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New: Who Should Be Blamed for the Housing Crisis? Some Wrong Answers from Author of New Book

Thomas Lord
Wednesday November 28, 2018 - 04:10:00 PM

Randy Shaw is promoting his new book called "Generation Priced Out: Who Gets to Live in the New Urban America?" Recently, he was interviewed on Berkeleyside.com. In a Nov. 26 interview by Frances Dinkelspiel, With zoning and neighbor veto power, Berkeley is pricing out the non-rich, says author of new book, Shaw reveals his thinking about housing policy in Berkeley. [Quotes in boldface are from that interview.]

I care quite a bit about housing policy in Berkeley. I even asked to be appointed to the Housing Advisory Commission where I try to work hard on these issues. (I represent District 2 and was appointed by Council member Cheryl Davila.) I read the interview with keen interest.

Frankly, Shaw's reported opinions disappoint and anger me. We have some very serious housing crises. In my opinion, we need less, not more, of the junk economics and false narratives Shaw is pushing. Just about everything he is says or is quoted as saying in this interview is wrong: 

"During his 40 years as a housing activist, Shaw has also watched as governments punted their obligations to ensure there was housing for all residents, not just those who can afford to pay the highest rents."  

That is ahistoric - the government has always favored private investors over public provision of housing. Every public investment in housing has been limited, as a result. Housing insecurity and poor quality housing for poor people have been the U.S. norm throughout the development of industrial capitalism and still to this day. It is disgraceful. But it is also not some recent, generational conflict. 

YIMBYs sometimes do favor a false narrative in which the current housing crisis supposedly originated in the 1960s and 1970s. Presumably this is Shaw's stance: 

In the YIMBY story, some changes to zoning law, in some some cities, caused today's crisis. For example, Berkeley's 1973 Neighborhood Preservation Ordinance is often blamed—and Shaw later joins that chorus—for today's housing crisis in Berkeley. Similarly, a modest increase to setback and light requirements on Manhattan, in 1961, is in YIMBY-world blamed for the effects of massive white flight from Manhattan in the 1960s and 1970s. It sounds funny when you lay out it out that plainly but this is their seriously-meant claim. 

What they tend not to mention is that the NPO was itself, in part, a response to an ongoing, serious housing crisis. The NPO was not merely about the nostalgic preservation of brown-shingles. It was also about the preservation of affordable housing stock that was being torn down and replaced with housing that was not only ugly and cheaply built, but expensive to rent. (Similarly, what they tend not to mention about 1960s Manhattan is that demand contracted so much that one point apartment buildings were being abandoned at a rate of about 10,000 units per year.) 

Shaw is quoted as saying: 

"When did it become acceptable for America's politically progressive and culturally diverse cities to price out the non-rich?"  

That is vicious, manipulative nonsense. Logically, it comes in two parts. 

First, Shaw asserts that "cities" set market prices when he says "for ... cities to price out the non-rich". As if cities have a policy lever on market prices. 

Second, Shaw asserts that his policy prescriptions ought to be adopted unless progressives want to be (according to Shaw) hypocrites. Hey, you're a progressive, aren't you? I mean, you say you are and yet I don't see you following Shaw's orders here.... He may as well say "The people of Berkeley really intend to be kind people but, frankly, if they were actually kind they would deregulate land-use!" 

YIMBY rumors and the heated claims of a few prominent economists aside, theories that land use regulation created present housing unaffordability are poorly supported. Empirical research shows that where "compact city" policies have made the most progress, housing affordability and the quality of housing available to lower income households tends to be worse, not better. 

What is generally true of these dense cities? For one thing, these days, they are great playgrounds for the rich and there is a lot of money to be made in real estate there. What else do they have in common? Some of the largest ecological footprints on the planet — utterly unsustainable — at least in the affluent cities. 

Berkeleyside summarizes a few of of Shaw's policy prescriptions this way: 

"Cities must allow the construction of more housing and must mandate that new complexes contain a percentage of affordable units. (Berkeley currently requires that 20% of the units in any project be set aside for affordable housing or that developers pay a $37,962-per-unit in lieu fee.)" 

In fact, YIMBYs are currently asking state legislators to limit inclusionary unit requirements to no more than 15%. Meanwhile the inclusionary units system, and the in lieu fee alternative, are shams: 

On the one hand, adding stock with only 20% priced below current market prices guarantees that Berkeley will become less economically diverse. Today's market prices are unaffordable to a majority of the incumbent population. Even a whopping 20% inclusionary requirement amounts to a plan to thin out and disperse the current community. 

On the other hand, the lucky few in those inclusionary units are not so lucky after all. The prices of these units are tied not to costs — but to area median income. The more gentrified the region becomes, the higher grows the allowable price of these so-called "affordable" units. 

(When in lieu fees are spent on traditional, HUD-style affordable housing, the outcomes are similar.) 

Berkeleyside further summarizes Shaw's recitation of YIMBY party lines: 

"Cities must also push for new housing aimed at low-income residents. Permit regulations must be streamlined so new projects don't face years and years of delay."  

Shaw would be hard pressed to point to any recent "years and years" of delays for low-income housing projects. Even the infamously contentious senior housing project at 2517 Sacramento Street was quickly approved — twice. It was not delayed by the City but by private lawsuits. 

The long-delayed BRIDGE housing project on Berkeley Way is another example. The City, as directed by Council, is throwing money and staff at that project trying to get it built ASAP. The delays have resulted not from City obstacles but from lack of a definite program for the building, lack of a viable funding and business model, slipped deadlines by the developer, rapid and large cost increases, and the slow funding cycles of county and state financing programs. (It appears we will also get terrible leverage for City money if the project is eventually built but that's a tale of woe for some other day.) 

"Single homeowners should not be able to block a project, as they can in San Francisco, writes Shaw." [Berkeleyside 11/26] 

Surely Shaw knows that in neither San Francisco nor Berkeley law can a single homeowner unilaterally block a project. If perhaps he means that homeowners should not sue, well, perhaps or perhaps not, but in any event their right to sue is not subject to City override. 

"There also must be stronger protection for tenants, including providing public funds to fight off Ellis Act and unjust evictions."  

I wonder if Shaw is aware that Berkeley has significantly increased its budget for tenant legal defense. It was one of the first things Council proposed, and we at the Housing Advisory Commission endorsed, after the 2016 passage of measure U1 (the tax increase on residential rents). 

"Zoning laws need to be changed to allow higher density in single-family-home-zoned neighborhoods, Shaw says." 

Again, empirical evidence shows that greater density is associated with worse, not better affordability for low-income households. There may or may not be good reasons for greater density, but density won't promote the outcome Shaw says he wants. 

Meanwhile, my envelope assumes 1 household per 5000 square feet for a Berkeley R-1 district. At 2.3 people per household, that works out to 186% as dense as the Tokyo metro region, and about 80% as dense as metropolitan Tokyo itself. Sure, Berkeley is no Manhattan but it is plenty dense already. 


"Shaw believes that neighborhood preservation groups — such as the ones that formed after Berkeley passed its pioneering Neighborhood Preservation Ordinance in 1973 — must assume some of the blame for the rising housing prices that are squeezing out artists, teachers and others." 

This is a quite extreme accusation. Since Shaw is basing this on false ideas about density and housing affordability, and false ideas about the reach of City policy, Shaw is making a baseless, harsh, personal attack on particular Berkeleyans. 

I understand it might sell books but this is nothing more than economic scapegoating—attributing the failures of capitalism to an out-group whose influence must somehow be demonized so that it can be purged. 

I am all for neighborhood groups stepping up to help mediate the housing crises but to blame it on them goes beyond the pale. 

More accusations from Shaw: 

"Neighborhood activists routinely fight against the construction of apartment complexes because they say it will change the character of an area. But since cities are mostly made of up neighborhoods, that approach means not much housing can be built, argues Shaw." 

What comes to my mind as a recent example of neighborhood resistance to multifamily construction is the project at Adeline and Russell (a project to build apartments on the former AW Pottery site and an adjacent parcel). 

For years, neighbors in this area were told that their input to a planning process was needed and valued. Unequivocally, at the top of their demands: a need for affordable housing in this area. 

The proposed project had already caused displacement before the first permit application was submitted. And the proposed project will deliver next to no affordable housing. 

Public resistance in this case did not delay a project. Public enthusiasm for the construction of affordable housing got steamrolled by a City Council that was eager to approve a project that is a poor fit for community housing needs! 


"Those who already own homes benefit as their property values soar. But people trying to break into home ownership are squeezed out of places like Berkeley when the home prices are so high." 

Shaw's nostalgia for mid-20th century housing markets is simply reactionary. What is going on today? 

Ownership of urban residential real property is becoming increasingly consolidated. A scattering of data points: 

  • In 2006, a single company (Page Mill Properties) bought up the majority of apartment units in East Palo Alto. (The eviction rate subsequently skyrocketed.)
To this day, even through a bankruptcy and multiple sales, the entire portfolio remains under a single owner. 

  • In the aftermath of 2008. thousands of single family homes in the flats of Oakland were scooped up by a handful of real estate equity firms. (Eviction rates subsequently skyrocketed.)
  • A recent report from financial research firm Prequin confirms that private equity real estate firms focused on North America have $70 billion in "dry powder" — cash equivalents ready to go to buy up properties. The amount of reserve has grown year over year and continues to grow.
That means that at today's inventory levels and prices, these firms collectively can afford to buy every single residential property that becomes available for sale in Berkeley and it would make but a minor blip on their balance sheets. 

The point is this: the prospect of home ownership as the American dream is not in retreat because some homeowner in Berkeley enjoys the sunlight in their yard. The dream is receding from sight because real wages are have become so meager in relation to the amount of money accumulating to capital. 

Shaw's looseness with even recent history is displayed when he says: 

"Berkeley puts housing developers into a labyrinth of public hearings and appeals that either kills projects or makes them less affordable. I describe in the book the senior housing on Sacramento Street, and the three-unit Haskell Street project on a site zoned for four where neighborhood opposition subjected the developers to years of costly delays." 

"Years of costly delays"—no. Shaw is misrepresenting the record. As I said above, the senior housing project on Sacramento was quickly approved— twice— by the City. It got delayed by private action. 

What about those three units on Haskell Street? 

