The Week



The Berkeley Fair Campaign Practices Commission Hears TUFF Charges

By Dave Blake
Friday May 17, 2013 - 11:42:00 AM

Last night marked the first well-attended Fair Campaign Practices Commission meeting on the TUFF violations; there were 20 audience members, and the Oakland Tribune sent a reporter. The result was predictable, with commissioners whose Council appointers had endorsed the slate voting to accept the stipulation arrived at between city legal staff and the offenders (with one important change) and commission members appointed by Councilmembers who hadn't backed the slate voting in the minority (4-3) to reject it. But the path to the vote involved four different kinds of hand-wringing by the prevailing majority that at least provided the audience, the vast majority of which had spoken against accepting the stipulation, with moments of suspense and mystery. -more-

Press Release: It's Official: Andy Katz is Running for Assembly [forwarded by a reader]

From Andy Katz
Thursday May 16, 2013 - 03:38:00 PM

Dear XXXX,

California is approaching a crucial turning point. Next year, many of our strongest legislators on important issues like the environment are leaving the State Legislature due to term limits, including our current Assemblymember, Nancy Skinner.

Assemblymember Skinner has been an outstanding leader on the environment, on climate protection, the State budget, and many other essential issues. Her absence will be a significant loss to our community and to our Assembly District, a District with a long tradition of representation by strong progressive and environmentalist public officials.

So we need real leadership in Sacramento this next decade. We need leaders who will recommit California to a strong future for our environment, our schools, and our community.

And that is why today I'm announcing that I will be a Democratic candidate for California State Assembly in the 15th District in 2014. -more-

Graffitirazzi – Live Oak Park, Part 3

By Gar Smith
Thursday May 16, 2013 - 05:00:00 PM

                Live Oak Tunnel, East Side

The west side of the Cordonices Creek bridge that supports Oxford Street is layered with patches of colorful graffiti that extend over the wall on both sides of the tunnel through which the creek flows. But there's another wall of art hidden on the eastern side. To reach it, however, you may have to take the same path used by the graffiti artists – through the tunnel. -more-

New: Berkeley's Fair Campaign Practices Commission Meets Tonight To Consider Light Penalties for Flagrant Election Law Evaders (News Analysis)

By Dave Blake and Dean Metzger
Thursday May 16, 2013 - 01:08:00 PM

Tonight the Fair Campaign Practices Commission meets (7 pm, N Berkeley Senior Center) to consider the stipulation offered by members of Tenants United for Fairness (TUFF)—a slate that ran for Berkeley’s Rent Stabilization Board in the November election—and the landlords who illegally funded their campaign. -more-

Berkeley Hills Shooting Victim Identified

By Sasha Lekach (BCN)
Tuesday May 14, 2013 - 01:10:00 PM

A 21-year-old Fremont man was shot and killed at a popular Berkeley hills turnout Sunday morning, a University of California at Berkeley police lieutenant said.

Alverto Santana-Silva was shot around 5:30 a.m. at an overlook off of Grizzly Peak Boulevard near signpost 16 that is frequented by people looking at the view of the Bay and hills, UC Berkeley police Lt. Marc DeCoulode said. -more-

Press Release: Homicide Near Berkeley on Grizzly Peak Boulevard, Signpost 16

From UC Police Department
Tuesday May 14, 2013 - 07:34:00 AM

On Sunday, May 12, 2013 at 5:38 a.m., UCPD officers were dispatched to the area near Signpost 16 on Grizzly Peak Boulevard regarding a report of a casualty, possibly related to a shooting. When they arrived on scene, they found a vehicle off to the side of the road and an adult male gunshot victim outside on the ground. UCPD officers provided medical aid to the victim, but unfortunately the victim did not survive his injuries and was pronounced deceased by the Berkeley Fire Department on scene. -more-

Police Raid UC Berkeley's Occupy the Farm Site

By Zack Farmer (BCN)
Monday May 13, 2013 - 11:22:00 AM

University of California at Berkeley officials plowed thousands of plants from a tract of land they own in Albany this morning that the "Occupy The Farm" encampment planted during the weekend, a group member said. -more-

Drones or No Drones? The Debate Drones On (News Analysis)

By Gar Smith
Monday May 13, 2013 - 10:35:00 AM
Berkeley citizens express their concerns over drones.

Late last year, when word leaked that police in Alameda County and Berkeley were preparing to jump on the post-911 bandwagon by acquiring unmanned, aerial surveillance drones, it was the kind of news that makes a pacifist go ballistic. So, on December 18, 2012, squadrons of anti-drone activists homed in on a City Council meeting to demand that the city -- home of the country's first "Nuclear-Free Zone" -- declare itself a "No Drone Zone."

