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Press Release: Jewish Millenials at Senator Feinstein's Office Ask Her to Oppose Israel's Actions in Gaza

Illana Newman, IfNotNow
Friday April 13, 2018 - 10:02:00 AM

Watch the livestream here.

American Jewish millennials are demanding that Senator Feinstein condemn the killing of 31 Palestinian protesters and the injuring of over 1300 more by Israeli live fire near the Gaza border.

UPDATE: SAN FRANCISCO: Nine young Jews from IfNotNow Bay Area were just arrested for blocking Senator Dianne Feinstein's office, demanding that she join Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders in condemning Israeli violence on protesters in Gaza. 

Watch the livestream here.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA: Right now, there are 20 American Jewish young people blocking the doors of Senator Dianne Feinstein’s San Francisco office. The demonstrators are calling on her to condemn Israeli violence against Palestinian protesters in Gaza, in which Israeli military forces have killed 31 Palestinian protesters and injured more than 1,300 others with live fire over three weeks of protest. The violence was Israel’s response to The Great March of Return, one of the largest Palestinian protests the Gaza Strip has seen in years — a protest which has not injured or endangered Israeli soldiers or civilians.

“We know that Senator Feinstein has spoken out against the U.S. embassy move from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem and the demolition of Palestinian villages — oppressive policies that harm Palestinians and Israelis. We commend her for that. But Senator Feinstein cannot pick and choose when she stands up for Palestinians and Israelis. If she really believes that Bibi Netanyahu does not speak for her which she has claimed in the past, then she must speak out. As American Jews and as her constituents, we demand that she condemn Israel’s use of deadly force against Palestinian protesters.” said David Granberg, who is one of 12 IfNotNow members prepared to risk arrest at the protest if Senator Feinstein refuses to condemn Israeli violence.

In the past 10 days, 23 millennial Jews have been arrested by Jewish leaders, following demonstrations in in Boston at the Israeli Consulate, in New York City at Senator Schumer’s office, in the Twin Cities at the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota, and in Los Angeles at the Jewish Federation. At each location, the young Jews demanded a statement condemning Israeli violence against Palestinian protesters, and at each location the organization or individual chose to arrest the protesters instead of releasing any statement.

The protest at Feinstein’s office began at 9:30 am, when about 20 young American Jews — all members of IfNotNow — entered the lobby of 1 Post St #2450, San Francisco, CA 94104, where Senator Feinstein’s San Francisco Office is located. While the Senator is in DC this week, once inside, they asked to speak with a staffer to demand Senator Feinstein issue a statement condemning Israeli violence against Palestinian protesters in Gaza. When the staffer refused, the young Jews began to block the turn styles that lead into the elevator hall, in an attempt to disrupt business as usual. They read the names of the 31 Palestinians that were killed by Israeli forces in the past two weeks and recited the Mourner’s Kaddish, a Jewish prayer traditionally recited for family or community members who have died.  

Today’s protest comes on the third Friday in a row that Palestinian protesters in Gaza were met with live sniper fire from the Israeli army. Yet Feinstein continued her silence, prompting the young Jews to chant periodically, “How Many More?” in reference to how many more Palestinians would have to die for the Senator to speak out. They also had a series of massive posters asking that same question. The protesters noted that Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), also an American Jew, had condemned the violence on the day it happened, saying: “The killing of Palestinian demonstrators by Israeli forces in Gaza is tragic. It is the right of all people to protest for a better future without a violent response.”  

“Palestinians in Gaza came out by the thousands today to protest for their freedom. They were met with more live ammunition, more teargas, more violence. If Senator Feinstein does nothing, this is going to continue happening. How many more Palestinians need to die before she speaks out?” said Adam Hirsch, who is also prepared to risk arrest if the senator refuses to issue a statement. 

On Friday March 30, just hours before Passover began, more than 30,000 Palestinians marched in Gaza and IDF snipers responded to the protest with live gunfire, killing 17 protesters. On Friday, April 6th, tens of thousands of protesters returned and again the IDF shot into the crowd, killing 9 Palestinians. The Palestinian protest has been overwhelmingly nonviolent and led by a diverse coalition of young Palestinians. For two weeks in a row, the United States blocked the United Nations Security Council from calling for an independent investigation into Israel’s use of force. 

In December 2017, Senator Feinstein condemned the embassy move to Jerusalem. She also condemned the demolition of Palestinian villages and a bill in the Israeli Parliament that would legalize settlement outposts in the West Bank.

Around & About--Theater: Last Weekend for 'The Human Ear,' Anton's Well at the Berkeley City Club

Ken Bullock
Thursday April 12, 2018 - 04:17:00 PM

"Her brother ran away from home after their dad died ten years ago in Iraq ...

"Her brother just now returned home after their mother died in an urban atrocity ...

"Her cop boyfriend doesn't believe her brother's story ...

"Lucy isn't sure what to believe, including her own perceptions ... "

"After the shootings at Parkfield--and with everybody reacting to Trump--I thought Alexandra Wood's play 'The Human Ear' would make a good exploration onstage of the effects traumatic events have on an individual's perception, how they reverberate and change how we perceive," said Anton's Well Theatre Company founder, Robert Estes, of the latest play he's directed at the Berkeley City Club, running through this Sunday at 2, the end of an unusually short, two-weekend run.

'The Human Ear' is the latest Bay Area premiere (and a work staged very seldom so far, anywhere in the US) by Estes' troupe--six Bay Area premieres, including a Sam Shepard play, out of eight shows since December, 2014, all but one at the City Club--a remarkable achievement for a company of any size and funding, much less this thoughtful, self-reliant little theater project, a proverbially shoestring operation. 

"It's a great ride, rivetting for the audience to be so close to an intense play," Estes continued. "It follows perfectly in the line of what we've been forging our identity in--an exploration of time, memory, fractured language, subtext ... In that sense, all the plays we've done are part of one bigger play, as our friend, actor-director Norman Gee says, though of course they all stand on their own. 

"And it's intriguing, like a detective story!" 

Estes praises his pair of actors--and Anton's Well has already made a reputation for actor-driven shows--Crystal Brown as Lucy and other female characters, and Louel Senores as Lucy's brother, her boyfriend and other male roles.  

"They both have some difficult acting challenges. Changing roles, we wanted to make the transitions subtly, in Louel's case, mainly by changes in his voice and posture. Crystal's able to ground her character in specificity, so it's not just 'she's crazy' when it gets emotional.  

"The actors never leave the stage during the show. They're like warriors entering the arena!" 

Estes wanted to mention the lighting design by Bert van Aalsberg and also the work of lighting operator Ayumi Nomba: "There's a lot of fast stuff, back and forth, in the play, and Bert's found ways to vary the lighting. The audience can feel the world of Lucy's perceptions. And Ayumi's like the Wizard of Oz--this little person stepping out of the booth after precisely running hundreds of quick cues to dialogue ... " 

Next up for Anton's Well, Sarah Kane's '4.48 Psychosis' in July, followed in September by another Bay Area premiere, 'dirty butterfly' by debbie tucker green, "one of England's most challenging contemporary playwrights." 

'The Human Ear' runs at 8 Thursday through Saturday night's this week, ending Sunday with a 2 p. m. matinee Sunday at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant Avenue (between Ellsworth & Dana). Tickets: $17-$20 at antonswell.org

Press Release: Richmond Successfully Resolves Point Molate Litigation

Richmond City Manager's Office
Thursday April 12, 2018 - 01:57:00 PM

The City [Richmond] is pleased to announce that the long-standing legal dispute concerning Point Molate has been resolved on favorable terms that will benefit the broad interests of the Richmond community for years to come. Here are some details: 

The Plaintiffs, Upstream Pt. Molate, LLC and the Guidiville Rancheria of California, had sought to develop a casino on Point Molate, a former United States Naval Fuel Depot on the shores of San Francisco Bay, north of the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. The area, which includes the historic Winehaven district, was transferred to the City of Richmond as part of the federal base closure and reuse process. 

In 2012, the Plaintiffs filed a lawsuit alleging that the City had unlawfully rejected their proposed casino project at Point Molate after Plaintiffs had spent $16 million in deposits to the City, and after spending what they determined to be an additional $14 million seeking project entitlements. As part of the lawsuit, Plaintiffs sought more than $750 million in damages from the City. The City denied Plaintiffs’ allegations, and vigorously defended itself in the lawsuit. 

Recently, the United States District Court entered a Judgment fully resolving the six-year dispute which has cost the City millions in defense costs, and which has prevented the property from contributing to the economic development of the Richmond community. The Hon. Chief Magistrate Joseph Spero oversaw all aspects of the successful negotiations between the parties. Under the Judgment, the City will pay no money damages to Plaintiffs, no casino will be built at Point Molate, and Plaintiffs’ claims will be dismissed with prejudice. 

The Judgment paves the way for a meaningful public land use planning process for Point Molate, which previously had been initiated by the Richmond City Council. This process will begin with at least three public workshops that will be scheduled during the next several months. This public process will lead to the City selecting a new qualified master developer to manage the development of Point Molate, which will not be Upstream or any of its principals. The City will then evaluate potential developments at Point Molate over the course of two years, and continue to receive input from City residents at every step of the way. During that time, the City will also review potential projects in full compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). 

Following that extensive public process, the City will make a decision on land use entitlements for Point Molate by no later than April 2020 in a manner that is generally consistent with the Point Molate Reuse Plan (Reuse Plan), which was first adopted by the City Council in 1997. In 2012, the Reuse Plan was incorporated in large part into the City’s General Plan 2030. 

The Reuse Plan contemplates a development scenario at Point Molate with 670 residential units and preservation of at least 70 percent of the 270 acres at Point Molate as open space. The precise number and location of any residential units at Point Molate will be determined during the public process, but the 670 residential units called for by the Judgment must comply with the City’s inclusionary housing ordinance. In addition, the Winehaven Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, will be preserved for adaptive reuse. After it makes a decision on land use entitlements, the City plans to sell parcels at Point Molate within two years. As part of the Judgment, proceeds from the sale of development property at Point Molate will be shared equally between the City and Plaintiffs, which will bring revenue to the City’s General Fund. 

