Full Text

Twitter statement from South Berkeley Now steering committee member--later deleted
Twitter statement from South Berkeley Now steering committee member--later deleted


TONIGHT: Support 100% Affordable Housing at Ashby BART

Margy Wilkinson, Friends of Adeline
Tuesday February 04, 2020 - 11:11:00 AM
Twitter statement from South Berkeley Now steering committee member--later deleted
Twitter statement from South Berkeley Now steering committee member--later deleted

Development of the Adeline neighborhood must reverse the displacement of African Americans and the severe housing crisis for low-income, working-class, and unhoused people.

Come to the special city council meeting TONIGHT to speak up for the affordable housing that our community needs! This is a special meeting, starting at 6pm at the School District Board Room, 1231 Addison St. Please also write a letter to council@cityofberkeley.info.

We demand the following in the city’s Adeline Plan:

  1. Guarantee a future for the Ashby flea market and its vendors at the Ashby BART site.
  2. Provide a site and funding for the African American Holistic Resource Center.
  3. 100% affordable housing at Ashby BART. Any housing on BART land must be 100% affordable for extremely low-, very low-, and low-income people.
  4. No fee-out. Developers should not be allowed to pay a fee to get out of building the low-income housing we need. Low-income housing should be built on-site, in every project built in the neighborhood, and should include family-sized, 2-3 bedroom units.
  5. Commit real money to affordable housing. Dedicate one-third of our Housing Trust Fund to South Berkeley, with at least a minimum of $50 million over 10 years.
Read our full vision here: http://www.friendsofadeline.org/south-berkeley-needs-a-peoples-plan-for-adeline-street/

We are dismayed to see that there are people fighting against 100% affordable housing on public land at Ashby BART. Please come out tonight and show that South Berkeley supports 100% affordable housing that people in our community can actually afford! Below is our open letter in response.

Dear South Berkeley Now, Over the weekend, a steering committee member of your organization made the accompanying reproduced statement on Twitter. This person later deleted the tweet and wrote an apology on Twitter.

This tweet feeds a false and dangerous narrative that poor people “cause” multi-generational poverty, an idea that has been used to assert biological and cultural superiority of some groups over others and is rooted in white supremacy. This narrative has been weaponized to defund services that support low-income people and people of color.

The problem with concentrated poverty is NOT the concentration of poor people, but how people in power use segregation to deny resources to, and exploit, low-income people and people of color.

The way to solve this problem is not by fighting against 100% affordable housing, but by fighting for 1) more power and voice for low-income communities and communities of color to get 2) resources that meet their needs, including 3) new, low-income housing, especially in communities such as Berkeley.

Though the person apologized for this tweet, South Berkeley Now continues to invoke this same dangerous narrative. On Sunday night, your organization sent a new mass email warning that “100% low income subsidized housing at Ashby BART would mean… Concentration of low income residents in one location.”

To be clear:

  1. There’s nothing wrong with low-income people living together.
  2. “Affordable housing” in our city covers a wide range of incomes, up to $98,550 for a family of four.
  3. In our neighborhood, the median income is $46,500. There is active displacement, especially of the Black community. 100% affordable housing is an essential neighborhood stabilization strategy, and this is what we should be using our public lands for.
Warning against the “concentration of low-income residents” is a dog whistle. In a historically Black neighborhood undergoing extreme gentrification, many people will read “low income” as code for Black. We want to believe that this is not who you want to be. We call on you to publicly apologize and join our demands for 100% affordable housing and a guaranteed future for the flea market and its vendors at the Ashby BART site.

Read our full vision here: http://www.friendsofadeline.org/south-berkeley-needs-a-peoples-plan-for-adeline-street/

It matters who new housing is for. We live in one of the richest places that have ever existed in the history of the world. Committing resources to stabilize our neighborhood, strengthen our Black community, and invest in the housing that our community needs is worth fighting for.

-Friends of Adeline

Around & About--Khalil Wilson & the Good Luck Trio, Jazz Vocals & Piano, This Friday at California Jazz Conservatory for Black History Month

Ken Bullock
Tuesday February 04, 2020 - 10:18:00 PM

Brilliant local jazz vocals star Khalil Wilson teams up with some longtime collaborators in the Good Luck Trio--Javier Santiago, piano; Giulio Xavier Cetto, bass and Berkeley's great young drum prodigy, Genius Wilson--for a program honoring Sarah Vaughan and Oscar Peterson, celebrating Black History Month for the California Jazz Conservatory this Friday at 8, Rendon Hall, 2040 Addison, a half block off Shattuck and Downtown Berkeley BART. Tickets: $15-20 at: cjc.edu/concerts/ 

Santiago's debut album, 'Phoenix,' 2018, featured national jazz stars like Nicholas Peyton, Nir Felder, John Raymond--and Berkeley High grad and alum of the Berkeley High Jazz Band. 

Khalil's sung with and been praised by music luminaries like Kenny Burrell and Carlos Santana. Genius Wilson, who was barely in his teens when he first attracted attention as a drummer, has accompanied his teacher, the late Bill Bell, Howard Wiley, Marcus Shelby, Geechi Taylor--and Faye Carol--besides working with Khalil's own group for several years.



Please, Mr. Robinson, Don't Race on Me

Becky O'Malley
Sunday February 02, 2020 - 04:07:00 PM

Rigel Robinson on Twitter: "The defeat of #SB50 is a victory for segregationists and climate denial. Tenant advocacy groups did not kill the bill, the homeowner lobby did. The solutions to our housing crisis lie in robust tenant protections and dramatic densification — yes, BOTH.”

And who might this Rigel Robinson be? He’s the newish (2018) city council member from Berkeley’s District 7, the beneficiary of the 2014 gerrymandering which followed the 2010 census, which was calculated to engineer a student-majority district. He’s a recent post-student, 22 years old, but evidently his education so far hasn’t included much about history.

The tweet quoted above is deeply offensive to those of us who have been laboring in the progressive vineyards for more than a few years.

Let’s get something perfectly clear, Mr. Robinson:

Nobody races on me.

One more time, with feeling.


I was fighting segregation in Berkeley and Ann Arbor not just years, but decades and even generations before you were born, so don’t call you dare call me by that dirty name, the moral equivalent of the unmentionable epithets for people of African or Asian descent.

I take grievous offense at being called a segregationist by the likes of you. As do my peers. You owe us a major apology.

Thinking that SB50 would be bad law does not make us segregationists or climate deniers, and even being homeowners, if we are, does not make us demons. 

Among other things, you should know that many groups representing low income people, people of color and yes, tenant advocates came out against SB50. 

Google, if you must, the name of Damien Goodmon, just for one. Read his twitter posts. And take a look at this letter from some of the progressive groups which opposed SB50: http://allianceforcommunitytransit.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/SB-50-Oppose-Unless-Amended.pdf 

Didn’t you see the magnificent series of direct actions by Oakland’s Moms 4 Housing, including the one where they shouted down Senator Scott Wiener and Berkeley’s own Wienerite Nancy Skinner on the steps of Oakland City Hall? 

They weren’t fooled by SB50, the bill authored by Wiener, the single biggest recipient of real estate lobby campaign contributions in the California legislatures

SB50 is not about segregation. It’s all about capitalist gentrification, about handing over areas which are now home for elderly residents of previously red-lined communities of color to speculative developers of expensive apartments for well-off people who are predominantly young and of European or Asian descent. 

This includes South and West Berkeley. When I first came to Berkeley as an undergraduate in 1959, those neighborhoods were dominated by African Americans, many of them homeowners, who had taken the place of Japanese Americans displaced by internment in World War II. 

African and Asian Americans were not allowed to purchase houses east of Grove Street (now Martin Luther King), a form of segregation aided and abetted by local realtors. As a result, their family homes, both owned and rented, were predominantly in South and West Berkeley. 

