieves work this scam:
One gang member approaches the victim and picks a fight with him over some trivial matter. While the victim is busy dealing with this assailant, another gang member sneaks up from behind and lifts his wallet from his back pocket. Happens all the time, all over the world.
At Tuesday night’s City Council meeting it suddenly occurred to me that this is what’s going on in Berkeley right now.
There’s an election in November. A number of citizens are incensed about a variety of topics—the list is long and getting longer:
- the push to rezone West Berkeley for the benefit of big landowners;
- a chronic shortage of affordable housing
- the University of California’s increasing colonization of the city’s downtown;
- diversion of public funds from infrastructure maintenance (pools, streets, sidewalks, sewers) toward extravagant pensions for executives in the city bureaucracy;
- lack of sunshine in city government;
- use of bond funds for purposes not revealed in the ballot measures which authorized them;
- a “downtown plan” which breaches CEQA and makes it easier to destroy historic buildings;
- and that’s just for starters….
Could there be a better time for Tom Bates and his cronies to pick a fight with civil libertarians and homeless service providers and their clients over sitting on the sidewalk? Those in charge have been picking the public pocket in a variety of ways, but if they raise enough of a ruckus over the annoying behavior of hapless homeless and wayward youth perhaps we citizens won’t notice. -more-
A Berkeley City Council Worksession on Police Department agreements is scheduled for 5pm-7pm, June 19, 2012 at Old City Hall, followed by a Special Meeting at which the Police Department agreements will be considered for action by the Council.
One of the recommendations is from the Berkeley Police Review Commission which calls for the Council’s approval of the Police Department agreements with the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center (NCRIC) and the Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI). NCRIC is coordinated with the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. -more-
I was born and raised in Memphis. One of the stigmatizing aspects of growing up in the American South and especially Memphis was knowing that its place in civil rights history was that MLK was killed there. On the other hand, as a kid, I was consistently given the impression that Berkeley was a bastion of freedom given its involvement in the Free Speech Movement to allow college students the right to advocate against segregation.
However, as a Berkeley graduate student these days, I find myself more and more convinced that perhaps Memphis today is a better friend of free speech and civil rights than Berkeley. Memphis still has an ongoing Occupy encampment. Berkeley does not. Memphis has a thriving Tea Party community that invited Occupiers to debate with them. I don't see that many debates like that today in Berkeley.
In any case, what really is convincing me that Memphis is freer than Berkeley these days is the possibility of a no sit no lie ordinance. While sitting public officials may contend this ordinance is not intended to block free assemblies such as sit-ins and sleep-ins, who knows what future government officials will do. This is a clear violation of our first amendment right to freely assemble. -more-
It has become fashionable in recent times for criminals to claim that they have a disorder that made them do the crime for which they are charged. Doing this is a temptation for a person who has committed a crime and who hopes to avoid their due punishment. -more-
It is apparent that The Berkeley Chamber of Commerce and other Private interests have some huge funding to
spend on a very costly ballot initiative that will not solve the core problems of: -more-
Nobel Laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz characterizes the Spanish bank bailout as “voodoo economics” that is certain “to “fail.” New York Times economic analyst Andrew Ross Sorkin agrees: “By now it should be apparent that the bailout has failed—or at least on its way to failing.” And columnist and Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman bemoans that Europe (and the U.S.) “are repeating ancient mistakes” and asks, “why does no one learn from them?” -more-
A fog of doom and gloom has descended over the Left Coast. I was out of the country for a couple of weeks and returned to find dispirited Lefties huddled in small groups, clutching their Chai Lattes, and muttering, “Mitt Romney is coming! Mitt Romney is coming!” Many of my homies believe it is inevitable that Barack Obama will not be reelected. Fear not Liberalles, Obama can still win. -more-
In February this year, Indiana became the 23rd state to enact a right-to-work law (RTW), the only RTW law passed in the last decade. Republicans generally favor RTW laws while unions and Democrats do not. RTW laws are geographical too. RTW states are clustered in the Southeast, covering every state from Virginia to Florida and west to Texas, and then north through the Great Plains to the Dakotas and into the Rockies. The West Coast and Midwest-to-Northeast Rust Belt, both traditional union strongholds, have remained non-RTW states. RTW states generally vote Republican while non-RTW states generally vote Democrat. -more-
People with mental illness are often more subject to aging than others. The average lifespan of persons with mental illness is sometimes ten to thirty years shorter than for others, and this is for a number of reasons. People with mental illness often receive a lower quality of medical care and at the same time take less care of physical health. Mortality comes sooner and often for preventable reasons. -more-
"It's a B-O-R-E when you find you've begun to rot." Katharine Houghton Hepburn (1907-2003), Bryn Mawr College alumna and actor who carried on until age ninety-six, said that. “First I smashed this ankle in an auto accident in '82, and after that I walked in a funny position. Threw out my back. I'll live forever, but I may not be able to move." And she opined, “There is a certain melancholy in seeing oneself rot. Life is hard. After all, it kills you. Isn't it fun getting older? is really a terrible fallacy. Like saying I prefer driving an old car with a flat tire.” -more-
My Commonplace book (a diary of excerpts copied from printed books, with comments added by the reader.)
The buzzard never says it is to blame. -more-
Arts & Events
Editor's Note: We are always pleased when two or more of our several excellent critics—who make their own assignments—chose the same production to review . These two couldn't be more different. Oh well, à chacun son goût. -more-
"Sometimes Truth is snuffed out by bombast." In the old salon of the Berkeley City Club, now of course a theater, a lady from the salons of the early 18th century introduces herself as Emilie, La Marquise Du Chatelet--and gasps for breath. She's dead, and throughout the play will narrate her remarkable life, with many asides. -more-
In 2010, Kyrgyzstan saw one of its films nominated for an Academy Award—a first for the small, landlocked Asian country. The Light Thief (now available on DVD from the Global Film Institute—see contact info below) is a soulful little film that captures critical moments in the lives of villagers in a small, wind-raked community at the feet of the Alai Mountains. -more-
Get out your engagement calendar, friends. You can't imagine all the great things happening in the bay area this summer -- art, drama, opera and movies, all richly deserving of your time and attention. -more-
New: AROUND & ABOUT THEATER: Inferno Theatre Community-Building Benefit June 23 at South Berkeley Community Church
Inferno Theatre, the small but impressive company founded just a couple of years ago by Giulio Cesare Perrone--perhaps best-known locally as a set designer and past administrator of the remarkable Dell'Arte School of Theater in Humboldt County--has staged his original plays about Galileo's theories and personal life ('Galileo's Daughters') and divine intervention in the all-too-human Trojan War ('The Iliad') at the City Club, in San Jose and elsewhere--and now in partnership with the historic South Berkeley Community Church--showing unusual care with the sets and props and the physical dimension of the acting. -more-
Writer-filmmaker Jannicke Systad Jacobsen sets the scene of her new film with an opening collection of desolate landscape shots from the outback of rural Norway accompanied by a voice-over from 15-year-old Alma: "Empty road." "Another empty road." "Empty road with tractor." "Stupid sheep." "Stupid hay." It's clear that Alma feels trapped in a small village that she would rather escape. It's also clear that Alma feels trapped in a body that's caught between youthful innocence and the emerging fever of primal lust. -more-