The applicant completed his application in January 2016 and the project was initially approved in March of 2016. An appeal was quickly heard and Council attempted to remand the project back to ZAB with strong encouragement to make some concessions to the neighbors. 

After a lawsuit and settlement, the project was finally approved in February 2017. 

Even that extraordinarily contentious example took a mere 13 months, not "years" to approve. As for its costs, it was the applicants' choice to stiff-arm neighbors when preparing the application, and to react to the remand not by finally trying to work with the neighbors, but by suing the City. 

As the interview goes on, Shaw pulls out all the stops and unleashes a full on theatrical level of bull: 

"I see boomer homeowners dominating the opposition to new housing, and a new millennial generation finally offering a long overdue pro-housing counterbalance. Groups like East Bay for Everyone are equalizing what has long been a one-sided, boomer-dominated debate." 

To summarize, per Shaw: 

  • Boomers (born between between around 1946 and and 1964) — the parents, uncles and aunts of most millenials — are greedy mean people who created the many crises of capitalism.
  • Progressives are hypocrites because they don't like to sell out to multi-billion dollar real estate funds. This proves they hate racial equity.
  • A plucky group of lobbyists based in Oakland, known for mentioning people's age as a form of insult while spouting the same kind of nonsense theories about density Shaw likes, they are the future, man.
  • P.S.: Give more funding to tenant assistance organizations like Shaw's.
Classy, Shaw. Classy. 

New: Burglar Attacks Woman in South Berkeley

Supriya Yelimeli (BCN)
Sunday November 25, 2018 - 09:09:00 PM

A man entered a home in South Berkeley and sexually battered a female resident early this morning, police reported. 

The assault and battery were reported just before 6 a.m. in the 2400 block of Blake Street, according to police. The suspect also stole property from the house. 

He is described by police as a 20- to 30-year-old black man with a dark complexion, square-shaped face, clean shave, balding or very short hair and a medium build. 

Police said he is about 5 feet 6 inches tall wearing an orange polo shirt with three buttons that is solid-colored and striped below the chest area. 

Anyone who has information about the suspect is asked to call police at (510) 981-5716.  


East Bay Sanctuary Covenant Praises TRO on Asylum Ban

Julia Cheever (BCN)
Tuesday November 20, 2018 - 08:32:00 PM

A spokeswoman for an East Bay refugee rights group that sued President Donald Trump over a partial asylum ban said today the group is thrilled with a temporary restraining order granted by a federal judge.

The ban "would have had a huge impact" on the work of the Berkeley-based East Bay Sanctuary Covenant, said spokeswoman Lisa Hoffman.

Hoffman said 80 percent of the refugees served by the covenant group crossed the southern U.S. border illegally and would have been barred from applying for asylum by the ban announced by Trump on Friday.

The ban issued in a proclamation by Trump would have allowed asylum applications only from immigrants who crossed the border at designated entry points. Those entering illegally would have been barred from applying.

U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar of San Francisco temporarily blocked the ban in an order Monday evening, acting in a lawsuit filed against Trump and other officials by the covenant and three other immigrant aid groups.

Tigar said the ban violated a "clear command" of Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act, which permits asylum applications from people physically present or arriving in the United States "whether or not at a designated port of arrival." 

"Whatever the scope of the President's authority, he may not rewrite the immigration laws to impose a condition that Congress has expressly forbidden," the judge wrote. 

The temporary restraining order will remain in effect until a Dec. 19 hearing in Tigar's court on whether he should grant a longer-lasting preliminary injunction while awaiting a full trial. 

Hoffman said the East Bay Sanctuary Covenant has represented asylum seekers in 3,600 cases adjudicated since 1992 and 97 percent of the refugees were granted asylum. Another 1,400 cases are pending. 

Most of the asylum seekers are from Central America and Mexico, but the covenant has worked with people from 60 countries, she said. 

"Our clients are fleeing violence. Many haven't heard of asylum and most don't know about ports of entry," she said.  

"They're mostly so traumatized they just want to get safe," Hoffman said. 

The organization was founded by five religious congregations in 1982 to help refugees fleeing civil wars and violence in El Salvador and Guatemala. It now works with staff of 25, most of whom are lawyers and paralegals, and 125 volunteers. 

Hoffman said that most of the group's clients have made their way to the Bay Area and then hear by word of mouth or through organizations such as churches about the possibility of applying for asylum with the aid of the covenant organization. 

The other plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Al Otro Lado, Innovation Law Lab and Central American Resource Center. 

ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt, who represented the groups at a hearing before Tigar Monday, said in a statement, "This ban is illegal, will put people's lives in danger, and raises the alarm about President Trump's disregard for separation of powers. 

"There is no justifiable reason to flatly deny people the right to apply for asylum, and we cannot send them back to danger based on the manner of their entry. Congress has been clear on this point for decades," Gelernt said. 

The Trump administration vowed to fight to defend the ban. 

"We look forward to continuing to defend the executive branch's legitimate and well-reasoned exercise of its authority to address the crisis at our southern border," Justice Department spokesman Steve Stafford and Homeland Security Department spokeswoman Katie Waldman said in a joint statement. 

"Asylum is a discretionary benefit given by the executive branch only when legal conditions are met and a favorable exercise of discretion is warranted.  

"It is lawful and appropriate that this discretionary benefit not be given to those who violate a lawful and tailored presidential proclamation aimed at controlling immigration in the national interest," the statement said. 

Trump's press secretary, Sarah Sanders, stated, "At this very moment, massive numbers of aliens are arriving at our southern border, threatening to incapacitate our already overwhelmed immigration system. 

"We will take all necessary action to defend the executive branch's lawful response to the crisis at our southern border," she said. 

Federal law allows refugees to apply for asylum in the United States if they have left their country "because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion." 

The decision of whether to grant asylum is up to the U.S. attorney general, subject to review by federal appeals courts.

RAIN Expected Late Tuesday or Wednesday

Bay City News
Monday November 19, 2018 - 11:45:00 AM

Confidence has increased that a storm front set to arrive late Tuesday or early Wednesday will bring much-needed relief to parched Northern California and improve poor air quality in the Bay Area caused by the Camp Fire in Butte County, according to the National Weather Service. 

Meteorologists said the storm front -- the region's first major storm of the fall season -- is expected to arrive on one of the busiest travel days of the year, the day before Thanksgiving and will likely impact travel plans. 

National Weather Service meteorologist Spencer Tangen said the Wednesday morning commute will likely be affected the most by the storm. 

"The storm is going to have a cold front with it and some heavier rains could arrive with that cold front," Tangen said. 

The heaviest rain in the Bay Area is expected to fall Wednesday morning with rain showers continuing throughout the day. Rainfall totals are expected to be 0.25 to 0.75 inches in the general Bay Area and 1 inch to 1.5 inches at elevations greater than 1,000 feet in the North Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains and Big Sur areas. 

In the area of the Camp Fire in Butte County, rainfall totals are expected to be 0.75 to 1.5 inches, Tangen said. Rain is expected to fall in the Paradise area mainly on Wednesday morning through Wednesday evening before tapering off Thanksgiving morning, according to Tangen. He added that debris flow from fire areas may occur depending on the intensity and amount of rainfall. 

Snow levels are expected to start out at 5,000 to 5,500 feet before increasing to 6,500 to 7,000 feet later in the day, according to the weather service. 


Alameda County Ballot Count Completed—
Record Non-Presidential Year Turnout in Berkeley.

Rob Wrenn
Monday November 19, 2018 - 11:36:00 AM

The Alameda County Registrar of Voters has finished its count of ballots cast in the November 6 election. A majority of those votes, 56%, were counted after election day, but, in Berkeley, votes counted after election day were similar to those that had been reported when counting ended at 2 a.m. on election night.

None of the local Berkeley races were close and votes counted after election night did not alter the outcome of any local races. The final percentage for the winning candidate in each of the four City Council races was within 3% of their percentage of the vote count as of the end of election night counting. Kate Harrison was at 52.7% at 2 a.m. on election night and finished with 52.9%. The biggest change, 2.2%, still not large, was in District 7 where Rigel Robinson was at 54.4% on election night but ended up at 56.6% when all the votes were counted. (Percentages were calculated without factoring in a very small number of write-ins.) 

Berkeley City Council, Auditor 

Incumbent Council members Kate Harrison in District 4 (Downtown and Central Berkeley) and Lori Droste in District 8 (Southeast Berkeley) won re-election by comfortable margins. In the two seats without incumbents, recent UC grad Rigel Robinson won in District 7, the student supermajority district in the Southside/Telegraph area defeating Ces Rosales, while Rashi Kesarwani, a member of the Housing Advisory Commission, defeated Igor Tregub, a Rent Board commissioner, and Margot Schueler, a Public Works Commissioner, in District 1 (northwest Berkeley), which Linda Maio had represented since 1992. 

In District 1, Kesarwani fell short of 50% of first choice votes, but with ranked choice voting, she won when second choice votes cast for the third place candidate Margo Schueler, and for the fourth place candidate, Mary Behm Steinberg, were counted. The transfer of Schueler RCV votes favored Kesarwani over Tregub by 575 to 532 and put Kesarwani over 50%. 

In the Auditor’s race, Jenny Wong defeated Vladislav Davidzon by a huge margin, 92% to 8%. With 46,161 votes, Jenny Wong was easily the City’s top vote getter. 

Berkeley City Council -November 6 Election 


City Council  

District 1 


Number of Votes  


Percent of Votes  


Rashi Kesarwani  






Igor Tregub  






Margo Schueler  






Mary Behm-Steinberg  







District 4 






Kate Harrison  






Ben Gould  






Greg Magofna  







District 7 






Rigel Robinson  






Ces Rosales  






Aidan Hill  







District 8 






Lori Droste  






Mary Kay Lacey  






Alfred Twu  






Russ Tilleman  






Does not include small number of write-in votes 


School Board and Rent Board 

In the race for School Board, the three candidates who gained all the major endorsements and who had well-funded campaigns won easily over three other candidates who all fell short of winning even 5% of the votes cast. The winners were incumbent board member Ty Alper with 35,830 votes, and newcomers Ka’dijah Brown, a public school teacher and former chair of the city’s Youth Commission with 35,735 votes, and Julie Sinai, former chief of staff to Mayor Tom Bates, with 30,035 votes. Candidate Dru Howard finished fourth with 5710 votes, while candidates Norma Harrison and Abdur Sikder received 4605 and 4019 votes respectively. 