The United States Navy transferred Point Molate to the City with the understanding the site would be developed in a manner consistent with the Reuse Plan. The Judgment provides the pathway for this to be achieved. The City has been working to develop Point Molate for more than 20 years, including the completion of substantial environmental remediation activities, and resolving this dispute sets the stage for future development in areas that previously were altered by construction, grading and quarrying, and marred by soil contamination. 

This litigation had been ongoing for years and it could have dragged out for many more years, at considerable expense to the City. 

In summary, resolving the dispute was in the best interest of the City because: 

1. The future of Point Molate is now back in the hands of the community. 

2. A meaningful public process to plan for the development of Point Molate will begin immediately and be implemented in a timely manner. 

3. 70 percent of Point Molate will be preserved for open space and public access, including the beach park. 

4. The historic structures in the Winehaven Historic District will be preserved. 

5. It will encourage more public access to usable parks, open space, and historic resources. 

6. It has potential to bring substantial revenue into the City (e.g., property sale, taxes). 

7. Costly litigation is over. 

“We think the resolution promotes the public interest, and removes a dark cloud over Point Molate,” said Mayor Tom Butt. “We are excited to have ended the litigation so that the public planning process can begin and we can put that land to good use for the benefit of the entire community,” added Councilmember Ada Recinos. 

The Judgment entered by the United States District Court resolving the lawsuit will be available on the City’s website or made available in hard copy upon request to the City Clerk. Details regarding meeting dates to discuss Point Molate will be released soon. 

In short, this is a great outcome for the City. 

Press Release: Point Molate Litigation Settles

Received on behalf of Morrison & Foerster
Thursday April 12, 2018 - 01:37:00 PM

Morrison & Foerster is pleased to announce the resolution of long-running litigation concerning the future of Point Molate, a former navy fuel depot, in Richmond, California. Earlier today, Judge Yvonne González-Rogers of the United States District Court entered a judgment that concludes the City of Richmond’s involvement in Guidiville Rancheria of California vs. The United States of America. Morrison & Foerster represented the City of Richmond against plaintiffs Upstream Point Molate, LLC and the Guidiville Rancheria of California in a settlement that will begin a public process for development to generate revenue for the city, as well as preserve parks and open space. Richmond’s 2010 rejection of Upstream’s original plan to develop a casino on Point Molate sparked years of litigation in which Upstream was seeking more than $750 million in damages. 

The settlement announced today paves the way for a meaningful, public land use planning process for Point Molate that will preserve at least 70 percent of the 270 acres as open space. The process will include public workshops and the selection of a new master developer. 

“We are pleased that we were able to resolve this important litigation matter,” said Alexis Amezcua, Morrison & Foerster partner and counsel for the City of Richmond. “This paves the way for Point Molate to be developed with community input, in a way that best serves City of Richmond residents.” 

For more information on the settlement, here is the City of Richmond’s statement: 


The Court’s judgment is available here: http://bit.ly/2JFx6RP 

The Morrison & Foerster team representing the City of Richmond included Arturo González, David Gold, Alexis Amezcua, and Navi Dhillon.

New: All-Income Social Housing: the Solution to Berkeley's Affordable Housing Crisis

Thomas Lord, City of Berkeley Housing Advisory Commissioner
Tuesday April 10, 2018 - 11:48:00 AM

[This is an open letter to undisclosed recipients. It is just a snapshot of an interesting discussion developing in Berkeley, about housing.]

As you might know, more than half of the renter households in the state of California are paying more in rent than they can afford, according to the California Housing and Community Development agency (HCD).

Market rate housing in Berkeley, both rental and owner occupied, is unaffordable to a large majority of households in the City and region. Most of us are precariously housed and are threatened with displacement from the region.

As you may also know, Berkeley has three primary "affordable housing strategies", none of which were designed for this crisis. None of these strategies are adequate to the crisis. It is as if Berkeley has planned for housing affordability to fail, and has made gentrification and brutal displacement a policy goal. Our failed policies are: 

  1. Inclusionary housing, in which lower income tenants lose housing right compared to others, and are subjected to humiliating system of waiting lists, annual reporting, and monitoring
By design, inclusionary housing will never produce a quantity of units anywhere near the level of need. 

  1. Subsidized housing built and managed by tax exempt private real estate equity firms
These developers, who operate like for-profit real estate private equity firms but with a tax exemption, provide housing services quite expensively and inefficiently. Their capacity to serve is capped by the level of federal assistance available. Their rate of production is too low to ever make a substantial dent in the problems. 

  1. Privately operated cooperative housing on land owned by private land trusts, typically restricted by deed to remain affordable for some period of time.
Berkeley has a history of helping to establish such coops, but such coops have a mixed record at best. Berkeley has experienced periods of well functioning coops and periods where crises emerge because of coop governance difficulties and financial problems. An emerging pattern is coops returning to the City for assistance and bail outs. Furthermore, the coop system has difficulty expanding without additional, substantial public subsidy. 

I have begun trying to encourage Berkeley's policy makers and residents to consider a new policy approach: all-income social housing

All-income (aka mixed income) social housing has the following key characteristics: 

  • It is owned by (or reclaimable by) the municipality.
  • Social housing houses residents at a mix of income levels such that low income households may be paying little more than the operating costs of their units, while moderate and above moderate households pay profitable "solidarity rents". Organic profit from those rents helps to subsidize extremely low income households who can not afford even operating costs, and also help to expand the pool of social housing. In the long run, the natural profitability of social housing can serve as a source of general revenues for the municipality.
  • A city's pool of social housing is democratically manged by the city's residents, with an emphasis on keeping costs down.
All-income social housing should not be confused with the legacy of so-called "public housing". Public housing was premised on federal subsidy and bureaucratic management. It was never economically efficient and it nearly never provided secure, adequate housing to residents. 

Social housing, in contrast, is not a system of subsidized poor houses. Rather, it is a market restructuring of housing -- a way to redress current market failures in a mostly self-financing way. 

This note is to present two items for your consideration. 

The first is a newly published paper from the People's Policy Project: 

"Social Housing in the United States", Peter Gowan and Ryan Cooper; April 2018 


The second item is from a conversation among some local activists, wonks, involved citizens. 

The question was raised: 

Right, and do tell us where the money is going to come from for this. 

My answer: I'm glad you asked. My answer is off-the-cuff so I apologize if the prose or copy editing is a bit rough: 

The quick answer is that mixed-income social housing organically generates a profit. Poorer tenants pay little more than the operating costs associated with their tenancies, and very poor tenants might pay less. Most tenants pay some rent above those costs. Tenants paying market rate are included. So long as the higher "solidarity rents" generate an organic profit larger than the cost of subsidized units, the system produces a net income. 

The net income is easily and realistically large enough to, for example, repay development costs with interest in a timely way. 

In the long run, mixed income social housing even becomes a source of general revenue for the municipality. 

Who is going to pay for social housing? The tenants. 

What is the city's role? Shallow subsidy and, in some cases, borrowing against rental income. 

Social housing is the realistic, scaleable alternative to the current scheme of non-profit private real estate private equity firms like BRIDGE Housing or our more local ones. Unlike them, it doesn't depend on a perpetual stream of high subsidies. On the contrary -- it makes money for the City. 

The appendix to the paper discusses the finances. 

Page 30ff talks about how Cities can begin implementing. I have some other ideas for Berkeley. 

The first part of the paper examines past experience with this model in several European cities. 

Housing policy discourse is getting real, finally. 

Longer Explanation: 

The key fiscal insight of the paper - not new news, really - is that mixed income social housing both (a) Easily pays for its own operating costs. (b) Can easily a generate a net profit, the size of which (relative to maximizing profit) is a matter of policy, basically. 

That fiscal reality is described in various scenarios in the appendix of the paper. The visualizations there may be helpful -- they are well-designed graphs. 

If the goal is new construction, the paper offers advice for cities "going it alone" beginning on page 30. (The paper calls for a massive, nationwide federal program but also acknowledges this is not politically likely in the short run.) 

Unlike a typical affordable housing project (at least in Berkeley) loans made by the City to a social housing project would be repaid, in a timely way, with interest. In this way, the City would truly have what the HTF was once envisioned to be, a perpetually recycled pool of funds that could, over time, grow the program with at most shallow subsidy to grease skids here and there. 

Let me say that again, differently: this program finances itself. It is a way to build the cities assets while providing a much needed service. 

The paper suggests inviting funding from other institutions such as schools, unions, and so forth. To what the paper suggests, I would add that those institutions might consider accepting, in lieu of some portion of interest, preferential access to units (for some period of time). In this way, an institution like BUSD could gain some of the benefits of dedicated workforce housing, more flexibly, and while in the end receiving back its capital investment. Perhaps a similar deal would be of interest to student coops. 

For Berkeley, I would stress that although the paper concentrates on creating new supply through construction, the same basic business model applies as well to acquisition and rehab projects. For example, as I have been working on this, it has been killing me watching opportunities slip by like the recent sale of a mostly empty, fair-to-good condition, rent stabilized 6 unit apartment building nearby. 

Let's take a look at Berkeley's current and upcoming practices -- dig into some detail. 

I will discuss three things: 

  • the Berkeley small sites program existing Berkeley
  • funds that can be used for housing existing big
  • expenditures and some issues with them

Small Sites

Today, Berkeley has already allocated funds to kick off a small sites acquisition and rehab program. As currently envisioned, this program will purchase small apartments for conversion into privately owned limited equity coops, on land given to a private land trust. Also, as envisioned, these would not be "mixed income" in the sense of social housing, but would be deed restricted for several decades. 

That small sites vision has advantages and disadvantages. Its chief advantage is that that model is recognized by county, state and federal programs and may be eligible for subsidy from those sources. As the paper points out, currently the funding programs from superior jurisdictions are stacked against social housing. 

At the same time, the small sites vision is more apt to yield projects that will be dependent on further subsidy over time, and that can give rise to governance problems. Berkeley's experience with these kinds of coops has been mixed, at best. They work well at times. At times, they return to the well for rescue. In between, as at least one mutual friend of some of us can attest, the utopian ideal of small-building-self-governance can easily turn sour. Berkeley has at least two crisis-level coops in this status, that I know of. 

