New: BART's Still Trying to Figure It Out

Scott Morris (BCN)
Thursday March 24, 2016 - 12:35:00 PM

BART still has no timeline for when service will be restored between the North Concord/Martinez and Pittsburg/Bay Point stations, more than a week after a mysterious electrical spike damaged dozens of cars along that stretch of track.

"We're a little perplexed right now," BART assistant general manager Paul Oversier told the BART board of directors at their meeting this morning.

The voltage spike damages electrical components in certain train cars and took about 50 cars out of service. BART crews have inspected every inch of the tracks in the area and the electrical systems serving it, but have so far not found the source of the problem.

A similar problem damaged cars between downtown Oakland and San Francisco starting in February, but BART crews didn't get to the bottom of that problem either -- it just went away and its cause remains unclear. -more-

Berkeley Architectural Heritage Spring House Tour, May 1, 2016

Daniella Thompson
Wednesday March 23, 2016 - 04:40:00 PM

A Ramble ’Round the Rose Garden:

Berkeley Architectural Heritage Spring House Tour & Garden Reception

Sunday, May 1, 2016 — 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm

The Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association (BAHA) will hold its 41st annual Spring House Tour and Garden Reception on Sunday, May 1, 2016, from 1:00 to 5:00 pm.

This year’s tour focuses on the neighborhood south of the Berkeley Municipal Rose Garden, including Bay View Place, Hawthorne Terrace, Vine Lane, and Euclid Avenue. -more-

Two Stabbed in Berkeley--Suspect in Custody

Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Tuesday March 22, 2016 - 03:59:00 PM

A Berkeley man has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder for allegedly stabbing two men at an apartment in West Berkeley early this morning, police said. -more-

New: Man Convicted of Murder for 2010 Berkeley Shooting

Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Monday March 21, 2016 - 03:11:00 PM

A Bay Point man was convicted today of first-degree murder and attempted murder for a shooting outside a Berkeley barbershop in October 2010 that left one man dead and another seriously wounded. -more-

New: Crowds Howl at 60th Anniversary Event in Berkeley

Thomas Ferrell
Sunday March 20, 2016 - 11:42:00 AM

The city of Berkeley proclaimed March 18, 2016, “Allen Ginsberg’s ‘HOWL’ Day,” in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the first complete reading of Ginsberg’s groundbreaking poem at Berkeley’s Town Hall Theater on that date in 1956. The Town Hall Theater occupied the south wing of the old Berkeley Bowl, at the intersection of Stuart & Shattuck, in the space currently held by Sconehenge Bakery & Cafe.

Sconehenge hosted a celebration Friday organized by neighbors at the site of the original Allen Ginsberg reading.

It succeeded beyond the organizers’ expectations, filling Sconehenge to capacity, and turning people away at the door. Some who were refused entry lingered on the sidewalk, and were supplied with tables, chairs, and refreshments from inside the house.

George Killingsworth emceed Friday’s evening event. Councilperson Kriss Worthington and Arts Ambassador Susan Felix presented the city proclamation. (Worthington read an original poem riffing on “Howl,” & larded with local political references.) Music was supplied by roots trio Smooth Toad; Jennifer Stone read her poetry & made some remarks about the old Town Hall Theater, where she had performed as a young actress.

The main event was a group reading of “HOWL”, which had been divided into 23 passages by poet & musician G.P. Skratz. -more-

Donald J. Trump is the Antithesis of Abraham Lincoln (Public Comment)

Stephen Cooper
Sunday March 20, 2016 - 11:49:00 AM

In an article in The New Yorker (Feb. 29, 2016) exploring the meaning of leadership and the qualities people most associate with successful leaders, Joshua Rothman writes: "When we're swept up in the romance of leadership, we admire leaders who radiate authenticity and authority; we respect and enjoy our 'real’ leaders. At other times, though, we want leaders who see themselves objectively, who resist the pull of their own charisma, who doubt the story they have been rewarded for telling." In Rothman's final analysis, it is "[a] sense of perspective [that] may be among the most critical [of] leadership qualities."

This observation I respectfully submit, illustrates the catastrophic mistake the Republican Party – once the party of Abraham Lincoln – will make by nominating Donald J. Trump as its presidential candidate and standard-bearer.