Despite the unanimous public outcry against the idea of "drones in Berkeley," when it came time to act, the council was split -- with a majority clearly entranced by the promise of the city owning its own high-tech drone to handle "emergency situations." The council ordered a time-out for further study. They did, however, agree to send a letter to Alameda's Sheriff and Board of Supervisors asking that the county "delay any action on the purchase of a drone until the City of Berkeley has completed its evaluation of the issue." -more-



Berkeley Council Plots Squelching
the Man Who Knows Too Much
About Land Use

By Becky O'Malley
Thursday May 16, 2013 - 07:12:00 PM

The darkest deeds are done in the dead of night. That’s why it’s often a good idea to check out the last item on the online video of the Berkeley City Council meetings. Yes, if you’re a political junky you can watch the council in real time on your home computer (or godforbid even attend in person) but you have to be badly addicted to stay awake until the wee small hours when the powers-that-wanna-be take up their worst proposals. -more-

The Editor's Back Fence

Berkeley Assemblymember Nancy Skinner Pays to Play with Democrats in the California Legislature

Thursday May 16, 2013 - 04:31:00 PM

The Sunday Chronicle headlined a juicy story from the Center for Investigative Reporting over the weekend: Speaker Perez Gave Top Donors Plum Posts.

On the CIR website, this was the title:

California speaker gives Assembly's juiciest jobs to biggest fundraisers

And Berkeleyans will be interested to learn some information that for some reason was cut from the Chron’s version of the story: our own Assemblymember Nancy Skinner, now termed out of the Assembly, expected to be tapped by the queenmakers to succeed Loni Hancock as State Senator, is one of the big players (and the big payers) in this pay-to-play system. -more-


Odd Bodkins: The man who wrestled furniture (Cartoon)

By Dan O'Neill
Thursday May 16, 2013 - 04:40:00 PM

Odd Bodkins: Number 47 (Cartoon)

By Dan O'Neill
Thursday May 16, 2013 - 04:34:00 PM

Public Comment

The State of Equality and Justice in America: The Presumption of Guilt

By Congressman John Lewis and Bryan Stevenson
Friday May 17, 2013 - 10:14:00 AM

"The State of Equality and Justice in America" is a 20-part series of columns written by an all star list of contributors to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. The contributors include: U. S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) LCCRUL 50th Anniversary Grand Marshal; Ms. Barbara Arnwine, President and Executive Director, Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (LCCRUL); Mr. Charles Ogletree, Professor, Harvard University Law School/Director, Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice; the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr., President/CEO, Rainbow/PUSH Coalition; the Rev. Joseph Lowery, Co-founder, Southern Christian Leadership Conference; U. S. Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.); and 14 additional thought leaders and national advocates for equal justice. -more-

Reopen Willard Pool?

By Larry Bensky
Thursday May 16, 2013 - 01:56:00 PM

[Editor's note: this piece originally was published in the East Bay Express. The editor thoroughly enjoyed it and secured the author's permission to reprint it here. ]

While it is certainly understandable that many people are upset, if not disgusted, at the opening of yet another big box chain store in Berkeley, it would not be fair to see the Derby/Telegraph CVS as the same old/new thing.

We should recognize that, due to the foresight and leadership of Berkeley's city government, on many levels, we now have a situation many of us can applaud. Led by Mayor Tom Bates and city staff, an arrangement was negotiated with CVS to reopen the now closed, and very much missed, Willard Pool as a condition for building and use permits for the CVS just across the street.

While such arrangements are common in many other cities, it's been a long time since we saw one in supposedly progressive Berkeley. -more-

New: Berkeley Fair Campaign Practices Commission to Act on Most Egregious Violations of Local Election Laws

By Alejandro Soto-Vigil
Thursday May 16, 2013 - 01:17:00 PM

Berkeley Tenants United for Fairness”, a pro-landlord slate, has admitted numerous violations of state and local campaign finance laws The violations committed by TUFF are some of the most egregious in Berkeley history and could pave the way for other violations in the future, and undermine the letter and spirit of Berkeley’s voter approved Election Reform Act. -more-

New: OUTRAGEOUS! Berkeley's City Staff has essentially endorsed corruption by failing to hold TUFF and the BPOA accountable

By Fred Dodsworth
Thursday May 16, 2013 - 01:16:00 PM

Berkeley's Fair Campaign Practices Commission must hold the "Tenants' United for Fairness" TUFF slate — a dark-money stalking horse for the Berkeley Property Owners Association — accountable and punish these flagrant violations in a substantial fashion that sends a loud clear message to those who would destroy our local democracy! -more-

Statement in Support of a Citywide "No Drone Zone"

By Gar Smith / Environmentalists Against War (
Monday May 13, 2013 - 10:30:00 AM

Environmentalists Against War is a global coalition of more than 100 environmental, peace, and social justice groups committed to addressing the impacts of war and militarism. -more-


THE PUBLIC EYE: Who’s to Blame for Long-Term Unemployment?

