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Carol Denney


Affirm Capanile Way Landmarking on Thursday:
An Open Letter to the Berkeley City Council

Carol Denney
Tuesday September 18, 2018 - 03:24:00 PM

Please affirm the landmarking of Campanile Way and the natural landscape element it was built to embrace which includes, but is not limited to a view that stretches from the natural entrance to San Francisco bay to our beautiful hills. I live on University Avenue, and the most beautiful thing about my neighborhood is the sweeping embrace of the natural elements in both directions which invite the eye and the spirit to connect with not just nature but the Campanile Way's inclusion of nature's wonders in its design. 

"Natural landscape elements" are codified in the Berkeley Municipal Code and and Landmarks Preservation Ordinance, a phrase which is designed to be inclusive, not exclusive, of a view or aspect of a site. The suggestion in the developer appellant’s Issue #1,echoed by city staff, that views somehow play no role in such decisions nationwide, is just silly. Although it is rare for any place in the nation to have such a spectacularly aligned
set of natural landscape elements as we have, it is far from unique, and not only deserves protection, it has protection under our BMC/LPO Section 3.24.060. 

Issue #2 is equally silly. This application does not preclude construction, and does not require revolutions in zoning and planning as city staff implies. It just limits the extent of the heights, profits, and impositions developers can impose, which is a reasonable thing to do. Staff may be in the tank for high-rise development these days, but neighbors like me are fine with our low-rise commercial buildings and any limitations which protect what is beautiful in our neighborhoods.
Issue #3 is kind of funny. Campanile Way is already listed on the National Register of Historic Places which is a multiple property designation and kind of shoots the appellant's argument in the foot. The whole place is registered because of that "natural landscape element", again, codified in BMC/LPO Section 3.24.060. 

Issue #4 is my second favorite. Especially since the Mayor's old roommate has been flacking for this appeal and against this landmarking effort from the beginning. It is lobbyists in the tank for developers with special ties to City Hall who have the conflict of interest here, which may be why city staff decided to tiptoe around this one. But don't think Mark Rhoades' journey into developer-land isn't a dream they
have every night about their own future. 

Issue #5 - my favorite. No CEQA! As if the preservation of the natural landscape elements posed any threat to the environment. The environment threatened here is the lucrative environment for developers who want to wreck their way through historic, beloved, natural elements in our city. 

Please uphold the landmarking of Campanile Way in full, and recognize that we owe a huge debt to the dedication of the applicant for the opportunity to protect this treasure for all generations for all time.



The Universal and Unavoidable Consequences of Being Human, Even in Berkeley

Becky O'Malley
Monday September 17, 2018 - 10:58:00 AM

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been trying to figure out what the City of Berkeley’s policy on homelessness is. I’ve asked a lot of people: a couple of councilmembers, neighborhood activists in the areas with visible homeless populations, those invaluable civic watchdogs who go to all the meetings, some charitable souls who try to minister to the physical needs of those who live on the street with clothing, blankets and food… I’ve gotten the views of some of the thoughtful public citizens who think and then write about such problems, including some on this site. I’ve even been talking to a couple of friends who are part of the outdoor population. And now I’m more confused than ever. 

In general, I get one thing: a lot of Berkeleyans really don’t want to look at people who are obviously homeless. “Anywhere but here” is where homeless people belong, in the eyes of some. For an especially unpleasant demonstration of this, take a look at the nasty comments on a nice upbeat article on a local news site about the addition of some comfortable furniture to Berkeley’s main library. A disgraceful number of writers express fear and loathing at the notion that some homeless people might actually use the public libraries on occasion. 

A sample: “…these are our taxes, MY taxes, and yes, I don't want homeless people on our streets and in our public facilities.” 

If there’s something about the concept of public space that writers like this don’t understand, they need to acquaint themselves with the recent Ninth Circuit decision on the appeal of Martin v. City of Boise 

The opinion notes that “…the Eighth Amendment prohibits the state from punishing an involuntary act or condition if it is the unavoidable consequence of one's status or being." 

And therefore “This principle compels the conclusion that the Eighth Amendment prohibits the imposition of criminal penalties for sitting, sleeping, or lying outside on public property for homeless individuals who cannot obtain shelter…whether sitting, lying, and sleeping are defined as acts or conditions, they are universal and unavoidable consequences of being human." 

Moreover, any "conduct at issue here is involuntary and inseparable from status — they are one and the same, given that human beings are biologically compelled to rest, whether by sitting, lying, or sleeping." 

As a result, just as the state may not criminalize the state of being "homeless in public places," the state may not "criminalize conduct that is an unavoidable consequence of being homeless — namely sitting, lying, or sleeping on the streets.” 

The opinion doesn’t specifically cover access to public libraries, but they are public places too. 

As it happened, the following item was placed on the published agenda for last Thursday’s Berkeley City Council meeting by Mayor Jesse Arreguin: 

Recommendation: Adopt a Resolution setting enforcement priorities for the Downtown Berkeley BART Station Plaza (“BART Plaza”) prohibiting lying and camping and directing the City Manager to enforce Penal Code Section 647(e) at BART Plaza, Berkeley Municipal Code Section 14.48.020 regarding unpermitted objects obstructing sidewalks, and Berkeley Municipal Code Chapter 13.36 relating to lying on public property, in addition to all other applicable laws. 

Why did the Mayor put this item on the agenda? 

From the accompanying explanation: 

“Construction of the new Downtown Berkeley BART Station Plaza, on the west side of Shattuck Avenue between Center Street and Allston Way, is expected to be completed in September 2018. The $7.6 million project is designed to improve both safety and walkability, creating more open space and activating underutilized sidewalk space. The Plaza will serve as the main gateway for many people arriving to Downtown via BART, AC Transit, or UC Berkeley Bear Transit Shuttle, which combined has a total of 30,000 commuters daily at this location. To ensure the safety and promote a plaza that is welcoming to all, enforcement of the following regulations is needed:  

  • California Penal Code Section 647(e): Unpermitted lodging
  • Berkeley Municipal Code Section 14.48.020: Items obstructing sidewalks
  • Berkeley Municipal Code Section 13.36: Persons obstructing sidewalks.”
Really? This obvious boondoggle, those banal little glass houses that they’ve built over the BART entrances, cost the public Seven Point Six Million Dollars? And we need to invoke the Penal Code to evict the homeless from this tacky little plaza? 

Just for comparison, how much affordable housing could have been built with the amount of money that went into this pork project? 

Well, here’s just one example of what could be done: All Souls Episcopal Church is hoping to build 37 affordable housing units for seniors on part of its Oxford Street property. There’s a possible outside source of government funding which could be tapped, but the church needs to demonstrate access to at least $6 million to qualify to compete for the grant. It asked the City of Berkeley to put up that amount, but the city didn’t have the cash at the moment. Disregarding for the moment the merits (or lack of them) of this particular project design, money that could have been leveraged by All Souls to provide needed housing was spent on redecorating the BART plaza. 

