The Week



New: Berkeley’s New Ideology: A critique of the “Strategic Plan”

Steve Martinot
Monday February 27, 2017 - 01:25:00 PM

The city staff has proposed a Strategic Plan for Berkeley. The Plan occurs in the midst of severe crises besetting Berkeley, distracting from their resolution. It promotes the interests of the staff as a seemingly autonomous "organization" within city government, rather than an instrument of local democracy. Reducing the people to political consumers, and limiting them to non-participant “input,” it enlarges the structural chasm between the people and the government that is one of the sources of the present crises.

On January 31, 2017, the city manager presented a report to City Council on a Strategic Plan for Berkeley that staff is developing. The motivation for this Plan (as the city manager puts it) is a need to “have an idea of what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, and how we’re going to accomplish it.” In other words, it is a plan to make city government more effective and more efficient. Its purpose is to “articulate the long-term goals” of the city and “short-term projects designed to advance those goals.”

The odd thing about it is its appearance right in the middle of a number of crises besetting the city. These crises (concerning homelessness and affordable housing) have been the context for a change in City Council itself, and would seem to call for very focused administrative attention, rather than a diversion to a number of other “long-term” goals. It is as if (by analogy), while the Oroville Dam was coming apart under torrential rains, California engineers spent their time proposing different engineering principles for building dams. In the midst of crisis, that might be beside the point. -more-

DHS comes to a college town--local police regret being fooled

Chris Krohn, Santa Cruz City Councilmember
Friday February 24, 2017 - 02:23:00 PM

About a dozen journalists, three city councilmembers, five police officers including the Chief, Kevin Vogel and two deputy chiefs—Rick Martinez and Dan Filippo, along with Mayor Cynthia Chase were all present inside the Police Community room on Center Street [Thursday] morning to hear about what went down, and what went wrong, in Santa Cruz this past February 13th when DHS came to town. It was a press conference, and some press really came while the public was kept outside. A group of about twenty-five huddled around the ornate police plaza fountain, perhaps exchanging text messages in order to follow the blue mea culpa happening inside.

On Wednesday night I received a call while attending my daughter’s CCS soccer match vs. the Menlo School from Atherton. (Had to fit that in somehow.) It was being played on the plastic turf of Santa Cruz High. A stunned-sounding Deputy Chief outlined for me how Homeland Security had acted outside the scope of their activity on that certain Monday morning terrorist hunt. They arrested some gang members, but also detained several undocumented residents, He was disgusted by this, and it flies in the face of our city council Sanctuary City resolution, he flatly stated. It’s against our community values, he even said. Wow, I thought.

It seems DHS, the Department of Homeland Security, had been duplicitous with SCPD. Under a supposed cooperation agreement with local police they would be hunting down known gang members who DHS said were planning more mayhem in our community. But DHS went further.

Without communicating with SCPD they turned the operation into an old-fashioned La Migra raid, something this town experienced quite a bit in the 90’s when ICE, then called the INS, raided neighborhoods at odd hours and hauled away fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers in order to deport those without papers. But remember, the deputy-chief reminded me, FEMA [the federal emergency management agency] falls under DHS, and we also need to work with DHS in investigating underage sex crimes. Finally, he said he had been so incensed over DHS actions that he contacted our U.S. Representative, Jimmy Panetta, and one of our U.S. senators, Kamala Harris. And by the way, there will be a press conference tomorrow at 11am, he said. -more-

March 4 Trump planned for Saturday in Berkeley, counter-protests expected

Scott Morris (BCN)
Friday March 03, 2017 - 03:25:00 PM

A march for Donald Trump is planned in Berkeley this Saturday, one of dozens planned nationwide to show support for the new president. -more-

Press Release: Indivisible East Bay Hosts Empty Chair Town Hall Absent Dianne Feinstein: Thousands RSVP

From Liz Kelley, Indivisible East Bay Press Communications Leader
Friday February 24, 2017 - 02:40:00 PM

