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It's a Two-fer on the Carpet-bag Express, with Mr. YIMBY Himself On Board

Friday May 18, 2018 - 03:19:00 PM

With only 3 weekends left until the June 5 Primary Election, I need your help talking to voters now more than ever! That's why Senator @Scott_Wiener is joining me THIS WEEKEND to canvass AD15. Will you be there too? RSVP - https://bit.ly/2rQagPj #TeamBuffy

More about the Bufferola

Friday May 18, 2018 - 04:08:00 PM

Flash: Gas Leak on La Loma in Berkeley

Berkeley Fire Department
Thursday May 17, 2018 - 04:32:00 PM

This is AC Alert Berkeley at 4:10 pm. Due to a gas leak in the 1300 block of La Loma, the Berkeley Fire Department recommends that community members avoid La Loma between Glendale and Buena Vista until further notice. PG&E is on scene. For more information, check 1610 AM every 30 minutes.

Two Men Arrested in Berkeley after Police Find Gun During Vehicle Search for Marijuana Cigarette

Supriya Yelimeli
Thursday May 17, 2018 - 03:30:00 PM

Berkeley police arrested two men early Monday morning on suspicion of weapons offenses after police found a gun in their car following a search. 

Police said an officer saw a car with a missing front license plate in the 900 block of Ashby Avenue and approached the vehicle at 12:24 a.m., according to Sgt. Andrew Frankel. 

The officer walked over to speak with the two men at a gas station, but Frankel said one man saw the officer coming and used his cell phone and another turned around to pay for gas to avoid conversation. 

The two men allegedly had an "unrolled marijuana cigarette" in the center armrest, which Frankel said prompted a search of the car.  

An officer found a firearm on the passenger seat under a bag where one of the men had been sitting, according to police.  

Javon Lee and Edward Riley, both 22 years old and both of Oakland, were arrested on suspicion of carrying a concealed firearm, carrying a loaded firearm in public and carrying a loaded firearm without being a registered owner.

Judge Rules for Berkeley in Post Office Suit

Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Wednesday May 16, 2018 - 11:31:00 AM

A federal judge has ruled in favor of the city of Berkeley in its lengthy and complicated effort to stop the U.S. Postal Service from selling the historic main post office building in the city's downtown to someone who would use it for commercial purposes.

The saga began in 2012, when the Postal Service said it wanted to sell the building at 2000 Allston Way-which was built in 1914 and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places-as part of a plan to sell hundreds of post offices across the country because it faced financial problems.

The city filed suit to stop the Postal Service from selling the building but a judge dismissed the suit.

In 2014 the city countered by creating what it called the Civic Center District Overlay, which restricts the use of nine buildings clustered around Civic Center Park, including the post office, Old City Hall, the Veteran's Memorial Building, the YMCA and other buildings, to civic or nonprofit uses.

The Postal Service fought back by filing a lawsuit against the city, claiming that the city had singled it out, thereby violating the supremacy clause of the Constitution, and that the creation of the overlay made the post office building impossible to sell by significantly reducing its value.

On Monday, U.S. District Judge William Alsup rejected the Postal Service's arguments, ruling that it "had established no entitlement to relief on its claims." 

Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin, who authored the overlay ordinance, said in a statement, "Historic preservation is a quintessential local matter. This decision confirms that local governments have wide latitude to protect vital historic resources without interference from the federal government."  

According to city of Berkeley officials, Alsup disposed of the claim that the overlay prevented the sale of the post office based on the fact that the building "continues to retain considerable value in the real estate market" despite the overlay. 

Berkeley City Attorney Farimah Brown said, "The city is not unsympathetic to the Postal Service's budget challenges. But the Constitution does not preclude the city from exercising its traditional police powers to guard its historic resources."

How Not to Plan for Housing at North Berkeley BART

Zelda Bronstein
Tuesday May 15, 2018 - 10:26:00 AM

Here we go again. The city council is poised to initiate another major planning process that sidelines the people whose lives will be most affected by the project at hand. Worse yet, it’s doing this with only the vaguest notion of a project.

I’m referring to Item 28 on the council’s Action Calendar for today,May 15: “Visioning Event to Present and Share Ideas on Creating Housing at the North Berkeley BART Station Parking Lots.” Councilmember Maio and Mayor Arreguin are recommending that their colleagues ask the City Manager to provide a meeting and room and “props” for an exhibition of “sketches of what appropriate housing on the site could look like. Interested persons could submit their sketches, presented on easels or on the walls, for the public to review and ask questions of presenters.” The stated goal would be to enable the “lay public” to contemplate “the possibilities” for housing on the BART property, as imagined by “design professionals or others who wish to participate.” 

This proposal is better than the first edition of Item 28, in which the designs for housing at North Berkeley BART “would be based solely on current BART guidelines, absent the City’s participation.” North Berkeley residents objected, arguing that instead of deferring to BART, the city ought to meet with people who live near the station and/or those who use it to travel and, via substantial discussion, identify their needs. 

Maio and Arreguin got half the message: they cut out the transit agency, though nothing in current Item 28 would prevent BART from presenting at the proposed event. That was a step in the right direction. BART should be responding to Berkeley, not the other way around. 

But they ignored the request for a meaningful discussion with the north Berkeley community. Nothing substantial can come out of the “science fair” format outlined in Item 28. Designs need to be grounded in specific goals. “Housing at the North Berkeley BART station” is vague. 

For starters, how much housing are we talking about? 

On May 2 BART broke ground on a 24-story tower at the MacArthur station. Berkeley’s BART, Director Rebecca Saltzman celebrated the occasion with this tweet: 

“A few years go this was a huge sunken parking lot at MacArthur BART. Now there’s an affordable housing development, three housing developments under construction & the final project, a 24 story tower, broke ground today. This is the kind of change we need throughout the BART system.” 

Yes to affordability: any housing built at the site should be affordable. But “affordable” is a slippery concept. Affordable to whom? 

No to a 24-story tower, a well as to the minimum-seven story structure that the transit agency has designated for North Berkeley BART. Whatever gets built here should fit into the surrounding neighborhood of modest single-family homes. 

And what about parking? People who can’t walk or bike to the station but use it to access BART need a place to park. More than three hundred people are on a waiting list to reserve a parking space at North Berkeley BART. Others, like me—I live midway between the North Berkeley and El Cerrito stations—park in the neighborhood during the day and walk to the station. But when I’m going to be coming home at night, I park in the parking lot. 

We need new affordable housing. We also need to support the use of public transit; BART patronage is falling. Making it harder to access the station will cause ridership to decline even more. 

These are just the obvious issues raised by the prospect of development at North Berkeley BART. There may be others. In any case, it’s clear that development at the station should balance the complex needs of those who have the greatest stake—the members of the north Berkeley community. 

Accordingly, tonight the council should direct the City Manager to initiate an in-depth conversation with north Berkeley residents about appropriate development at North Berkeley BART.

Flash: Berkeley Wins in Post Office Lawsuit

Monday May 14, 2018 - 12:08:00 PM

The City of Berkeley has been declared the winner in the lawsuit filed by the United States Postal Service which sought to overturn the city's Zoning Overlay which restricted uses in the downtown Berkeley Historic District.

From the decision by Federal Judge William Allsup: "...the USPS has not carried its burden to prove that either intergovernmental immunity or conflict preemption renders the Overlay unconstitutional under the Supremacy Clause. It has therefore established no entitlement to relief on its claims. Accordingly, judgment will be entered in favor of the City." 

