The Week



UC Theatre Renovation Project Unveiled

By Steven Finacom
Thursday April 24, 2014 - 09:25:00 AM
Mayor Tom Bates (front left) and Mayeri pulled a rope to unveil the new marquee message on University Avenue.

With a pull on a rope—and an assist from a man hidden atop the marquee—David Mayeri of the Berkeley Music Group and Mayor Tom Bates raised the curtain on the next stage in a long planned Downtown Berkeley project, the renovation and reopening of the UC Theatre. -more-

Press Release: Historic Lawsuit Settled on Behalf of Albany Housing Advocates and 28 Residents of the Albany Bulb

Wednesday April 23, 2014 - 02:26:00 PM

Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton along with the East Bay Community Law Center and the Homeless Action Center announced that today they have settled the lawsuit against the City of Albany (the City) on behalf of Albany Housing Advocates and 28 homeless Albany residents who currently live on a closed landfill known as the Albany Bulb. Plaintiffs sued Albany for of violation federal and state disability laws and homeless Bulb residents’ constitutional rights, including 4th Amendment property protections.

The 28 residents will be entitled to a $3,000 cash payment in exchange for their agreement to vacate the Bulb and remove all their personal property no later than April 25, 2014. In lieu of removing their personal property at their own expense, they may designate personal property to be removed and stored by the City for up to 120 days. Plaintiffs who do not accept the settlement will be entitled to dismiss their claims without prejudice. The Settlement Agreement is attached. -more-

U.C. Berkeley Police Seek Man Who Allegedly Ordered His Dog to Attack Woman in People's Park

By Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Tuesday April 22, 2014 - 01:38:00 PM

University of California at Berkeley police are seeking a man wanted for assault with a deadly weapon after he allegedly ordered his pit bull to attack a woman at People's Park on Sunday night. -more-

M&H Market Loses Liquor License in Berkeley for 20 Days; Employee Charged with Attempting to Buy Stolen Cellphones

By Scott Morris (BCN)
Monday April 21, 2014 - 10:46:00 PM

A South Berkeley liquor store has lost its license to sell alcohol for 20 days after an employee there bought purportedly stolen cellphones from an undercover agent, a state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control spokesman said today. -more-

Warehouse Fire in Berkeley Cost $5 Million

By Scott Morris (BCN)
Thursday April 17, 2014 - 05:03:00 PM

A five-alarm that destroyed the warehouses of three West Berkeley businesses on Saturday night caused an estimated $9 million in damage, Berkeley fire Acting Deputy Chief Avery Webb said today. -more-

In Memoriam Herb Wong, 1926-2014

Eulogy by John Stenzel, BHS Jazz Parent
Tuesday April 22, 2014 - 10:16:00 PM

Berkeley Unified’s music program lost one of its founding fathers when Dr. Herb Wong passed away Sunday at the age of 88. BHS Jazz was planning to honor Dr. Wong at our annual alumni concert on June 1st, with the City of Berkeley set to issue an award, but now, sadly, it will have to be presented posthumously. -more-

Carl Bloice

By Conn Hallinan
Wednesday April 23, 2014 - 11:54:00 AM

“One is responsible to life: It is the small beacon in that terrifying darkness from which we come and to which we shall return. One must negotiate this passage as nobly as possible, for the sake of those who are coming after us.”

—James Baldwin, “The Fire Next Time”

Carl Bloice, Foreign Policy In Focus columnist and blogger, and long-time African-American journalist, negotiated that journey with power and grace. Right up to the moment when he lost his long battle with cancer, he was contributing to the website Portside and struggling to complete a column on the Middle East. He died in San Francisco April 12 at age 75. -more-


Public Comment

An Open Letter to the League of Women Voters from Lisa Stephens, Chair of the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board

From Lisa Stephens, Chair, Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board
Friday April 18, 2014 - 10:26:00 AM

Dear Ms. Bickel and Members of the Board of the League of Women Voters,

The Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board will be holding a Budget Workshop at our regular meeting on Monday, April 21. The Workshop is an opportunity for the general public to review with us the current Rent Stabilization Program and the proposed Budget for Fiscal Year 2014-2015. I expect that we will also receive a mid-year budget update and discuss the registration fee level.

On behalf of the full Board, I would like to invite you, the rest of your board members and the membership of the League of Women Voters to attend and provide public comment on the scope and level of service our program provides and any specific recommendations for changes to those services. This would also be the appropriate time to comment on the registration fee level.