Indivisible East Bay is holding a town hall with or without Feinstein on Sunday February 26th 10am at Elmhurst Community Prep School, 1800 98th Avenue in Oakland. Groups representing 15,000 of her constituents have asked Senator Feinstein to hold such a forum and provide an opportunity to ask her questions directly. Senator Feinstein has declined to attend Sunday’s town hall but that’s not stopping Indivisible East Bay from holding an event to make their presence known and their voices heard. -more-

A Kvetchy Quatrain and Some Trumped-up Haikus

Gar Smith
Friday February 24, 2017 - 03:11:00 PM

I'd like to report that Trump has no rapport

that his Twitterish tirades leave much to abhor

that his public deportment disgraces the nation

"Deport him, instead!" is my loud exclamation

White-hot White House Haikus

--- ---

Boo! The Great Trumpkin!

He's orange and hairy-scary!

He even spooks spooks!

--- --- -more-

Robert Alexander David (Bob) Schwartz

Margot Schwartz
Friday February 24, 2017 - 04:05:00 PM

Robert Alexander David Schwartz (Bob) was unfortunately obliged to abandon his recently adopted ten-year plan as a result of a stroke, which ultimately claimed his life on February 18.

A dedicated swimmer and aficionado of Fenton’s Swiss Milk Chocolate shakes, he was born in 1925 in Chicago, Illinois. He attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in 1944, after which he served as a Lieutenant in the United States Navy at Pearl Harbor during World War II. In 1951 he moved to Oakland, where he lived the remainder of his full and dynamic 92 years. He earned a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from Golden Gate University Law School, becoming a member of the California State Bar in 1974. -more-



Berkeley's problems are not unique to us

Becky O'Malley
Friday February 24, 2017 - 06:03:00 PM

Regular readers of the Planet might be surprised, as I have been, to see that this issue contains contributions from current or former elected officials in three cities outside our usual Berkeley beat. But when you read them, you might discover that they’re on themes which have Berkeley resonance—it could happen here, and probably will. -more-

Public Comment

The Privatization of Public Schools

Harry Brill
Thursday March 02, 2017 - 03:15:00 PM

Our society is moving rapidly in a dangerous direction. Government is increasingly playing the role of assisting business to maximize profits instead of attempting to improve the quality of life of the public. The strategy is privatization. Among the public institutions that are becoming increasingly privatized are K-12 educational institutions. Called charter schools, they are rapidly increasing at the expense of public schools. In Washington, D.C. 44 percent of the students are enrolled in charter schools. In some cities, including Detroit and New Orleans, a majority of the students are educated in charter schools. -more-

Open Letter to Councilmember Worthington opposing Honda project

Jeffrey J. Carter, attorney at law
Friday February 24, 2017 - 03:13:00 PM

I am writing to you to express my disappointment in your opposition to the neighborhood appeal of the ZAB decision approving the relocated dealership proposal of the Honda dealer. I have had an opportunity to review your comments from the most recent council meeting in which you provide reasons for your opposition, which from my perspective, appear to be unsupported by the facts and the law. -more-

Berkeley Police get it right

Robert Cheasty
Friday February 24, 2017 - 02:37:00 PM

Kudos to the Berkeley police for disarming the "Homeless man arrested for slashing tents in Berkeley” and for using non-lethal force to do it. This story could have easily been “Homeless Man Brandishing a Sword and Slashing at Tent Dwellers Shot and Killed by Police.” -more-

BAMBD calls for community support of the Berkeley Flea Market

Marvin X
Friday February 24, 2017 - 02:03:00 PM

Remember the time when the Berkeley Flea Market was the chief market place of North American Africans and Africans from the Diaspora? Remember when it was the crossroads of Pan African culture in the Bay? Well, if vendors and shoppers don't rush to keep it alive, it is in serious danger of closing down. The non-profit corporation which operates the Flea Market at the ASHBY BART Station are threatening to close the market on Sundays because they cannot afford the expense of Sundays due to the low turnout of vendors and customers. A petition was circulated demanded it remain open on Sundays but it is a business and no business can remain operating in the red! This is an economic reality. -more-

A Route To Poverty: The Decline of Conventional Employment

Harry Brill
Friday February 24, 2017 - 01:53:00 PM

It doesn't take a genius to realize that the standard of living is declining despite the claims of many public officials and corporate CEOs. Among the important problems that have been battering working people is that millions of jobs have been and continue to be OUTSOURCED abroad. Since the year 2000, about 5.5 million jobs in manufacturing have been outsourced. A conservative estimate of the total shipped abroad since the year 2000 would be at least 9 million jobs This does not include the substantial number of jobs that have disappeared because of the steep decline in consumer spending as a result of moving jobs abroad.