Social Housing (especially as I described it in my recent HAC item) can achieve democratic control over housing in a more robust, and tenant-protective way. It also sits on a much sounder fiscal foundation. And finally, the social housing version of small sites acquisition can, in the medium run, become a self-expanding system (i.e., financing its own expansion). This last point helps to redress the absence of federal subsidy for social housing. 

It is my hope that the small sites program be innovative, and adopt a social housing model. I suspect that this can be done in a way such that, if the experiment fails, the properties revert to traditional coop and private land trust form. I know that BACLT (who has been selected for a small sites pilot) is skeptical that the City would ever again consider owning residential property -- at least that is what I heard from them -- but perhaps that can be overcome. 

Berkeley's Existing Funding

Berkeley has some existing sources of funding that could be used for social housing. For example, any money transfered by the City into the Housing Trust Fund (HTF) could be used for this purpose, although council might need to revise the HTF guidelines. By policy, transfer taxes in excess of some threshold are transferred to the HTF. In general, the HTF could be one prioritized use of any unbudgeted general fund surplus (along with other priorities such as the reserve fund, of course). 

In 2016, Berkeley voted to raise the residential rental business license fee -- a tax on residential rents). For 2017, so far $3.1M have been collected and there is "some confidence" that total collections for 2017 will probably reach $4M. 

While that revenue (commonly known as "U1 money") is general fund revenue, because of the way it was balloted, it is widely accepted that the City should try to make annual expenditures on housing, anti-displacement, and homelessness prevention in rough proportion to that amount. 

The County Bond measure A1 created a fund a bit over $15M which is earmarked for affordable housing projects in Berkeley. As drafted, the County bond administrator's rules for the use of these funds does not envision their use for social housing, but I believe the ballot measure language is compatible with such use, and perhaps (as has happened in the past) the rules can be altered in negotiations with the County bond administrator. 

Berkeley's Existing Big Expenditures

Also, at the moment, although final numbers are not available yet, at this time Berkeley appears poised to spend nearly everything available -- and to take on new debt in support of -- two non-social housing projects: the BRIDGE Housing project on Berkeley Way, and Pathways. 

(Just $1M has been set aside for a small sites pilot.) 

The Berkeley Way project will use all of the remaining A1 reserve funds (almost $15M). It will incur new City debt and I'm unclear whether they will try to issue a $10M bond or $25M bond... I suspect the latter. Either bond will have a coupon rate of 3%, roughly equivalent from the City's fiscal perspective to a conventional bank loan at 5%. The project will absorb a total of about $4M in HTF funds (basically, all there is). 

With interest, that project which is said to have a total construction cost of around $100M, will cost the city probably $60M over the next 20 years. Housing funds available to the City will be leveraged at less than 1:1. 

So far as I can tell, the Pathways project and the need for a winter shelter next year are going to cost much more than has been budgeted for them. I don't have a crystal ball, but I anticipate there will be political pressure to use a large portion of U1 revenues for those projects. 

Overall, ever since the City came to rely on private, non-profit status developers, Berkeley's affordable housing strategies have become steadily more expensive per unit, and ever more reliant on dwindling subsidies available from the state and federal governments. While I'm sure each project conducted in this model benefits some tenants, it seems to me that Berkeley has simply planned and committed to failure at significantly increasing the supply of available housing at prices affordable to the majority of the region's current residents. 


There's plenty of money to make a solid start on social housing. We're just committed to spending it on extremely inefficient alternatives. 


Berkeley Car-Jacking Suspect Arrested in Oakland

Supriya Yelimeli (BCN)
Monday April 09, 2018 - 08:54:00 PM

A female suspect was arrested after a carjacking and assault in Berkeley this morning, police said. 

Berkeley police dispatch received a call reporting what was initially thought to be an auto burglary at 6:12 a.m. in the 1600 block of Walnut Street. Police responded and located a woman who said she was pulled out of her car and assaulted. 

She told police she was getting into her car when a dark sedan occupied by two people pulled up beside her. A suspect got out of the car, assaulted her and drove away north on Walnut Street in her black Lexus RX 350, according to police. 

Dispatchers entered the car in their stolen vehicle system, and California Highway Patrol officers found the stolen car in Golden Gate Fields at 9:35 a.m. and contacted police. 

The CHP patrol car tried to stop the Lexus, but had a collision with another car that was with the stolen Lexus. 

A CHP helicopter followed the Lexus as it sped through Berkeley and Oakland and the driver eventually abandoned the car in the 1300 block of Mandela Parkway in front of an apartment building, according to police. 

The suspect got into another vehicle and attempted to flee, but crashed the vehicle and attempted to run away in the area of 10th and Pine streets, police said. 

Police took the suspect into custody without incident and said they recovered property stolen from the victim during the carjacking. The suspect's name is not yet being released, police Sgt. Andrew Frankel said. 

Police said there are still suspects at large and no other details were immediately available.


Public Comment

Wiener and the YIMBYs Don't Speak for Gay Activists

Robert Brokl
Saturday April 07, 2018 - 10:56:00 AM

My husband and I were active in the effort to pass the Berkeley Gay Rights Ordinance in the late 1970s, getting encouragement from Harvey Milk. (Soon thereafter, we got to thank him at an event in Berkeley.) That successful effort led to the passage of similar ordinances in Oakland and then San Francisco (as depicted in the movie Milk).

As a gay rights, now neighborhood, activist, I hoped that the participation of gays inside the government would be a vast improvement. We’d be more compassionate, democratic, and inclusive, based upon our own history of marginalization and oppression. Unfortunately, we’ve seeing gay politicians can be just as wrong-headed and doctrinaire as their straight counterparts, and as susceptible to the powerful financial interests as those they’ve replaced. 

And gays were, once upon a time, well-known for appreciating historic preservation and neighborhood character, being pioneers in appreciating San Francisco Victorians for instance. Or Mid-century Modernism, as in Palm Springs.  

This history, and gene, seems missing in San Francisco State Senator Scott Wiener who is pushing Senate bills 827 and 828. San Francisco Assemblyperson David Chiu, a “ straight ally,” is promoting Assembly bill 2923. All promote high density, high rise housing development in “ transit corridors,” reducing or eliminating local controls like zoning that allow local resident input. The very “little people” that Milk reached out to, unionists, blue collar workers, longtime residents, to reassure them about his openness and awareness of their issues.  

Victoria Fierce, Ex. Director of the East Bay Yimby cell, East Bay For Everyone, at the BART Board’s March 8 meeting public comment period, said: “I’m extremely gay—really, really gay—and a single-family home does not work for me.” Single-family homes, she declared, “enforce the patriarchy.” 

SB 827 would allow housing projects as high as 105 ft., no off-street parking provided, within a half-mile of a major transit stop or a quarter mile radius of a transit bus stop on a “high quantity” transit corridor. If passed, the dramatic rise in land values and subsequent demolition of existing houses and apartments would likely cause massive dislocation of low income tenants and residents. It would be a gold mine for the real estate and development interests, providing housing for tech workers but doing little to address the pressing issues of homeless, gentrification, and affordability. It may make a good sound bite to suggest that simply building more market-rate housing will make housing more available and affordable for everyone who needs it, but that simply isn’t true! 

As former LA Councilmember and LA County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky has written, SB 827 “isn't a housing bill; it’s a real estate bill.”  

Wiener first burst upon the political scene with his campaign against public nudity. In retrospect, that now seems a diversion from his true goal of promoting developer and real estate interests, all in the name of solving the housing crisis, affordability, transit-oriented development, or smart growth. In this effort, he’s enabled by other gay elected officials like Rebecca Saltzsman of the BART board. 

The bills are moving forward at lightning speed, at the state level, before many are even aware of their long-term radical impacts. Unfortunately, many of us that are paying attention to politics are distracted by the Trump national nightmare, with immigration, war and peace, the environment, and minority rights all threatened.  


Debt or No Debt: That Is the Question!

Harry Brill
Friday April 06, 2018 - 02:50:00 PM

According to the Federal Reserve Bank which recently has officially encouraged banks to raise their interest rates, the economy is thriving. For the rich the economy is certainly doing well. But for the majority of the American public, their economic situation is very precarious. Here is one important, worrisome statistic. The majority of the public -- 56 percent -- have under $1,000 in their savings and checking accounts combined. And 39 percent of the public have no savings at all. That's up from 34 percent in the previous year. Too many households are living from paycheck to paycheck. 

If an adverse event occurs, such as losing a job or acquiring costly medical expenses, the consequences can be serious and even disastrous. Of course, those who can appeal to family members and friends to obtain assistance or are able to borrow from financial institutions to pay their debts may be able to ride it out. However, a growing number of individuals and families are not that fortunate. Their contacts, if they have any, may be unable or unwilling to help. And their line of credit may be inadequate to help sustain their living expenses. 

For a long while debt has been fueling the economy. Consumers have been spending billions of dollars of money that is not theirs, but which are debts that they are required to repay. The most widely used source for borrowing money are credit cards. About 174 million adults possess at least one credit card. Although many households use credit cards only for convenience, millions depend on these cards to pay their bills. The average credit card debt, which has been increasing, is currently over $16,000. The average annual interest rate is just over 16 percent. 

Moreover, the already high interest rate will increase because the Federal Reserve has not only recently raised interest rates. It is also planning on at least two more interest rate hikes this year. And many financial institutions have been willing to make loans but at a higher rate to borrowers with "impaired credit records".  

In the short run, the additional spending financed by loans has been beneficial for both households and the economy. But because of the high interest costs for borrowing, the long term impact for individuals and families have been unfavorable. That is because paying off debt with their low earnings has appreciably reduced their purchasing power. 

Among the visible consequences, major retailers last year closed over 5,000 stores. Small retailers closed about another two thousand stores. The massive closings cannot be explained by the increase in internet based purchases, which is only about 8.3 percent of the total retail market. The problem is the economy. The main headache is that purchasing power has been shrinking. 

