Public Comment

A ban, not a moratorium, on human embryo modification

Stuart Newman and Tina Stevens
Friday June 28, 2019 - 05:22:00 PM

A twin birth in China last October raised ominous questions. The baby girls had been genetically edited as embryos, with the untested methods providing no confidence in healthy outcomes. The subsequent fallout has been confusing: a blue-ribbon group of scientists and ethicists sent a letter to the Secretary of Health and Human Services in late April recommending a moratorium, following a similar call in the scientific journal Nature. In both cases, the door was left open to clinical use if and when relevant stakeholders are satisfied it should proceed. And if the federal government won’t fund it, the tax-payer supported California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) could.

When the relevant science (developmental biology) is considered, however, it becomes evident that embryo modification cannot proceed safely. Time-buying measures such as moratoria are simply strategies to deny this reality and enable its eventual implementation. But the question of whether embryos can be safely engineered has long been settled: they cannot. This is clear from experiments on animal embryos, where altered genes are seen to behave in unpredicted ways, and in human population studies, where genetic mutations that had been found to cause disease in some individuals or groups turned out to be perfectly harmless in others. -more-

Business Rhetoric: Putting A Positive Spin on Laying Off Workers

Harry Brill
Friday June 28, 2019 - 05:16:00 PM

President Trump, the GOP members of Congress, and the business community claimed that the 2117 tax law, which substantially reduces corporate taxes, would create jobs and increase wages. Instead, jobs have been cut and shipped to low wage countries. Nevertheless, large sectors of the business community continue to insist that it is committed to increasing jobs or at least not making substantial cuts. So let's take a look at the brief employment record of some of the nation's large corporations.

Take for example AT&T's public announcement that it was providing a "special bonus" to over 200,000 workers. That's great publicity for the company. Isn't it? However, that "bonus" was actually severance pay to several hundred thousand workers who were being laid off since the Trump corporate tax law was enacted. -more-

After the Cluster-debates

Bruce Joffe
Friday June 28, 2019 - 04:42:00 PM

Beyond rhetorical zingers, there is a critical need for thoughtful, compassionate, courageous, honest, responsible leaders to regain the cockpit and reverse our country's descent into an abyss of disrespect, irrationality, incompetence, and corruption. Many candidates have the good will to do so. A few have well-thought plans for doing so. Some have the experience of actually getting positive changes done in Washington. Some have a life history that commits their soul to improving a middle-class economy for working people. Some have the fire to burn Donald trump. All candidates have some of these qualifications. Elizabeth Warren has all of them. -more-

Why are there NO OUTLET signs on Elmwood streets that have outlets?

Hank Chapot
Friday June 28, 2019 - 05:38:00 PM

I worked at the Clark Kerr campus for a couple years, and I take my dogs walking above the campus. I long ago noticed that there are numerous streets in the neighborhood north of Ashby, west of the Kerr campus, between Warring and College, that have prominent NO OUTLET signs on streets that have outlets. You make a few turns because of the barriers Berkeley put in in the 1970s, but you can get to College from Piedmont, Warring or Derby if you disregard the signs. -more-

Trump’s Concentration Camps

Tejinder Uberoi
Friday June 28, 2019 - 05:04:00 PM

No one can watch the video of a dead asylum seeker lying face down with his 23-month-old daughter on the bank of the Rio Grande and not be outraged. President Trump is the architect of this grotesque crisis. He has demonized and created fear of those seeking asylum as “caravans of rapist and criminals” hardening attitudes and using Gestapo tactics to discourage new migrants. -more-

Are newly proposed state housing laws constitutional?

Bob Silvestri
Friday June 28, 2019 - 05:09:00 PM

Laws such as AB 1487 and SB 330 and SB 592 intend to give unprecedented powers to regional agencies and unelected (read that as “politically appointed”) groups to levy fees and taxes to fund their own growth and housing priorities, and override local control of zoning and planning.

AB 1487, for example, proposes to create a unique "regional" government entity, using existing 'special districts' laws in a new way. As explained by Marin Post Contributor Sharon Rushton,

The stated purpose of AB-1487 is to "establish the 'Housing Alliance for the Bay Area' in order to increase affordable housing in the San Francisco Bay Area by providing enhanced funding and technical assistance for tenant protection, affordable housing preservation, and new affordable housing production." The bill authorizes the creation of a bay area regional housing finance agency. The agency would have the authority to impose region-wide special taxes (including parcel taxes, business taxes, and transactions and use tax), issue bonds, incur and issue debt, buy and sell land, and allocate funds, among other powers.