More than eighty years ago, in 1932, Dale Carnegie, the late American writer, lecturer, and self-improvement guru – best known for his still popular 1936 bestseller, How to Win Friends and Influence People – wrote a book about President Abraham Lincoln called, Lincoln the Unknown. -more-

Page One

McLaughlin Park Changes Approved

Keith Burbank (BCN)
Friday March 18, 2016 - 01:06:00 PM

Two contracts worth a total of $2 million to improve McLaughlin Eastshore State Park were approved Tuesday by the East Bay Regional Park District Board of Directors, park district officials said. -more-

Public Comment

Berkeley Council's Vote not to Landmark Berkeley Bowl is Wrong

Thomas Ferrell
Friday March 18, 2016 - 01:07:00 PM

According to a fair reading of the criteria in the Berkeley landmarking ordinance, the old Bowl building qualifies for full landmark status. Indeed, many buildings in Berkeley with a lesser claim have it. It is possibly too subtle a point to argue that the neighbors may have valid arguments against Honda, AND have an appreciation for the building’s rich history, distinctive features, and presence—especially in a part of South Shattuck generally devoid of interesting buildings. -more-

Sex and Tomatoes

Toni Mester
Friday March 18, 2016 - 12:06:00 PM

This is an article about housing, which seems to be everybody’s favorite topic these days. I’ll get to the sex and tomatoes. The problem of affordable housing weighs so heavily on the communal mind that the Berkeley City Council devoted a special session to it on February 16, and the newly formed Progressive Alliance followed with a well-attended panel discussion on March 6 at the South Berkeley Senior Center.

The MTC (Metropolitan Transportation Commission) held an excellent forum on housing on February 20 in Oakland, and the videotape is worth watching not only to hear the experts but also to listen to the testimony from victims of displacement. In fact each of us has a housing story to tell, so it seems right to add to the discussion, especially since some areas of this subject remain to be fully aired, either because of complexity or taboo. So where angels fear to tread, this old fool has decided to rush in.

The Greying of Berkeley

At the Council hearing, Miriam Chion from ABAG gave the first presentation on population and housing trends, stating that the Bay Area senior population will increase in the next 25 years by 30%, a rate twice that of children, a statistic that flew by the ears of subsequent speakers, none of whom mentioned housing for seniors as a priority.

Attention must be paid. According to the census in 2000, Berkeley had 10,484 people over 65 (10.2%) a number that grew in ten years to 13,176 (11.7%). The 2014 American Community Survey (ACS), comprising statistical estimates between the decennial counts, shows the population over 65 at 15,057. Of course 4,570 older adults did not move into Berkeley in those fourteen years. They just stayed put because there are few affordable options for downsizing unless they uproot themselves from friends, family, and community connections and move away. In my career, I worked with seniors, and now that I’m retired myself, I draw upon my professional experience to better understand the situation of these thousands of Berkeley elders. -more-

Feds Pocket $50 Billion

Jagjit Singh
Friday March 18, 2016 - 01:10:00 PM

In the past several years, the United States’ largest banks, including Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup, have paid billions of dollars to settle charges of financial crimes in the mortgage market in the years preceding the 2008 housing crisis. Top regulators claimed that the record fines extracted in these settlements would provide relief to homeowners struggling with their mortgages. -more-

McConnell Follies

Bruce Joffe
Friday March 18, 2016 - 12:39:00 PM

Immediately after President Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland to fill the Supreme Court vacancy, Republican leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate would not consider the nomination until after the next President is inaugurated, in ten months. McConnell holds some off-hand remark made two decades ago by Democrat Joe Biden, then Senate leader, in such high regard that he uplifts those words into what he calls "The Biden Rule," claiming it is more important than the Constitution. Really? Should such churlish cynicism pass as responsible government? -more-

The Social Damage Inflicted by Trump

Jack Bragen
Friday March 18, 2016 - 12:47:00 PM

Very few individuals are in a position to redirect human history. With such power, there comes tremendous responsibility. Donald Trump, by virtue of being a billionaire and because of the magnitude of societal fallout from his campaign, is taking on that power, yet is failing miserably to handle that power responsibly. -more-

Mike Deserves a House

Mike Lee
Friday March 18, 2016 - 12:22:00 PM

I realized over breakfast this morning that I am an embarrassment to the city. Here you have public policy spending millions of dollars on people just like me. The end result is me and mine wind up with a sandwich and maybe a mat on the floor. Once in a while one of us maybe get a place inside because of factors beyond our control. Playing the housing game is just like playing slots in Las Vegas. You put your money (time) in, pull the handle and hope for a positive result. At least in Vegas if you hit the jackpot you get at least a roast beef sandwich -more-


