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New: Rent Board Slate Group Charged with Violating Berkeley Campaign Finance Laws (News Analysis)

By Rob Wrenn
Thursday October 25, 2012 - 04:23:00 PM

A slate mailer organization (SMO), Berkeley Tenants United For Fairness (TUFF), has used a major portion of the $25,000 in large contributions ostensibly given in opposition to Measure U, to finance two mailers largely devoted to support of the four rent board candidates on the TUFF slate that includes incumbent commissioner Nicole Drake. Berkeley law limits individual contributions to candidates to $250. 

Here's a preview of the story in tomorrow's issue

Flash: Planet Endorsements Now Available Online

Thursday October 25, 2012 - 12:36:00 PM

Can't wait for the definitive list of Planet endorsements, due out in tomorrow's issue? Get a sneak preview by clicking here. 

New Complaint Filed about Yes on T Campaign in Berkeley

By Zelda Bronstein
Wednesday October 24, 2012 - 11:41:00 AM

On Tuesday, October 23, I amended my October 17 complaint to the City of Berkeley Fair Campaign Practices Commission about the Yes on T campaign to include a new complaint, this one dealing with the campaign’s violation of City law about mass mailings. 

Section R2.12.325.2 of the Berkeley Municipal Code, "Filing of Mass Mailings-Method of Filings," states: "Three copies of all mailings as defined in BMC Section 2.12.150 shall be filed with the City Clerk's Office no later than one day of the date the mass mailing was first placed in the U.S. mail.

On October 23 the Coalition for a Sustainable West Berkeley for Measure T filed two mass mailings with the City Clerk's Office that were placed in the U.S. mail on October 8 and October 9, respectively—in other words, two weeks ago. 

As recorded in the City Clerk's binder for October 23 for Coalition for a Sustainable West Berkeley for Measure "T": 

  • Coalition for a Sustainable West Berkeley,8 1/2 x 11 Flyer: "What's stopping economic growth …”; [mailed] 10/8/2012
  • Coalition for a Sustainable West Berkeley,8 1/2 x 11 Flyer: "Working Together"; [mailed] 10/9/2012
In addition to my initial complaints about the Yes on T campaign’s fraudulent/illegal endorsements, I asked that the FCPC also take action on the campaign's failure to file these two mass mailings with the City Clerk's office in the timely manner required by the Berkeley Municipal Code. 

What I did not note in my amended complaint but plan to bring up at the FCPC meeting tomorrow evening is that another mass mailing reported and filed yesterday indicates that the Coalition for a Sustainable West Berkeley brazenly sent out the “Working Together” mailer four days after it had acknowledged that the mailer carried a fraudulent endorsement purported to be from SEIU Local 1021, which has actually endorsed “No on T” . 

As recorded in the City Clerk’s binder for October 23: 

  • Coalition for a Sustainable West Berkeley, 8 1/2 x 11 Mailer: "Working Together Yes on Measure T", [mailed] 10/22/2012.
Indeed, one of the “Working Together” mailers sent out on October 22 showed up in my mailbox yesterday. 

The FCPC meets on Thursday evening at 7 pm at the North Berkeley Senior Center, Classroom C. My complaints about the Yes on T campaign are the first item on the regular agenda . 



Meeting Attendance an Issue in Rent Board Race

By Rob Wrenn
Friday October 19, 2012 - 02:44:00 PM

All four of the incumbent members of the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board whose four-year terms are up this year are seeking re-election. One of them, Nicole Drake, has a very poor attendance record.

The other three are running on the “Affordable Housing” slate selected at a convention of rent control supporters this summer. They are Asa Dodsworth, Judy Shelton, and Igor Tregub. They are joined on the Affordable Housing slate by Alejandro Soto-Vigil, vice chair of the City’s Housing Advisory Commission and a legislative aide to Councilmember Kriss Worthington.

The Committee for a Progressive Berkeley, an independent expenditure committee supporting the Affordable Housing slate, raised the issue of Nicole Drake's attendance in one of their mailers..What are the facts?

Here are the absentee rates for the four commissioners seeking reelection for the period beginning after the last election in 2010. The first table is for full Board meetings, both regularly scheduled and special meetings. The second is for attendance at meetings of the various committees that commissioners serve on, currently totaling nine.

Absentee Rates

Incumbent Rent Board Candidates

Regular and Special Board Meetings
Candidate Meetings Absent
Igor Tregub (AH) 0%
Asa Dodsworth (AH) 4%
Judy Shelton (AH) 4%
Nicole Drake (TUFF) 41%

Based on attendance at meetings from Dec. 2010 - Sept. 2012.
AH = “Affordable Housing” Slate; TUFF = “Tenants United For Fairness” Slate
Source: Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board,

Absentee Rates

Incumbent Rent Board Candidates

Committee Meetings
Candidate Meetings Absent
Igor Tregub (AH) 0%
Judy Shelton (AH) 0%
Asa Dodsworth (AH) 7%
Nicole Drake (TUFF) 64%

Based on attendance at meetings from Jan. 2011 – June 2012, the latest available online; does not include meetings with no minutes available
AH = “Affordable Housing” Slate; Tuff = “Tenants United For Fairness” Slate
Commissioners typically serve on 3 or 4 committees;
Source: Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board,

Nicole Drake, a legislative aide to Vice-Mayor Linda Maio, is running on a slate calling itself Tenants United for Fairness. Other slate members are Kiran Shenoy, an attorney and police review commissioner; Judy J. Hunt, a commissioner on the Alameda County Commission on Aging, and an owner of rental property; and Jay James, a mechanical engineer with no prior record of public service. The TUFF Web site, as of today, provides no information about how this slate was formed. 

Unlike members of other boards and commissions in the city, rent board commissioners are elected rather than appointed, and they receive stipends of $500 a month. Commissioners, not surprisingly, are expected to attend regular and special full Board meetings and meetings of various board committees. 

In October 2011, Attorney Anna DeLeon, on behalf of Patti Dacey, had filed a complaint with the Rent Board director, City Attorney and City Clerk, arguing that Nicole Drake had effectively abandoned her office by not attending meetings for at least three consecutive months. Drake missed a majority of meetings in 2011 and also has the worst attendance record in 2012. 

After this complaint was made, the Rent Board voted to publish attendance records. Nicole Drake was the only commissioner to vote against the proposal. 


Conventions to select a slate of Rent Board candidates, open to anyone who supports rent control, have taken place every election year since 1994. In 1994 and 1998, slates selected at these conventions were challenged by slates that drew support from many landlords as well as from then-Mayor Shirley Dean and her political allies. The convention-nominated slates, with backing from most student and tenant voters along with a sizable chunk of homeowner voters, prevailed, and since 1998, have faced no significant challenge at the polls until this year. 

The Costa Hawkins bill, which passed in 1995, had taken full effect by the beginning of the 2000s. It ended Berkeley’s strong rent control law, allowing landlords to raise rents to market rate upon vacancy. Berkeley landlords apparently lost interest in financing electoral challenges to the convention-endorsed tenant-backed slates every two years. 

This year, however, the president of the Berkeley Property Owners Association, Sid Lakireddy, is urging landlords to contribute money to the TUFF slate. A Form 401 (Slate Mailer Organization Campaign Statement) filed with the City Clerk on October 5, shows that all but one of the donors of $100 or more to the TUFF slate are connected with property management firms in the Bay Area. 

All members of the new TUFF slate are endorsed by Councilmembers Moore, Capitelli, Wengraf and Wozniak. Mayor Tom Bates has endorsed Nicole Drake, as has Linda Maio, who has also endorsed candidates Shenoy and James. Members of the Affordable Housing slate are endorsed by Councilmembers Anderson, Arreguin and Worthington. 

All members of the Affordable Housing slate and three out of four members of the TUFF slate are Democrats. Igor Tregub was a delegate to this year’s Democratic Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Berkeley Democratic Club (BDC), the city’s more conservative Democratic club is backing the 3 Democrats on the TUFF slate, while other more liberal and progressive Democratic Clubs, including the Cal Berkeley Democrats, the John George Democratic Club, and the Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club are backing the Affordable Housing slate. The BDC has a history of backing the landlord-financed slates that have run since Rent Stabilization Board commissioner became an elective office in 1984. 

The Affordable Housing slate is also endorsed by the Sierra Club (candidate Igor Tregub is part of the club’s Northern Alameda County Executive Committee), the Green Party and Berkeley Citizen’s Action, and SEIU Local 1021, the public sector union that represents city employees. The TUFF slate does not have organizational endorsements, other than BDC, as of this writing. 

The TUFF slate is making an issue of the 2011-2012 Alameda County Grand Jury Report , which made recommendations related to personnel procedures, the evaluation and salary of the Board’s director, and rental unit registration fees. 

The Rent Stabilization Board’s detailed 29-page response to the Grand Jury recommendations can be found here:  





Rob Wrenn, a former chair of the Planning and Transportation Commissions, helped organize the first open convention of rent control supporters that selected a slate of candidates in 1994. 





Berkeley Mayoral Candidates Star in Neighborhood Forums

By Ted Friedman
Friday October 19, 2012 - 02:40:00 PM

The candidates have been honing their motivational speaking skills with each event.. Thursday at LeConte Elementary School was the fourth mayoral forum, and as far as anyone—including the candidates—knows this is the last. 

I've attended them all, and have high praise for the four hundred Berkeleyans who have attended, and participated in these forums. 

But will their pre-existing views have been changed by all the information from the forums? 

A veteran mayor's forum observer told me she has learned, over the decades, that most members of the audience comes to hear agreement with their own views and don't change their minds. 

This is supported by national pundits, who have resorted to historical research to establish that debates don't change people's minds; Kennedy-Nixon was the exception. 

And how dispiriting is it to see teams of fact checkers pouring over the presidential debates, and finding enough misleading, conflated, or poorly-interpreted factoids to fill the 247 page Congressional Record? 

Could such misleading information happen here, in our political forums? 

I'm not a professional debates fact checker, but in four forums, certain whoppers have either been discovered by me, or pointed out by a candidate. 

Until the third debate, Mayor Tom Bates went unchallenged over the list of his civic accomplishments he recited each time. Worthington previously traded accomplishments. But Tuesday, at Malcolm X school, Worthington said that the mayor's accomplishments were stolen from him and others who played significant roles in what the mayor hogged. 

"That's why,” Worthington explained, "that in my campaign literature I give credit [to other participants] where credit is due, unlike the mayor." 

Worthington, who told me he's been speaking at weddings and Bar/Bat Mitzvah celebrations, has been getting pretty good audience response, although he has read the same pundits' discounting of debate victories. 

"Perhaps I should go directly to the voters," Worthington mused aloud after the forum several weeks ago at McGhee Avenue Baptist Church. 

Worthington took his best shots Thursday at what may be the last debate/forum before the election. 

Rousingly repeating, "we need a change," Worthington scorned the Mayor's Campaign Motto: Berkeley at its Best, booming, "Can't we be better? 

Then "We need a new mayor. We need change." 

At a face-off at the North Berkeley Senior Cente several weeks ago, Bates responded to the theme of change. "Not just yet," he grinned. But he does seem like a long-distance driver, with many miles on him, who just won't give up the wheel. 

And why should he? He's working for free he says, because he can't take his city salary and state legislator's pension, too. At his campaign kick-off, he joked about compacting, recycling, and giving up his car. He almost turned green before our eyes. 

