Several Berkeley community groups will hold an event tonight to mark the birthday of a mentally ill transgender woman who died in a struggle with officers two months ago. -more-
A number of Bay Area residents, including at least two Berkeley residents, were among the thousands of runners and spectators in the streets of Boston today when two deadly explosions went off near the Boston Marathon's finish line.
According to the Patch newspaper chain, 25 Berkeleyans had registered for the race. The fate of the rest of them is not known at press time.
Berkeley resident Lucretia Ausse, 54, was about to receive her medal after finishing the race in just over four hours when she heard an explosion and saw a plume of smoke. About 10 seconds later, she heard a second blast. -more-
Maudelle Shirek (born June 18, 1911-died April 11, 2013) is a former Vice Mayor and eight term City Council member, Berkeley, California. At the end of her tenure, she was one of the oldest elected officials in the State of California. In 2007, the Berkeley City Council renamed City Hall in her honor. She was my colleague, friend and mentor. -more-
I am deeply saddened by the passing of Maudelle Shirek, and my thoughts and prayers go out to her friends and family.
Maudelle was truly the "godmother of East Bay progressive politics." The former City of Berkeley vice mayor and eight term council member was born and raised in Jefferson, Arkansas. As the granddaughter of slaves, she was passionate about justice and civil rights. After moving to Berkeley in the 1940’s, she became active in the anti-war movement, fought on behalf of unions, advocated for HIV/AIDS awareness, and helped organize the Free Mandela Movement. She was the first elected official in the United States to advocate for needle-exchange programs.
During her tenure as a Berkley elected official, she was instrumental in creating multiple city commissions, including the Berkeley Commission on Labor. When she retired at 92, she was the oldest elected official in California at the time. In 2007, the Berkeley City Council renamed City Hall in her honor. -more-
A Berkeley firefighter narrowly escaped serious injury when he was shot at while responding to an emergency medical call at an elderly man's home early today, a fire department spokesman said. -more-
Citizens for East Shore Parks (CESP) has published a survey of potential building heights on two parcels adjacent to Berkeley’s Aquatic Park at its northeast corner. The survey was commissioned by CESP during the debate on Measure T, a West Berkeley zoning revision that would have allowed master use permits for large sites in West Berkeley, and was completed after its narrow defeat in November 2012 by 512 votes.
The Berkeley City Council rescinded the master use permits at its March 19 meeting, but the heights survey would still be relevant to future planning efforts since the parcels are eligible for development permits under the current mixed use light industrial (MULI) zoning or by development agreement.
The park advocates consider Aquatic Park within their area of concern because it lies directly across the freeway from the brickyard area of McLaughlin Eastshore State Park, and the two are connected by the pedestrian and bicycle bridge across the I-80 freeway. -more-
By April 8, 2013, the western world lost a grand dame, an iconic figure, a woman admired by millions while dismissed by others as just another lady in a bouffant hairdo. She came from a modest social background yet she made her way to the top, a woman who could perform winningly in what is arguably the most competitive arena of life. I am, of course, speaking of Annette Funicello, singer and Hollywood actress. -more-
Parking lots are a tantalizing target for urban taggers. The setting offers the combined attraction of a drive-in movie and an al fresco art gallery. The parking lot at the Alin Building (northeast corner of Shattuck and Dwight Way) has seen its share of graffiti sprout up, only to be washed away by incoming tides of white-out. In the unceasing ebb-and-flow, some rare moments can arise. Like the time in June 2010, when the British artist Banksy visited the Bay Area and left a sample on the Alin wall. -more-
I believe it was Dorothy Parker who once famously stated: "Men seldom make passes At girls who wear glasses." -more-
This week we were sorry to learn that a key downtown Berkeley retailer is going out of business. We got the bad news in a press release:
“Primarily because of diminishing support from its largest and oldest customer, UC Berkeley, ALKO owner Gary Shows has decided to close the business. ALKO has served Berkeley and the East Bay in its current business entity since 1964, Shows has been with ALKO since 1972. ALKO employs four full time and four part time staff.”
