The Week

Possessions of homeless people, inside and outside the fence
Carol Denney
Possessions of homeless people, inside and outside the fence


Betrayal at the Berkeley City Council (Public Comment)

Harry Brill
Thursday August 11, 2016 - 11:02:00 PM

A special Berkeley City Council meeting was scheduled this evening at 6 to vote on a minimum wage proposal drafted by a community and labor group and negotiated with Councilman Laurie Capitelli. However, only three Council members showed up, but five are needed for a quorum to do official business The three who attended the meeting were Kriss Worthington, Jesse Arreguin, and Darryl Moore. Max Anderson was ill, but he promised that if another member came before the meeting was disbanded, his wife would drive him to the meeting to assure a quorum.

Particularly troubling was Laurie Capitelli's absence, since he negotiated the agreement with those who drafted the proposal. Occasionally, unanticipated events prevent a Councilman from attending a meeting. However, this is the second time that Laurie Capitelli reneged on a minimum wage agreement that he agreed to support. Adopting the proposal is immensely important to low wage workers. Not least, what a terrible, demoralizing experience it is when a council member goes back on his word only a short time after he promises that he would give it his support.

Capitelli is running for mayor against Jesse Arreguin and other candidates. How can he expect the public to vote for a candidate when his word cannot be trusted? -more-

Flash: No Special Berkeley City Council Meeting Tonight Re Minimum Wage

John Caner, CEO Downtown Berkeley Assn.
Thursday August 11, 2016 - 05:32:00 PM

We were just told by Councilmember Capetelli that there will be no Council meeting tonight because of insufficient quorum. He also informed us that the City Clerk brought to his attention that introducing the measure tonight would violate the Good Government Ordinance (Section 2.06.070.E.1) of the City and, possibly the Brown Act. Here is Councilmember Capitelli's statement: -more-

Flash: Whole Lotta Shakin' at a special City Council Meeting tonight?

Becky O'Malley
Thursday August 11, 2016 - 10:14:00 AM

Something big is going to happen tonight at City Hall at 6 p.m., but what exactly depends on who you ask. It's billed as a "compromise" version of the Berkeley minimum wage initiatives now on the November ballot, with several parties trying to take the credit for devising it.

In the public interest, since I've been away from my desk this week, I'm just going to start by posting ALL the competing press releases, and readers can judge for themselves what's going on.

There's another item on the agenda that seems to be revising the revenue estimates from the initiative that proposes taxing landlord revenues, down by more than a third, or more than a million dollars. This would seem to reduce the chances of its passing in November. The online commentariat as cc'd to me seems outraged.

Also, several emails I've gotten are asking why the special meeting agenda pointedly excludes other topics left dangling as the Mayor and Vice-Mayor decamped for their summer Grand Tours. This would be proposed strengthening of the outdated weak-as-water Police Review Commission and comment on Jerry Brown's imminent attempt to impose by-right development on cities like Berkeley. Why not a special meeting to take up these important topics?

As alway, Public Comment welcome if you can shed any light on any of this. Write to, signing your own real name and including a phone number so I can call the author if needed. -more-

City of Berkeley News: City Council Special Meeting, Thursday August 11 at 6:00PM

Councilmember Kriss Worthington
Thursday August 11, 2016 - 12:21:00 PM

The City Council will meet at the Council Chambers at 2134 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way on August 11 at 6pm to consider the city minimum wage ordinance and ballot measure. -more-

Press Release: Berkeley City Council to hold special meeting on raising minimum wage

Stefan Elgstrand, Office of Councilmember Jesse Arreguin
Thursday August 11, 2016 - 10:48:00 AM

What: Berkeley City Council Vote on Raising the Minimum Wage

When: Thursday, August 11th, 2016, 6PM

Where: Old City Hall, 2nd Floor, 2134 Martin Luther King Jr Way

After years of discussion, debate, and negotiation, the Berkeley City Council will vote on a proposal to raise the minimum wage to $15 at a special meeting tomorrow evening.

