United States District Judge William Alsup today issued a temporary restraining order against the U.S. Postal Service, enjoining the USPS and three of its named executives from completing the sale of the Berkeley Post Office until a hearing on the motion for preliminary injunction filed by attorney Antonio Rossmann on behalf of the City of Berkeley can be conducted. -more-
With 89 more votes counted in the District 7 City Council race, Kriss Worthington's lead widened from 81 to 100 votes. In District 8, 399 more votes were counted, and Mike Alvarez Cohen inched closer to frontrunner Lori Droste, but the ranked choice vote continues to give a narrow lead to George Beier, 1449-1421. -more-
Press Release: Alameda County Registrar of Voters Says More Than 100,000 Ballots Still To Count--
Tally Could Take Until Next Week
Alameda County Registrar of Voters Tim Dupuis is estimating that more than 100,000 ballots still need to be counted from Tuesday’s General Election and that the County’s elections staff is working diligently to complete the ballot counting process.
Votes still to be counted in Alameda County include approximately 18,000 ballots cast through early voting; about 82,500 vote-by-mail ballots that were received by the Registrar’s office on Tuesday; and about 24,000 provisional ballots submitted at the polling places on Election Day. -more-
Berkeley’s precious historic fabric is eroding before our eyes, and the City is doing nothing about it.
Designated landmarks, legally protected by the Landmarks Preservation Ordinance, are routinely mutilated with no official scrutiny or counter-measures.
Take the case of the John Woolley House at 2509 Haste Street. Built in 1876, this Italianate-style Victorian is the second oldest structure on the Southside and a City of Berkeley Landmark. -more-
With all votes cast at the polls and some absentee votes counted, Kriss Worthington is ahead of his well-financed challenger Sean Barry.
Kriss Worthington: 421 votes (55.32%)
Sean Barry: 340 votes (44.68%)
An unknown number of absentee ballots remain to be counted but are not likely to change the outcome based on the breadth of Worthington's support. He won 8 of 11 precincts, including 7 of 8 heavily student precincts. He lost one precinct in the LeConte neighborhood and one in the Willard Neighborhood. These are the only precincts where homeowners are a significant part of the electorate. Barry was ahead in the initial count after these two precincts and initial absentees were counted but not by a large margin.
Kriss also lost one precinct east of College which includes fraternities, sororities and apartment buildings, but won the other 3 east of College precincts. This area was previously part of District 8. When The City Council redistricted District 7 to change it from a student-majority district to a student super-majority district, they removed precincts that had historically supported Kriss (including my precinct) and added the east of College student precincts. The new boundaries were approved by Mayor Bates and his allies on the Council over Kriss's objection. -more-
Berkeley voters made history in Tuesday by overwhelmingly approving a measure that will make Berkeley the first city in the country to place a tax on sodas and other sugary drinks, according to complete unofficial election results. -more-
While the Alameda County Registrar of Voters released unofficial ranked choice voting results from District 8 in the early hours of this morning showing George Beier the unofficial winner in Round 4 with 1267 votes to 1242 for Lori Droste, the outcome of the District 8 election is still very much in doubt. -more-
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Many of you have already voted by mail. Fantastic. If you have a "mail-in" ballot that you did NOT mail, you can still vote! Just fill out your ballot, sign the envelope and drop it at ANY polling place on November 4. Polls are open 7 am to 8 pm for "voting day" voters as well as dropping off "mail-in" ballots that didn't make it into the post.
This is a resend of the voting recommendations I sent out a few weeks ago. Thank you for voting on November 4 and for considering these recommendations!
TONY THURMOND, State Assembly 15th District
First and foremost, please vote for Tony Thurmond. I know Tony well, and he is hands down the best candidate to represent us in Sacramento. This is an exceptional opportunity to elect a dedicated, experienced, ethical and compassionate leader. Tony is endorsed by an impressive list of organizations and individuals - please join them!