The mayor seems to be a man proud of his accomplishments, looking forward to Berkeley's appreciation at the polls. Indeed, he has outdrawn his two closest competitor's campaign funding almost three-to-one, and five-to-one. He sits atop a campaign kitty, of $55,000. Yet before a forum I joked around with the mayor about how ranked-choice voting could be his undoing, as it was for Oakland's Don Perata, President pro tempore of the California State Senate from 2004 to 2008, who lost the city’s first ranked-choice voting election for Oakland mayor, by a slim margin to council member Jean Quan , two years ago. 

"When you supported ranked-choice voting, did you consider it could cost you the mayorship?" I asked. 

"If a candidate failed to get a majority, we'd have to hold a costly run-off. Ranked-choice will save Berkeley money. That's all I thought about at the time," the mayor said, flatly. 

The mayor added, "the day after the election I could be kicking myself," laughing. 

Thursday at LeConte Elementary School the candidates put the icing on their political images. Bates, who left early, as he has at previous forums, hit his talking points, briskly. 

He claimed to have raised 1.2 million dollars for Berkeley, but this figure is as opaque as the city's budget, which candidates Jacquelyn McCormack and Kriss Worthington claim to understand only after many hours of study. Both say that the way the budget’s now presented makes it almost impossible for citizens to parse, and they call instead for program-based budgets which clearly disclose where city funds are spent. 

The candidates almost unanimously condemned the mayor's shutting off audience comment when Measure S was placed on the ballot by the council majority in July at a meeting which the ACLU has condemned as an illegal violation of the Brown Act. 

Shutting off those comments has continued to haunt Bates during the forums. Thursday he spoke of his plans in the future if re-elected to give each person a chance to speak at council meetings. Worthington has recommended instead that controversial items which are expected to draw many speakers should be given their own special meetings in halls such as Berkeley City College auditorium which are big enough to handle the crowds. 











Fire Damages Berkeley's Good Shepherd Church

By Dan McMenamin (BCN) and Planet
Sunday October 21, 2012 - 10:57:00 AM

A two-alarm fire damaged the historic Good Shepherd Episcopal church in Berkeley on Saturday night, a fire dispatcher said. 

The blaze was reported at 10:19 p.m. at the church at 1823 Ninth St., according to the dispatcher. 

Firefighters responded and extinguished the fire at 11:36 p.m., the dispatcher said. 

No injuries were reported in connection with the fire, the dispatcher said. 

According to the Berkeley Architectural Heritage web site, "the Church of the Good Shepherd, situated on the corner of Ninth Street and Hearst Avenue, was the second landmark designated by the City of Berkeley. It is the oldest church building standing in Berkeley, as well as the oldest in continuous use by its founding congregation in the entire East Bay." 

The Gothic Revival church was constructed in 1878, the year in which the City of Berkeley was incorporated. The architect was Charles L. Bugbee.

Updated: Who's Endorsing Whom and What in Berkeley and Elsewhere

By Linda Franklin
Sunday October 21, 2012 - 05:44:00 PM

Having trouble deciding how to vote? Here's an update to our chart showing which organizations have endorsed which candidates and ballot propositions and measures. 

Election News Elsewhere: New York Times Takes Up Sitting Ban

Saturday October 20, 2012 - 08:29:00 AM

There was a pretty good piece in the New York Times about attempts around the country to ban homeless people from city streets. Berkeley's Measure S was prominently featured, but there was a small but significant error in the story:

"The City Council and mayor have put a measure on the November ballot that would ban sitting and lying on commercial sidewalks from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., at the risk of a $75 citation." [emphasis added].

A major complaint of the Anti-S camp is that almost everything anyone could object to is already banned, including lying down, so Measure S is just a superfluous slap at the down-and-out. We've reported the error to the Times--let's see if they post a correction. 

Election News Elsewhere: Fraud Complaint Filed against Yes on Berkeley Measure T

Friday October 19, 2012 - 04:17:00 PM

Congratulations to Frances Dinkelspiel at berkeleyside.com for doing a thorough investigative followup on Zelda Bronstein's complaint against the Yes on T campaign for using fraudulent endorsements.

Watch the Berkeley Election on Video

Friday October 19, 2012 - 03:53:00 PM

Watch Candidates for Berkeley's Mayor Discuss the Issues Video by Paul Kealoha Blake 10-04-2012

Berkeley Candidates' “Stump Speeches” on YouTube From the League of Women Voters 10-09-2012

View Competitive Sitting Here, Now! 10-05-2012

Previous Election Articles

Friday October 19, 2012 - 03:46:00 PM

Are you confused about the upcoming election? Below you'll be able to find all the articles about the November 2012 election that have appeared to date in the Planet, with editorial endorsements at the top of the stack. 

Editorial Endorsement:

Berkeley Heats Up For the Fall Election Season 08-29-2012

ENDORSEMENT SPECIAL: Yes on Berkeley Measures U, V, N, O. No on Berkeley Measure M. 09-28-2012

ENDORSEMENT SPECIAL: Measure T is a Trojan Horse 09-21-2012

ENDORSEMENT SPECIAL: Sitting Down Should not be Banned in Berkeley 09-14-2012

ENDORSEMENT SPECIAL: Berkeley Mayor and City Council 09-05-2012 

ENDORSEMENT SPECIAL: Avoid R, and the Rest of the Story 10-04-2012 

Following the Money Behind Berkeley Ballot Measures 10-12-2012

Myth-Busting 101: Street-Sitting Ban Does NOT Work for Santa Cruz Either 10-12-2012Odd Bodkins: Eisenhower (Cartoon) By Dan O'Neill 10-12-2012 


News and Opinion

Measure T’s Deceptive Mailers Falsely Claim Union Endorsement, Funds for Community Benefits (News Analysis) By Rob Wrenn 10-17-2012 

Measure M: Investing in Streets and Green infrastructure - Providing Multiple Benefits Now and Saving Money in the Future By Larry Henry, Past Chairperson and current Vice-Chairperson of the Berkeley Public Works Commission 10-12-2012 

Can We Elect A President Who Will Help Us All? By Romila Knanna 10-12-2012 By J. Muir 10-12-2012 

Creative Protests Blanket Berkeley By Carol Denney 10-12-2012 

A Curmudgeonly Potpourri by The Occasional Curmudgeon 10-12-2012 

Mayoral & District 3 Candidates’ Night Sponsored by LeConte & Williard Neighborhood Associations 10-12-2012 

New: Yes,the Fiscal Sky May Be Falling: Moody's is Examining Berkeley for a Rating Downgrade By Barbara Gilbert 10-09-2012 

Quakers Oppose Berkeley Measure S By Berkeley Society of Friends 10-04-2012 

Vote Yes on A1 By Dr. Joel Parrott, Veterinarian and Executive Director, Oakland Zoo 10-04-2012 

New: Who's Spending on Berkeley Ballot Measures? The First Filing of Expenditures, and More By Thomas Lord 10-09-2012 

New: Santa Monica has a Plan for Growth and It’s Better than Berkeley’s (News Analysis) By Toni Mester 10-06-2012 

Hometown Online Resources for Berkeley Voters
from The Berkeley Almanac
By Thomas Lord 10-04-2012 

Election Stories in Back Issues of the Planet 10-05-2012 

SENIOR POWER: A Senior Moment By Helen Rippier Wheeler 10-04-2012 

NEBA Holds Two Berkeley Election Fairs and Forums 10-05-2012 

Berkeley's Measure U: $1 million for sunshine? That’s a stretch! And it would still be a bargain! By Richard Knee 09-28-2012 

Measure R: The Name of the Game is POWER by Former Berkeley Mayor Shirley Dean 09-28-2012 

No on Berkeley Measure T By Sam Greyson 09-28-2012 

Is Three-Term Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates Vulnerable? By Ted Friedman 09-28-2012 

Ranked Choice Voting Comes to Berkeley: How It Works, How to Do It By Lydia Gans 09-28-2012 

Press Release: Cal Berkeley Democrats Endorse 2012 Local Candidates Worthington, Anderson, and Progressive Rent Board Candidates From Sofie Karasek 09-28-2012 

Press Release: Berkeley No on S Campaign Grabs Three Democratic Club Endorsements "Clean Sweep" of 3 Berkeley Democratic Clubs Marks Growing No on S Momentum
By Christopher Cook, No on S coalition 09-28-2012 

Berkeley Mayor and Council Candidates Debate on Sundays From Nigel Guest 09-28-2012 

CENA Candidates' Night is Monday 09-28-2012 

Berkeley For All Candidates' Forum
McGee Avenue Baptist Church in Berkeley, Thursday

Measure S is a Hate Crime By Carol Denney 09-21-2012 

New: Grey Panthers Host Berkeley Mayor Candidates in Forum By Helen Rippier Wheeler 09-26-2012 

New: Vote No on Alameda County Measure A1 (Opinion) By Laura Baker,East Bay Chapter of the California Native Plant Society 09-26-2012 

Press Release: Bookmark and Share Curb-Sit and Kiss-In Protest Against Anti-Sitting Law-- Re-Creation Of Barack And Michelle Obama's First Kiss While Sitting On The Sidewalk By B Sofer 09-26-2012 

Press Release: Celebratory “Sitting Olympics” To Highlight Measure S Concerns
Berkeley celebs headline Sept. 30 “Starry Plough Olympiad 2012”
From Christopher Cook 09-26-2012 

Election Information 09-21-2012 

MapLight's Voter's Edge: A Graphic Guide to Election Information 09-24-2012 

THE PUBLIC EYE:Campaign 2012: Playing the Israel Card By Bob Burnett 09-21-2012 

But of Course, It Could Never Happen in Berkeley--or Could It? By Osha Neumann 09-14-2012 

Letter to Berkeley Mayor and City Council Regarding Brown Act Violations in Placing Measure S on the November Ballot By Michael T. Risher, Staff Attorney, ACLU of Northern California 09-13-2012 

Romney Follows His Own Rules By Bruce Joffee 09-14-2012 

"The Fight for Berkeley's Soul" Sunday Downtown By Ted Friedman 09-17-2012 

Walk will Reveal Problems of Berkeley’s Aquatic Park By Toni Mester 09-14-2012 

Press Release: Berkeley Standing Up Coalition Kicks Off Campaign to Defeat “Sit-Lie” Measure S From Christopher Cook 09-16-2012 

Community Campaign Center Opening 09-14-2012 

Election Information 09-14-2012 

Press Release: BCA Endorsement Meeting Results From Linda Godzi 09-16-2012 

THE PUBLIC EYE: Welcome to Romneyland By Bob Burnett 09-14-2012 

ECLECTIC RANT: Making it Harder For Some to Vote: Restrictive Voting Laws By Ralph E. Stone 09-14-2012 

Odd Bodkins: The Terrorist (Cartoon) By Dan O'Neill 09-08-2012 

Whatever Happened To "Republican Women for Choice"? By Ron Lowe 09-08-2012 

An Open Letter to Jacquelyn McCormick and Adolpho Cabral; By Norma J F Harrison 09-08-2012 

Where in the World is West Berkeley? (News Analysis) By Toni Mester 09-07-2012 

New: Unfunded Liabilities And The New Berkeley Police Contract (News Analysis) By Shannon Brown 09-08-2012 

Planning Commission Special Workshop On MUP Community Benefits to Be Held on Wednesday From WEBAIC 09-07-2012 

Election Update 09-07-2012 

THE PUBLIC EYE:Obama vs. Romney: The Popularity Contest By Bob Burnett 09-07-2012 

