The Week

  Nancy Skinner's backers invite you to contribute to her campaign,.
Nancy Skinner's backers invite you to contribute to her campaign,.


New: Six Teens in Berkeley Arrested for Alleged Assault of 16-year-old Boy

Jeff Shuttleworth
Wednesday November 18, 2015 - 05:11:00 PM

Six teenage males have been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder for allegedly assaulting a 16-year-old boy in Berkeley on Sunday, police said. -more-

Updated: Capitelli for Mayor 2016 Committee Forming

Tuesday November 17, 2015 - 05:19:00 PM

It's official--sort of. Realtor Laurie Capitelli, who has represented District 5 in the Berkeley Hills for a number of years, filed papers yesterday with the Berkeley City Clerk indicating his intention to run for Mayor of Berkeley. His professional campaign treasurer is Linda Perry of San Leandro (not the Linda Perry who formerly lived in Berkeley), and a San Leandro bank, U.S. Bank, is listed as the designated repository of to-be-deposited campaign funds. There are rumors, as yet unconfirmed, that Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates plans to retire in mid-December, allowing Capitelli to be appointed in his place and to run subsequently as an incumbent. There has been no official announcement as yet from Capitelli.

Councilmember Jesse Arreguin, one of the council's three progressive members, who represents downtown Berkeley, has already announced that he will be a candidate for Mayor in 2016. -more-

Homeless Attacks

Sheila Goldmacher
Tuesday November 17, 2015 - 09:50:00 AM

Thanks for putting things into context by delivering the past history of these 3 "representatives" of Berkeley city council and mayor. In this time of chaos everywhere we care to look, to hear from these politicians who do not represent the best of humanity hopefully reminds us of what we need to be mindful of. Do unto others as you would have others do unto you always. So many of us are just one catastrophe away from being homeless and these 3 fools are making the prospect even more likely in this city of luxury buildings, the only thing they can come up with. I hope we all remember their comments next year when some of them stand for re-election or ask to be considered for an even higher office. Time for the humans among us to stand for election and clean up the mess . -more-

Ohlone Park Problems

Sasha Futran
Tuesday November 17, 2015 - 09:36:00 AM

In response to Alejandro Soto-Vigil “Practical Solutions to Problems of Homelessness,” I am in complete agreement that solutions to the problem need a thoughtful approach and that there are too few resources in Berkeley. -more-

Practical Solutions to Problems of Homelessness: An open letter to neighbors of Ohlone Park

Alejandro Soto-Vigil
Monday November 16, 2015 - 01:45:00 PM

Homelessness is a chronic problem in Berkeley and beyond. Whether it's our mentally ill, senior citizens, youth, veterans, or families. This problem affects too many people. I've seen our Ohlone neighbors show a great deal of compassion and sympathy for the plight of other human beings. -more-

New: Stop Shifting the Burden of Berkeley's Policy Failures Onto Homeless People: An Open Letter to the Berkeley City Council (Public Comment)

Elisa Cooper
Monday November 16, 2015 - 01:20:00 PM

I'm writing to express my shock that Council Member Maio's laws to criminalize the homeless not only suddenly resurfaced on the 11/17 Council meeting agenda, but Council Members Bates, Capitelli, and Droste have rushed to co-sponsor these alarmist, counter-productive laws. -more-

New: Measures Important to Berkeley Tenants on Council Agenda Tuesday (Public Comment)

Berkeley Tenants Union
Monday November 16, 2015 - 01:03:00 PM

Berkeley Tenants Union has three important items at the City Council on Tuesday.

About the Demolition Appeal (Item 21): If the City Council allows this demolition to go forward, the law prohibiting unmitigated demolition of rent controlled housing means nothing anymore, and all of Berkeley is at risk of being bulldozed to make way for luxury housing. -more-

New: Homeless Advocates in Berkeley Aiming to Stop Passage of City Council Measures

Keith Burbank (BCN)
Monday November 16, 2015 - 08:48:00 AM

Advocates for homeless people will kick off an effort today to stop the Berkeley City Council from passing two measures at Tuesday night's city council meeting, homeless advocates announced. -more-

Flash: Oakland Police Shoot, Kill Person Holding Fake Gun

Keith Burbank (BCN) and Planet
Sunday November 15, 2015 - 10:37:00 PM

Police recovered what was described as a "replica" gun from a person whom officers shot and killed early this evening in Oakland, police said.