UPDATE: Both Rob Browning (husband of Councilmember Linda Maio) and Councilmember Jesse Arreguin have informed me that Browning did not actually say nothing at Saturday's Save the Post Office rally, as I report below. Arreguin said in an email: "I don't know if you noticed but Rob Browning was shaking his head when I spoke about R and was heckling me. No different than Joe Wilson." Browning put it this way: "When Jesse Arreguin used the occasion to showcase his support for Measure R (his attempt to undo our Downtown Plan), I addressed Arreguin directly, in a voice loud enough for many to hear, to make it clear that support for the post office is not synonymous with support for Arreguin’s measure." Since I myself wasn't paying attention at that moment, I'm not sure if it's accurate to characterize Browning's interruption as heckling--but he seems to have made his opinions clear. I do think the First Amendment supports a reasonable amount of tasteful heckling, if that's what it was."
So I went to today’s Save the Berkeley Post Office rally, where I saw what are possibly the best, most public spirited people in Berkeley. Unfortunately, there are only about a hundred of them, and almost all of them are over 50. I’m in no position to complain, needless to say, being a good bit over 50 myself, but still.
It is glaringly apparent to me at this juncture that these worthy people have been sucker-punched by the city council majority councilmembers loyal to Mayor Tom Bates, who were distinguished by their absence this morning. I was told by three different people, all of whom I know to be reliable, that the Bates gang had decided not to show up because supporters of Measure R, the downtown zoning initiative, would be present and perhaps allowed to speak. (Linda Maio’s husband Rob Browning did attend, said nothing.)
A couple of speakers told me they consciously omitted mentioning R because they wanted to preserve the shaky coalition with the anti-R councilmembers—fat lot of good it did them, of course. A couple of Measure R supporters, notably the vanishingly small number of feisty under-30s, brought and flaunted their Yes-on-R signs anyhow. This included Councilmember Jesse Arreguin, the guy who first said that we’d need to enact a zoning overlay to protect the public buildings in Berkeley’s Civic Center, including the Post Office.
He was right, of course, so right that even Berkeley’s conservative councilmembers voted to pass the necessary zoning change before the vote on the Measure R initiative could take place. That’s the sucker punch, of course.
The difference between an initiative and a council-passed ordinance is that the latter can be axed by a simple majority vote of council. I know nothing about sports pools, but if someone can explain them to me I’d like open a pool right now on how long it might take the Berkeley City Council to repeal the historic district zoning overlay if Measure R loses.
If Measure R passes, of course, it would buy more time for the effort to save the Post Office. But downtown developers have invested vast sums trying to defeat it, and they might well succeed.
If it goes down, it looks like the only chance to save the Berkeley Post Office, both the structure and the function, is the lawsuit which environmental law ace Antonio Rossmann, whose office is in downtown Berkeley, has agreed to undertake on the city’s behalf. -more-
New: Can Berkeley Stop the Sale of Its Downtown Post Office?
USPS Admits It’s Signed a Sales Contract. (Public Comment)
The U.S. Postal Service has walked away from negotiations with the City of Berkeley and the National Trust on an agreement to preserve Berkeley’s Main Post Office. The USPS refuses to respond to questions from the City of Berkeley or from Congresswoman Barbara Lee regarding the imminent sale. We still do not know who the buyer is. The USPS has listed the building for sale since July, 2013, with CBRE, the realty firm headed by Richard Blum, Senator Diane Feinstein's spouse. Attempts to obtain further information from the U.S. Postal Service were stonewalled. -more-
Press Release: Berkeley Global Campus: New Plan for Richmond Bay with DOE Funding for Second LBNL Campus Lost
Chancellor Nicholas Dirks laid out an “unabashedly bold” new vision for UC Berkeley’s Richmond Field Station on Wednesday, telling faculty members of plans to remake the site as a global campus and “living laboratory” in partnership with public universities from around the world, as well as with private industry.
In a presentation to the Academic Senate, Dirks unveiled the outlines of the proposed Berkeley Global Campus at Richmond Bay, a reimagining of what was originally planned as a joint “second campus” for Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and UC Berkeley. In 2013, the Lab lost expected U.S. Department of Energy funding in the wake of federal budget sequestration, leaving development plans for the Richmond Field Station in limbo.