For more information, see this post by JP Massar

Read the decision here. 




New: By Their Friends Shall Ye Know Them...

Monday May 14, 2018 - 10:13:00 PM

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Berkeley Property Owners Association <bpoa@bpoa.org>
Date: Mon, May 14, 2018 at 2:43 PM
Subject: Meet & Greet with Buffy Wicks- candidate for 15th Assembly District


Dear Members of BPOA,
Long term members of BPOA, Sandra Clement and Will Flynn, are hosting a meet and greet with Buffy Wicks, candidate for 15th Assembly District. They have asked me to invite all of you.
Event Details:
Sunday, May 20, 12:00-1:30pm
Please RSVP to Sandra's email: Sandra@yikes.com
Feel free to call or email Sandra or me if you have questions.
(510) 919-2609 Sandra
(510) 459-3330 Kathy
All the best,
Kathy Snowden
BPOA Board President

Mim Hawley
August 20,1928 – April 12, 2018

Seena Hawley
Friday May 11, 2018 - 05:15:00 PM

Miriam "Mim" Hawley, one of the most beloved city council members in Berkeley history, died suddenly in her home at Piedmont Gardens, Oakland, on April 12 at age 89.

Long active in local politics, she lived by her strong beliefs, from being an activist PTA President to protesting injustices to running for and winning a seat on the Berkeley City Council in 2000. 

Other city council members at times barely on speaking terms with each other have always agreed on one thing: their abiding affection for her. "She was a wonderful person who exuded kindness and respect for other people," said Former Mayor Tom Bates, while his longtime adversary, Councilman Kriss Worthington, called her "one of the nicest people ever to serve on the city council." She used their high regard to good purpose, building bridges on the council where none existed before. 

Mim was born Miriam Maxine Mead on Aug. 20, 1928, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the daughter of schoolteacher and a railroad man and older sister to triplet brothers Wally, Wayne and Warne - all of whom survive her. She attended Antioch College in Ohio, where she met her future husband, Robert "Bob" Hawley, graduating in 1951 with a degree in Economics. They married in 1952. 

After college they headed west, aiming for Seattle, but, low on funds in the Bay Area, Mim took a secretarial job and Bob found a position with Chevron. Soon after they settled in Berkeley and began a family - daughters Lenore, Joanna, and Seena and son Ronald. 

Her political life began with Berkeley’s Oxford School PTA in the 1960s. When busing students to address de facto segregation was a hotly divisive issue, she was a leader on the pro-bussing side. During anti-Vietnam War riots the National Guard came in to Berkeley. Tear gas affected school children on campuses and buses. Mim was an organizer of the March that got the Guard out of town: Intent on safeguarding Berkeley’s children, "We (the PTA) organized a march to Civic Center Park to demand that the Mayor kick the guard out of the city," she recounted to her grown children. PTA organizers sent envoys out days ahead of the march to Telegraph Avenue, telling hippies and students, “Please stay out of this march.” They had a plan: moms in cardigans and skirts pushing baby strollers, demanding a meeting with the Mayor. They knew that if a bunch of hippies joined they wouldn’t get in to City Hall. They were successful – a meeting with the Mayor led to a call to the Governor, and the Guard was ousted from Berkeley. 

Mim earned a Master’s in Urban History at San Francisco State in 1971. Not long after, she took a job with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, working on planning the BART system. The only female and non-engineer at the interview, she sat in her skirt in a room full of men “With skinny ties and briefcases,” she recalled. During her interview she pointed out that planners must consider human needs and behavior as well as geological and engineering requirements. At the end, one interviewer turned to rest and said, “I think we could use this perspective.” She got the job. 

Later she became involved with the League of Women Voters. Her work with the League and on transportation issues continued throughout her life; she was called upon by local officials for advice and input long after official retirement from jobs and positions. 

In 2000 she was elected to the Berkeley City Council. Her son has observed, “Many people are affected by her influence on this City to this day, whether they are aware of it or not.” One highly visible result of that influence is a skateboard-friendly wall at Civic Center Park: it is one project of several that came out of her proposal that Berkeley create places where teenagers could feel welcome, rather than feared and shooed away. Another is the Sonoma-Hopkins pedestrian triangle, a neighborhood effort she championed while in office. 

She retired from the Council in 2004, continuing civic involvement, including ongoing service as the local League of Women Voter’s President (1993-2005), and on the Downtown Berkeley YMCA Board of Directors from 2006 to 2012. She moved to Piedmont Gardens with husband Bob in late 2015. Bob died July 18, 2017. 

In addition to her four grown children, she leaves behind seven grandchildren - James, Erika, LaRocha, Ben, Damien, Ryan and Bryce – and numerous friends and colleagues. 

"She was a real role model," said Bates. "She was never cutting or divisive, she listened to people, and when she spoke she actually had something to say. We're going to miss her." 

Memorial Gathering June 16, 1:30 PM, Northbrae Community Church, Haver Hall.  




The Berkeley Daily Planet Endorses...Not Quite

Becky O'Malley
Saturday May 12, 2018 - 10:24:00 AM

So, the mail-in ballots are out, and many early birds are wondering who to vote for. I’m definitely old-school myself, preferring the sacramental act of walking into the neighborhood polling place to cast my ballot. I’ve seen enough last-minute hit pieces to want to wait until all the electioneering is really truly over—who knows what might change before election day.

But my friends and acquaintances, or at least the nervous nellies among them, have been badgering me to tell them whom the Planet will endorse.

In the first place, that’s a “categorical error as it pertains to the historical record.” When it’s at home, what that pretentious phrase means is that “we’ve never done that”. Never? Well, hardly ever.

I have enough trouble making up my mind who will be the lucky recipient of my one vote, let alone telling tens or hundreds or thousands of readers what to do with theirs. Opinions expressed in this space are strictly mine, though my partner and I have never to my knowledge disagreed on a political decision.

This electoral season is especially vexing, because I seem to be able to find something to question about every candidate for every office. On the other hand, many seem good enough for government work.

Let’s start with the top job in the state, Governor. I’ve found both of the top two Democrats, Newsom and Villaraigosa, equally creepy in different ways. I don’t have a television, so I’m not influenced by their ads, which the print press informs me are numerous and awful. 

The completely obnoxious “top two” primary system, also known as the Gorilla (or perhaps Guerilla) Primary makes it much harder. It’s the result of a 2010 amendment to the California constitution, promoted by a stupid Republican lieutenant governor and passed by the befuddled voters. 

Here I’m just going to talk about the candidates for governor, not an outstanding lot by any stretch of the imagination. Republicans, of course, are out of the question. 

Newsom and Villaraigosa aren’t Repugs, but they play them on TV. What do I mean by that? 

Well, I didn’t watch the televised debate, relying instead on the opinions of other whom I respect. 

Here’s Tim Redmond in 48hills.com: The big debate for governor was an embarrassing bust: 

”we watched an entire 90-minute debate without most of the candidates talking seriously about rent control, state control over local government, Prop. 13, single-payer health care, or so many other key issues facing the state.” 

And Adam Brinklow, on Curbed.Com: “the candidates promised everything from building millions of new homes to torching the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).” That would be both Newsom and Villaraigosa. If you care, Aaron Peskin, San Francisco Supervisor and the pride of the Berkeley High Alumni Association, has endorsed the latter, as has former SF Mayor Art Agnos. 

Only Delaine Eastin among all this lot has said anything respectable: ” “You don’t have to get rid of environmental quality, [...] we’re not giving up on having a clean environment, not on my watch. We do need to streamline construction and we need to build housing near transit hubs. [...] A realistic number is something like 300,000 homes a year, that’s the most we’ve ever built.” 

