I consider the attack on California's Public Records Act a stealth attack on a hard-won citizen right, as is the threat of amending the state constitution to weaken a citizen's ability to obtain public records in an easily accessible format and in a reasonable timeliness. I am an involved citizen who depends on the news media and on access to government records to make informed decisions. -more-
Two men were charged today with murder for the fatal shooting of 34-year-old Zontee Jones in broad daylight in Berkeley in February. -more-
When California's budget passed last week, it included several "trailer" bills that modify the budget according to various Legislators' particular interests. One trailer, SB 91, would destroy the Public Records Act by making compliance Optional, if Sections 4 and 118 of SB 71 are signed into law.
It is critical for governmental transparency and accountability that government records be available to the public in the same format that the government uses to make its decisions. The public must have the opportunity to analyze the government's data in order to understand and possibly challenge decisions. This is a foundation of democracy.
A picture of electronic records (in .pdf format) is not equivalent to the actual data in its database format. While governmental data can be searched, sorted and analyzed, a .pdf picture of that data can not be. The public needs to analyze a public agency's data exactly as the agency has done, to insure accountability. Public access to governmental data is too important to our democracy to allow it to be subverted by SB 71.
Section 6253.9 of the Public Record Act says public agencies must provide their data to the public upon request in the format that they use it. Since their data is already in these formats, there is no cost to providing it to PRA requesters. There is no budgetary justification in making the PRA requirement optional.
Email the Governor to veto Sections 4 and 118 of SB 71 (http://gov.ca.gov/m_contact.
New: Redistricting: An Open Letter to the Berkeley Community from the Berkeley Neighborhood Council (Comment)
Not so very long ago, Berkeley proclaimed itself to be a “City of neighborhoods.” Not so much now. Under the quiet and persistent guidance of the present Mayor and Council, policy and practice emphasis has steadily shifted away from neighborhoods and their well-being and preservation to individual buildings and their height and bulk.
This point was driven home on May 7, 2013 when the Council approved a motion by Council Member Gordon Wozniak (seconded by Darryl Moore) to eliminate from Council consideration the map submitted by the Berkeley Neighborhood Council (BNC). This was done even though there was no question that the BNC map was the only redistricting map submitted which was based on the dual principles of creating a majority student district and keeping neighborhood groups together under one Council representative. It was clear that keeping neighborhoods together strengthens neighborhood input; splitting neighborhoods between representatives results in no one on the Council being accountable.
The Wozniak/Moore motion focused Council consideration of redistricting on just two maps. The Berkeley Student District Campaign (BSDC) creates a student supermajority in one Council District (7), a majority in another District (4) and a near majority in a third District (8). The other accepted map, Edge Simplicity, was submitted by Eric Panzer and selected because Council Members liked its “clean” lines even though its author stated it was just an exercise and he favored the BSDC map. Since the BSDC map was clearly the one most favored by the Council, this statement will focus on the strengths of the BNC map compared to the BSDC map. -more-
The California Public Records Act (CPRA) is gravely threatened by stealth amendments revealed for the first time yesterday as part of a "trailer bill" to the new state budget. Instead of the relatively minor cost-saving tweaks proposed earlier by the Governor and approved in legislative committees, the actual amending language will gut key transparency safeguards in California's most important open-government law. -more-
A man arrested in connection with a March shooting and robbery at Berkeley's Ashkenaz Music and Dance Community Center is scheduled to appear in court today, an Alameda County district attorney's office spokesman said. -more-
A Berkeley woman and a Parisian man were the first to cross the finish line in the Wipro San Francisco Marathon this morning, a race spokeswoman said. -more-
After a fire in March shut the doors to Berkeley's famous gourmet restaurant Chez Panisse, the eatery is preparing to reopen later this month. -more-
The current unemployment rate of 7.5% percent means close to 20 million Americans remain unemployed or underemployed.
Nobody states the obvious truth: that the marketplace has changed and there willnever again be enough jobs for everyone who wants one -- no matter who is in the White House or in Congress.
Fifty years ago, economists predicted that automation and technology would displace thousands of workers a year. Now we even have robots doing human work.
Job losses will only get worse as the 21st century progresses. Global capital will continue to move jobs to places on the planet that have the lowest labor costs. Technology will continue to improve, eliminating countless jobs.
There is no evidence to back up the claim that we can create jobs for everyone who wants one. To rely on jobs and economic growth does not work. We have to get rid of the myth that "welfare-to-work" will solve the problems of unemployment, poverty, and homelessness.
"Work" and jobs are not the answer to ending poverty. This has been the hardest concept for us to understand. It's the hardest concept to sell to citizens and policy makers. To end poverty and to achieve true economic freedom, we need to break the link between work and income. -more-
Today Cynthia Johnson, Christopher Lewis Macy, and Cynthia Papermaster will start their open-ended fasts in solidarity with the Hunger Strike at Guantanamo Prison, where over 100 men have been refusing to eat, some for over 130 days, and where over 40 of them are being force fed in a way amounting to torture. -more-
Along with family members of Kayla (Xavier) Moore, Berkeley Copwatch has been trying to investigate the February 13, 2013 death of Kayla Moore in police custody. We are troubled to see that Berkeley Police officers are not only keeping track of us and our activities with regard to Kayla's death, they are attempting to intimidate us. We don’t expect that BPD officers are capable of conducting their own impartial investigation into Kayla’s death or into the way BPD officers interact with mentally ill people, but we would hope that they would not interfere with our efforts to understand what happened on February 13th and how it could be prevented with another person in mental health crisis. We have had a series of actions and meetings over the past few months, and the police presence is becoming increasingly hostile. -more-
The sad news of the sudden death of my close friend Patti Dacey came as a shock to me and many others in Berkeley community.