Odd Bodkins: Fred for Prez (Cartoon) By Dan O'Neill 08-28-2012 

Romney's Vision for the Future: An Uninhabitable Earth By Jack Bragen 08-29-2012 

Press Release: Bates and Berkeley Council Violated Brown Act in Measure S Process, Says ACLU in Letter From Bob Offer-Westort, Berkeley Standing Up for the Right to Sit Down; Michael T. Risher, Staff Attorney, ACLU of Northern California: 415 621 2493 09-06-2012 

There's Something About Tom Bates (News Analysis) By Ted Friedman 09-01-2012 

Got Free Speech in Berkeley’s Constitution Square? (First Person) By Carol Denney 08-29-2012 

New: Berkeley Election News in Other Media 09-04-2012 

Profiles of the Candidates for Berkeley Office in the November Election From the Berkeley City Clerk 08-28-2012 

Election Information: 2012 Berkeley Ballot Measures 08-29-2012 

Berkeley's General Election Calendar From the Berkeley City Clerk 08-29-2012 

Jacquelyn McCormick for Mayor (Opinion) By Martha Nicoloff 08-29-2012 

THE PUBLIC EYE: Mitt Romney: The Great White Hope 08-31-2012 

AGAINST FORGETTING: Voter Suppression: The "Schurick Doctrine" and the Unravelling of American Democracy By Ruth Rosen 08-29-2012 

ECLECTIC RANT: The GOP and the John Galt Factor By Ralph E. Stone 08-29-2012 

New: Complaint Filed with Berkeley’s Fair Campaign Practices Commission Regarding Yes on T’s Illegal/Fraudulent Endorsements By Zelda Bronstein 10-17-2012 

Measure M: Investing in Streets and Green infrastructure - Providing Multiple Benefits Now and Saving Money in the Future By Larry Henry, Past Chairperson and current Vice-Chairperson of the Berkeley Public Works Commission 10-12-2012 

Creative Protests Blanket Berkeley By Carol Denney 10-12-2012 

New: Puppets Come to Council Meeting By Carol Denney 10-17-2012 

A Curmudgeonly Potpourri by The Occasional Curmudgeon 10-12-2012 

New: Sunday Streets Proves Sitting and Business Go Together By Carol Denney 10-16-2012 

THE PUBLIC EYE: Obama vs. Romney: Jobs By Bob Burnett 10-12-2012

Who's Financing Berkeley Campaigns? A Easy Way to Find Out

By Thomas Lord
Friday October 19, 2012 - 03:43:00 PM

If you wonder who's paying for all the Berkeley campaign information you've been seeing around town lately, now it's easy to find out.

Here's where the council and mayoral candidate campaign finances stood as of 9/30, in an easy-to-browse format created for The Berkeley Almanac:


This link will get the same kind of information regarding Berkeley ballot measures, and more:


The information comes from the city of Berkeley campaign finance web site.



Berkeley Can Be Better, but Some Voters Missed the Memo

By Becky O'Malley
Friday October 19, 2012 - 01:30:00 PM

The newsies (as we used to call them back when I was managing campaigns instead of reporting on them) are all excited right about now about what the “low information voters” are going to do in the presidential election.

That’s the new name for what have also been called “swing ” or “ independent” or “undecided” voters, and it’s a better choice. When I was doing what we used to call “door-to-door” campaigning (now militarized as “the ground game”) I learned that all of these terms usually meant “unlikely to show up at the polls”, so we concentrated instead on making sure that Our Guys showed up on election day.

But now I’ve met the newsies, and they is us. And for us newsies, now that election day is little more than a dozen days away, the poll action is around the dwindling number of “who me?” low information voters.

In Berkeley, as in many other places in the country, some people know exactly what they’re doing when they vote, and these sophisticated voters often take the option of voting early with absentee ballots. Unfortunately, Berkeley is also the home of an unusual number of voters who know an awful lot about a lot of things, but pride themselves on not knowing much about Berkeley—and they vote too, early and often, whether they need to or not. 

Candy Crowley (one smart cookie) rounded up a few supposedly undecided voters to ask questions of the presidential contenders on Tuesday night, but it was apparent that she knew better than to select the genuine Low Information contingent—most of the questioners had obviously formed opinions and were just trying to get the candidates to come clean by playing dumb. 

The answers they gave surprised no one, leaving what Paul Krugman calls the “drama critics” the most to say about who “won” the “debate”. A lot of the after-market commentariat focused on Romney’s use of the admittedly silly-sounding phrase “binders” full of women, truly dopey but not world-changing. 

If this piece so far appears to be dominated by ironic quotation marks, it’s because there’s not much that’s concrete to say about the Low Information crowd. The discourse is around style over substance at this stage in the game, since the High Information folks have cast their dice already. Some true believers who are proud of having voted for Ralph Nader in 2000 are still on the fence, but that’s about religion, not politics. The (let’s call them) LIVs add spice to the last weeks of the national election, but only a smallish fraction of them will actually show up at the polls to cause mischief on November 6. 

In local elections LIVs can do more harm. In Berkeley, for example, people who are reasonably conscientious about reading their New York Times online will be sure to vote in the presidential election—and they’ll vote right. The problem is that then they will be tempted to go straight on down the ticket to the state propositions, local measures and city council race with—yes, very Low Information about who’s who and what’s what. 

Let’s be clear: we’re not talking about Berkeley Daily Planet readers here. Online Planet readers have to make a conscious decision to click on a story, and many of them tell me they actually read right down to the end. We’re talking about the woman I encountered in a meeting of people trying to keep a Safeway monster store out of her neighborhood, someone who says she has an advanced degree and works at UC, who boasts that she reads no newspapers and doesn’t even listen to NPR because it makes her anxious. Well then… 

In Berkeley we have a lot of residents who treat the city as a bedroom suburb. They live in comfortable tree-shaded view homes in the Hills, drive and/or BART to well-paid jobs in San Francisco or Silicon Valley, take their cars when they shop in El Cerrito, Emeryville or Walnut Creek where parking is not a problem, have nice little second homes in Tahoe or Manhattan or Cambridge, and increasingly send their kids if any to private schools. The workaday problems of residents of flatlands council districts don’t affect them: no streams of traffic past their homes, no noisy student parties lasting into the morning hours on their blocks, no mentally confused wanderers who have been driven from commercial areas sleeping on their lawns, no multi-story luxury apartment buildings shading out their tomatoes. 

These are Berkeley’s special breed of Low Information Voters, and there are a lot of them. Berkeley’s one of the increasing number of places where voters can split their tickets: High Information and therefore reliably liberal on state and national races; Low Information on local questions because they can afford to be literally above the fray. 

They will vote in numbers for the ten-year incumbent in the Mayor’s office, because why not? Life is good for me, isn’t it? He must be doing something right. 

They will vote for Measure S, because registering complaints about unsightly street life downtown gives them a plausible excuse for shopping in El Cerrito, where the parking is better and it’s closer to home in the Hills. 

They might support Measure T, because who would choose to live in that smelly West Berkeley industrial area? And if big office buildings there bring in more revenue to the city as promised, their own residential property taxes might go down or at least stay level. 

They might vote for Measures O and N, because they like to swim, though on the other hand the M.L. King pool’s not bad, and the Claremont Club, the YMCA and UC’s pools are even better and easily affordable for people like them. Or they might not, because they don’t approve of coddling those who would use a warm pool. 

I’ve now been to four of what are loosely called “debates”, and at all of them I recognized more than half of the audience. They’re the doughty members of what former Planet reporter John Geluardi used to call “the Berkeley 200”—the small number of local citizens who actually keep their eye on the local ball game. They’re the ones who sign their own real names when they write letters to the editor, instead of hiding behind juvenile pseudonyms. They often disagree among themselves, but their arguments tend to be rational and fact-based. They’re the High Information participants in Berkeley’s public process. 

I didn’t see Alice Waters or Robert Reich at any of these discussions. Both of these national celebrities have lent big glossy color images of themselves to the incumbent mayor’s latest expensive re-election brochure. 

In the past year Alice (as she’s known to those whose life revolves around what goes into their mouths instead of what comes out of them) has made much hay about her past association with the Free Speech Movement of the sixties. Perhaps no one has told her that her choice for mayor is the major—really the only—backer of Measure S who’s not a downtown commercial landlord, or that Measure S would criminalize the simple act of sitting down downtown. Not very FSM, is it? 

Reich, who once ran unsuccessfully for Governor of Massachusetts and now is a U.C. Professor who writes good snappy little pieces about national politics, presents himself as one standard respectable liberal of the traditional type. As such, he also should know better than to allow his brand to be associated with Measure S, which has been strongly condemned by the ACLU and will probably cause a lawsuit if it passes. 

The two of them are poster kids for Berkeley’s particular flavor of Low Information Voter: smug, comfortable and out of it where local matters are concerned. I imagine they don’t ever go to Berkeley City Council meetings or even watch them online—which is why it’s easy for them to believe that all is well in beautiful Berkeley. 

Yes, it’s a lot harder than it used to be to follow local politics, now that local dailies, including this one, have pretty much died. But as a typical over-educated Berkeleyan, when I see Low Information fellow Berkeleyans spouting off like this in campaign propaganda with little data to back up their opinions, I can’t help thinking of Voltaire, who had maxims for every circumstance. 

Some Berkeley LIVs, with Dr. Pangloss in Candide, cling despite all evidence to the idea that in this best of all possible worlds, all is for the best. (Dans ce meilleur des mondes possibles, tout est au mieux.) Perhaps Professor Reich might qualify as a Panglossian where Berkeley is concerned. 

Alice (who has a degree in French Cultural Studies) seems now to have turned into Candide, the guy in the book who concluded that the last word on the meaning of life was that what we all need to do is cultivate our gardens. (Il faut cultiver notre jardin.) She’s taking that mantra too literally. 

There’s a middle position between Pangloss and Candide. Incumbent Bates’s campaign slogan Berkeley at Its Best is not reality based. Gardening is fine. Nice food is nice. But we should look beyond our own gardens sometimes. This is not the Best of All Possible Berkeleys, but we can make it better. 

Both Kriss Worthington and Jacquelyn McCormick in their debate presentations have said that Berkeley Can Be Better should be our slogan , and either of them would make a better mayor than Bates. They deserve your votes for first and second places on the Ranked Choice ballots in the Berkeley Mayor’s race. (But no, I’m not yet ready to tell you which order I recommend between the two.) 














Odd Bodkins: Some Dead Guy (Cartoon)

By Dan O'Neill
Monday October 22, 2012 - 11:51:00 PM


Dan O'Neill


Odd Bodkins: Whales (Cartoon)

By Dan O'Neill
Monday October 22, 2012 - 11:48:00 PM


Dan O'Neill


Bounce: Ohm...... (Cartoon)

By Joseph Young
Monday October 22, 2012 - 11:55:00 PM


Joseph Young


Public Comment

Complaint Filed with Berkeley’s Fair Campaign Practices Commission Regarding Yes on T’s Illegal/Fraudulent Endorsements

By Zelda Bronstein
Monday October 22, 2012 - 08:34:00 AM

In an effort to stem the rampant dishonesty of the campaign to rezone West Berkeley to profit a few big developers, as reported in the Berkeley Daily Planet and on berkeleyside.com, on October 17 I filed two complaints with the City of Berkeley Fair Campaign Practices Commission (FCPC). 

First, the Yes on T campaign cites the Telegraph Avenue Property & Business Improvement District as an endorser. According to City Attorney Zach Cowan, business improvement districts are City entities and as such (except for the council) cannot legally endorse in elections. This endorsement is illegal. 