In the race for Rent Board, the slate of candidates selected by the Tenant Convention in the April won an easy victory. Incumbent commissioner James Chang was the highest vote getter with 32,532 votes. UC student Soli Alpert, the only non-incumbent on the slate, finished fifth in the race for five seats with 21,867 votes. Judy Hunt, who had been elected to the board in 2012 with landlord backing, finished sixth with 16,247 votes. Unlike in 2012, this year she was not running as part of a full slate of candidates. Incumbents Paola Laverde, Maria Poblet and John Selawsky, were also re-elected with 28,852, 25,433, and 25,419 votes respectively. Candidates David Buchanan and William “Three Hundred” Barclay Caldeira finished far behind, seventh and eighth, with 9937 and 5690 votes respectively. 

Berkeley Ballot Measures 

Berkeley voters overwhelmingly approved Measure O, the $135 million affordable housing bond measure, with 77.5% voting yes. Two-thirds approval was required. Measure P to increase the property transfer tax on properties selling for over $1.5 million also passed easily with 72.4% of the vote; only majority approval was required. Measure P passed despite massive spending by real estate interests in opposition to the measure. Through October 20, the No on P committee, “sponsored by realtors” had raised $238,250 to oppose the measure. The money came from the California Association of Realtors and the National Association of Realtors. This money paid for a series of mailers opposing the measure. 

Measure Q passed easily as well with 71%, but provisions allowing rent control on rental units first occupied after June 30, 1980, with a 20 year exemption, will not take effect because of the defeat of state Proposition 10. Proposition 10 passed by a 52% to 48% margin in Alameda County, and certainly by a higher margin in Berkeley, but was defeated statewide with the current margin being 60% to 40%. San Francisco was the only other county with a majority of voters supporting the measure. Measure R, the Vision 2050 measure got the broadest voter approval with 85% voting yes. The measure calls for developing “a 30-year plan to identify and guide implementation of climate-smart, technogically-advanced, integrated and efficient infrastructure to support a safe, vibrant and resilient future for Berkeley.” 

Berkeley Ballot Measures November 6 Election 




Yes votes  


Percent Yes  


O affordable housing bonds  






P Increase in transfer tax  






Q Rent Control  






R Vision 2050  







Assembly District 15 

Buffy Wicks defeated Jovanka Beckles by a margin of 9,794 votes, 54% to 46%, in the Alameda County portion of the 15th Assembly District. In Contra Costa County, the counting of ballots is nearly complete and Wicks leads by 5382 votes, also a margin of 54% to 46%. When the Statement of Vote for the counties becomes available, it will be possible to see how Wicks and Beckles did in Berkeley and in other cities in the district. Beckles is part of the Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA). RPA’s mayoral candidate Vice-Mayor Melvin Willis was defeated by incumbent mayor Tom Butt, who supported Wicks. RPA elected only one of its two candidates to the Richmond City Council, incumbent Eduardo Martinez. 


Turnout was way up this year in Berkeley compared to the last non-presidential election. Countywide, turnout was 67%. In Berkeley, 41,393 of 55,768 vote by mail ballots were returned, or 74%, according to the latest data available on the County Registrar of Voters Web site. In addition over 11,000 votes were cast at the polls. (The final total will be reported when the official Statement of Vote is released by the Alameda County Registrar of Voters.) 

The number of votes in Berkeley set a record for a non-presidential election year. 40,301 votes were cast in Berkeley in 2014, a 50% turnout, and 49,640 in 2010, a 63% turnout. Until this year the number of votes cast in a non-presidential year had never reached 50,000. Turnout was still well below that of a presidential year. In 2016, 65,430 votes were cast in Berkeley, a 78% turnout. The record year was 2008, when Obama was elected for his first term, when there were 66,703 votes. 

Student turnout was poor this year, though substantially higher than in 2014. Only 2809 votes were cast for Council candidates in District 7, the student super-majority district. 

The Berkeley Main Post Office Salutes Ashkenaz and Fantasy Films

Gar Smith
Monday November 19, 2018 - 12:00:00 PM

In 1973, when David Nadel founded the Ashkenaz music hall on Sacramento Avenue, he had a vision of fostering intercultural understanding through music and dance. This past September 15, Fantasy Studios, Berkeley's famous independent filmmaking ("One Flew Over the Coco's Nest") and recording studio (Credence Clearwater), closed its doors as a place where the magic of musician friendships created at Ashkenaz Community Center regularly came to life.

Karen Lile, a producer at both Ashkenaz and Fantasy Studios, joined with filmmaker Michael J Kofford to create a documentary tribute to the musicians who enlivened Ashkenaz and Fantasy Studios over the years. The resulting film brought together more than 60 musicians for 20 recording sessions inside Studio D, between September 17 to 29th. Kofford has turned these recording sessions into a 38-minute documentary called "Two Weeks in Studio B: Berkeley."

The film features interviews and music from recording sessions with Grammy-winner Jamie Dubberly (Dharma Brass Band), Rob Dehlinger (Alpha Rhythm Kings), Erik Jekabson, Kenny Washington & the Electric Squeezebox Orchestra, Tammy L. Hall, Mimi Fox, George Winston, Allison Miller, Kendall Ross Bean and Taylor Eigsti. More information is available at http://comteams.com/studioDsept2018.htm"> this link. 

At 11am Saturday, November 17, the Main Post Office on Allston Way, hosted a public celebration as part of a Building Bridges Ceremony recognizing 70 years of Music Recording History in Berkeley. Speakers included Mayor Jesse Arreguin, the film's executive producer, Karen E. Lile, and KPFA stalwart Phil Allen. As befitted the occasion, live music was provided by Trinidad-born drummer Hugh "Sweetfoot" Maynard, one of the original Caribbean Allstars, a reggae/calypso/soca band that has regularly rocked the Ashkenaz stage over the decades. 

As part of the USPS’s special "cancellation series," the Post Office unveiled a special pictorial postmark (designed by Aneka K. Bean) that features the Building Bridges logo and a rendering of the three grand pianos that graced studios A, B, C, and D over the years. (Postal customers can now send mail with stamps cancelled by of these historic pictorial postmarks. For more details, see: http://musicrecordinghistory.com/

A planned screening of the film later Saturday night at Ashkenaz had to be cancelled due to poor air quality. After screening the documentary, Ashkenaz planned to present a tribute to the early music recordings from "Live at Ashkenaz" dating back to early 1980's and celebrate Ashkenaz's continuing contribution the local and global community of recording musicians. 

The screening will be rescheduled—along with the celebration of Ashkenaz's music recording history—for sometime in January. In the meantime, beginning on November 17, 2018, "Two Weeks Inside Studio D: Berkeley," will be available online for a free, three-day screening. Go to www.twoweeksinside.com and enter the private password "ashkenaz."

SMITHEREENS: Reflections on Bits & Pieces

Gar Smith
Monday November 19, 2018 - 12:06:00 PM

Getting Money Out of Politics Could Start with This

The Blue Wave has erased the Red Tide in the House of Representatives. A new Congress means a new chance for change. It's time to clean House but, as The Intercept reveals: "Weapons makers are moving last-minute money to the Democratic congressman in line to chair the defense industry’s key House committee."

There's no defense for accepting money from companies that make a killing off killing. But now we have a chance to stop the weapons lobby from lobbing any more weapons. No more alms for arms.

World BEYOND War (WBW) has just launched an online petition demanding that the new House leaders (1) accept no further funding from the Weapons Lobby and (2) refund any donations they have already pocketed. The demand is especially urgent for congressmembers who may be chairing committees overseeing military spending and foreign policy. 

The following Democrats have been proposed to serve as committee chairs and fill other leadership positions. Next to each name is the amount of money they received from the Military-Industrial Complex for their 2018 election campaigns: 


Adam Smith $228,750 

Steny Hoyer $163,856 

Richard Neal $86,150 

Adam Schiff $80,445 

Jim Clyburn $69,500 

Nita Lowey $68,000 

Nancy Pelosi $50,074 

John Yarmuth $12,500 

Frank Pallone $11,000 

Diana DeGette $7,010 

Cheri Bustos $6,798 

Elijah Cummings $5720 

Barbara Lee $2010 

Hakeem Jeffries $2,000 

Jerrold Nadler $0 

For more information on which politicians are accepting War Lobby blood-money see the Open Secrets website

And you can sign the WBW petition here. 

(Full disclosure: I currently serve on WBW's Coordinating Council.) 

Blowing Smoke 

The TV newsfolk are blowing it big-time with their coverage of the crackdown on JUUL and other electronic smoking devices. Sure, it's great to report that regulators are considering a ban on a couple of targeted flavors, but every time there's an update on this growing threat to teenage vapers, the media winds up clouding the message and actually encouraging teens to start huffing. How? Each warning inevitably includes numerous, seductive, close-ups of teens sucking in the nicotine and unleashing astonishing clouds of addictive vapor that billow like some CGI special-effect from a Marvel Comics movie. These uncritical clips are turning every televised "warning" into an irresistible free ad. 

Seldom Heard Words 

On November 14, CBS Evening News anchor Jeff Glor interviewed former CIA Deputy Director (and CBS "national security contributor") Michael Morell. The topic: A stunning new report that—despite spending nearly $6 trillion since 9/11 and killing more than a half-million people in other countries—today's Pentagon was judged unlikely to prevail in a war with either China or Russia. 

Morell attributed the problem to the fact that China and Russia have spent their time and (considerably less) money preparing to defend their borders from foreign aggression "while we've been mired in 17 years of counterterrorism, counter-insurgency and unconventional war." 

When Morell complained that the situation was further aggravated by Pentagon budget cut-backs, Glor interrupted to note that the military's budget currently tops $716 billion a year while China spends $175 billion and Russia spends only $60 billion. "So what are we doing wrong?" 

Morell's excuse [as transcribed by this viewer] was illuminating: 

"Our competitors have a much smaller area of the globe to worry about. They worry primarily about the regions in which they live—and we're talking about Russia, China, North Korea and Iran. We have to worry about the entire globe because our interests are diverse. We are fighting this unconventional war every day that is eating up resources and eating up investment in our military so I think that is the difference." 

[Translation: The US, unlike our "competitors," is an imperialist nation that's trying to police the world—and failing.] 