And now the Mayor proposes “to promote a plaza that is welcoming to all” by kicking unsightly homeless people out of the public space. 

Where’s Tom Lehrer when we need him? I can almost hear the satirical song he should be writing about this newspeak proposal: 

“Welcome to all, except just not to you!
Don’t think you’re at home, since it just isn’t true.
Don’t lie, camp or sit, don’t doze for a bit.
Or you're sure to end up in the stew…. ” 

Too bad the Ninth Circuit has rained on the parade. The item was pulled from the agenda at the last minute on Thursday, per advice of the city attorney, who referenced Martin v. City of Boise

When I started writing this I’d intended to talk about the ridiculous game of whack-a-mole the city has been playing with people struggling to house themselves on public property in tents and vehicles. 

I’d hoped to discuss the incredible vanishing shelter bed dance imposed on those who don’t even have tents. 

I intended to point out that every locality that I know well sincerely believes that its problems with homelessness are unique, the result of its uniquely generous public services which attract homeless clients from miles around. 

I was going to reminisce about the first homeless family in Ann Arbor, discovered in the late sixties out of work and living under a bridge, who became celebrities and were appointed to city commissions because they were so unusual. 

I recalled the first homeless person in the Elmwood, sometime in the 1970s, a nice guy named John, probably schizophrenic, who had a routine list of addresses he called on for help when needed. 

I thought of our friend Terry, developmentally disabled, dirty and drug addicted when he rang our doorbell in the 80s, who found a group home in Fremont where he could lead a dignified life. 

I remembered wise-cracking crack-damaged Betty Bunton, cheated by Wells Fargo out of part of her SSI check every month, who died of asthma trying to get to the Alta Bates ER. 

But there will be plenty of time to tell all these stories and more, because homelessness has become a permanent national affliction. The Berkeley City Council, like city councils everywhere, will continue to dilly-dally around with various “solutions” which don’t take into account the enormous diversity of those individuals we used to call “street people”. 

They end up on our streets for lots of reasons: mental illness, drugs, no family, no money, no job, but they still have the right to life, a term expropriated to protect fetuses but certainly applicable to full grown humans. 

The Boise opinion gets it right. Sitting, lying, and sleeping are universal and unavoidable consequences of being human and deserve protection as such. Unless the city of Berkeley can provide safe and convenient places for all of our human population to sit, lie and sleep, we don’t have the right to banish some of us from public areas. At the rate we’re going, that won’t happen any time soon.

Public Comment

The Berkeley City Manager and the DBA's Flier Smackdown, or Defund the DBA

Carol Denney
Saturday September 15, 2018 - 01:46:00 PM

I went straight to the City Manager's office. She's in charge, after all. The City Council advises her if they feel like it. But many of them have perfected the art of sitting firmly on both sides of an issue. Stopping the Downtown Berkeley Association's illegal practice of tearing down legally posted community fliers would seem like a no-brainer, but over the years only a few had even sympathized. And nothing had changed.

It matters. If you play at the San Francisco Fringe Festival or the Freight and Salvage as I do, every poster can reach hundreds of people, interested people if you're good at what you do. Posters that reach pedestrian traffic are crucial; a town that used to boast dozens of lively newspapers is down to a bare handful. Those ugly green metal "ped mount" fixtures empty of newspapers and covered with graffiti used to be full.

She was in. They're always in right before a city council meeting, so it wasn't unexpected. But they're busy before a city council meeting, so I was willing to wait. Which I hope people realize reflects a lot of patience after having this issue unaddressed for decades. You work hard making posters before an event, paying for the duplication at copy stores, walking the streets with wheat paste or tape. Your hall and your personal reputation lives or dies by the door, meaning the traffic that walks in, so getting the word out to a literary crowd in a nearly post-newspaper almost print-free town is a challenge. 

I am patient. I've waited decades for someone to get through to John Caner, CEO of the Downtown Berkeley Association, that you don't have to be a nonprofit organization to have the right to put up a poster. You don't have to be the City of Berkeley. You don't have to be affiliated with the University of California. You don't have to restrict your speech to DBA events he is personally promoting. But I can't seem to get through. 

The curious restrictions he uses to parse and selectively remove community fliers appear to be aided and abetted by divinations he makes from the arcane observations of previous city attorneys and public works officials some of whom have tried to make the case that fliers are a danger to public safety - they might jump off the pole and obscure a windshield! I am not joking. 

Again, I am patient. I waited at least half an hour for the City Manager to find a moment to learn that the DBA was at it again. I've worked with a crew to photograph and videotape the DBA crews' first amendment violations over and over again, but whatever word comes out of the city must either be tacitly encouraging them to keep it up or just isn't getting through. 

But hey, I'm not that patient. So I started putting up posters with packing tape on the fifth floor windows while I waited. I had pale yellow paper that looked festive across the back and side windows. I left plenty of room for the larger view of a sparkling fall afternoon. 

The lovely, helpful administrative staff person didn't notice until about the fourth poster and advised me that I was not allowed to post anything in the fifth floor's waiting room area, adding "nobody can." And I answered with a smile how I knew there were rules regarding the posting of fliers and agreed that it was so frustrating when you can't seem to get through to people like the DBA's John Caner about the dang rules. And kept putting up posters. 

And just like magic, the City Manager had time for me. Not only that, the City Attorney was there, too, so that after a little bristling and pawing the ground the case for the First Amendment being the presiding law of the land finally had a brief, private hearing. 

John Caner received a phone call after that meeting. And informed me later at the city council meeting that he and his crew would not be tearing down any more fliers. In fact, he denied having torn down any at all, which is pretty funny considering the photographs, videos, and the armful of torn down fliers I had brought personally to his office only months before, posters straight from the arms of the "ambassador" on his green-shirt crew who had just torn them down. 

But something got through, if temporarily. And it might have been the City Attorney, or the City Manager. But I think it was the yellow fliers decorating the fifth floor of City Hall. Imagine how that was received by a crowd steeped in the idea that a flier can be dangerous! Someone might set it on fire! It might distract somebody who then steps into traffic and gets hit by a car!  

They're in the thick of it now up on the fifth floor, having hired an unaccountable, out-of-control DBA gang to police and harass homeless people, control public space so as to avoid "problematic" behavior, shoo away pesky, unpermitted buskers singing their annoying hearts out, etc. Downtown businesses have no choice anymore about funding this gang; it's compulsory if they're in the footprint of the "business improvement district." That's the law! 

But it doesn't have to be the law. This arrangement can be reversed under Section 19 of the enabling legislation: 

SEC. 19. 

(a) Any district established or extended pursuant to the provisions of this part, where there is no indebtedness, outstanding and unpaid, incurred to accomplish any of the purposes of the district, may be disestablished by resolution by the city council in either of the following circumstances: 

(1) If the city council finds there has been misappropriation of funds, malfeasance, or a violation of law in connection with the management of the district, it shall notice a hearing on disestablishment. 