Aha, a member of the reality-based community and a woman to boot! I guess I’ll vote for her, though she’ll be massively outspent by the boys on the list. That would not be a strategic vote, but a vote on principle. 

Two more races are worth attention. There's no reason not to vote on principle for doughty former Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin if you're looking for a protest vote--she's an authentic progressive in a sea of wishy-washy quasi-liberals on the state ballot,. For Alameda County District Attorney, a vote for Pamela Price to replace Nancy O'Malley (no relation) would register your principled disapproval of a lot of things in the criminal justice system that need reform. 

The 15th Assembly district, Berkeley and parts of Oakland and Richmond, on the other hand, seems to call for a strategic vote. That’s because the fabled and in some quarters reviled Democratic Party establishment has seen fit to parachute one of their own professionals into our lap. That would be Buffy (“that’s my real name”) Wicks, endorsed by just about everyone in Bay Area politics that I’ve ever despised, with Scott Wiener (that’s his real name) leading the pack, complete with his “down with local government” ideology. 

She’s heavily funded, as he is, by the development industry, with a side of baksheesh from militant millionaire charter school backers. 

Don’t get me wrong—some public charter schools are good, and many regular public schools are bad, but supporting charters shouldn’t be viewed as a religious crusade. 

With all that cash at her back, Buffy may well be able to buy one slot on the November ballot. But what is the strategic vote for the “anyone but Buffy” believer’s attempt to influence who will oppose her? 

Where I hang out, the most talked about candidates are Richmond City Councilmember Jovanka Beckles and Oakland Council member Dan Kalb. As of now, they are my top two choices, though I realize I'll only get one in June. 

Beckles is dynamic, personable, quick off the dime—endorsed by the Bernieistas, former Berkeley Mayor Gus Newport, congressman Ron Dellums and many other celebrities of the left. My take on her is that her gut reactions are great, her grasp of detail not so much. She knows the tune, but isn’t too strong on the words all the time. 

Dan Kalb is the reverse. He knows all the words, but sometimes forgets the tune. He’s a self-admitted policy nerd, usually my fave, but his reflex judgment of issues seems slow. As of my last meeting with him, for example, he still seemed to think SB827, the bete noire among the progressive housing activists in attendance, could be amended enough to be acceptable. That’s the one, drafted by the YIMBYs and fronted by Scott Wiener and Nancy Skinner, which would have dramatically upzoned almost all of Berkeley without local consent. 

Kalb should know by now that what should be his base doesn’t take kindly to that approach. He seems to be aiming for the middle of the road, and in Molly Ivins’ immortal words, there’s not much in the middle of the road except yellow lines and dead armadillos. 

Another candidate for the middle, who’s gotten a lot of endorsements from all the wrong people, is Judy Appel, now on the Berkeley School Board. I haven’t seen her in action, but chances are she’d do fine on education issues—though I’m not too sure about her on the environment and land use, based on who her endorsers are. She’s the teachers’ union’s candidate, presumably because of her position on charter schools . 

The nurses’ union supports El Cerrito Councilmember Rochelle Pardue-Okimoto, who, not surprisingly, is strong on health care issues but not at all specific on other topics when I’ve seen her. 

Andy Katz, now on the East Bay Municipal Utility District, has been an honest and stalwart member of the East Bay community for almost 20 years. His environmental credentials, including having been statewide chair of the Sierra Club, are outstanding, which means a lot to me. He’s the only candidate who immediately without hesitation came out against SB827, clearly grasping what a bad bill it was. He might be my choice if I decide to vote strictly on principle, but strategically he might not be the strongest candidate against the inevitable Buffy in November. 

With all these choices, what might be a thumb on the scale is that Jovanka Beckles is both African-American and a woman, two categories significantly underrepresented in the California Assembly. Ben Bartlett is also African-Americian, but he’s not yet ready for prime time, since he’s just started his first term in elective office on the Berkeley City Council. Correction: he's endorsed by former Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums, his uncle, a person he cites as his mentor. 

Of course Buffy Wicks has never held elective office anywhere, any time, has she? 

All in all, I think any of the first five would be a whole lot better than Buffy. This is one place where ranked-choice voting would be a big help. I could happily cast my vote for all five in any order if it would mean stopping Buffy the Carpet Bagger. 

Thank goodness I still have three (or is two?) weeks to decide what to do with my one little vote. When I decide, I’ll let you know, if it’s soon enough to make any difference. 


The Editor's Back Fence

Updated: Saturday Night Special--Again This Week

Becky O'Malley
Friday May 18, 2018 - 12:00:00 PM

This week we've again moved the new issue publication date to Saturday to make sure the Activist's Calendar can be ready in time. And also, I'm going to try to post new editorials mid-week instead of on Fridays, so regular readers should look for them then. If you want to get an emailed reminder of new content, you can sign up by emailing subscribe@berkeleydailyplanet.com.

Public Comment

Speech in British House of Lords on Syria

Lord Singh of Wimbledon
Saturday May 12, 2018 - 11:08:00 AM

My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow the noble Earl, Lord Attlee. I speak from a Sikh perspective and I offer my apologies if what I say is out of sync with today’s 19th and 20th-century power-bloc politics.

Sikh teachings on the prevention of conflict almost parallel the preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, formulated after the horror of the ​Second World War, and they stress the dignity and equality of all members of our one human family. They also legitimise the use of military force only as a last recourse when all other means have failed. I believe that we and other great powers have pushed the declaration—the key to true peace and security—to one side in our pursuit of supposed “national interest”, using smaller countries as pawns in power-bloc politics. The conflict in Syria is a case study of the futility and cruel effect of such policies on innocent lives.

Following his election, US President Donald Trump made clear his desire to withdraw from international conflicts. Anxious to preserve our special relationship with the USA, our Prime Minister dutifully echoed him, saying that we will have to stop being the world’s policeman. A few weeks back, President Trump made clear his desire to extricate the US from the conflict in Syria and was expected to do so with an impressive military flourish. 

We are then expected to believe that President Assad, having secured control of much of the country, suddenly decides to launch a chemical attack on a children’s hospital. It could be true, although it sounds implausible, but it gave the US President an opportunity to withdraw from the conflict flourishing his military might. France and Britain dutifully backed him in a combined military strike against Assad. President Trump predictably tweeted “Mission accomplished”. It is sad that our PM should feel duty-bound to back military action prior to any investigation. I thought that it was only in Alice in Wonderland that we had the saying, “Sentence first—verdict afterwards”. 

I find the propaganda in government statements and in the media to justify the military action morally questionable and sometimes hypocritical. We have grown used to the convention of calling countries we do not like “regimes”. Now, to justify action and our intervention, President Assad is widely referred to as a monster. Our PM rightly says that the conflict in Syria can be ended only through negotiations, but it does not help negotiations to call someone a monster. I agree that Assad is no angel and is, like many leaders we have propped up in the Middle East, a brutal dictator. But we should always also remember that his troubles began when, on “humanitarian grounds”, he let in nearly a million Sunni Muslims from the earlier conflict in Iraq. Now, we are being told that the strike against him was on humanitarian grounds. 