This situation persisted through the 1960s, but thanks to the efforts of both Black and White Berkeleyans, people like Arlene Slaughter and William Byron Rumford, families of color who can afford the insane prices are now able to buy homes all over Berkeley. 

But in the last decade the older generation of Black homeowners and renters in South and West Berkeley have been pushed out, in part by predatory lending and foreclosure in the subprime mortgage scandal. Their children and grandchildren will not benefit from fancy high-rent apartment construction in their old neighborhoods. 

Evidently Councilmember Robinson wasn’t paying attention when Councilmember Ben Bartlett, whose family has deep roots in South Berkeley, lamented eloquently during a Council housing discussion that none of the proposed units would really replace the homes of families of color that were taken by eminent domain and demolished to build BART around the Ashby station. 

Yes, those were the despised single family homes, the kind now demonized by the Wiener gang. 

And even the promised small percentage of required inclusionary affordable apartments in proposed developments, if they ever materialize, won’t replace the cheery bungalows with room for some collards and tomato plants in their, OMG, Back Yards which used to be home to Berkeley’s African and Asian American families. 

All “single family home” really means is a collection of bedrooms which share a kitchen, a common living room and a bathroom and have direct access to the out-of-doors. Houses like these have been the backbone of the Berkeley flats since the 19th century. Over the years, I’ve enjoyed sharing my “single family” homes with all kinds of people, both here and in the Midwest. 

Historically Berkeley’s “single family” homes been shared by eclectic groups of students as well as by nuclear and mult-generational families of blood relatives. One of my undergraduate homes was a classic Berkeley brown shingle at Channing and Telegraph in which all the other residents were brainy girls from Taiwan studying physics and chemistry—I learned a lot about cooking and a few words of Mandarin from them. 

In segregated Ann Arbor in the 1960s as a White couple we were able to rent a house in a White neighborhood which we could then share with Black housemates. We spent our first few years there getting a fair housing law passed. 

Which brings us to Robinson’s equally offensive slur on those who question SB50 and its progeny. 

“Climate denial?” 

That’s nonsense. 

Many of us recognize SB50 and its co-conspiratorial brethren as the neo-liberal supply-side sucker play that they are. This does not make us climate deniers—quite the contrary. 

We grownups have been fighting to save the environment and protect the climate since before Mr. Robinson was out of disposable diapers (which we never used on our kids.) 

In the 60s I also lived in a 19th century 3-bedroom Victorian cottage on Blake Street in Berkeley with a rotating cast of roomates and a huge fig tree out back. That one was demolished in the 60s to make way for a cheaply built 3-unit apartment which is now visibly disintegrating into a soft-story teardown. 

There’s plenty of credible research to prove that the greenest building is the one which already exists. This is especially true of the remaining solid pre-1960 structures built of old-growth redwood which are still standing when their ticky-tacky new neighbors are falling down. Tearing them down to build luxury condos for the profit of speculators carries an enormous cost in non-renewable climate-altering resources. Developers won’t tell you that, however. 

I am strongly tempted to go all Grandma on Berkeley Councilperson Rigel Robinson and demand that he have his mouth washed out with soap for calling those of us who dispute his facts by nasty names. 

The dapper bow-tied clergyman who prayed before the impeachment hearings (I didn’t get his name) somewhat wistfully quoted the scripture passage that “the truth will make us free.” If only. 

In the age of Twitter, no truth need be invoked before stupid snap judgements like these can be instantly promulgated by any agitated politician, from the President of the United States right down to a local councilmember. But if an aspiring pol like Robinson wants to enjoy progressive support in his next race, wherever it might be, he might be wise to watch his language before he presses Send in the future. 







The Editor's Back Fence

Berkeley Councilmembers Endorse UC Plan for People's Park

Monday February 03, 2020 - 09:55:00 AM

Don't miss this. Arreguin, Droste, Robinson are endorsing UC's redevelopment plan for the site of People's Park in today's online Chronicle.

It’s time for a new People’s Park


Public Comment

Achieving Environmental Justice

Harry Brill
Sunday February 02, 2020 - 05:48:00 PM

On Tuesday, February 4th at MacArthur Bart between 5-6:30pm we will be gathering to promote public transit as a civil right, as a strategy to combat climate change and as a creator of union jobs. This day has been designated BAY AREA TRANSIT EQUITY DAY.  

As a result of corporate policy, which places a very high value on profit at the expense of the public, our environment is deteriorating as the nation’s gas driven vehicles continuously poison the air. Among the adverse consequences millions of Americans are suffering serious health problems and also their lives are being cut short. In fact, life expectancy in the United States has declined in the last three years. Although there are various reasons why, certainly breathing fowl air 24 hours a day is among the major causes.  

Beginning in the late 1930s General Motors led the way in dismantling public transportation to compel the public to purchase automobiles. The company began buying non-polluting electrically driven streetcars and then shutting them down. The oil and tire industries also invested in this enterprise. With the cooperation of public officials, public transportation was confiscated in 25 cities including Oakland and Los Angeles.  

Later on, the corporations expanded their ownership or control to additional transportation systems in 45 cities. Currently 45 percent of Americans have no access to public transportation. Moreover, the U.S. transit agencies have aggravated the problem. Rather than attempting to improve service to stay competitive with the auto industry, almost every transit agency slashed service to cut costs.  

Although many companies were convicted of conspiracy to monopolize interstate commerce in the sale of buses and fuel, they were eventually acquitted. But weren’t substantial fines imposed to discourage these companies from engaging in illegal activities? Unfortunately not. The multimillion dollar General Motors Corporation was fined only $5,000 and the corporation treasurer, H.C. Grossman, who played a key role in promoting General Motor’s program, was fined only one dollar! Hmmmm, did he actually pay the dollar fine?  

Particularly important, federal, state, and local governments have been very generous in providing money to build about 47,000 miles of interstate highways to accommodate the highly polluting automobiles and trucks. Yet the public sector has been unwilling to fund a high speed non-polluting train system from San Francisco to Los Angeles, which is only several hundred miles.  

Obviously, we have a big job ahead. To stand a good chance of reducing the high level of pollution as well as addressing other environmental problems we need to recruit many more allies. Please join us on February 4th and encourage others to join us as well. In fact, to overcome the hurdles that the establishment constantly produces, we should regularly organize more Bay Area Transit Equity Days to publicize and develop strategies to enact humane and healthy alternatives.

The Failure of Senate Bill 50 – A Tale of Ignorance and Arrogance

Bob Silvestri
Friday January 31, 2020 - 05:34:00 PM

SB 50, a so-called “housing” bill authored and sponsored by Senators Wiener (D-San Francisco), McGuire (D-Marin/Sonoma), Skinner (D-Berkeley), and Senate President Pro Tem Atkins (D-San Diego), went down in defeat yesterday after two days that included three consecutive votes on the California Senate floor. The pro-SB50 Sacramento Bee called proposed law that aimed to end single family zoning in the state, an “ambitious” bill that would “spur California’s cities to build more housing, increasing affordability by increasing supply.”

Notwithstanding the fact that the vast majority of cities in California do not build housing (private developers do), or finance housing (private lenders do), and that the bill contained no substantive provisions or viable solutions to address housing affordability -- or even any evidence that its supply and demand thesis was valid -- the mainstream media has been quick to inundate us with vociferous blame and shame, calling the SB 50 "no" vote a failure of vision, a lack of courage, and worse.

But they are wrong. SB 50 failed because its fundamental premise is incorrect.

Affordable housing in California and the rest of the country for that matter is not a “zoning” problem.[1] It is an income and wealth inequality problem and a lack of financial tools to tap private capital for public good. And that is in great part the direct result of national and state income tax and corporate subsidy policies.


