The Week



New: Berkeley Council meeting ends in chaos

Thomas Lord
Thursday June 22, 2017 - 10:04:00 AM

"You don't have to break his arm!" urged Council Member Cheryl Davila (District 2), addressing Berkeley Police as they employed pain compliance techniques on a protester who held a stop-urban-shield banner at last night's City Council meeting. Other council members had scurried out of the room to flee the angry chants of hundreds who came out to protest Berkeley Police participation in the Urban Shield expo and training exercises. -more-

New: Mayor Arreguin and the Berkeley City Council vote in favor of Police Militarization (Public Comment)

Dr. James McFadden
Thursday June 22, 2017 - 10:03:00 AM

Any doubts that the Berkeley City Council represents the interests of the neoliberal police state (as opposed to the public interest) were smashed during the June 20 council meeting. There have been hints since December that our new “progressive” Mayor and some City Council members were really “fauxgressives.” Of that we can now be assured. A key threshold was crossed – we now know the Council supports the militarized police state. We now know that representative democracy is dead in Berkeley since the Council discounted the public who showed up to demand that the drift toward police militarization and mass surveillance be ended. -more-

UC Berkeley police seek suspects in Grizzly Peak shooting

Bay City News
Wednesday June 21, 2017 - 01:35:00 PM

Campus police at the University of California, Berkeley are looking for three suspects in connection with an early morning armed robbery on Grizzly Peak that ended with a female victim being shot in the leg. -more-


Alex Kekauoha (BCN)
Tuesday June 20, 2017 - 01:45:00 PM

Electric customers across California are asked to conserve electricity today and Wednesday because of the heat wave. -more-



Berkeley councilmembers need to become better listeners

Becky O'Malley
Friday June 16, 2017 - 03:02:00 PM

The decision-making process of the Berkeley City Council needs an attitude adjustment, or a procedural update, or something. In an effort to make sure that important tasks can be completed at a reasonable hour, the new council majority has moved up the start time to 6 p.m., which in theory could get the ceremonial matters and the consent calendar out of the way before tackling the harder stuff at seven.

But at the first meeting under the new schedule, the meeting time was extended at 11:15, no better than it ever was, and so an urgent major proposal before the council was postponed for two more weeks.

As a simpleton who shall be nameless might tweet, SAD!

The major problem, one which has been the major problem in the approximately forty years since I’ve been watching the Berkeley City Council on and off, is that the only reliable way to get the attention of even the best-intentioned city council is to have as many concerned citizens as possible show up in the flesh to make their case in what’s become one or two minute sound-bytes. This problem is not unique to Berkeley, although many who live here and subscribe to the theory of Berkeley exceptionalism would like to think so. I’ve seen the same phenomenon on the Santa Cruz city council, even though they start their meeting in the afternoon with a break for dinner.

It’s fashionable to deride the public comment part of city council agendas as crazy people just sounding off, but in fact I’ve observed, not just once but many times, that citizen input can be the only way elected officials learn about serious problems. The most striking recent example was in Santa Cruz, where the police learned in public comment time that they’d been hornswoggled by ICE into participating in a round-up of undocumented people who had no connection to crime during what they thought was a drug bust, contrary to city policy. (To their credit, the police made a public apology the next day, though the damage was done.)

The very important topic which was left hanging this week by the Berkeley City Council was correcting more than a decade of neglect by requiring developers to include of a substantial number of on-site units for lower-income tenants in the speculative luxury housing which is flooding into Berkeley at the moment. The council didn’t even pass the second best alternative: requiring, in lieu of units, a substantial financial contribution toward construction of affordable housing on other sites. -more-

Public Comment

Berkeley Council delays action on affordable housing proposal

Charlene M. Woodcock
Friday June 16, 2017 - 10:40:00 AM

The council meeting was a pretty depressing spectacle Tuesday night, with the minority, the Livable Berkeley-Rhoades-Caner-Panzer contingent who couldn’t elect their mayor, dominating with their tired, disproven trickle-down theory of housing.

But they succeeded in pushing the council to justify one more delay in dealing with the crisis, contributing to the longtime holding pattern for low-income housing projects, while the market rate projects continue to be approved to the profit of developers and investors.

We elected a new council majority to deal with our housing crisis but they seem to be too timid or unwilling to oppose the pro-development interests even though Berkeley voters elected them to do so. Kate Harrison’s very modest proposal to hold the in-lieu fee to $34,000 for those developers unwilling to designate 20% of units for low-income residents was delayed for further discussion, further “studies,” and, once again, nothing done to address the crisis. -more-

Federal entanglements: it's time to say goodbye

J.P. Massar
Friday June 16, 2017 - 11:44:00 AM

On June 20th, the Berkeley City Council will be deciding whether to continue participating in Urban Shield, which among other things conducts SWAT team trainings mandated to have "a nexus to terrorism."