Of course, had the income of households increased sufficiently, that is, kept pace with inflation or better, the narrative would be quite different. Instead, the costs that consumers pay for necessities has substantially outpaced the increase in income, which explains mainly why Americans have been borrowing in the first place. Over the past decade, medical costs have increased by 34 percent, food prices has climbed 22 percent, residential electricity prices are up 34 percent. But the income earned by working people has lagged behind. It is not surprising, then, that the number of households that cannot afford to stay above water has been increasing. Borrowing money has become a necessity. 

But because many borrow more than they can afford, hundreds of thousands of debtors each year file for bankruptcies. Although these filings have relieved at least some of their obligations, -- under chapter 7 of the bankruptcy laws credit card debts could be forgiven -- their poor credit rating either makes future borrowing impossible or they are required to pay much higher than average interest rates when borrowing again.  

Since paying off debts subtracts from their ability to spend, the resulting decline in purchasing capacity increases the risk of being evicted and even becoming homeless. Many of those who remain in their apartments become burdened with rising utility bills that they are unable to pay. Although many states have enacted laws that attempt to protect those who are unable to pay their utilities in full, the number of households being disconnected is nevertheless rising. 

In 18 states that have kept track of the number of units that electricity was cut off, close to 3 million households were darkened last year. In just Texas electricity was cut off in more than 900,000 homes last summer. This was triple the number that was cut off 10 years ago. In Ohio, the electricity in 314,000 homes in a recent 12 month period were cut off, which was an 84 percent increase from 10 years ago. In Pennsylvania the state reported 220,000 electricity terminations, which has more than doubled since ten years ago. In California, electricity was cut off in 714,000 households, which is the state's highest on record. The problem is not just that members of the households are unable to watch TV. Cooking is very tricky with a disconnected electric stove! 

Although most households are eventually reconnected, the future for many households looks discouraging. To help low income families pay their utility bills many have been accessing the federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which was enacted in 1981. Last year the program assisted about 6 million households to pay their utility bills. However, President Trump is committed to scuttling the program, claiming it is "no longer necessary" and is subject to fraud. With a declining real income and unable to borrow sufficiently, cutbacks on necessities have been the only option. Low income families have very little leeway to do otherwise. So the poor, and the near poor who we call nowadays the middle class, are in a bind. They are dammed if they borrow and dammed if they don't.  

What can be done? Poverty wages should be completely abolished. The federal minimum poverty wage of $7.25, which has remained the same since July 2009, should exceed $20 an hour currently because of the gains in worker productivity. Instead, the hourly gain in the amount of work that the average worker produces has mainly benefited profits.  

Also, interest rates should be lowered. Financial institutions have been able to make substantial profits by charging relatively low interest rates for mortgages that are amortized for as long as 30 years. Clearly, more progressive lending policies, which can still be profitable, should apply generally to all those who depend on borrowing money. There are other tools as well that are based on egalitarian principles which would alleviate the economic distress of those who suffer financial hardships.  

Is the activist and song writer, Joe Hill right when he commented in one of his classic songs that the chance of improving our lives is only "pie in the sky"? As the lyrics explain, that is only so when we don't do our best while on earth. His advice is certainly worth taking: "Folks of all countries should unite, side by side we for freedom will fight". He also urged that we develop our skills. Indeed, that is immensely important to overcome the immoral and ruthless character of the nation's Robin Hood in reverse practices. 

With regard to taking advantage of the public,Corporate America is especially gifted and well funded. But there is a very serious downside. The business community for the most part is incredibly shortsighted. In the long run, a massive decline in purchasing power will inevitably result in a huge reduction in purchases as well as a much lower rate of profit, if any, of the goods and services that are sold. What then?

RV Evictions Target the Poor: Don't Get Fooled Again,

Carol Denney
Friday April 06, 2018 - 11:56:00 AM

The RV community which has settled for months in a neat row along Marina Way just received eviction notices from the City of Berkeley.

If you're lucky enough to live somewhere with a locked front door and a mailbox, you're afloat right now in election mailers timed to begin familiarizing you with names and faces of candidates making promises. The promises you heard last time are probably a little fuzzy in your mind, but if you care about seeing faces of your old neighbors walking the streets with carts full of bedding you're wondering what happened. Didn't the previous bucket of candidates promise some kind of change? Wasn't sacrificing our skyline and open space supposed to be making a difference?

What happened to the promises made by Mayor Jesse Arreguin to the Coalition on Homelessness, which included rescinding anti-homeless laws like the one inspiring Berkeley to issue eviction notices to the RV dwellers on Marina Way? One would think the new city council would find a sweet spot of options before simply issuing eviction notices on the grounds of a technical violation taking place right now. If every sweep of a tent city or relocation of a homeless community is (a.) expensive and (b.) pointless, why is it still going on in a city which brags about having a PhD and/or a creative screenplay in every back pocket? 

The Mayor took care of his own report card on homelessness by issuing himself an A grade back in January, a self-serving move at the bottom of an agenda which attracted little attention. After all, the tactic used by his predecessor Mayor Tom Bates of adding up the costs of addressing "homelessness" - which includes the expense of pointlessly sweeping people and their belongings from place to place - usually impresses local voters, or at least property owners requesting the sweeps who often make large campaign donations. But the absurdity of walking by empty houses, empty storefronts, and empty fresh, new apartment buildings advertising vacancies year after year surrounded by people sleeping in doorways wears hard. 

The RV group on Marina Way, like the nearby tent dwellers, created an informal community as far out of the way of the commercial and residential districts as they could find. Their own resourcefulness and creativity creates an intensely relevant experience any candidate might examine for guidance and inspiration regarding innovative living solutions. 

Homelessness nationwide was carefully planned and built out of greed; the amount of short-term rentals in Berkeley alone would house all the people on our streets. The math is simple, and a practical City Council could rescind or suspend the anti-vehicle sleeping ordinance until the very few people on Marina Way worked together with the city to address any issues with common sense, especially since more than one in the group have children in local schools. 

Pressure your City Council representative to do something more than point a finger at how expensive it is to move tent groups and vehicle sleepers endlessly from place to place. After all, you're paying for something that over decades has proven futile, money and resources which could be put to valuable, practical use. Your city council representative hears from those who complain; make sure they hear from you that it's time to rescind Berkeley's anti-homeless laws. It's discriminatory to overreact to a complaint about the community on Marina Way when Berkeley not only turned a blind eye to Berkeley property owners' short-term rental violations, but accommodated them by crafting a law to simply legalize their illegal behavior. Criminalizing poverty should have no place in our community. 

# # #

Massacre in Gaza

Jagjit Singh
Friday April 06, 2018 - 02:49:00 PM

On March 30, Israel unleashed its firepower killing 18 Palestinians, and wounding as many as 1,700 in Gaza, one of poorest and most desperate people in the world. 

The deaths and injuries occurred as 30,000 Gaza residents gathered near the wall, as part of a planned 6-week-long nonviolent protest demanding the lifting of the blockade of Gaza and the right of return for Palestinian refugees. Video posted online shows unarmed Palestinians being shot in the back. Another 49 Palestinians were injured by Israeli forces on Saturday. Israel’s actions have been condemned around the world, but Israel is rejecting calls to investigate the killings. It is outrageous that Israel responded with such brute force with live ammunition, tear gas and rubber bullets to shoot indiscriminately at peaceful demonstrations inside the Gaza Strip near their side of the well-fortified barrier that separates them from Israel. 

Israel does not have the right to use live ammunition on unarmed demonstrators and its response has been excessive, as human rights groups have asserted. Amnesty International (AI) called on Israel to end its heavy handed response to the peaceful demonstrations. Peace Now condemned Israel stating the casualties are “an intolerable result of a trigger-happy policy.” Shlomo Brom, a retired brigadier general, was also highly critical of Israel stating “they should have planned from the beginning to use minimal force and to prevent casualties.” Israel seems emboldened by Trump’s decision to cut off aid to the Palestinians intensifying their suffering.

April Pepper Spray Times

By Grace Underpressure
Wednesday April 11, 2018 - 02:38:00 PM

Editor's Note: The latest issue of the Pepper Spray Times is now available.

You can view it absolutely free of charge by clicking here . You can print it out to give to your friends.

Grace Underpressure has been producing it for many years now, even before the Berkeley Daily Planet started distributing it, most of the time without being paid, and now we'd like you to show your appreciation by using the button below to send her money.

This is a Very Good Deal. Go for it! 


THE PUBLIC EYE: What’s Wrong With Trump, This Time?

Bob Burnett
Friday April 06, 2018 - 02:56:00 PM

During most of Easter Week, Donald Trump was uncharacteristically silent. Then, starting on Easter Sunday, Trump tweeted that he would end DACA, "stop" NAFTA, and move troops to the Southern Border. What spurred this crazy talk? 

There are several theories about why Trump unleashed his immigration tweetstorm. One theory is that it was because conservative Republicans have slammed him for signing the $1.3 trillion spending bill (March 23rd) without securing funds for his border wall. Another was that for most of Easter Week, the White House staff had constrained him so that he wouldn't tweet about Stormy Daniels or Karen McDougal; on Saturday and Sunday, freed from the restrictions imposed by White House Chief-of-Staff John Kelly, Trump vented his frustration on Twitter. Another theory is that, on Sunday morning, Trump was watching Fox News and responded to one of their reports. The Final theory is that Trump is coming apart because of pressure from his legal woes. That's the theory that seems most plausible. 

Trump is facing legal action on three fronts: Interaction between his presidential campaign and Russia, lawsuits brought by aggrieved women, and lawsuits based on the "emoluments" clause of the Constitution. 

Russia Probe: On February 16th, the Justice Department unveiled the first of four pillars of the Mueller investigation into interference in the 2016 election: the indictment of 13 Russians for Internet-based meddling. 

In the coming months we're likely to see indictments clustered around the three additional pillars of the Mueller inquiry: hacking, collusion, and obstruction. The hacking indictments should explain who hacked the emails of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and John Podesta, Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman. 

The collusion pillar would explore the illicit cooperation between Russian operatives, involved in election interference and hacking, and the Trump campaign. On March 29th, the Mueller inquiry alleged that while Paul Manafort and Rick Gates were working for the Trump campaign, they had contact with a Russian intelligence operative. 

Finally, the fourth pillar of the Mueller investigation should focus on obstruction of justice: has the Trump Administration blocked DOJ efforts to understand interference in the 2016 election? 