Second, the Yes on T campaign cites Berkeley SEIU Local 1021 as an endorser on its webpage and on a mass mailer. In fact, SEIU Local 1021 opposes Measure T, as indicated on the Endorsements page from the union’s website. (The union has repeatedly asked Yes on T to remove SEIU’s name from the campaign website; as of this writing, the union’s name still appears there; by now, it may be gone.) 

Individual chapters of the union cannot take positions contrary to those held by the union as a whole. This endorsement is fraudulent. 

The FCPC’s next meeting is Thursday, October 25, 7 pm, at the North Berkeley Senior Center, Classroom C. My complaints about Yes on T should be on the agenda. I invite Berkeley citizens who value fair and honest elections to attend and voice their protest. 

Even if the commission sustains my complaints and penalizes the Yes on T campaign, the damage has been done: the endorsement cannot be removed from the mailers that have gone out to thousands of voters. Many voters may have already sent in their absentee ballots. 

Moreover, as detailed by the articles in the Planet and Berkeleyside cited above, illegal or fraudulent endorsements are just a tiny sample of Yes on T’s dishonest claims. I hope Berkeley citizens see through this Rovian campaign and vote no on Measure T. 

Religious Leaders Speak Out Against Berkeley’s Measure S

By Sally Hindman and 52 Signers
Friday October 19, 2012 - 04:03:00 PM

As religious leaders of diverse faith traditions, we stand united in opposition to the November 2012 ballot initiative in Berkeley, “Measure S,” making it illegal to sit on sidewalks in commercial areas.

Measure S violates deeply held religious convictions that call us to seek justice and compassion for all living beings. We must respect the humanity of our brothers and sisters and honor their dignity. Thus, we oppose the criminalization of homeless people.

Measure S will increase the persecution, ticketing and arresting of homeless people. If this inhumane law is passed, homeless people will be forcibly driven from one street corner to another by cruel threats and citations, when their urgent needs for shelter, housing, jobs and other resources go unmet. 

This heartless clampdown on the rights of poor people comes during the worst economic recession in 80 years. This harsh approach to dealing with the extreme difficulties people face during this painful economic period is ill-timed and punitive. As religious leaders, we cannot condone this approach to “kicking someone when they are down.” 

All the great religions of the world call on believers to seek justice and mercy. Measure S violates our spiritual call to seek justice for the poor and dispossessed. 

Berkeley has an alarming shortage of shelter beds and permanent affordable housing, endless waiting lists for housing programs, and no in-patient detox programs for people struggling with addiction. This makes it difficult to justify punishing anyone who has failed to get off the streets. 

Berkeley has no drop-in program for homeless youth during the day, a long waiting list for homeless youth case management, and an inexcusable shortage of shelter beds and housing for homeless young people. Rather than punishing youth who are homeless, we must create a real safety net for these vulnerable young people. 

As religious leaders, we support the creation of desperately needed housing, shelter and supportive programs to help homeless people. Yet Measure S, if passed, will misuse taxpayer dollars, police resources, and the legal system in a futile effort to make sitting a criminal act. And it does so at a time when law enforcement is already stretched thin dealing with homicides, domestic violence and other truly urgent matters. We believe it is poor stewardship to divert police attention from these areas of need. 

“No sitting” laws in San Francisco have already been found by researchers to be ineffective in meeting the goals of creating more civil sidewalks. Since Measure S will likely also prove to be ineffective, its passage is an appalling waste of tax dollars that could better be spent on real solutions to homelessness. 

For all of these reasons, we strongly oppose Measure S. With the enormous needs of poor and homeless people in Berkeley, let us pursue the real solutions that have been found to work in solving the problems of homelessness: permanent affordable housing, adequate emergency shelter, jobs and jobs training, drug and alcohol treatment programs and case management support.  

List of Signer/Endorsers of Clergy Letter Opposing Measure S* 


Rev. Dr. Israel Alvaran 

National Organizer for Economic Justice 

General Board of Church and Society 

The United Methodist Church 


Dr. Hatem Bazian 

Co-Founder, Zaytuna College 

UC Berkeley Faculty, Near Eastern and Ethnic Studies 


Rev. Dr. Dorsey O. Blake 

Presiding Minister 

The Church of the Fellowship of all People’s 


Fr. Rigoberto Calocarivas, OFM, Ph.D. 

Executive Director, Multicultural Institute 


Rev. Alexandra Childs 

United Church of Christ Traveling Minister of the Arts 


Rev. Susan P. Conrad, MA, M.Div. 

Chaplain and ACPE Associate Supervisor 

Chaplaincy Services 

Alta Bates Summit Medical Center 


Rabbi David J. Cooper 

Kehilla Community Synagogue 


Rev. Mark C. Cordes 

Trinity United Methodist Church 


Rev. Kevin Craddock 

Ebenezer Baptist Church 


Patricia de Jong 

Senior Minister, First Congregational Church of Berkeley 


Denisha Delane 

Founder, Faith in the Bay 

Deacon, McGee Avenue Baptist Church 


Father John Dineen, Pastor 

St. Joseph the Worker Church 


Rev. Gayle Dickson 

United Church of Christ, Art Ambassadors 

Chaplain Rachel Findley 


The Rev. Mary Louise Hintz 

Parish Deacon, All Soul’s Episcopal Church 


Rev. Bill Hamilton-Holway 

Rev. Barbara Hamilton-Holway 

Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley 


Sally Hindman, MA, M.Div. 

Executive Director 

Youth Spirit Artworks 


Rev. Brian Hunter 

Berkeley Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church 


Pastor Sarah Isakson 

Lutheran Church of the Cross 


The Reverend Jeff R. Johnson 

University Lutheran Chapel of Berkeley 


Rev. Kurt A. Kuhwald 

Assistant Professor, Core Faculty 

Starr King School for the Ministry 


Bob Lassalle-Klein 

Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Philosophy 

Coordinator, Religious Studies 

Holy Names University 


The Rev. Theolinda Knight 

Deacon, Episcopal Diocese of California 

Good Shepherd Episcopal Church 


Rabbi Michael Lerner 

Spiritual Leader, Beyt Tikkun Synagogue Without Walls 

Editor, Tikkun Magazine 


Laura Magnani 

Assistant Regional Director of the West Region 

American Friends Service Committee 


Father Aidan McAleenan 

Pastor, St. Columba Catholic Church 


Carl Magruder 

Quaker Chaplain 

Thomas Massaro, SJ 

Dean and Professor of Moral Theology 

Jesuit School of Theology-Berkeley of 

Santa Clara University 


Rev. Bob Matthews 

United Church of Christ 


Rev. Kenneth Melton 

Pastor, South Berkeley Community Church 


Terry Messman 

Street Spirit, Editor 


Rev. Ben Meyers 

Minister, Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists 


Rev. Sarah Moldenhauer-Salazar 

President, Pacific District Unitarian Universalists Association 


Rev. Christy Newton, Ph.D. 

Interim Senior Pastor, Northbrae Community Church 


William O’Neill, SJ 

Associate Professor of Social Ethics 

Jesuit School of Theology 

Graduate Theological Union 


JC Orton 

Director, Night on the Streets Catholic Worker 


Rev. Ron Parker 

Interim Pastor, Epworth United Methodist Church 


Peace and Social Action Committee 

Berkeley Friends Meeting (Quakers) 


Riess Potterveld 

President, Pacific School of Religion 


Donald Rothberg 

Spirit Rock Meditation Center 


Carolyn S. Scarr 

Program Coordinator 

Ecumenical Peace Institute/Clergy and Laity Concerned 


Rev. Hozan Alan Senauke 

Berkeley Zen Center 


Rev. Michael A. Smith, Pastor 

McGee Avenue Baptist Church 

Dr. Laura Stivers 

Director, Graduate Humanities Program 

Dominican University of California 

Author of Disrupting Homelessness-Alternative Christian Approaches 


Rabbi Andrew Straus 

Temple Sinai Oakland 


Rev. Roland Stringfellow 

Co-Pastor, First Congregational Church of Oakland 

Director of Ministerial Outreach, Pacific School of Religion 


Rev. Frederick Taylor, Pastor 

Phillips Temple CME Church 


Frances H. Townes 

Founder, Berkeley Ecumenical Chaplaincy to the Homeless 


Rhonda White-Warner, M.Div. 

African American Faith Mental Health Anti-Stigma Campaign/Healthy Communities 


Kelly Woods 

Lead Pastor, Covenant Worship Center 


Brian Young, Pastor 

Berkeley Friends Church 


*Persons listed are representing themselves as individuals, not necessarily the institutions with which they are affiliated

Jody London, Sankofa Academy and the Mysteries of the Oakland Unified School District, and a BILLION (Yes a Billion!) in Assessment Tax Bond Money from B and now J

By Robert Brokl
Monday October 22, 2012 - 10:48:00 AM

Maybe it was the $7,000 illuminated "monument" sign that did it. Trying to figure out how that appeared like a toxic mushroom on the lawn at Sankofa Academy, with its newly minted McDonald's color scheme of bright red and gold, led down the proverbial rabbit hole, leaving more questions than answers. The quest led to unsatisfying interactions with Dist.1 Oakland School Board member/Board President Jody London (of the thousands of lawn signs), disturbing conclusions about the apparent lack of much state oversight even for a school district just emerging from bankruptcy and state takeoever, and the mystery of how 10.1 million (and counting) can be spent on a "green tier" neighborhood school, as those nearby either close or get all the gold stars. Not to mention the questions about whether to support more money (Measure J and another $475 million) for the Oakland schools when we're not convinced the Measure B funds are being wisely spent or even monitored at Sankofa. And since understanding the Big Picture may only happen after analyzing the little one—Is the Sankofa story emblematic of bigger problems with schools and their funding in general in Oakland? (Sankofa Academy is not even mentioned regarding Measure J in the official Voter Information Pamphlet for the upcoming election, only its former incarnation as "Washington Elementary.") 

By way of background, there has been a school at the corner of 61st and Shattuck for over a hundred years. Archival photos show the handsome old school, repaired after the 1906 earthquake, that was torn down in 1952, when the current building was constructed. Washington Elementary became Sankofa Academy, a K-8 charter school in recent years. Sankofa struggled in the shadow of Peralta Elementary, the beloved, purposely small, elementary school just two blocks east at Alcratraz and Telegraph. As legend has it, Shelia Jordan met fellow parent Jane Brunner there, and history was made. Peralta recently got a presidential award and, if you buy a house around here, your realtor will probably tell you if your house is located in the area that Peralta draws from. 

After the wrenching, bitter closing of nearby Santa Fe Elementary (on the Emeryville border) and and the threatened closures of Emerson in Temescal and Kaiser in the Hills, Sankofa benefitted big-time, including receiving 10.1 milion from measure B and foundation money, resulting in months of construction, with more to come. 

Sankofa opted for the monument sign at a time when citywide policy leans in the other direction—regarding billboards as pollution, and taking them down except the most remunerative illuminated mammoth ones along freeways. The voters pamphlet even argues that Measure J will "reduce light pollution!" So I was intrigued enough to try to find out how the $10.1 million was being spent, and whether there was any process that involved informing or including the community that is providing the revenue. As long-time nearby residents and property owners, it seemed a reasonable position. Just not one the school district or London shared, as it turned out.... 

