The Berkeley City Council has received a letter from City Attorney Zach Cowan saying that he believes that the Berkeley Post Office might already been sold or at least the United States Postal Service (USPS) is in contract with a potential buyer. Pursuant to previous authorization from the Council, the city of Berkeley has authorized attorney Antonio Rossmann to file a lawsuit, hoping to prevent the sale. -more-
On Thursday afternoon, Bay Area residents and visitors will be able to view a partial eclipse of the sun in the southwestern sky, but experts warn that looking at the sun for more than a glance without proper protection or a filter can damage eyes. -more-
Alarmed readers report that the envelope that Alameda Count absentee ballots came in says on the front, right above the address, that Election Day is November 5.
WRONG: Election Day is the first Tuesday in November, just like always, and that’s NOVEMBER 4! The 5th is a Wednesday.
Says indignant reader Chris Adams: -more-
The table below shows who's endorsed which candidates and/or ballot measures. It is intended to be a relevant list rather than an exhaustive one. There are a number of organizations who made endorsements for a single race or measure which are not included. It includes only those organizations that publicly posted their endorsements on their websites, except for the school board endorsements of both of the school employee unions. -more-
SAN FRANCISCO – A measure on the November ballot would reclassify six non-violent felonies to misdemeanors, a move that observers say could help California finally comply with a federal mandate to reduce its overcrowded prison system.
Under Proposition 47, those who commit certain low-level offenses – check fraud, drug possession, forgery, petty theft, receiving stolen property and shoplifting – would receive lighter sentences as long as they had no serious or violent crimes on their record. The reclassification would apply to property crimes involving amounts less than $950, and it would apply retroactively. -more-
Commuters driving across the Bay Bridge may face longer than normal traffic delays in the coming days due to the start of a two-month construction project on the bridge's western span. -more-
Five people were reportedly sexually assaulted at a fraternity house near the University of California at Berkeley last weekend, campus police said. -more-
What’s going on in the race for California Assembly District 15? Elizabeth Echols is running perhaps the nastiest campaign I have ever seen—a nearly 100% negative campaign based on the insinuation that her opponent, Tony Thurmond, is backed by “big oil, tobacco, and predatory lenders”—perhaps the three industries most guaranteed to bring rage into the hearts of liberal Bay Area voters (surpassing even Big Soda).
And on what is this insinuation based? Has Tony Thurmond done anything in his public career to give grounds for it? Not that I have so far been able to dig up—nor Echols either, presumably, since she has provided no instances. Rather, it is based completely on the mysterious direct mail we have been receiving on Thurmond’s behalf from The Alliance for California’s Tomorrow and, apparently (I have not personally received any of these), from Keep CA Strong PAC.
So what are these entities? They are independent expenditure committees, which have been proliferating like cancer cells, particularly in the aftermath of Citizens United. Essentially they are political money laundering operations designed specifically to make the connection between the donor and the beneficiary untraceable. Even the recipient of the largesse does not know—by law cannot know—who is spending the money. So the source of the mailers is a mystery. Thurmond does not know who paid for them and Echols does not know either. -more-
Unlike Chris Adams, I have not yet received my vote-by-mail, ballot by Tuesday, October 21, two weeks before the election. I've already telephoned the Alameda County Registrar of Voters twice. The last phone call was Monday, October 20, and the woman who answered informed me my ballot was mailed "at the end of last week." End of the business week is usually Friday. By coincidence, a letter from San Francisco was mailed to me from San Francisco on Friday, October 17 and I received it Monday October 20. -more-
Dear Malala and Mr. Satyarthi,
I want to congratulate both of you as a Nobel Peace Prize laureates for your perseverance and accomplishment to bring equal access to higher education. As a student sometimes I do not appreciate the privilege of education I experience in the United States. For instance I am still complaining when I carry heavy books in my backpack or when I walk long distances to get to my classrooms. But I realize I should not be complaining because the students in the remote areas of Pakistan and India do not take education for granted like I do. -more-
The massive US bombing has not stunted the expansion of ISIS. Contrary to President Obama’s stated goal to ‘degrade and destroy ISIS’, they appear to be very much alive and only six miles from the Turkey border town of Kobani. If Kobani falls, ISIS will be in control of more than half of Syria’s border with Turkey. If this is allowed to happen it will be a massive military victory. -more-
If your neighborhood is inundated with gas-powered leafblowers, don’t just sit there! Go outside, walk down the street and write down the license plate of the maintenance crew’s vehicle, the address where they’re using the gas-powered leafblower, and the date and time of the violation. If the maintenance vehicle has a company name, write that down, too, including any address or phone number. -more-
It appears that Ebola is now a major threat to the world human population. Ebola can be as contagious as the common cold (it can be contracted from a person sneezing on you), but more deadly with a mortality rate of up to 90%. This outbreak is occurring in one of the most densely populated and underdeveloped parts of the world, namely Western Africa. -more-
Christopher Columbus was allegedly the first ‘illegal immigrant’ to arrive into the “New World” in 1492.The day evokes a great deal of sadness and anger among Native Americans, who object to honoring a man who opened the door to European colonization, pestilence and the slave trade. Bucking the prevailing holiday, Seattle City Council unanimously adopted a resolution to celebrate the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Socialist City Council member Kshama Sawant stated that "we’re making sure that we acknowledge the absolute horrors of colonization that happened in the Americas at the hands of the European so-called explorers, and Columbus was one of the primary instigators." -more-
E. Sandra Nixon, MS
Bay Area Mercury Awareness Coalition
The Sierra Club Bay Chapter made a big mistake when it endorsed incumbent Linda Maio for Berkeley City Council. In 2013, Maio led the move to gut a proposed ordinance that would have improved the information that dental patients receive about mercury dental amalgam fillings. She killed the mandates that two Berkeley commissions had spent six months crafting, which included informed consent for dental patients and signage requirements for dental offices. Pro-environment Councilmember Arreguin and others tried to continue the issue for further study, but Maio, in her leadership role as Vice-Mayor, convinced the majority to drop it. -more-
“Our record in defeating state smoking restrictions has been reasonably good. Unfortunately, our record with respect to local measures…has been somewhat less encouraging…Over time, we can lose the battle over smoking restrictions just as decisively in bits and pieces-at the local level-as with state or federal measures.” -Raymond Pritchard, Brown & Williamson. US Tobacco & Candy Journal, July 18, 1986.