One hour at $217 million a minute 

Yesterday, in one hour of trading on the NASDAQ Exchange, following Amazon’s announcement of its quarterly earnings, Jeff Bezos “earned” $13 billion. That one hour sum is 433 times the annual salary of the person working at Amazon, who is packing and shipping your purchases: 30% of whom need government assistance (e.g., food stamps) to make ends meet. 

Now add to that that Mr. Bezos already makes hundreds of times what his employees make on any given day. 

As noted in an article in Business Insider

"An Amazon worker earning the $15 minimum wage would need to work about 597,412 hours, or 24 hours a day for about 68 years, just to earn what Bezos makes in one hour.” 

$13 billion is 203 times the average annual salary of the average employed person in California ($63,783), and 277 times the average (median) annual salary of an employed adult in the United States ($47,060). 

Then consider that the average U.S. wage earner will pay a much, much higher percentage of their overall earnings toward taxes of all kinds (income, sales, property, and fees), than either Mr. Bezos or his corporation (which last year paid nothing). 

At some level all the rationalizations about hard work, having smarts, and a get-up-and-go attitude fall by the wayside. It is not hard to argue that there is something very wrong with a system that allows this level of disparity. 

This is a reflection of a system of taxation and public subsidy, favoring corporations over individuals, that is not working. Government tax subsidy should be reserved for things that are really needed like clean energy, green building technologies, environmental protection, food safety, education, healthcare, and home ownership, not trillion dollar companies. 

With regard to housing affordability, consider this. $13 billion is 31% more than the entire U.S. federal budget allocation for Low Income Housing Tax Credits, to fund affordable housing development in the entire country, for an entire year. 

If you want affordable housing, it helps to use real data 

Senators McGuire, Wiener, Atkins, and Skinner are trading on hysteria, heavily funded by major financial interests who are more than happy to fund ego-driven, dim politicians, and self-serving advocacy groups to carry water for them. 

But the facts show that their entire argument about housing affordability being so uniquely acute in California's major jobs centers is simply false. 

Real housing affordability is not based on housing prices or anecdotal impressions of what is or is not expensive. It is based on what percentage of a person’s or a household’s earnings are required to go toward housing. And there is no better gauge than rental rates, because rental rates can be tracked in real time and data is plentiful and reliable, unlike housing “sales” prices (e.g., Zillow is notoriously bad at such data). 

So, how does the San Francisco Bay Area, Senator Wiener’s own city, stack up nationally in terms of affordability? 

The counter-intuitive answer is, it is far down on the list when compared to other cities that one ordinarily thinks of as inexpensive: places like San Bernardino, El Cajon, Pomona, Stockton, Modesto, and Bakersfield. In fact, based on current statistics and maps published by the U.S. Federal Reserve, and a study by Harvard University, based on U.S. Census data, done in 2012, San Francisco is only 271 on the list (see attachment). 

In general, the data is decisive. The overall “housing burden” in the poorer cities, counties, and regions is far greater than the financial burdens for residents in many of our major cities. This is true because wages and benefits are so much lower there. 

So, if we wanted to help provide more affordable housing in our state, wouldn’t we prioritize those areas with the greatest financial burdens (and the least political power), first? If we did and studied how to address that, we would soon be sharply focused on one thing: income inequality. 

We do not have an affordable housing problem. We have an overall affordability problem. Until we address that and the root causes, we will never successfully address housing. 

The fabulous 50s and public subsidy 

In the wake of the failure of SB50, many are scrambling to quickly find “the solution.” But all this is amounting to is a regression to old shop-worn and failed ideas, like resurrecting our failed redevelopment agencies, or supporting ill-conceived legislation to mimic them. A perfect example of this nonsense is Senate Bill 795, proposed and endorsed by some of the same people that brought us SB50: Senators Beall and McGuire. 

The lack of knowledge and imagination in Sacramento is really astonishing. Our “representatives” apparently know little about economics, markets, or how housing gets built (and they seem to never bother to ask those who do), so they continue to advise throwing taxpayer money into top-down black holes. 

SB 795 proposes to fund housing (undefined how) with an annual budget of $200 million a year. That amount won’t even cover the cost of the administration of the funds by all the new staff for public agencies and review boards the bill requires. Worst of all, it revives the ill-fated idea of project based bonds, that proved to be so disastrous in the past that they became illegal on federally funded, multifamily housing projects after the S&L crisis of the 1980s. 

SB 795 is a waste of time and money. If anything, we need to reduce the number, size and complexity of state agencies and force those that exist to become much more cost effective, not increase it. But even opponents of SB 50 are falling for it in their hope to find something. Still, there's no value in going off half-cocked. 

I’ve written about the nexus between economics and housing affordability and tax law before, but it’s worth repeating

From the late 1940s through the early 1970s, the federal income tax rate on earnings over $1 million was about 90 percent. It’s pretty hard to have a lot of income and wealth disparity or become a tech billionaire in that kind of tax environment. 

So, where did all that money go and who benefited from the biggest exercise in wealth redistribution ever undertaken in our country? The answer is everyone. It went to funding the “commons,” the needs that were shared by everyone: the things we are spending hardly anything on today. 

Those tax revenues helped build public schools, hospitals, libraries, community colleges, and our interstate highway and aviation systems. It subsidized building bridges and tunnels and water and sewer projects, public transportation and subway systems, the telecommunications backbone and power grid, and endless other public and private infrastructure projects. 

Those tax revenues sent 7.8 million World War II veterans to college and provided low cost loans and federal guarantees to tens of millions of new home buyers, and it financed the building millions of units of public housing. Contrary to myth, the 1940s, 50s and 60s in America witnessed the greatest socialist policy experiment and the greatest redistribution of wealth in the modern era anywhere in the democratic world. And it created a more egalitarian society than the country had ever known. 

Wiener and his ilk will read this and say, this proves that more state and regional government, more big agencies, and more taxes are all needed to fix our housing "crisis." But they would be dead wrong about everything except more progressive taxes on the highest earnings. 

Because things have changed. Our economy has changed. We can’t look to the past for ideas. We have to move forward. We need to embrace collaboration using enabling technology and empower local government with the tools it needs to address housing needs. 

Today, affordable housing development has little to do with zoning and everything to do with financing it. 

The question is how. 


[1] This statement is supported, in part, by local studies in Marin County, such as the Miller Avenue Alternative Analysis of Future Development, 2007, which showed that ample zoning for multifamily housing already exists, but remains undeveloped. Note that since the time of this analysis, the study area has been up-zoned to further accommodate multifamily development. 



PART II will be published next week. 



Bob Silvestri is a Mill Valley resident and the founder and president of Community Venture Partners, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit community organization funded only by individuals in Marin and the San Francisco Bay Area. Please consider DONATING TO CVP to enable us to continue to work on behalf of Marin residents. https://marinpost.org/blog/2020/1/31/the-failure-of-senate-bill-50-a-tale-of-ignorance-and-arrogance 



Democracy on Life Support

Jagjit Singh
Sunday February 02, 2020 - 04:46:00 PM

DJT has successfully declared war on immigrants separating children from the parents. His racist policies have emboldened white euphemists. His tax cuts have driven a big gaping hole in the federal deficit (current interest on fed debt $479B) to be paid by our children & future generations of Americans. Team trump and the Senate Republicans who are complicit in his many crimes are black slapping & giving themselves high 5’s for blocking witnesses terrified that the sordid truth of Trumps dealings with Ukraine might see the light of day. The blood of all those dead Ukrainians who died because of the delay in US military aid will wash over Trump & his disgusting minions. The age of courageous independent thinkers seems to have vanished. Democracy is on life support.

Our Government Has Split Off from the Law: Analogous to Psychosis

Jack Bragen
Sunday February 02, 2020 - 04:58:00 PM

As the reader has seen and heard, we've had an impeachment, (almost done at the time I'm writing this) that was a mockery the Constitution. 