Oakland Police Watch Commander J. Moore told the Planet later tonight that the supposed weapon the person was carrying was not a real gun. -more-

New: Why You Should Attend the Berkeley City Council Meeting on Tuesday (Public Comment)

Elisa Cooper
Sunday November 15, 2015 - 09:56:00 PM

If you care about the future of housing in Berkeley and preventing criminalization of the homeless, please join us for the Tuesday, November 17th City Council meeting at City Hall, 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way. -more-

Press Release: Oppose Anti-Homeless Laws at Council on Tuesday

Streets Are For Everyone Coalition
Sunday November 15, 2015 - 07:31:00 PM

The Berkeley City Council Pulls Yet Another Stunt

Kelly Hammargren
Sunday November 15, 2015 - 02:27:00 PM

It has become common practice for the Berkeley City Council to present a “surprise" ordinance for vote after closing public testimony. The minimum wage “compromise” was obviously crafted in advance of the Tuesday, November 10 special City Council meeting and was withheld from the public until public comment was closed. The public had no opportunity to see and comment on the “compromise” as an alternative to the recommendation from the Labor Commission or doing nothing. The handing out of blue paper “compromise” is at 3:50 into the meeting video. Mayor Tom Bates declared (video 4:06) that he had not seen the compromise although he stated maybe heard about it. Had he seen it, it would have been a violation of the Brown Act. Only Mayor Bates and the four council members involved, Droste, Maio, Moore and Capitelli know how much was shared with the Mayor in advance.

Surprise ordinances distributed at the last minute after public comment is closed usurps the democratic process and demonstrates once again that Berkeley does not have an open and transparent government. This and other behaviors/practices in Berkeley City Council, Boards and Commissions make it absolutely imperative that someone from the public is present at every meeting to observe, monitor, question and report.

Mid-week we got wind of “mitigations” being on the agenda of the 2 x 2 meeting, that is the meeting between the Berkeley Mayor, City Council Vice Mayor, the Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD) President and Vice President. It is easy to miss what “mitigations” means if you are not closely involved with the Harold Way project and why city officials favoring Harold Way would want to have discussion with BUSD. -more-

Choosing Up Sides in Berkeley for the 2016 District 9 State Senate Race

Wednesday November 11, 2015 - 02:33:00 PM

Are you wondering which candidate to support in the race for State Senate, leading to the election about a year from now, on November 8, 2016? Battle lines are forming.

The accompanying graphic gives you a good idea of the kind of people who support candidate Nancy Skinner.

If you don't know who those hosting this Skinner fundraiser are or what they've been up to, you haven't been paying attention. To refresh your memory: John Caner and Susie Medak are honchos in the Downtown Berkeley Association, also know as the Downtown Business Association, the organization which represents downtown commercial property owners and some businesses. Mark Rhoades is the former City of Berkeley Planning Department manager who now fronts for big developers,notably for 2211 Harold Way, and Patrick Kennedy is a well-known (some say notorious) developer, one of Berkeley's most avid housing entrepreneurs, who has sold most of his downtown Berkeley holdings to a corporation headed by Chicago magnate Sam Zell.

Nancy Skinner's main opponent in the Democratic primary will be Sandré Swanson. From his web page: -more-

Students, Nurses March for Free Tuition in Berkeley

Scott Morris (BCN)
Thursday November 12, 2015 - 06:23:00 PM

Hundreds of nurses overwhelmed a student protest of tuition and debt at the University of California's Berkeley campus this afternoon. -more-

Victims of Berkeley Balcony File Suits

Scott Morris (BCN)
Thursday November 12, 2015 - 08:27:00 AM

Survivors and family members of those who died in the collapse of a balcony at a Berkeley apartment in June filed 12 separate lawsuits today against the owners, managers and builders of the apartment complex, alleging the tragedy could have been averted if the building was properly constructed and maintained. -more-



Updated: The Berkeley City Council Takes Out Against the Homeless Again Tomorrow Night

Becky O'Malley
Monday November 16, 2015 - 12:56:00 PM

UPDATE: Just call me Cassandra. Exactly as I predicted, the Berkeley City Council wept buckets of crocodile tears over the plight of the city's unhoused, both on the streets and off, and then voted to add a few more oppressive legal restrictions to those already on the books, just upping the total of unenforceable or at least unenforced laws. Promises were made, to be broken in due course, the same kinds of promises that have been made periodically in the twenty-five years I've been watching the same cast of characters act out their fear of the poor.

Folks, we still don't have anything like enough public toilets in this city, and that's why people who have to sleep outside defecate and urinate when they can't wait any longer. How hard is that concept to understand? Why do they continue to think that police (or even worse, poorly paid and badly trained pseudo-cop "ambassadors") can solve the problems which are everywhere in this unequal society, not just in Berkeley?