If Berkeley is to have police, there is no doubt they need to receiving proper and effective training. Berkeley must ask itself, then "What constitutes such training, and in what environment? Here are some principles Berkeley's policy makers should embrace:

- Training must not occur in a militaristic, testosterone-laden, violence-promoting and racially-charged environment. (This should go without saying.) Urban Shield is all of that. Urban Shield advocates dismiss such problems, or claim they will be easily fixed. The truth is that they are inherent in training which promotes the mythos of "The Warrior Cop," evident in Urban Shield promotional pictures and videos. - Training should be about the most critical, most likely, and most life-threatening issues Berkeley faces.

That means, for one, encounters with those in need of mental health services. Emergency training must also offer coordinated preparedness for a major earthquake or Hills fire, things that are almost inevitable, rather than unlikely scenarios. -more-

Berkeley city manager short-circuits process for police armored tactical van--Tuesday Council meeting to consider action

Gene Bernardi, Veterans For Peace E. Bay Chapt. #162 and SuperBOLD ( Berkeleyans Organizing for Liberty Defense)
Friday June 16, 2017 - 10:46:00 AM

On November 1, 2016 the Berkeley City Manager signed an "Agreement with the City and County of San Francisco...for the distribution of FY 2016 UASI Grant Funds". UASI is the Urban Areas Security Initiative program run by the U. S. Department of Homeland Security. UASI provides grants for Urban Shield and military equipment such as an Armored Tactical Van. -more-

Eric Trump

Jagjit Singh
Friday June 16, 2017 - 12:04:00 PM

The Trump family seems determined to monetize the presidency. -more-

Ivanka Trump

Tejinder Uberoi
Friday June 16, 2017 - 11:47:00 AM

Determined to monetize her new association with the Chinese government, Ivanka Trump secured three new exclusive trademark deals. This happened the very same day she and her father had dinner with Chinese President Xi Jinping at Trump’s private resort in Florida. Ivanka‘s company has since filed numerous additional Chinese trademark applications to maximize her penetration into the Chinese market. Although Ivanka no longer manages the company she retains an ownership stake and still benefits from the company profits. -more-

Eating anything they feed you

Carol Denney
Friday June 16, 2017 - 11:20:00 AM

I have a rueful saying about musicians; "musicians will eat anything you feed them." The point, after a lifetime of gigs that either pay nothing or less than minimum wage considering expenses and practice time, is to acknowledge that we're in it because we can't help ourselves. Artists with a calling, a much kinder word than obsession, couldn't stop creating if you paid them.

After reading the almost perpetual promotion of "tiny houses" in Street Spirit in the past year I have begun to feel like I'm sharing pages with members of a cult. There appears to be no recognition that "tiny houses" violate habitability requirements, cost more, and reduce green standards. I've found there's almost no interest from those who promote them in organizing for rent control, vacancy and mitigation fees for landlords and developers, or rehabbing older buildings for cooperative low-cost housing, or other more practical responses to the lack of low-income housing. -more-

Telling the truth about Senator Skinner

Sheila Goldmacher
Friday June 16, 2017 - 10:55:00 AM

I appreciated Zelda Bronstein's alert on Skinner's bills. Shortly after last week's Daily Planet printed her first letter, Sen. Skinner sent out a list of the bills she "authored". I called her on stating that she "authored" the Sb562 single payer bill. She never did, she merely signed on to it after two of her colleagues in the Senate Lara and Atkins introduced it. In fact she was nowhere to be seen at the rally on the Capitol steps when they first introduced the bill in front of hundreds of us who had come to Sacramento to applaud their efforts. Assemblymembers Thurmond and Bonta from the Assembly were present and immediately came forward to say they were in support of SB 562. I called her office when I got home asking why Sen. Skinner had not appeared to support the bill. Aide said she was somewhere else. She sure was. -more-



Jack Bragen
Friday June 16, 2017 - 10:41:00 AM

As of April of this year, it has been 21 years since a complete psychotic episode has forced me to be hospitalized in an inpatient psychiatric ward. To give some readers a perspective, the first building of the present day Contra Costa Regional Medical Center was in an early stage of construction, and from the window of I-Ward, where I stayed, I could see the crew welding together the girders of the frame of that building. (Also, at the time, Bill Clinton was our President.)

The previous hospital, which is about 90 % demolished to make room for the current one, was called Merrithew Memorial Hospital, also known as "County." When I was in the old "I" Ward, I had the belief that I was in a museum of ancient psychiatric wards because of how primitive everything was. (Merrithew was first built during or near the time of WWII.) I also believed I was on Mars.