Alko was one of the Berkeley Daily Planet’s largest and oldest advertisers, and we returned the favor when we were in print and had an office by purchasing our supplies there, but of course our business with the office supply store was nothing compared to U.C.’s.
And U.C. wasn’t the only Berkeley customer that let Alko down. You can read the whole sad history of Alko’s last ten years if you search on its name in the Planet archives. -more-
The Editor's Back Fence
For early birds who've been eagerly checking for the "next issue", this one has been slow to post. Several articles are still waiting for photos to be processed, but I'm releasing this as the current issue anyhow. The new editorial is even slower to appear, so the old one will be left in place until it is replaced. -more-
As the news media reported, President Obama proposed in Nov. 2012 to cut the Social Security payroll tax in half, from 6.2 percent to 3.1 percent. It would have decimated the program and accomplished what I believe is the political agenda behind this proposal -- the attempt to force recipients to rely more heavily on the private insurance companies. -more-
Coming the day after the 45th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the new unemployment numbers show that unemployment is still high - and remains much higher for African Americans. -more-
Proposition 13, passed in 1978, has not only deprived California of billions of dollars of revenue for schools, public safety, infrastructure, and a host of other necessities but also shifted the burden of property tax from commercial owners to homeowners. -more-
State Senator Leland Yee has introduced Senate Bill 66 , which if passed, would remove a number of burdensome requirements in Laura's Law, an assisted outpatient treatment (AOT) program passed by the California Legislature in 1999 and recently extended to December 31, 2017.
For the uninitiated, an AOT program allows court-ordered, intensive outpatient treatment for people with severe mental illnesses who refuse medication because their illness impairs their ability to make rational decisions. Laura's Law provides for a 180 day period of intensive treatment under the supervision of the court. While we as a society must safeguard the civil rights of the unfortunate, we also have an obligation to care for those who are unable to care for themselves. Laura's Law provides safeguards to protect the civil rights of those being considered for the AOT program. -more-
I oppose the implementation of Laura's Law because I believe this law would have unintended bad consequences for persons with mental illness. It could usher in an entirely new time of abuses and restrictions on us, and might reverse progress toward mandated humane treatment by mental health practitioners. This is progress that was fought for over a period of decades. -more-
As you know, next Monday, April 15 is Tax Day. And next Monday is also when our Tax the Rich group will be rallying. Please, please join us for this very special Monday. Our emphasis will be on the highly inequitable taxes that the rich and the rest of us pay. That inequity help explains the problem of funding social and economic programs that improve our quality of life. -more-
"Why can't you be more like your brother?" "Why don't you get off your rear-end and get a job?" These are the well-worn lines that have become a cliché of a judgmental parent. We are taught that we must earn our keep, or be considered an invalid person. -more-
The UN General Assembly designated January 27—the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the former Nazi death camp in Poland—as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. This annual day of commemoration to honor the victims of the Nazi era and to develop educational programs to help prevent future genocides. This year’s theme is Rescue during the Holocaust: The Courage to Care. -more-
Arts & Events
Why on Earth would a film from Brooklyn be crossing the country to screen in Oakland? Two good reasons: (1) Oakland used to be called Brooklyn (see below) and (2) this award-winning East-of-the Hudson documentary tells a story of Big Development versus Community Resistance than resonates with a local history of poor, established neighborhoods bulldozed into oblivion to make way for freeways, shopping malls and sport stadiums. -more-
Robert Redford returns to the screen as actor/director for the first time since his 2007 anti-Afghan war film, Lions for Lambs. Based on a book by Neil Gordon, The Company You Keep takes the premise of "The Fugitive" and gives it a Weather Underground spin. The cast is not just stellar: it is downright A-List cosmic. The dialog crackles and the directing is sure-footed and fast-paced, but I had some reservations. So, do yourself a favor: See and enjoy this film first. And only then, read the rest of this review. -more-