redistricting! its mysteries are deep
a casual perspective may not see
what purpose drives a boundary's quiet creep
embracing some reluctant addressee
sadly not an "ever fixed mark"
but wild much like the ocean's changing shore
unfair or fair? they cry from dawn to dark
they cry until there's no one left to bore
the wrangling and contention never ends
the finger pointing name calling and worse
the court case pitting neighbors against friends
where both winners and losers feel the curse
redistricting! our lives are hard enough
without this stupid gerrymander stuff
redistricting! its mysteries are deep
The odds were good, but the outcome looks bad.
Yesterday the Court proceedings over redistricting in Berkeley took place before Judge Evelio Grillo at the Oakland Post Office chambers of Alameda Superior Court. Five people representing disenfranchised Berkeley voters, including two disaffected Councilmembers, one alternative redistricting plan proponent representing himself, one attorney representing both Councilmember Worthington and the proponent of the non–Bates machine student plan together, and one attorney representing a Berkeley voter who supported the referendum faced the one lonely attorney representing the city, Margaret Prinzing, from high-powered and Demo-party-structure–connected Remcho, Johansen & Purcell. (The City Clerk also sent a legal representative, who played a careful and refreshingly neutral role in the arguments.)
The referendum supporters knew the case law better and argued better, but not well enough, it seemed likely, to overcome the judge’s inclination to defer to the legislative body whose deliberations were in question, our City Council. Judges, understandably, want to respect the division of power, and you need a strong and clear argument to overcome that tendency.
I hope my sense is in error, but the judge didn’t seem much swayed by the sheer numbers of plans submitted (four against the Council plan), nor the fact that all the Council plan opponents seemed willing to have any of the other plans approved, so long as they weren’t the Council plan. His focus instead was on whether, and if so just why, the Council plan was manifestly inappropriate. -more-
A judge today dismissed a Berkeley man's second-degree murder conviction for fatally stabbing a University of California at Berkeley student near campus six years ago, ruling that his trial lawyer failed to provide him with effective assistance of counsel. -more-
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-
Jesse Arreguin and Alejandro Soto-Vigil were guests on KPFA's "Morning Mix" yesterday morning (April 24) and they came out swinging. Allegations emerged of lawbreaking by councilmembers and city staff. The public heard for the first time of a district 1 challenge to Councilmember Linda Maio in this November's election. In the course of the radio discussion, Alejandro Soto-Vigil said that he will run this November in district 1 to unseat Linda Maio. His candidacy is partly in response to Maio's role in the redistricting crisis which Soto-Vigil describes as a threat to democracy in Berkeley. -more-
More than seventy-five Kaiser Permanente workers marched, picketed, chanted, and sang outside Oakland Medical Center Wednesday to call attention to deficiencies in Kaiser's mental health services. -more-
On April 17 the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce stated in a leaflet that it supported "REGIONAL WAGE LEVELS". Less than one week later, on April 22, MAYOR BATES sent a press release stating that adjacent cities should join together to adopt a REGIONAL MINIMUM WAGE LEVEL. He is making this proposal instead of supporting the Berkeley minimum wage proposal submitted to the City Council by its own Labor Commission. -more-
New: Berkeley City Council tonight: No-Drone Zone legislation, and Racial Discrimination in Berkeley
The City Council will hold--at long last--a Worksession on Drone Policy, tonight. This is a special meeting before the regular 7pm Council meeting. -more-
One in five American seniors suffers from depression. The illness can be crippling at any age, but it wreaks an especially harrowing toll among the elderly.
Fortunately, 80 percent of those who obtain medical care for depression will see their symptoms improve, and in many cases disappear altogether. With the prevalence of depression among seniors twice as high as in the general population, it's critical for older Americans to have access to adequate treatment.
Yet the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently proposed a rule change that would have made it harder for seniors to get the medications they need. The sharp reversal of policy was unwise both clinically and on cost-containment grounds. -more-
Is there a way to use each person’s ideas to solve the problems facing our nation? Can we establish a Think Bank to which all individuals can contribute? It seems our Republican representatives prefer one dollar one vote to one person one vote. They want high earners who contribute mightily to their election campaigns to have a mighty share in deciding the direction of the nation. -more-
Award-winning journalist Matt Taibbi has recently published an explosive new book, “The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap” that chronicles the gross injustices in our judicial system. The income inequality between the wealthiest and vulnerable poor - predominantly people of color - has reached levels not seen since the Great Depression. The ongoing drug war has swept tens of thousands predominately poor and people of color in its dragnet and incarcerated them for heavy jail terms often for mild offenses. By contrast, the vast majority of white-collar criminals are swotted with soft noodles and avoid jail time. -more-
[EDITOR'S NOTE: We believe this to be sarcasm.]
Councilman Laurie Capitelli has urged good citizens to question the need for, and motives of, the people seeking signatures on initiative petitions, and by implication, to vote against them. That would include the Overlay Petition which seeks to prevent the privatization of our public buildings (including but not limited to the U.S. Post Office).
I urge you to obey him and question the motives behind that ordinance before you sign it. -more-
"Now the camel's nose is truly under the side of the tent."
Fewer and fewer local community colleges students transfer to UCSD, while that public distinguished university no longer subscribes to any guaranteed transfer program. UCSD's acceptance rate for freshmen is now 33%. The ones accepted had high school grade point averages bloated by Advanced Placement classes (some public high schools may offer 25 such classes, while others offer few-to-none). The top 9%—it used to be 12.5%— of high school graduates are guaranteed admission to the University of California —but for the most part they're relegated to the "Lesser UCs." UCLA and UC Berkeley accept more and more out-of-state and foreign students. -more-
In case you ever wondered whether you should sign a petition, check out the exciting plans to revitalize the UC Theater.
There has lately been a bit of tut-tutting from Berkeley Councilmember Laurie Capitelli about how risky petition signing might be: Op-ed: Think about the importance of your signature on a petition.
This just in: Signing petitions to put local initiatives on the ballot is nothing to worry about.
Think about it. If it weren’t for the citizen petition process, the U.C. Theater might not be around anymore. -more-
Sometimes I think there is a conspiracy to prevent persons with mental illness from doing "too well." It just seems odd to me that when someone with mental illness starts to do well, a number of unfortunate events will arise to knock the person back down to an earlier level. -more-
From 1770 to 1820 in the United States, the mentally ill were routinely confined to prisons and jails. In the 1840s, activist Dorothea Dix lobbied for better living conditions for the mentally ill after witnessing the dangerous and unhealthy conditions in which many patients lived. Over a 40-year period, Dix successfully persuaded the U.S. government to fund the building of 32 state psychiatric hospitals. By the mid-1950s, there was a push for deinstitutionalization and outpatient treatment began, facilitated by the development of a variety of antipsychotic drugs and a move toward community-oriented care. It was thought that psychiatric patients would have a higher quality of life if treated in their communities rather than in isolated mental hospitals. -more-
Arts & Events
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-
People supporting an increase in Berkeley's minimum wage will rally on Tuesday, May 1 at 6 PM, just before the Berkeley City Council meets at 7pm to consider enacting the minimum wage proposal submitted by the Berkeley Labor Commission. Because a large turnout is expected, the Council meeting will be held at Longfellow Middle School Auditorium, 1500 Derby Street (cross street Sacramento). -more-