Are we really saying that it is morally okay to kill and maim the people of Syria with bullets, bombs and missiles, but somehow morally wrong to do so with chemical weapons? I think that our Prime Minister was more honest—but wrong—when, as justification, she said that the action was “in Britain’s national interest”. The conflict in Syria is also in Iran’s national strategic interest and that of the USA, Russia, Israel, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and other global players, including ISIS, anxious to have a so-called strategic presence in the Middle East regardless of the horrendous consequences, suffered by innocents. In the quagmire of the Middle East, and in trying to punish Assad, we have also helped ISIS in its beheadings and amputations, not only of the people of Syria but of innocent aid workers. ​ 

I am saddened by the hypocrisy of our Government and the Governments of the USA and France. While wringing their hands about the monster Assad’s supposed chemical weapon attack on little children, they have all in the last two or three of weeks signed billion-dollar deals with Saudi Arabia to export arms for use in Yemen, so that Saudi Arabia can strut its military might in the Middle East with the continued bombing of men, women and little children in Yemen. Such displays of machismo were the norm in the 19th and 20th centuries, leading to two world wars and countless other conflicts in the pursuit of national or strategic interest and to the continuing death and suffering of millions. An important aspect of strategic action is trade: it is important, but trade should never trump human rights. I was appalled when a Minister openly said that when we talk trade with China we should not raise issues of human rights. The same sentiments have been raised by government officials in the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia to destroy lives in Yemen. 

It is not only the West that has lost its moral direction. The same immoral policies are being pursued by Russia, China and others: 80% of the weaponry flooding the world today and fuelling countless conflicts is supplied by members of the so-called Security Council. The whole concept of supposed strategic interest has, over the centuries, been shown to be deeply flawed and a recipe for continuing conflict. A Christian hymn reminds us: 

“They enslave their children’s children who make compromise with sin”. 

It is a truth echoed in Sikh teachings and in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The only strategic interest worth pursuing is respect for human rights and social justice for all and for future generations in our highly interdependent world. 

Lord Indarjit Singh, Lord Singh of Wimbledon (Cross Bench), is the brother of frequent Planet commenter Jagjit Singh.

Fossil Fuels Are Harming Us

Harry Brill
Saturday May 12, 2018 - 05:33:00 PM

To protest Chase Bank's commitment to investing in fossil fuels, a national day of action was held this past Monday (May 7) against the Bank, which is a subsidiary of J.P. Morgan. Chase bank is one of the largest investors in the dirtiest fossil fuels. Although some European banks have been restricting their lending on behalf of fossil fuels, JPMorgan Chase has instead quadrupled its financing. 

According to a study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) air pollution that is mainly emitted from road transportation causes about 200,000 premature deaths each year in the United States. The researchers calculated that those who die as a result of foul air lose on the average ten years of their lives. 

A few years ago the public learned about the Volkswagen abuses. Their engines gave a false, understated reading of the amount of pollution that their cars were emitting. However, please don't assume that the legally sanctioned emissions are therefore safe. Far from it, as the MIT study found. 

The fossil fuels -- oil, coal, and natural gas-- have produced exorbitant profits at the expense of our health. But this has certainly not been a new development. In the 1920s, only 10 percent of Americans owned a car. Most people got by very nicely and comfortably in electric trolleys. However, the auto industry was very unhappy that these trolleys limited their sales. So they decided to do something about it. 

General Motors, Firestone Tire, Standard Oil of California, and Mack Trucks were among the companies that were involved in demolishing almost17,000 miles of streetcar tracks in cities around the country. Many of these street cars were replaced by gas polluting buses and then by automobiles. Because street cars for the most part disappeared and busses provided very limited service, the public felt compelled to purchase automobiles. Only a few U.S. cities, including San Francisco, still have an urban transport system based on streetcars. For the most part local governments were passive about the auto industry's aggressive agenda. 

Since then with few exceptions, municipal governments have shown little interest in developing adequate public transportation systems. As the public knows, breakdowns in most systems are frequent, trains are often overcrowded, and the meager scheduling of trains and busses results in long waiting time. 


So what should we be doing with regard to the fossil fuel problem? I think you know. We have to keep plugging along.

The People in the Park

Cecile Leneman
Saturday May 12, 2018 - 10:48:00 AM

Please consider discussing the larger picture: why are People down and out and taking drugs as you say and drinking? Why are they unemployed? Why are they unwashed and smelly, as you describe them? Can you discuss America’s happiness coefficient? 

Can you please tell us why so many people are so miserable here, so much of the time? 

Can we discuss the question of demography? Can we talk about how previous generations made a living here when the dollar had some monetary value? 

And can we possibly talk about how people need to live as though their lives matter? 

And incidentally, I did mosey up to People’s Park for the 49th? anniversary party, and there was a nice, well-behaved, washed Sunday crowd doing their thing—and for once—having a good time.

Art and Venture Capital Really Do Go Hand in Hand

Carol Denney
Thursday May 03, 2018 - 12:09:00 PM
Carol Denny

Our neighborhood hardware store went out of business recently and has been replaced by "Neyborly", a fund-raising enterprise which hosts events for ...causes. I'm not sure how worthy the causes are, but whatever they are, "Neyborly" takes a cut out of their fundraiser to pay rent in the empty space which used to be our hardware store. 

Today they set up several big barbecues on the relatively small sidewalk in front of their business; huge, round, hot, smoky barbecues which left little room to pass, not enough to allow two wheelchairs to pass, which is a standard often used in Berkeley and in school corridor settings for the Americans with Disability Act (ADA). Even that standard presumes that things are not on fire, belching smoke, and spitting hot grease on one side or the other. 

I asked the organizer about it and the woman got defensive right away saying both the police and fire department had "given permission"- not exactly the case, but in fact neither entity was going to stop it, either, and I know. I called and they gave me the whole "this stuff doesn't really matter" treatment because of course when I called I asked them to ask how, in a world in which the City Council had just restricted sidewalk use for the poor, this was in any way possible except in the most cynical of kleptocracies.

So I went home, took a shower, dressed up, and made tiny little fliers that say: 

$25 million in venture capital and hey— 

You can buy the neighborhood sidewalk! 

It's disruptive! It's inventive! 

It violates the ADA, but when you're rich, who cares! 

I walked in while the big dinner was happening, and they greeted me like family. Then I just walked around the tables smiling and giving them out, tiny little fliers only big enough for the words. By the time one of the organizers had read the little flier and understood what I was doing and began to threaten to call the police I was done, and I just smiled and walked away out the door. They made asses of themselves threatening me and grabbing at me while I kept smiling and handing out fliers such that people really became more and more interested in reading them. I made my point. I had fun. Exploit my neighborhood if you can. Your exploitative business model is my art's oyster. Happy May Day! And next time you want to help a worthy cause for heaven's sake just give them some of that $25 million in venture capital money. 



Conn Hallinan
Monday May 14, 2018 - 10:02:00 PM

When Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for a presidential and parliamentary election June 24—jumping the gun by more than a year—the outcome seemed foreordained: the country is under a state of emergency, Erdogan has imprisoned more than 50,000 of his opponents, dismissed 140,000 from their jobs, jailed a presidential candidate, and launched an attack on Syria’s Kurds, that is popular with most Turks. 

But Erdogan’s seemingly overwhelming strength is not as solid as it appears, and the moves the President is making to insure a victory next month may come back to haunt him in the long run. 

There is a great deal at stake in the June vote. Based on the outcome of a referendum last year, Turkey will move from a parliamentary system to one based on a powerful executive presidency. But the referendum vote was very close, and there is widespread suspicion that Erdogan’s narrow victory was fraudulent. 