"Local Control": 

I learned that three different departments at the state level had oversight over school construction—the Dept. of Education, the Office of Public School Construction, and the Office of the State Architect, under General Services. I talked to representatives in all three agencies, and their roles became more clear. Basically, they made sure ADA requirements were followed, building codes for schools were satisfied, etc. and, based upon applications from the school district, allocated money from previously approved state bond measures. These offices did not consider it their mandate to ensure any citizen involvment at the local level—"local control" was the phrase I heard repeatedly. Odd considering the school district was not that long ago in bankruptcy and under a state-approved receivership. Then Mayor, now Governor, Jerry Brown, had even tried to establish control over the School District by packing it with his own appointees, including Paul Cobb and Wilda White. 

City Auditor Courtney Ruby's assistant was quite helpful, and provided information about Measure B. Her take was that any public participation involved going to a monthly meeting at the school district offices of a committee overseeing bond measure B. But of course the committee is appointed by the State Schools Superintendent, so in-house. 

The local plannning and building dept. in the City of Oakland, the Community and Economic Development Agency (CEDA), was not involved because all building permits go through the Office of the State Architect. The CEDA department. concerned with historic buildings, the Oakland Cultural Heritage Survey, was not consulted either, even though the building is over 50 years old (generally required to be considered for National Register status) and the only evaulation of the building was an outdated "windshield survey" from 1986 (two planners driving around in their car making seat-of-their-pants summary judgements). But I've learned the school may qualify as a local "heritage property," with a "C" rating, implying there should be some modicum of review, not just by the school district. 

No traffic studies were conducted, either. Even before the former Santa Fe students now being driven or bused into Sankofa, 61st St. at certain times of day was a nightmare—parents double park and leave cars to drop off and pick up kids. Residents have been known to back out of the garages and plow into cars blocking their driveways. The School Superintendant, Tony Smith, evidently intends that Sankofa and Peralta will both increase to 380 students, so the situation will worsen dramatically. Emergency vehicles like ambulances and fire trucks can't pass at certain times of day even now, even though a parking lot at the easterly edge of the school would serve as a perfect pick-up and drop-off point. (We've since been told traffic issues will be addressed in "Phase 2," June, 2013, but within the last week, the south side of the 61st St. has been vacated by the school district, with new signs forbidding parking during school hours.) 

Opaque/unresponsive school district: 

The large banner on the cyclone fence along Shattuck cites the numerous foundations, as well as the Measure B money, underwriting the renovations. Urban Design Consulting, locally based at 4400 Market, gets top billing. As "design consultants," I assumed they might be the most helpful in terms of answering my questions. The receptionist steered me to Dean "X." He wouldn't answer any of my questions, or even provide his last name, and then hung up on me. My interest was piqued with Dean X's over-reaction, and when I called back to ask the address of the business, the receptionist, in full paranoid panic, asked if I was the one who had just called, and what my name and number was. 

The only persons who would talk to us on site were the project manager and the Principal, Monique F. Brinson. The manager had reasured us several months ago, when we saw work beginning, that the existing wood sash was to be retained. He downplayed the rest of the renovation, saying it consisted of modifications to bathrooms and hall ways. He never mentioned we could check out for ourselves what was being done, or any community meeting or process. The principal met us in the hallway after we popped in over the monument sign. She was dumbfounded we didn't like the "$7000 sign" and shot back that "she owned property, too" when we suggested that as nearby residents we deserved inclusion in the process. The manager later said the principal was responsible for the sign. She also was responsible, according to Councilperson Brunner's office, for spurning their offer of free astroturf for the playground, saying she "had other plans." Her "other plans" also included astroturf, presumably not free. 

When we called Jody London, Dist. 1 school board member/candidate and school district president, she divulged that there had been complaints about the construction. Presumably these were left unresolved or referred to the principal. We asked for a community meeting with neighbors—we've heard nothing back from either her or the superintendent's office, to which we made a similar request. 

A traffic engineer with the City has said that the school district will have the chance to come up with a traffic plan, before the City steps in, but we're not in any communication loop, and not holding our breath. 

"Green tier schools" 

Unresponsive elected officials and careless attitudes toward money aren't especially surprising in Oakland, but finding out about Sankofa's status as a "green tier" school was. I'd always assumed that Sankofa was the Peralta aspirant school, full of students who'd migrate over if slots opened up. (Logically, the different appearances of the two schools should have shown me the difference—Peralta has raised garden beds and murals covering the buldings, with one green banner identifying it from a side street. You don't need to advertise, evidently, when you're a known brand. Sankofa has no murals, no planted raised beds, and the garish McDonald's color scheme noted earlier, plus the monument sign.) 

According to a Dec. 9, 2009 OaklandNorth article, "green tier schools"—Sankofa is featured, and Burkhalter in East Oakland and Howard in Eastmont are also mentioned— "are elementary schools that serve minority populations and...are considered to be doing well academically..." 2011-12 statistics from the Dept. of Education website indicate just how different racially Sankofa is from Peralta. Peralta, with 312 students, has 136 white students, 51 African-American, 45 Hispanic, and 11 Asians. Sankofa, with 212 students, is predominantly African-American—150 African-American students, 6 whites, 20 Hispanic, 7 Asian, 7 Filipino. I mentioned this contrast to the aide of a prominent elected official who is assigned to the schools, and who was familiar with Sankofa, having toured before the renovations. She said that many African-American parents are pulling their kids out of Peralta, "where they don't feel comfortable" and putting them in Sankofa. I had always been told Oakland was the most integrated city in America—why should two schools so close together geographically have such different demographics? 

One billion for the schools! 

The 2006 Measure B parcel tax contributed $435 toward facilities improvements, Measure J on the Nov. ballot asks for another $475 million. In a 6 year period, Oakland property owners will be asked to contribute nearly 1 billion toward capital improvements to local schools. The money cannot be used for teacher salaries or textbooks, nor is the money tied to any performance standards or improvements. Nor, of course, is there any commitment not to close schools at the whim of the school district. The Alameda County Sample Ballot and Voter Information Pamphlet information for Measure J states: " Completion of some projects may be subject to further government approvals by State officials and boards, to local environmental review, and to input from the public." Don't take THAT to the bank. As we've seen with Measure B, local officials and planning staff, not to mention interested members of the public, are excluded from the process. 

Why I won't be sporting a London lawn sign 

Democracy works when elected officials are small "d" democrats—instinctively pushing for openness, transparency, inclusiveness. Clearly, that is not the case with Jody London, indicating that she's got a bright future in Oakland government!

Press Release: Solution to Berkeley's Homeless Problem: Number the Homeless (A Modest Proposal)

From Karen Able
Friday October 19, 2012 - 11:19:00 PM

The “Measure S” campaign has morphed into a brutal back and forth pitting bleeding hearts against business buffs, but really is just a facade to deny homeless people their rights on both sides. Citizens for the Numbering of Homeless People calls for a return to the original purpose of the measure and announces a write-in campaign:

“Vote No on Measure S, Write-In for Measure #S!” 

The proposal for what is now Measure S began in 2011 as a much more equitable and effective proposal from Citizens for the Numbering of Homeless People (CNHP), a grassroots organization of business owners, homeless people, and concerned Berkeley citizens. The original law would require that every three months, homeless people be assigned a number. Measure #S would make it a crime for even numbered homeless people to be present in Berkeley on odd numbered days and odd numbered homeless people to be present on even numbered days. This measure is a much more rational approach to dealing with the homelessness problem, as it divides people by 24 hour shifts, rather than the half-day shifts proposed by Measure S. 

Homeless numbering laws have been widely successful in other cities across the nation. In Jackson, Mississippi, a homeless numbering law came into effect in January 2008. Jackson immediately saw the number of homeless people in the city reduce by half, and businesses in Jackson have, as an effect, been the least impacted by the recession than in any other American city.  

Following Jackson’s lead, Birmingham, Alabama implemented its homeless numbering law in 2009. Homeless individuals were initially cited for violations of the law, which led them directly to services. “I don’t understand why more cities don’t realize it: when we get the criminal justice system involved, people will just get the services they need,” said Mayor William Bell. Just six months after the numbering law came into effect, so many homeless individuals had been pushed into housing as a result of their citations that the homeless had to be re-numbered. 

A poll conducted by CNHP in 2011 showed that homeless people in Berkeley supported homeless numbering laws by a 3-1 margin. They cited reduced competition for donations during their shifts as well as the need to be pushed into services. When asked about the write in campaign, “Vote No on Measure S, Write-In for Measure #S,” Darryl Compton, a long-time homeless resident of Berkeley, was strongly in favor. “I have been waiting for something like this for a long time,” says Compton. 

Join Citizens for the Numbering of Homeless People in the write-in vote next month. Vote no on S, and then write for Measure #S. Together, Berkeley can join Jackson and Birmingham in improving the safety of the streets, supporting our small businesses, and helping homeless people find the services they need. 

# # # 

If you’d like more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview with Karen Able, please call Karen Able at (510) 900-9222 or email at able.cnhp@gmail.com.

Berkeley's Asinine Sitting Ban Measure

By Michael T. Pachovas
Friday October 19, 2012 - 03:15:00 PM

Once again the mayor and a majority of our esteemed city’s councilmembers have adorned themselves with their tiny pointed dunce caps in order to enact a ballot measure that would, if passed by the voters, ban Berkeley citizens and visitors from sitting on the “public” sidewalks. Obviously, well-dressed, pleasant, well-to-do folks who might bother to stop and sit down on a sidewalk will likely not be harassed by our civic minded boys-in-blue. Should you look like you can’t afford $4 to sit in one of our many cafes however, it will cost you $50 and considerable discomfort to do the same. 

Have we so soon forgotten the fiasco that the earlier “Poor Laws”,[ then called] Measures (N & O) cost us all in terms of millions of tax-payer dollars spent on lawsuits, the diversion of thousands of wasted hours of law enforcement resources, and generally poor public relations our city suffered as a result? 

Fortunately for me, I’ll get an exemption for sitting on the sidewalk under the shade of a nice tree or building— I get to sit in my wheelchair and won’t be bothered. I will, however, continue to be inconvenienced by the growing number of café and restaurant owners who have annexed the the”public’ sidewalks with their sprawling tables and chairs. My visually impaired friends probably don’t think too highly of that situation either. At least the good folks sitting on the sidewalk will bother to move out of my path-of-travel when asked (most times I needn't bother to even ask—but those darned tables and chairs refuse to move even an inch!); and don’t even get me started on the thousands of illegal “sandwich”signs strewn all over the sidewalks of the city. 

I don’t think that our forefathers mentioned anywhere in our First Amendment to the Constitution that a person must stand in order to be protected by that provision of our Bill of Rights. 

Amendment I 

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances

Now, a reasonable person might say, “Well, yes, but there are certain exceptions such as not being able to unreasonably impede the path of other people”, and so on... however, most people are mobile and can move out of the path of others. The right of an individual to benignly sit down when they are tired or just want to sit down where there is no seat available seems to violate the very principles that our framers of the constitution precisely fought a great war over—freedom of common people to not face persecution from the ruling class. 

We, as citizens should be ashamed that this measure is even on the ballot—we don’t vote on civil rights. It’s just that that simple. We have fought wars, and endured civil strife for centuries to prevent people from being able to simply vote on whether women, people of color, people from different religious backgrounds, and people with disabilities should enjoy the same rights and privileges. I have lived in Berkeley long enough to remember when it was routine to have certain businesses in our town refuse to allow wheelchair users eat in their restaurants, or shop in their stores, under the guise that their little sign saying “ We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone” gave them some kind of immunity from practicing bigotry. 

This measure is cruel, and is aimed at those whom are least likely to protect their rights— the poor. Vote No! on this ugly ballot measure, and feel free to tell your city councilmember that you oppose this. 