The U.S. Government has decided they do not care about following basic ethics, and the intent of the law. They do not care whether the U.S. will continue to be a free country. They've sided with the rogue President, and what we have is a roomful of hoodlums in suits and neckties. 

The government has split off from the intent of the law, and furthermore, has split off from the letter of the law. Those Republicans who could have put a stop to this have already resigned, forced out of a sinking ship like in the scene in the movie "Titanic" in which all the rats on board jumped ship. 

The members of government have decided, damn the Constitution, damn the fate of the U.S., it is every Senator out for themselves. And damn obeying the law. 

Schizophrenia is often characterized as "split personality." This is not to be misunderstood. It does not mean "multiple personality," which is a completely different disorder. Split personality means the personality of the patient is split off from reality. Our government is headed toward that. They've begun by disregarding the law. The next step is to disregard obvious facts. Actually, the Republicans have already gotten to that step. 

This splitting-off of people at top levels of government will spread to all levels of government. We are looking at a dystopic future of the United States. 

The upcoming election will be rigged in some manner or will not happen as planned. Some type of national emergency will happen. Or some other strategy will be used to disrupt or corrupt the 2020 election. The bad guys have a plan--an educated guess. 

What can we do about this? If everyone was like me, we could have collective disobedience. That could take the form of collectively not paying taxes. Another idea is for millions of individuals to sue the President and Congress in small claims courts. It could take the form of government employees not showing up for work. 

What are the other options? We could have another impeachment. When Trump becomes emboldened to do more stupid, criminal acts, the House of Representatives could impeach again. Why not? We could keep impeaching every time Trump breaks the law. 

Or, we could force Congress to take antipsychotics.

Berkeley Patients Group - Bad Community Partner

Carol Denney
Sunday February 02, 2020 - 07:49:00 PM

No good community partner would situate a marijuana dispensary and smoking lounge one storefront from a public library, even if there was no technical prohibition. 

No good community partner would situate a marijuana dispensary and smoking lounge closer than 600 feet to a Head Start school, even if there was no technical prohibition. 

No good community partner would situate a marijuana dispensary and smoking lounge across the street from three stories of low-income family housing, even if there was no technical prohibition. 

No good community partner would situate a marijuana dispensary and smoking lounge anywhere without talking to the neighbors at all until after signing a lease. 

No good community partner would situate a marijuana dispensary and smoking lounge in a commercial district's most prominent storefront where the windows have to be blacked out, which subtracts from the nexus of products in storefronts that creates variety and interest. 

No good community partner would run a marijuana dispensary and smoking lounge and insist that their security guard will "prohibit loitering", which is perfectly legal under Berkeley law. To do so would violate civil rights. 

No good community partner would allow a marijuana dispensary to have a smoking lounge where employees will get heavy doses of involuntary exposure, a labor issue we thought we had won.  

No good community partner would argue for a smoking lounge by spreading the fallacy that Berkeley apartment dwellers can't smoke marijuana in their units - they can. Berkeley's restrictions exempt marijuana. 

No good community partner would situate a marijuana dispensary and smoking lounge that attracts between 800 and 1,000 customers per day before their planned expansion at the most congested, backed up intersection in both District 1 and District 2. 

No good community partner would allow their marijuana dispensary customers to attend a Berkeley City Council meeting and light up, exposing everyone there, and just laugh about it. (The Berkeley City Council just laughed, too.) 

Please call the Berkeley City Council and the Mayor. Our public health and planning policy should not be dictated by the wealthy cannabis industry. This isn't about helping people find a place to smoke - they smoke all over town without any interference or enforcement of our smokefree laws. This is just about making money.


THE PUBLIC EYE: This is the Way it Ends, Not with a Bang but a Whimper

Bob Burnett
Sunday February 02, 2020 - 04:40:00 PM

When I learned that Senate Republicans had blocked witness testimony for the Impeachment Trial, I was reminded of the concluding line from T.S. Eliot's 1925 poem, "The Hollow Men:" "This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper." I wasn't surprised that Republicans voted to let Trump off the hook; I was surprised that their coverup was so brazen.

Throughout the Impeachment Trial, I have been hoping that some Republican would take the moral high ground and recognize Donald Trump's perfidy. It's not like Trump was accused of a sexual indiscretion, and then lying about it; Trump was accused of jeopardizing national security for political gain, and then obstructing the investigation. This is a big deal, a clear impeachable offense, and it's depressing that Republicans do not acknowledge this.

In the end there were 49 votes to allow additional testimony, and 51 votes against. Two crucial Republican "swing" votes, Lamar Alexander and Lisa Murkowski, voted with the majority. They both grabbed onto political "escape outlets" that had been proffered by the Trump's legal team. 

Tennessee Senator Alexander said ( https://www.cnn.com/2020/01/30/politics/lamar-alexander-impeachment-witnesses-vote/index.html): 

"I worked with other senators to make sure that we have the right to ask for more documents and witnesses, but there is no need for more evidence to prove something that has already been proven and that does not meet the United States Constitution's high bar for an impeachable offense... It was inappropriate for the president to ask a foreign leader to investigate his political opponent and to withhold United States aid to encourage that investigation. When elected officials inappropriately interfere with such investigations, it undermines the principle of equal justice under the law. But the Constitution does not give the Senate the power to remove the president from office and ban him from this year's ballot simply for actions that are inappropriate." 

In other words, Alexander had made up his mind and saw no need for additional evidence. Rather than describe Donald Trump's action as "unlawful," Alexander deemed them "inappropriate." Wow. 

Alaska Senator Murkowski said (https://www.cnn.com/2020/01/31/politics/murkowski-impeachment-vote-statement/index.html): 

"The House chose to send articles of impeachment that are rushed and flawed. I carefully considered the need for additional witnesses and documents, to cure the shortcomings of its process, but ultimately decided that I will vote against considering motions to subpoena... Given the partisan nature of this impeachment from the very beginning and throughout, I have come to the conclusion that there will be no fair trial in the Senate. I don't believe the continuation of this process will change anything." 

Trump's legal team offered wavering Republican Senators two escape outlets: Lamar Alexander took the first, arguing that Trump did something wrong but it was not impeachable. Lisa Murkowski took the second escape route, arguing that the process was so flawed that it was not possible to have a fair Senate trial and, for that reason, no further testimony was needed. ("This is how it ends, not with a bang but a whimper.") 

Next week, the Senate will "acquit" Donald Trump. 

Observing Donald Trump over the past 4 years, we've learned he's an escape artist. Time and again, when we thought damning evidence would bring Trump down, he's skated away. (It's one of the reasons his behavior is so outrageous; Trump believes he can get away with anything.) House Speaker Nancy Pelosi resisted starting impeachment proceedings because she was afraid they would fail and Trump would be emboldened. Then came the whistleblower complaint and Pelosi had no choice but to launch an impeachment initiative. Next week, The Impeachment Trial will end. What will the consequences be? 

Trump may be emboldened but we still have John Bolton to hear from. On January 26th, the New York Times (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/26/us/politics/trump-bolton-book-ukraine.html) revealed: "President Trump told his national security adviser in August that he wanted to continue freezing $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine until officials there helped with investigations into Democrats including the Bidens, according to an unpublished manuscript by the former adviser, John R. Bolton." 

Remember that Donald Trump has long asserted that his (now) famous July 25th phonemail with Ukrainian President Zelensky was "perfect" and "there was no quid pro quo." ("Unclassified Memorandum of Telephone Conversation" between Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Zelensky (https://www.politico.com/story/2019/09/25/trump-ukraine-phone-call-transcript-text-pdf-1510770 ).) For most of us, one phrase sticks out: In return for the promise of U.S. assistance, Trump requested, "I would like you do us a favor," and asked Zelensky to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden. Trump's defense team asserted that this phrase was innocent and Trump did not intend to tie a Biden investigation to the provision of military assistance. Bolton can refute this. Bolton apparently had a conversation with Trump where Trump said there was a quid pro quo, That's a big deal. 