Jean Reba Bass Bradman
October 31, 1928 – March 16, 2016

Asa Bradman
Monday March 21, 2016 - 10:38:00 AM

Reba Bass Bradman died on March 16, 2016 at her home in Berkeley, California according to her wishes. Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, she grew up during the Great Depression and WW II. Her grandparents were forced out of Brooklyn for organizing unions, and she fondly remembered summers in the Catskills visiting their chicken farm and swimming in the Neversink River. -more-


Honoring the Bagdikian Legacy

Becky O'Malley
Friday March 18, 2016 - 10:50:00 AM

On the bulletin board at our house, along with the kids’ old school photos and postcards from bygone trips, there’s a small framed handwritten note with a November 2009 date: “Dear Becky, Fight the Philistines like Hell”. It’s signed “As ever, Ben Bagdikian”.

If I were keeping score on the fight for the last 80 years or so, I think I’d report it as Bagdikian 1,000, Philistines 0. Oh, maybe the forces of evil scored a notch or two in Ben’s 96 years on this earth, but all in all I think he managed to lick them most of the time.

If you’d like to see some of the high points of a life well spent, there were many laudatory obituaries published when he died last week. As of my last Google search, the number of cites was up to 290,000 and there are probably more now. The flashiest achievement noted by many was hooking up Dan Ellsberg with the Washington Post so they could publish the Pentagon Papers. But the most influential work Ben Bagdikian did was probably his book “The Media Monopoly”, which went into seven editions, the last in 2004 under the name of “The New Media Monopoly”.

When that edition came out, Dorothy Bryant did a delightful interview with Ben for the Planet which shed light on his early years as an Armenian refugee from Turkey who ended up in New England. (Bagdikian’s Long Journey to Journalistic Heights By Dorothy Bryant Special to the Planet 06-01-2004 )

One little-known fact Dorothy uncovered is that he was actually named after the heroic Ben-Hur, a flamboyant name which he dropped as soon as possible. I noticed that in one French-language obit he was called a “Turc”, which I doubt would have pleased his Armenian family of origin.

As an adult he was devoted to free speech and to the independent press, and he was a persistent cheerleader for publications which shared his enthusiasms.

When we were trying our damnedest to provide Berkeley with a real print newspaper, he was a constant source of encouragement and advice. The framed note was sent at one of the times (the worst of several such) when we really appreciated his support. That was when a small claque of angry partisans of the government of Israel, aided and abetted by some unprincipled local politicians, attacked the Planet for publishing a letter critical of some of Israel’s policies. He stuck by us all the way. -more-

The Editor's Back Fence

Gentrification, anyone?

Tuesday March 22, 2016 - 03:43:00 PM

Check out...Berkeley!!! The latest target: -more-


New: REGIONAL REPORT: Developers win with “smart growth” rule

Zelda Bronstein
Wednesday March 23, 2016 - 10:33:00 AM

New rules would make it harder to raise environmental challenges to projects that cause urban congestion. -more-

AGAINST FORGETTING: US Presidential Race: the Feminist Generation Gap

Ruth Rosen
Friday March 18, 2016 - 12:28:00 PM

Why is there strong support for Bernie Sanders from young feminists and a tepid response to Hillary Rodham Clinton, a lifelong feminist? Why has a feminist generational gap emerged in 2016?

Actually, it’s happened before. Each generation of feminists has redefined what they meant by feminism, often in reaction to their mothers’ feminist priorities. After women won the vote in 1920, for example, young women who came of age in the 20’s and 30’s viewed suffragists - who had fought for 72 years for the vote - as dowdy matrons who wore sensible shoes. What thrilled them was the personal freedom to explore new sexual and social mores and the opportunity to forge new careers.

When second-wave feminists revived the women’s movement in the late 1960’s, their redefinition of feminism strongly rejected their mother’s lives. Even if their own mothers worked outside the home, young feminists vilified the cultural symbol of the Feminine Mystique, which cast women as mere housewives who should stay at home and live through the identities of their husbands and children.