Glor then turned to a topic usually ignored by the media: "There's a whole economy, as you know, built around the military and military spending," so how would Morell respond "to those detractors [Glor's word] who might say that this is just trying to sustain that industry and increase the money going to it." 

"At the end of the day," Morell insisted, "there wasn't anybody on this panel that was thinking that way."  

Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez's New Occupation 

On November 13, a band of activists from the eco-group Sunrise occupied Nancy Pelosi's congressional office and demanded creation of a Select Committee for a Green New Deal. As Ryan Grim and Briahna Gray noted in The Intercept, Pelosi established something similar in 2007 when she was House majority speaker. 

"Pelosi created the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, and assigned her ally, then-Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., who has a strong environmental record, to chair it," The Intercept reports. "The committee held dozens of hearings over the course of four years, until the Tea Party-led Congress, which took over in 2010, mothballed it. (The Republicans also got rid of the renewable plates and utensils Pelosi had introduced and replaced them with Styrofoam.)" 

There's bound to be more action on the Green New Deal in the next House, thanks to new faces like Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez. AOC, as she's been dubbed, surprised the Sunshine brigade when she marched boldly into Rep. Pelosi's office, exchanged high-fives with the demonstrators and proclaimed: “The way things are done has not been getting results. We have to try new methods.” 

AOC has called for “new leadership” in the House and has proposed promoting Rep. Barbara Lee to the House leadership post. 


While some critics have referred to the US media as an "echo chamber," has anyone noticed that two of our local weathercasters are virtual sound-alikes? To my ears, at least, KPIX's Paul Deano and Brian Hackney (who also anchors) are audio-clones, remarkably similar in tone, timing and delivery. Is there a word for such verbal dopplegangers? "Dopplesprechers," vielleicht? 

Pot-Shots during Joint Maneuvers? 

In a long (and on-going) international email debate about when or whether violence might be a necessary "last resort" for members of the anti-war pacifist community, Saskia Kouwenberg, a correspondent from The Netherlands, recently took an interesting step beyond the familiar "self-defense" argument. Kouwenberg wrote: 

"I can imagine situations in which 'violence' needs to be used to stop violence e.g. Rwanda, or gang warfare somewhere. But in those situations, why not shoot with tranquilizers instead of deadly bullets? I'd love to see a specially trained UN elite corps who are super-experts in stopping violence in nonviolent ways." 

Tranquilizer darts! 

What a brilliant techno-fix! Still quick-as-a-trigger and safer than tasers! 

But what if we took a further step and redesigned all military ordnance—bombs, grenades, shells, warheads and landmines—so that they were filled with psychedelic chemicals instead of explosives. 

Soldiers would no longer "fall" in battle. (They'd be too busy tripping and too buzzed to fire their weapons.) 

And peace marches would have two new chants: "Bongs Not Bombs!" and "Stoners, Yes: Gravestones. No!" 


Even the best of pro-peace-eco-activists can stumble into the brambles of WarSpeak. Our language is peppered with linguistic landmines—clichés based in conflict, anger, domination and machismo. Here's a recent example, from a respected long-time activist who appeared to channel Gen. George Patton when calling for: "an all out assault on climate change . . . ! We need to gear up like we did for World War II to make sure that, in the next 10 years, the whole planet is covered with windmills, solar panels, buildings are efficient, geothermal and Hydro power." 

As the reader who sent me this example of WarSpeak noted: "Big solutions without an authentic paradigm shift in thinking will only end up making the situation worse." 

Arnie's Antics 

Berkeley poet and peace-symbol provocatuer Arnie Passman is hip-culture fixture. Here, in his own words, is "AP" rapping on his storied hippie-Yippie career: "I was an editor with The Realist, for woo i wrote. i am fervormore working on my magnum oops—the 90-year history of radio humor." 

Arnie has penned four books, starting in 1971 with The Deejays (MacMillan). Over the past decade he's turned out: The Death and Birth of the Dollar (with celebrated artist, Art Hazelwood); Climbing Whateverest (40 years of collected poetry); and most recently, the epic poem, Occupy Your Nearest Country Club. AP will be reading from his concocted and recollected works at Redwood Gardens, 2951 Derby, Wednesday, November 28, 7:30 p.m. $5-20. Wheelchair accessible.

Bay Area Air Quality Expected to Worsen Sunday

Sam Richards (BCN)
Saturday November 17, 2018 - 08:18:00 PM

Smoke from the Camp Fire in Butte County, which has cast a pall over the entire Bay Area for more than a week, isn't expected to dissipate significantly until at least Wednesday, according to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. 

Almost the entire Bay Area today has had air quality that, because of the ongoing smoke pollution, is rated as "unhealthy for sensitive groups," which means an "air quality index" count of between 101 and 150. 

The exception has been an area that includes Pittsburg, much of Antioch, Concord, Martinez, Pleasant Hill and Walnut Creek in Contra Costa County which, at 4 p.m., had registered in the "unhealthy" range of 151 to 200 AQI. 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency calculates the air quality index for five major air pollutants -- ground-level ozone, particle pollution (particulate matter), carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide. 

"For the Bay Area, the main contributor to that count is fine particulates in the smoke," Kristine Roselius, a Bay Area Air Quality Management District spokeswoman, said this afternoon. 

The AQI count is expected to rise tonight into Sunday into the 151 to 200 range for almost the entire Bay Area. 

"Offshore winds are expected to push the smoke right back over the Bay Area" on Sunday, Roselius said. 

Air quality is expected to remain in the "unhealthy" range throughout most of the Bay Area until late Tuesday, before the expected rain arrives Wednesday or Thursday. It will be wind, Roselius said, and not rain that will give the smoke its big bump out of the area. 

The entire Bay Area remains under a "Spare the Air" advisory, banning outdoor burning and discouraging driving as much as possible and use of lawnmowers and other engine-driven tools and other machines.

Berkeley Big Game Rescheduled Due to Unhealthy Air

Kathleen Kirkwood (BCN)
Saturday November 17, 2018 - 04:32:00 PM

The Bay Area's poor air quality due to smoke from the Butte County wildfire has prompted Cal to reschedule today's Big Game. 

The Cal-Stanford game will instead be played on Dec. 1, due to concerns for the health and well being of players and fans, said Jim Knowlton, director of athletics at the University of California, Berkeley. 

Cal athletics officials have been closely watching air quality reports in Berkeley and around the Bay Area, Knowlton said. 

"The forecasts we have received show a minimal chance of the improvement necessary to hold the game on Saturday," Knowlton said. 

For many, the Big Game experience includes parties and tailgates before and after the game. "While we used NCAA and Pac-12 air quality guidelines to help steer our decision, the well being of our fans was also a factor," Knowlton said. 

The Butte County wildfire has sent thick smoke billowing across the region and blanketed the Bay Area with unhealthy air several days. "First and foremost our thoughts are with everyone who has been affected by the tragic California wildfires," said Cal Head Football Coach Justin Wilcox.  

The Dec. 1 game will kick off at noon at Memorial Stadium. All tickets for Saturday's game will be honored. Fans with questions should call (800) 462-3277 and press option 3.

With Air quality Remaining “Very Unhealthy,” Outdoor City Services Impacted

Public Information Officer Matthai Chakko, City of Berkeley
Friday November 16, 2018 - 11:40:00 PM

With air quality remaining at very unhealthy levels in Berkeley, the City is following federal guidelines and the recommendations of the City’s health officer by curtailing various services requiring outdoor work by non-emergency staff. 

This work is being scheduled and prioritized for when air quality is better, typically in the mornings. Residents and businesses should be aware of the following impacts: 

• Pickup of waste, recycling and compost were stopped on Friday, but will resume Saturday morning. Residents should keep bins out until they are picked up. 

• Inspections are being cancelled when air conditions are very unhealthy. That includes building, housing and fire inspections. 

• The City’s Transfer Station will be closed on Saturday 

These steps are being taken in light of recommendations that follow federal guidelines based on the EPA’s Air Quality Index. These recommendations are being reiterated by Dr. Lisa Hernandez, the City of Berkeley’s Health Officer. Air quality measurements in Berkeley reached 246 on Thursday and 247 on Friday, levels the EPA deems “very unhealthy”.” 

Dr. Hernandez recommends that everyone with respiratory or cardiac issues avoid outdoor activity. Everyone else – especially children, the elderly and pregnant women – should limit time outside. 

Move indoors and reschedule outdoor activities when air quality improves. 

See helpful hyperlinks at https://www.cityofberkeley.info/City_Manager/Press_Releases/2018/2018-11-16_With_air_quality_remaining_%E2%80%9Cvery_unhealthy,%E2%80%9D_City_services_impacted.aspx



Election 2018: Who Won Here, and Why?

Becky O'Malley
Saturday November 17, 2018 - 04:20:00 PM

Yes, the midterm elections are ALMOST in the bag, so it’s time for the punditocracy to sharpen its teeth for the feast.

Almost the day after the election, I was amused to see that some of the nationally-oriented blogs posted by my fellow lefties were eager, as always, to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Their handwringing started with “Not enough Dems were elected to make a difference.” As more and more districts came into the Blue fold this week, that lament seems to be dying.

So they went on to “ Anyway, Democrats in Congress won’t accelerate the Second Coming by more than a half decade.” Okay, I made that one up, but you get the drift.

Here’s a real example: Friday’s NY Times had the predictable letter from a Green Party functionary:

“Voting for the less terrible to prevent the more terrible when you really wanted to vote for someone else is like taking the slow route on the highway to hell. It will take longer, but you will end up at the same place either way.”

No. Poor analogy. The slower you go on the pathway to oblivion, the more time you have to find a better way to proceed.  

That’s what the House of Representatives should be doing for the next two years, trying to construct a viable alternative to ask voters to endorse in 2020. Whatever legislation they might be able to pass will likely be rejected by the Senate and/or vetoed by the president, but it can serve as a Blueprint for a better future. 

Meanwhile, Green Party loyalists may continue to enjoy the Jill Stein presidency to their hearts’ content. 

Which, of course, brings up the question of what happened in California Assembly District 15, where progressive candidate Jovanka Beckles was excoriated in the commentariat of what now passes for local media because she admitted casting a protest vote for Dr. Jill in the 2016 election. Conveniently omitted in the published diatribes was the general understanding that Hillary Clinton was sure to capture California’s electoral votes in November of 2016, making protest votes risk-free. 

