The Week



Dress Codes for Customers at the Berkeley Credit Union?!? An Open Letter to Fadhila Holman, Manager, Berkeley Co-op Credit Union

Robert Brokl and Alfred Crofts
Monday November 09, 2015 - 04:15:00 PM

My husband and I have been members of the Berkeley Cooperative Center Federal Credit Union (now at Ashby and Adeline) for approximately 40 years, and your four moves during that period. We were happy to see the swelling number of members after the commercial banking disasters, and people looking for alternative community banking. However, after that giddy period at the credit union, we have noticed a chill, an unfriendliness. The imposition of the restrictive no dog policy, increasingly long holds on deposits, and apparently large staff turnover are examples. That change in tone was manifested like a ton of bricks last week, by the decree by fiat of your new dress code and its implementation by your aggressive and hostile security guard. -more-

Habitot Raises almost $3500 to Hold Birthday Parties for Homeless Kids

Keith Burbank (BCN)
Saturday November 07, 2015 - 02:53:00 PM

Habitot Children's Museum staff have raised almost $3,500 to hold birthday parties for homeless children, museum officials said Thursday. -more-

How Should Berkeley Deal with Homelessness on November 17? A Discussion

Friday November 06, 2015 - 02:25:00 PM

On November 17 Councilmember Linda Maio plans to introduce some new measures which some have characterized as criminalization of homelessness, and suggested that they would violate current HUD policies. The measures can be found here (Action21) and here (Action22). In the Public Comment section below, Santa Cruz Mayor Don Lane outlines how he wants his city to deal with homelessness, which is also a problem in that other college town, and Carol Denney discusses the new HUD rules. -more-

Press Release: Berkeley Public Library Hires Beth Pollard as Interim Director of Library Sevices

Friday November 06, 2015 - 03:46:00 PM

The Berkeley Board of Library Trustees (BOLT) has appointed Beth Pollard as the Interim Director of Library Services, Chair Abigail Franklin announced today.

Filling the vacancy from the departure of former Director Jeff Scott in September, Pollard will step in to provide management oversight for the Library as it prepares to recruit a new director.

Pollard, the former City Manager of Albany, served this past year as Interim Deputy City Manager for the City of Berkeley for six months during the recruitment process for the Deputy City Manager position.

“Beth has just the right combination of strong management skills, leadership ability, and familiarity with Berkeley to help guide us during this transition,” said Abigail Franklin, Board Chair. -more-

Unbearable News: UC Berkeley Now Has an "Official Bank"

Gar Smith
Friday November 06, 2015 - 03:22:00 PM

The corporate colonization of the Berkeley Campus continues apace. On October 27, The Daily Californian announced Amazon's plans to establish a base camp inside the new Student Union building, complete with Amazon shipping lockers and a digital lounge. Now comes word that Bank of the West has staked a claim to 989 square feet of commercial turf inside the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union.

On October 30, Bank of the West (BoW, a member of the Paris-based BNP Paribas Group) took out a full-page ad in the San Francisco Chronicle to proclaim: "Bank of the West is now the official bank of UC Berkeley—a pioneering relationship between two premiere organizations."


September Pepper Spray Times

By Grace Underpressure
Friday November 06, 2015 - 02:51:00 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.

This is a Very Good Deal. Go for it! -more-

The White Elephant Sale is Coming

Toni Mester
Friday November 06, 2015 - 01:50:00 PM

Donations to the Oakland Museum White Elephant Sale will be accepted at the Warehouse on Saturday November 7 and December 5, and the van is available for pick-up of large items. -more-



The Chronicle Gets Berkeley Wrong--Again

Becky O'Malley
Friday November 06, 2015 - 12:45:00 PM

If you’re lucky enough to have skipped J-School, and are one of the many Berkeley residents who have dropped their subscription to the San Francisco Chronicle, you just might want to take a look at a text-book example of lazy journalism in this morning’s issue: Berkeley Plaza housing needed, but meets with resistance.

(Good luck, however, navigating their lame pay wall. I’ve been a subscriber for forty years, and I still have to reset my password EVERY SINGLE TIME I try to read it online.)

Columnist Chip Johnson has authored a classic single-source story, in which he appears to have talked only to the clever developer’s shill who’s fronting for the luxury housing development which has been approved by Berkeley’s developer-dominated Zoning Adjustment Board. He doesn’t even seem to know what the relationship of proponent Mark Rhoades is to the property owner, for example.

He says that Rhoades is “the principal in the Rhoades Planning Group, which holds the contract for the Berkeley Plaza development.” Well, yes, Mark’s the front man, but the applicant is Hill Street Properties of Los Angeles, whose principal is a guy named Joseph Penner, who specializes in flipping entitled project sites. What “holds the contract” means to Chip is anyone’s guess. I don’t expect he has much business experience.