She had remarkably battled lung cancer, coming out of months of chemotherapy and radiation treatment but bouncing back in her typical form, looking great and going on walks to the Farmer’s Market and enjoying great food at local restaurants. She was an incredibly strong and courageous person, and I felt prior to her untimely passing that she would pull through it. So when I received the call that I long dreaded on June 8th telling me she had passed away during her long awaited trip to Europe I was stunned. I did not expect that she would have left us so soon. I was planning on meeting with her when she returned to Berkeley, to hear about her trip and fill her in on all of the latest about what’s been going on in city politics. Unfortunately I never had the chance to say goodbye to her, but I am comforted knowing that she passed away surrounded by her family which she loved.
I have been heartbroken over the past two weeks since Patti’s passing. I thought rather than feeling sad that I would share my thoughts about what Patti meant to me and our community. -more-
Comment on Hazardous Fire Risk Reduction Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Berkeley/Oakland Hills
I am submitting this comment [to FEMA] as a frequent user of the Claremont Canyon and Strawberry Canyon trails and resident at 6442 Hillegass Avenue, Oakland; and apparently a mildly dissenting member of the Claremont Canyon Conservancy. While my professional practice over 40 years has concentrated on preparation of or response to comprehensive comments on environmental documents, this comment will not focus on linear detail but attempt summarily to reach the heart of the matter. -more-
Werner Heisenberg, one of the founders along with Schroedinger of Quantum Mechanics, once said, "The very act of observing disturbs the system." He was referring to the fact that the instruments that we use to gather data about a system under study (in life or in the laboratory), changes the system being studied, and what we observe is the changed system, changed again when we seek to observe those changes. -more-
With Patti Dacey’s death last Friday Berkeley’s civic circus lost one of its brightest stars. Most recently, Patti’s keen intellect and sparkling wit enhanced the meetings of the Planning Commission, of which she was a member, but in her too short life she added color and style to a wide range of pursuits both public and private. -more-
The Editor's Back Fence
The previous issue was up for a long time because I was occupied with other problems, and I just kept adding to it, so it's possible readers might have missed some excellent pieces. If you think you might have missed something, just click on the "Previous Issue" button at the top of the home page to check. -more-
In the latest recovery, 93 percent of the gains went to the top 1 percent. How long will it take before the 99 percent realize they’re getting shafted? When will American workers revolt?
It’s clear to most observers that the American economy has lost its heart and now is being run for the benefit of the rich. Over the past twenty years, US GDP and productivity increased while average household income was stagnant. -more-
The entire cast of Republican Senators voted June 4 to kill the Paycheck Fairness Act (PFA), equal pay legislation intended to close loopholes and strengthen the Equal Pay Act (EPA), first signed into law by President Kennedy over 50 years ago. -more-
Most people are taught by sensationalized news and exaggerated movies to be paranoid about persons with mental illness. People should realize that most mentally ill people are not dangerous, and on the contrary, are often victimized by criminals who see us as relatively defenseless people. -more-
Arts & Events
On Tuesday, July 2nd, 4-6pm the AFL-CIO and the Alliance for Retired Americans will be having an unusual rally at the federal building in San Francisco to PROTECT AND IMPROVE Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Similar rallies will be held in cities throughout the country. Our East Bay Tax the Rich Group is supporting this event. -more-
There's a lot to shout about at this year's edition of the San Francisco Silent Film Festival. SFSFF gets underway this week with a rare and not-to-be-missed three-day extravaganza of films by Alfred J. Hitchcock. But this is Hitchcock with a twist.
Before his fame crossed the Atlantic, Hitchcock was earning his stripes in London as a director of silent films. In the course of these early years, Hitchcock directed ten films. Today, only nine survive but – thanks to the efforts of the British Film Institute – all of these recovered and restored classics (some well-known to film buffs; others previously believed "lost") now are being seen for the first time in generations.
The Hitchcock Nine will be screening at San Francisco's Castro Theater from June 14-16, with live musical accompaniment provided by the Castro's Mighty Wurlitzer, the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra and a slew of guest soloists. This promises to be a great beginning for the 18th edition of an internationally celebrated festival that has screened more than 170 rare silent classics. -more-
Wilde Irish Productions is celebrating its 10th anniversary of Berkeley Bloomsday celebrations, the date in 1904 when "Leopold Bloom, the most famous Jew in Ireland, and his cohorts go traipsing and tramping the streets and strands of Dublin," out of the pages of James Joyce's 'Ulysses,' featuring Ms. Marion McEvoy, direct from Dublin, in her show about Joyce's mother, 'A Portrait of the Artist's Mother,' with music and song, as well as old and new Wilde Irish company members in scenes from 'Portrait of the Artist' and 'Finnegan's Wake'--ending with Shosi Black, who at five sang the traditional song "Finnegan's Wake" at their first Bloomsday, now reprising the number as a teenager with her father, Shay Black of the famous Dublin Black Family and the audience. -more-
Marion Fay's excellent Theater Explorations class will recommence this Monday, June 17, 1-3 pm, at Northbrae Community Church, 941 The Alameda near Solano Avenue, with 3 plays ('Abigail's Party' by Mike Leigh at the SF Playhouse June 29, 3 pm--'This Is How It Goes' by Neil Labute at Aurora July 14, 7 pm--and 'Sea of Reeds' by Josh Kornbluth at Shotgun July 28, 5 pm) and six Monday afternoon classes. -more-