Here I feel compelled to protest myself that I voted for Hillary both in the primary and in the general election. Bernie Sanders looked to me like just another old White guy, very similar in type (and age) to many of my dearest friends. He was offering, it’s true, good proposals on a variety of fronts, but in the end he seemed just as marginal in 2016 as he’d been for his long congressional history. It’s great to know the tune, but you should also know the words if you want to sing along. 

Local media-lite reports were determined to portray the Beckles-Wicks race as a shootout between the Berniecrats and the Dem-O’crats, but it wasn’t that. For one thing, Bernie was mighty dilatory in endorsing Jovanka. He came, he rallied with Barbara Lee, he sat on the same stage with Jovanka, but he didn’t endorse her or even provide a photo-op until the day after. What was that about? 

Wicks, on the other hand, was the queen of photo-ops with all the establishment biggies. The mailers from her campaign, which were coming to my house in the end at what seemed like the rate of 4/day, were mostly celebrity selfies with the occasional shot of her baby. The analysis of this particular race boils down to one thing: Money Talked, as it all too often does. In addition to the cheery selfie pieces, the dark money Independent Expenditure crowd supplied an extravagant number of ugly hit pieces aimed at Beckles. A couple of these tiptoed right up to the edge of Willie-Horton-style racism, spotted for what they were by several of the Planet’s readers. Wicks could have denounced these scurrilous items (as Beckles did with one unwelcome corporate-financed endorsement of her campaign) but she chose not to. 

Her selfie endorsers were the usual suspects in the Democratic party establishment: Obama, Clintons, Harris, etc. etc.. Presumably they’d met her as a bright young factotum in their own campaigns in the past. However, there was no shot of Buffy with Rahm Emmanuel, whose campaign for Chicago mayor she’d worked on. 

But the barnacles on Buffy’s love boat were endorsers from two specific undercurrents inside the Democratic party: education entrepreneurs and developers. One example of how these streams converge: Eli Broad, a mega-developer who now gives big bucks to PACs which promote charter schools. For details, see https://buffywicks.money/#govern-for-california-pac. Some of Buffy’s IE support was funneled through East Bay for Everyone, the local incarnation of the YIMBYs, an astro-turf front group for market-rate developers. 

(Here let us pause for a moment to acknowledge that San Francisco voters may be more progressive than we are in the East Bay: YIMBY founder and developer puppet Sonja Trauss ran dead last in a field of four candidates for a supervisor seat in the Mission.) 

Loosely, a Democratic faction with members all the way from Berkeley’s re-elected District 8 incumbent, through Wicks, and up to New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio espouses the theory that the best way to provide affordable housing for everyone is to build plenty for the well-off and pray for trickle-down. Academics who like to play with names might call this belief supply-side, neo-liberal, market fundamentalism—but whatever you call it, the underlying assumption is that the market will take care of consumer needs if you just let it function unimpeded by regulation.  

It’s the theory of choice for those of you who never made it past Econ. 101. Some half-baked version of this kind of thinking was probably behind Buffy’s stubborn refusal to endorse repeal of the Costa-Hawkins ban on rent control for new buildings. Bill DeBlasio’s recently announced deal to turn over a major part of Queens to Amazon, along with a $3 billion subsidy, is a major example of how Democrats can go wrong on development issues. See, for the gory details: Can New York City’s Mayor Be an Amazon Booster and Still Be Progressive? 

Berkeley Wicks voters are in for some surprises if she “ dances with them as brung her” in the state legislature. I’d bet a tidy sum that most don’t realize that her endorsers, e.g.state Senators Scott Wiener and Nancy Skinner, are part of an aggressive faction which is trying to strip local governments of the power to plan what’s built where in already-dense cities like ours. People who want to see more housing for residents who can’t pay what the market demands might be shocked to learn that for-profit developers are busy covering the limited number of building sites in Berkeley with pricey super-dorms for young commuters to San Francisco’s tech boom. Buffy Wicks and her friends in Sacramento seem poised to grease their way. Let’s hope she proves me wrong. 

Building industry funding also played a major part in Berkeley City Council campaign. More about that later.

The Editor's Back Fence

Skipping Issue This Week

Friday November 23, 2018 - 12:57:00 PM

Because of the Thanksgiving holiday, I'm not creating a new issue this week. If anything comes in that MUST be posted, it will be in this issue.

Public Comment

Hey, Harry, Keep Walking! People's Park Matters

Carol Denney
Friday November 16, 2018 - 09:36:00 AM

My friend Harry Brill wrote an opinion piece arguing that the housing crisis justifies destroying People's Park, our only monument to the anti-war movement. He's wrong. And a short walk will prove it.

Keep walking, Harry. Just a few blocks from People's Park's 2.8 acres is Smyth-Fernwald, 10 solid acres of UC-owned available land on Dwight Way already zoned and currently used for housing in dire need of upgrades. Housing with nothing behind it to stop 10 stories of dorms and apartments with views to die for if that's what the neighborhood wants.

Then look across the street, Harry, at 130 acres of Clark-Kerr campus- again, already UC-owned and zoned for housing and currently housing both students and seniors- but with room for thousands more units with that same view to die for. High-rise housing there will block nobody's view but the squirrels.

Neither of these sites have the landmark status, the international renown, the powerful resonance, nor play the active roles in community sustenance and connection that People's Park has for fifty years. And if you build five to seven stories on 2.8 acres, well, maybe a few of you can dance together, but the gathering place that made the park famous will be subtracted entirely. Which is, and always was, UC's game. Refusing to acknowledge People's Park's cultural significance is the only tradition that needs to be left behind.

There's no excuse, given the excess of options for housing, to fall for Chancellor Christ's game of pitting the obvious and lucrative policy of building only high-end, development-driven housing which manufactured the housing crisis in the first place against our city landmark in this, its 50th year of celebration. Not to mention putting our beleaguered town through the inevitable street battles construction will generate which last time lasted years and cost lives only a decade or so ago. There's even more nearby UC owned sites available on UC's handy online map, if you'll just take a look.

Let's go for a walk, Harry. I'll show you and anyone else interested through a park full of stories, and songs, and history, and wonder. I'll walk you through a park that looks scruffy from the outside, but which has changed lives when given the chance to manifest collective community projects through use-development. I'll show you a living miracle.

Murder of a hero

Tejinder Uberoi
Saturday November 17, 2018 - 04:43:00 PM

In another tragic death, 26 year-old African-American, Jemel Roberson was shot and killed by a white policeman. Roberson was working as a as a security guard bar when a shooting broke out. He jumped into action to restrain the shooting suspect when several police officers arrived on the scene from the Midlothian Police Department in Chicago. Seeing a black man with a gun a white police officer shot and killed him in cold blood. 

Roberson had a valid gun license but took heroic risks restraining the shooter without using his gun. The police officers ignored screams from the patrons, “don’t shoot he is a security guard.” Members of the community are furious and are demanding answers. 

So mimicking the NRA’s mantra, “all it takes is a good guy with a gun” – so long he does not have the misfortune to be born black. Murders of African Americans by white policemen have becoming an epidemic. Over and over again, they have been gunned down. 

Trigger happy cops must be held fully accountable for their actions and not be allowed to escape in our porous judicial system. 

For more details, go to http://callforsocialjustice.blogspot.com/

New: Changes

Romila Khanna
Monday November 26, 2018 - 08:59:00 PM

Why have the changes happened to suit the Republican President? 

What happened to our thinking process? Why did we not understand the tactful hurried steps that the current President has taken to fill the vacant seats to suit his own needs. President Obama was the President of all Americans, but the President Trump just represents the rich. President Trump lowered the Tax rates only for those who are members of the upper class and who don’t need more money in their Hidden Chest. 

We have been cheated by mere honey coated words. We pay more for daily use items for personal oral care, prescription medicines, groceries, cooking oil, and other important items to survive. Poor and low middle class people can’t afford to live and support themselves and their families. 

Property owners have to run their business so they increase rents as to maintain their property. But who helps the needy? We hear the high talk that there will be more money coming in the hands of all. Nobody lowers the prices of daily use items. 

We hear that the unemployment rate has dropped after many years. There is a health crisis due to the poor quality of food sold in the stores where the poor tend to shop. Low income families get to eat what their pocket can afford and health related businesses are getting more dollars because of the poorer health of the lower income folks. 

I don’t know where poor and lower-middle class people are getting any benefit from what is sold as “America is doing well in every area”. We are helping the rich to become richer and poor to move further down below the poverty line. 



Israeli Terror Attacks

Jagjit Singh
Friday November 16, 2018 - 10:21:00 AM

The death toll in Gaza has risen to at least six after militant Israeli forces launched an unprovoked attack targeting scores of buildings, including the TV station, Al-Aqsa. Israeli airstrikes also pounded dozens of homes. Their forces drove into the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis in a clandestine operation.  

According to Haaretz, the Israeli human rights organization, the Israeli action was a classic terrorist act – an unprovoked action which caused needless loss of life.Israel boasts that bombed buildings are usually predesignated targets, designed to inflict maximum pain and terror.  

The stated goal of the attacks is to drive the Palestinians into passivity. A senior Israeli Air Force commander said that the nature of the targets, “are completely different from anything we’ve known in the past. These targets are high-rise buildings in the city centers”.  

Just prior to the bombing, an Israeli phone call warned, “You have only one minute to leave your homes, or else you will die inside them.” Screams of terror and mayhem ensued. Then the ferocious bombing started and Al-Yaziji Tower, in the very heart of Gaza, was totally obliterated and reduced to rubble. Schools and kindergartens were also targeted sinking Israel into the depths of immorality.  

In the last six months Gaza has shown extraordinary commitment to overwhelming acts of nonviolence, demanding the right to life at the 5-meter fence that entraps the enclave. Since March 30th, over 200 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in Gaza and 18,000 injured, more than 5,000 of them shot by Israeli soldiers. The people in Gaza are caged in a toxic slum from birth to death, where they are being suffocated out of hope, out of life, out of any sense for progress, and hollowed out of their souls. Billions of aid money and weapons are poured into Israel by our government to prop up their war machine making us complicit in Israel’s crimes.