If he were a real reporter, which he’s not, he might have talked to some of the people who oppose the plan, or maybe even come to a meeting or two—after all, there were more than 30 of them. If he’d been at the last couple of ZAB meetings he might have noticed that at least one of the board members who voted against the project was clearly under 30, probably under 25. Instead, he bought into Rhoades’ pejorative characterization of opponents as “grey pony tails”. -more-

The Editor's Back Fence

Do You Want to be a Subscriber?

Friday November 06, 2015 - 04:04:00 PM

It has come to my attention that many people have no idea that they could get a free "subscription" to the Berkeley Daily Planet, Berkeley's independent non-commercial online publication with a modest amount of news and a lot of opinion. All you have to do is write to, and then you'll get Updates which contain links to let you know when something interesting has been posted, a lot on Fridays. -more-

Public Comment

Demolition of Rent-Controlled Units Sets Bad Precedent

Berkeley Tenants Union
Friday November 06, 2015 - 04:02:00 PM

On Tuesday November 17, the City Council will hear Berkeley Tenants’ appeal of the demolition of 18 rent-controlled units at 2631 Durant. The units were 100% occupied when the owner applied for the demolition. -more-

HUD Hooks Funding to Fairness

Carol Denney
Friday November 06, 2015 - 02:20:00 PM

Is your local politician immune to moral shaming? Does he or she pass ordinances targeting homeless people for sitting down, or sleeping in public, or having camping equipment with you? Are you scratching your head wondering how to make it stop? -more-

How Santa Cruz Deals with Homelessness, and Some New Ideas Which Berkeley Should Consider

Don Lane, Mayor of Santa Cruz
Friday November 06, 2015 - 02:03:00 PM

As I write this letter, the City Council I belong to is about to take up a variety of measures related to homelessness. Some of these items will be discussed this week. Others will presumably be discussed over the next few months. With winter coming soon and this set of issues once again coming to the top of the Santa Cruz community’s agenda, I’d like to outline a framework for looking at these issues and make some specific proposals. -more-

The Double Binds that Beset Berkeley's City Council When It Tries to Address Affordable Housing

Steve Martinot
Friday November 06, 2015 - 01:36:00 PM

A sort-of townhall meeting, quaintly named “affordable housing 101,” is being planned for November 14 by the city’s South Berkeley “Idea Center.” One supposes it will be about how City Council will be providing affordable housing in Berkeley. That will be like trying to sail a small boat in a hurricane.

In Berkeley, around the issue of affordable housing, four antagonistic forces act on city council. There is Plan Bay Area, which requires Berkeley to develop over 3900 new housing units by 2020. There are the landlords who are raising rents inordinately on uncontrolled units, mimicking what is happening in San Francisco, and promising a similar mass dislocation of people. There is a crescendo of demand by low and middle income residents for affordable housing, so that those being priced out by landlords can find a place to live, and not have to leave. And fourth, there is the problem of housing developers being incorporated, meaning they will be constrained by their financing to build market rate housing whenever they can. In the middle of this miasma, the city of Berkeley has no way to force corporate developers to build affordable housing.

This is a terrible double bind for a city government to be in, unless it enjoys abandoning the people and getting payoffs from developers. If the bind that the city finds itself in is structural, then nothing will save it from accomplishing nothing. The people and the neighborhoods will remain unprotected and unaccommodated. -more-

The Republican Debate

Tejinder Uberoi
Friday November 06, 2015 - 03:35:00 PM

Following their disastrous defeat in the 2008 election, Republicans did a great deal of soul searching and came to the conclusion that they should start talking to the American people rather than serve as an echo chamber to their own base which merely reinforces their own cherished, misguided beliefs. The recent Republican debate failed to achieve this objective but used every opportunity to trash each other and Obama’s policies without offering any specifics or alternatives. -more-

Minimum Wage Increase Hissed and Dissed at Spenger’s

Carol Denney
Friday November 06, 2015 - 01:32:00 PM

A few dozen merchants, Downtown Berkeley Association staff, and three council representatives met Wednesday, November 5th in Spenger’s back room to strategize against a proposed increase in the minimum wage on the City Council agenda Tuesday, November 10th, 2015. -more-

(Hopefully Not) Coming to a School Near You: Mountain Bike Racing

Mike Vandeman, Ph.D.
Friday November 06, 2015 - 03:30:00 PM

Mountain bikers and the mountain bike industry know that the future of their sport depends on recruiting young people into it. Consequently, they are actively promoting the creation of mountain bike racing teams in the nation's high schools. They will ask to use school facilities, the school's name, and the school's teachers as coaches. They will claim, using questionable logic, that mountain biking is fun, healthful, socially responsible, and environmentally beneficial. But don't be fooled! If you do your own investigation, as I have, you will find that exactly the opposite is true. -more-