This time around Turkey’s President is taking no chances. The electoral law has been taken out of the hands of the independent electoral commission and turned over to civil servants, whose employment is dependent on the government. The state of emergency will make campaigning by anything but Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its ally, the National Action Party (MHP), problematical. 

But Erdogan called for early elections not because he is strong, but because he is nervous about the AKP’s strong suit, the economy. While growth is solid, unemployment is 11 percent (21 percent for youth), debts are piling up and inflation—12 percent in 2017—is eating away at standards of living. 

The AKP’s 16-year run in power is based on raising income for most Turks, but wages fell 2 percent over the past year, and the lira plunged 7.5 percent in the last quarter, driving up the price of imported goods. Standard & Poor’s recently downgraded Turkish bonds to junk status. 

Up until now, the government has managed to keep people happy by handing out low interest loans, pumping up the economy with subsidies and giving bonuses to pensioners. But the debt keeps rising, and investment—particularly the foreign variety— is lagging. The Turkish economy appears headed for a fall, and Erdogan wants to secure the presidency before that happens. 

To avoid a runoff, Erdogan needs to win 50 percent of the vote, and most polls show him falling short, partly due to voter exhaustion with the endless state of emergency. But this also reflects fallout from the President’s war on the Kurds, domestic and foreign. 

The AKP came to power in 2002 with a plan to end the long-running war with Turkey’s Kurdish minority. The government dampened its suppression of Kurdish language and culture, and called a truce in the military campaign against the Kurdish Workers Party. 

But the leftist Kurdish-based People’s Democratic Party (HDP) broke through the 10 percent threshold in 2015 to put deputies in the Parliament, denying the AKP a majority. Erdogan promptly declared war on the Kurds. Kurdish deputies were imprisoned, Kurdish mayors were dismissed, Kurdish language signs were removed, and the Turkish Army demolished the centers of several majority Kurdish cities. 

Erdogan also forced a new election—widely seen as fraudulent—and re-claimed the AKP’s majority. 

Ankara also turned a blind eye to tens of thousands of Islamic State and Al-Qaeda fighters who crossed the Turkish border to attack the government of Bashar al-Assad and Syria’s Kurdish population. The move backfired badly. The Kurds—backed by American air power—defeated the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda, and the Russians turned the tide in Assad’s favor. 

Turkey’s invasion of Syria—operations Olive Branch and Euphrates Shield— is aimed at the Syrian Kurds and is supported by most Turks. But, no surprise, it has alienated the Kurds, who make up between 18 and 20 percent of Turkey’s population. 

The AKP has traditionally garnered a substantial number of Kurdish voters, in particular rural, conservative ones. But pollster Kadir Atalay says many Kurdish AKP supporters felt “deceived and abandoned” when Erdogan went after their communities following the 2015 election. Kurds have also been alienated by Erdogan’s alliance with the extreme rightwing nationalist MHP, which is violently anti-Kurdish. 

According to Atalay, alienating the Kurds has cost the AKP about 4 percent of the voters. Considering that the AKP won 49.5 percent of the vote in the last national election, that figure is not insignificant. 

The progressive HDP is trying hard to win over those Kurds. “The Kurds—even those who are not HDP supporters, will respond to the Afrin operation [invasion of Syria], the removal of Kurdish language signs, and the imprisonment of [Kurdish] lawmaker,” HDP’s parliamentary whip Meral Danis Bestas told Al Monitor. 

The HDP, whose imprisoned leader, Selahatt Demirtas, is running for president, calls for a “united stance” that poses “left-wing democracy” against “fascism.” The danger is that if the HDP fails to get at least 10 percent of the vote, its current seats will taken over by the AKP. 

Erdogan has also alienated Turkey’s neighbors. He is in a tense standoff with Greece over some tiny islands in the Aegean Sea. He is at loggerheads with a number of European countries that have banned him from electioneering their Turkish populations for the June 24 vote. And he is railing against NATO for insulting Turkey. He does have a point—a recent NATO exercise designated Turkey “the enemy. 

However, Erdogan’s attacks on NATO and Europe are mostly posturing. He knows Turkish nationalists love to bash the European Union and NATO, and Erdogan needs those votes to go to him, not the newly formed Good Party—a split from the rightwing MHP—or the Islamist Felicity Party. 

No one expects the opposition to pull off an upset, although the centrist and secular Republican People’s Party (CHP) has recently formed an alliance with the Good Party, Felicity, and the Democratic Party to insure that all pass the 10 percent threshold for putting deputies in parliament. 

That electoral alliance excludes the leftist HDP, although it is doubtful the Kurdish-based party would find common ground with parties that supported the jailing of its lawmakers. Of the Party’s 59 deputies, nine are in jail and 11 have been stripped of their seats. 

There is an outside chance that Erdogan could win the presidency but lose his majority in Parliament. If the opposition does win, it has pledged to dump the new presidential system and return power to parliament. 

The election will be held essentially under martial law, and Erdogan has loaded all the dice, marked every card, and rigged every roulette wheel. 

There is virtually no independent media left in the country, and there are rumors that the AKP and the MHP have recruited and armed “supporters” to intimidate the opposition. A disturbing number of guns have gone missing since the failed 2016 coup. 

However, as Max Hoffman of the Center for American Progress notes, the election might not be a “slam dunk.” A run-off would weaken Erdogan just when he is preparing to take on a number of major problems other than the economy: 

*Turkey’s war with the Kurds has now spread into Syria and Iraq. 

In Syria, Assad is likely to survive and Turkey will find it difficult—and expensive—to permanently occupy eastern Syria. Erdogan will also to have to deal with the thousands of Islamic State and al-Qaeda fighters now in southern Turkey. 

Growing tensions with Egypt over the Red Sea, and Ankara’s new alliance with Sudan, which is at odds with Cairo over Nile River water rights. 

The strong possibility of a U.S confrontation with Iran, a nominal ally and important trading partner for Turkey. 

The possibility—remote but not impossible—that Turkey will get into a dustup with Greece. 

And last, the rising price of oil—now over $70 a barrel—and the stress that will put on the already indebted Turkish economy. 

The Turkish president may get his win next month, but when trouble comes, he won’t be able to foist it off on anyone. He will own it. 


Conn Hallinan can be read at dispatchesfromtheedgeblog,wordpress.com and middleempireseries.wordpress.com 

THE PUBLIC EYE:Mueller Inquiry Status

Bob Burnett
Saturday May 12, 2018 - 11:18:00 AM

On February 16th, the Justice Department unveiled the first of four pillars of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's inquiry into interference in the 2016 election: the indictment of 13 Russians for Internet-based meddling. Since then the Mueller investigation has been quiet but there's new evidence that they are moving forward with the other three pillars of their inquiry: collusion, obstruction and hacking.

On April 30, the New York Times published the roughly fifty questions that the Mueller probe wants to ask Donald Trump, under oath. These questions are primarily about campaign coordination with Russia -- collusion -- and about possible obstruction of justice.

The collusion aspect of the Mueller probe explore the possibility of illicit cooperation between Russian operatives, involved in election interference and hacking, and the Trump campaign. 

A key Mueller question for Trump focuses on the notorious June 9, 2016, Trump Tower meeting where a Russian operative offered to give key members of the Trump campaign political dirt on Hillary Clinton. Mueller also wants to know about communication between (Trump associate) Roger Stone and Wikileaks -- conversations about hacked DNC and Clinton Campaign emails. More generally, Mueller wants to find out what Trump knew "about Russian hacking, use of social media, or other acts aimed at the [Clinton] campaign." 