By Bob Burnett
Friday May 17, 2013 - 10:08:00 AM

May 3rd brought news that the unemployment rate has dipped to 7.5 percent and there’s been an alarming rise in the suicide rate for middle-aged Americans. According to the Center for Disease Control, “The [suicide] increase does coincide with a decrease in financial standing for a lot of families…” 4.35 million Americans have been unemployed for more than 26 weeks. Whose fault is this? -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Inadequate Coping Skills

By Jack Bragen
Thursday May 16, 2013 - 03:33:00 PM

When someone, anyone, experiences emotional distress, they have an instinctive reaction to try to alleviate or get away from that. When someone with a severe mental illness experiences distress or perhaps painful emotions, they may have a lot of difficulty coping with it. -more-


By Helen Rippier Wheeler,
Thursday May 16, 2013 - 03:32:00 PM

Maybe it's true that life begins at 50... but everything else starts to wear out, fall out, or spread out. That’s according to Phyllis Diller. She was ninety-five years old when she died last year, a devotee of cosmetic surgery, and a strong woman. -more-

THE PUBLIC EYE: Who’s to Blame for Long-Term Unemployment?

By Bob Burnett
Monday May 13, 2013 - 10:21:00 AM

May 3rd brought news that the unemployment rate has dipped to 7.5 percent and there’s been an alarming rise in the suicide rate for middle-aged Americans. According to the Center for Disease Control, “The [suicide] increase does coincide with a decrease in financial standing for a lot of families…” 4.35 million Americans have been unemployed for more than 26 weeks. Whose fault is this? -more-

ECLECTIC RANT: Timeshares: Know What You Are Buying

By Ralph E. Stone
Monday May 13, 2013 - 10:34:00 AM

Mr. Smith received a mailer -- "3 Free Nights in Waikiki-Spend 3 nights in 4 star hotel-no purchase necessary." The mailer directed him to call the listed telephone number "to schedule your short presentation from ABC Resort." When he called the telephone number on the mailer, he was given a nearby address and time for him to attend the presentation. Both Mr. Smith and his wife showed up and were given a hard-sell sales presentation that while not illegal, bordered on the unethical. Instead of carefully reading the contract or better yet, taking it home and having their lawyer read it, the Smiths impulsively signed the contract obligating them to pay $20,000 for their timeshare. -more-


By Jack Bragen
Monday May 13, 2013 - 10:26:00 AM

Self-coaching might consist of you telling yourself positive things, some of which might be affirmations, in order to deal with a situation. If a situation brings anxiety or apprehension, or if challenging to face, self-coaching can make it easier and can sometimes make the outcome better. -more-

Arts & Events

New: Eliza O'Malley Sings Aaron Blumenfeld's Songs on Thursday at the Berkeley Arts Festival

By Bonnie Hughes
Tuesday May 21, 2013 - 01:45:00 PM

Composer Aaron Blumenfeld works in three fields of music: classical, jazz and Jewish music. He has composed a jazz piano concerto (funded by a grant from the New Jersey Council on the Arts), two operas, several albums of original jazz and blues, and numerous classical works. In 2010 and 2012 he received awards from Shalshelet: The Foundation for New Jewish Liturgical Music. Today's concert will consist of two sections: classical songs set to the poems of Berkeley poet Judith Goldhaber (performed by soprano Eliza O'Malley and pianist Willis Hickox), and selections from "42 Brief Hebrew Art Songs" (performed by Cantor Izthak Emanuel, former cantor at Congregation Beth David in Saratoga, with Mr. Blumenfeld at the piano). -more-

New: A Meeting of Wizards: Indra’s Net’s “Copenhagen” at Berkeley’s Osher Studio

By John A. McMullen II
Tuesday May 21, 2013 - 02:44:00 PM
MIchael K. Cassidy, Karol Stremke, and Robert Ernst

There is something special about seeing Michael Frayn’s “Copenhagen” in Berkeley. Oppenheimer’s home, the Lawrence lab’s cyclotron, and this small city’s part in the history of the creation of the nuclear bomb makes it a special place to see it, a masterstroke to produce it here, and a must for Berkeley-ites of intellect to attend. -more-