I am extending this invitation specifically to the League in response to your letter of November 7, 2013. The letter contains a great number of inaccuracies and misconceptions regarding the current functions of the Rent Stabilization Program, our budget and the appropriateness of the current registration fee. The letter also makes a number of assertions, including that the Board does not fully exercise its fiduciary responsibilities – these assertions are not supported by specifics and are contradicted, in fact, by our extensive open and public budget process. -more-

Tasers Are No Magic Bullet

By Andrea Prichett of Berkeley Copwatch
Friday April 18, 2014 - 10:19:00 AM

After each mishap or tragedy that occurs these days in Berkeley, we are told that it could have been averted “if only” the police had been issued tasers. The mayor of Berkeley made this claim after six Berkeley police killed a mentally ill transgender woman in her own home last year. BPD officers made the same claim again when a mentally ill man stabbed himself several times. This week, Chris Stines of the Berkeley Police Association (BPA) went to great pains to spread the notion that if a Berkeley police officer had had a taser this past week, he wouldn’t have been assaulted. It is regrettable that the BPA uses these incidents as nothing more than a way to win political points. The issue of how to protect officers as well as the human rights of the citizenry is far more complex than simply giving cops more hardware on their belts.

Of course, these kinds of statements can never be proven. No one can know whether a taser would have prevented the confrontation in which the officer was involved in a fistfight with a suspect who was believed to be mentally ill. The BPA continues to apply steady political pressure to our local politicians and insists that somehow, real safety resides in our ability to meet suspects with electric shocks. At Berkeley Copwatch, we disagree. We believe that it is the duty of the officers to place the well being of the community at the forefront of their efforts. We believe that mentally ill people have a right to treatment and should not be subjected to torture because of a condition which they do not control. It is time for the City of Berkeley to return to the humane approaches for which it was once famous and reject the militarization of care which has overtaken our approach to community health and safety.

Top Ten Reasons to say NO to Tasers -more-

Israels Action Threatens Peace Process

By Jagjit Singh
Friday April 18, 2014 - 11:52:00 AM

In a move of outright vindictiveness, Israel has reneged on its promise to free Palestinian prisoners. Its announcement to construct 700 new settlements, was a direct insult to John Kerry’s laudable efforts to broker a peace agreement. Israel also announced their intention to withhold Palestinian tax revenue in an effort to intensify their suffering. Since the Oslo Accords, the number of Jewish settlers on Palestinian land has soured to more than 650,000 moving closer to Benjamin Netanyahu’s re-election promise of one million Jews living in “Judea and Samaria”. -more-

Death of a Worker on the UC Berkeley Campus

From Toni Mendicino
Friday April 18, 2014 - 10:35:00 AM

Dear UC Berkeley Chancellor Dirk and UC President Napolitano,

I attended a memorial gathering yesterday in honor of Mr. Damon Frick, a coworker at the International House on the UC Berkeley campus who was killed on the job in a horrible and sad accident last week. I am shocked that the Chancellor's Office has yet to acknowledge this tragedy to the campus community. I only found out about Mr. Frick's untimely death from my coworkers in AFSCME 3299 and because I read the Daily Cal independent newspaper. I understand that Mr. Frick, who was a dedicated worker and a father, was killed while wearing a vacuum strapped to his back and while alone on a high lift cleaning windows at the International House. I can't imagine that these are safe circumstances for a staff person to perform work and hope that at the least full financial restitution to Mr. Frick's family and changes in UC health and safety practices will be implemented immediately. -more-

Springtime for Tasers in Berkeley

By Carol Denney
Friday April 18, 2014 - 10:12:00 AM

“Suhr says the constraints, to name a few, included everything from young people, old people, people in crisis, the mentally ill, wet people, and people near roadways. Officers pausing to consider all this might put them and the public more at risk.

'We're still months away from the final product,' Suhr said. 'And we're already to the point where it creates too much calculus on the part of the officer, too much to ask.' "

—“SF police chief withdraws request to use Tasers”, by Heather Ishimaru and Amy Hollyfield, April 11, 2013

If there were a way for tasers to know which people had heart conditions, suffered mental disabilities or drug reactions such that they could not comply with verbal orders, were old, were young, were disabled, were wet, were in crisis, were near roadways, etc., then the Berkeley Police Association would at least have a worthwhile argument to make for their use.

But they don’t. Tasers tend to be over-used, used in inappropriate situations, and are lethal for a subset of any given population. Police officers should not be using potentially lethal weapons except in situations which allow lethal force. -more-

Brief Response to Jack Bragen

By Ralph E. Stone
Sunday April 20, 2014 - 09:08:00 AM

This is a brief response to Jack Bragen's criticism of my recent article, "Results of Research Concerning Assisted Outpatient Treatment in the U.S." To begin, I wonder if Mr. Bragen actually read the Survey and Brian Stettin's research cited in my article. And yes, I am an unapologetic supporter of Laura's Law, California's assisted outpatient treatment (AOT) law. -more-

New: A Final Reply to Ralph Stone

By Jack Bragen
Sunday April 20, 2014 - 05:10:00 PM

First of all, let me congratulate Mr. Stone on a well-constructed and pithy essay and on his good intentions. -more-


Inside Paul Ryan, Inside the GOP

By Bob Burnett
Friday April 18, 2014 - 10:17:00 AM

After six months attacking Democrats for the alleged faults of Obamacare, Republicans finally went on the offensive with the budget plan developed by Representative Paul Ryan. The Ryan/Republican budget draws a stark contrast between the two parties.