The Editor's Back Fence

Reading and Writing the Planet

Becky O'Malley
Thursday November 12, 2015 - 04:46:00 PM

Regular readers have surely noticed that the Berkeley Daily Planet has continued its transition from a not-quite-daily print newspaper (or news paper) into an irregularly updated journal, largely of opinion plus a bit of news from time to time.

We might use the slogan “A Free and Independent Non-Commercial Journal of Opinion and Occasional News” if we could remember how to add that much text to the masthead. We don't sell ads, but sometimes we post free ads for friends.

We have no reporters now—the “we” is mostly me, Becky O’Malley, with tech support, photography and kibitzing from Mike O’Malley. We get occasional regular news stories from Bay City News. Sometimes readers are moved to send us news pieces, and sometimes we get news in the form of press releases from reliable sources which we publish labelled as such. These news articles appear under the Page One heading.

Almost everything else is opinion. That includes the editorial and the brief Editor's Back Fence comments, as well as Columns (the regulars) and Public Comment (everyone else).

We are pleased, in another form of opinion, to have several faithful unpaid reviewers, who seem to work mostly for the joy of it and maybe the free tickets. Their work, along with previews of coming events, can be found under Arts and Events.

To submit an opinion for publication, send it to . You must supply your own real name to be published and provide a telephone number so I can verify authorship. I prefer Word .doc or .docx attachments or, if that’s not possible, unformatted text within an email—no .pdfs please, or fancy graphics.

I try to write a new editorial every week to post,usually, on Fridays, but the old one stays in place until I get around to writing a new one.

There’s a new issue date approximately weekly, usually on Friday. Using the buttons at the top left, you can click back through the series of Previous Issues, and a button appears for the Next Issue as soon as I start posting articles in it. When I've mostly finished posting, I click a button to "publish the latest issue", and then the Next Issue becomes the Current Issue, the one that appears whenever someone types into their browser.

Just to make things more confusing, when I add new articles on a daily basis between issues, they usually go into the Extra category on the top right of the front page of the Current Issue, often labelled “New” or “Updated”.

Those of you who find all this hard to follow can be Subscribers. All this means is that I’ll send you periodic email “Updates” containing links to all the new pieces, many of which will be sent on Fridays but also throughout the week if anything happens. There’s no charge for this simple service. Just email to get on the list. And to stop, just email

Submit news articles to Again, I prefer Word .doc or .docx attachments or text within the email if that’s not possible—no .pdfs.

My personal Planet email address is, for questions and not-for-publication comments. -more-

Public Comment

Trying to Act My Age

Christopher Adams
Thursday November 12, 2015 - 11:44:00 AM

Last week two-thirds of the students at Berkeley High School marched in protest over a racist screen shot posted on a BHS library computer. But ageism seems to be going strong, as demonstrated in a San Francisco Chronicle opinion piece on the mega-project proposed for downtown Berkeley. In the piece, Mark Rhoades, a Berkeley consultant who is fronting for the project, is quoted as dismissing the opposition because it’s “over 60 and white.” At an earlier city meeting he or one of his associates referred to these opponents as a “group of gray ponytails.” Apparently it is all right to disparage people for being old. -more-

On the relationship between attacks on the homeless and the drive to gentrify Berkeley

Steve Martinot
Wednesday November 11, 2015 - 01:55:00 PM

The new laws assaulting the homeless will be presented at City Council next Tuesday, Nov. 17.

There are three connections between the criminalization of the homeless and the processes of gentrification that are now in progress in Berkeley (and the process of gentrification here includes the Harold Way building).

First, ethically and juridically they are both violations of human rights.

Second, economically they represent a failure on the part of city government to protect the people from impoverishment at the hands of real estate profitability.

Third, politically the criminalization of the homeless is a tactic for which the promulgation of gentrification is the strategy. That is, they are intimately linked, the one being part of the process of fostering the other. -more-

A Modest Proposal for Alternatives to the Criminalization of Homelessness in Berkeley, California

Asher Waite-Jones
Friday November 13, 2015 - 03:22:00 PM

On November 17, Berkeley’s City Council is set to vote once again on laws that would create new crimes that only homeless people are likely to be charged with. -more-

The War on Ourselves

Toni Mester
Friday November 13, 2015 - 03:17:00 PM

After a half century of searching, I finally found my soul mate. Unfortunately, he was assassinated on October 1, while he was teaching a community college English class, the same kind of work I did for over forty years. -more-

The Moral Pestilence of Paupers:An examination of vagrancy law from the middle ages to present day Berkeley.