After efforts to raise the minimum wage in Berkeley stalled, a community-labor coalition circulated a citizens petition to place a measure on the November 2016 ballot to raise the minimum wage in the City of Berkeley to $15 by 2017 and create a pathway aligning the wage with Berkeley’s Living Wage. After a successful petition drive, the City Council in response voted 6-3 to place a competing measure on the ballot which delayed implementation of a $15 wage until 2019 and included language requiring an onerous supermajority vote to raise wages or paid sick leave requirements. -more-

Press Release: HAVE YOUR VOICE HEARD: Council Special Meeting re MINIMUM WAGE, Tomorrow, Thurs, Aug 11, 6pm, Old City Hall, 2134 MLK Jr. Way.

John Caner, C.E.O. Downtown Berkeley Association
Thursday August 11, 2016 - 10:59:00 AM

The Berkeley City Council has called a Special Meeting for tomorrow night, to revisit the Berkeley Minimum Wage. The meeting will be held at 6pm in Council Chambers on the 2nd Floor of Old City Hall at 2134 MLK Jr. Way. -more-

Press Release: Agreement Reached on Berkeley Minimum Wage
Attorney Andy Katz led negotiations for Special City Council vote Thursday

Andy Katz,
Thursday August 11, 2016 - 10:34:00 AM

Working collaboratively, an agreement that avoids dueling ballot measures on the minimum wage in Berkeley has been reached.

The agreement between the Service Employees International Union, Local 1021, sponsor of the Citizens’ minimum wage ballot measure, and Berkeley City Council member Laurie Capitelli, author of the Council-sponsored minimum wage ballot measure, will be voted on at a special City Council meeting on Thursday night. Council members who signed a petition for the special City Council meeting to consider this action include Jesse Arreguin, Laurie Capitelli, Lori Droste, Darryl Moore, and Kriss Worthington. -more-


From Leslie D. Harris, City of Berkeley City Clerk Department
Thursday August 11, 2016 - 10:22:00 AM

In accordance with the authority in us vested, and pursuant to Berkeley Municipal Code Section 2.04.020, we do hereby call the Berkeley City Council in special session as follows:
Thursday, August 11, 2016
6:00 P.M.

Preliminary Matters:
Roll Call:
Public Comment is limited to items on this agenda only.
Action Calendar
1. -more-

See Il Trovatore
at the Hillside Club on Sunday afternoon

Tuesday August 09, 2016 - 05:53:00 PM

Even if you’ve never had the opportunity to see a live production of a famous opera, you’ve probably heard the gorgeous Anvil Chorus from Guiseppe Verdi’s Il Trovatore. On Sunday afternoon you’ll have a chance to see this powerful opera up close, as performed by the Verismo Opera company. Here’s the company’s summary of the juicy plot:

“It is full of dramatic scenes: tales of flames at the stake, kidnapping and revenge master-minded by Azucena, the conniving gypsy woman; a mysterious troubadour and Leonora who loses her heart to him; and the drama of war waged on a Spanish castle fortress. Set in the early 15th century, the story is told by three separate, intertwining sub-plots, rich with colorful history.”

And there's powerfully dramatic music to match. -more-

Three Berkeley Pokemon robbery attempts

Allison Levitsky (BCN_
Thursday August 11, 2016 - 11:49:00 AM

Three robberies involving people playing the popular "Pokemon Go" smartphone game have been reported in Berkeley in the past month, according to police. -more-

Press Release: 300 Children’s Hospital Oakland workers vote to join National Union of Healthcare Workers

From Justin DeFreitas
Tuesday August 09, 2016 - 10:16:00 PM

Business and administrative workers will join nearly 600 other NUHW-represented Children’s employees

OAKLAND — More than three hundred office and administrative workers at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland voted 87 percent August 3 to join nearly six hundred of their coworkers as members of the National Union of Healthcare Workers. -more-

Richmond Mayor calls attempt to evict popular restaurant owner act of spite by developer

Scott Morris (BCN)
Tuesday August 09, 2016 - 04:51:00 PM

Richmond's mayor is strongly backing a waterfront restaurateur facing eviction, saying that the property owner is trying to force her out as an act of spite against the city after losing two ballot measures in June, including one seeking voter approval for a new development project.

According to Mayor Tom Butt, the Penterra Company served a 30-day notice to vacate to Salute e Vita Ristorante, a popular Italian restaurant owned by Menbere Aklilu, an Eritrean woman who has been widely recognized for her charity work and community service.