THE PUBLIC EYE:Hillary’s Toughest Opponent

Bob Burnett
Friday November 06, 2015 - 01:52:00 PM

It appears that Hillary Clinton will be the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate and her Republican opponent will be Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, or Ted Cruz. Which of these four would the most challenging in a debate? -more-

DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE:Portugal’s Democracy Crisis

Conn Hallinan
Thursday November 05, 2015 - 01:40:00 PM

Within a week, Europe will face one of the most serious challenges to democracy it has seen in many decades. On Nov. 10 Portugal’s minority rightwing government will likely lose a vote of confidence, initiating a series of events that will determine whether voters in the European Union (EU) still have the right to a government of their own choosing. -more-


Conn Hallinan
Monday November 02, 2015 - 01:57:00 PM

If there is a lesson to be drawn from the Nov. 1 Turkish elections, it is that fear works, and there are few people better at engendering it than Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Only five months after the Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost its majority in the Turkish parliament, a snap election put it back in the driver’s seat. -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Proactively Treating Psychosis

Jack Bragen
Friday November 06, 2015 - 02:01:00 PM

Just as a reminder--this column is merely an opinion column and it is not a substitute for consulting with a mental health professional. -more-

ECLECTIC RANT: San Francisco Implements Laura's Law

Ralph E. Stone
Friday November 06, 2015 - 01:55:00 PM

On July 8, 2014, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted in favor of implementing Laura's Law in the City and County of San Francisco. On November 1, 2015 Laura's Law was implemented under the direction of Angelica Almeida, Ph.D. for the San Francisco Department of Public Health. The City’s three-person Laura’s Law team will be the first stop for people whose mental health issues could land them in court for mandated care. Twelve counties have now implemented Laura's Law. -more-

Arts & Events

New: The 40th Anniversary American Indian Film Festival

Gar Smith
Saturday November 07, 2015 - 02:39:00 PM

November 6-13, 2015 at San Francisco's AMC Metreon

Gala 40 Dinner & AIFF Award Show on November 14, 2015 at Hotel Nikko

When most Americans think about movies, the images that typically come to mind involve romance, villainy, heroism, guns, explosions and car chases. Or course, we accept that commercial cinema serves up a world of escapist fantasy but we lack the cultural yardsticks to measure how far removed our movie-going experiences are from anything approaching an average life on planet Earth.

Take those car-chases, for example. In nearly every mainstream movie you expect to see someone driving a car. That's "normal." Well, nope, it's not. The truth is that 91 percent of the people living on this planet today do not and never will own a car.

It may also be true that 91 percent of the films the average movie lover sees in the course of a year do not constitute anything close to a realistic impersonation of the global human condition.

Fortunately, a good dose of remedial Big Screen therapy is headed our way as the American Indian Film Festival (AIFF) brightens Bay Area movies screens from November 6-13. The AIFF's eight-day run manages to include 95 works from Canada and the USA—an incredible selection of feature films, documentaries and 59 shorts (ranging from two to thirty minutes).


Music of Versailles at St. Mark’s Church in Berkeley

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Friday November 06, 2015 - 03:29:00 PM

In a program of French Baroque music, the local group Musa performed on Friday, October 30, in the series of Barefoot Chamber Concerts held in the Parish Hall of St. Mark’s Church in Berkeley. Following in the wake of American Bach Soloists’ mini-festival in August devoted to music of the court of Versailles, Musa tapped into the same repertoire featuring works by Jean-Philippe Rameau, Jean-Féry Rebel, Jacques Morel, and Jacques Duphly, all of whom were centered at Versailles during the reigns of Louis XIV and Louis XV. Musa features Gretchen Claussen on viola da gamba and cello, Noémy Gagnon-Lafrenais on violin, Addi Liu on violin, Kim Mai Nguyen on viola, Frédéric Rosselet on cello, Derek Tam on harpsichord, and Anna Washburn on violin. -more-

San Francisco Symphony’s All-French Program

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Friday November 06, 2015 - 02:48:00 PM

Three French composers, a French conductor, and a French pianist are all featured in this week’s San Francisco Symphony program, with concerts Wednesday through Friday, November 4-6, at Davies Hall. Yan Pascal Tortelier conducts works by Georges Bizet, Maurice Ravel, and Camille Saint-Saens. Pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet is the soloist in Ravel’s remarkable Piano Concerto in D major for the Left Hand. This work, the highlight of Wednesday evening’s performance, was commissioned by Paul Wittgenstein, brother of the Viennese philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. While serving in the Austrian army in World War I, Paul Wittgenstein, a gifted pianist, was wounded and lost his right arm. Undaunted, he set about commissioning piano works for the left hand. He approached Ravel in 1929, and the French composer was delighted by the challenge. -more-