Recently there's been an unravelling of the Trump legal team responding to the Mueller inquiry. The lead lawyer, John Dowd, resigned and has yet to be replaced. Meanwhile, there's intense speculation about whether Trump will agree to an interview with the inquiry (many observers believe that because of Trump's penchant for mendacity he should not testify). 

(By the way: in parallel with the Mueller inquiry is the Cockrum vs. Trump lawsuit; where three private individuals -- Ray Cockrum, Scott Comer and Eric Schoenberg -- are suing Donald Trump and Roger Stone for violating their privacy and civil rights by participating in the hack of the DNC emails.) 

Trump's Women: There are three lawsuits of note. The first involves actress Stormy Daniels (real name Elizabeth Clifford) who alleges that, in 2006, she had an affair with Trump and subsequently was paid $130,000 to keep quiet about it. On April 2nd, Trump's legal team asked that this dispute be settled in (private) arbitration. Daniels' lawyer, Michael Avenatti, wants a (public) civil trial. (There's a separate allegation that the $130,000, paid in October 2016, violated campaign finance laws.) 

The second lawsuit involves model Karen McDougal who alleges that she had an affair with Trump and, in 2016, was paid $150,000 by America Media Inc. (which publishes the National Enquirer) for the story. McDougal claims that American Media actually paid her in order to kill the story. (There's a separate allegation, brought by Common Cause, that the $150,000 was an illegal campaign contribution.) 

The third lawsuit involves Summer Zervos who alleges that Trump sexually harassed her in 2007. She's one of more than twenty women who came forward, during the 2016 political campaign, to charge Trump with harassment. Before Trump took office he accused these women of lying; in response, Zervos filed a defamation suit. It wended its way through the courts and, on March 20th, a New York Supreme Court judge ruled that the suite could go forward citing court precedent from the Bill Clinton-Paula Jones case: “a sitting president is not immune from being sued in federal court for unofficial acts.” (Trump's attorneys have appealed this ruling.) 

The Trump attorneys handling these cases are not those representing him in the Mueller investigation. 

Emoluments: Article I of the Constitution says, "No Person holding any Office... shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.” (An emolument is a profit of any kind.) Since Trump took office there have been lawsuits that alleged that Trump businesses illegally accept payments from foreign governments. (That is, Trump is using his position as President to benefit his businesses,) 

Several of these lawsuits have been dismissed on technical grounds. However on March 28th, a Federal Judge in Maryland let an emolument lawsuit go forward. This action, brought by the District of Columbia and the State of Maryland, focuses on the Trump International Hotel in Washington DC: "The District of Columbia and Maryland said their local residents who compete with Trump's businesses, such as Trump International Hotel... , are harmed by decreased patronage, wages and tips..." 

In this instance, Trump is represented by the Justice Department, not his private attorneys. 

Summary: Trump's legal woes aren't going away soon. Each of the three threads is likely to persist for the duration of 2018. (The Washington Post indicates that the Mueller probe is likely to issue a preliminary report in mid-Summer but that doesn't mean the probe will end then.) Many observers believe that the Summer Zervos lawsuit is on the fastest track and may cause Trump to be deposed by summer. 

For the rest of the year, Trump will be under pressure from these lawsuits. Expect Trump's bizarre behavior to continue. 

Bob Burnett is a Berkeley writer and activist. He can be reached at bburnett@sonic.net  


ECLECTIC RANT: Reports of the demise of DACA are premature

Ralph E. Stone
Friday April 06, 2018 - 02:36:00 PM

Easter is a festival and holiday celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, described in the New Testament as having occurred three days after his crucifixion by Romans at Calvary. In the spirit of this important Christian holiday, President Trump tweeted that morning that a deal for Dreamers was dead. The next day he declared DACA “dead.”  

With a stroke of a pen, Trump could have restored the DACA program. Now that would have been a welcome Easter gesture. 

Turning the truth on its head,, the demise of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA” — often called “Dreamers”) wasn’t his fault, it was those pesky Democrats for failing to pass legislation to provide legal status for 790,000 young immigrants. I hate to confuse Trump with facts, but he knew or should have known that the DACA or other legislation to help the Dreamers was unlikely to pass in Congress by March 5, 2018, the deadline set by him.  

The Dream Act was first introduced in the Senate on August 1, 2001, by Senators Dick Durbin (D- Illinois) and Orrin Hatch (R- Utah), and has since been reintroduced several times but has failed to pass. The legislative goal was to provide a means for undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children to gain a pathway to permanent legal status; provided those individuals achieved certain milestones.  

In response to the failure of Congress to pass the Dream Act, then President Obama in 2012, issued an Executive Order giving these young unauthorized immigrants the right to seek work permits and deportation relief through the DACA program. 

On September 5, 2017, with a stroke of a pen, Trump phased out DACA over six months unless Congress stepped in with its own plan for these childhood arrivals. Trump promised to sign the Dream Act, if Congress passed it. But Trump kept changing the rules in midstream by demanding a quid pro quo -- he would sign a Dream Act or other help for Dreamers if Congress provided money for a wall and limited visas for extended family members, which Republicans call chain migration, and cancelled the visa lottery program.  

Although Trump once claimed a "great love for DACA recipients,” the death of DACA plays to his base of supporters who I am sure are delighted with his continued anti-immigrant stance. Dreamers don’t need this kind of love. 

However, the death of the DACA may be premature. Federal District Judge William Alsup of the US District Court for the Northern District of California has blocked the plan to end DACA and held that the Trump administration must resume accepting renewal applications. And on February 26, 2018, the Supreme Court said it will stay out of the dispute concerning the DACA program for now, meaning participants will still be able to renew their status. The Supreme Court action means the case will continue in the lower courts.  

The Dreamers can breathe easier for awhile. 

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: "Psychotic" and "Schizophrenic" are Adjectives, Not Nouns

Jack Bragen
Friday April 06, 2018 - 12:02:00 PM

When someone is called "a schizophrenic," this strikes me as derogatory. It implies you are not really a person, but rather, you are an individual defined by a disease. The word is an adjective. In other words, I am "someone with a schizophrenic illness." If someone were in treatment for cancer, you would not refer to that person as "a tumor," or as, "a breast cancer." It might not seem like the same thing to you, but really, it is the same thing. "He was schizophrenic"... In that sentence, the word is used as an adjective, and it is used to describe a person's state, without calling him names. "He was a schizophrenic"... In the second instance, simply by adding the word "a," you are in the zone of name-calling. 

The above sort of sensitivity is not demanded in modern day society because people still can get away with being bigoted against mentally ill people without becoming socially unacceptable. At some point in the future, prejudice against persons with mental illness will become as unacceptable in mainstream society as racism is today. 

People with psychiatric diagnoses are a minority group, and that should be recognized. I make that assertion for the following reasons: We are discriminated against in housing and employment; we are presumed to be below normal intelligence, even before having a chance to open our mouths and speak; it is socially acceptable to hate us based on physical appearance, diagnoses, and stereotypes; we are not considered actual human beings--people incorrectly believe we are subhuman. 

People with mental illnesses are what I would call "The last minority." Additionally, it is harder for us to stand up for ourselves, compared to other minorities, because we are medicated, and because we are subject to symptoms of mental illness. We must somehow subdue these two impairments if we are to fight for our human rights. 

I believe that the best way for mentally ill people to "fight the system," is by cooperating with the "system." Even if we do not buy the idea of having a medically produced mental illness requiring drug therapy, we are still stuck with how things are set up in society. And, part of that is the fate of uncooperative mentally ill people. 

If your behavior is too divergent, or, if you have a period of not being able to meet your basic needs, then you will receive treatment--involuntarily if need be. The alternative, if you were to insist on not being treated, is that you will face dire circumstances, such as homelessness, incarceration, or worse. 

I don't recommend "noncompliance." It seems nearly universal that the noncompliance path is the wrong path. I haven't seen any noncompliant person have a good outcome. Some would assert that once you've been medicated a while, your brain is permanently rewired, and you can never successfully quit medication. However, what are your options? Your options may very well be limited. 

I am taking the maximum of two antipsychotics, because this is the only way that I am viable in society. If I were under-medicated or were to gradually quit medication, both of which I've tried, the results are disastrous. It can take not just years, but decades to recover from this kind of folly. 

If you resent the unfairness of the situation, I suggest that you work to fix it while cooperating with treatment. 

We are a minority in part because society has laws pertaining to mentally ill people, laws that impose restrictions, ones that most people in the mainstream would consider ludicrous. We are a minority because we are stereotyped and ostracized. We are a minority because we are believed to be "sick people." 

On television news, I periodically see stories of cops killing people believed to be mentally ill. This usually happens in the context of a "wellness check." The mentally ill young woman or man does something that could remotely be considered threatening such as holding a screwdriver, and police respond with deadly force. Or else, I've heard of stores of excessive force and/or excessive restraint (such as zipping a person into a canvass bag), and the patient dies because of not being able to breathe or sometimes due to hyperthermia. 

I cannot in any way minimize the recent wrongful deaths of young unarmed black men, brutally gunned down by police. These atrocities are tragic and an outrage. 

Yet I also want to point out the fact that persons with mental illness also experience wrongful deaths. However, since many of us are in restricted living situations, and because medications inhibit our energy levels, it is a lot harder for mentally ill people to organize a protest. 

In the past, there were demonstrations by mentally ill people that were peaceful and relatively small, and that apparently received little or no news coverage. However, with the advent of atypical antipsychotics, much more powerful than the older drugs, I have not heard of mentally ill people demonstrating. Modern psychiatry, social, legal, and economic mechanisms, and modern medications have succeeded in the goal of neutralizing what little activism we once had. 

Tuesday April 10, 2018 - 01:23:00 PM

New: SMITHEREENS: Reflections on Bits & Pieces

Gar Smith
Monday April 09, 2018 - 12:13:00 PM

Wake Up! Your Home Has Just Washed Away!

With a powerful Pineapple Express bearing down on California this week, emergency officials sent out an alert advising residents in regions burned by last year's wildfires to keep their cellphones charged. It was critical, the officials explained, that people at risk of flood damage should be able to hear a call for an emergency evacuation.