The Penterra Company is associated with Richard Poe, a Florida-based developer who only mustered 34 percent approval when he took a plan before voters to build a 59-unit residential property on land he owns on the city's waterfront. -more-

Press Release: Sophie Hahn's fundraising outpaces Murphy in the race for Berkeley's District 5 council seat

Tuesday August 09, 2016 - 04:44:00 PM

Berkeley Zoning Adjustments Board member Sophie Hahn has announced that her campaign for City Council raised $44,859.00 between January 1st and June 30th, almost three times what her opponent raised during the same period. Hahn, a grassroots candidate with deep ties to Berkeley and to her District, received over 300 contributions during this filling period. Seventy-five percent were made by residents of Berkeley, with over 100 from within District 5. -more-

Happening Now in Berkeley: The Trump Effect

Carol Denney
Friday August 05, 2016 - 10:04:00 AM
Under the Gilman overpass

Take a local tour of Trump policy in action in the East Bay where building a wall isn't just a laughable Republican pipe dream. If you live close to Berkeley or Albany, it's something you can see in all its comic finery mid-construction without the inconvenience of any election, without any public or community hearing or vote, without any community involvement whatsoever.

Start with the Gilman Street underpass next time you're on your way to the Berkeley Kite Festival or picking up greens at Whole Foods. Little by little, the underpass is being fenced off so that no one can take shelter underneath it. The bare square footage best sheltered from the wind and rain is now fenced off as securely as the Chancellor's mansion on the University of California's Berkeley campus at a similar cost to the public purse. -more-

Why Berkeley Needs a New Police Review Commission—And Why it’ll Have to Wait Two Years to Get One

Andrew Beale
Thursday August 04, 2016 - 11:33:00 AM

On Thursday, July 21, the City of Berkeley’s Administration building was mysteriously under lockdown. Police officers on bicycles and plainclothes security officers ringed the building, refusing entry to Berkeley citizens. A city spokesman posted outside the building (which houses the mayor’s office, the City Council chambers and various other critical city functions) offered no clues, saying only “We’re having some security concerns, but we’re not discussing it broadly.”

Around two o’clock in the afternoon, the source of the “security concerns” became clear: a small group of protesters was trying to enter the building to speak with City Council members about the council’s failure to reform Berkeley’s Police Review Commission. The activist group included students, an attorney and 2016 City Council candidate Nanci Armstrong-Temple. Despite an invitation from current Councilmember Kriss Worthington to meet with him, even Armstrong-Temple was prevented from entering the building. Hours later, Worthington eventually secured permission for the activists to come inside, but by then they had left, tired of standing on the steps of a city office building in intemperate chilly weather. (Armstrong-Temple and several other protesters penned op-eds for the Daily Planet about the experience.)

Worthington told the Daily Planet that he doesn’t know who made the decision to close the building. “You know, I’ve never seen that before, so I was surprised. I just didn’t know what to think,” he said. “I think the community’s concern was very legitimate and reasonable to be upset when people refuse to do their jobs, when elected officials refuse to do their jobs.” -more-

Opposition To SB 503 Is Growing In The Bay Area

Lynda Carson
Thursday August 04, 2016 - 10:26:00 AM

SB 503, Is A Bill That Is Known As A “Deadly Shift in Nursing Home Care.”

SB 503 is an insidious bill that people need to know about, because if it is passed into law it would strip people of their constitutional right to make end-of-life decisions, and it would make it difficult for people to keep from being chemically restrained by nursing homes, and skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), according to California Advocates For Nursing Home Reform (CANHR)! -more-



What's a Berkeleyan to do as the election looms?

Becky O'Malley
Sunday August 07, 2016 - 10:30:00 AM

Okay, the summer’s half over, and the news from the presidential election front is surreal. There are options:

1) Send money, but it doesn’t seem that Hillary Clinton really needs it. On the other hand, there are Senate and House races that do, and without congressional support the next president won’t get as much done.

2) Go elsewhere in the country to work for campaigns. I have good friends, middle-aged and older women like me, who have been unfortunate enough to move to purplish states, and they tell me I could go there to register voters and get them to the polls. Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida—which might it be?

3) Make day trips to work in nearby congressional races. Two nearby congressmembers in close races which might be worth some effort: Ami Bera in Sacramento and Jerry McNerny out toward Livermore. I went to a Bera house party last week and was impressed by how smart he is, and he joined the House sit-in for better firearms regs.