The fight for smokefree air, robust at local levels of government, is more precarious at the state level where well-paid lobbyists can dangle funding in front of strapped politicians’ re-election campaigns. Big Tobacco, like Big Soda, knows the way around all the state capitols and watches closely for any opportunity to pre-empt local laws with state restrictions limiting local cities’ right to initiate local protective measures. -more-
As a long-time Berkeley resident, I have had my share of disappointments with local politicians, yet I have never been moved to write an opinion to urge the public to vote against a politician until now. Unfortunately, my experiences with Josh Daniels, incumbent candidate for the Berkeley School Board, have made it clear to me that he does not effectively serve the public’s or our youth’s best interests. My experiences with Josh Daniels have shown him to be ineffectual, hypocritical, and yet another public servant who does not believe in accountability. -more-
I set aside time, leaving out going to Soto-Vigil's lovely gathering at James Kenney Park where I'd talk with neighbors as well as advance my campaign for the seat on the Berkeley school board. But tolerating the noise at Berkeley Streets WORE me OUT! I stood it for less than an hour - shouting at the top of my lungs to be heard, asking people about their interest relative the voting, and not being able to decipher most of what was said back to me. -more-
The demise this week of what was left of the San Francisco Bay Guardian came as no surprise to anyone who understands the trend toward corporate concentration which has accelerated in the last three or four decades. The mechanisms go under a variety of names—merger, acquisition, leveraged buyouts, private equity—but the ultimate effect is similar. Eventually, the operation of capitalism reduces or eliminates the very competition which its fans boast that it promotes.
And sometimes whole markets disappear. The Guardian was the prime example of what we used to call the alternative press. It was positioned as the voice of the counter-culture back when there was a dominant culture to be counter to.
Back in the day, to be sure, married founders Bruce Brugmann and Jean Dibble were unlikely defenders of the counter-culture. They were quintessentially Midwesterners, clean-living straight-ahead exponents of the classic small-town American version of the free press, almost like Martians who were unexpectedly transported to the 60s San Francisco scene. It was a mom-and-pop-shop from the beginning, with the kids joining the operation as they got old enough.
You could imagine Bruce aspiring to be played in the movie by Jimmy Stewart as the kindly old newspaper editor, though in reality he was considerably larger and louder than life. The masthead motto was “print the news and raise hell”, and nothing, at least in the early days, was allowed to get in the way of that goal. -more-
The Editor's Back Fence
Early this Sunday morning as I was drinking my coffee I got a call from a neighbor who lives just off Ashby/Tunnel.
“Did you see all those signs on the telephone poles?” she asked indignantly.
Did I see them? Yes, and I’ve already pulled down four of them which were all on one telephone pole in front of my house on Ashby.
Folks, these signs are blatantly illegal.
It’s not only illegal to post campaign signs on wooden telephone poles, but the law requires, if I remember correctly, that campaign signs must be identified with the name of whoever paid for them. And nope, these signs don’t do that either, unless you count the URL at the bottom: www.YesOnBerkeleyMeasureS.com.
For those of you (most of you I’m sure) who don’t remember or never knew what Measure S is, it’s a referendum on the gerrymander promulgated this spring by the Tom Bates machine’s Berkeley City Council faux-prog majority as an attempt to knock off Progressive District Seven Councilmember Kriss Worthington.
If you oppose this gerrymander, therefore, you will vote No on Measure S. It’s confusing, I grant you, but you can remember it if you think “S is for Stupid”. Vote No on stupidity, every time. -more-
After the previous election some readers complained that they couldn't locate the Planet's endorsements when they went to vote. To make it as easy as possible, between now and the election we're going to maintain this corner of the front page where you can always find our endorsements along with links to editorial material with more detail about specific candidates and issues.