The section goes on to describe that "each successive year of operation of the district" shall have "a 30-day period" to consider a petition of such concerns, and that if half the group wants to dissolve the unaccountable gang of homeless harassing anti-flier crews they're being forced to fund, "the city council shall pass a resolution of intention to disestablish the district." You and I are part of that group since the BID includes assessments on public buildings- which belong to us. 

The Berkeley City Council and the City Manager have been forgetting all about this part of the legislation. And that's not all they could do. They can revisit any business district's contract and make sure they're explicitly clear that they're not in charge of the town's posters and fliers, which actually help local businesses. And they could stop the current practice of assessing public buildings, which make taxpayers like all of us, you and me, participants in the DBA's First Amendment ignorance and anti-homeless cruelty. 

We're paying for the public assessments as taxpayers. We have a say in the existence, or the dissolution, of the "business improvement district." Especially if, as in Berkeley's case, it seems dedicated to advocating against human rights, civil rights, and common sense. I'm tired of watching the Berkeley City Council passively accept the idea that I should have to pay for the stamps and stationary of a group which advocated openly against not only the poor's rights to rest, sit, and exist in public spaces, but mine, too. 

The Downtown Berkeley Association can continue to exist if it wants to, as a voluntary group. But the mandatory assessment is unfair. Be sure to mention it during this election season to the candidates and contenders vying for your votes. And the best reason to suggest the dissolution of mandatory fees for unaccountable BIDs is that they don't improve business and they don't solve homelessness.  

Our commercial areas are worse than ever and there are thousands living under the overpasses. A recent report from the UC Berkeley School of Law about Business Improvement Districts (BID) points out the clear implication that BIDs make matters worse by promoting counterproductive anti-homeless laws while ignoring the effects of skyrocketing rents, empty commercial spaces owned by out-of-town or even out-of-state landlords, and the caustic effects of mixing nonprofit "social service" efforts with harassment. 

I've lived in Berkeley a long time, long enough to pre-date the DBA and its progenitors. Berkeley's downtown is a joke compared to the days when local businesses flourished because rents were reasonable. Local music and events were easy to learn about by just walking down the lively streets- because you could look at the event fliers and posters. Small comedy and music clubs didn't have to charge an arm and a leg and rent control was real instead of being decimated by Costa-Hawkins. None of that was rocket science, and it's easy to get back there. Boot unaccountability wherever you see it and take back this brilliant, vibrant city. 

Oh, and when the meeting with the City Manager and the CityAttorney was over, my fliers had been taken down. But I asked for them back, and the lovely administrative staff on the fifth floor gave them back to me. They're all over downtown now, and they say, among other things, "Defund the DBA." 



Bolton trashes the ICC & PLO

Jagjit Singh
Saturday September 15, 2018 - 02:07:00 PM

The Trump administration continues its overt policy of total unconcern for human rights by slashing funding of Palestinian schools and hospitals in the occupied Israeli territories. 

It has closed the Palestine Liberation Organization office in Washington as retaliation for the Palestinians’ efforts to bring Israeli military war crimes to the International Criminal Court. 

The war crimes committed by Israel in Gaza have been well documented by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Israeli organizations like B’Tselem, and Palestinian human rights organizations. In a classic case of the tail wagging the dog, Israel has persuaded the lawless Trump administration to trash the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague terrified of what it might uncover and further tarnish Israel’s image for its war crimes. The Palestinians who found no justice in Israeli courts were left with no other option but to appeal to the ICC. 

The war hawk, John Bolton, is also taking aim at the ICC lest they investigate the torture of victims in Afghanistan and black sites during President Bush’s reign of terror. Revelations would undoubtedly tarnish America’s image. 

Sadly, the United States has abandoned its former role as a champion of human rights, and upholding international law and is now shielding the perpetrators of war crimes. President Trump famously told his “friend”, Mohammad bin Salman “trade (weapons sales) will always supersede concerns for human rights”. How far America has fallen

Hurricane Florence

Tejinder Uberoi
Saturday September 15, 2018 - 02:12:00 PM

As Hurricane Florence, bears down on N. Carolina, meteorologists warn that it could unleash life-threatening flooding across a wide swath of the East Coast threatening life stock and trigger poisonous spills from sewage treatment plants, hog waste lagoons and chicken farms which may end up into household drinking water. Even as the storm subsides thousands of animals are in mortal danger. 

NC is paying a heavy price for its short sighted decision ignoring warnings from climate scientists about rising sea levels six years ago. They ignored the devastating impact of Hurricane Floyd which dropped nearly two feet of rain on NC flooding the water lagoons elevating nitrogen and phosphorous levels. Perhaps even more ominous is the possibility of leaching toxic coal ash into the waterways. 

Twenty-four toxic coal ash containment ponds lie in the path of the storm and are at risk of flooding. NC is home to Smithfield Foods the largest meat packing plant in the world which is allowed to dump animal urine and feces in the surrounding area poising the air with its pungent odor. Although the storm has subsided the rising flood waters may inundate the MacDougall Correctional Institution, a medium-security prison about 35 miles northwest of Charleston that houses 651 inmates. 

Northbrae: A Church that Grapples with Earthly Dilemmas

Emily Hancock
Saturday September 15, 2018 - 02:14:00 PM

Heathen at heart, I don’t think of myself as religious. But one summer Sunday, alarmed by firestorms, sudden floods, skies hung low with polluted air, and killer heat waves around the globe, I made a B-line for Northbrae, a church that grapples directly with earthly dilemmas—making this church a rare find.

Unlike conventional churches, Northbrae espouses no particular creed. Instead of affiliating with an established religion, this church stands firmly on its on. It holds as its mentors “Torchbearers” —twenty-six historical figures that embody the upward reach of human nature and the process of spiritual growth. Among these Torchbearers are Noah, Buddha, Confucius, Lao Tse, Mohammed, Florence Nightingale—and Jesus. These figures, whose prophetic voices stand to inform our responses to the dire quandaries that confront us now, are depicted in a stained glass window that stretches the length of the chapel.  

Just beyond those Torchbearer windows, Northbrae has laid a circle of stones on bare earth to honor the Hutchin—Native Americans thought to be the earliest inhabitants of Berkeley. This Sacred Hoop Garden, named for the medicine wheel that symbolizes the never-ending cycle of life, also harbors a columbarium. Sheltered by gray stone walls, the gated garden invites quiet reflection and deep meditation. 

I went straight to Northbrae when the blazes raged this summer because I knew that this church confronts such disasters and their implications head-on. Elements of nature are often woven into the service, particularly by one of Northbrae’s trio of ministers. This senior minister recently chose Walt Whitman’s Song of the Open Road as the text for the Responsive Call to Worship that begins the service. Harking back to the oral tradition, she and the congregation speak alternate lines of the passage aloud. 

Afoot and light-hearted, I take to the open road,” she says, reciting the first line. 

“I inhale great draught of space; the east and west are mine, and the north and the south are mine,” the congregants respond.  

Whoever you are, come travel with me,” the minister intones. 