But beyond this, the Republican Senators have thwarted the will of the American people. On January 28th, Quinnipiac (https://www.cnn.com/2020/01/28/politics/quinnipiac-impeachment-poll-witnesses/index.html ) reported: "Three-quarters of registered voters think witnesses should be allowed to testify in the Senate impeachment trial...This includes 49% of Republicans who think witnesses should be allowed to testify, 75% of independents and 95% of Democrats." Most voters wanted to hear more evidence but Republican Senators blocked this. 

Ultimately, if voters feel cheated, they will take out their ire on Republican Senators who are vulnerable in the 2020 election: Collins (Maine), Ernst (Iowa), Gardiner (Colorado), Loeffler (Georgia), McSally (Arizona), Perdue (Georgia), Tillis (North Carolina), and possibly McConnell (Kentucky). If voters feel the Senate Impeachment trial was a coverup, then on November 3rd the American public can express their anger by voting out these Senators, and Donald Trump. 

Voters can choose to end this dreadful episode with a bang, not a whimper. 

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

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Employment: Don't Give up Too Easily

Jack Bragen
Sunday February 02, 2020 - 06:00:00 PM

Not everyone is interested in having employment. If you are mentally ill and disabled and aren't interested in that, there is nothing wrong with that. Yet, this week's column is intended for readers who have thought about working, and who wonder if they would want to try that. 

Government benefits exist because not everyone should have to work to survive. Because of that, if a person with a disability seeks work, they are doing that because they want to, and not because they have to. There are exceptions to this, since SSI gives a meagre amount. Many people can't live on what the government provides and must supplement their income with work. 

The big problem with living strictly on government benefits is the economic deprivation of that. Being broke is no fun. And, for many people on SSDI and/or SSI, the money lasts halfway through the month, and after that, we are in the dire straits of having an empty bank account. 

Many persons with mental illness are taught to believe we can't work. Persons who work in the mental health field are not invested in, or convinced of, our potential. I've been told numerous times by those who work in mental health that I am unable to work. If I believed this, I would not have pursued jobs. If I hadn't pursued work, my life up to this point would be missing something very good. The experience of having worked adds to the fabric of life. 

In my late teens I worked as a janitor, and this area of work wasn't good for me. However, in my early twenties, I was employed and self-employed in electronic repair. I also worked for temp agencies in numerous capacities. For example, at one point I was an inventory taker. At another point, I did merchandising. At another time, I performed manual labor. And I've done a number of other jobs, mostly when I was a lot younger than I am now. I was a success in less than half of the positions I tried to do. However, no one has the right to project on me that my work doesn't amount to much. 

As someone with my psychiatric disorder, I could claim that my various types of work have been far more successful than anyone should or could expect. Yet, people have criticized and have invalidated. 

The idea that we should be employed should not be a way of slamming ourselves or of being bashed by family. Work should be joy. When work isn't joy, you should not do it. The exception to this is where you need to work to survive. 

I am not claiming that fulfilling the expectations of a job will be comfortable. If you must always be comfortable, you will not be able to work. When at work, the energy necessary to perform is far more than what many mentally ill people are accustomed to. 

If we are a little older and have not been acclimated to working, it is harder to adapt. If we are unused to demanding environments, it is hard to ramp up to what is expected. Additionally, medication, especially antipsychotics, limit energy output. Thus, when we are trying to perform in a job, sometimes we are fighting against meds. This is precarious. This is so because when we rev up to meet the demands of a job, with or without ingesting a lot of caffeine, it may interfere with the effectiveness of the meds. 

I am currently in a work attempt. I am not sure of whether this will be successful. Yet, if I do not succeed in this particular job, it doesn't say anything about me. There are numerous entry-level jobs, some of which I can do and some I can't. If I never try, I will never find out. 

Being a published author is a thing that numerous professional people dream of, and which many find unattainable. I've done this, even while I've been told by professionals that I can't work, and even while their presumption is clear that I am not as good as they are. 

The thing to remember about a job is, if you stumble, if you fail, get up, brush the dust off and try again. This is a truism that many people might characterize as Republican. Yet, I have found it to be so. 

If a mistake is made in a job, don't throw out the whole job unless you have to because of the circumstances. If a job is lost, get another one. 

Or not. If you would rather take your hat out of the ring, there is nothing wrong with that. Parents and others do not have the right to belittle a mentally disabled person for not working. 

People will not hesitate to criticize your efforts. A counselor recently implied that I can't work. When I questioned/confronted her about it, she wouldn't admit it, and she deflected the question. Just because people who work in the mental health field have an opinion about us, doesn't mean they know what they are talking about. 

In a recent day in my work attempt, I had the thought that I did not really need the job, that I was doing this because I wanted to and not because I had to. This resulted in poor job performance that day. It is a disadvantage to feel that you do not really need a job. However, if you are mentally ill and if you feel that you have to do a job, this may not be accurate, and it can also create an increase in symptoms. 

In work attempts, people with mental illness must walk a fine line, one of mastering a job, which entails effort, energy and fortitude, versus keeping symptoms under control. There does not have to be this conflict, if it is a job that really suits you. But, as a third consideration, finding the ideal job is a rarity, and if we want to work, we may have to take something less than ideal. 


You're still invited to visit my professional Facebook page. I haven't added to it in a while, but will do so when I can. 



ECLECTIC RANT:Dershowitz Got it Wrong

Ralph E. Stone
Sunday February 02, 2020 - 05:45:00 PM

During the Senate trial, President Trump’s defense defense attorney Alan Dershowitz's claimed that even if the president did what people accuse him of doing, without a criminal element, the conduct didn't rise to the level of impeachable. However, this argument is, as one author put it, just “Constitutional crabgrass.”  

“High crimes and misdemeanors” is not defined in the Constitution, and as impeachment is solely a power of Congress, there is no judicial review. Thus, there is no court precedent for what constitutes “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Rather, it is whatever Congress decides it is. A majority of the House decides if there are impeachable offense(s) and if so, forwards the Articles of Impeachment to the Senate. If two-thirds of the senators vote to convict, Trump will be removed from office. Otherwise, Trump will be acquitted. 

The 2015 Congressional Research Service Report, “Impeachment and Removal” is instructive on what is impeachable conduct: "Impeachable conduct does not appear to be limited to criminal behavior. Congress has identified three general types of conduct that constitute grounds for impeachment, although these categories should not be understood as exhaustive: (1) improperly exceeding or abusing the powers of the office; (2) behavior incompatible with the function and purpose of the office; and (3) misusing the office for an improper purpose or for personal gain." 

Ergo, no criminal or criminal-like conduct is required to impeach. It has been established that Trump withheld military aid and a coveted White House meeting to pressure Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, a political rival, as well as his son Hunter Biden, who served on the board of Burisma, an Ukrainian gas company while his father was vice president, and then engaged in a coverup. Clearly, Trump is guilty of impeachable offenses.

SMITHEREENS: Reflections on Bits & Pieces

Gar Smith
Sunday February 02, 2020 - 05:23:00 PM


The February 3 edition of TIME Magazine is devoted to a celebration of youth activism around the planet. But while the editorial coverage — enhanced with photos of and essays by scores of young activists — is positive and inspiring, there are two editorial lapses that stand out as mind-bogglingly misappropriate.

First: TIME's special "Youthquake" section begins with a two-page photo collage depicting young activists holding signs in support of leading progressive campaigns. The signs read (from left to right): Save Our Children, Free Speech 4 Students, Protect Our Kids/Not Your Guns, DACA Now, Healthcare for America, System Change/Not Climate Change and #Not My President.

But the last sign on the right (shown being saluted by a trio of beefy, whiskered thirty-somethings) reads: "Protect Our Guns."

(Who knew the right to bear AK-47s was a leading Youth Culture issue?)

The second flub is even worse.