Since the 1980s many businesses have employed another weapon -- DOMESTIC OUTSOURCING. In addition to sending work abroad, many establishments are also replacing their own workers with less expensive employees from subcontracting firms. Apparently they have decided that the very last thing they intend to do is to increase their workforce even if their business volume is expanding. Unless this development is successfully confronted a lot more working people and their families will be joining the ranks of the poor. -more-

Islamophobia & Anti-Semitism

Tejinder Uberoi
Friday February 24, 2017 - 11:19:00 PM

Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia have once again reared their ugly heads. Eleven Jewish community centers across the country received bomb threats. At a cemetery in University City, Missouri, more than a 100 Jewish gravesites were desecrated. Facing intense criticism President Trump finally broke his long silence and denounced anti-Semitic threats. But this came a week after he chastised a Jewish reporter, Jake Turx, for asking about the recent bomb threats at his news conference. In his usual nasty bullying style he heaped scorn on the reporter and the “dishonest media” and demanded the reporter sit down. -more-

Who will police the press?

Tom Butt, Mayor of Richmond
Friday February 24, 2017 - 02:06:00 PM

It all started with a story on Richmond first published by the LA Times (Cutting jobs, street repairs, library books to keep up with pension costs, Generous retirement benefits for public safety employees could help push the Bay Area city of Richmond into bankruptcy) authored by Judy Lin, a reporter for CALMatters, which describes itself as a “a nonprofit, nonpartisan media venture dedicated to explaining California policies and politics.” In fact, CAL Matters is largely funded by rich right wing silicon valley Republicans and foundations, including Greg Penner, grandson-in-law of Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart, Condoleezza Rice, Helen and Chuck Schwab and George Shultz. -more-

Questions for Supreme Court Nominees

Christy Straub
Friday February 24, 2017 - 03:40:00 PM

The difference between an excellent judge and an appropriate Supreme Court nominee may well be her/his understanding and willingness to support our Constitution. -more-

Getting packages delivered at Redwood Gardens

Linda Burrell
Friday February 24, 2017 - 03:38:00 PM

In response to Eleanor Walden’s posting: I suggest that she first communicate with the local post office, ask for the postmaster. If the mail has a deliverable address, I believe it’s not possible for the management company to prohibit the postal carrier from delivering tot that address. Additionally, the Gardens is a business and typically mail must be delivered if properly addressed to a business address. -more-


DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE:Of Trump, Vipers & Foreign Policy

Conn Hallinan
Friday February 24, 2017 - 01:51:00 PM

“Chaos,” “dismay,” “radically inept,” are just a few of the headlines analyzing President Donald Trump’s foreign policy, and in truth, disorder would seem to be the strategy of the day. Picking up the morning newspaper or tuning on the national news sometimes feels akin to opening up a basket filled with spitting cobras and Gabon Vipers.

But the bombast emerging for the White House hasn’t always matched what the Trump administration does in the real world. The threat to dump the “one-China” policy and blockade Beijing’s bases in the South China Sea has been dialed back. The pledge to overturn the Iran nuclear agreement has been shelved. And NATO’s “obsolesce” has morphed into a pledge of support. Common sense setting in as a New York Times headline suggests: “Foreign Policy Loses Its Sharp Edge as Trump Adjusts to Office”?

Don’t bet on it.