“However sweet these laid-up stores—however convenient this dwelling, we cannot remain here,” the congregants warn. 

However sheltered this port, and however calm these waters, we must not anchor here,” the minister affirms. 

“We will go where winds blow, waves dash,” answers the congregation. 

Onward! To that which is endless, as it was beginningless,” the minister confirms. 

“To know the universe itself as a road—as many roads—as roads for traveling souls,” the congregants conclude. 

In a riveting sermon on another Sunday, this same minister describes her compelling connection to elements of the Earth itself. “I have felt this connection in the Arctic where the vast spaciousness on barren gravel bars is humbling,” she says. “Equally humbling is to stand at Dead Horse Point in Utah looking down a cliff over a mile deep, with its multiple layers serving as witness to the eons that have gone before. 

“I am not alone in seeing nature as a mirror of God,” she says, speaking directly to the congregation, “but do we see ourselves as soul-mates, stewards, kin of the Earth? Do we listen? Do we hear?”  

Compelled by these questions to grapple with the urgency of Earth’s survival, I am struck by the words of the Hopi elder she quotes: “This is the Eleventh Hour,” he says. “The time for the lone wolf is over. Gather yourselves!” 

Yes, this is the hour. Time is short. Northbrae offers the rare sensibility, the sacred space, and the kinship heathens like me and those of more formal religions seek to listen, to hear—and to gather ourselves to tend to the survival of the earth.  

Northbrae’s services are at 10:30 a.m. on Sundays. The church is located at 941 The Alameda, Berkeley. http://www.northbrae.org. 

Emily Hancock is the author of The Girl Within (Dutton, Ballantine), and the founder of Moxie Magazine and its online companion, www.moxiemag.com. She is currently at work on a memoir.

Sexual Abuse Is A Crime Of Violence

Harry Brill
Saturday September 15, 2018 - 01:59:00 PM

The Catholic Church has been justifiably criticized both for the sexually abusive conduct of many priests and the failure of the church to adequately address this issue. However, Philip Jenkins, a leading scholar on religious institutions, claims that the Roman Catholic Church has been unfairly singled out by the secular media for failing to highlight similar sexual accusations in other religious organizations. He is absolutely right. Whether the media is biased or not, Jenkins is correct to point out that the problem is prevalent in Protestant churches as well as in Judaic and Muslim religious institutions.  

It is very difficult to accurately gauge the extent of the problem because most victims, an estimated two thirds, remain silent. Also, unlike the Catholic Church, which is a hierarchical organization that oversees all of its parishes, each of the Protestant churches are for the most part autonomous. The churches that are members of the Southern Baptist Convention, for example, are independent. So any figures on sexual abuse by the different Baptist churches are not totaled and therefore seem relatively small. 

According to one study that included a wide range of Christian churches, the extent of sexual misconduct in the various churches ranged from 1% to 38.5% percent of the clergy. The overall average is about 15 percent. But the number of youngsters that have been abused is much higher. That's because many pastors over time have abused several and in some instances a substantial number of youngsters. 

How do we explain the considerable moral misconduct in institutions that pride themselves on their religious and moral commitments? With regard to priests in the Catholic Church many scholars have attributed sex abuse to the requirement of celibacy. The priests must remain unmarried and abstain from sexuality. This commitment seems to attract many who are homosexualy inclined, which is estimated at on third of clergy. At least some of these clergy members are unable to resist temptation. So they tend to sexually prey on mostly male adolescents, which make up over 80 percent of the victims. 

But since celibacy is not required of pastors and staff in the protestant churches, there must be other factors that explain the temptation and effort to take advantage of sexual opportunities. Particularly important is the unequal status of priests and the young members of the congregations. The considerable power, influence, and status of clergy provide the opportunity and the incentive to exploit the young in one way or another. Many young people respect and admire their pastors , and some are even flattered by the intimacy of sexuality. Some are actually coerced. But even when the overtures are made with consenting youngsters, it is certainly no justification for making sexual advances. 

It is not just religious institutions that are guilty of sex abuse. Over the years there have been a substantial number of sex abuse instances in various secular institutions, including the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). According to one of BSA's executives, thousands of scouts have been sexually victimized in all 50 states. Apparently, wherever male leadership has contact with young people in a private setting, which is in most instances, their offices, the risk that some youngsters will be abused is high. 

Sexual abuse is a widespread problem that must be vigorously challenged. A major impediment has been the disinterest of public officials. Perpetrators of sexual violence are less likely to wind up behind bars than other criminals. Public pressure must be exerted to persuade government to take serious action. Sexual abuse is not just morally wrong. It is a criminal offense, which merits a jail sentence. For engaging in Inappropriate sexual contact with young, vulnerable people is a sexually violent act. 

In California, if the sexual abuse is considered a misdemeanor, the abuser can be jailed for up to six months. If it is a felony, the sentence can be much longer. Every state and the federal government have laws on sexual abuse. But too often they are not enforced. Most often, the penalty is imposing fines, which are often paid by the associated organization. That is tantamount to treating sexual abuse as a fringe benefit. 

So it is imperative that religious and secular leaders play an aggressive role to to successfully combat sexual abuse. It is imperative that the public sector be subjected to considerable pressure. Also, It is also necessary to demand that the media address this issue honestly and accurately.  

Also, both religious and secular institutions should adopt procedures that BSA has developed. Most important, one- on-one contact between only one adult and young person is not permitted. If a scout leader needs to meet with a youngster, another adult must be present. Also, the message must come from the very top that sexually abusive conduct is never justified and will not be tolerated.  

Finally, there is a very important psychological issue that deserves attention. Of course, both males and females have sexual urges. However, there is a major difference between the genders. Too many men are power oriented who need to dominate and control. So sexuality is important not only for the biological gratification that it offers. It is a way of reinforcing their masculine identity. 

But no matter what tempts anyone to sexually abuse others, keep in mind that it is a criminal act not only by those who have committed the crime. Also, they are often protected from retaliation by their superiors. That's a crime of complicity, which is at the expense of sexually abused victims -- past, present and future. 

Take for example a worrisome event at the highest levels of the Catholic Church. In a recent article about Pope Francis in the San Francisco Chronicle (Sept. 9th), the caption in bold and large letters reads: Pope urges bishops to confront sex abuse, cove-ups. Sounds good. But it is misleading. Those who read the article will have a very different impression of the Pope's message. Pope Francis was accused by a high level priest of covering up for an ex-cardinal in the U.S. who has been accused of sexually molesting children as well as adults who are being trained to become religious leaders. The Pope has ignored calls from clergy and church members to respond to these claims. Instead he advised "there are times when silence and prayer are the best response". About praying, that's fine. But silence on this issue, absolutely not! 


September Pepper Spray Times

By Grace Underpressure
Saturday September 15, 2018 - 03:08:00 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: Suspicions Confirmed, Woodward on Trump

Bob Burnett
Saturday September 15, 2018 - 01:51:00 PM

It's no solace, but the recent revelations about Donald Trump, and his Republican enablers, confirm our worst suspicions: Trump is a clear and present danger.