A judge ordered me to take medication in a "Riese Hearing," and I have been medicated since then, for the past twenty one years and two months. Schizophrenia doesn't just go away--you need to do things to keep it in remission. One of these things is to be medicated, and other parts to treatment are also essential. -more-

THE PUBLIC EYE:When Will Trump Lose His Base?

Bob Burnett
Friday June 16, 2017 - 10:57:00 AM

After the Trump White House careened through another terrible week, Washington insiders wonder how long Trump can survive. The answer is: as long as he holds his base. Trump and his voters are locked in a deadly embrace: his base desperately wants to believe he will address their grievances and Trump is willing to lie to keep their support.

In her latest insightful Trump analysis, in the New York Review , Elizabeth Drew observed, "Trump is, for all his deep flaws, in some ways a cannier politician than [former President] Nixon; he knows how to lie to his people to keep them behind him...People can have a hard time recognizing that they’ve been conned. And Trump is skilled at flimflam, creating illusions." -more-

DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE:Europe: The Danger of the Center

Conn Hallinan
Friday June 16, 2017 - 11:37:00 AM

The good news out of Europe is that Marine Le Pen’s neo-Nazi National Front took a beating in the May 7 French presidential election. The bad news is that the program of the winner, Emmanuel Macron, might put Le Pen back in the running six years from now.

Macron pledges to cut 120,000 public jobs, reduce spending by 60 billion Euros, jettison the 35-hour workweek, raise the retirement age, weaken unions’ negotiating strength and cut corporate taxes. It is a program that is unlikely to revive the morbid French economy, but it will certainly worsen the plight of jobless youth and seniors and hand the National Front ammunition for the 2022 election.

Europe is enmeshed in an economic crisis brought on by the structure of the European Union (EU), on one hand, and the nature of capitalism, on the other. That convergence has derailed economies throughout the 27-member trade group, impoverished tens of millions, and helped conjure up racist, rightwing movements that are not likely to be deterred by a few election losses.

Obscuring the roots of this crisis is the myth that debt is the result of spendthrift behavior, the economic sluggishness a consequence of high taxes, and rigid labor rules that handcuff businesses and inhibit growth. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is fond of saying that countries should behave like a “frugal Swabian house frau.” -more-

ECLETIC RANT:Jeff Sessions' testimony

Ralph E. Stone
Friday June 16, 2017 - 11:26:00 AM

In his June 13, 2017 testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Attorney General Jeff Sessions repeatedly denied suggestions that he had improper contact with Russian authorities or hurt this country, which he claimed to have served with honor for 35 years.

That he has served this country with “honor for 35 years" is laughable. Remember, his appointment to a federal district court in 1986 by then-President Ronald Reagan was rejected over allegations he called a black attorney “boy,” suggested a white lawyer working for black clients was a race traitor, joked that the only issue he had with the Ku Klux Klan was their drug use, and referred to civil rights groups as “un-American” organizations trying to “force civil rights down the throats of people who were trying to put problems behind them.” -more-

Arts & Events

DINNER THEATER REVIEW: The Burlesque Spirit of 'The Soiled Dove' Under the Big Top

Ken Bullock
Friday June 16, 2017 - 11:24:00 AM

Under the Big Top at Alameda Point, over 40 period-clad performers assemble to put on a show, 'The Soiled Dove,' for their audience--some there for dinner, some just for the fun--a latter-day evocation of San Francisco's notorious and long-running Barbary Coast and its louche entertainments, especially from the Gilded Age that mocked late Victorian strictures and the beginnings of what later was dubbed The Jazz Age ...

Arriving for dinner and greeted by a personable staff (who later take a vivacious role in the evening's entertainment), surrounded by other diner-spectators, in an array of dress from casual to period get-up, if just a top hat or bonnet, or evening dress for a few, the expansive sense of what the Vau de Vire Society, which produces the Edwardian Ball, has in mind for its patrons begins to sink in, provoking both a relaxed feeling and attentiveness. The audience has plenty of time for drinks from the capacious (and reasonably priced) no-host bar and the tasty, imaginative fare served with easygoing grace, but there's more than just food and drink to amuse in the enormous tent, even before showtime. -more-

Susanna Mälkki Returns to Lead Symphony in Beethoven & Stravinsky

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Friday June 16, 2017 - 11:41:00 AM

Over the last few years Susanna Mälkki has become one of the most highly regarded young conductors on the international music scene. Mälkki, a native of Finland, returned to the Bay Area for a series of concerts June 9-11 with the San Francisco Symphony. On the program were two works by Igor Stravinsky – Scherzo fantastique (1907) and Le Sacre du printemps (1913) – plus Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Major, Op. 15 (1795), featuring Garrick Ohlsson as soloist. I attended the Sunday matinee concert on June 11 at Davies Hall. -more-