First, this is an administration that thrives on turmoil, always an easier place to rule from than order. What it says and does one day may be, or may not be, what it says or does another. And because there are a number of foreign policy crises that have stepped up to the plate, we should all find out fairly soon whether the berserkers or the rationalists are running things. -more-

Coping with Trump Stress Disorder

Bob Burnett
Friday February 24, 2017 - 01:36:00 PM

A month into the Trump Administration, many Americans are stressed out. A recent study by the American Psychological Association revealed, "more Americans reporting symptoms of stress and citing personal safety and terrorism as sources of stress." 57 percent of respondents said "the current political climate is a very or somewhat significant source of stress." -more-


Toni Mester
Friday February 24, 2017 - 01:24:00 PM
1310 Haskell Street, to be demolished

A spectre is haunting Berkeley, the spectre of THIMBYism, long buried in the zoning code and currently lurking in the agendas of the City Council and the Planning Commission.

The House in My Back Yard (THIMBY) has become a contentious issue as the need for more housing bumps against the historic political conflicts and ageless geography that separate the flatlands from the hills.

THIMBYs come in two basic sizes: big and small. One would think that big back yard houses would be allowed on the biggest lots and the smallest on the small but the Berkeley zoning code has this in reverse. Big houses are being squeezed into relatively limited space in the flats while the smallest units originally planned for larger upland parcels face so many hurdles that the eagerly anticipated backyard cottages may never be built. -more-

ECLECTIC RANT: Trump versus the media

Ralph E. Stone
Friday February 24, 2017 - 01:58:00 PM

Low Energy Jeb [Bush], Little Marco [Rubio], Lyin' Ted [Cruz] pathological Ben [Carson], and Crooked Hillary [Clinton] were all quite effective labels used by Donald Trump on his march to the White House. With the destruction of 16 primary challengers and a well-known political figure in his rear-view mirror, Trump has now zeroed in on his old opponent, the media. Why? Because the media is out to get him. Or maybe they are just fact checking. -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Long Term Effects of Heavy Meds, and the Trivialization of our Lives

Jack Bragen
Friday February 24, 2017 - 12:56:00 PM

In the past ten years, some of my motor skills have deteriorated. I've become clumsy, and I have difficulty negotiating staircases, especially on the way down. I am only in my early fifties. -more-

Arts & Events

Oscar nominated short films (2017)

Reviewed by Ian Berke
Friday February 24, 2017 - 03:18:00 PM

Even dedicated film fans are often stumped at the Academy Awards when it comes to the short categories. When and where are they ever shown? And who has the chance to see them? Well, each year, for the past ten years, a few theaters have screened the final list of Oscar nominated short films.

Short films are defined as less than 30 minutes (slightly longer for documentaries) and divided into three categories: live action, animation, and documentary. Most are highly accomplished; the documentaries often some of the most powerful films screened in any given year. This is not to suggest that the live action and animated films are less accomplished. They often show the talent that it takes to tell a story, develop a character, and resolve the action in 20 minutes, a challenge to do well. These films are rarely seen individually since few theaters are prepared for screenings of such short duration. But a distribution company has bundled the award nominees together in all three categories, five films each, with a total screening time (this year) running from about 130 minutes for the live action and 153 minutes for the documentary shorts. The Clay, Opera Plaza, the Shattuck, the Rafael and the Camera 3 (San Jose) are all screening the live action and animateds, but only the Rafael and the Camera 3 are showing the documentaries because of their extended length. All opened last weekend and will probably continue to screen for another two weeks. Don’t miss them: they are gems. -more-

Pinchas Zukerman and Angela Cheng Play Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Monday February 27, 2017 - 01:28:00 PM

On Saturday evening, February 25, at Herbst Theatre, noted violinist Pinchas Zukerman teamed up with Canadian-born pianist Angela Cheng in a program of sonatas for violin and piano by Mozart, Beethoven, and Brahms. This concert, staged by Chamber Music San Francisco, offered Mozart’s Violin Sonata in G Major, K. 301, Beethoven’s Violin Sonata in E flat, Op. 12, No. 3, and two pieces by Brahms – the brief Sonatensatz (Scherzo) in C minor, and the Violin Sonata No. 3 in D minor. In 2009, at the invitation of Pinchas Zukerman, Angela Cheng joined the Zukerman Chamber Players in touring Europe and Asia. Since that time, Ms. Cheng has also been a member of the Zukerman Trio, which includes cellist Amanda Forsyth. -more-