Thomas Lord
Thursday November 12, 2015 - 02:18:00 PM

[Editor's Note: This is a rather long piece. Some readers may want just to read the introduction and then scroll down to the conclusion.]

Introduction: Disposing of the superfluous workforce

iIt is the custom in Berkeley these days to say that the visible homeless people in and around our commercial districts are guilty of crimes.

The litany of complaints includes unwanted panhandling, offensiveness by vulgar expression, intimidation by the presence of dogs, intoxication, petty theft, inappropriate elimination, intimidation by displays of madness, and the excessive occupation of public space. The visible homeless are accused of being bad for business. Some people complain that they avoid the commercial districts entirely, owing to the irksome presence of the visible homeless.

The policy debate around these issues is polarized as follows:

At one pole there are calls for expanding the powers and activities of the police in order to better regulate public behavior. Examples include calls to legislate against panhandling near street parking payment kiosks, and to increase enforcement of existing prohibitions against sleeping in various convenient locations. Advocates for these kinds of policies often assert the moral culpability of the visible homeless for their status and for their conduct. Young and apparently able-bodied adult homeless people are apt to be characterized as the "homeless by choice", parasitic loafers and a moral hazard to all. When the homeless cannot be held morally culpable for reasons of apparent insanity, still a moral failing is asserted: the moral failing of society at large for negligently and cruelly allowing such people to be present in public space without close supervision. -more-

In support of a $20 minimum wage: Why Berkeley needs to raise the minimum wage to a living wage

James McFadden
Wednesday November 11, 2015 - 01:58:00 PM

The reasons for raising the minimum wage to a living wage can generally be broken down into the categories of moral, social, practical, environmental, governmental and economic. The first five arguments favor raising the minimum wage, but the last economic one is generally used by those in power to trump all other arguments. In this comment I will outline the primary arguments in favor of raising the minimum wage and close with a summary of why the economic argument is hollow, based on a neoclassical economic model whose assumptions are absurd. -more-

Boycott,Divestment, Sanctions Growing

Jagjit Singh
Wednesday November 11, 2015 - 02:13:00 PM

Hundreds of university professors in the United Kingdom plan to halt all further cooperation with Israeli schools in an effort to draw world-wide attention to Israel's violations of international law. They hoped their action would draw attention to Israel’s apartheid policies and encourage other institutions to follow their lead. The move is part of the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign that aims to isolate Israel as a form of nonviolent resistance to defend basic Palestinian rights. -more-

My art/photos - all of my art work and prints and nearly all of my art monographs stolen

James Wood
Thursday November 12, 2015 - 02:11:00 PM

This is my art work.

I am very angry over losing nearly all of my art books, [some] of which showed [up] after [being] stolen from my Uhaul storage locker at a local bookstore, Moe's Books, in Berkeley, CA.

Last time I was robbed of [more than] 200 music CDs (approx. $5000 value) which showed [up] at a local music store just across the street from the bookstore Moe's. The police did nothing!

I can't believe this, as others have had the same experience having their things stolen and finding them in these two stores on Telegraph Ave. If it is as common as it appears why do the police do nothing? -more-


ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Why I Object to Laura's Law

Jack Bragen
Thursday November 12, 2015 - 08:42:00 AM

My objections to Laura's Law are largely based on reading the text of the law, and how it will affect the basic human rights of persons with mental illness in upcoming years. I feel that Ralph Stone in his recent article isn't giving you the whole truth about this law, and I believe much of what he states is misleading.

It is fine to tritely say that opponents of this law believe it badly affects "civil rights," but let me outline what some of that really means.

To begin with, Laura's Law criminalizes having a mental illness. This assessment is based on the facts that: Firstly, it uses a court order to control a mental health consumer. Secondly, written into this law, the only recourse, if there is a grievance, is to go to the Public Defender. Laura's Law immediately entangles a mental health consumer into our court system. -more-

ECLECTIC RANT:Closing Guantánamo

Ralph E. Stone
Thursday November 12, 2015 - 08:41:00 AM

On the campaign trail in 2008, President Obama made a pledge to close the Guantánamo Bay Detention facility. Obama is nearing the end of his presidency and the remaining prisoners at the detention facility have not been transferred to U.S. prisons and the facility has not been closed. Supposedly, the Obama administration will soon set forth yet another plan to close Guantánamo. -more-

DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE:A Kingdom Stumbles: Saudi Arabia

Conn Hallinan
Thursday November 12, 2015 - 08:35:00 AM

For the past eight decades Saudi Arabia has been careful.

