The Week



Candidates' Night in Berkeley's District 8

Russ Tilleman, District 8 Council Candidate
Monday September 10, 2018 - 03:16:00 PM

The CENA meeting on Wednesday night was interesting!

Lori Droste started by pointing out that Chris Stine, the head of the Berkeley Police Association, was present. And it sounded like she brought him along. I don't know if he lives in the neighborhood, but I'm guessing he was there representing the police union. Which doesn't seem very appropriate for an endorsement meeting.

She said the police union is "heavily invested" in getting her reelected, and that lots of City of Berkeley employees are endorsing her.

I mentioned that I don't think it is appropriate for elected officials to take money from anyone whose contract they negotiate, and that Ms. Droste took money from the BPA. -more-


Public Comment

An Idea for Berkeley Hiding in Plain Sight

Carol Denney
Sunday September 09, 2018 - 05:09:00 PM

It is no secret that some police officers sleep in their vehicles behind old City Hall or in their vehicles on nearby streets. It's more convenient than dealing with the traffic congestion from their homes in other cities. And there's plenty of room in the parking lot behind old City Hall. It's not strictly legal, but you know how it is in this town. How much anybody cares depends on who complains about whom.

Let's be sensible. Let's have at least one small area behind old City Hall set up for short-term stays for anyone who needs it. It is hypocritical that the police are doing this but treating anyone else who does it as criminal. Vehicle and tent sweeps without tent and vehicle alternatives are deeply unfair, especially considering the recent Martin v. City of Boise decision, which dives into deep detail about self-reporting shelters' honest gauntlet of requirements, inconveniences, and simple unavailability if, for instance, you don't get there in time to sign up during seasonally changing hours. What is characterized by our city manager and city council as "availability" is often, as described in Boise, a cruel facade unnavigable by disabled or homeless people .

Each district of the city should be obligated to find a similarly accessible setting and arrange for sanitary facilities, so that each district can play a role in addressing this simple necessity. Sleeping in doorways isn't just unfair to people forced to do so- it's entirely avoidable in a city with our wealth and imagination. Districts which have successful experiments can assist other districts, create partnerships as needed until we have working interim arrangements during this obvious housing crisis. -more-

An Open Letter to the Berkeley City Council and City Manager

Carol Denney
Friday September 07, 2018 - 01:22:00 PM

The Downtown Berkeley Association has declared its intention to continue ripping down community fliers on September 1, 2018, citing a memo (see below) which concludes, "removing signage posted on public infrastructure is outside the scope of the City's contract with the DBA." They have included no new information. There does not appear to have been any effort to involve commission input, etc.

Director Caner also plainly states in the letter below that he and his cleaning crew intend to make content-based distinctions between fliers, choosing which can and can't remain in places where it is legal to post according to their content. This violates the First Amendment.

Could the City Council please put a moratorium on the DBA's destruction of community fliers? It is election season and a back-to-school time of year when promotions and events need all methods of outreach. My own perhaps imperfect understanding is that the city may have the right to outlaw all fliers, but cannot make distinctions based on content without violating the Constitution. -more-

The Constitutionality of Homeless Encampments

From, and only as editor, by Steve Martinot
Sunday September 09, 2018 - 05:45:00 PM

The issue of homeless encampments keeps coming up. The reason is the insistence on the part of the police of Berkeley on raiding encampments, dispelling the groupings of the homeless, disrupting their comunities, and thereby forcing them to move, to resettle themselves, to figure out new procedures for survival.

During the Obama administration, the Dept. Of Justice formulated an argument for how and why and under what circumstances this practice of raiding and disbanding homeless encampments is unconstitutional, in violation of the 8th Amendment. The 8th Amendment prohibits “cruel and unusual punishment.” It therefore limits what can be punished and what not. In particular, certain conduct can be punished, but mere status cannot be under certain circumstances (such as illness, poverty, unemplyment, etc.). To the extent homelessness is a (involuntary) status, camping cannot be punished unless a city provides an alternative, such as shelter.

What I include below is an edited (by me) version of a writ introduced into a trial in Boise, Idaho, in 2015, on this issue. It was a case in which the homeless of Boise had filed suit against the city, and the US government had filed an amicus brief in favor of the plaintiffs (the homeless). I have redacted the footnotes and references in the interest of length, and to make the text more palable to those who would have trouble wading through all the legal citations and rhetoric. I tried to only leave the meat of the government’s argument there. For those who have no trouble with legalese, and would like to look at the precedents and citations, the name of the case is Bell vs. City of Boise, its trial number is 1:09-cv-00540-REB, held on 08/06/15. And the full text of the government’s writ can be found here – -more-

Israel Demolishes More Homes

Jagjit Singh
Sunday September 09, 2018 - 05:47:00 PM

Israel’s high court has long lost its independence has become a tool of the Israeli government. Its latest ruling issued an order to demolish Khan al-Ahmar village impacting 180 Palestinians. -more-