TIME has rounded up a three-page selection of essays by seven prominent youth leaders (including Parkland school shooting survivor Emma Gonzalez). TIME's editors then append three pages of short essays from six elders invited to address paternal/maternal "letters to young activists." The first page begins with a "Letter to My Students" submitted by former UN Ambassador Madeleine Albright. 

Albright remains notorious for her response to reporter Leslie Stahl during an appearance on 60 Minutes. During that 1996 interview, Stahl raised humanitarian concerns about US sanctions that resulted in the mass starvation and deaths of children in Iraq. 

"We have heard that half a million children have died," Stahl stated. "[T]hat is more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it? 

Ambassador Albright's reply: 

"I think that is a very hard choice, but the price, we think, the price is worth it." 


What's That in the Middle of the Pentagon? 

The Pentagon, famous as the headquarters of America's military, holds a secret. 

Look at aerial photos of the Pentagon over the years and you will notice something odd in the middle of the sprawling five-sided complex. In some photos there appears to be a five-acre wooded area surrounding a mysterious building. According to official records, the building was, of all things, nothing more than a "hot dog stand." Or, as one visitor described it: "a clapboard wooden kiosk for selling snacks." 

According to Pentagon lore, the Soviet Union came to believe that the hot dog stand was built to hide the entrance to a secret underground bunker and had targeted the structure for destruction with no less than two nuclear missile strikes. (In fairness, it is a mystery how a simple hot dog stand could satisfy the appetites of the Pentagon's 26,000 military and civilian workers.) 

In 2006, the hot dog stand was torn down, forcing the Pentagon's 26,000 workers to go dog-less for more than a decade. Finally, in May 2018, the empty patch was filled by a new take-out joint named Defense Dogs—"designed and concepted specifically to serve the American classic hot dog to the men and woman that serve our country." 

This being the Pentagon, the Defense Dogs menu includes an item called the "Attack Dog" (siracha aioli, candied jalapeno, green onion, jack cheese). 

Still, it's hard to imagine how the new operation—expanded to include café seating for 50 customers—can seriously attend to the snacking needs of such a large workforce. 

My guess is that Russia still has the Pentagon's hot dog stand on its nuclear target list. 

Pentagon Toys with the Idea of a "Small" Nuclear War 

The Pentagon's new "low-yield" W76-2 Trident nuclear warhead has been deployed and is currently out at sea (on board the USS Tennessee) somewhere in the Atlantic! According to Leonard Elger of the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action: "This marks a watershed moment, what is part of a return to the old Cold War thinking and strategy that involves planning for the use of tactical nuclear weapons in war fighting. Some in the Pentagon must be absolutely giddy about this; yes, it is right out of Dr. Strangelove, and this is real!" 

As the Federation of American Scientists points out, these "low-yield" weapons (which can deliver a blow more powerful than the bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki) is part of a new "escalate-to-deescalate" strategy based on the bizarre argument that creating "smaller" and "more usable" nuclear weapons will somehow discourage an atomic war. 

But given the inherent phallic imagery of man-made missiles, this display of new weaponry seems to arise mostly from a primal need for testosterone-fueled military "muscle-flexing." A way of telling other nations: "F--- You." 


Dog Fight 

Shortly after parking my car on a neighborhood street in Oakland, I heard the angry shouts. Two young men, each covered with tattoos, were barreling down the street shouting obscenities. They appeared to be wrestling with each other but, as they approached, I noticed that one of the men was struggling to keep on his feet while restraining a snarling, 40-pound dog that kept lunging at an unseen aggressor. 

I heard a woman screaming. One of the men nearly fell to the ground as the rumble approached. I tried to get a glimpse of the other mastiff but the cars parked in front of me blocked my view. 

Finally, the second contender in this sidewalk battle-of-the-beasts appeared. 

I expected a feisty German Shepherd, a Doberman Pincher, a Rottweiler Metzgerhund or a pit-bull. Instead, the second aggressor turned out to be . . . a scrappy two-pound black cat. 

While a normal cat would bolt from such a confrontation, this cat seemed to realize that the dog was on a tight leash. Thus emboldened, the cat repeatedly jumped at the angry dog, hissing, ducking, and swatting at the lunging canine with its tiny paws. It was like watching the Bruce Lee of Cats in action. 

The man with dog eventually broke away and proceeded down the sidewalk, seething with anger. Loud oaths were uttered by both men and, at one point, the tattooed dog-walker turned around and appeared ready to resume the ruckus. 

At which point, the cat-walker raised his arms in a gesture of peace and suggested: "How about we just call it even?" 

The dog-walker stormed away, resigned to his public humiliation. 

The woman-who-had-screamed was now lying flat on the street, trying to cajole the Bruce Lee of Cats to emerge from the shadows beneath a parked car. 

Bruce wasn't moving. 

Going Viral 

When the coronavirus began to bust loose in Wuhan Province, China responded quickly, moving to quarantine entire cities and shutting down rail, road, and air traffic. China even went to work building two new hospitals for potential victims, promising to complete the work within (not weeks or months but) days! 

Quarantines are essential because the virus is particularly hard to contain: it can incubate in its hosts for two weeks before the victims begin to show any signs of infection. 

So what is Washington's response? It started loading planes with hundreds of potentially exposed Americans and prepared to fly them back into the US. And the US took the additional step of ordering accelerated evacuation to people who were deemed "most susceptible" to infection. Clearing the passengers for travel involves Health workers in full hazmat suits briefly stopping passengers in daily travel wear and asked to take their temperatures before waving them on their way. (Such checks are insufficient to detect travelers who may have been exposed). 

Fortunately, initial plans to fly the potentially infected Americans to major air terminals at SFO and LAX were abandoned. Instead, they were flown to a military base in southern California. But instead of holding the travelers in quarantine for the full 14-day incubation period, the passengers were only held for three days, after which the still-potentially-infected evacuees were flown to their homes in towns across the US. Dispersing the passengers to hundreds of different locations only complicated the process of monitoring the travelers for emerging symptoms. 

According to government health officials, any of the potentially infected travelers could volunteer to remain in quarantine for the full 14-day incubation period. But it was not mandatory. 

So the US policy boils down to this: After the initial three-day-hold, 200 potentially contaminated travelers were dispersed around the country and where they would be able to expose untold thousands of family, friends and neighbors. On January 30, in the first case of coronavirus transmission inside the US, a 61-yearold Illinois woman who caught the infection in Wuhan, infected her husband. 

[Update: On January 31, the government announced it was instituting a 14-day quarantine in order to better control the potential spread of the virus.] 

By contrast, China responded to the crisis by actually constructing a multi-story 1,000-bed hospital from scratch—within five days! 


What are the odds that the Trump administration would be capable of constructing scores of brand-new hospitals across the US to accommodate thousands of coronavirus victims? It's been more than three years and Trump still hasn't built his Wall. 

Hear Ye, Hear Ye! Facing Up to the Surveillance State 

The specter of facial recognition has been trending in the news of late. Most Americans are uncomfortable with the idea of a China-style Social Credit System—where populations remain under constant watch by surveillance cameras that follow their movements while the state monitors all social and financial behaviors in order to reward and punish citizens. But I just discovered another surveillance technology that is already in place in the US of A. 

During a recent conversation with an agent for the American Automobile Association, I was informed that I was being monitored. But this went beyond the usual recorded warning: "This call may be monitored for quality assurance." (Note how the phrase "quality assurance" always remains opaque and undefined). 

According to my AAA interloper, one of the purposes of recording phone conversations is to create a "voice recognition" archive that can identify callers simply from the sound of their recorded conversations. My AAA tipster revealed the system had been in operation for "at least the last four years I've worked here." 

A little research revealed that a US Patent for "Voice and Speech Recognition for Call Center Feedback and Quality Assurance" (Patent No. 10,122,855) was filed on November 28, 2017. 