According to the Ryan budget, America’s number one problem is the deficit. Republicans claim their plan “…reduces deficits by $4.6 trillion over the next ten years… By tackling the debt, this budget will help grow our economy today and ensure the next generation inherits a stronger, more prosperous America.” Nonetheless, national Polls have consistently shown that most Americans feel jobs and the economy are the nation’s number one problem; we believe America should do something about the jobs crisis before we tackle deficit reduction. A January Pew Research Poll found that 80 percent of respondents wanted to strengthen the US economy and 74 percent wanted to improve “the job situation.” Only 63 percent of respondents wanted to reduce the budget deficit. However, 80 percent of Republicans felt this should be a top priority; only 40 percent of Democrats agreed.

In 2014, Republicans are championing an austerity budget that has been decried by economists such as Paul Krugman and Harry Stein and Michael Madowitz, who noted; “The Congressional Budget Office, or CBO, projects that [the Ryan] budget will actually shrink the economy for the next three years.” -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Psychotherapists; The Good, The Bad, and The Unworkable

By Jack Bragen
Friday April 18, 2014 - 10:57:00 AM

For many non-afflicted persons and not just those with mental illness, a good psychotherapist with whom you can talk can be an asset. And yet, not all therapists and not all therapy techniques are good for all recipients of therapy.

To begin with, if the therapist's paycheck isn't coming from you and is instead coming from a government affiliated and/or Medicare funded agency, then that therapist isn't necessarily working for you. In these cases, there can be several agendas at work other than just your recovery. -more-

SENIOR POWER: 20% of California adults over age 65 live below the poverty threshold of about $16,000.

By Helen Rippier Wheeler,
Friday April 18, 2014 - 10:30:00 AM

He spent his final years in a low-income, seniors/disabled persons’, rent-subsidized housing project. He was all three: low-income, elderly, and disabled. And he was also alone and without family. Marginal.

His small “studio” reeked. The county provided a “caregiver” who jabbed, pushed and yelled at him. When she wasn’t with him, she was chatting with the building’s staff. While inventorying his possessions during one of his hospital stays, she was overheard to comment, “We can sell this,” possibly referring to his word-processor. When he was asked why he didn’t request a different caregiver, he responded “I’m afraid.” He was no eccentric recluse-- he wanted to be out and about. Weekends, when no building staff were on the premises, he would walk the length of the corridor, leaning on his walker.

What happens when an old person who has no family dies? Who advocates in their behalf? And who cleans up, so to speak? Friends, you say? Don’t count on it or them. -more-

Arts & Events

New: Next Goal Wins: And So Does the Audience

Reviewed by Gar Smith
Tuesday April 22, 2014 - 10:20:00 PM

Opens April 25 at the Roxie Theatre in San Francisco

Set on the South Pacific island of American Samoa, Next Goal Wins introduces us to the survivors of a soccer match that ranks among the most misbegotten contests in the history of the sport. In 2001, the team from American Samoa went head-to-head with the Australia soccer squad in a World Cup Competition match and suffered a loss of 31 to 0—the worst defeat in the history of professional soccer. With the 2014 World Cup approaching, the team decides to take a shot at redemption. Can they overcome their humiliating reputation as "the World's Worst Soccer Team"? Yes, they can—with an improbable assist from an irrepressible, white-haired Dutchman. -more-

The Handel Opera Project Presents Médée on May 4

By William Ludtke
Friday April 18, 2014 - 11:06:00 AM

On Sunday, May 4th, 2014, at 7:00 p.m.,The Handel Opera Project will present, Médée by Luigi Cherubini.

Beethoven regarded Cherubini as the greatest of his contemporaries and his opera Medea in its Italian version was made famous by none other than Maria Callas. The performance stars soprano Eliza O’Malley in the title role; tenor Brian Thorsett in the role of Jason; soprano Sara Hagenbuch as Dirce; baritone Martin Bell as dirce’s father Creon; and mezzo-soprano Kathleen Moss as Neris. -more-

AROUND AND ABOUT MUSIC: Trio 180 at Berkeley Chamber Performances on Tuesday

By Ken Bullock
Friday April 18, 2014 - 10:58:00 AM

Trio 180--formerly New Pacific Trio--will play Tuesday night at 8 for Berkeley Chamber Concerts at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant, between Dana and Elllsworth. The trio--Ann Miller, violin; Nina Flyer, cello; Sonia Leong, piano--is in residence at the University of the Pacific Conservatory of Music, where all three are professors, and is continuing its residency at Old First Church in San Francisco, is celebrating its 12th anniversary. -more-

New: Hemp Unbound: The Crop that Could Save Us from Environmental Collapse

Reviewed by Gar Smith
Tuesday April 22, 2014 - 10:42:00 PM

"Hemp Bound," by Doug Fine (Chelsea Green, 2014)

What if there was a completely natural and affordable alternative to fossil fuels? A healthy and nutritious substitute for packaged foods? A replacement for energy-intensive steel and plastic parts? An alternative to chemical-based (and occasionally toxic) medications and pharmaceuticals? -more-