A question: Does it make sense to issue a warning when (1) people are asleep in their homes, when (2) the rainstorm is at its worst, and (3) evacuation routes are likely to be blocked due to flooding?

Another question: Wouldn't it make more sense to take a pro-active approach: Evacuate people before the storm hits, when (1) people are awake, (2) the sun is out, and (3) the roads are dry?

Just asking.

The Chronicle Gets a Bad Wrap

The Chronicle recently ran a powerful front-page story on the impact plastic waste is having on the world's oceans. Unfortunately, the Chronicle's home delivery teams didn't get the message. Our newspaper continues to arrive wrapped in plastic—even on dry and sunny days. Makes the Chron look clueless. 

Grave New World  

The Wall Street Journal calls the corporate practice of "inversion" a "controversial tactic to reduce taxes by reincorporating overseas." So, if "corporations are people," wouldn't that make "reincorporation" a form of "reincarnation"? So what do we call these new corporate changelings—"clones," "drones," "zombies"? 

Trump to America: This Land Ain't Your Land 

The NRDC recently sent out an alert: 

[Donald] Trump did the unthinkable and eviscerated protections for two of our most cherished national monuments, Utah’s Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante. 

America has never seen such a devastating assault on our treasured public lands. Grand Staircase-Escalante was reduced by nearly half and Bears Ears was sliced into two fragments, reducing the original monument's overall size by an outrageous 85%. 

Trump is rushing to hand over millions of acres of wilderness lands and Indigenous cultural sites to the fossil fuel and mining industries. 

You can send a protest letter at this link: 


Dear Secretary Zinke: 

You must have misheard the lyrics to Woody Guthrie's famous anthem to the American landscape.  

Woody sang: "This land is land is your land, this land is my land."  

He did not sing: "This land is ore land, this land is mine land." 

Al Jazeera Visits Berkeley for Free Speech Doc 

Back on January 25, a news crew from Al Jazeera, the Qatar-based global news organization, visited the Berkeley campus to film interviews for a program on the collision of political extremism and "free speech." 

The 30-minute Faultline documentary has just been released. (You can watch the complete broadcast below.) 

In addition to resurrecting film clips of Berkeley's historic Free Speech Movement, the film crew also interviewed three FSM vets—Anita Medal, Steve Lustig, and yours truly. The final result, as the title reveals, is less about philosophical debates over the First Amendment and more about the tactics of the Black Bloc anarchists that comprise the anti-fascist (Antifa) clique. 

One surprising take-away from the up-close-and-personal interviews with protagonists on both sides of the Great Trump Split, is how reasonable the Alt-Right reps sound when contrasted to members of Antifa. 

Alt-right provocateur Joey Gibson winds up sounding like the voice of reason—decrying violence and promoting the First Amendment. The most self-righteous, hateful, and intolerant diatribes come from participants in Antifa. There are a couple of exceptions, including a martial arts motor-mouth and an athletic street-scuffler named "Hex." Both men appear unmasked and take full responsibility for their politics. 

During one filmed confrontation, Hex is shot at close range and goes down bleeding. Recuperating in a hospital, he refuses to bring charges against the woman who shot him. Hex explains he doesn't believe in "the concept of prisons." Instead, he calls for the application of "restorative justice." 

There is something inherently troubling about individuals who practice politics while wearing masks. The Alt-Right may be bare-faced advocates of white supremacy, but the masked minions of Antifa combine the anger of True Believers with the vitriol of anonymous-and-unaccountable Internet trolls. Especially disturbing is the super-spooky trio of Antifa plotters gathered in the dark around a glowing laptop for a doxxing session—faces hidden, voices altered. That's an image that haunts me nearly as much as the scenes of actual violence. 

At the end, both Gibson and Hex emerge as somewhat thoughtful guys, not simply mindless thugs. I'd feel comfortable sitting down and sharing a beer with either of them. 


Help Stop the Next War Revisited 

The March 15 edition of Smithereens, included a warning: 

Are we heading toward a new "Tonkin Gulf" that could trigger a global conflict? 

On March 17, the Russian Defense Ministry reported with alarm that US naval strike groups were moving into position for a missile attack on Syria: "Strike groups of naval carriers with cruise missiles are being formed in the Eastern part of the Mediterranean, in the Persian Gulf and in the Red Sea." 

Meanwhile, the Directorate of the Russian General Staff has accused the US of planning a "fake" chemical attack to justify its aggression. 

Col. Gen. Sergey Rudskov, warned: "We have reliable information at our disposal that US instructors have trained a number of militant groups in the vicinity of the town of At-Tanf, to stage provocations involving chemical warfare agents in southern Syria." 

For the Record 

In mid-March, a packet of detailed information about these warnings was sent to Senators Feinstein and Harris and to Rep. Barbara Lee. The information also was shared with all three major news networks, along with the note that read: "I have saved a copy of this request. Should there be a 'false flag' incident in Syria—and a US 'response'—I want to have a record of this prior warning." 

More details are available on the Environmentalists Against War website. 

Worth Remembering 

The breaking news of a deadly chemical attack in Syria is alarming: as is the predictable Trump/Pentagon response. 

There is no doubt that a war crime has been committed but, in light of recent warnings and a long history of countries misleading there people into war, we need to ask the question: Is this a staged "False Flag" incident designed to trigger a pre-planned military attack? 

Remember the Maine

Remember the "Tonkin Gulf Attack"? 

Remember Iraq's "Weapons of Mass Destruction"? 

Remember "I saw Saddam's troops throw babies out of incubators"? 

Remember US medical students "at risk" in Grenada? 

Remember the false reports of earlier Syrian government gas attacks? 

Remember the UK "nerve gas" attack that has not yet been linked to Russia? 

Remember Russia's March 17 warning that the US was planning to stage a chemical attack in Syria to provoke a military "response"? 

Don't Let Washington Lie Us Into Another War: 

Demand an Independent International Investigation! 


No surprise here, we all knew it 

EPA-pick Scotty Pruitt 

is bad news, bears, so let's review it: 

Climate change? "There's nothing to it." 

The Clean Air Act? "We must undo it." 

Clean Water Act? "We can't renew it." 

Lead in water? "Learn to chew it." 

Tailpipe smoke? "I vow to spew it." 

Off-shore oil? "I shall imbue it." 

Oil and coal? "I'll get right to it." 

Monsanto's Roundup? "Let them brew it." 

Polar bears? "I won't rescue it." 

Atomic waste? "I don't intuit." 

Stewardship? "I shall eschew it." 

On wilderness? "I'll drive right through it." 

Sierra Club? "I plan to sue it." 

That high-priced jet? "OK, I flew it." 

The Big Oil Lobby? "I think I'll woo it." 

Corruption news? "I'll try to skew it" 

If that won't work? "I won't pursue it." 

"My need for greed? I thought you knew it." 

The public's trust? "I slashed and slew it." 

Your legacy? "I think I blew it." 

Our planet's future? "Don't care! Screw it!" 

Ad Dendums 

Somehow I never noticed that there were ads in the news section of the Chron until this one caught my eye: 

"UltraSound Fat Destruction. If you can pinch it, we can shrine it." 

According to the ad, VShapeUltra somehow uses ultrasound to "freeze" body fat. "Tighten, tone and terminate those stubborn fat cells…." 

And that's not all. The same medical provider (LavoroLaser.com in Walnut Creek) also offers to blast off unwanted body hair with just three laser treatments and, if you're already bald, $199 will buy you a "1 FDA Skinpen Microneedling Treatment" to "improve the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles & scars." (Not to remove 'em, mind you, just to make them look better.) For another $199 you can upgrade to the (and I quote) "Vampire PRP facial – reapply your own blood plasma." 

Speaking of Grave Events 

Awhile back, deeply troubled by the news from Gaza, I went online to the Presidential Homepage to leave a message calling for an end to the bloodshed. 

In order for the message to be authenticated, I first had to answer one of those "Are-you-a-real-human?" riddles. 

The Challenge Question read: 

"The list—thumb, ankle, library and chest—contains how many body parts?" 

(Emphasis added.) 

I did not sleep well that night. 

Arts & Events

New: Jeffrey Thomas Finds Monteverdi’s 1610 Vespers Challenging

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Tuesday April 10, 2018 - 12:41:00 PM

Over the weekend of April 6-9, American Bach Soloists performed Claudio Monteverdi’s 1610 Vespers, also known as Vespro della Beata Vergine, at various locations in the Bay Area. However, due to the fact that Jeffrey Thomas, founder and music director of American Bach Soloists, maintains that it is almost impossible to reconstruct an ‘authentic’ version of Monteverdi’s 1610 Vespers, what ABS performed this weekend was a jerry-rigged program of selections from Monteverdi combined with material by Giovanni Gabrieli. Of course, Monteverdi and Gabrieli are linked by the fact that Giovanni Gabrieli was Monteverdi’s predecessor as maestro di cappella at Venice’s Basilica of San Marco. Moreover, it is quite likely that Monteverdi’s decision to publish his 1610 Mass and Vespers at the Venetian press of Ricciardo Amadino, and to dedicate it to Pope Paul V, marked an ambitious move by Monteverdi in hopes of finding more lucrative employment in either Venice or Rome than he currently held at the Gonzaga court in Mantua, where he was poorly paid and overworked.  

Although a trip to Rome in 1611 produced nothing of benefit to Monteverdi, when Giovanni Gabrielli died in 1612, Monteverdi applied for the suddenly vacant position at San Marco in Venice, auditioned there, and was awarded this prestigious post at a higher salary than his predecessor. It is quite possible, by the way, that the work performed by Monteverdi at his San Marco audition was his 1610 Vespers, perhaps preceded by Monteverdi’s backward-looking polyphonic mass in the style of Flemish composer Nicolas Gombert. Such a combination of works, the Mass demonstrating Monteverdi’s mastery of the old established style, and the Vespers demonstrating Monteverdi’s own strikingly new style, would no doubt have impressed his auditors at San Marco. 