What second-wave feminists achieved was monumental. The laws they passed, as well as the customs they changed, transformed the opportunities for a new generation of women. Young women know this, but like generations of before them, they are not particularly fired up by what their mother’s generation achieved almost half a century ago.

Now, a new feminist generational gap is challenging the Democratic party’s unity the 2016 election. As the New York Times recently summarized, “The poll numbers and primary results so far tell a simple story: Younger Democratic women are mostly for Bernie Sanders; older women lean more toward Hillary Clinton.” Depending on the state or region, young feminists under 45 years of age are passionate supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders, the 74-year old self-identified socialist Senator from Vermont. In some states, they have given him 60-80 percent of the entire female Democratic vote. At the same time, women over 45 have demonstrated far greater enthusiasm for Hillary Clinton.

So why does a 73 year-old Senator from Vermont stir the passions of so many young feminists? When asked, they cite his radical platform - free tuition, a single payer health system, and a genuine disgust with the wealth inequality that has crushed their own dreams, as well as the lives of the poor and minorities. Many know that Republicans will never pass his legislative agenda. That is not the point. What matters is that they share his values and convictions, including his welcoming hand to refugees who seek safety in the United States.

Also important, Sanders does not remind them of their mothers, even though he could be their grandfather.

For many young feminists, Hillary Clinton belongs to the past. She is a formerFirst Lady, a former Senator, a former candidate for President and a formerSecretary of State. Although she has spent a lifetime supporting gender equality, child care, wage equity, paid parental leave and famously redefined women’s rights as human rights in 1995, all this feels as old as their mothers’ tales of the Sixties. They are repelled by her ties to Wall Street and the fact that she supported the Iraq War.

Some older women, moreover, have alienated Sanders’ young supporters by speaking about them with contempt. Madeleine Albright, 78, the first female secretary of state, told young women, “We can tell our story of how we climbed the ladder, and a lot of you younger women think it’s done…“Well, It’s not done. And just remember that there is a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other!” Gloria Steinem, 81, a feminist icon, uncharacteristically dissed young women when she explained that “younger women back Sanders just so they can meet young men.” (Both have since apologized but the damage lingers).

Young feminists, moreover have redefined what they mean by feminism. Jemma Soldati, a 25 year old who works in marketing and comedy, explains, “When my mother says she’s going to vote for Hillary Clinton because she’s a woman, to me that is identity politics at its worst. It’s putting the value of a female president over the value of a president with your values.”

Liz Phillips, a 28 year-old editor and documentarian, wrote in an email, that “It is because of the battles that women like Madeline Albright fought, that I am now able to access the education, the information, and the experience needed in order to make informed decisions, but I will not be bullied by her recent vitriolic religious depictions of “a special place in hell.”

Although she appreciates what older feminists achieved, she believes “that Sanders’ economic platform is the only one that has the capability to raise the quality of life for 99% of Americans. And I don’t want a president who will tell me that actually implementing these goals is impractical, because then all hope is truly lost.”

Listen closely and you hear echoes of the Occupy movement, voices that publicized the economic distress of the 99 percent, and protesters who really do mean that “Black Lives Matters.”

Sometimes the debates even among young women turn fierce. At some colleges, Clinton supporters try to keep a low profile. “It’s like the

tension you can often see between daughters and their mothers,” says Roxanne Euben, who teaches feminist political theory at Wellesley college. “Daughters are saying, ‘Just because you say this is what it means to be a committed feminist, doesn’t mean I’m going to do this.’” Euben further points out, quite accurately, “that the one consistent feature of feminism for the past century is that it’s always been up for debate.” -more-

THE PUBLIC EYE:Clinton vs. Trump: Consider Three Factors

Bob Burnett
Friday March 18, 2016 - 12:04:00 PM

The dust has cleared from the March 15th primaries and it’s clear Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic presidential nominee. It’s less clear if the Republican nominee will be Donald Trump or a forced “marriage” orchestrated by GOP leaders. Nonetheless, three factors will determine who wins on November 8th. -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Antipsychotic Medications and Unfairness

Jack Bragen
Friday March 18, 2016 - 11:57:00 AM

Antipsychotic medications can cause breast enlargement in men, facial hair in women, involuntary movements of the mouth face and neck and upper body that are irreversible, diabetes, weight gain, and muscle rigidity. Less often, antipsychotic medications can cause loss of white blood cells [potentially fatal], and, in some instances, sudden, unexplained death. -more-