An industry posting explains how voice recognition technology can be used to improve a corporation's bottom line: "Some systems may even store the recording of the end-user, and even respond to anger and frustration by triggering calming announcements or transferring directly to a live agent. By working with a professional vendor and monitoring and reviewing the caller experience, you will improve the application and improve caller satisfaction." 

Trampling on Trump 

The Donald recently got hit by a stroke of media lightning. Some are calling the shock a Bolton-out-of-the-blue. Trump's former UN Ambassador (hard to imagine, right?) and former National Security Advisor John Bolton has let it be known that his new tell-all book includes a chapter on Ukraine. In the book, Bolton confirms that Trump admitted that he withheld military support from Ukraine as a carrot that he could use to stick Joe Biden with a corruption charge. 

In Trump's defense, Rudy Giuliani called Bolton "a backstabber." Note: Giuliani didn't accuse Bolton of lying; he accused him of a greater crime—disloyalty

It was another moment where Trump and his minions sounded like characters out of Martin Scorsese's The Irishman. ("I hear you paint White Houses.") 

And thanks to Giuliani sidekick Lev Parnas, we now have a tape with Trump's voice demanding the removal of Ukrainian ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. 

Interesting to note: As president, Trump had full authority to dismiss Yovanovitch and appoint a replacement. Instead, he turned to Parnas and used a line that could have been uttered by Tony Soprano or Vito Corleone: "Get rid of her. Get her out tomorrow. I don't care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out, OK? Do it!" 

Trump likes to call himself "a stable genius." How about "a disabled doofus"? 

Harris Biden Her Time; AOC Rooting for the Grassroots 

Kamala Harris is rumored to be contemplating an endorsement of Joe Biden's presidential bid. Related rumors suggest she is considering a Biden/Harris ticket. 

Meanwhile, an editorial in The Nation excoriates “Biden’s long record of poor judgment—on everything from the 1994 crime bill that fueled mass incarceration to his botched handling of Anita Hill’s testimony against Clarence Thomas to his defense of Bill Clinton’s brutal welfare cuts to his support for the Iraq War to his role as cheerleader for Wall Street deregulation.” The editors concluded: “It may still be unclear which Democrat is best positioned to defeat Donald Trump, but we know one thing: The answer is not Joe Biden. 

The embattled progressives within the Democratic Party don't have any illusions. According to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez "the DCCC made it clear: they aren’t going to back down from their anti-progressive blacklist." Since the DCCC has directed its financial support to mainstream Democrats, AOC and other left-leaning members of "The Squad," have created their own, independent PAC called "Courage to Change." As AOC points out, C2C will be "a progressive alternative to the DCCC. It has a revolutionary model: support working-class champions and unapologetically progressive red-to-blue candidates." C2C has announced a $1,000,000 goal "to help elect progressive candidates across the country, and reelect AOC." 

Rifling Through the Internet 

Brady PAC (aka the Brady Campaign for gun control) recently drew attention to a new worry: "Have you heard of Armslist? It’s like Craigslist... for guns." Anyone clicking on the Armslist website can buy a fully operational assault rifle without undergoing cumbersome background checks. As Armslist puts it: "No Fees, 45,000 guns for sale. The largest free gun classifieds on the web." As Brady PAC puts it: "Nothing to stop a violent criminal from purchasing a weapon.

You can click here to sign the Brady PAC petition calling for a ban on websites like Armslist. (Note: This is one of those links that asks you to fill out a survey only to find the last item on the list is a donation request.) 

Arts & Events

Anne-Sophie Mutter & Lambert Orkis Play Beethoven’s Violin Sonatas

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Sunday February 02, 2020 - 05:53:00 PM

Violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter is Artist-in-Residence at San Francisco Symphony in 2020, and she is scheduled to give three appearances here this year in celebration of the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth. On Sunday evening, January 26, Anne-Sophie Mutter teamed with her longtime collaborator pianist Lambert Orkis to perform a recital of three Beethoven violin sonatas at Davies Hall. In a brief interview printed in the program notes for this recital, Anne-Sophie Mutter spoke of her lifelong admiration for Beethoven, saying “He is more than a musician to me, he is a philosopher… and he stands for humanity.” She also spoke of the inspiration she draws from Beethoven’s life motto” “Through darkness to light.” This motto, she revealed, is reflected in her choice of sonatas for this recital. By including both the dark, agitated Opus 23 Sonata in A minor and the sunny, cheerful “Spring” Sonata in F Major, Opus 24, Mutter sought to emphasise the passage from darkness to light. Further, the famed Kreutzer Sonata in A Major, Opus 47, closes the program because it is “the pinnacle of sonata writing: You could almost describe it as a concerto for piano and violin.” 

Opening the recital was the A minor Sonata Opus 23. In a bold move, Beethoven begins this sonata with a Presto movement, a tempo usually reserved for a finale. In fact, this first movement is fast and furious, downright ferocious in tone. Its second theme, while sounding less angry than the first theme, offers plenty of nervous agitation; and this opening movement races to a dramatic ending, gloriously rendered here by Anne-Sophie Mutter and Lambert Orkis. The second movement is a slow Andante scherzoso, più allegretto, which features subtle interplay between piano and violin, sensitively performed here by Orkis and Mutter. The finale of this sonata resumes the nervous edginess of the opening movement, only this time in rondo form, thus closing out what scholars consider a curious outrider among Beethoven’s violin sonatas.  

Next on the program was the much-loved “Spring” Sonata, though this name was not bestowed on the work by the composer. Rather, it was so-named by early listeners who likened the music’s cheerfulness to the mood of the Spring season. Here the opening theme is given to the violin, a first in Beethoven’s catalogue of violin sonatas. It is a gorgeous theme, likened perhaps to a gurgling spring flowing over rocks as it descends towards the sea. The second movement is a wistful Adagio molto espressivo; and the third movement is a charming scherzo that begins with piano and violin slightly out-of-sync only to unite in the middle section’s Trio. The finale is a rondo full of lyricism, and it closes this “Spring” Sonata in a joyful mood.  

After intermission, Anne-Sophie Mutter and Lambert Orkis performed Beethoven’s famed Kreutzer Sonata in A Major, Opus 47, so-named for its dedication to French violinist Rudolphe Kreutzer, who befriended Beethoven in the former’s visit to Vienna. (Kreutzer was touched by the dedication but allegedly never played this sonata because he found it “incomprehensible.”) The opening theme is here given to the violin, then picked up by the piano. After a bit of back and forth, the two instruments play together. Then there erupts a demonic Presto full of violent contrasts. This demanding music was brilliantly performed by Mutter and Orkis. Towards the end of this opening movement Beethoven indulges in one of his signature moves, as he interrupts the momentum and nearly brings the music to a halt before suddenly resuming a headlong rush to the finish. The second movement is an Andante con variazioni which offers a series of four variations on a lyrical theme in F Major. The finale offers a brilliant tarantella Beethoven originally intended for the Kreutzer Sonata’s immediate predecessor, his Opus 30, No. 1 Sonata for Violin. For that earlier work the composer ultimately wrote a theme-and-variations movement; but when he came to compose the Kreutzer Sonata Beethoven realised he had a sure-fire finale ready in-hand in the discarded tarantella. So the Kreutzer Sonata rushes headlong in a brilliant dash only to be interrupted in its momentum by a pause towards the end before hurtling forward to a rousing close, spiritedly performed here by Anne-Sophie Mutter and Lambert Orkis. 

As an encore, Anne-Sophie Mutter announced that she and Lambert Orkis would play a piece by John Williams from her new album featuring the film music of John Williams in new adaptations written for her by the composer. Though I didn’t catch the title, the piece bore the signature of John Williams’ cloying sentimentality, albeit lushly played by Anne-Sophie Mutter. 


