The Week



Press Release: Berkeley Homicide Victim Identified; Reward Offered

From Ofc Jennifer Coats, BPC
Thursday March 06, 2014 - 02:45:00 PM

The City of Berkeley Police Department (BPD) is offering a $15,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspect or suspects responsible for the homicide that occurred in the 1100 of Addison Street.

On Friday, February 28, 2014 at approximately 11:48 a.m., the Berkeley Police Department received a welfare check request from a community member. The reporting party was concerned because they had not seen their friend, the resident of an apartment on the 1100 block of Addison St., for several days. Officers obtained access to the apartment, and subsequently discovered the resident, 54-year-old Sylvan Fuselier, deceased in the apartment. Further investigation of the scene determined that Fuselier had been murdered. -more-

Press Release: Berkeley Police Investigating Friday Night Homicide

From Ofc J. Coats
Saturday March 01, 2014 - 02:27:00 PM

The City of Berkeley Police Department (BPD) is currently investigating a homicide that occurred in the 1100 block of Addison Street. On Friday, February 28, 2014 at approximately 11:46 a.m. BPD received a call for a welfare check at an apartment building in the 1100 block of Addison Street. Officers arrived at the location and discovered a male, in his 50s, deceased on the premises. -more-

Flash: Small Quake Shakes Berkeley Area

By Giovanni Albanese (BCN)
Friday February 28, 2014 - 11:43:00 PM

An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 2.6 was recorded tonight in the area just above UC Berkeley's Clark Kerr Campus, in the Claremont Canyon Regional Preserve, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The temblor was reported at 11 p.m. about 1 mile east-southeast of Berkeley, and roughly 2 miles north-northwest of Piedmont. -more-

Two Relatives of Berkeley Student Down with Measles

By Laura Dixon,Bay City News Service
Friday February 28, 2014 - 04:56:00 PM

Two relatives of a University of California at Berkeley student who contracted measles earlier this month have also caught the disease, Contra Costa County health officials said. -more-

Chocolate Factory Comes to Berkeley

By Sasha Lekach (BCN) and Planet
Thursday February 27, 2014 - 11:12:00 AM

San Francisco-based chocolate maker TCHO New American Chocolate is moving next month to a new space in a building which straddles the Oakland/Berkeley/Emeryville border, a company employee said today. -more-



Richmond's Housing Problems are No Worse than Berkeley's, Rebuttal to Expose Shows

By Becky O'Malley
Friday February 28, 2014 - 03:49:00 PM

In the olden days (before 1970 perhaps?) the terms “investigative reporting” or “investigative journalism” were not widely used. Newspapers employed “reporters”, who attempted on a daily basis to turn events into stories. “Journalism” as distinguished from “reporting” (despite its derivation from the French word for “daily”) was a term used primarily in academe, as the title for departments and schools in universities, disdained by hard-bitten news reporters.

Beginning reporters for dailies used to be told that their first paragraph should answer the questions Who, What, When, Where and Why. But increasingly the Why is getting lost in “investigative” stories produced for multiple media outlets by teams at non-profit centers. Investigative journalism can be a powerful tool, so it's important that it tell the complete story. That's why we're publishing in this issue a lengthy criticism of a recent investigative report.

These days in dailies you’re more likely to see puffish journalistic feature stories with lengthy descriptive lead paragraphs in prominent positions on the front page (“Venture Capital: Y Combinator Evolving with New Leadership”). The space devoted to straightforward reporting of local news by in-house staff—planning commission meetings, burglaries and the like—has shrunk dramatically, relegated to second sections and back pages.

For the small number of long factual stories still being published, the focus, in newspapers, magazines, broadcast and online media, has shifted to the investigative model. Increasingly, this kind of journalism is practiced at non-profit independent centers funded by big money interests which exist outside the multiple kinds of news outlets which disseminate their products.

Here’s the Wikipedia definition: “Investigative journalism is a form of journalism in which reporters deeply investigate a single topic of interest, often involving crime, political corruption, or corporate wrongdoing.”

Many investigative organizations now rely heavily on some version of data mining: deep reading and interpretation of publicly available information. The technique was perfected by I.F. Stone, who was able to penetrate the secrets of the federal government by his exhaustive study of the documents it produced. (The other kind of reporting which was the product of carefully cultivated relationships between beat reporters and insider sources,à la the Woodward-Bernstein Watergate story, has become less common.)