“It is unclear how many of the measures that generate revenues would require voter approval pursuant to the California Constitution. Proponents of the bill hope to raise $1.5 billion annually.”

Since our state legislators began to move forward in earnest with an almost endless variety of these “housing crisis” remedy bills such as SB 828, SB 50, AB 1487, SB 330, and others, Community Venture Partners been questioning the constitutionality of their efforts to wrest control of zoning and planning away from duly-elected local governments -- See State Housing Laws: Questioning the Constitutionality of Recent Legislation.

In the past two years others are, increasingly, questioning the constitutionality of all these laws and have begun to present legal arguments in the courts and elsewhere.

In January of 2019, the City of Huntington Beach, California filed a lawsuit against the State of California to overturn Senate Bill 35, a 2018 law which streamlines processes for building new housing developments. As reported in the San Francisco Chronicle, “Huntington Beach’s lawsuit contends that the state’s Constitution grants charter cities exclusive authority over local land use and zoning.”

Recently, Nicholas Waranoff, a retired attorney who lives in Orinda, sent the State Assembly Committee on Local Government and State Senate Governance and Finance Committee letters challenging the constitutionality of AB 1487 and SB 330 and SB 592. Those letters are attached below. His letters make a compelling argument that both proposed laws violate the California State Constitutional “right that cities have to control land use within their boundaries.” -more-


Diane Woolley Bauer, 1932- 2019

Carol Denney
Friday June 28, 2019 - 11:10:00 AM
Diane Bauer  1932-2019

She was a muck-raking investigative reporter, a cab driver, a U. S. Senate press aide, a merchant seaman, and a mother of four who served on Berkeley's Waterfront Commission as well as two terms on the Berkeley City Council. She was briefly hospitalized, and died surrounded by family on June 7th, 2019 after a few years of declining health. She leaves a legacy of extraordinary work both as a journalist and as a Berkeley councilmember dedicated to serving District 5's neighborhoods.

Diane Woolley Bauer's father was a writer with MGM in Los Angeles, where she was born, but had been a commander in the British Royal Navy who served in World War I. He was called back for World War II and stationed in Jamaica, where Diane spent a portion of her young life. After the war the family moved to Washington D.C. where during her college years Diane took a two-week job as a vacation replacement for what was then called a copy girl at the Washington Post and her career as an investigative reporter began.

She became the youngest reporter in Washington D.C. Then-owner of the Post, Eugene Meyer, set aside the rule requiring that reporters have a college degree to put Bauer in charge of what is now called the Style section of the Post covering "politicians, diplomats and debutantes", as she put it, doing the layout and writing an advice column for college girls under her picture and byline. It should go without saying that women were an uncommon part of such workplaces.

She continued to work part-time as a young wife and mother writing ad copy, serving as a U.S. Senate press aide and a campaign director, but excelled as a self-taught journalist. She is credited for doubling the Washington Daily News' Maryland circulation with her hard-driving public interest stories, often scooping the full-timer reporters at the Washington Post and Evening Star. When the Daily News folded into the Evening Star she was one of the few reporters who were kept on. She wrote, investigated, and consulted for public interest research and law firms working special assignments for Newsweek, CBS television, panels, and documentaries such as ABC's "The Paper Prison" specializing in courts, police and prisons, juvenile detention, privacy and records-keeping, and medical ethics. One of her pieces on juvenile offenders' treatment provoked a letter from J. Edgar Hoover defending the FBI's procedures; she kept the letter.

Her work was so thorough it is cited in several books on civil liberties, behavior modification, privacy, and bioethics as well as some Supreme Court cases. Her writing is credited for playing a role in highlighting atrocities and instituting reforms at Maryland's infamous Patuxent Institution where she revealed an expensive behavior modification scandal. Author Nat Hentoff wrote a story about her tireless investigative journalism, including the illumination of "a hitherto hidden form a secret intelligence unit to combat organized crime" which her writing revealed arranged to violate, among other things, privacy laws. The unit had to be scrapped.

Diane Woolley Bauer left an indelible mark on her North Berkeley neighbors who knew her tirelessness in tracking down and fixing neighborhood problems:

"When huge gasoline tanker trucks rumbled unnecessary blocks through our neighborhood, Ms. Bauer, a grandmother, left her home late at night to follow them to their destinations, interviewed the drivers as to route problems, went to the city traffic engineering department to research, and advised and them cajoled public officials until the matter was cured." - Kiran Singh, President, King-Grove Neighborhood Association.