Didn't Vote? Don't Complain

Bruce Joffe
Friday November 16, 2018 - 10:13:00 AM

Nationwide, 85% of eligible Americans registered to vote, but only 49% actually voted in the 2018 general election. A majority of votes determines who runs our governments, yet that majority represented only 21% of eligible Americans.

If you didn't vote, don't complain about government policy. If you think all politicians are corrupt and you didn't vote your politician out of office, you are part of the corruption. 

Many non-voters don't like to talk about politics or public policy. This hinders our democracy's intention to represent the will of the people on issues like government services, environmental protection, taxation, jobs, economic prosperity, civil rights and personal safety. Non-voters probably don't read letters-to-the-editor either. 

Where can one go to have civil discussions about the public policies that affect us? We should create attractive venues, where expressing political opinions and hearing others' is a civic pleasure. 

Participation by informed voters is necessary to prevent authoritarian rule by rich bullies. 



New: THE PUBLIC EYE:Looking Forward to 2020

Bob Burnett
Friday November 23, 2018 - 01:02:00 PM

The 2018 midterm-election results are in and it's clear the anticipated "blue wave" happened; Democrats rolled to a convincing victory in the House of Representatives -- gaining at least 39 seats. But it's also clear that Republican voters didn't give up; where he needed to, Donald Trump turned out his base. As a result, Republicans held onto the Senate and won key governor's races. This sets the stage for a very competitive race in 2020. 

Looking forward to 2020, there are several factors to consider: 

1. A lot of Americans voted on November 6th. More than 116 million Americans voted; 49.3 percent of the voting-eligible population -- the highest midterm percentage since 1914 (https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/11/19/18103110/2018-midterm-elections-turnout ). Voters turned out where there were competitive races -- for example, Montana (62.1 percent) where there was a competitive Senate race -- and often where there wasn't -- for example, in my congressional district (CA 13) where 66.7 percent voted and Congresswoman Barbara Lee got 88.3 percent of the vote. 

538's Nate Silver estimates that more than 60 million voters cast ballots for Democratic congressional candidates -- compared to 63 million Trump voters in 2016. 

2.Democrats regained an Electoral College advantage. As we learned in 2016, in a presidential contest it's not sufficient to win the overall popular vote; the key is to prevail in enough states to win the electoral college. After the midterms, 538's Nate Silver did a projection of what the electoral college would look like in 2020 (https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-2018-map-looked-a-lot-like-2012-and-that-got-me-thinking-about-2020/ ) -- Trump versus an anonymous Democrat. Dems win with 314 electoral votes. 

Silver's analysis is complicated but he notes the key to a 2020 Democratic win is the fact they appear to have regained political control in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin -- states that Trump narrowly won in 2016 and that provided him with his electoral college win. 

In the 538 analysis, Silver says Dems can win even if they lose seven swing states: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, North Carolina, Ohio, and Texas. But, it seems unlikely that they would lose all of these states in 2020; for example, Democrats are surging in Arizona and just won a Senate seat (Sinema) and 5 of 9 congressional races. 

3.There's an urban-rural divide. Writing in Mother Jones, Kevin Drum noted that among 2018 white voters, support for Democrats went up by 22 points among those with a college education -- compared with 2016 -- and down by 8 eight points among those without a college education (https://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2018/11/heres-how-different-groups-really-voted-in-2018/ ). (The New York Times reported that, unlike 2016, 50 percent of white women voted for a Democrat.) 

A recent Alternet article (https://www.alternet.org/its-official-first-time-history-gop-has-become-party-rural-white-voters?src=newsletter1098031 ) declared: "If there was one demographic group that blunted the force of the 'blue wave' in this month’s midterm elections, it was rural white voters." The CNN exit polls indicate that 56 percent of rural voters favored Republicans (versus an even 49-49 percent split in the suburbs and only 32 percent in suburban areas). 

It's easy to see this rural/non-rural divide in California. The Golden State has 53 congressional districts. In 2018, Republicans lost several seats -- notably those in Orange county -- and now control only eight. (Districts 1, 4, 8, 21, 22, 23, 42, and 50; BTW, 21 is still "too close to call.") These are rural districts; primarily on the eastern border of the state. 

While Democrats could win the 2020 presidential election without rural voters, it's important to understand their perspective, if Dems want to unify the nation and take control of the Senate in 2020. 

4.The urban-rural divide is a proxy for a new tribalism. Alternet notes: "As the suburbs have turned against the Republican Party of President Donald Trump, rural whites have embraced the Party’s new message of economic protectionism, immigration restrictions, and an 'America First' foreign policy." [emphasis added] 

A recent large survey of 8000 voters helps to understand the emerging split between urban and rural voters. The Hidden Tribes Survey (https://hiddentribes.us ), conducted by the More in Common Institute, identified seven "tribal" groups: Progressive Activists (8 percent of the population); Traditional Liberals (11 percent of the population); Passive Liberals (15 percent of the population); The Politically Disengaged (26 percent of the population); Moderates (15 percent of the population); Traditional Conservatives (19 percent of the population); and Devoted Conservatives (6 percent of the population). 

The strongest views are those held by the Progressive Activists, Traditional Liberals, Traditional Conservatives, and Devoted Conservatives. That's where the big ideological divides occur. As one would one expect, 99 percent of Progressive Activists disapprove of Donald Trump and 98 percent of Devoted Conservatives approve of him. 

The most notable divisions occur on hot button topics, such as immigration. 99 percent of Progressive Activists agree with the statement: "Immigration is good for America, helping sectors of our economy to be more successful and competitive." On the other hand, 90 percent of Devoted Conservatives agree with the statement: "Immigration nowadays is bad for America, costing the welfare system and using resources that could be spent on Americans." 

The Hidden Tribes researchers did not ask direct questions about Trump's economic policies, such as economic protectionism. But they did ask a question that serves as a proxy: the role of personal responsibility in life outcomes. For example, 92 percent of Devoted Conservatives agree with the statement: "People who work hard can find success no matter what situation they were born into." Whereas, 90 percent of Progressive Activists agree: "Some people’s situations are so challenging that no amount of work will allow them to find success." 

Summary: Considering the information in the Hidden Tribes study, it seems obvious that Donald Trump played to traditional conservative beliefs to turn out rural voters in the 2018 midterms. This strategy worked in Florida, Indiana, Missouri, North Dakota, and Texas. (For example, Beto O'Rourke would have won the Texas Senate race if rural white voters had not voted overwhelmingly for Ted Cruz.) Obviously, it did not work in many other areas; the areas with the most voters. Thus, Democrats start the 2020 campaign with positive momentum. 

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

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation-- The New ECT?

Jack Bragen
Friday November 16, 2018 - 10:19:00 AM

lElectroconvulsive Therapy, abbreviated ECT, involves putting electrodes on a person's scalp and running electrical current through the brain. Since the 1950's, it has had an increasingly negative perception among the general public, and with good reason. However, many psychiatrists, to this day, remain enthusiastic about it.  

ECT may have its uses. If a female, depressed patient is pregnant and can't take antidepressants because of the risk of harming the fetus, then ECT may be a good choice. 

Again, many psychiatrists are enthusiasts about it. And many are also enthusiasts about Clozaril. Clozaril, by the way, is an incredibly powerful antipsychotic that really seems to fry people's brains after taking this drug long enough. Both Clozaril and ECT should be last resort treatments, when nothing else works. However, many psychiatrists seem to push these treatments, even if much of the time their push is a gentle one. 

Electroshock can erase parts of a person's memory and it can cause cognitive impairment. Some researchers claim that it doesn't harm the brain. I am skeptical about this. 

Now we have a new treatment that most people in mental health are enthusiastic about: Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. However, since I have a history of being an electronic tech, I am aware that putting a magnetic coil up to someone's head is essentially the same idea as putting electrodes on the head and running a current. 

This is basic theory of electromagnetism: When you create a changing magnetic field, it will induce a current in nearby conductors. This is the principle that allows a microwave oven to cook your food. Microwave ovens expose the food to electromagnetic radio waves. This causes electrical current to flow within the food--in electronics it is called "eddy current." 

TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation) is really the same idea as ECT, but a bit less invasive. The magnetic coil put up against a person's forehead causes electrical current in the brain, and more so in the frontal lobes, if, as I've read, the coil is placed up against a person's forehead. 

What are we being sold? 

Since TMS is relatively new, we do not know of the long-term side effects. However, psychiatrists and many others are enthusiasts. I have serious doubts. There is also something called "repetitive TMS," which to me is ominous, since it makes TMS resemble ECT even more. 

I'm not going to consent to shock therapy, or TMS, nor will I put my head inside a microwave oven. History of treatment of psychiatric consumers is laden with barbaric acts in the name of helping the patient. It seems that when a new treatment is introduced, it begins with numerous enthusiasts, since it is "the latest miracle treatment." One thing that attracts people to TMS is that it isn't a drug. It is being promoted as harmless and beneficial. However, the same things were likely said about ECT when first introduced. 

Doctors admit freely that they do not understand the mechanisms by which either ECT or TMS work. My best guess as to why they might work could be that they create a blank slate to replace a person's stored unhappy thought patterns. This hypothesis might also explain why people relapse from ECT months or years later, since the unhappy patterns would have a chance to reestablish. 

To elaborate about "unhappy thought patterns": depression is often a product of prevalent self-critical, pessimistic, morbid, fearful, apprehensive, and/or self-hating thoughts. When painful thoughts become deeply ingrained, it can be very hard to fix this with psychotherapy. When you zap the brain with an electromagnetic field, which TMS apparently does, you might temporarily "reset" the part of the brain where these painful thoughts are generated. The above is my best guess, and it is not established in today's psychiatry. 

ECT and TMS do not generally help patients with schizophrenia. This is because schizophrenia is in large part a problem of the mind being disorganized. Zapping the brain of someone with schizophrenia could lead to even worse disorganization.

Thousand Oaks, California Mass Shooting

Ralph E. Stone
Friday November 16, 2018 - 10:29:00 AM

I had another sense of déja vu while listening and reading about the mass killing at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, California, where, on November 9, ex-marine Ian David Long killed twelve people including Ventura County Sheriff’s Sergeant Ron Helus, and then killed himself. As many as 15 others suffered minor injuries from jumping out windows or diving under tables.  