Of the new sources, Bob Woodward's Fear (http://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Fear/Bob-Woodward/9781501175510) is the most illuminating.

1.Trump is incompetent: Woodward's book, coupled with the anonymous New York Times op-ed, "I am part of the resistance..." (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/05/opinion/trump-white-house-anonymous-resistance.html ), and Omarosa Manigault's tell all Unhinged (https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/trump-omarosa-book-summary-review-latest-tweets-white-house-unhinged-a8493286.html ) paint a chilling picture of Trump's mental state. 

It's fashionable to declaim Trump's demeanor: the lies, bluster, and unrelenting narcissism. As a result, it's often difficult to separate Trump, the media figure, from Trump, the erstwhile chief executive of the United States of America. Nonetheless, it's possible for Trump to be totally obnoxious, as an individual, and still competent as a CEO. 

But Trump's far from competent. Woodward's book paints a detailed portrait of Trump as unable to function as President. The anonymous New York Times oped notes, "there were early whispers within the cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment, which would start a complex process for removing the president." (The 25th amendment permits removal when the President "suffers from an impairment that prevents him from fulfilling his duty.") 

It's unclear whether Trump has a neurological or psychological impairment -- Omarosa believes Trump suffers from senile dementia. What is clear is that Trump is not an effective leader. When there is an important decision to be made, he doesn't read his briefing material, so he doesn't come to the decision meeting prepared. At the meeting, Trump doesn't focus; he doesn't lead meetings, in the normal sense, he (metaphorically) wanders in and out of them. As a result, meetings often conclude without a clear decision or, worse yet, with a decision that Trump promptly forgets. Woodward notes, "Trump seemed not to remember his own decision because he did not ask about it. He had no list -- in his mind or anywhere else -- of tasks to complete." 

Most damming is evidence of Trump's inflexibility; his inability to process new information and and adapt to novel situations. 

2. The Republican Leadership uses Trump: The relationship between Trump and top Republican leaders is mysterious. Some say McConnell and Ryan and other GOP leaders go along with Trump's whims because they are afraid of alienating his base -- despite Trump's impairment, his base continues to support him . 

When we look at Trump's record in office, it's clear that he's become a puppet. Most of the time, the GOP leadership uses Trump to accomplish their objectives. Trump kept his campaign promise of cutting taxes because the GOP leadership supported this. In the 600 days since the inauguration, there's been a tug-of-war between Trump and the Republican leaders. On the major issues, McConnell and Ryan won. For example, they supported strong sanctions against Russia and Trump didn't; these sanction passed Congress with a veto-proof majority. 

If you're familiar with the family dynamics involved in living with an abuser, the Trump-GOP leadership interactions seem familiar. McConnell and Ryan, and the other Republican leaders, placate Trump so he won't come unhinged, and then manipulate him to keep the "family" semi-functional. 

3. There's no governing ideology: Beyond cutting taxes and regulations, there's no discernible ideology of the Trump Administration. "Make America Great Again" hasn't translated into coherent policy. 

This is most apparent in the Trump Administration's foreign policy. Trump isn't governed by an overarching philosophy such as "make the world safe for Democracy" or "Isolate America from the barbarian hordes." Instead the Trump Administration is driven by Trump's fears and grudges. 

Woodward's book indicates that Trump's foreign policy derives from his sense that Obama, and previous presidents, cut lousy deals with the country in question: lousy trade and security deals, where the US ends up footing too much of the bill. According to Woodward, Gary Cohn (at the time, Trump's economic adviser) quietly saved the South Korea-U.S. trade agreement, known as Korus, when in 2017 he removed a “letter off Trump’s desk” that the president planned to sign that would have ordered a U.S. withdrawal. Despite the national security implications, and against the advice of his top advisers, Trump planned to scuttle Korus because he was convinced the South Koreans were screwing the US. 

4. Trade policy divides the GOP. Woodward makes it clear that while Trump and the GOP leaders agree on many issues -- tax cuts, repeal of Obamacare, restrictive immigration -- they don't agree on trade. From the onset of his presidency, Trump has wanted to abrogate trade agreements. After an extended meeting, where Trump's advisers tried to keep him from cancelling NAFTA and other trade agreements, Woodward reports that (former Secretary of State) Rex Tillerson muttered, " [Trump]'s a fucking moron." 

After the meeting, a senior aide noted: "It seems clear that many of the president's senior advisers, especially those in the national security realm, are extremely concerned with his erratic nature, his relative ignorance, his inability to learn, as well as what they consider his dangerous views." 

5. Trump is deteriorating, Omarosa writes, "I seriously began to suspect that the president was delusional or had a mental condition, that made him forget from one day to the next. Was Donald like Ronald Reagan, impaired while everyone around him ran the show and covered up for him?" She recalls Trump speaking "gibberish" and careening from subject to subject. 

Woodward reports a disturbing pattern: "[Trump] won't face what's real...[when confronted with a disturbing fact, Trump replies] I don't want to hear it...he will say, 'I've had [these ideas] for 30 years, they're right and if you disagree, you're wrong.'" 

The Woodward book makes clear that Trump is running from demons. He's fearful of the Mueller investigation and grouses about it every day. As a result of the recent tell-all books he's become less trusting of his staff. He has few friends in the White House. He's tormented. 

Woodward quotes one of Trump's ex-aides: "This was no longer a presidency. This is no longer a White House. This is a man being who he is." 

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

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Point of No Return

Jack Bragen
Saturday September 15, 2018 - 01:55:00 PM

When someone loses good health, it can be very tough to regain. This is true of both mental and physical health. In some instances, people lose their mental and/or physical health to the point where it isn't coming back. A lot of this has to do with age. When young, it is far more likely that you can bounce back from a health problem.

A doctor advised a relative to "stop and smell the roses." The advice was premature. That relative has gained a lot of ground after switching to another healthcare system.

If you are under 60, and if you have chronic health problems, it isn't necessarily too late, especially if you are able to sustain significant changes to how you take care of yourself. This conclusion is derived from what I have seen. 

If you maintain health in your thirties, forties and fifties, you might have a shot at making it to ninety. However, some people get cancer, or some other significant health problem, unrelated to maintenance of their body. No one should play the blame game in regards to health. Doing so is counterproductive, inaccurate--and it can be hurtful. 

Concerning mental health, a chronically mentally ill individual needs to be serious about treating their brain condition. Otherwise, they are playing "Russian-Roulette" with their faculties. 

Unfortunately, a number of psychiatric medications have serious side effects that can ruin physical health. So then, we might sacrifice a level of physical health in order to function mentally, in a tradeoff. 

However, you can do some things to fend off the physical health problems that meds often bring about. For example, a number of psychiatric medications cause weight gain and diabetes. Yet, we can sometimes compensate for this by having permanent restrictions in diet. 