The greatly expanded availability of online data makes the information-dense strategy even more effective than it used to be. But Izzy Stone’s great strength was adding the Why to his carefully researched facts, and it’s a skill which is often neglected in contemporary investigative reporting.

For many years I’ve been threatening to write a journalism textbook which consists of templates for reliably generic horror stories, which could be used in a fill-in-the-blanks manner by investigative journalists for the kinds of bad situations which never seem to go away: “Nursing Homes Filthy, Unsafe, Neglect Patients,” “Pesticides Traces Found in Applesauce” etc. etc. Stories like this are easy to do: just plug in local names and numbers and you’re home free.

But relying solely on government documents has its perils. In this issue we’re reprinting a lengthy critique of a purported expose of problems with public housing in Richmond which was produced by Berkeley’s Center for Investigative Reporting and featured by the San Francisco Chronicle and KQED. The man-bites-dog critic is Tom Butt, a prize-winning architect and long-time progressive councilmember in Richmond. He’s an indefatigable communicator, writing frequent lengthy reports to his constituents and publishing them online as the Tom Butt E-Forum.

The long-and-short of his complaint is that the CIR team ignored facts on the ground in their zeal for mining sensational but dated HUD complaints from online facts in obsolete public records. Here’s the short version of his beef about the housing story, from his site: -more-


Odd Bodkins: Sprung (Cartoon)

By Dan O'Neill
Friday February 28, 2014 - 04:34:00 PM

Public Comment

"Expose" of Richmond Housing Authority Misses Key Facts

By Richmond Councilmember Tom Butt
Wednesday February 26, 2014 - 03:59:00 PM


The 150-unit Hacienda is the ground zero poster child of Amy Julia Harris’ sensational expose of Richmond’s Housing Authority, so on Friday, February 21, I went to the scene of the crime to see for myself.

Resident Manager Debra Holter said she had been managing Hacienda for 16 years, and this was the first time, to the best of her knowledge, that a City Council member had visited the site. Tim Jones said he was sure this was the first time a City Council member had been on the roof.

For anyone reading this who doesn’t know my background, I have been a practicing architect for over 40 years. I am an expert in forensic architecture and evaluating the condition of buildings, including roofs, whole building evaluations and diagnostics.

As with my previous comments on this recent media frenzy about Richmond’s public housing, this is intended as neither a defense nor an excuse for any mismanagement at any level of the City of Richmond, but it is intended to provide a more circumspect portrayal of the complex and complicated nature of Richmond’s public housing program than that which has been portrayed in the press.

I would have expected better from the Center for Investigative Reporting and Amy Julia Harris, the author of a series of articles slamming the Richmond Housing Authority. While there is plenty to criticize about public housing in Richmond, I am disappointed that the effort by Harris as edited by Andrew Donohue, Mark Katches, Nikki Frick and Christine Lee, was oriented more toward sensationalism and hyperbole than toward objective reporting. There were also a number of factual errors, for which to date no correction or retraction has been offered.

The website of the Center for Investigative Reporting states, “Our work is fact-based, nonpartisan and truth-driven,” and “What keeps CIR alive isn't money or profit – it's impact.”

I submit that the spate of stories about Richmond are neither fact-based nor truth driven, and it appears the reporter was more after impact than reality.

They say don’t argue with people who buy ink by the barrel, but I think someone needs to take this group on. To me, it appears that they first chose a hypothesis and then and set out to hang whatever sensational narrative they could find to support it. The articles are: -more-

Sequestration, Salary Cap Needed For Nonprofit Housing Developers

By Lynda Carson
Friday February 28, 2014 - 04:37:00 PM

As the massive automatic across-the-board sequestration budget cuts continue to devastate the poor in the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program, greedy nonprofit developers are pushing for Rental Assistance Reform (RAR) legislation that would result in higher rents for the poor, the acceleration of the privatization of our public housing sites all across the nation, and the loss of Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers for the poor.

The wealthy nonprofit developers want more Section 8 vouchers to be taken away from the poor so that they can be converted into project-based vouchers for their projects.

Meanwhile, as the massive sequestration budget cuts continue to harm the poor, the executives in the nonprofit so-called affordable housing industry continue to demand higher rents from the poor, at the same time they receive massive bonuses and increases in their salaries and wage compensation.

At this point, I am demanding a freeze in rent increases on the poor in all so-called affordable housing projects being operated by nonprofit and for profit so-called affordable housing developers.

