The Editor's Back Fence

Which Berkeley Is It in the San Francisco Chronicle?

Sunday March 17, 2013 - 03:03:00 PM

Which Berkeley article do you read in the Comical?

A couple of weeks ago, they published a Sunday front page piece by Carolyn Jones that took a dim view of the situation on Telegraph Avenue, one of Berkeley’s traditionally most profitable shopping streets. It noted that things on Teley have gone badly downhill in the last few years (oddly enough during the decade when Tom Bates was mayor):”… sales tax revenues on Telegraph have plummeted, and empty storefronts abound. The intersection of Haste and Telegraph is marred by two vacant lots, and the former Cody's bookstore - once a hub of intellectual life - has sat empty since 2006."

But this week, only two weeks later, it seems everything’s actually coming up roses in Berkeley. This Sunday’s front page proclaims that “Berkeley mayor pushes city to prosperity.”  

Jones glows approvingly in a long gushy puff piece: “Call it Pax Berkeleyana. Crime has plummeted to its lowest level in 50 years. Schools have improved. Home values have remained high (the median home price is $720,000, according to the most recent census figures). Major hubs for environmental and disability rights groups have opened. Hotels, theaters and galleries are all thriving, and more are on the way." 

I guess it’s possible to have it both ways if you hire the right PR firm to hold hands with the press. Does anyone out there know who's flacking for Tom Bates these days? Both his chief of staff and the city's public information officer quit recently, and if you believe the city web site they haven't been replaced. 

I’m not a betting woman, but if I were I’d bet that Bates is finally poised to make a play for the appointment to UC’s Board of Regents that he’s rumored to have been coveting for a while now. That would create an opening for him to anoint a successor to the Mayor’s job, in the time-honored tradition of the Bates-Hancock dynasty.