Some of the habits that can shorten your life and ruin your state of wellness include the following: overeating, smoking, being sedentary, doing street drugs, and drinking alcohol. Also, the failure to take care of one's teeth has bad effects on the rest of the body.  

Having a diet in which you eat a moderate amount, no starvation or fad diets, and no binging on fast food, will have good effects on long-term health. I was becoming diabetic. I reversed this by making permanent, sustainable changes in my diet. Other people have reversed their type 2 Diabetes as well. 

As a generalization, you can not sustain a diet of starving yourself to lose weight--that just doesn't work. It may cause fast weight loss, but you will end up gaining it all back, and more. Especially if you are mentally ill, you need to eat. On the other hand, you do not need to eat a ton of candy, ice cream, cake, pizza, and hamburgers. 

If you fail to adopt some of the good habits I have described, you could, when a little older, reach a point of poor health from which you can not come back. At that point, your health is in "defensive mode" and you begin to rely on a lot of medical treatment and procedures. 

If your arteries clog, this could be irreversible without medical procedures. If you lose sensation in your feet due to diabetes, you probably can't reverse that. If your lungs are shot due to too much smoking, you may reach a point where you need to be on oxygen for the remainder of your life. 

Concerning mental health, if you get a lot of brain damage from going on and off medication, you might never be able to get your faculties back. If you do not have your mental health, you have nothing. 

If your mind doesn't work, you lose your chances of having a decent life. If your body needs constant intervention of doctors, your life is nothing other than going to increasing numbers of medical appointments. If you reach a point of it being impossible to bounce back, you could regret decisions made when younger. 

The above are just common sense things that most people know. Yet, I see too many people in the mental health treatment system live only into their forties or fifties. In addition, the mental health treatment system doesn't do anything to address this. This is because it is their job to manage us rather than truly help us. We represent and inconvenience and/or nuisance to society. Therefore, no incentive exists on the part of treatment providers to help us have longevity, or to help us get anything that is good in life. If you want to be physically and mentally healthy so that you can enjoy life and live longer, the ball is in your court. 


ECLECTIC RANT: Three cheers for Robert Mueller’s team

Ralph E. Stone
Sunday September 16, 2018 - 05:23:00 PM

Robert Mueller has made no public comment since he was named in 2017 to lead the Department of Justice investigation into Russian interference in last year's election and other matters. Instead, he has let his actions do the talking. 

For those who have criticized the Mueller team in D.C., Virginia, and New York, the Paul Manafort guilty verdict and guilty plea; the guilty pleas by Michael Cohen, Michael Flynn, George Papadopoulos, Richard Pinedo, Alex van der Zwaan, and Rick Gates; and the indictments against 13 Russian nationals and three Russian companies and 12 Russian GRU officers, show dramatically that Mueller and his team haven’t been engaged in any "witch hunt.” And I expect more indictments to come possibly leading to Trump’s impeachment or resignation. 

Kudos also to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein for his steadfast support of the Special Counsel’s investigations. 

Mueller's integrity stands clearly in stark contrast to our president.

SMITHEREENS: Reflections on Bits & Pieces

Gar Smith
Saturday September 15, 2018 - 02:05:00 PM

Pelosi's Power

In an email to constituents sent on September 9, Nancy Pelosi revealed her secret source of power:

What fuels each of us is different. Me, I run on ice cream for breakfast. Dark chocolate, two scoops, in a waffle cone.

This leaves me wondering what constitutes a "Pelosi power lunch"? Devils food cake and chocolate-chip cookies polished off with a Magnum Double Chocolate ice cream bar and a mocha espresso?

On the March

It was great fun to be part of the 30,000-strong crowd of climate marchers in SF on September 8. We spotted a lot of creative, handcrafted posters. My favorite read:

"It's not the heat. It's the stupidity." 

Terminal Confusion 

After the march, I moseyed over to the new Salesforce Transit Center to grab a glimpse of the 5.4-acre rooftop park. A very enjoyable ramble, complete with a seagull's-eye-view of the downtown high-rises. But there's one weird thing. (No, not the water jets that spurt up when an unseen bus passes underneath. And what does the occasional single spurt signify—a passing pigeon?) 

Above the escalators leading from ground floor to the park, there's the Light Column—a vast, sun-lit dome encircled by a screen displaying huge electronic letters whipping around at the speed of a carousel. 

As I slowly escalated roof-ward, I tried to make out what kind of message was being promoted. It turned out to be a rambling statement about a couple visiting New York City and attempting to meet up with someone named Dave who agreed to join them at their hotel. 


After visiting the rooftop park, I returned to the escalators and once again faced the moving-letters-on-the-wall. This time, I took notes. The message on the illuminated snippets flashing by overhead was as follows: 


Two questions: (1) What?? and (2) Why?? 

Chose Your Words Wisely 

There may be a worthy justification for the words currently dancing over the heads of commuters and the curious, but might there be a better way to put this literary lightshow to work? 

Here are a few thoughts: 

The Light Column could be used to celebrate—and circulate (literally)—the words of beloved Bay Area poets. Poets are good because they tend to compose shorter works. (I would think that trying to read a novel or an op-ed on the Salesforce WordSled would be a non-starter.) Maybe projections could be limited to poems that could be completed in a one-minute cycle, or about 120 words. It might be amusing to revisit the old road-side Burma-Shave signs from the Fifties. Or, we could turn to Berkeley's Grant Faulkner, cofounder of 100 Word Story

Earth Island Salutes Gaia 

As founding editor and Editor Emeritus of Earth Island Journal, I couldn't be prouder to see the latest issue—WOMXN and the Environment—celebrating the words and wisdom of women. By my count, nearly 30 women contributed articles to this issue (including two women who reviewed two books written by two other women). 

I haven't read all the articles yet, but Maureen Nandini Mitra's editorial (about Tahlequah, the grieving mama orca who carried the body of her dead calf on her back for weeks) brought tears to my eyes. At the same time, the grave implications of the tragedy (an entire ocean eco-system disrupted by human-caused climate change) sent a chill down my spine. 

An essay by Barbara Brower offered fond memories of her parents, Friends of the Earth director and Earth Island Founder Dave Brower and his partner Anne. It was my great pleasure to have known Dave and Anne, the "unsung muse" who came up with a word for the problem that bedevils our modern world—"Greedlock." As Dave wrote, "You won't find the term in Webster's yet. It was invented by my wife, Anne Brower, to describe what the earth was suffering from." 

Women, Womyn, Womxn? 

The theme of the Journal's Fall issue left me wondering if "Womxn" (a step up from "Womyn") is really the best way to convey a broader definition of womanhood. 

After all, "X" is an exclusive letter (as in "x-out" and "x-rated"). The better letter might be "O" since the circle is the symbol of all-encompassing unification and a feminine symbol as well. 

So a better word could be "Womon." Except for the fact that, when pronounced, it sounds like a Jamaican lamentation—as in, "Woe, mon." 

Perhaps a better-yet re-spelling would be "Wemon" given that "we" is inclusive and "mon" (French for "my") celebrates individuality in the midst of diversity. And, best yet, when pronounced, it sounds pretty close to the word we already know. 