Mueller's most provocative question is "What knowledge did you have of any outreach by your campaign, including by Paul Manafort, to Russia about potential assistance to the campaign?" (Paul Manafort is the former manager of the Trump presidential campaign; he has since been indicted by the Mueller probe for his Ukraine consulting work and other undisclosed actions.) Manafort was present at the June 9, 2016, Trump Tower meeting; the question suggests that the investigators know of other attempts to secure Russian assistance. 

In the context of the 2016 election, collusion can mean "a long-term criminal conspiracy." One would hope that the coming Mueller indictments would address the concern that Donald Trump has subterranean ties to Putin, and Russian oligarchs, and this relationship subverted the US electoral process. Several Mueller questions relate to this. Notably: "What communication did you have with Michael D. Cohen, Felix Sater and others, including foreign nationals, about Russian real estate developments during the campaign?" (There are rumors that the Mueller team has excavated the financial links between Trump and Russian oligarchs.) 

Although Trump continues to deny collusion, there seems to be ample evidence that there were, to say the least, unusual interactions between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives. (The latest revelation is that a Russian oligarch, Viktor Vekselberg, gave $500,000 to Trump associate Michael D. Cohen.) The key question is: can any of these interactions be tied to Trump? 

Another pillar of the Mueller investigation focuses on obstruction of justice: has the Trump Administration blocked DOJ efforts to understand interference in the 2016 election? There are three sets of Mueller questions relating to obstruction. 

The first set concerns Michael Flynn who was a key adviser to Trump during the campaign and, briefly, his national security adviser. (Flynn has agreed to cooperate with the Mueller probe and has pled guilty to lying to an FBI agent.) Mueller is interested in whether Trump was aware that Flynn had reached out to Russian officials before the inauguration. Another question asks if Trump has contacted Flynn about a possible pardon. 

The second set of obstruction-related questions concerns Attorney General Jeff Sessions. These questions concern Sessions decision to recuse himself from the Mueller inquiry and Trump's (alleged) pressure on Sessions to end the Russia investigation. 

The third set of questions relate to former FBI director James Comey. Mueller wants to ask Trump about the circumstances that led to Comey's dismissal. Specifically, Mueller would ask Trump: "What did you mean when you told Russian diplomats on May 10, 2017, that firing Mr. Comey had taken the pressure off?" 

There's abundant evidence that Trump is displeased with the Mueller investigation. (Almost daily, he Tweets to this effect.) What remains to be seen is whether there is concrete evidence that Trump has obstructed the investigation; for example, by promising to pardon those who have been targeted by the Mueller probe. 

Finally, the third pillar of the Mueller investigation regards hacking. This inquiry would explain who hacked the emails of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and John Podesta, Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman. As noted above, Mueller wants to find out what Trump knew "about Russian hacking, use of social media, or other acts aimed at the [Clinton] campaign." 

Summary: May 17th marks the anniversary of the day that the Mueller probe began. It's accomplished a lot in a remarkably rumor-free inquiry. 

There seems to be abundant evidence that Russian operatives interfered in the 2016 presidential election and that there was contact between the Trump campaign and Russians. Of course, as the presidential candidate, Trump bears some responsibility for this. What remains to be seen is whether there's direct evidence that Trump committed an unlawful act. Trump acts like he's guilty but, so far, there's no smoking gun. 

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

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Painful Emotions; Don't Wallow, But Don't Fight Them

Jack Bragen
Saturday May 12, 2018 - 10:46:00 AM

Acceptance of painful emotions, and reinterpreting emotions as non-painful, are two of many variations on the same basic idea. This is a basic idea that comprises a large part of the "meditation" that I have practiced for more than the past three decades. The basic idea is a bit hard to put into words. Yet I'll venture this: emotions carry the weight that we voluntarily or involuntarily give them. 

You do not do yourself a favor if you allow negative or painful emotions to take over. However, if you fight against your emotions, this can also make an existing problem worse. 

Some painful emotions relate to the moment, and they may be triggered by something that happens, or even by something a person says. Other emotions are nagging ones, and may be accompanied by a recurring thought. In some instances, we may have chronic anxiety or depression, and we may be unable to find a reason why we feel this way. 

Some emotions could be symptoms of mental illness, while others are merely part of the "human condition," and should not be addressed as abnormalities. 

I do not ascribe to the idea that if you have painful emotions it is because you are "unenlightened." Certainly, some emotions can and should be changed through meditation. Others make us who we are. 

If a painful emotion is chronic, if it is debilitating, and if it is a nuisance to us, it could be addressed partly as a symptom. This doesn't always entail taking a pill for it. Meditation can sometimes resolve symptomatic emotions. 

Sometimes, distracting oneself is a very good strategy toward a better feeling. You should not underestimate the power of distraction to deal with painful thoughts and emotions. 

Some consumers who receive mental health treatment might seek to medicate away emotional pain. Asking one's psychiatrist for another or more medication is not what you should do, if you are experiencing emotions that most people would consider normal. In dealing with many uncomfortable emotions, regardless of the cause you attribute to them, you may be better off using cognitive techniques as a first option. Psychiatric medication isn't intended to make every problem go away. Their purpose is to get your thoughts and emotions within a range in which they are not overpowering. 

Some amount of emotional pain and even suffering are simply a part of the human condition. You do not have to be mentally ill to be angry, to have disagreements, to be afraid of certain things, etc. 

It requires work to develop a capacity for resolving emotional pain via meditation. It is not a faculty that you will automatically have, and people aren't born with it. While individuals may be blessed with more or less capacity for learning meditation, it is a skill that has to be learned if it is to work for us, and learning this valuable skill may require years of practice. 

Resolving emotional pain doesn't solve your problems. However, since it changes our perception about the world, fewer things are perceived as a problem. While it won't make a loaf of bread appear before you when you are hungry, it can make the trip to the store to buy the bread a happier experience than it would be otherwise. It won't fix a flat tire on your car, but it may make it easier and less frustrating to properly deal with that flat tire (including calling roadside assistance or changing it yourself). 

Meditation, as I see it, is not for the purpose of a grandiose "attainment." It is merely for the purpose of having more pleasure and less pain. This also translates into becoming more effective at what you do. Learning cognitive methods to feel better is worthwhile. If we can rely on some amount of internal resources, it can become less of a habit to keep asking your doctor for more prescriptions. 

While meditation does not cure mental illness, it can make life more tolerable while living with mental illness. Meditation can be utilized to create more acceptance of oneself, as a valid intelligence living in an imperfect body with an imperfect nervous system. 

There is no pill that can furnish self-acceptance and self-appreciation. The only way to achieve those things is through thinking better thoughts. Mental training, while it can require a lot of work, is a worthwhile pursuit. There are literally thousands of books out there about how we can create a better state of being. I recommend any book by Thich Nhat Hanh, and any book by the Dalai Lama. 

In embarking on mental training, the main thing for mentally ill people to remember is that "enlightenment" does not cure mental illness. 

Secondly, (and this applies to anyone, mentally ill or not) "enlightenment" is not the goal. The goal of meditation is to feel better right now, and any labels of being "enlightened" or "a novice" are irrelevant. 


ECLECTIC RANT:Trump pulls out of Iran Nuclear Agreement

Ralph E. Stone
Saturday May 12, 2018 - 11:12:00 AM

On May 8, 2018, Trump abandoned the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China and the European Union, which severely limited Iran’s ability to enrich uranium fuel and other activities necessary to make nuclear weapons.  