But it also opened the door to the Berkeley Global Campus, or BGC, which Dirks on Wednesday called “a transformational model for expansion of our educational and research activities in a global context.” -more-
A friend whose taste for local peculiarities far outstrips mine came across comments you published on yesterday’s rally supporting preservation of our post office. My wife Linda Maio, a member of Berkeley’s City Council, and I have from the outset been strong and vocal supporters of saving the post office. Prior commitments with campaign volunteers prevented Linda’s attendance yesterday.
But I was glad to be able to attend and to show my enthusiastic support for the powerful remarks of Congressmember Barbara Lee, Grey Brechin, Tony Rossman, and Harvey Smith. In your oddly skewed comments on the rally you chose not to report the remarks of those primary speakers but, rather curiously, chose to report that I, in their audience, “said nothing.” I’m afraid you got that wrong. When Jesse Arreguin used the occasion to showcase his support for Measure R (his attempt to undo our Downtown Plan), I addressed Arreguin directly, in a voice loud enough for many to hear, to make it clear that support for the post office is not synonymous with support for Arreguin’s measure. Thanks for the opportunity to set the record straight. -more-
The absurdity of trying to silence a commencement speech by Bill Maher on campus, in the aftermath of the 50th anniversary of the Free Speech Movement, is a throwback to the HUAC and McCarthy era of the 1950's. The reaction against a differing opinion is a screaming fit that overlooks evidence within recent history. -more-
We express outrage when we witness barbaric acts of terror but sadly, our ‘war on terror’ has unleashed the dark side of our own nature. We have committed appalling atrocities in our theatres of war in Vietnam and more recently in Iraq and Afghanistan. A federal judge recently ordered the Obama administration to outline in detail its reasons for concealing as many as 2,100 photographs showing the torture of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2009, Obama agreed to release the photos, but later changed his mind, saying they would "inflame anti-American opinion and put our troops in danger." As part of a decade-long transparency case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, the judge ordered the government to delineate, for each photograph, its reasons for keeping the images from the public. The photographs are reportedly more disturbing than the famous images of torture by U.S. forces at Abu Ghraib. -more-
In a world where famine exists and children die daily from starvation I question anyone on this planet who supports taxing distributors of non-alcoholic beverages. While some arrogant individuals in Berkeley proclaim a war on random beverages with sugar in them, I bet they would love a pantry stocked with organic juice and green tea if a huge earthquake struck our town. Michael Bloomberg is one of the funders of Measure D as some sort of vendetta because his soda initiatives failed in NYC. The “soda tax” in Berkeley or Measure D, fails to take a realistic view of reality. First, if it did cut down on people’s consumption of drinks containing sugar then there would be less recycling for the Ecology Center to collect for its “green jobs” revenue. Ecology Center would lose money, the people who collect cans and bottles for their livelihoods would lose money under Measure D. Measure D does not encourage healthy eating and puts people at risk for mental health crises and eating disorders. -more-
“…However, if you are going to take away this tool from the worker, YOU WILL HAVE TO PAY HIM MORE if you want him to use a rake, hose or broom to achieve the same kind of cleanliness…” – Hank Chapot, Letters to the Editor, Berkeley Daily Planet October 24, 2014
Hank Chapot’s perspective on leaf blowers is important, since he is a gardener himself. But he is wrong. Nobody has to pay their maintenance or landscaping crews extra not to break the law. -more-
Buoyed by the certainty that that the Justice Department would never hold the titans of Wall Street accountable for their financial shenanigans, they are back engaging in the same dirty business. Just two years after conducting massive fraud, some of the world’s biggest banks are now suspected of a repeat performance. Several large banks and their hired guns - high powered consulting firms - are again in the cross hairs of federal prosecutors. -more-
In his recent address, President Obama reiterated that the U.S. government “will degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL” by providing airstrikes against ISIL targets in Iraq, military support for the Kurds, and political reform in Baghdad. These strategies will only last temporarily because history has proved that when group like ISIL (the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) or now simply called IS (the Islamic State) that has a strong ideology, any military intervention only last temporarily. For instance the death of Osama bin Laden seems as the death of Al-Qaeda but until now Al-Qaeda still exist. Shooting Osama bin Laden to death does not stop Al-Qaeda from operating. The same logic goes for IS. For example, shooting 500 IS militants will not stop ISIL from spreading its wings to establish Islamic State in the world. Thus, the most effective way to stop IS extremism is by educating Muslim youth that IS does not represent Islam because Islam means peace. -more-
Jim Crow is already the big winner in this year’s election.