One quibble on the Journal cover. The issue's full title is Womxn and the Environment: A Celebration. A Reckoning. A Call to Arms, a choice that seems to demonstrate the subversive power of our militarized language—a disease so infectious that the constant fever goes unnoticed. In this case, it's the phrase "call to arms"—words that clang with a distinct (and disturbing) martial/masculine alarm. A better phrase might have been "A Call to Hearts." 

Weaponized Punctuation. In printed text and Powerpoint presentations, we emphasize a series of important sub-sections by marking them off with "bullet points." Could we come up with another name? "Key points," "notice nails," "bulletin buttons," "hot dots"? Other ideas? 

Booky News 

My latest book, The War and Environment Reader (an anthology that included an essay from Dave Brower) was nominated for the Rachel Carson Environmental Book Award. Didn't win but there was some unexpected good news: My previous book, Nuclear Roulette: The Truth about the Most Dangerous Energy Source on Earth was (1) translated into Korean and (2) has been named one of South Korea's "Top 12 Environmental Books of the Year." Hullyunghan! Five Down; Millennia to Go 

More good news. Nuclear Roulette featured a section titled "Five of the Worst US Reactors." Since the book was published in 2012, all five of these flawed and failing nukes have been ordered shut down. In January, regulators voted to close the last of the five—California's Diablo Canyon plant. This means I've managed to keep a personal vow to "outlive nuclear power in California." But it's unlikely I'll outlive the nuclear waste, given that the half-life of the Plutonium-239 is something like 24,000 years

What's on Your Plate? 

A few days ago, I spotted a personalized license plate on a grey Jeep V8 in Berkeley. It appeared to read: WN2BUGT. 

It always makes my day when I can unravel the secret of an encoded plate. This time it was problematic because the license-plate frame masked the bottom of the last letter, which was an "I" not "T." The clue was in the frame—which read: "Then Let's Dance!" It was a response to the question posed by the plate: WN2BUGI, or "Want to Boogie?" 

Toeing the Line 

Spotted a typo in an ad for a massage spa in the SF Weekly promising a "New Free Back Walk." The hand-and-foot rubdown was being offered by the "Oriental Natural Heling Center." Clearly a misspelling. Perhaps it was supposed to read "Oriental Natural Heeling Center"? 

MAD About Trump 

I recently picked up a greatly anticipated copy of Mad magazine's new 132-page perfect-bound Special Edition: "MAD About Trump"—a collection of satirical jibes, jabs and jousts directed at President TrumpleThinSkin over the past oh-too-many months. Two immediate eye-grabbers: 

(1) The Forward. This was provided by CNN's Jake Tapper who accompanied his essay with a full-page color cartoon targeting three of his fellow journalists. (Tapper, it turns out, is a pretty good cartoonist.) 

(2) The Dedication. When I opened this page in the bookstore and read it aloud, everyone within earshot—from customers to sales reps—broke into howls of laughter followed by groans of despair. The dedication read: "To Hillary Clinton, without whom this book would not be possible." 

Trump: Nobody's Better than Me! 

This video mash-up was masterfully compiled by the good folks at VICE. 


And, if you've got the patience for more Trumpestuous behavior, here is a longer VICE version that captures Trump bludgeoning the themes: "friends," "billions," "numbers," and "bing-bing." 


Another US "False Flag" Attack on Syria? 

The US is once-again threatening to strike Syria in retaliation for the use of "chemical weapons"—a "false flag" pretext used repeatedly by the US and its allies in the past. Each time the claims—and disturbing videos—have been exposed (by British reporter Robert Fisk and others) as "fake news." Unfortunately these revelations rarely make it onto US newscasts. 

Once again, Russia is warning that the US is plotting with local "actors" to stage a "chemical weapons attack" that will be blamed on Syria to justify an already planned US military strike. Check out this selection of 13 videos that address the issue of "false flags" that have been waved over Syria in the past years. 

Arts & Events

The Berkeley Activist's Calendar, Sept. 16-23

Kelly Hammargren, Sustainable Berkeley Coalition
Saturday September 15, 2018 - 01:40:00 PM

;Worth Noting:

Elections are heating up and there is plenty to do even if you don’t like door to door canvassing or phone banking. Hand written postcards are helping in out of area campaigns. Check Indivisible Berkeley for Postcard Parties https://indivisibleberkeley.org/

League of Women Voters is sponsoring Berkeley City Council Candidate forums on Tuesday District 1 and Wednesday Districts 4,7,8.

Thursday, City Council decides the Campanile Way View appeal.


Agenda plan for Sept 25 City Council Meeting is posted, however, it has not been updated to include City Council items that were not voted on at the September 13, Council meeting.  

Use the link to check the agenda after Monday September 17


September 25, League of Women Voters Berkeley School Board Candidate Forum


September 27, Zoning Adjustment Board EIR Certification 2580 Bancroft Way


Sunday, September 16, 2018 

Indivisible Berkeley General Assembly, Sun, Sept 16, 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm, 1970 Chestnut St, Finnish Hall, General Assembly meeting, 


Monday, September 17, 2018 

Agenda Committee, Mon, Sept 17, 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm, 2180 Milvia, 6th Floor Redwood Conf Room, Agenda: Planning for October 2 Council meeting, Consent: 4. goBerkeley Pilot Parking Project, 7. Extend time to impose discipline BPD pursuant to Police review Commission (PRC) findings, 8. PRC training for Commissioners, 9. Whistleblower protections, 10. Expanding paid parking, 11. Reduce In-Lieu Fee 2597 Telegraph, 12. a.&b. Public Health Approach to Proposed Cannabis Ordinance, 13. a.&b. Path to End Homelessness, 14. a.&b. Regional Sanctuary-Community working Group,  

Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board, Mon, Sept 17 

5:30 pm Outreach Committee, 2001 Center Street Law Library 

7:00 pm – 11:00 pm Board Meeting, 2134 MLK Jr. Way, City Council Chambers, Agenda: Appeal 472 Kentucky Ave (starts before 7:30 pm) 


Board of Library Trustees – Special Meeting, Mon, Sept 17, 6:30 pm, 2090 Kittredge, Central Library, Agenda: FY 2018 Budget results, 2019 Budget Amendment, Integrated Library System, Immigrant Alliance Project 


Peace and Justice Commission, Mon, Sept 17, 7:00 pm – 1901 Hearst Ave, North Berkeley Senior Center, Agenda:14. Human Rights website, 16. Establish policy against City investment and weapons systems 


Tax the Rich rally with Occupella sing along, Mon, Sept 17, 5:00 pm – 6:00 pm top of Solano in front of closed Oaks Theater, The very first Tax the Rich Rally was September 12, 2011. Occupy NYC began the following Saturday in 2011. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2018 – Yom Kippur begins 

League of Women Voters Berkeley Candidate Forum District 1, Tue, Sept 18, 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm, 2050 Center Street, Berkeley City College 