Using its vast oil wealth, it has quietly spread its ultra-conservative brand of Islam throughout the Muslim world, secretly undermined secular regimes in its region and prudently kept to the shadows, while others did the fighting and dying. It was Saudi money that fueled the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan, underwrote Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Iran, and bankrolled Islamic movements and terrorist groups from the Caucuses to Hindu Kush.

Today that circumspect diplomacy is in ruins, and the House of Saud looks more vulnerable than it has since the country was founded in 1926. Unraveling the reasons for the current train wreck is a study in how easily hubris, illusion, and old-fashioned ineptness can trump even bottomless wealth. -more-

Arts & Events

New: AROUND AND ABOUT MUSIC: ZOFO Piano Duet returns to Berkeley City Club: Eva-Maria Zimmermann & Keiku Nagoshi

Ken Bullock
Monday November 16, 2015 - 01:24:00 PM

Eva-Maria Zimmermann of Switzerland (familiar to those who've attended Other Minds concerts) & Keisuke Nakagoshi from Japan (in residence at both the SF Conservatory of Music & Opéra Parallele--will perform Musical Gems of the Piano Four-Hands Repertoire, including Terry Riley's G-Song (with jazz chord progression, from 1973 but arranged for ZOFO last year); a world premiere of Ryan Brown's composition of this year, I Heard Bells from My Rotating House; Samuel Barber's collection from 1951 of six dances from 1951 (later orchestrated for a ballet); Estonian composer (known for his musical cosmologic references) Urmas Sisask's The Milky Way, 1990; & well-known Berkeley composer Gabriela Lena Frank's Sonata Serrana No. 1, commissioned by ZOFO in 2012, presented by Berkeley Chamber Concerts, 8 p. m. Tuesday at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant Avenue, between Ellsworth & Dana. $30 general admission, post-secondary school students $15. (510) 525-5211. (A complimentary wine & cheese reception & chance to meet the artists follow the concert.) -more-

New: Affordable Housing Teach-In

Sunday November 15, 2015 - 02:09:00 PM

Berkeley faces a housing crisis. Rents are soaring and home prices are out of reach for most of us. The city is an increasingly unaffordable place for low and moderate income households and for students, which is threatening the city’s valued diversity. People can't find housing and live in fear of eviction.

A teach-in on Berkeley's housing crisis will be held on Sunday, November 22 at 2 PM at the Berkeley Arts Festival, 2133 University Ave, Berkeley. -more-

The Berkeley Video & Film Festival
Screens Friday, Saturday & Sunday November 13,14 & 15

Gar Smith
Friday November 13, 2015 - 03:19:00 PM

The East Bay Media Center is wrapping up its 24th Berkeley Video and Film Festival (BVFF) this weekend with screenings drawn from more than 75 independent films from the US, Switzerland, Russia, and Ireland. Thanks to an exclusive partnership with the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts the BVFF will also spotlight a host of "masters-degree" short films and animations. In addition to an array of Jury-selected features and documentaries, the BVFF also includes outstanding shorts and experimental cinema.

The last three days of festival's offerings will be held at the East Bay Media Center's performance space at 1939 Addison Street in Berkeley's Downtown Arts District. Space is limited so it's advisable to secure tickets in advance. Tickets are also available at the door at a 'pay what you can' rate.

Email, or call 510-843-3699 for more info and to order tickets. -more-

Mozart’s THE MAGIC FLUTE Sung in English at San Francisco Opera

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Friday November 13, 2015 - 03:16:00 PM

Back in 1974, I wrote my very first opera review for the Berkeley Barb about the Merola Opera Program’s production that summer of Mozart’s The Magic Flute, which was sung in English. In that production, director Richard Pearlman staged this opera as a mystical exploration of the psychedelic world of “non-ordinary reality.” Setting The Magic Flute in Mexico, Pearlman cast the earthy Papageno as a kinky-haired hippie traveler consorting with Aztec peasants and getting high on magic mushrooms and peyote, while seeking to turn on his straight friend Tamino. Sarastro was depicted as a benevolent advocate of The Teachings of Don Juan as told by Carlos Castaneda. In this production, the use of W.H. Auden’s English translation seemed utterly justified, if only for the reason that it dovetailed so perfectly with our generation’s quest for self-knowledge through exploration of altered states that might lead to higher spiritual consciousness. -more-