The corporate elite needs him to gouge the planet, wage perpetual imperial war and rule the rest of us.
So the voting rights of millions of student, elderly, black, Hispanic and other citizens are being lynched.
Which may now decide control of the US Senate, many state legislatures...and the White House in 2016.
The corporate-Christian right has long used the drug war to disenfranchise millions of citizens of youth and color. Gay and reproductive rights, feminism and the politics of hate have mobilized Christian crusaders to flood the polls for the GOP.
But we have turned the corner on the culture war. With the winding down of marijuana prohibition, widespread gay rights victories and more, Republicans now need the outright destruction of democracy itself to win an election: -more-
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-
Another day, another mailbox full of campaign junk. It just gets ranker and ranker (or should I spell it rancor?)
I have to disagree with reader Mal Warwick , who wrote in the last issue that he disagreed with reader Joanna Graham’s complaints about negativity in the 15th Assembly district race run by Elizabeth Echols against Tony Thurmond. He said:
“Ms. Graham states that she has never seen such a negative campaign as the one waged by Elizabeth Echols for the 15th A.D. seat. This is laughable. What planet does Ms. Graham live on? The negative campaigns I’ve personally witnessed over the years involve vicious ad hominem attacks, statements quoted out of context, and outright lies.”
You don’t have to go all the way back to past campaigns which longtime political operative Warwick witnessed or participated in (many of which I also remember and participated in) to find “vicious ad hominem attacks, statements quoted out of context, and outright lies.”
Just check your mailbox from the last week.
Let’s start in reverse order with an outright lie. -more-
The Editor's Back Fence
This little area is dedicated to those of us who still vote in person instead of by mail. We're the ones who agonize over making up our minds, and feverishly sort through the plethora of brochures in mailboxes and on doorsteps.
First: The Planet strongly supports the unopposed slate of candidates for Berkeley's Rent Board. Their campaign is being pitched as an opportunity for Berkeley voters to reaffirm their support for our long-standing rent control and stabilization law, so don't forget to check those candidates' boxes on your ballot. See today's editorial for a great video they've created.
In other areas (click on the links for fuller discussion) :
Berkeley Measure S (district gerrymander): NO
Berkeley Measure R (green downtown regulations):Yes See Op-ed: Measure R delivers on the green promise for downtown
Measure D (tax on sugar in soda pop) : no endorsement
Alameda County Measure BB: Yes
Judges: Here's a recommendation from an active young lawyer who comes from a family of distinguished attorneys but wishes to remain anonymous: " Liu, Cuellar, Werdegar,Humes, Kline, and Stewart are yes. Ruvolo is the only definite no." She voted yes for everyone but ruvolo.
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. A knowledgable friend says put Droste ahead of Beier, and in truth they're both a lot better than the incumbent. You choose, but leave Cohen off your list. )
And per a reader's request, here again is a link to Margot Smith's recommendations.
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-
As the 2014-midterm elections grind down to their conclusion, voters in many communities continue to be subjected to wave after wave of negative ads. The obvious solution is to take big money out of politics, but another tactic would be to promote bipartisanship, to somehow dispel the rancor between Democrats and Republicans. Is bipartisanship possible? Or is the US too polarized? -more-
Inside Syria:” The Backstory of Their Civil War and What the World Can Expect “ by Reese Erlich
Forward by Noam Chomsky
Prometheus Press, New York 2014
Reese Erlich’s informative and insightful book “Inside Syria” brings to mind the Greek myth of a vast maze under the palace at Knossos, with one exception: King Minos’ labyrinth on Crete concealed a single Minotaur, Syria is teeming with the beasts.