4) Stay here and work phone banks. Me, I’m already getting grouchy from way too many phone calls and emails from campaigns I’m already supporting, and I suspect other voters are too. Might it be time to stop this stuff?

And if working in national elections seems unproductive, don’t forget that here in Berkeley local elections were sneakily moved to coincide with the national elections when we weren’t paying attention. This means that this November Berkeley will be choosing a new Mayor and four councilmembers, creating a new majority on the city council which will be with us for four years, like it or don’t. -more-

Public Comment

Press Release: Housing and Community Groups Protest Governor Brown’s So-Called Build-By-Right “Housing Plan”

Friday August 05, 2016 - 01:40:00 PM

Coalition Holds Day of Action Against Giveaway to Developers

On August 5th in San Francisco and Los Angeles, members of Californians for Affordable Housing (CAH), held a “day of action” against the proposal. CAH is a network of over 60 community and housing organizations across California who oppose Governor Brown’s “build-by-right” proposal to expedite housing development approvals. The groups expressed outrage over the Governor’s giveaway to developers at the expense of local review and oversight, in exchange for dismal affordability requirements.

The network opposes the housing plan because it will enable developers to obtain approvals of mostly market rate and luxury housing projects “by-right” without public input or environmental review. The groups are denouncing the Governor’s so-called “affordable housing” proposal, saying that it will in fact undermine existing affordable housing programs, strip away citizen input, and hand over precious available land to market rate and luxury housing developers, accelerating the displacement of lower income people and people of color from the urban core. -more-

The Bernie Sanders you do not know

Harry Brill
Thursday August 04, 2016 - 09:49:00 AM

In a recent discussion on Amy Goodman's Democracy Now program, Robert Reich and Chris Hedges debated the upcoming presidential election. Reich argued in favor of Hillary Clinton while Hedges made the argument that we should instead support a third party candidate. However, it is important to note Reich did agree with Hedges that in the long run building a political movement including a third party is the route to go.

Bernie Sanders during the 1980s was sympathetic to a third party political agenda. But since 1990, unlike Reich and Hedges, he changed his mind, and made a pact with the Vermont Democratic Party. The Democratic Party would not officially endorse any candidate that runs against Bernie. In return, Bernie would use his influence, which he has done several times, to block third party efforts. The Vermont Democrats had been worried that a third party might emerge.

Because of Bernie's reputation as an anti-war advocate we might have expected that the Democratic Party would have second thoughts about favoring him. The catch is, however, that his reputation does not reflect the reality. Yes, he did oppose the war in Iraq. However, in a subsequent vote that has made two protracted wars possible, he voted to fund the wars both in Iraq and Afghanistan. So Bernie was able for the most part to satisfy both sides; those who favor peace and those who favor war. Bernie has also supported the NATO bombing of Serbia. -more-

Response to Harry Brill's Election Article

Carol Denney
Friday August 05, 2016 - 10:37:00 AM

As thoughtful as Harry Brill's article is, it makes the same mistake I've seen throughout this election by focusing on the personal voting record or behavioral or personality traits of specific nominees. While not entirely irrelevant, this is not nearly as important as having an informed, focused electorate which not only votes but which sustains its pressure on representatives to fulfill progressive policy. This connected group, whether at a municipal, state, or federal level, is much more powerful than money. A political party may have its imperfections, but it has been, at least up to now, the best way for such people to unite and pressure together for sensible legislative options. Even Bernie Sanders recognized this by joining the Democratic Party, albeit at the eleventh hour of his career. -more-

Two Presidents?

Romila Khanna
Thursday August 04, 2016 - 11:34:00 AM

Some politicians talk about failed democracy during President Obama’s tenure in office. I don’t agree. According to me, the true cause of failures of democracy lies in the unwillingness of the Republican Congress to listen to the 99%. In my view the Republican majority wanted only to support those bills which favored the top 1%. -more-


THE PUBLIC EYE:Who are Trump voters?

Bob Burnett
Friday August 05, 2016 - 09:59:00 AM

The latest Huffington Post Poll of Polls shows Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump 47.1 percent to 39.7 percent. Many political observers feel that Trump’s voter “ceiling” is 40 percent of the electorate. Who are these voters?