Berkeley Measure S (district gerrymander): NO
Berkeley Measure R (green downtown regulations):Yes
Measure D (tax on sugar in soda pop) : no endorsement
Alameda County Measure BB: Yes
Then, click here for the candidates: Which Berkeley City Council Candidates Should You Support?
Short Answers: District 1, Alejandro Soto-Vigil; District 4, Jesse Arreguin (unopposed); District 7, Kriss Worthington; District 8, Jacquelyn McCormick (rank her first, followed by George Beier, second, and Lori Droste, third. Skip fourth place. )
Finally , check out this May editorial with a self-explanatory title: Tony Thurmond is the Best Choice for California Assembly ...
We're pleased to see that Berkeley Councilmember Jesse Arreguin has added his endorsement to Tony's long list of fans.
In the video below you can see Tony explain his campaign in person at a Berkeley house party: -more-
Six years ago, most progressives eagerly awaited the election of Barack Obama. Now many of us are unhappy with him. Indeed, Obama’s unpopularity has become the primary theme of the midterm elections. As a consequence, Republicans are more energized than are Democrats. Before November 4th, what can be done to revitalize progressives? -more-
The Patient Protection Act and the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) seems to be working. Admittedly, this is not a universal view. But as of September 18, 2014, 7.3 million are now enrolled. This is quite an achievement considering the computer glitches encountered by consumers along the way. Individuals of Hispanic American or Latino origin, one group of Americans at high risk of having no health insurance, are making remarkable gains under ObamaCare. This group historically was more likely to lack health insurance than any other ethnic or racial group. -more-
Seniors have not fared well on the streets of Berkeley recently. -more-
Supported housing on the face of it might seem like a humiliating concept for a mentally ill individual who is grappling with self-esteem issues who wants to feel "normal." -more-
Arts & Events
Halloween is coming and that means pumpkins, goblins and this year's Monkey House Halloween Show. Tales from the Varley Mansion. A Musical Comedy for Smart Kids and Strange Adults opens October 18 at Ira Marlowe's legendary "speakeasy for the arts"—a full-service cabaret tucked into a secret location in the 1600 block of University Avenue. If you don't already know where Marlowe's hidden stage is located, the only way you can find out is to reserve a seat online. The experience is highly recommended. -more-
I have often said that when attending a Handel opera, even for the first time, as was the case when I heard Partenope on Wednesday, October 15, one comes out of the theater feeling one has heard the opera three times. This is because Handel followed the da capo pattern of his era, structuring each and every aria in an ABA pattern in which the aria is first sung all the way through, then developed with variation, and finally repeated “from the beginning” with or without further vocal embellishment. When listening to Handel, this ABA pattern can be extremely tedious. -more-
The Hausmann Quartet, artists-in-residence since 2004 at San Diego State University, will play Four Diversions for String Quartet (1930) by Louis Gruenberg (composer of the opera of 'The Emperor Jones'), Credo (2007) by Kevin Puts (2012 Pulitzer Prizewinner for Music) and Robert Schumann's String Quartet, Opus 41, no. 2 at 8 p. m. Tuesday, October 21 in the Ballroom at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant Avenue (near Dana). The Hausmann Quartet is comprised of Isaac Allen and Guillaume Pirard, violins; Angela Choong, viola and Alex Greenbaum, cello. A complimentary wine and cheese reception to meet the artists will follow the concert. $25. High school students, free; post-high school students, $12.50. 525-5211. berkeleychamberperform.org -more-
Around & About Theater: 'Redwolf' by Ragged Wing at Oakland's New Flight Deck; 'Mahmoud' at the Thick House
--Inspired by Little Red Riding Hood to follow its main character "from girlhood to wolf hood," movement theater specialists Ragged Wing Ensemble's new play--and their first full-length production in their new performance space, The Flight Deck, 1540 Broadway in downtown Oakland between the 12th and 19th Street BART stations--was co-written by Ragged Wing co-founder and artistic director Amy Sass with noted playwright Anthony Clarvoe, opening this weekend. October 17-November 8, Fridays at 8, Saturdays at 2 and 8, Sundays at 7. $25-$40 (limited number of student/senior rush tickets available at the door a half amour before curtain). http://www.enetbrite.com/e/ragged-wing-ensemble-presents-redwolf-tickets-12968207257 -more-
Veteran pianist Garrick Ohlsson joined with the San Francisco Symphony under guest conductor Juraj Valčuha in three performances, October 10-12, of Sergei Rachmaninov’s Third Piano Concerto. Ohlsson, a longtime favorite of local audiences, played brilliantly, handling with apparent ease all the technical difficulties of this most challenging of all piano concertos. Ohlsson’s viruosity was everywhere apparent, in the stirring melody of the first theme as well as in the thunderous passages of the first movement’s cadenza. -more-