Erlich has spent almost three decades reporting from the Middle East, and he brings his considerable knowledge of the region into this analysis of the Syrian civil war. A winner of the Peabody Award and the Society of Professional Journalists explanatory journalism award for “Inside the Syrian Revolution,” Erlich combines on-the-ground reporting with an encyclopedic background in the region’s history. It is a combination that is particularly useful for a subject as complex and nuanced as the current war, one that has gradually drawn Lebanon, Israel, Turkey, Iran, and the monarchies of the Persian Gulf, along with the U.S., France and Britain. -more-
Bill Maher, standup comedian and host of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, was selected to speak at UC Berkeley's fall commencement. Recently, an online petition began circulating demanding that his selection be canceled, claiming that Maher is a "racist" and a "bigot."
On September 29, 2014, Chancellor Dirks announced that the invitation will stand noting that the undergraduate committee known as the "Californians" had selected Maher to speak and now want this invitation to be rescinded, "which appears to have been based solely on Mr. Maher’s opinions and beliefs, which he conveyed through constitutionally protected speech. It should be noted that this decision does not constitute an endorsement of any of Mr. Maher’s prior statements: indeed, the administration’s position on Mr. Maher’s opinions and perspectives is irrelevant in this context, since we fully respect and support his right to express them. More broadly, this university has not in the past and will not in the future shy away from hosting speakers who some deem provocative."
I applaud the Chancellor's decision. It is strange to me that the "Californians" did not know Maher's views before they selected him to give the commencement address. -more-
A major psychiatric illness will introduce limits to our lives. It brings baggage, it brings requirements and it brings some restrictions. Taking medication is just the beginning. We have to keep our prescriptions filled. We must meet with a psychiatrist on an ongoing basis. We may be forced to undergo psychotherapy--we may like this and may not. (While in my past I used to get a lot of benefit from therapy, I essentially feel done with it after more than thirty years of it.) -more-
A month ago, I wrote about an East Bay political blogger who had posted a bigoted, anti-Asian item on Twitter. -more-
Arts & Events
Around & About Theater & Film: East Bay Media Center Film Festival; Golden Thread Presents 'Dear Armen' from Toronto; Indra's Net Premieres 'Delicate Particle Logic'; Piedmont-Oakland Repertory Theatre Does A. R. Gurney's 'What I Did Last Summer'; Théât
—Renowned countertenor Andreas Scholl will sing arias from Handel and selections from Bach with the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, led by Julian Wachner—who just made his San Francisco Opera debut, brilliantly conducting Handel's 'Partenope'—this Saturday night at 8, Sunday afternoon at 4 at the First Congregational Church, Dana between Durant & Channing. Bach: Sinfonia to Cantata No. 42, Cantata No. 170, Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 in F major; Handel operatic arias; Teleman: Concerto in F major for violin, oboe & two horns. $25-$100. philharmonia.org -more-
Theater Review: A. R. Gurney's 'What I Did Last Summer' by Piedmont-Oakland Repertory Theatre (PORT)
Franz Schubert idolized Beethoven. And in some ways Beethoven and Schubert are alike. Yet also how different they are. Beethoven is all of a piece. Whether composing symphonies, string quartets, piano works, or even an opera, Beethoven is always recognizably Beethoven and no other. Schubert, on the contrary, is chameleon-like. There is the Schubert of the early symphonies and the very different, far greater Schubert of the last two symphonies. There is the Schubert of the lieder. Yet how different are his lieder cycles from one another. Take, for example, Die Schöne Müllerin and Die Winterreise. Then there is the Schubert who himself differentiated between the demanding works he wrote for himself and his circle of friends, such as the C-major String Quintet and D-minor String Quartet, and those he wrote for popular “success,” such as the Trout Quintet, which latter, however, needs no apologies for its picturesque, bubbling lyricism. -more-
A classroom of students chanting the lesson as the Teacher points to a right triangle--and in the corner, wearing an intense frown, is Red, "bored," as the Teacher later puts it, though her malaise--or wish--is more intense than any boredom ... -more-
Press Release: Piedmont Oakland Repertory Theatre presents A. R. Gurney’s “What I Did Last Summer” November 1 – December 13
“PORT” Moves to Piedmont Avenue in Oakland—and hopes to STAY THERE.
The Piedmont Oakland Repertory Theatre will present a full production of A. R. Gurney’s “What I Did Last Summer” at 4137 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland. The play is directed by John McMullen and runs November 1 through December 13, with performances on Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. -more-