SENIOR POWER: A Senior Moment

By Helen Rippier Wheeler
Thursday October 04, 2012 - 04:28:00 PM

Beginning in June 2012, an invitation has been included in each Senior Power column:

All candidates for election are welcome to share statements of their accomplishments and plans vis a vis senior citizens and elders. Please email them to me…

And I sent individual invitations to candidates for Berkeley Mayor and City Councilmembers representing districts 2, 3, 5 and 6 in the November 6, 2012 General Municipal Election.

I received one statement. From Sophie Hahn, candidate for City Council, District 5, running against incumbent Laurie Capitelli. The City Election website indicates that she is currently a Zoning Commissioner, i.e. a member of the Zoning Adjustments Board. She recounts accomplishments and plans relative to the health, housing and transportation of our senior citizens.

None of the other, thirteen mayoral and councilor candidates provided statements. There were acknowledgments of receipt of Senior Power’s invitation from the offices of candidates Bates, Capitelli, Wengraf, and Worthington. 

What might be concluded from this? Several things, possibly… depending on your reading interests and skills, politics, income, and demographics— mainly age. And of course, depending on any regard you may or may not have for a Senior Power column and its writer. Is it possible that thirteen candidates consider that they have no accomplishments and plans related to senior citizens’ well-being?  

Of fourteen candidates for Mayor and four Council memberships, apparently there is one who is clearly concerned with seniors’ health, housing, and transportation. Sophie Hahn writes: 

“The diversity among Berkeley’s seniors reflects the diversity of our entire population. There is a wide variety of backgrounds and life experiences, of family and economic status. Berkeley needs to ensure that all seniors have adequate housing to meet their changing needs, and services to support them.  

Much of the housing built in the last few years in Berkeley has targeted our student population. I will work for more housing diversity, with developments appropriate for seniors and for families, close to public transportation and other amenities. Funding for affordable housing has been severely restricted at the State and Federal levels, so it’s up to local communities to find ways to support affordable housing. Council recently rejected an approach to obtaining funding for such housing – without even studying the proposal.  

As a result of ongoing budget deficits and less funding for AC Transit, fares have gone up and services have been cut. This has a disproportionate impact on seniors who often rely on public transit. I will advocate for increased funding for transit and against cuts that have a negative impact on seniors.  

Our parks, libraries, pools and other public amenities are important for all, and seniors in particular. I support the refurbishment of Berkeley’s pools, including the warm pool, and believe that with good management they can become profit centers for the City. As a member of the Public Library Foundation Board and Chair of the North Berkeley Committee for the Branch Libraries Campaign, I am actively involved in the refurbishment and expansion of our libraries. I believe a community must provide safe and well maintained parks, recreation facilities and other amenities to support the health – and happiness – of all residents, including seniors.  

Cuts to senior programs in Berkeley, including the closing of the West Berkeley Senior Center, are troubling. Cuts in critical safety net programs at the State Level – in-home supportive services and services that help the disabled – compound the problems seniors face. With tight budgets at the local level as well, the need for good government practices, pro-active, fact-based fiscal management and strategic resource allocation becomes even more important.  

Seniors value good government and good financial management, and want to know that tax dollars are wisely spent. But we cannot balance our budget on the backs of seniors and other vulnerable populations. We need to increase transparency around the city’s financial predicament, clarify our priorities and pull the community together to address our common future.” 



The 2012 United States elections will be held on Tuesday, November 6. The 57th quadrennial presidential election will be held on this date, coinciding with Senate elections where 33 races will occur, as well as House of Representatives elections to elect the members for the 113th Congress. This election year will also encompass thirteen state and territorial governors' races, many state and territorial legislature races, special elections, and various other state, territorial, and local races. Considerable Election Information is posted at the City of Berkeley’s website.  

California ranks 41st in state voter turnout. Election Day registration can considerably boost this dismal voter turnout. AB 1436 effectively address California's low voter participation rate through the creation of a conditional voter registration process, allowing citizens to register and vote at their local polling place on Election Day. This year, register to vote by October 22, 2012.  