Two years ago, Pew Research Center released a typology of American politics. The typology distinguished between three classes of voters: the general public, registered voters, and the “politically engaged.” In the category “politically engaged” there were three categories of Republicans: “Steadfast Conservatives: socially conservative populists” at 19 percent; “Business Conservatives: Pro-Wall street, pro-immigrant” at 17 percent; “Young Outsiders: conservative views on government, not on social issues” at 11 percent.

In addition, there is a swing group of Democrats, “Hard Pressed Skeptics: Financially stressed and pessimistic” at 9 percent. These are “Reagan Democrats.”

Given the Pew data, the hard-core Trump base is probably composed of “Steadfast Conservatives” and “Young Outsiders” for 30 percent. (This is roughly the size of the Tea Party movement.) It’s safe to assume that some Business Conservatives and some Hard-Pressed Skeptics also support Trump. Thus, the core Trump vote is likely to be 30-40 percent of the portion of the electorate that are probable voters. -more-

ECLECTIC RANT: Donald Trump, the Muslim Basher

Ralph E. Stone
Thursday August 04, 2016 - 11:39:00 AM

On the final night of the Democratic National Convention, Khizr Khan, whose Muslim-American son, Army Captain Humayun Khan, 27, died from a suicide bombing in Baghdad in 2004, delivered a passionate appeal for voters to support Hillary Clinton, and accused Donald Trump of sacrificing “nothing” and “smearing the character” of religious minorities like his family. The Khans, a Muslim family, immigrated to the United States from the United Arab Emirates. -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: All People with Disabilities Should Vote for Clinton

Jack Bragen
Thursday August 04, 2016 - 10:00:00 AM

In her nomination speech, Hillary Clinton touched upon the existence of people with disabilities. This is better than Trump's speech, in which he said, "I am the candidate of compassion, believe it." And then, Trump quickly switched back to the tack of being "The law and order candidate," without adding a milligram of substance as to why we should believe his claim of being compassionate.

On the other hand, Clinton's background included fighting for the rights of disabled children to attend school. That is at least something that would make a voter believe that Clinton might help those of us with disabilities. -more-

Arts & Events

New: American Bach Soloists Perform Bach’s B-Minor Mass

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Monday August 08, 2016 - 01:52:00 PM

Johann Sebastian Bach’s monumental B-Minor Mass was a product of the last years of his life, though its origins lie in various earlier periods of his career. As Jeffrey Thomas, Musical Director of American Bach Soloists, observes in program notes for these performances, “The genesis of the Mass in B Minor – so admired for its colossal dimensions and encyclopedic stylistic variety – is actually a long history of separable parts. Although Bach compiled the music for this work in the last years of his life (1748-1749), most of the movements had been composed long before or were reworked from earlier pieces.” There is no evidence that the B-Minor Mass was ever performed in Bach’s lifetime, and it is assumed that in creating this work Bach was offering a sort of valedictory compilation of what he could do in the realm of the Latin Mass. -more-

Merola Opera Stages COSÌ FAN TUTTE in a Hospital Ward

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Friday August 05, 2016 - 01:45:00 PM

When the audience took their seats in the San Francisco Conservatory of Music’s Caroline H. Hume Concert Hall for the first of two performances of Mozart’s Così Fan Tutte on Thursday, August 4, they were greeted by a bare stage with only a long table and a few chairs. It seemed a very austere, basically modern setting for this 18th century opera by Mozart. During the overture, conducted robustly by Mark Morash, the five principals – Don Alfonso, Ferrando, Guglielmo, Fiordiligi, and Dorabella, walked onstage through a rear door and sat down to have a drink. The men were all in military uniforms, with Don Alfonso as the superior officer. The two women wore identical white pin-striped dresses. As the overture concluded, Don Alfonso pulled a long beige curtain to close off the whole stage, while a scene change was effected behind the curtain. Meanwhile Ferrando and Guglielmo joined Don Alfonso in front of the drawn curtain, and Alfonso challenged the two men about the faithfulness of their fiancées. A wager was made: if the two men agreed to do whatever Don Alfonso asked them to do, he would prove that their fiancées were not the paragons of fidelity the men imagined them to be. -more-