Monsanto & Dupont Spend Big Money to Defeat Prop 37

By Glen Kohler
Friday October 19, 2012 - 04:12:00 PM

Are we going to allow the two largest contributors to the No on 37 campaign, Monsanto and Dupont -- who told us Agent Orange and DDT are safe -- convince us that we don't have a right to know what they're doing to our food? 

Ten days of incessant discredited lies have taken their effect, but in the end Californians will not be fooled by these tactics. 

The paramount question that every voter must ask themselves before voting is this: Whose side are you on? 

Do you trust your family's health to Monsanto, DuPont, and Dow Chemical? Or are you better served trusting the Consumers Union, Pesticide Action Network, and the American Public Health Association? 

Similarly, when it comes to the enormous increase in pesticide use that the genetic engineering of our food has led to, do you trust the health of our natural environment with the pesticide industry and the No on 37 campaign its bankrolling, or non-profit supporters of Prop 37 like the Sierra Club, the California League of Conservation Voters, and the Environmental Working Group? 

If voters discard the No on 37 deceptive and debunked television ads polluting our airwaves - bankrolled by the world's most powerful pesticide corporations ' and instead trust their instincts and consult the facts, we're confident Californians will demand the right to know what's in our food and vote yes on Proposition 37. 

Berkeley Measure T's Misleading Ads

By Christopher Adams
Friday October 19, 2012 - 03:10:00 PM

Last week's mail brought a flyer asking for a yes vote on Measure T. It contains a picture of the West Berkeley Branch Library, now under construction on University Avenue next to a picture of children presumably in that library. The West Berkeley Library has absolutely nothing to do with Measure T. As someone who worked many hours to get the bond measure passed for the new branch libraries and who has worked many additional hours to raise additional private donations for the branch libraries, I find it appalling that the backers of this misguided measure would attempt to use the library for such purposes. 

I guess I should not be surprised at this misrepresentation as it is no worse than the other arguments Measure T proponents have presented. It is claimed that Measure T will create jobs and "workspace for artists." But Measure T will permit real estate interests to demolish existing buildings where, for example, the skilled craftsman who made cabinets for me this year has his small shop and where all kinds of innovative and unique Berkeley businesses are located.  

Real West Berkeley entrepreneurs who create real jobs, like the owner of Acme Bakery, oppose Measure T. It is claimed that the Measure T will "provide funds" for library programs, but library operations are supported by separate taxes that have nothing to do with increases in ad valorem property taxes. It is claimed that Measure T sets "average building height limits" at 50 feet, but the actual wording of the measure allows heights to 75 feet. It is claimed that there are "special protections" for Aquatic Park, but the actual wording of the measure states only that there must be a finding that "the project will not unreasonably create shadows upon or degrade the existing visual character" of the park." The phrase "not unreasonably" in this context is a loophole big enough for a bulldozer.  

Measure T has one purpose: to make a few real estate developers rich. Vote NO.

Lies in Political Campaign Material

By Tree Fitzpatrick
Friday October 19, 2012 - 03:22:00 PM

Thanks for the story about the lies printed on material sent on behalf of folks supporting Measure T. This is a shameful, sickening story. 

Even more sickening, at least to me, is that this behavior is not prosecuted. Surely it must be illegal to use lies to win votes? Surely our constitutional right of free speech does not permit lying to manipulate votes? 

What has gone wrong with our society?

Oakland’s Knowland Park Worth Saving: Vote NO on Measure A1

By Jane Molnar
Thursday October 18, 2012 - 05:05:00 PM

My children and I first discovered Knowland Park in the spring of 2009 when they were six, nine, and eleven. They were amazed that there was such a place – a pristine, beautiful space that felt boundless to them. Their first reaction was to run full-speed until they finally tired out. 

Slowing down, they began to explore. They found the home of a family of woodrats. Instinctively they knew not to disturb the threshold of the woodrats’ home. Kneeling down and speaking in whispers, they took in the architecture and peered inside. 

On that first morning we met no one and the children felt this new world of wild grasses, butterflies, lizards, mysterious openings to burrows, and circling hawks was theirs alone. 

Watching their joy, I realized this was the first time in their lives that they had ever had the chance to play in the way I had been able to as a child. 

This land has been a sanctuary for my boys for three years now. Sometimes they invite a friend to come with us. Always, the friend responds to the magic of the landscape. 

On one of our visits the boys discovered colored markers driven into the ground at intervals. We later learned these were survey markers and that the Oakland Zoo was planning an expansion into Knowland Park that would include a massive 3-story building that would house zoo offices and a gift shop and restaurant and would involve excavating an area that is presently home to numerous wild creatures. 

My children were upset by the idea that the animals they frequently saw might be replaced by plaques stating that these creatures had once lived there. They much preferred to catch glimpses of wildlife in their natural habitats. 

It saddens me to think that Oakland’s largest wild public park – Knowland Park – is at risk of being paved over by Oakland Zoo executives. It makes me even sadder to think that with Measure A1, on the ballot this November, Zoo executives could use public funds to make their destructive expansion plans a reality. And contrary to their claims, nothing whatsoever in the measure prevents these funds from being used to build the current expansion—or new ones over the next 25 years. In fact, if you read the measure closely, you will see for yourself that it’s just the opposite: the measure includes very explicit language allowing the money to pay for “expansion,” “construction,” and a “conservation center”—the ridgeline building that is a key part of the expansion plans. 

Knowland Park, home to countless species of plants and animals, should be left just as it is. In addition to being able to go to the zoo, children should be given the opportunity to run and explore in an untouched Knowland Park, gazing up at hawks, catching glimpses of lizards and snakes, looking out at the Bay, running their hands over wild grasses, and listening to songbirds. Please vote no on Measure A1 and help us save Knowland Park. 

Jane Molnar is a math teacher and educational consultant. She lives in Berkeley with her three sons. The family loves animals and nature. 


DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE: Japan’s Right: Going Nuke?

By Conn Hallinan
Friday October 19, 2012 - 03:25:00 PM

Behind the current impasse among China, Japan and Taiwan over five tiny specks of land in the East China Sea is an influential rightwing movement in Japan that initiated the crisis in the first place, a crisis it is using it to undermine Japan’s post-World War II peace constitution and, possibly, break the half-century taboo on building nuclear weapons. 

The dispute over the islands China calls the Diaoyus, Taiwan the Diaoyutais, and Japan the Senkakus, is long-standing, but it boiled over when the right-wing governor of Tokyo, Shintaro Ishihara, provoked a confrontation with China by trying to buy the uninhabited islands from their owners. When the Japanese government bought three of the islands, ostensibly to keep them out of Ishihara’s hands, China accused Japan of “stealing” the disputed archipelago. 

Ishihara, who has long pressed for building nuclear weapons, is generally portrayed as a bit of a loose cannon—the Economist calls him the “old rogue of the Japanese right”—but he is hardly an anomaly. Toru Hashimoto, leader of the rightwing National Japan Restoration Association and just re-elected mayor of Osaka, is cut from the same cloth. 

Hashimoto and Ishihara both deny Japan’s record of brutality during World War II—in particular, the horrendous Nanking Massacre in China and the sexual enslavement of Korean women—sentiments echoed by some of Japan’s leading political figures, many of whom advocate Japan acquiring nuclear weapons. 

The recent election of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to lead the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is a case in point. The LDP is favored to win upcoming elections, and Abe—who would become prime minister— calls for revoking a 1993 apology for the Japanese Imperial Army’s use of sexual slavery. He also seeks to remove Article 9 of Japan’s constitution that forbids Japan from waging war. 

And while Abe has recently been vague about nuclear weapons, before he became prime minister in 2006, he argued that Japan’s constitution allowed the country to build nukes so long as they were defensive in nature. Many leading figures in his party openly advocate they do so. 

Former foreign minister Taro Aso and Shoichi Nakagawa raised the issue of nuclear weapons back in 2006, when Aso was a member of Abe’s government and Nakagawa was chair of the LDP’s Policy Research Council. Abe refused to repudiate Aso’s and Nakagawa’s remarks on nuclear weapons. 

But the LDP is not the only section of Japan’s ruling elite that is considering ridding the country of its so-called “nuclear allergy.” 

Ichiro Ozawa—once a leader of the now defunct Liberal Party and currently heading the People’s Life First Party, the third largest party in the Diet—says Japan should consider building nukes in order to confront “excessive expansion” by China. 

According to Tokyo-based journalist Hiusane Masaki, “…what has long been considered a taboo subject after World War II is now being openly discussed, not just by the rightwing but even in the mainstream.” 

In 1970, Japan signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and the following year the Diet adopted three “non-nuclear principles” to not build, possess, or host nuclear weapons. Japan currently has enough plutonium to produce about 700 nuclear warheads and the ballistic missiles to deliver them. Most experts think building a bomb would take about a year. 

The Japanese right is also waging war on what it calls “treasonous history.” Its current target is the enormously popular anti-war comic-book novel, or “manga,” Barefoot Gen, by Hiroshima bomb survivor Kakazawa Keiji. The manga has sold millions of copies, been turned into a film, and is used as an educational resource in Japan’s schools. Barefoot Gen is sharply critical of Japan’s military and of the elites that fueled its rise to power. 

Writing in Japan Focus, Matthew Penny, a professor of history at Concordia University in Montreal and an expert on Japanese nationalism, says “those with an interest in chipping away at Japan’s anti-war norms…are now pushing for the work to be removed from the classrooms.” 

According to Penny, the right has created an organization called the “Association of Atomic Bomb Victims for Peace and Security,” which apparently doesn’t include any real victims. Its spokesmen are two right-wingers, Tamogami Toshiro and Kusaka Kimindo, both of whom deny the Nanking Massacre and “call for nuclear armament of Japan and expanded conventional military capabilities.” 

All this nuclear talk comes at a time when Japan is at loggerheads with China over the Senkaku/Diaoyus, with South Korea over the Dokdo/Takeshimas, and with Russia over the southern Kurlies, although the situation for each island chain is different. Japan currently controls the Senkaku/Diaoyus, while South Korea and Russia occupy the other disputed island groups. 

Japan’s claim on the Senkaku/Daioyus is shaky at best, dating back to the 1895 Sino-Japanese War. The islands were first claimed by the Ming Dynasty in 1368, and the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912) considered the chain part of its western sea border. According to Japanese scholar Unryu Suganuma, “There is no ambiguity about the Diaoyu islands” being part of China, “because the islands belonged to the Middle Kingdom, period!” Suganuma says the US turned the chain over to Japan in 1971 during the Cold War “because they didn’t want the islands to fall into communist hands.” 

Some of the right’s rhetoric is aimed at embarrassing the ruling Democratic Party before the upcoming Japanese elections, but some goes further than election eve posturing, reflecting a long-standing illusion by Japan’s right concerning the capabilities of its military. 

Kunihiko Miyake, research director of the Canon Global Institute, told the Financial Times that he thought that the crisis would not come to blows because of the strength of Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Forces and its US alliance. “China will not use force because it would lose,” he said. 

While it is true that the Washington has said that it will honor Article 5 of the US-Japan Security Treaty and come to Japan’s aid over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands, the US is neutral on who owns them and would certainly be reluctant to let Japan draw it into a military confrontation with China. 

Which might not stop Japan from trying to do exactly that. 

Unless the US gets involved, Japan is no match for China. While Japan has more surface warships (78 to 48) it has far fewer submarines (18 to 71) and its air force is only about a quarter the size of China’s. 