In return, a wide array of economic penalties that had been imposed on Iran were rescinded or suspended, including many American sanctions and a European oil embargo that had weakened the Iranian economy. 

Calling it “worst deal ever negotiated,” Trump has argued that the Obama administration focused on Iran’s nuclear program while giving insufficient attention to many other of Iran’s activities, including its support for President Bashar al-Assad’s government in Syria, its intervention in the Yemeni civil war and the role of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps in disrupting the region. But the agreement was meant to deal with Iran’s nuclear activities, not its non-nuclear activities. While the agreement is not permanent or perfect, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency, at least Iran is complying with it. 

Trump pulled out of the agreement even though Britain, France and Germany advised against it. Even some of his own advisers counseled him that it was in the interests of national security to keep the deal. 

Adding John Bolton and Mike Pompeo to his administration, who were against the deal, probably added support to Trump’s decision. 

By abandoning the nuclear deal the U.S. will lose more international credibility and further alienate European allies. How is he going to negotiate a denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula with North Korean leader Kim Jung-un when his credibility with keeping international agreements is even more suspect? Remember, he has already pulled out of the Paris Climate agreement, signed by 176 countries and the European Union. 

What's next? Stay tuned.

Arts & Events

No Local Atmosphere Needed for Gautier Capuçon

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Saturday May 12, 2018 - 05:47:00 PM

In a San Francisco Symphony program chock full of post card evocations of Mediterranean land-and-sea-scapes, the best music, the Cello Concert No. 1 in A minor by Camille Saint-Saens, offered nothing in the way of local color but everything in what counts most – beautiful music. Cellist Gautier Capuçon was in top form here, spinning out the lovely melodies of Saint-Saens with his burnished low register, and reaching up into the utmost heights of the cello’s register for the occasional stratospheric notes. Both sides of Capuçon’s expressive capabilities were on display here – the robustly physical attack and the delicately refined nuances. All told, guest conductor StĂ©phane Denève had little to do in this work aside from allowing Gautier Capuçon to have his way, a strategy that ensured success. Likewise, Capucon’s encore, the Swan, from Saint-Saens’ Carnival of the Animals, was an exquisite gem that highlighted this cellist’s magical touch. 

More challenging, perhaps, was the work that opened the program – Escales by Jacques Ibert. Astonishingly, this fine work had only been performed once before by the San Francisco Symphony – in 1946 under Pierre Monteux. Composed by Ibert as a series of impressionist encounters with Mediterranean sites visited on his honeymoon cruise, Escales offers musical evocations of, first, a voyage by ship from Rome to Palermo, Sicily, then a port of call in Tunis and Tunisia’s interior, and, finally, a visit to Valencia, Spain. Composed in 1922, Escales offers the best of French impressionist scene-painting in music, a feature it shares with Debussy’s Iberia, Ravel’s Rhapsodie Espagnole, and Lalo’s Symphonie Espagnole. In this work, conductor Stephane Deneve, adroitly led the orchestra through the choppy waters of the opening voyage to Sicily, then captured the local color of Tunisia’s camel caravans and snake-charmers, highlighted with a very evocative oboe solo by Eugene Izotov, and, finally, led the orchestra in a rousing evocation of Valencia, Spain, complete with castanets. In a work that might easily fall into the trap of clichĂ©s, Ibert’s Escales beautifully navigates the waters in ways that never fail to exercise their musical appeal. This is a work of superb construction, sensitive orchestration, and wonderfully varying textures and colors. Escales is surely a work that deserves to be heard more frequently. 

After intermission, what ensued in the second half of this program was far less compelling. A 2015 composition by French composer Guillaume Connesson, 

E chiaro nelle valle il fiume/The river is clear in the valley, was redolent of movie music. Post-romantic in style, it starts out as yet another bit of landscape-painting in music. Thus, it fits this concert’s thematic program. But in the worst movie music tradition it soon lurches into Cecil B. DeMille extravaganza territory, ending with a syrupy and overly loud crescendo of empty gesturing. 

The final work in this program was Ottorino Respighi’s 1924 work, Pines of Rome. This musical evocation of Rome has its moments, but it is fatally flawed by the final of its four musical moments, which I’ll get to in a moment. Prior to that, Pines of Rome offers a lively, if hectic, evocation of children scampering in the groves of the Villa Borghese, a somber evocation of the Roman catacombs, and a lovely bit of night music complete with a recording of a nightingale’s song. Pines of Rome’s final segment features a march theme that builds inexorably and rather stridently as a tribute to Italian militarism from Roman times to Mussolini. It is both aggressive and abrasive. Somehow, this combination of effects cheapened, for me, at least, the overall impression I gathered of guest conductor StĂ©phane Denève. If you’re going to program works that musically evoke specific places and times, why finish with a paean to militarism, both Roman and Fascist? Neither musically nor thematically is this a heart-warming , endearing way to conclude a concert. 

Berkeley Arts Calendar

Tom Hunt and Bonnie Hughes
Saturday May 12, 2018 - 10:45:00 AM

To learn what's happening on Berkeley's arts scene, you can now reach the Berkeley Arts Festival Calendar directly from the Planet. You can then click on an individual date for a full description of every event on that day.

To reach the calendar, click here. 


New: The Musical Magic of Katja Heuzeroth in Santa Clara

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Monday May 14, 2018 - 10:00:00 PM

Repeating her brilliant success as Kashcheyevna, daughter of the evil sorcerer Kashchey in Rimsky-Korsakov’s opera Kashchey, The Immortal, German-born mezzo-soprano Katja Heuzeroth sang excerpts from this opera on Sunday, May 13, at the Triton Art Museum in Santa Clara. Once again, the magic of Katja Heuzeroth’s voice had its way with this glorious music, which was performed here by Cal Arte Chamber Orchestra led by conductor Dr. Michael Shahani. Singing much of the Scene II music of this opera, Katja Heuzeroth opened with Kashcheyevna’s aria while picking herbs in her garden for her magic potion, then launched into the sword-sharpening aria, and, finally, was joined by baritone Kiril Havezov as Prince Ivan, whose entrance soon led to the magically inspired love duet between a besotted Ivan and the seductive Kashcheyevna. Once again, the magic of this scene was as much in Katja Heuzeroth’s rapturous voice as in any magic potion. Her voice has richly burnished low notes and bright, clear high notes. Moreover, Katja Heuzeroth is a highly expressive singer who endows her performance with passion and intensity. 

Opening the program at Triton Art Museum were two new songs composed by Luis Andrei Cobo. Accompanied by Tamami Honma on piano and a string quartet, soprano Heather Green sang “Time does not bring relief,” composed on a poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay, and “Worms,” set to a poem by Heather Green herself. Cobo’s music is angular, involving the singer in vocal leaps. In the harsh acoustic space of the Triton Museum’s concert hall, Heather Green’s voice was literally bouncing off the walls, so great were the reverberations.  

After intermission, Tamami Honma, Cal Arte Chamber Orchestra’s Artistic Director, conducted Mozart’s Requiem. Soloists for the Requiem were Heather Green –soprano, Katja Heuzeroth – mezzo-soprano, Woojeong Lee – tenor, and Kiril Havezov – baritone. The chorus was comprised of the Cal Arte Singers. For this performance, Tamami Honma opted to replace the Mozart era Süssmayr reconstruction of Mozart’s unfinished score with the recent Franz Beyer reconstruction, which ends the work with Lux aeterna. This ending, with its fugue, highlights the way Mozart in this Requiem hearkened back to older musical traditions of Bach and Handel even as he boldly forged new musical ground. All in all, this was a very successful concert, one well worth the drive to Santa Clara.