No Nukes: Not Rocket Science

Jack Bragen
Sunday September 09, 2018 - 05:11:00 PM

Attitudes on global warming are massively different between Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. Addressing global warming is difficult, because Americans and China, among other countries, rely heavily on fossil fuels to make people's lives easier than it would otherwise be. It will take a lot of work on the part of millions of people for us to switch to forms of energy that do not put carbon into the atmosphere. In addition, we are up against the oil and energy mega-corporations, who feel threatened by solar, since it is harder to make a profit on a decentralized energy system. This is despite the fact that if the U.S. decentralized our energy source, it would be to our military advantage. -more-


THE PUBLIC EYE: Everything Trump Touches Dies

Bob Burnett
Sunday September 09, 2018 - 05:27:00 PM

Recently, I read the best-seller, "Everything Trump Touches Dies" ( ) by Rick Wilson -- a noted Republican consultant and strategist, and #nevertrump stalwart. It's alternately terrifying and hilarious. At the conclusion Wilson offers suggestions for the "recovery" of the Republican Party. They are worth considering for what they suggest for the Democratic Party. -more-

ECLECTIC RANT: No one should care about John Yoo’s Views on Brett Kavanaugh

Ralph E. Stone
Sunday September 09, 2018 - 05:13:00 PM

In a September 3, 2018 article in the San Francisco Chronicle, “Brett Kavanaugh won’t be pawn of Trump, predicts GOP stalwart John Yoo,” Yoo, a former Deputy Assistant U.S. Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel in the Bush administration and now Professor at the UC Berkeley School of Law, states that we should not fear that Kavanaugh will go easy on Trump if he is confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

However, Yoo is just not a credible witness for Kavanaugh.

Note that Yoo did not mention, if confirmed, Kavanaugh would likely work to preserve the Trump agenda for decades to come on such issues as abortion, gun control, immigration, voting rights, campaign-finance laws, health care, LGBTQ rights, unions, and the power of regulatory authorities, especially on the environment. Why else would Trump nominate him? -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Antidepressants May Not Mix Well with Antipsychotics

Jack Bragen
Sunday September 09, 2018 - 05:31:00 PM

In this week's column, please note that I am not offering you a professional opinion. I am sharing my experiences, and if you have questions about medications, you must consult with a medical and/or psychiatric practitioner.

My mental health and my behavior improved following discontinuation of antidepressants, which I took in addition to antipsychotics. Antidepressants do not do the exact opposite of antipsychotics. However, the combination of these two categories of drugs can be bad from a medical-physical standpoint, and it can cause people with psychotic tendencies to become ill. I suggest that readers do research about this on the web, and/or by discussing it with doctors.

A person taking antipsychotics will often feel depressed. Antipsychotic medications can cause depression. However, life circumstances can also cause depression. It is not always easy to know if one's depression is caused by antipsychotics, by difficult life circumstances, or by the brain condition itself. -more-

SMITHEREENS: Reflections on Bits & Pieces

Gar Smith
Sunday September 09, 2018 - 05:35:00 PM

Algorithms Awry

Have you had this experience? You write to your elected rep about some foreign policy issue and you get a reply like this?

Dear Mr. Smith:

Thank you for contacting me regarding marine finfish aquaculture. I appreciate the time you took to write, and I welcome the opportunity to respond. . . .

I won't name the senator involved. -more-

Arts & Events

The Berkeley Activist's Calendar: Sept. 9-16

Kelly Hammargren, Sustainable Berkeley Coalition
Sunday September 09, 2018 - 05:17:00 PM

Worth Noting:

Monday Tax the Rich Rally celebrates its seventh anniversary. It was started by Evelyn Glaubman in 2011. Evelyn (who still attends) does not wish to disclose her age, but the secret is she was not yet, but close to 90 when she started the weekly rally. That reminds all of us there are no excuses for not being engaged. We could say it was the 40% of eligible voters who did not vote in 2016 that gave us this corrupt administration with Donald Trump at the top.

The weekly summary of upcoming City meetings is thick as the Agenda Committee meets Monday to plan for September 25 City Council meeting and City Council meets Thursday (Yom Kippur begins Tuesday evening). Potential controversial items in the Council action calendar are highlighted.

Wednesday Burrowing Owls at Cesar Chavez Park are on the agenda of the Parks and Waterfront Commission and the Police Review Commission (PRC) includes the Berkeley Police Department actions in response to August 5 protests. Thursday the Community Environmental Advisory Commission (CEAC) will be discussing the Climate Mobilization Plan

There are events and forums planned before and during the Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS) (September 12 – 14) including a forum on Tuesday September 11 with a very impressive list of international presenters. Counter forums and demonstrations are listed at the Sunflower Alliance website

Future -more-