The National Council on Aging suggests these five questions to ask candidates in order to find out where political candidates stand on these critical issues facing seniors.  

1. Federal Funding for Seniors’ Programs

What will you do to protect investments in seniors’ health and economic security under discretionary programs, including maintaining or increasing funding for the Older Americans Act, elder falls prevention, housing for the elderly, and nutrition and energy assistance? 

2. Medicare

What are your plans to help protect and strengthen the Medicare program and ensure adequate, affordable coverage for the growing population of beneficiaries? 

3. Federal Deficit

What are your plans to address the mounting federal debt in a way that enables our nation to meet the critical needs of vulnerable seniors and their families, and do you support a balanced approach that includes both spending reductions and increased revenues? 

4. Long-Term Services & Supports

With the aging of the U.S. population, how would you recommend the country address its current and growing needs for long-term services and supports? 

5. Medicaid (California’s Med-I-Cal)

What improvements should be made within the Medicaid program to provide choices for seniors and individuals with disabilities to receive services at home rather than in more costly nursing homes and institutions? 


MARK YOUR CALENDAR: October, November and December 2012. Be sure to confirm. Readers are welcome to share by email news of future events and deadlines that may interest boomers, seniors and elders. Daytime, free, and Bay Area events preferred.  

Fridays, Oct. 5, 12, 19 and 26. 3 P.M. Super Cinema. Central Berkeley Public Library. 2090 Kittredge. Free. 510-981-6100.  

Wednesday, October 10, 12:15-1 P.M. 60th Annual Noon Concert Series 

Hertz Concert Hall. QUEERING THE GOSPEL SOUND. University Gospel Chorus, D. Mark Wilson, director In recognition of National Coming Out Month, the University Gospel Chorus honors the contributions of the LGBTQ Community to gospel music. Free. 510-642-4864 

Wednesdays, Oct. 10, 17, 24, 31 and Nov. 7, 14, 21 and 28. 12 Noon. Playreaders at Central Berkeley Public Library. 2090 Kittredge. Free. 510-981-6100.  

Thursday, Oct. 11. 9 -10:30 P.M. ET. Vice presidential debate. It will be moderated by Martha Raddatz, Senior Foreign Affairs Correspondent, ABC News. This is the only vice presidential debate).  

Thursday, Oct. 11. 7 P.M. A panel discussion and screening of the documentary film, 

Blossoms & Thorns: A Community Uprooted. This video recounts the struggle and 

resiliency of local Japanese American nursery growers who were forcibly removed from 

their homes to barren, desert incarceration camps during World War II. El Cerrito Library, 

6510 Stockton Avenue. Free. 510-526-7512  

Thursdays, Oct. 11 and Nov. 8. 7-8:45 P.M. Cafe Literario Berkeley Public Library north branch, 1170 The Alameda. Facilitated book discussions in Spanish. October title: Carlos Fuentes’ La muerte de Artemio Cruz. November title: Marcela Serrano’s Diez Mujeres. 510-981-6250 

Friday, October 12, 12:15-1 P.M. 60th Annual Noon Concert Series SYMPHONY. UC 

Berkeley Symphony Orchestra, David Milnes, conductor Brahms: Symphony No. 4 (program change). Free. 510-642-4864 

Tuesday, Oct. 16. 9-10:30 P.M. ET. Presidential Debate, moderated by Candy Crowley, 

Chief Political Correspondent, CNN, and Anchor, CNN's State of the Union.  

Wednesday, Oct. 17. 1:30 P.M. B9-10:30 P.M. ET. Berkeley Commission on Aging meeting. North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst. Free. 510-981-5190. 