Singh, in a letter recommending Diane receive the Outstanding Berkeley Woman award, cites Diane as having organized a drive collecting over 500 signatures to win a change in bus routing, alerting the neighborhood to a chemical spill, spending hours helping a disoriented senior, and reorganizing the park sprinkler schedule so children at play wouldn't get wet. She took that sense of civic engagement to the City Council for two terms under the slogan "Results, Not Rhetoric", where she at times confounded both factions with her independence. She was unfailingly dignified and thorough in requests for clarification from the city manager or the city attorney even if the rest of the council was impatient to move along. Her remarks were eloquent, concise, and touched with a writer's wit. She created a newsletter just for her neighborhood called "The Neighborhood" with news specific to her district promoting benefits, connecting neighbors, and highlighting issues.

"She was the true independent on the Council," said LA Wood, whose work with Carolyn Erbele documenting two notorious groundwater contamination scandals earned Diane's admiration and in some cases her vote. "She would listen. She had respect for the public."

Most people only leave the Berkeley City Council when they're voted out of office, or are about to be booted. But Diane Woolley-Bauer resigned after two terms, something almost unheard of. Her letter of resignation in July of 2000 is full of kindness, thanks for the education on "the perplexities and complexities of city government", and ends with a comic "P.S. When you have a chance, ask the next Council to increase the budget for fixing the sewers."

She is survived by her siblings Marion Mattingly and Herbert Woolley, former husband Robert Moore, her four children; Marion "George" Moore, Kathleen Romero, William Bauer, and Mona Bauer, and her grandson Alejandro Romero. Memorial plans are pending. Contact: -more-


Time to Get Going

Becky O'Malley
Friday June 28, 2019 - 11:12:00 AM

During my decade or two wandering in the wilderness, when I did both intellectual property law and marketing for the family high tech business, I went to a lot of trade shows and conferences. There I quickly learned that if I wanted to have an interesting and/or intelligent conversation with one of my fellow attendees, I should find an African-American or a woman to talk to.

Why was that? Because in those days (1980s-90s) if you were a member of a racial or gender minority you needed to be twice as qualified to get a job in big business, especially in tech. In our tiny software company, the path for some of us women was smoothed by family ties and our commitment to equal opportunity, but the big corporations we met in the marketplace had formidable barriers to entry for those who were not White men.

In a few cases, some of them (notably AT&T and IBM) had been compelled by various forms of government action to hire a few individuals from protected classes. Inevitably, kicking and screaming all the way, they hired the best and the brightest from such classes.

I was reminded of that experience as I watched the last two nights of what were called debates, but were actually, if you will, political versions of a county fair, a place where the Democrats could showcase and compare the products they might be offering to the electorate in November of 2020. It was apparent to me that here, as in my business experience, the women and the people of color were head and shoulders above the chorus, because they had to be in order to get on the stage at all. -more-

The Editor's Back Fence

Ignoring History, San Francisco Will Be Doomed to Repeat It.

Becky O'Malley
Sunday June 30, 2019 - 03:43:00 PM

I am personally outraged that the San Francisco School Board has voted to destroy the Victor Arnautoff mural in George Washington High School which shows deplorable acts in the first president's life, including holding slaves and fighting against Native Americans. Clearly the school board members didn't understand that hiding history will not erase it. San Franciscans should not entrust the education of their children to such ignorant and ill-informed politicians. The full details are in this New York Times op-ed by Bari Weiss:San Francisco Will Spend $600,000 to Erase History

If you want to let them know what you think, here are their email addresses: -more-


THE PUBLIC EYE: Kamala’s Big Night

Bob Burnett
Friday June 28, 2019 - 04:37:00 PM

The June 26 and 27 Democratic presidential debates served two purposes: to introduce the twenty top-tier candidates and to determine who was best suited to take on Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election. The results were somewhat unexpected; on both debate nights the winners were women: Senators Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris.

Watching a two two-hour debates, each featuring 20 candidates, is like speed dating. Blink and you'd miss a clever quip or an awkward response. There were chaotic periods and many missed opportunities to explain progressive policies to the voters. -more-


Conn Hallinan
Monday June 24, 2019 - 12:19:00 PM

For the second time in a row, Turkish voters have rebuked President Recep Tayyir Erdogan’s handpicked candidate for the mayoralty of Istanbul, Turkey’s largest and wealthiest city. The secular Republican People’s Party (CHP) candidate, Ekrem Imamoglu, swamped Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) candidate Binali Yildirim in an election that many see as a report card on the President’s 17 years of power. -more-

ECLECTIC RANT:Is Trump above the law?