For our current Bay Area performances, Jeffrey Thomas chose to open with a work by Giovanni Gabrieli, In Ecclesiis, from Symphoniae Sacrae liber secundus. This work utilizes the cori spezzati polychoral style fashionable at San Marco, with three distinct groups of either voices or instruments sounding forth from different locations within the basilica. Groups I and II are comprised of four voices each, while the third group consists of cornettos, violin, and trombones. Following this piece by Gabrieli came Monteverdi’s introduction to his 1610 Vespers, Deus in auditorium. Then came the psalm Dixit Dominus for six voices and six instruments, followed by a motet, Nigra sum, beautifully sung here by countertenor Jay Carter accompanied only by Richard Stone on theorbo. This was the highlight of the evening. There ensued a polyphonic choral piece, Laudate pueri and a motet for two sopranos, the motet ably sung here by Kathryn Aungst and Julie Bosworth and accompanied on theorbo and violoncello by Richard Stone and William Skeen. Concluding the first half of the program was the choral psalm Laetatus sum. 

After intermission, American Bach Soloists opened with an instrumental piece, a Canzone à 10, by Giovanni Gabrieli. Following this came a continuation of the Monteverdi 1610 Vespers, beginning with a motet followed by a choral psalm. Then came another highlight as countertenor Jay Carter sang the motet Audi coelum with echoes sung by a chorus. Jay Carter’s robust countertenor voice rang out with strength, clarity, and gorgeous tone. Next came a choral psalm and a choral hymn. Then, to close the program, Jeffrey Thomas chose neither of the two Magnificats written by Monteverdi for his 1610 Vespers, but rather a Magnificat by Giovanni Gabrielli. There was, overall, something arbitrary, it seemed to me, in Jeffrey Thomas’s inclusion of pieces by Gabrielli in Monteverdi’s 1610 Vespers and his omission of several bits of material from Monteverdi’s published score for these Vespers. But the music was beautiful, so I suppose one shouldn’t cavil about such a confusing shell-game of now you know the composer, now you don’t.

Tenor Lawrence Brownlee at Herbst Theatre

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Friday April 06, 2018 - 04:19:00 PM

On Saturday, March 31, tenor Lawrence Brownlee gave a recital at Herbst Theatre accompanied by pianist Myra Huang. Already acclaimed as a leading interpreter of the operas of Rossini and Donizetti, Lawrence Brownlee introduced himself Saturday evening to the Herbst Theatre audience by saying that he also aspires to become a leading interpreter of German lieder, and he cited tenor Fritz Wunderlich and baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau as his models. Tonight’s recital, Brownlee noted, might be thought of as his first step on a long voyage.  

Leading off Saturday’s program were the Dichterliebe/Poet’s Love by Robert Schumann. Set to poems by Heinrich Heine, Schumann’s Dichterliebe bear a strange, somewhat problematic relation to the composer’s love for Clara Wieck, later Clara Schumann. Though they fell in love when Clara was in her early teens, their hopes of marrying were blocked by Clara’s father; and it was only when Clara reached age twenty-one that she and Robert Schumann were able to marry. It is a fact, however, that during the years of being blocked in his desire to wed Clara, Robert Schumann wrote many very beautiful love songs. It is also a fact, albeit a very curious one, that once married, Schumann wrote his Dichterliebe, which are full of doubts about love, its eventual decay, and the death of the sensitive poet-lover. In any case, the Heinrich Heine poems set to music by Schumann follow a clear, disheartening progression from giddy elation to the onset of doubts, and from decay of love to pain, despair and death.  

In singing Schumann’s Dichterliebe, Lawrence Brownlee was, one might say, a man of two voices. There was the heldentenor voice, strong and almost hard-edged; and there was the soft, almost falsetto voice. While there were a few brilliant moments of the heldentenor voice, there were also some passages in that voice that didn’t quite work. One such example came in the sixth song, Das ist ein Flöten und Geigen/There is fluting and fiddling, where Brownlee’s fast and strong-voiced singing seemed to swallow up some of the words. Conversely, nearly all the soft, almost falsetto passages were exquisitely sung. One of the best examples of the latter came in the fourth song, Wenn ich in deine Augen seh’/When I look into your eyes. In this song’s final stanza, the words are “But when you say: I love you! I must weep bitterly.” These words were sung by Brownlee very softly, emphasizing and at the same time calling into question the mixed emotions behind the words.  

Likewise, in the tenth song, Hör ich das Liedchen klingen/I hear the little song playing, Brownlee gave this slow, poignant little song a very soft treatment, while his accompanist Myra Huang completed the song with a strong ending, the combination of which was most expressive of pain and grief. In a change of pace, the eleventh song, Ein Jüngling liebt ein Mädchen/A boy loves a girl, Brownlee and Huang joined in giving this a strong, full-voiced treatment that was quite expressive of the pain and irony in Heine’s words. The thirteenth song, Ich hab’ im Traum geweinet/I wept in my dream, found Brownlee opening with very softly-sung low notes, then slowly gaining strength to close with a full-voiced expression of his flood of tears. The fifteenth song, Aus alten Märchen winkt es/From old fairy-tales it beckons, was performed fast and loud; and the closing song of the cycle, Die alten, bösen Lieder/The old, angry songs, opened with a dramatic burst from the piano, then proceeded with Brownlee’s pained evocation of morbid thoughts about a coffin in which to bury the poet’s love, and ended with Myra Huang playing very poignant closing notes on piano. All in all, Lawrence Brownlee may indeed become a fine interpreter of German lieder; but at present there is work to be done in refining his vocal technique to deal with such exposed, intimate feelings. 

After intermission, Lawrence Brownlee and Myra Huang returned to the stage to perform the West Coast Premiere of Cycles of My Being, with music by Tyshawn Sorey set to poetic texts by Terence Hayes. Introducing this song-cycle, Lawrence Brownlee, himself an African-American, recounted that he got together with two of his African-American friends, composer Tyshawn Sorey and poet Terence Hayes, to explore what’s it’s like for black men to live in contemporary white America. Brownlee cited the need to face-up to undeserved aggression, incarceration, brutality, and even death. “It’s different,“ he said, “for a black man than for a blonde-haired, blue-eyed white person.“ A sympathetic audience applauded this heartfelt introduction by Brownlee.  

The opening song of Cycles of My Being featured angular music set to words that began, “America – I hear you hiss and stare. Do you love the air in me, as I love the air in you?“ Moments later, the word “hysteria,“ sung on a very high note, was repeated in a tone full of anguish. This opening song was, in my opinion, the most successful of the six songs in this cycle.  

Next came a song entitled Hope (pt. 1), which featured interesting, very vigorous circular runs on piano to accompany repeated expressions of hope by the singer. A disquieting note, however, closing on a very high note, came with the words, “When angry hope is a blade.“ The third song, entitled Whirlwind, featured the line, “Lord, I’m trying to break free of prison; this song of mine must become a weapon.“ This same line recurred at the end of this song, sung by Brownlee on a very high note. The fourth song, entitled Hate, contained the line, “You don’t know me. Still you hate me. Your contempt for me does not allow you to see me for who I am.“ Song number five, entitled Hope (pt. 2), found Brownlee slipping a bit in his diction when he sang the word “serenity“ as if it were “serenaty.“ 

The sixth and final song, entitled Each Day I Rise, I Know,“ opened with melismas that seemed inspired by spirituals, as Brownlee sang elaborate coloratura over quite a few words in the text. As for the text in this song, it plays with rhyming words but makes little sense, becoming almost embarassing in its repetitions of words such as toothpaste, toothbrush, hairbrush and the like. As a closing statement in this otherwise powerful song-cycle, it seems weak. However, at the close of Cycles of My Being, the audience gave Brownlee and Huang a thunderous standing ovation. As an encore, Lawrence Brownlee sang “The Nearness of You,“ which he dedicated to Nat “King“ Cole.

National Ballet of Canada’s NIJINSKY A Wild Ride

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Friday April 06, 2018 - 02:34:00 PM

Attempting to do justice to the complex, charismatic dancer-choreographer Vaslav Nijinsky, whose own diary chronicled his slide into madness as well as his probing metaphysical ideas, is a tall order for anyone. Not long ago, Mikhail Baryshnikov and Robert Wilson grappled with this task and failed miserably, creating only a vacuous vanity show entitled Letters to a Man. However, veteran choreographer John Neumeier’s Nijinsky offers as good an overview of Nijinsky’s career and troubled life as one is likely to get. Neumeier’s Nijinsky premiered in 2000 with The Hamburg Ballet, then was reprised by The National Ballet of Canada in 2013, and came to San Francisco with the Hamburg company in 2013. Now it has reappeared at the War Memorial Opera House for a weeklong run by The National Ballet of Canada.  

Set in 1919 at the time of Vaslav Nijinsky’s last public performance, in the Suvretta House Hotel in St. Moritz, Switzerland, Neumeier’s Nijinsky presents a dreamlike kaleidoscope of Nijinsky’s hazy recollections of his former triumphs in dance and his love affairs with his mentor, Sergei Diaghilev, and, later, with the woman he married, Romola de Pulsky. Neumeier throws in for good measure some confusing episodes involving Nijinsky’s father, mother, sister, and brother. Though Neumeier probably had good reasons for including this material, I never figured out who was who in these confusing snippets. Granted, the early family drama no doubt played an important part in Nijinsky’s development; but in Neumeier’s treatment it just became a blur. He would have been better advised to stick to the basics. And these basics were Nijinsky as dancer-choreographer, and, on the personal level, Nijinsky, Diaghilev, and Romola de Pulsky. 

Dancing the role of Nijinsky was Guillaume Côté, who gave an intensely moving representation of Nijinsky’s inner drama. Technically, Côté was brilliant. Though his leaps lacked the jaw-dropping, breath-taking magic that was Nijinsky’s signature move, Côté’s lifts, indeed, all the lifts by all the dancers in this production, were marvelous to behold Each lift seemed effortless; and the lifted dancer seemed to glide gracefully to a soft landing, with no break in the flow of continuity. Particularly stunning were Côté’s pas de deux with Heather Ogden as Romola de Pulsky. As for Nijinsky’s interactions with his boss and lover, Sergei Diaghilev, the latter danced with ominous aplomb by Evan McKie, they were full of angular arms and frequent evasions, followed by passionate reconciliations. However, the reconciliations with Diaghilev came to an abrupt end when Nijinsky impulsively married Romola de Pulsky, whom he first met aboard a ship in Argentina. In a pique of jealously at the loss of his lover, Diaghilev fired Nijinsky from Les Ballets Russes.  