Arts & Events

New: The ‘Other’ La Bohème by Leoncavallo

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Wednesday March 23, 2016 - 04:01:00 PM

West Edge Opera continued its Doppelgänger season by presenting the ’other’ La Bohème, not Puccini’s but rather Ruggero Leoncavallo’s opera of the same title. Based on the same play, Scenes de la vie de bohème by Henri Murger, as was Puccini’s opera, Leoncavallo’s La Bohème was presented by West Edge Opera at two locations -- on Sunday, March 20 at Mills College and on Tuesday, March 22 at Berkeley’s Freight and Salvage Coffeehouse. I attended the latter performance, and never having heard Leoncavallo’s version of La Bohème before, I was curious to see how different his treatment of this story, musically and dramatically, was from Puccini’s much better known version. There are differences, to be sure; but the basic story remains the same. A group of young bohemian artists, musicians, writers, and intellectuals live an impoverished existence in tiny, drafty apartments in Paris’s Quartier Latin. Rodolfo (or Rodolphe in French) falls in love with Mimi, and Marcello (or Marcel) falls in love with Mimi’s friend Musetta (or Musette). Both couples break up, then reunite at the end, only to see the tubercular Mimi die in Rodolfo’s arms. -more-

Here Come the Videofreex

Gar Smith
Friday March 18, 2016 - 12:14:00 PM

Opens March 18 at the Roxie Theatre in SF

The odds against this film ever existing were pretty long. It started with a chance conversation when the directors Jon Nealon and Jenny Raskin shared a beer with a guy named Bart Friedman. Friedman's tales of a radical group of underground newshounds called the "Videofreex" led to a hunt for more than a hundred ancient videotapes stuffed away in various basements and attics across the land.

Many of the old tapes were in such poor shape they had to be slowly "baked" over low heat for hours to assure they wouldn't self-destruct when played on the old reel-to-reel tape decks.

The doc's initial footage is not too promising: It's nothing more than two of the founding Videofreex sharing a doobie in front of the camera and having a sublime giggle-fest. But this is turns out to be a historic moment because what the two bearded kids are using to record their marijuana-marinated merriment is a revolutionary tool—a Sony Portapak video camera, the first camera that made it possible to record live video outside a TV studio.

Back Stories



Honoring the Bagdikian Legacy 03-18-2016

The Editor's Back Fence

Gentrification, anyone? 03-22-2016

Public Comment

Berkeley Council's Vote not to Landmark Berkeley Bowl is Wrong Thomas Ferrell 03-18-2016

Sex and Tomatoes Toni Mester 03-18-2016

Feds Pocket $50 Billion Jagjit Singh 03-18-2016

McConnell Follies Bruce Joffe 03-18-2016

The Social Damage Inflicted by Trump Jack Bragen 03-18-2016

Mike Deserves a House Mike Lee 03-18-2016


New: BART's Still Trying to Figure It Out Scott Morris (BCN) 03-24-2016

Berkeley Architectural Heritage Spring House Tour, May 1, 2016 Daniella Thompson 03-23-2016

Two Stabbed in Berkeley--Suspect in Custody Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN) 03-22-2016

New: Man Convicted of Murder for 2010 Berkeley Shooting Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN) 03-21-2016

New: Crowds Howl at 60th Anniversary Event in Berkeley Thomas Ferrell 03-20-2016

Donald J. Trump is the Antithesis of Abraham Lincoln (Public Comment) Stephen Cooper 03-20-2016

McLaughlin Park Changes Approved Keith Burbank (BCN) 03-18-2016

Jean Reba Bass Bradman
October 31, 1928 – March 16, 2016
Asa Bradman 03-21-2016


New: REGIONAL REPORT: Developers win with “smart growth” rule Zelda Bronstein 03-23-2016

AGAINST FORGETTING: US Presidential Race: the Feminist Generation Gap Ruth Rosen 03-18-2016

THE PUBLIC EYE:Clinton vs. Trump: Consider Three Factors Bob Burnett 03-18-2016

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Antipsychotic Medications and Unfairness Jack Bragen 03-18-2016

Arts & Events

New: The ‘Other’ La Bohème by Leoncavallo Reviewed by James Roy MacBean 03-23-2016

Here Come the Videofreex Gar Smith 03-18-2016