I am also pushing for a salary cap of $125,000 in salaries and wage compensation for all the executives in the so-called affordable housing industry that have projects subsidized by local and federal tax dollars.

I am demanding that the executives immediately reduce, and freeze their salaries at the level of $125,000 annually.

I am asking for community support in demanding an end in rent increases on the poor in so-called affordable housing projects, and ask for community support in pushing for a salary cap of $125,000 for all executives in nonprofit and for profit housing organizations that have so-called affordable housing projects subsidized by local and federal tax dollars. -more-

March Pepper Spray Times

By Grace Underpressure
Friday February 28, 2014 - 04:43:00 PM

Editor's Note: The latest issue of the Pepper Spray Times is now available.

You can view it absolutely free of charge by clicking here . You can print it out to give to your friends.

Grace Underpressure has been producing it for many years now, even before the Berkeley Daily Planet started distributing it, most of the time without being paid, and now we'd like you to show your appreciation by using the button below to send her money. -more-

Why Community?

By Harry Brill
Friday February 28, 2014 - 04:44:00 PM

For 2 1/2 years on the streets of Solano Avenue our East Bay Tax the Rich Group has been building community. Why is community important? For political activists a community minded perspective improves the odds of winning political battles. That's why achieving solidarity is often a strategic objective for organized labor. -more-


DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE:Ukraine Revolt’s Dark Side

By Conn Hallinan
Monday March 03, 2014 - 08:22:00 AM

“The April 6 rally in Cherskasy, a city 100 miles southeast of Kiev, turned violent after six men took off their jackets to reveal T-shirts emblazoned with the words “Beat the Kikes” and “Svoboda,” the name of the Ukrainian ultranationalist movement and the Ukrainian word for “freedom.”

--Jewish Telegraphic Agency, April 12, 2013

While most of the Western media describes the current crisis in the Ukraine as a confrontation between authoritarianism and democracy, many of the shock troops who have manned barricades in Kiev and the western city of Lviv these past months represent a dark page in the country’s history and have little interest in either democracy or the liberalism of Western Europe and the United States.

“You’d never know from most of the reporting that far-right nationalists and fascists have been at the heart of the protests and attacks on government buildings,” reports Seumas Milne of the British Guardian. The most prominent of the groups has been the ultra-rightwing Svoboda or “Freedom” Party.

And that even the demand for integration with Western Europe appears to be more a tactic than a strategy: “The participation of Ukrainian nationalism and Svoboda in the process of EU [European Union] integration, “ admits Svoboda political council member Yury Noyevy, “is a means to break our ties with Russia.” -more-

THE PUBLIC EYE: The War on Democracy: Art Pope and the Rich Bullies

By Bob Burnett
Friday February 28, 2014 - 04:33:00 PM

Out here on the Left Coast, we’re not opposed to capitalism. But we believe it needs constraints. You’ll hear two arguments for curbing capitalism. One focuses on poor kids and the other on rich bullies, such as North Carolina’s Art Pope. -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: About This Column

By Jack Bragen
Friday February 28, 2014 - 04:47:00 PM

This column consists of the opinions of one mentally ill man on the subject of mental illness. This is an opinion column, and it is not meant to contain expert advice. -more-

Arts & Events

AROUND AND ABOUT MUSIC: Vienna Philharmonic Returns to Berkeley for Cal Performances Residency & Symposium

By Ken Bullock
Friday February 28, 2014 - 04:26:00 PM

The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra returns to Berkeley next weekend, March 7-9, for Cal Performances' annual orchestra residency, including three concerts and a symposium, with lectures, panel discussions and chamber concert, 'The Vienna Philharmonic, 100 Years After the Outbreak of World War One, featuring scholars and musicians from Vienna, Berkeley and elsewhere in North America. The symposium is open to the public as a free event. -more-

Press Release: Ruin In Progress:
How the Decay of Cal’s Historic Buildings Reflect Its Changing Mission
With Dr. Gray Brechin

Friday February 28, 2014 - 04:51:00 PM

Can we allow UC Berkeley to destroy its historic buildings? Its Maybeck, its South Hall? William Randolph Hearst and his mother, Phoebe Apperson Hearst gave generously to the University of California at Berkeley in its formative years. Signature buildings like The Campanile, the Library, and Hearst Gym were built according to two Hearst plans for the campus. As costly new structures rise around the university's perimeter, the historic buildings at its core suffer advanced neglect. Geographer. Gray Brechin will present an illustrated talk on changing priorities in a time of forgetting. -more-