Saturday, Oct. 20. 2 P.M. Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Av. Japanese American 

Internment Camp Panel Discussion. USF Professor and editor, Brian Komei Dempster, and 4 former Japanese American internment camp internees. As part of the California Reads program, USF Professor and editor Brian Komei Dempster and four former Japanese American concentration camp internees will share their first-person accounts of this time period during World War II. Mr. Dempster is the editor of Making Home From War: stories of Japanese American Exile and Resettlement and From Our Side of the Fence: Growing up in America's Concentration Camps. Free. 510-524-3043.  

Monday, October 22. 9-10:30 P.M. ET. Presidential debate. Bob Schieffer, Chief 

Washington Correspondent, CBS News, and Moderator, Face the Nation. 

Monday Oct. 22. 7 P.M. Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Ave. : Book Club: The 

Warden by Anthony Trollope. Each meeting starts with a poem selected and read by a 

member with a brief discussion following the reading. New members are always 

welcome. Free. 510-524-3043.  

Tuesdays, Oct. 23 and Nov. 27. 3-4 P.M. "Read & Share" Book Club (formerly "Tea and Cookies") Central Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge. Free. 510-981-6100 

Wednesday, Oct. 24. 1:30-2:30P.M. Great Books discussion group. Troth, by Gregor von Rezzori. Rosalie Gonzales, group facilitator. Albany Library, 1247 Marin Av. 510-526-3720.  

Wednesday, Oct. 24. Berkeley-East Bay Gray Panthers meeting. North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst. Free. 510-548-9696 or 486-8010.  

Wednesdays, Oct. 31, Nov. 7, 14, 21, 28. 12 noon-1P.M. Playreaders at Central Library, 

2090 Kittredge. Read aloud from great plays, changing parts frequently. Intended for 

adult participants. Free. 510-981-6100 


Tuesdays, Nov. 6 and Dec. 4. 5 P.M. 5366 College Ave. Oakland Public Library Rockridge Branch. Lawyers in the library. Free. 510-597-5017. 

Wednesdays, Nov. 7 and Dec. 5. 6-8 P.M. Lawyer in the Library. Albany Library, 1247 Marin Av. Free 15 minute consultation with an attorney who will clarify your situation, advise you of your options, get you started with a solution, and make a referral when needed. Sign up in person at the Reference desk or call 510-526-3720 ext. 5 during library hours.  

Thursday, Nov. 8. 7-8:45 P.M. Café Literario at North branch Library. 1170 The Alameda, Berkeley. Facilitated book discussions in Spanish. November title: Marcela Serrano’s Diez Mujeres. Free. 510-981-6250 

Thursdays, Nov. 8 and 15. 6-7:30 P.M. Lawyers in the Library at Claremont Library. 

2940 Benvenue Ave., Berkeley. Free. 510-981-6280 

Saturdays, Nov. 17 and Dec. 15. 1 P.M. Oakland Public Library Rockridge Branch, 5366 College Ave. Free. Writers’ Support & Critique Group. 510-597-5017. 

Wednesday, November 28. 1:30-2:30P.M. Great Books discussion group. Sunday Morning, by Wallace Stevens. Rosalie Gonzales, group facilitator. Albany Library, 1247 Marin Av. 510-526-3720.  

Wednesday, Dec. 5. 6-8 P.M. Lawyer in the Library. Albany Library, 1247 Marin Av. Free 15 minute consultation with an attorney who will clarify your situation, advise you of your options, get you started with a solution, and make a referral when needed. Sign up in person at the Reference desk or call 510-526-3720 ext. 5 during library hours. 

Wednesday, Dec. 19. 7:00 - 8:00 P. M. Alameda County Library, Albany branch, 1247 Marin Av. The Adult Evening Book Group will read Primary Colors; A Novel About Politics by Anonymous (Joe Klein) A behind-the scenes look at modern American politics with characters and events that might seem familiar. Rosalie Gonzales facilitates the discussion. Come to one meeting, or all meetings. Books are available at the Library. Free. 510-526-3720 

Wednesday Dec. 26. 1:30 - 2:30 P.M. Alameda County Library, Albany branch, 1247 Marin Av. Great Books Discussion Group Holiday Luncheon. Free. 510-526-3720.