The Berkeley Activist's Calendar, May 13-20

Kelly Hammargren, Sustainable Berkeley Coalition
Saturday May 12, 2018 - 10:38:00 AM

Worth Noting:

  • Sunday – Bike tour of Cohousing and Coop communities, RSVP to participate
  • Monday - Town Hall with Barbara Lee is sold out
  • Tuesday – City Council – long agenda with 32 items on consent, important agenda items are highlighted with bold type
  • Wednesday – Planning Commission holding public hearing on urban agriculture
  • Thursday – Transportation Commission has Bike share contract (FORD bikes) amendment on the agenda, packet does not contain substance of amendment.

Poor Peoples Campaign – A National Call for Moral Revival starts Monday with six weekly themes, Week one May 13 – 19, Child Poverty, Women and the Disabled https://www.tikkun.org/nextgen/a-conversation-with-rev-barber-chair-of-the-poor-peoples-campaign 

Sunday, May 13, 2018 – Mother’s Day 

Bike Tour Affordable Cohousing & Cooperative Communities, Sun, May 13, 10:00 pm – 4:00 pm, RSVP to participate, starts at 2220 Sacramento St. 


Indivisible Berkeley General Assembly, Sun, May 13, 7:30 pm – 8:30 pm, 1970 Chestnut St, Finnish Hall, General Assembly meeting, 


Monday, May 14, 2018 

City Council Agenda Committee, Mon, May 14, 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm, 2180 Milvia, 6th Floor Redwood Room, Agenda: planning for Council May 29 meeting, items 2. update Commissioner’s Manual, 10: Small Sites Housing Program, 11. Secure storage for Homeless, 12. Banning Cigarettes with filters of any kind 13. Request Increase County Mental Health Beds, 15. Support community requests audit Alameda Co Sheriff Office Budget 17. Request Gov Brown declare Homelessness State Emergency, 19. Pilot project Solar Powered lights and signage for 3 different evacuation paths. 21. Ballot tabulation lighting levy, 22. Ballot tabulation stormwater levy 25. GoBerkeley adjustable parking space rates, 27 a. & b. Home share pilot program, 


Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board - Outreach, Mon, May 14, 5:45 pm, 2001 Center, 2nd Floor 


Peace and Justice Commission, Mon, May 14, 7:00 pm – 1901 Hearst Ave, North Berkeley Senior Center, Agenda: Internet Platforms, Prohibiting City contracts with vendors providing services to ICE, City Council May 15 Item 27 tone with Police 


Youth Commission, Mon, May 14, 6:30 pm, 1730 Oregon St, Martin Luther King Jr. Youth Services Center 


Zero Waste Commission – Foodware Subcommittee, Mon, May 14, 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm, 2530 San Pablo, Ecology Center, Preliminary meeting, single use foodware, litter reduction 


Town Hall with Barbara Lee, Mon, May 14 – sold out Albany Community Center 


Tax the Rich rally – Mon, May 14, 5:00 pm – 6:00 pm top of Solano near front of closed Oaks Theater - construction is starting for transformation of old Oaks Theater into climbing gym 

Tuesday, May 15, 2018 

Housing Advisory Commission – RFP Subcommittee, Tue, May 15, 4:00 pm, 2180 Milvia, Ironwood Room, Agenda: Open Door Proposal, Analysis RFP responses 


Mental Health Commission – Diversity Subcommittee, Tue, May 15, 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm, 1901 Hearst Ave, North Berkeley Senior Center 


Berkeley City Council, Tue, May 15, 6:00 pm – 11:00 pm, 2134 MLK Jr Way, City Council Chambers, Agenda: (items 1-32 on consent) 8. Parklet ordinance, 20. Increase porta potty contract by $240,000, 24. Disaster preparedness multi-family housing, 27. Establish tone and direction as City moves forward with improvements to Berkeley Police Dept and Police Review Commission, 28. Request that City Manager hold event on current BART guidelines for North Berkeley BART station housing development. 29. Direct City Manager to compile and publish Council referrals and status. 35. Marina Fee Increases, 38. Proposed Budget Update, 39. Ballot initiatives 40. ADU ordinance, 42. Emergency Preparedness training, 43. Vacancy as unlawful nuisance, 44. Replace City Signs, 45. Consider PRC Charter Amendment Recommendations. 


Wednesday, May 16, 2018 

Animal Care Commission, Wed, May 16, 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm, 1 Bolivar Drive, Berkeley Animal Shelter, Agenda: Dog walkers increase to 8 dogs at one time, large dog play area 


Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board – Landlord 101, Wed, May 16, 5:15 pm – 6:15 pm, 2125 Milvia, 2nd Floor 


Commission on Aging, Wed, May 16, 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm, 1901 Hearst Ave, North Berkeley Senior Center 


Planning Commission, Wed, May 16, 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm, 1901 Hearst Ave, North Berkeley Senior Center, Agenda: Urban agriculture, Cannabis sales at existing nurseries, Subcommittee on Affordable Housing and Community Benefits 


Thursday, May 17, 2018 

Design Review Committee, Thur, May 17, 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm, 1901 Hearst Ave, North Berkeley Senior Center, Agenda: majority recommendations 

2120 Berkeley Way – renovate existing 3-story office building adding 3-stories, total 6 stories 

2434 San Pablo Ave – replacement self-service car wash with tunnel wash 


Fair Campaign Practices Commission, Thur, May 17, 7:00 pm, 1901 Hearst Ave, North Berkeley Senior Center, Agenda: Certification, application, matching funds, Mary Kay Lacey, Lori Droste, Rashi Kesarwani, Alfred Twu 


Joint Subcommittee for the Implementation of State Housing Laws, Thur, May 17, 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm, 1901 Hearst, North Berkeley Senior Center, agenda not posted, Contact Alene Pearson, 510.981.7489 


Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Product Panel of Experts, Thur, May 17, 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm, 2939 Ellis St, South Berkeley Senior Center, Agenda not posted, secretary Dechen Tsering 981-5394 


Transportation Commission, Thur, May 17, 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm, 1901 Hearst Ave, North Berkeley Senior Center: Agenda: Bike Share (Ford Bike) contract amendment, Welcome to Berkeley Signs 


District 2 – Cheryl Davila-Open Office Hours, Thur, May 17, 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm, 2500 San Pablo, Caffe on San Pablo formerly Caffe Trieste 

Friday, May 18, 2018 

No city meetings found for Friday, May 18 

Saturday, May 19, 2018 

Strawberry Creek Park Renovation Project Workshops, Sat, May 19, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm, 1326 Allston Way, Corporation Yard – Green Room, Agenda: Final design Phase 1, renovation soccer, tennis, volleyball courts, accessibility, Phase 2 replacement bathroom 

Sunday, May 20, 2018 

Roses in Bloom Acoustical Series – City Sponsored, Sun, May 20, 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm Rose Garden 



When notices of meetings are found that are posted after Friday 5:00 pm they are added to the website schedule https://www.sustainableberkeleycoalition.com/whats-ahead.html and preceded by LATE ENTRY 

To see what happened at Berkeley City Council meetings in bite size by subject videos go to Watch Berkeley Gov, a new YouTube channel and read about the project by Dave Margulius at https://davemargulius.com/introducing-watch-berkeley-gov/ 

May 21, deadline to register to vote in the June 5 primary https://registertovote.ca.gov/ It is not too late to request absentee ballot if you are not already a permanent vote by mail voter 

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