The Japanese right likes to invoke the early days of World War II when it crushed British, Dutch and American forces on land and smashed a good part of the U.S.’s Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor. But many of those victories were the result of stunning incompetence on the Allied side, rather than the superiority of Japan’s samurai tradition. When Japan provoked a war in 1939 with the Soviet Union at Khalkin Gol on the border between Manchuria and Mongolia, they took a terrible shellacking. 

Even in China, where Tokyo had enormous superiority in weapons and equipment, Japan never succeeded in defeating the Chinese, though they killed millions and millions of soldiers and civilians. In the end, of course, Japan was devastated by WW II, its economy shattered, its cities leveled by massive fire bombings and two atomic bombs. 

The right is keen to erase those memories and has already managed to whitewash Japanese imperial history by expunging much of it from history books. Barefoot Gen is its latest target. 

The dispute over the islands does not seem to be going away, in part because Japan keeps sending mixed signals. Japan’s economic minister recently said Tokyo “cannot compromise,” but according to Japanese news reports, Japan is preparing to take note of China’s and Taiwan’s claims, some thing they have refused to do in the past. 

A drawn-out fight could inflict major damage on both economies, and there is always the chance of stumbling into a military confrontation. The recent US “pivot” toward Asia—which includes a major military buildup—adds to the regional tensions, particularly since it includes the possible collision of two nuclear-armed powers. 

Japan’s greatest modern tragedy was the triumph of militarism, but as memories of WW II fade, there are those that would like to take her back down the same road. Adding more nuclear weapons to what is already a dangerous situation could be catastrophic. It would sink the Non-Proliferation Treaty in Asia—South Korea and Taiwan would almost certainly follow suit— escalate an already dangerous regional arms race, and could bring Japan back that moment on the morning of Aug. 6. when, in the words of John Hersey, “the atomic bomb flashed above Hiroshima.” 

Conn Hallinan can be read at dispatchesfromtheedgeblog.wordpress.com and middleempireseries.wordpress.com

ECLECTIC RANT: Remembering the 1983 Bombing of the Marine Barrack in Beirut

By Ralph E. Stone
Friday October 19, 2012 - 03:30:00 PM

October 23 is the 29th anniversary of the 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, by Lebanese terrorists directed and controlled by Iran. The attack killed 241 American servicemen (220 Marines, 16 Navy personnel, and 3 Army soldiers). It was the deadliest single-day death toll for the Marines since the World War II battle of Iwo Jima. 

Hezbollah, a revolutionary Shia Islamist organization, had loose ties to Al Qaeda and to Iran. Hezbollah leaders were trained by Iranian Revolutionary Guards, financed by Iran, and often carried out Iranian orders. Indeed, the October 23, 1983 bombing later was discovered to have been ordered by Iran. The commanding officer of the Marine unit targeted by Hezbollah later wrote

"Unknown to us at the time, the National Security Agency had made a diplomatic communications intercept on 26 September (the same date as the cease-fire ending the September War) in which the Iranian Intelligence Service provided explicit instructions to the Iranian ambassador in Damascus (a known terrorist) to attack the Marines at Beirut International Airport. The suicide attackers struck us 28 days later, with word of the intercept stuck in the intelligence pipeline until days after the attack." 

Indeed, the evidence compiled by members of the intelligence community concluded that the evidence was "overpowering that Iran had been behind it." 

Imad Mugniyah was the person behind the bombing. He frequently traveled to Iran and worked closely with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and its Ministry of Intelligence and Security. The son of a Lebanese Shia cleric, Mugniyah trained with Yasser Arafat’s Fatah terrorist group in Lebanon in the late 1970s and became part of Force 17, Arafat’s personal security force. After the 1982 expulsion of Arafat from Lebanon, Mugniyah served as a bodyguard for Hezbollah’s spiritual leader, Sheikh Muhammed Hussein Fadlallah, and quickly rose to become a key leader of Hezbollah’s terrorist operations, earning the alias of “the Fox.” 

In addition to the bombing of the Marine barracks, Mugniyah was involved in the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut that killed 63 people, including 17 Americans; the taking of many American and western hostages in Lebanon; and the 1985 hijacking of TWA Flight 847 in Lebanon, which resulted in the murder of a passenger, a U.S. Navy diver. 

On February 12, 2008, Mugniyah died in a mysterious car bombing in Damascus that may have been an Israeli counter-terrorist operation. Why would Israel have an interest in Mugniyah's death? Because, he reportedly had been involved in the 1992 bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Argentina, which killed 29 people, and the 1994 bombing of a Buenos Aires Jewish community center, which killed 85 people. He also may have played a role in planning Hezbollah’s July 2006 kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers, which provoked a 34-day war in southern Lebanon. 

Iran continues to wage war against the United States by using Sunni and Shia insurgents in Iraq, Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Sunni Taliban in Afghanistan as its proxies.

THE PUBLIC EYE: Obama Revives, Wins Second Debate

By Bob Burnett
Thursday October 18, 2012 - 04:58:00 PM

Thirteen days after the initial presidential debate, the candidates faced off again. The same Mitt Romney showed up but his opponent was a transformed Barack Obama. At the October 3rd debate the President was listless and defensive; on the 16th he was energized and positive. As a consequence, Obama won decisively. 

The first question concerned employment and Romney used his standard lines, “I know what it takes to get the economy growing… the middle class has been crushed over the last four years [and Obama is responsible].” Obama responded with his plan and observed, “Governor Romney doesn’t have a five-point plan. He has a one-point plan. And that plan is to make sure that folks at the top play by a different set of rules.” Romney erupted and Obama responded, “What Governor Romney said just isn’t true.” It was the first of several occasions where he called Romney on his lies. 

Three times Romney attempted a “gotcha” moment. They all backfired. At the first he blamed Obama for recent high gasoline prices. The President responded: 

He said when I took office, the price of gasoline was... $1.86. Why is that? Because the economy was on the verge of collapse, because we were about to go through the worst recession since the Great Depression, as a consequence of some of the same policies that Governor Romney’s now promoting. So, it’s conceivable that Governor Romney could bring down gas prices because with his policies, we might be back in that same mess.

The second came when Romney responded to Obama’s accusation that he continues to invest in bad Chinese companies, “Mr. President, have you looked at your pension?” Obama replied, “I don’t look at my pension. It’s not as big as yours so it doesn’t take as long.” 

Late in the debate, the conversation turned to the attack on our consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Obama recalled, “The day after the attack… I stood in the Rose Garden and I told the American people… that this was an act of terror.” Romney disputed Obama’s assertion, claiming the President had not called it “an act of terror.” The moderator, CNN’s Candy Crowley agreed with the President. This defused a potentially difficult issue for Obama and made Romney look like he was twisting the facts for political advantage. 

Obama had listened to the harsh criticism of his first debate performance. Not only did he call Romney on his lies and misstatements, he presented his own plan for the next four years. “The most important thing we can do is to make sure that we are creating… good paying jobs. Ones that can support a family.” 

Obama made clear how his tax policy differs from Romney. “Asking the wealthy to pay a little more… For above $250,000, we can go back to the tax rates we had when Bill Clinton was president… [When] we created 23 million new jobs.” “Nobody who’s looked at [Romney’s plan]… actually believes it adds up.” 

Female voters are vital to both candidates. One question focused on a women’s issue, “In what new ways do you intend to rectify the inequalities in the workplace?” Romney punted with a lame remark that when he was governor of Massachusetts, he tried to include women in his cabinet, “women’s groups… brought us whole binders full of women.” (It turns out that the percentage of women in senior-level positions declined during the Romney Administration.) Obama directly answered the question and then segued into related women’s issues such as contraceptive coverage in Obamacare and his support for Planned Parenthood. 

Another question addressed Hispanic concerns” “What do you plan on doing with immigrants without their green cards that are currently living here as productive members of society?” Romney prevaricated, “The kids of those that came here illegally, those kids, I think, should have a pathway to become a permanent resident of the United States.” This appeared to match Obama’s position but Think Progress reported, “Romney has promised to end President Obama’s deferred action directive, which saves some young undocumented immigrants from deportation… He has also promised to veto the DREAM Act.” 

Obama finished strong by emphasizing values: “I believe in self-reliance and individual initiative and risk takers being rewarded. But I also believe that everybody should have a fair shot and everybody should do their fair share and everybody should play by the same rules, because that’s how our economy’s grown. That’s how we built the world’s greatest middle class.” Then he recalled Romney’s 47 percent remark, 

“When he said behind closed doors that 47 percent of the country considered themselves victims who refuse personal responsibility, think about who he was talking about… People who are working hard every day, paying payroll tax, gas taxes, but don’t make enough income. And I want to fight for them. That’s what I’ve been doing for the last four years. Because if they succeed, I believe the country succeeds.”
Welcome back Barack! 

Bob Burnett is a Berkeley writer. He can be reached at bburnett@sonic.net

SENIOR POWER … Here's to The Ladies Who Lunch

By Helen Rippier Wheeler
Friday October 19, 2012 - 02:56:00 PM

Here's to The Ladies Who Lunch. Everybody laugh. Off to the gym, Then to a fitting, Claiming they're fat. And looking grim,

And here's to the girls who play smart-- Aren't they a gas? Rushing to their classes In optical art, Wishing it would pass. Another long exhausting day, A matinee, a Pinter play,

And here's to the girls who just watch-- Aren't they the best? When they get depressed, It's a bottle of Scotch, Plus a little jest. Another chance to disapprove, Another brilliant zinger, Another reason not to move, Another vodka stinger.

So here's to the girls on the go-- Everybody tries. Look into their eyes, And you'll see what they know: Everybody dies. A toast to that invincible bunch, The dinosaurs surviving the crunch. Let's hear it for the ladies who lunch-- Everybody rise!

Stephen Sondheim, now eighty-two, drank to all that and more for Company, his brilliant 1970 musical comedy. Yes, I abridged it a bit. 


A recent National Public Radio’s On Point call-in program concerned senior hunger in America. It is insidious and growing, quietly because seniors are humiliated and don’t want to be a bother, and they want to stay in their homes. So they go hungry without making a fuss. Baby boomers who have not saved enough, given how long they are going to live, are facing a hungry retirement. The oldest Baby Boomers turned 66 this year. 

About 9 million people age 50+ are living at risk of going hungry every day. Food insecurity among seniors has risen sharply since 2001. A seventy-four year old Michigan senior citizen who lives in a trailer volunteers at the library, goes to the senior center for free yoga classes, and, after a lifetime of working and saving, relies on $140. in food stamps (SNAP) to get by. She is part of the group experts call "the hidden hungry.” In 2010, 8.3 million Americans age 60+ faced the threat of hunger -- up 78% from a decade earlier. Even as the hunger risk for the population as a whole declined slightly, the proportion of the seniors affected has grown from one in nine in 2005 to one in seven in 2010.  

Lunch at the senior center costs a $3.00 “suggested donation for seniors 60+.” Under age sixty? … It’s $5.00. Many of these ladies and gentlemen bring used-plastic bags and containers for a take-away evening meal of sorts, stashing a portion of their lunch trays’ contents. Not easy on soup-and-salad days.  

Attendance is required (in the sense that one signs in) at senior/disabled housing management’s town hall meetings. Refreshments follow. Someone wants to know, “Is the meeting over now?” There’s a dash to the table and caloric/sugary eats. No line-- just gulping, grabbing for the takeaway, and heading for the elevator. (For the crucial difference between town hall meetings and town meetings, see August 3, 2011’s Senior Power column.)  


With all of that in mind, let me now introduce the foodie, the gourmet, the farmer’s market, and SNAP-- the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program. 