Wednesday, September 19, 2018 Yom Kippur Ends 

Animal Care Commission, Wed, Sept 19, 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm, 1 Bolivar Drive, Berkeley Animal Shelter, Agenda: V. Number of dogs walked at one time by single person (4-8) 


Commission on Aging, Wed, Sept 19, 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm, 1901 Hearst Ave, North Berkeley Senior Center, Agenda: Presentation on Electric Scooters and potential recommendation, ADU F/U 


League of Women Voters Berkeley Candidate Forum Districts 4,7,8, Wed, Sept 19 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm, 2050 Center Street, Berkeley City College 


Thursday, September 20, 2018 

Council Budget Committee, Thur, Sept 20, 9:30 am, 2180 Milvia, 6th Floor Sequoia Room 

Agenda: Presentation on budgetsSunnyvale, San Diego (Wengraf), Walnut Creek (Councilmember Harrison) 


Berkeley City Council, Thur, Sept 20, 2134 MLK Jr Way, City Council Chambers 

4:30 pm Closed Session – Existing Litigation 

6:00 pm, Hearings – Appeals, 

749 Contra Costa Ave (addition to SFD) (ZAB), 

Campanile Way View (LPC) 2301 Bancroft Way 


Design Review Committee, Thur, Sept 20, 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm, 1901 Hearst Ave, North Berkeley Senior Center, Agenda: 

2501 Haste – continued final design, 7 story mixed use to include group living 

2701 Shattuck Avenue – preliminary design mixed use, 57 units including 5 very low income, 600 sq ft café, 30 parking spaces 


Open Government Commission, Thur, Sept 20, 7:30 pm or 8:00 pm, 1901 Hearst Ave, North Berkeley Senior Center, Agenda: Report Lobbyist Registration Subcommittee, Submission revised or supplemental agenda material 


Transportation Commission, Thur, Sept 20, 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm, 1901 Hearst Ave, North Berkeley Senior Center, Agenda: Bus stop 1100 Block Cedar, Ordinance Regulating Scooter Sharing 


Friday, September 21, 2018 

Public Works Commission – Paving Subcommittee, Fri, Sept 21, 2:30 pm – 4:00 pm, 1947 Center St 


Movies in the Park – Kubo and the Two Strings, Fri, Sept 21, 7:30 pm – 10:00 pm, 2730 Hillegass Ave @ RussellWillard Park, 


Saturday, September 22, 2018 

Volunteer Solar Installation Training, Sat, Sept 22, 9:00 am – 12:00 pm, Milpitas, 

Volunteers learn to install solar systems with SunWork professional staff for home owners with electric bills under $100 


Sunday, September 23, 2018 

No City Events Found 


The meeting list is posted in the Berkeley Daily Planet under Berkeley Activist’s Calendar 


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


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 

Wish to engage in campaigns to flip Republican Congressional Districts, local, state and national events check Indivisible Berkeley https://www.indivisibleberkeley.org/actions and Wellstone Democratic Club, http://wellstoneclub.org 

Radvanovsky Sensational in ROBERTO DEVEREUX;

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Saturday September 15, 2018 - 02:45:00 PM

Last year, Sondra Radvanovsky was the darling diva of the Met, where she sang “the three queens”: the lead soprano roles in Donizetti’s Anna Bolena, Maria Stuarda, and Roberto Devereux. Now she is the darling of San Francisco Opera, where she reprised her role as Queen Elizabeth I in Roberto Devereux. Make no mistake about it: this was sensational singing, and, for that matter, it was also sensational acting. Sondra Radvanovsky not only sang the role brilliantly; she also brought to life the vain, aging Elizabeth, “the virgin queen,” who even in her 60s pursued love relations, all the more intense for being platonic, with the most interesting of the much younger men at her court. The Earl of Essex, Robert Devereux, was only the latest and perhaps last in a long line of men upon whom Elizabeth exerted her charm, power, and emotionally intensity.  

Of course, Donizetti and his librettist, Salvadore Cammarano, took quite a few liberties with the plot. The real Devereux may perhaps have wandered far afield in his amours, but the opera features a totally fictional love affair between Devereux and Sara, his best friend’s wife. To make things even more complicated, Sara is Queen Elizabeth’s cousin and most trusted friend and confidante. Moreover, Sara’s husband, Duke of Nottingham, is both Devereux’s best friend and a close advisor to the Queen. Opera could hardly imagine a more complicated love triangle, or, in this case, a love quadrangle!  

In a production first mounted by the Canadian National Opera, director Stephen Lawless teamed with Set Designer Benoit Dugardyn to feature a unitary set based on Shakespeare’ Globe Theatre, and this set served, with minimal alterations, as England’s Parliament, Elizabeth’s intimate quarters, and the house of the Duke of Nottingham and his wife Sara. During the opera’s Overture, Lawless staged a pantomime offering a sort of comic book summary of Elizabeth’s reign, complete with toy sailboat gunships evoking the victorious combat of the British Navy under Sir Walter Raleigh versus the Spanish Armada in the inner reaches of the Thames.  

Whenever Sondra Radvanovsky was onstage, she absolutely dominated the proceedings. This was a surprisingly human Elizabeth: at times regal, yet at times vulnerable and unsure of where she stood with those whom she most estimed. Vocally, Sondra Radvanovsky was stupendous as Elizabeth! Her high notes were clearly and forcefully delivered, and her every phrase was sung with superb vocal control and dramatic intensity. This was a Queen Elizabeth for the ages, one on a par with that of the great Beverly Sills, or Montserrat Caballé, who sang this role in 1979 in San Francisco Opera’s only previous production of Roberto Devereux.  

Happily, Sondra Radvanovsky was joined in this Roberto Devereux by the same tried and true cast that accompanied her so beautifully in the 2014 San Francisco Opera production of Bellini’s Norma. Mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton, who sang Adalgisa in Norma, was here a most sympathetic Sara, singing beautifully and acting the troubled part for all it was worth. Tenor Russell Thomas, Norma’s Pollione, was Devereux; and he sang with exquisite tone, neither too light nor too hefty. Baritone Andrew Manea, a second-year Adler fellow, was a convincing Duke of Nottingham. He sang with tones that varied from limpid to dark and vehement as his character shifted from ardent support of Devereux to aggrieved husband and betrayed friend. Tenor Amitai Pati was a convincingly hostile Lord Cecil; and baritone Christian Pursell was a capable Sir Walter Raleigh.  

Conductor Riccardo Frizza led the Opera Orchestra in a superb performance of Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux. If at first the tempos seemed unusually slow, we soon began to realize that this is indeed how Donizetti wished this opera to proceed. Almost every number, aria, duet, or ensemble, starts out quite slowly. Sometimes, as in those moments when Queen Elizabeth suddenly explodes in wrath, the tempo suddenly jolts forward. However, many of this opera’s most moving numbers, as, for example, in the duet between Sara and Devereux that closes Act I, the tempo remains slow, deliberate, and immensely moving from beginning to end.