This marked the 307th mass shooting incident so far this year. Clearly gun violence in America remains an ongoing issue. After these many mass shootings, there has been a noticeable absence of action at the federal level about gun violence in this country and I am not hopeful that there will be any after this latest incident. I suspect there will be more “thoughts and prayers” and the same discussion -- sorrow, helplessness, outrage, and another futile call for gun control.  

Unless something different happens after this latest incident, we will just have to grit our teeth and wait for the next mass shooting that will come as surely as night follows day.

Arts & Events

New: The Berkeley Activist's Calendar:
Berkeley Public Meetings and Civic Events for November 25-December 1, 2018

Adolfo Cabral, for Sustainable Berkeley Coalition
Sunday November 25, 2018 - 02:16:00 PM

Sunday, November 25 

The City's Holiday Food Drive continues for all of November. Open daily from 8:30 am-6 pm. Donations can be made at all City Community Centers, Pools, or at the Recreation Customer Service Hub. Hours vary by location. Please call 981-6656 for more information. 

Indivisible East Bay Meeting, on Sun., Nov. 25, from 1– 3:30 pm, at the Berkeley Sports Basement, 2727 Milvia St.- Help map out the work ahead with the new Congress and the Current Occupant( of the White House). RSVP here. It’s a potluck event so feel free to bring something to share if you are inclined. --See: 


Monday, November 26 

Children, Youth, and Recreation Commission, Mon, Nov. 26, from 7– 8:30 pm at Frances Albrier Center in San Pablo Park, 2800 Park St. No agenda listed, for more info see: 


City Council Agenda Committee, Mon.,Nov. 26, from 2:30 – 3:30 pm, 2180 Milvia St., 6th Flr Redwood Conf. Room. Planning for the Dec.4-City Council Meeting. E-mail your comments to City Council at <council@cityofberkeley.info

On agenda: Item 3-Commissions schedule and reports; Item 4-Economic and fiscal impact study; Item5-Housing trust fund and inspection service; Item 7-Citywide restroom assessment service; Item 12 & 14- Measure M street rehab and Public Works street repair plans; Item 13-Proposal of support for SB3342 the HOME Act, Item 18-Establish a Traffic Circle Task Force/commission membership and overview focus; Item 19-Follow-up on Sutter-Health/Alta-Bates Hospital issues and plans; Item21- To amend BMC on sale of flavored tobacco products; Item 22-To establish an RV waste service and facility; Item 25a-b,27- Zero Waste Commission reports and proposal for single-use foodware and litter reduction policy. --See:; 

Tuesday, November 27 

Berkeley City Council, Tue, Nov. 27, from 4 pm – 11:00 pm, at 2134 MLK Jr Way, City Council 

Chambers. On agenda: 4 pm - Special Work Session, on agenda: 1-Labor negotiations, 2-Pending city litigation; 

6-11 pm – Regular meeting, on agenda: Item 1-Formal bid and proposal process; Item 4 & 9- Contract for GoBerkeley residential shared-parking pilot program and for specific area new meters; Item 6-Recycling reaffirmation resolution for single stream and out-sourcing process including new transfer station redesign bond; Item 7-Propose PRC to extend BPD officer investigations and discipline process time limit; Item B-Proposed lobbyist registration and Revolving Door Ordinance process; Item D-a&b, Find vehicle encampment locations; Item F- Allow city staff and admin to serve on public commission; Item G- Proposed HAC program for a City small site housing loan program; Item 10-Cannabis ordinance; Item 11-End to homelessness programs; Item 13-Proposed whistle-blower protection program and policy; --see: 



George Florence Park Play Area Renovation Project – Workshops, Tue, Nov. 27, from 6-7:30 pm, at 1125 University Ave. West Branch Public Library. For public input and feed back on park design, --see: 


Wednesday, November 28 

Human Welfare & Community Action Commission, Wed., Nov. 28, from 7 – 9 pm, at 2939 Ellis St, South Berkeley Senior Center, (no meetings in December). On agenda: -Vacant housing, -Shelter Plus Care, -City Air Quality, -Alta Bates Hospital. --See: 


Civic Arts Commission , Wed., Nov. 28, from 6:30–9 pm, at 1901 Hearst Ave, North Berkeley Senior Center. On agenda: - BART Plaza art, - Civic Center exhibition for January.--See: 


Fair Campaign Practices Commission , Wed., Nov. 28, at 7:00 pm, at 1901 Hearst Ave, North Berkeley Senior Center, (no meeting in December). On agenda: -Current election violations, - Public election financing. --See: http://www.cityofberkeley.info/FCPC/ 

Participate in Berkeley's Transfer Station Redesign: A Listening Session on Wed., Nov. 28, from 6-9 pm, at 2939 Ellis St, South Berkeley Senior Center. Give your community input to our Zero Waste Division to envision a new facility to process and reduce waste. --See: 


Thursday, November 29 - No City meetings listed. 

No PG&E Bail-Out – Tell the CPUC to Say NO, on Thurs., Nov. 29, from 9–10:30 am, at 505 Van Ness Ave in San Francisco. - Join the protest Thursday morning, when the CPUC will consider extending Senate Bill 901, which enables PG&E to pass on liability costs to rate payers, to cover the Camp Fire. --See: 


Friday, November 30 - No City meetings listed. 

Reconfigure Urban Shield - Ad Hoc Committee on UASI Meeting, on Friday, Nov. 30, from 9 – 11:30am, at 1221 Oak St., in the Alameda County Bldg. in Oakland. 

Please come out and support a progressive, community-based vision to modify Urban Shield. The Ad Hoc Committee was established by the Board of Supervisors in March 2018 in response to sustained community concerns about Urban Shield, which is funded in part by UASI grants from the Department of Homeland Security, and coordinated by the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office. 

The Board decided that 2018 would be the last year the county would approve Urban Shield, as currently constituted, and asked the Ad Hoc Committee to make recommendations to the Board on the UASI-funded emergency preparedness training and exercise in 2019 and beyond. This meeting is open to the public and is a chance to make our community voices heard. --See:  


DSA Labor Social “Beer & Roses” on Friday, Nov. 30, from 6-8:30 pm, at Blind Tiger, 2600 Telegraph Ave, in Oakland. Meet DSA members with interests in the labor movement and about what's happening in the East Bay Labor Committee, and how you can get involved. --See: 


Saturday, December 1 - No City meetings listed. 

Tots Winter Carnival (ages 2-4) from 10am-12:30, at Live Oak Park Community Center 1301 Shattuck Ave. (at Berryman St.) Come and play at our Winter Wonderland! Experience tot-friendly games such as the Snowflake Toss, Pin the Nose on the Snowman, and more! We will also have a creative art station where tots can make a fun winter craft! Prizes and light refreshments will be offered. Tots must be accompanied by adults. Admission $5 per tot. Please call 981-6641 for more information. --See: 


* * *  

Worth Noting 

– Vision 2025- Empathy for All Beings in Berkeley, on Tues. Dec. 4, at 5:30 pm, at the School District Board Room, at 1231 Addison St. Hosted by Cultivate Empathy for All 


– The community is invited to an informational building development meeting on a proposed project at 2176 (gas station/car wash) and 2150 (office building with UC Parking management) on Kitteredge St. The meeting will be at 2150 Kittredge, Tuesday, December 4, at 6 pm. If attending, they would prefer an RSVP by 11/28 to:  

– Indivisible-Berkeley Holiday Party, Thursday, December 6, from 7-9 pm. For more information visit: 


– Wellstone DRC Holiday Party, Sunday, Dec.16, from 5-9 pm, for more information visit: http://wellstoneclub.org/ 

-- See the City of Berkeley's public meeting's live video web-cast schedule for those who cannot attend certain City meetings in person, visit: https://www.cityofberkeley.info/CalendarEventWebcastMain.aspx 

* * * 

This Sustainable Berkeley Coalition civic meetings list is posted on the SBC website at <https://www.sustainableberkeleycoalition.com/

The civic calendar list is also now posted in the Berkeley Daily Planet under Berkeley Activist’s Calendar at <www.berkeleydailyplanet.com

and, it is also available at the Facebook pages for Berkeley Progressive Alliance (BPA) and Berkeley Citizens Action (BCA). Also, visit the (BNC) Berkeley Neighborhoods Council Newsletter link for information on City and community issues at <http://berkeleyneighborhoodscouncil.com/

* * * 

Berkeley Public Meetings and Civic Events for November 18-24, 2018

Adolfo Cabral
Friday November 16, 2018 - 10:51:00 AM

Sunday, November 18 

Berkeley's Holiday Food Drive continues for all of November. Open daily from 8:30 am-6 pm. Donations can be made at all City Community Centers, Pools, or at the Recreation Customer Service Hub. Hours vary by location. Please call 981-6656 for more information. 

Bay Area Stands United Against Hate Week ends (with events from November 11-18): 

on Nov. 18 at 11:45 am - Compassionate Communication Across Difference, at First Church Berkeley UCC, 

at Durant at Dana St. Sponsored by Telegraph Avenue United Against Hate. --See more at: 


Monday, November 19 

City Council Agenda Committee, Mon.,Nov. 19, from 2:30 – 3:30 pm, 2180 Milvia St., 6th Flr Redwood Conf. Room. Planning for the Dec.4-City Council Meeting. E-mail your comments to City Council at <council@cityofberkeley.info

On agenda: Item 3- Award NPLH funds $65K to Berkeley Way Project, Item 4- Housing Trust funds $12.5M to Berkeley Way Project, Item 8- Beverage container recycling & payment program, Item 9- Terms and conditions for shared electric scooters pilot progrram, Item 13- Restore Civic Center Park public fountain, Item14- Re-Zone land use for 2 properties in West Berkeley, include public hearings, Item15a &b- Green storm water infrastructure policy for new and redeveloped properties, Item 16- Revise BMCode to allow city staff and Admin to serve on commissions and boards (repealing existing code), Item19- Civic arts 2019 work plan. --See: https://www.cityofberkeley.info/Clerk/City_Council/Agenda_Committee__2018_Index.aspx 

Alameda County Urban Shield /UASI Taskforce Meeting, Mon., Nov. 19, from 9 – 11:30 am, at 2180 Milvia St., in City Council Chambers. Voted to reconstitute the Sheriff Ahern-created Urban Shield training, the taskforce is charged with implementing the transition from the “last Urban Shield as we know it” to a different kind of emergency preparedness training. This meeting is open to the public. For more information, see: https://indivisibleberkeley.org/event/alameda-county-urban-shield-slash-uasi-taskforce-meeting 

Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board, from 7– 11 pm, at 2134 MLK Jr. Way, City Council Chambers. See agenda at: 


Volunteer Event: Be Bold Campaign with the Sierra Club at 2530 San Pablo Avenue, on Mon., Nov.19, from 6- 8 pm. Help a special campaign we are trying to launch before the holidays. Will you help us send out the mailing materials? We have 800+ letters to send so we are hoping to get at least 10 volunteers; no prior experience needed. We will train you and make the event fun with introductions, snacks, and a sneak peek at the campaign itself! This opportunity is especially great for a group of friends looking to make a contribution together. Please RSVP at: https://350bayarea.org/event/volunteer-event-be-bold-campaign-2-2 

An Action to Prevent Mass Shootings, hosted by Cultivate Empathy For All, on Mon., Nov.19, from 7-9 pm, at 1272 Delaware St. If we truly want to create non-violent society, we need to cultivate empathy for all. Let us come together in remembrance of the many recent shooting victims, to plan and act to have the Berkeley Peace and Justice Commission propose empathy based programs to our City Council.--See Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/Cultivate-Empathy-for-All-338239040280627/?eid=ARB3SOSqJtu7_3K44X8uG_JkEG2jUFowniaFfOQsrUlB-0cSUqnO2_MUn0ZEIx8euwlzeOj3pkk6VlEM 

Bay Area Air Quality Management District Grapples with Tar Sands – meeting, on Nov 19, from 8:30-11am, at 375 Beale St. in San Francisco at BAAQMD office. --For more information visit: http://www.sunflower-alliance.org/baaqmd-grapples-with-tar-sands-nov-19/ 

Tuesday, November 20 - No City meetings or civic events listed. 

Wednesday, November 21 - - No City meetings or civic events listed. 

Thursday, November 22 - Thanksgiving Day Holiday 

Swim Before You Feast - A special Thanksgiving Day fund-raising, aquatic work-out at King Pool at 1700 Hopkins St. (at Colusa). This is good way to make you feel great before the big meal. This fundraiser is in support of the BHS Barracudas Swim Team. Please pay by exact cash or check. Sorry, no swim cards accepted. --See: 


Friday, November 23 - No City meeting or civic events listed. 

Saturday, November 24 - No City meeting or civic events listed. 

* * *  

Worth Noting 

– Join us for a free workshop this Saturday afternoon, November 17, from 3 - 5pm, --to help you align your money with your values. Meet with Fossil Free California, "As You Sow", and CodePink to learn how to identify socially responsible banks and credit unions, and to find investments that perform as well if not better than most, but which support peace and justice and a healthy planet. We are meeting at Berkeley Public Library, Tarea Hall Pittmann South Branch , 1901 Russell St. (at MLK Jr. Way) with handouts, discussion, individual attention, and refreshments. 

– Reconfigure Urban Shield! - Ad Hoc Committee on UASI Meeting, on Friday, Nov. 30, from 9 – 11:30am, at 1221 Oak St., in the Alameda County Bldg. in Oakland. 

Please come out and support a progressive, community-based vision to modify Urban Shield. The Ad Hoc Committee was established by the Board of Supervisors in March 2018 in response to sustained community concerns about Urban Shield, which is funded in part by UASI grants from the Department of Homeland Security, and coordinated by the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office.  

The Board decided that 2018 would be the last year the county would approve Urban Shield, as currently constituted, and asked the Ad Hoc Committee to make recommendations to the Board on the UASI-funded emergency preparedness training and exercise in 2019 and beyond. This meeting is open to the public and is a chance to make our community voices heard. --See:  

https://indivisibleberkeley.org/event/alameda-county-ad-hoc-committee-on-uasi-meeting-- See the City of Berkeley's public meeting's live video web-cast schedule for those who cannot attend certain City meetings in person, 

This Sustainable Berkeley Coalition civic meetings list is posted on the SBC website at <https://www.sustainableberkeleycoalition.com/

The civic calendar list is also now posted in the Berkeley Daily Planet under Berkeley Activist’s Calendar at <www.berkeleydailyplanet.com

and, it is also available at the Facebook pages for Berkeley Progressive Alliance (BPA) and Berkeley Citizens Action (BCA). Also, visit the (BNC) Berkeley Neighborhoods Council Newsletter link for information on City and community issues at <http://berkeleyneighborhoodscouncil.com/

* * * 

Vivaldi the Teacher: A Philharmonia Baroque Concert

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Friday November 16, 2018 - 10:50:00 AM

One only had to listen well to Sunday’s concert, November 11, at Berkeley’s First Congregational Church to understand why Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra entitled its series of concerts celebrating Antonio Vivaldi’s music “Vivaldi the Teacher.” In his insistence on giving a distinct musical voice to a soloist or soloists over against an instrumental tutti, Vivaldi paved the way for the development of the concerto. In this respect, and in many others, Vivaldi was a key figure in the transition from late Baroque to early Classical style.  

As if to highlight the significance of Vivaldi ((1678-1741), Philharmonia Baroque’s concert began with a piece not by Vivaldi but by his predecessor Arcangelo Corelli. A generation older than Vivaldi, Corelli (1653-1713) was the first important composer of concertos. Performed here was Corelli’s Concerto Grosso Op.6, No. 7 in D Major. As played by Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra on period instruments, Corelli’s model of a concerto was evident: a solo group of instruments alternated with the larger instrumental ensemble or tutti. Corelli also added shadings of fast and slow, as well as soft (piano) and loud (forte) to give his concertos dynamic contrasts. All well and good; but there was little that stood out in Corelli’s Concerto Grosso Op. 6, No. 7 or that made the listener perk up the ears and pay close attention to exciting musical developments.  

However, this is exactly what happened as soon as the program shifted focus to Vivaldi. In Vivaldi’s Concerto for Two Violins in C Major, RV 507, the listener was struck immediately by the equal treatment accorded the two violin soloists. Here the soloists, Elizabeth Blumenstock and Alana Youssefian, traded passages on an equal basis, with the responding soloist taking an assertive role in developing ideas first presented by the lead violinist. In this regard, the fluency of interplay between the veteran Elizabeth Blumenstock and the young Alana Youssefian was a joy to hear. After a lively opening Allegro, the poignant Largo featured a lilting siciliana, followed by a final Allegro that offered Blumenstock and Youssefian exciting passagework and stratospheric leaps.  

Next on the program was Vivaldi’s Concerto for Two Oboes in D minor, RV 535. As teacher, composer, and conductor at Venice’s Ospedale della Pietà, Vivaldi was kept busy providing new music for the many public concerts offered by the Pietà’s young nuns. Vivaldi wrote twenty concertos for solo oboe in addition to concertos for two and three oboes. For this item on Sunday’s program, the oboe soloists were Gonzalo X. Ruiz and David Dickey. The piece opens with a dialogue between the two soloists, gently accompanied by cello and bass. Here the two soloists are not quite equals, as the second oboist always plays below the first oboist. However, Ruiz and Dickey were especially lovely to hear in the gentle Largo.  

To close out the first half of this concert, Philharmonia Baroque performed Vivaldi’s Concerto for Two Violins and Two Violoncellos in G Major, RV 575. In this work the violin soloists were Elizabeth Blumenstock and Alana Youssefian, and the violoncello soloists were Phoebe Carral and Keiran Campbell. As Bruce Lamott’s program notes indicate, “this concerto is more accurately a contest between two duos, each locked in parallel thirds.” The violins form one duo, the violoncellos form the other duo; and these two groups trade ideas back and forth in lockstep. It was exciting to hear the Blumenstock-Youssefian violin duo offer tantalizing musical figures for the Carral-Campbell violoncello duo to take up and counter. 

After intermission, conductor Nicholas McGegan opened the concert’s second half with Vivaldi’s Concerto for Two Violoncellos in G minor, RV 531. Once again the violoncello soloists were Phoebe Carral and Keiran Campbell. The two soloists are equals here, each opening the piece with brilliant passagework. Heard in both the first and final movements are what the Germans termed Schwärmer (“swarmers”) due to the buzzing effect notable, for example, in Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, where the buzzing of bees is clearly evoked. The two violoncello soloists were joined in the Largo by the continuo cello, here played by William Skeen.  

Next came Vivaldi’s Concerto for Oboe and Violin in B-flat Major, RV 548. The soloists were David Dickey on oboe and Alana Youssefian on violin. In the opening movement, Dickey’s oboe sang above Youssefian’s rapid undulations on violin; and in the plaintive Largo the oboe intones a siciliana over the violin’s rhythmic filigree across all four strings. For the lively finale, Dickey and Youssefian harmonized in parallel thirds to bring this work to a joyful close. Following this work was Vivaldi’s Andante from his Concerto for Violin in B-flat Major, RV 372a, a work designated “per Chiareta” by Vivaldi for one of his favorite pupils. As played here by violinist Alana Youssefian this was indeed the highlight of the concert, for she rose to the occasion by performing ever more difficult variations with brilliant aplomb. Youssefian’s tone remained bright throughout the complexities and shone eloquently in the rapid oscillations of her closing bariolage. 

Just as the concert opened with Corelli the concert closed with a work by Corelli, this time his Concerto Grosso No. 12 in D minor, nicknamed “La Follia,” as transformed by Corelli’s pupil Francesco Geminiani (1687-17620, who reworked his master’s sonatas for violin and harpsichord by dividing the solo violin part between two players and expanding the continuo. Here the violin solo was performed by concertmaster Carla Moore and the cello solo was performed by William Skeen, with David Tayler accompanying on theorbo and Hanneke van Proosdij on harpsichord. Geminiani’s talent was evident in the way he made Corelli’s music conform to the model established by Antonio Vivaldi that held sway throughout the 18th century. 

In lieu of a pre-concert talk, Philharmonia Baroque presented a Prelude Recital featuring recent graduates of the Juilliard School: violinist Alana Youssefian, oboist David Dickey, and violoncellist Keiran Campbell, accompanied by Hanneke van Proosdij on harpsichord. This ensemble performed Handel’s Trio Sonata in B-flat Major, Vivaldi’s Sonata for Violin, Violoncello and Continuo in C minor, RV 83, and Telemann’s Trio for Violin, Oboe and Continuo in G minor.