A foodie is a person with an enthusiastic interest in the preparation and consumption of good food. S/he is an informal member of a particular class of food and drink aficionados. Foodie was coined by Gael Greene in New York magazine and by Paul Levy and Ann Barr, authors of The Official Foodie Handbook (1984). It is often used by the media as a synonym for gourmet, although they are entirely different concepts. 

A gourmet is associated with culinary arts of fine food and drink, or haute cuisine characterized by refined, even elaborate, preparations and presentations of aesthetically balanced meals of several contrasting, often quite rich, courses. Julia Child, Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, M.F. K. Fisher, Jacques Pepin, Alice Waters, Chocolat (the motion picture,) Gourmet (the deceased magazine,) Gourmet Cooking for Dummies (the book)… fit in there somewhere. 

Gourmet Ghetto is colloquial for the North Shattuck business district of a Berkeley, California neighborhood. It runs along Shattuck Avenue, with some businesses on Walnut and Vine Streets, and is bordered by Rose Street to the north and Delaware Street to the south, creeping down to Hearst Street and over to MLK. This nickname is due to the concentration at one time or another of such eateries as Chez Panisse and the Cheese Board Collective, the first Peet’s Coffee location, and the beginning of Alice Medrich’s chain of Cocolat stores. 

A sometimes-grassy median divides the traffic lanes along part of Shattuck. Sitting and reclining there (“Keep Off Median”) are the overflow of sidewalk restaurants and fans of the North Berkeley Farmers’ Market, open Thursdays 3-7 P.M. The Ecology Center has operated certified farmers’ markets in Berkeley since 1987. It processes SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, successor to Food Stamps) benefits at all of its farmers’ markets.  

In an essay sprinkled with foody tidbits, gastronome M.F.K. Fisher contended that “A Is for Dining Alone.” She was talking around the subjects of being on her own, really – and of cooking for one-- two concerns of many senior citizens. As of July 10, 2012, nearly 3 million American seniors receive SNAP, and 80% of them live alone.  

About 32 million Americans live by themselves, a number that has increased for more than six decades. The largest jump is happening now, among seniors. About 10% of all households are people age 65+ living alone.  

Where do low-income senior citizens go for supermarket grocery shopping, and how do they get there? These are two of the important questions unanswered by candidates. Indeed, not broached by them.  



The search is on for a stealth way to cut Social Security benefits, by switching the Social Security cost-of-living adjustment to a new measure of inflation, the chained CPI. For several reasons, it would be a triple whammy to women. Because women live longer than men on average, they would face deeper cuts in their Social Security benefits; elderly women rely more on income from Social Security, so these cuts would represent a larger share of their total income in retirement; and because older women are already more economically vulnerable, these cuts would leave many of them unable to meet basic needs. 

One in four California nursing home residents receive powerful antipsychotic medications despite FDA warnings that they are dangerous and even fatal for the elderly with dementia and are outperformed by less expensive and more humane dementia care options. The drugs are often administered without consent to "chemically restrain" residents. Use of anti-psychotic drugs by people with dementia is under reported. Over-drugging costs taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars nationally, as more than half the prescriptions do not comply with federal reimbursement criteria. 

SAGE (Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders) is the country's largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) older adults. SAGE is a national organization that offers supportive services and consumer resources to LGBT older adults and their caregivers, advocates for public policy changes that address the needs of LGBT older people, and provides training for aging providers and LGBT organizations through its National Resource Center on LGBT Aging. SAGE coordinates a growing network of 23 local SAGE affiliates in 16 states and the District of Columbia.  

An invitation. Candidates for election are welcome to share statements of their accomplishments and plans vis a vis senior citizens and elders. Please email them to pen136@dslextreme.com. 

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 eventspreferred. pen136@dslextreme.com.  

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

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

Saturday, Oct. 20. 10:30 A.M.-Noon. UC Botanical Garden. Natural Discourse Poetry Walk: Botanica Recognita: Signage to Facilitate a Greeting. Join poets Hazel White and Denise Newman for a guided experience of the 25 poem-signs featured in the Garden’s Natural Discourse exhibition that pay tribute to specific plants and trees in the collection. Along the way Hazel and Denise will discuss their process, read poems and tell stories that inspired their works. Free with Garden admission. UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley - 200 Centennial Drive.| 510-643-2755  

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. 

Until Wednesday, Oct. 24. 9 A.M.-4 P.M. UC Botanical Garden. Foods of the Americas Exhibit. From chocolate to quinoa, discover the cornucopia of food crops that originated in the Americas thousands of years ago. This exhibit highlights twelve modern edible plants first cultivated by the Mayan, Incan, and Aztec civilizations. Free with Garden Admission; Tours available. UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley - 200 Centennial Drive.| 510-643-2755. 

Wednesday, Oct. 24. 9 A.M. - 3 P.M. The 27 Annual Marin 2012 Senior Fair, Flights of Fancy, celebrates hope, desire, vision, imagination, contemplation, creativity, 

ingenuity, humor, wit, dreams, and fantastic ideas. Free. Marin Exhibit Hall, 10 Avenue of The Flags, San Rafael. Details at http://www.marinseniorinformationfair.org/visitors.htm 

Wednesday, Oct. 24, 12:15-1P.M. UC,B noon concerts, Hertz Concert Hall. SONATA AND PASSACAGLIA Carla Moore, violin; Davitt Moroney, harpsichord, J. S. Bach: Two Sonatas for violin and harpsichord. Georg Muffat: Passacaglia in G minor. Free. 510-642-4864.  

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

Wednesday, Oct. 24. 1:30 P.M. Berkeley-East Bay Gray Panthers meeting. North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst. Free. 510-548-9696 or 486-8010. GrayPanthersBerk@aol.com.  

Monday, Oct. 29. 5:20P.M. Poetry for Fun. Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Ave. Free. 510-524-3043.  

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 

Wednesday, Oct. 31. 12:15-1 P.M. Hertz Concert Hall. UC BERKELEY SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA. David Milnes, conductor. Adams: Shaker Loops. Debussy: La Mer. Free. 510-642-4864 

Monday, Nov. 5. 6:30 P.M. "Castoffs" - Knitting Group. Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Avenue. Free. 510-524-3043. 

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 

Saturday, Nov. 10. 10 A.M. – 4 P.M. Big Book Sale. Sponsored by the Friends of the 

Berkeley Public Library, at the Central Library, 2090 Kittredge. All items are priced at 

50 cents each. Such new categories as Sexuality, Humor, and Vintage books have been 

added. This year there will also be a retro media 'corral' with book trucks filled with 

vinyl phonograph records, cassettes, CDs, and DVDs. And, of course, there will also be 

the usual free stuff to take home with your purchases. BART or AC Transit. 510-524- 


Tuesday, Nov. 13. 6-7:30 P.M. Tenants’ Rights Workshop. Berkeley Rent Stabilizaiton Board. At Central Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge. A crash course on tenants’ rights and covers topics from rent control and eviction protections to getting security deposits back, dealing with habitability problems, breaking leases, dealing with roommate problems, landlord/tenant mediation, and petitioning for rent reduction/refund through the Berkeley Rent Board. For more information, contact (510) 981-RENT. 

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. 

Monday, Nov. 19. 7:00 P.M. Stress Relief Strategies for Busy Lives, with Holistic Health Coach, Jamie Duvnjak. Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Ave. Free. 510-524-3043. 

Monday, Nov. 26. 7 P.M. Kensington Library Book Club. 61 Arlington Av. Lost Memory of Skin by Russell Banks. Free. 510-524-3043.  

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 MarinAv. 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. 

Friday, Dec. 7, 2012. 6:30P.M. UC Botanical Garden. Gorgeous Gifts from the Garden Holiday Soiree.You’re invited to join the Garden for a special holiday shopping affair. From the sublimely simple to the ultra-chic there is sure to be a plant or Garden-inspired gift item to delight everyone on your holiday gift-giving list. Add tasty seasonal refreshments and extra discounts and the experience is complete! The Garden Shop and special local vendors will feature eco-friendly and handmade items. While you're here, don't forget to pick up a plant for yourself or a beautifully packaged gift membership for someone special. Free. UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley - 200 Centennial Drive.| 510-643-2755  

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, 1247Marin Av. Great Books group meets for a Holiday Luncheon. 510- 526-3720. 

Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013. 10 A.M.-4 P.M. UC Botanical Garden. Plants Illustrated Exhibition. The Garden is pleased to announce its fourth annual botanical art exhibition, Plants Illustrated. The exhibition, held in conjunction with the Northern California Society of Botanical Artists, invites viewers to explore the relationship between scientific study and fine art. The exhibit presents original artworks in watercolor, graphite, colored pencil and pen & ink and explores the many styles, forms and approaches unique to botanical art and illustration. Free with Garden admission. UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley - 200 Centennial Drive.| 510-643-2755.  

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Definition of "Recovery"

By Jack Bragen
Thursday October 18, 2012 - 05:02:00 PM

When we hear the word "recovery" we probably think of a state in which a disease is gone. For example, recovery from cancer implies that someone has gone through chemo, surgery, or perhaps radiation, and the tumor is gone-the person is cancer free. If someone has recovered from a case of the flu, we expect that the person no longer has flu symptoms, and that the flu virus in their system has been subdued by their immune system. 

However, for persons with mental illness, the recovery that we experience is more like establishing or reestablishing quality of life while the symptoms of mental illness may still be present. 

For a person with mental illness to be in recovery, they must no longer be guided by delusions or other symptoms even though delusions or other symptoms may continue. We may experience a day to day struggle against symptoms. For example, in addition to paranoid delusions, I have developed an anxiety disorder that includes phobias. If I were controlled by this, I would probably never leave the house. This would indicate that I was not recovered from my anxiety disorder. However, if I function in life despite the anxiety, I could be said to be "in recovery." 

Recovery for someone like me also includes responsibilities. (This is a separate issue from "taking responsibility" which is another important factor.) If I deal with most of my personal responsibilities, such as paying rent and utilities, buying food, cleaning up after myself, and keeping my appointments, it means that I am not a burden on other people. On the other hand, if I repeatedly create situations in which I must be "rescued" by family or by mental health professionals, it means that I am not truly independent and that I do not have a good grasp on adulthood. (There are exceptions. Most non-afflicted people, who we would assume are competent, need help at some point in their adult lives.) 

Taking the medication prescribed to treat mental illness is usually an essential part of being in recovery. However, if a psychiatrist is the mad hatter, and has you on medications that don't work or which create side effects that are unbearable, a person may sometimes need to replace their psychiatrist. There is nothing wrong with getting a second opinion if you believe your doctor is a bad apple. In general, you should not defy the orders of a psychiatrist before finding a competent replacement. 

Recovery, for someone with mental illness, is a state of being in which the illness isn't ruining the person's life. It is a state in which one is living as close to a "normal" existence as is practicable, allowing for the person's circumstances and limitations. 

Recovery is a personal thing, and it is different for each person. Some people with mental illness feel recovered when able to hold down a job. Others may feel recovered if they have not visited the psych ward for a year. Recovery for some could mean being able to feel peaceful and not in crisis; able to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee (decaf for some) without being agitated. Recovery for some is the ability to go to the store and buy a loaf of bread. For persons with mental illness, there is no strict definition for recovery. 

Just to remind the readers: I have two books on sale at Amazon. One of them contains a year's worth of columns, while the other contains great science fiction that I wrote, much of which has been previously published. Also, you are welcome to contact me for any reason at: bragenkjack@yahoo.com Thank you for continuing to read my column.