Among the many roles Nijinsky performed for Les Ballets Russes, several are prominently represented in Neumeier’s Nijinsky. First and foremost was that of the Golden Slave in Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade. Set to music from movements I, III, and IV of this great work, these episodes featured sinuous movement by Guillaume Côté and elegant group work from the corps de ballet. Nijinsky’s appearance as Petrouchka in Stravinsky’s ballet of that name was suitably both comical and poignant, the latter especially when Petrouchka repeatedly banged his head against the War Memorial proscenium. Noticeably absent, however, were any but the most remote allusions to Nijinsky’s most famous role in his own choreography of Debussy’s Prélude à l’après-midi d’un Faune. Moreover, only passing reference was made to Nijinsky’s choreography of Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps, which created a scandal at its 1913 Paris premiere and cemented Les Ballets Russes as the spearhead of modernism. Conductor David Briskin led the SF Ballet Orchestra in a fine rendition of the music chosen by Neumeier to accompany his Nijinsky, which included music by Chopin, Robert Schumann, Rimsky-Korsakov, and Shostakovich.  

Nijinsky’s final descent into madness, coming at the same time as the horrors of World War I became known, was very poignantly portrayed, first, by a mother-figure pulling the pathetic figure of Nijinsky as child on a sled, then by Nijinsky’s wife, Romola de Pulsky, carting away the wracked and broken body of what was once the beautiful Nijinsky on a dilapidated sled, as warlike music blared from Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 11. This, indeed, brought to a dramatic, and immensely sad, close the ballet Nijinsky, in which choreographer John Neumeier valiantly strove to highlight both the genius and torment of Vaslav Nijinsky.

Alexander Quartet Performs Haydn’s Seven Last Words of Christ

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Friday April 06, 2018 - 02:32:00 PM

In 1785-86, Joseph Haydn received a commission from the Cathedral of Cadiz in Spain to compose music to accompany the reading – on Good Friday, 1787 – of the seven last words of Christ on the cross. Haydn completed an orchestral score that was performed on Good Friday, 1787, in the grotto Chapel of Santa Cueva beneath the Cathedral of Cadiz. Haydn’s score was also performed almost simultaneously in Vienna and Bonn. Shortly thereafter, wishing to give his score expanded accessibility, Haydn transcribed it for string quartet; and this version is the one most frequently heard today. On Good Friday, March 30, the Alexander Quartet performed Haydn’s Seven Last Words of Christ in San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral. The Alexander Quartet is comprised of Zakarias Grafilo, violin, Frederick Lifsitz, violin, Paul Yarborough, viola, and Sandy Wilson, cello.  

Haydn’s music includes an introduction, seven slow movements, and a fast finale representing the earthquake that shook Calgary immediately after Christ’s crucifixion. Each of the seven movements is preceded by a brief commentary read by a church cleric. At Grace Cathedral, the reader was the Very Reverend Alan Jones, who presented a surprisingly eclectic and offbeat group of texts. Haydn’s Introduction opens dramatically, then proceeds majestically. The first movement, set to the words, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do,” is lyrical but dramatically accented. The second movement, evoking Paradise, features ascending passages. The third, set to the words “Mother, behold your son,” is tender, though there is sudden drama in the cello. 

The fourth movement, set to “My God, Why have you forsaken me?,” is quite agitated, with disturbing appoggiaturas. No. 5, “I thirst,” features soft, almost ponderous playing from the Alexander Quartet. The sixth movement, “It is finished,” features pizzicato tenderness mixed with forceful drama. The seventh movement is rendered by the Alexander Quartet with a pervading sense of fulfillment and calm, and the concluding Earthquake music, unlike the seven slow movements, is taken at a very fast pace and is full of agitated drama that is almost Beethovenesque. Throughout the Alexander Quartet’s rendition of Haydn’s Seven Last Words of Christ the writing for cello stood out, and cellist Sandy Wilson’s playing was particularly expressive.  

The Berkeley Activist's Calendar, April 8-15

Kelly Hammargren, Sustainable Berkeley Coalition
Saturday April 07, 2018 - 10:53:00 AM

City Council is on spring recess. Next Council meeting April 24, 2018.

Worth Noting

  • The proposed agenda for April 24 City Council meeting deserves review and is posted with Monday’s Agenda Committee. For comment email: council@cityofberkeley.info
  • The Police Review Commission, Homeless Commission and Parks and Waterfront Commission all meet Wednesday evening at the same time.
  • The Loan Administration Board (loans to local Berkeley small businesses) meets Thursday.
  • The Zoning Adjustment Board on Thursday lists 3 projects within the Hillside overlay.

The meeting list is also posted on the Sustainable Berkeley Coalition website.



Sunday, April 8, 2018 

Holocaust Remembrance Day, Sun, April 8, 11:30 am – 2:00 pm, 2121 Allston Way, The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, Honoring Hana Berger Moran, Distinguished Suvivor with Joel Ben-Izzy 


Indivisible Berkeley General Assembly, Sun, April 8, 7:30 pm – 8:30 pm, 1970 Chestnut St, Finnish Hall, General Assembly meeting, 


Monday, April 9, 2018 

City Council Agenda Committee, Mon, April 9, 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm, 2180 Milvia, 6th Floor Redwood Conf Room, Agenda: 26. Tiny House Project, 32. & 33. Block grant allocations, 34.a.&b. U1 funds for 1011 University complex, Housing Advisory Commission voted for moving City Council Chambers to 1011 University, 36. Deep Green Initiative, 38. GoBerkeley Transportation, 40. Disaster preparedness multi-family housing, 35 & 41. PRC recommendations to achieve Fair and Impartial policing recommendations packet pages 148-149 , Packet 264 pages 


3x3 Committee – 3 Council Members, 3 Berkeley Housing Authority (BHA) members, Mon, April 9, 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm, 1901 Hearst, North Berkeley Senior Center, Agenda: HAP shortfall, small sites RFP, Damage claim program, Section 8 Landlord tax exemption 

Police Review Commission (PRC) – Commission Reform Subcommittee, Mon, April 9, 10:00 am, 1947 Center St, Civic Center Annex Building, Western Sycamore, First Floor 


Youth Commission, Mon, April 9, 6:30 pm, 1730 Oregon St, Martin Luther King Jr. Youth Services Center, Agenda: DACA, Homeless Youth https://www.cityofberkeley.info/Clerk/Commissions/Commissions__Youth_Commission_Homepage.aspx 

Tax the Rich rally – Mon, April 9, 5:00 pm – 6:00 pm top of Solano in front of closed Oaks Theater, rain cancels 

Tuesday, April 10, 2018 

Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board – Budget and Personnel Subcommittee, Tue, April 10, 5:30 pm, 2001 Center St, Law Library, 2nd Floor, Agenda: Staffing Model, Budget, Mental Health Training 


Wednesday, April 11, 2018 

Homeless Commission, Wed, April 11, 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm, 1901 Hearst Ave, North Berkeley Senior Center, Agenda: RFI (Request for Information) homeless storage, flexible housing subsidies 


Parks and Waterfront Commission, Wed, April 11, 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm, 2800 Park St, Frances Albrier Community Center, Agenda: Presentation – Citywide irrigation system upgrade, revisions Marina Ordinance, Proposed fee increases, Capital Improvement and T1, Information – Viability Urban Ferry , Green space as control of flood plains, 


Police Review Commission (PRC), Wed, April 11, 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm, 2939 Ellis St, South Berkeley Senior Center Agenda: Lexipol (software program) policies, Process for requesting information, public records request, chaplain program, Juneteenth, rape kits 


Thursday, April 12, 2018 

Police Review Commission – Commission Reform Subcommittee, Thur, April 12, 10:00 am, 1947 Center St, Civic Center Annex Building, Western Sycamore, First Floor 


Community Environmental Advisory Commission, Thur, April 12, 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm, 1901 Russell St, South Branch Library, Agenda: Green Development Requirements, Stormwater infrastructure, Plastic Straws, Anti-idling ordinance 


Loan Administration Board , Thur, April 12, 6:00 pm, 1250 9th Street, The Companion Group, Agenda: RLF portfolio, Berkeley Times, Oakland Grown, New Brochures, CupCaking Bake Shop, East Bay Media Center, Anton Salon 


Zoning Adjustments Board, Thur, April 12, 7:00 pm – 11:30 pm, 2134 MLK Jr. Way, City Council Chambers 

  • 1330 Summit Road – construct new 3950 sq ft, 3-story single family dwelling with 2’ front yard setback when 20’ required, Hillside overylay
  • 800 University – establish beer and wine retail sales
  • 1609 Eighth St – reconstruct 1012 sq ft single family dwelling with attached garage
  • 1436 Campus Dr – construct 4,195 sq ft single family dwelling with ADU, 5 bedrooms total, parking structure front yard, Hillside overlay
  • 1446 Fifth St – construct 4 detached, 3-story, 1800 sq ft single family dwellings
  • 749 Contra Costa Ave - 618 foot addition to single family dwelling, Hillside overlay
  • 1711 & 1713 MLK Jr Way - Increase number of bedrooms from 3 to 15, reduce off street parking from 8 to 2, increase dwelling from 1 to 4

Friday, April 13, 2018 

Reduced City Services Day – check before going to any City Department that it is open 


Saturday, April 14, 2018 

March for Science, Sat, April 14, is in Oakland, 11:00 am – 3:00 pm, Lake Merritt Amphitheater & Henry Kaiser Auditorium 


McGee Spaulding Neighbors in Action (District 4) meeting with Kate Harrison 10:00 am – 12:00 noon, 2144 Jefferson, University Terrace Community Room, This is a neighborhood meeting for District 4 residents living within area bounded by MLK Jr. Way, Dwight, Sacramento, and University.  

Sunday, April 15, 2018 

There has been mention of Tax or anti-war protest on Sun, April 15, however, nothing was found in Facebook or internet search.