Ralph E.Stone
Friday June 28, 2019 - 05:34:00 PM

Although the Supreme Court in Clinton v. Jones ruled a itting president is not above the law, I'm not so sure this is true in fact in the case of President Donald Trump. -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Pursuing Goals Wisely

Jack Bragen
Friday June 28, 2019 - 05:31:00 PM

Many people who suffer with delusional thinking due to psychiatric illness may have chosen paths that will not work in fulfilling their expectations. There are numerous possible reasons for this. If the thought processes are not "tracking reality," it impacts the ability to chart a course in life. The same absence of tracking impacts functioning in numerous areas of life. -more-

Arts & Events

With A Libretto by Colette, Ravel’s L’ENFANT ET LES SORTILÈGES Is Magical

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Tuesday July 02, 2019 - 10:25:00 AM

San Francisco Symphony closed out its current season with three performances, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, June 27, 29-30, of Maurice Ravel’s magical one-act opera L’Enfant et les sortilèges. Whether the French word sortilèges is translated as “magic spells,” “enchantments,” or “supernatural spirits,” this charming opera is set to a libretto by Colette as a kind of fairy tale written for her daughter. Ravel, who identified with children, took great pains in setting this text to glorious music full of surprising shifts of tone, mood, and vocal and instrumental color. Though long considered difficult to stage, L’Enfant et les sortilèges was given imaginative treatment by French video artist Grégoire Pont, who staged it for Opéra National de Lyon in 2016 It is this scintillating production by Grégoire Pont and director James Bonas that graced our performances at Davies Symphony Hall. -more-

'Hippie Family Values' Screens Sunday at the East Bay Media Center, Downtown Berkeley, with the Filmmaker Present

Ken Bullock
Friday June 28, 2019 - 04:44:00 PM

'Hippie Family Values,' a documentary made over 10 years about the generations of residents on a 40 year old New Mexico commune, will screen at 3:30 this Sunday, June 30th, at the East Bay Media Center, 1939 Addison, between Milvia & MLK, downtown Berkeley. Admission: $10. -more-


The Berkeley Activist's Calendar, June 30 - July 7

Kelly Hammargren, Sustainable Berkeley Coalition
Saturday June 29, 2019 - 01:35:00 PM

Worth Noting:

Deadline - July 5, 2019 at 5:00 pm for commenting on the Draft Adeline Corridor Specific Plan and the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR)

The agenda for the July 9th City Council meeting is available for comment and follows the day by day summary for June 30 – July 7.

Some of the July City meetings were cancelled because of the 4th of July Holiday and others are rescheduled for later in the month.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

San Francisco Pride Parade, parade starts at 10:30 am at Market and Beale and ends at Market and 8th, for details check

Monday, July 1, 2019 -more-

Back Stories



Time to Get Going 06-28-2019

The Editor's Back Fence

Ignoring History, San Francisco Will Be Doomed to Repeat It. 06-30-2019

Public Comment

A ban, not a moratorium, on human embryo modification Stuart Newman and Tina Stevens 06-28-2019

Business Rhetoric: Putting A Positive Spin on Laying Off Workers Harry Brill 06-28-2019

After the Cluster-debates Bruce Joffe 06-28-2019

Why are there NO OUTLET signs on Elmwood streets that have outlets? Hank Chapot 06-28-2019

Trump’s Concentration Camps Tejinder Uberoi 06-28-2019

Are newly proposed state housing laws constitutional? Bob Silvestri 06-28-2019


Diane Woolley Bauer, 1932- 2019 Carol Denney 06-28-2019


THE PUBLIC EYE: Kamala’s Big Night Bob Burnett 06-28-2019

DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE:Turkey Takes a Turn Conn Hallinan 06-24-2019

ECLECTIC RANT:Is Trump above the law? Ralph E.Stone 06-28-2019

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Pursuing Goals Wisely Jack Bragen 06-28-2019

Arts & Events

With A Libretto by Colette, Ravel’s L’ENFANT ET LES SORTILÈGES Is Magical Reviewed by James Roy MacBean 07-02-2019

'Hippie Family Values' Screens Sunday at the East Bay Media Center, Downtown Berkeley, with the Filmmaker Present Ken Bullock 06-28-2019

The Berkeley Activist's Calendar, June 30 - July 7 Kelly Hammargren, Sustainable Berkeley Coalition 06-29-2019