Alice Chung & Laureano Quant In Recital

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Sunday February 02, 2020 - 05:51:00 PM

g The first Schwabacher Recital of 2020 was held on Wednesday evening, January 29, at Taube Atrium Theatre in San Francisco’s War Memorial Building. Featured performers were 

mezzo-soprano Alice Chung and baritone Laureano Quant, accompanied on piano by Nicholas Roehler. Both Alice Chung and Laureano Quant are recent graduates of the Merola Opera Program, where they distinguished themselves in concerts and operas. Now, given a whole evening to themselves, they demonstrated that they have the talent to be opera stars of tomorrow. 

Indeed, Alice Chung may be ready now to achieve star power in the opera world. Her mezzo-soprano voice is opulent, enormous in range and power, and precisely focused even at the very top of her range. Alice Chung has the vocal power to project her voice successfully in even the largest opera house. My one reservation is that in the intimate setting of a recital in Taube Atrium Theatre, with no orchestra and only a piano accompanying her, Alice Chung may need to reign in her power a bit. Some of her high notes sung fortissimo in this setting almost risked puncturing the ear drums of the audience!  

Some of the highlights of this recital were excerpts from Les nuits d’été by Hector Berlioz. Singing in French with perfect diction, Alice Chung offered sensitive, even sensational, renderings of Le spectre de la rose, Sur les lagunes, and Absence. Likewise, Laureano Quant offered excellent renditions of Berlioz’s Villanelle, Au Cimetiere and L’ile inconnue. Earlier in the evening, the recital opened with four songs by Francesco Santoliquido. Sung in Spanish, these songs were shared equally by Laureano Quant and Alice Chung. Then Laureano Quant, who hails from 

Bogota, Colombia, sang two songs of his own composition. These songs, under the collective title of Sombras/Shades, featured angular piano accompaniment and extended dynamic range for the baritone singer. In fact, the song Les voces silenciosas/The silent voices ended with a 

dramatic whisper by Laureano Quant. Rounding out the Spanish section of the program was a lullaby from Luis Carlos Figueroa sung beautifully by Alice Chung. 

After intermission pianist Nicholas Roehler expertly performed Claude Debussy’s Prélude from Suite Bergamasque. Then Laureano Quant and Alice Chung sang four of the five Rückertlieder by Gustave Mahler. Laureano Quant gave a sensitive rendition of Ich atmet’ einen linden Duft/ I breathe a Gentle Fragrance and a spirited rendition of Liebst du um Schönheit/If you love for beauty. Alice Chung then offered a sensitive performance of Blicke mir nicht in die Lieder/Don’t look at my songs and a magisterial performance of the wonderful Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen/ I am lost to the world. The latter song, a true masterpiece, was one of the supreme highlights of the whole program.  

To close out the recital, Laureano Quant and Alice Chung sang selections from Cabaret Songs by William Bolcom. Singing in English, they acted out the break-up of a romance as they shared the song At the last lousy moments of love. They also acted out the dialogue between 

father and child in Love in the Thirties. As an encore, they sang Over the Rainbow, which they dedicated to Sheri Greenawald, the beloved Director of San Francisco Opera Center and tireless mentor of the Merola singers.

Jordi Savall and Splendor of the Iberian Baroque

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Sunday February 02, 2020 - 05:00:00 PM

Perennial favorite Jordi Savall returned to Berkeley Saturday, February 1, with La Capella Reial de Catalunya and Hespèrion XXI in a concert of Spanish Baroque music at First Congregational Church. Focussing on the musical and theatrical heritage of Spain’s Siglo de Oro, or Golden Age, which spans from roughly 1556 to 1681, Jordi Savall emphasised the interrelatedness of theatre and music. In the plays of Lope de Vega and Calderón de la Barca, to name only the most prominent playwrights, music was performed which incorporated popular songs and two and four part polyphonic harmony. Composers such as Pedro Guerrero, Manuel Machado, Gaspar Sanz, Juan Blas de Castro, and the Flemish polyphonist Matthieu Rosmarin (who Hispanicized his name to Mateo Romano), may not be household names today, but they were among the leading composers of the Siglo de Oro in Spain. Their music was performed in royal courts, churches, theatres, and the courtyards of aristocratic palaces throughout Spain and Portugal, and even in the Imperial venues in Flanders. 

The instrumental group, Hespèrion XXI is composed of Jordi Savall on treble and bass viol, Lixsania Fernández on tenor viol, Juan Manuel Quintana on bass viol, Xavier Puertas on violone, Xavier Diaz-Latorre on guitar and vihuela, Andrew Lawrence-King on Spanish Baroque harp, and David Mayoral on percussion. The vocal group, La Capella Reial de Catalunya, is composed of Èlia Casanova, soprano; Lixsania Fernández, mezzo-soprano; David Sagastume, countertenor; Victor Sordo, tenor; and Victor Torres, baritone. The musical program generally alternated between instrumental and vocal works. Opening the concert was an instrumental Moresca, a Moorish dance number highlighting the Arab & North African influence on Spanish music. Next came a lively song by Manuel Machado in praise of the coming of Spring. The third piece was an instrumental set of dances by Gaspar Sanz featuring Xavier Diaz-Latorre on guitar. A bit later, Diaz-Latorre performed on vihuela, a stringed instrument shaped like an elongated guitar but tuned like a lute. Throughout the first half of the concert, Jordi Savall performed on treble viol. A highlight of the set before intermission was Jordi Savall playing improvisations to Canarios rhythms. The first half closed with a lively, somewhat raucous song, A la vida bona, which made sarcastic wit at the expense of all sorts of Spanish partygoers. 

After intermission, the set began with a male vocal song in praise of the Virgin Mary set to a text by Lope de Vega, in which the poet laments the mad battles of this world. Then Jordi Savall performed variations on bass viol to a theme of Antonio Martin y Coll, accompanied by David Mayoral on castanets. Later, Jordi Savall returned to the treble viol for the remainder of the program. A highlight of the concert may well have been Jordi Savall’s performance on treble viol in a piece by Francisco Correa de Arauxo. A vocal highlight featured La Capella Reial de Catalunya singing the slow, soft lullaby, Quedito, pasito, by Juan Hidalgo set to a text by Calderón de la Barca. The final piece in this concert was a lively song inviting everyone to dance, though, humorously, it ended with the words, “a Dios las gracias, ay! porque callemos, ay!”/ “and thanks be to God, for now we’ll be quiet!”  

Thankfully, however, the musicians did not remain quiet, for they responded to the tumultuous applause by performing an encore that was announced as emanating from Lima, Peru, thus demonstrating the influence on Spanish music from the New World.

The Berkeley Activist's Calendar, Feb. 2-9

Kelly Hammargren
Sunday February 02, 2020 - 05:19:00 PM

Worth Noting and Showing Up:

Monday – Author Talk with George Lakey on How We Win

Tuesday – The 6 pm City Council special session includes two items ballot initiative planning and the Adeline Corridor Plan,

Wednesday – The Planning Commission item 10. Southside Plan is about increasing the housing density (student housing) adjacent to UCB Check the agenda packet for details.

Thursday – Inclusionary affordable housing in Opportunity Zones (Opportunity Zones are Capital Gains tax shelters) is on the City Council Land Use Committee agenda, Facilities, Infrastructure meets in the afternoon.

Sunday, Feb 9 – 350 Bay Area is providing ½ day training on impacting CA legislation on Climate.

The agenda for the February 11 City Council meeting is available for review and follows the list of meetings.

February 18 is the last day to Register to Vote for the March 3, CA primary, https://registertovote.ca.gov Use the same link to check your registration. (If you can’t find your registration you may need to add your middle name or initial with your first name)

Sunday, February 2, 2020

No City meetings or events found

Monday, February 3, 2020

City Council Public Safety Committee, 10:30 am, at 2180 Milvia, 1st Floor Cypress Room, Agenda, no items listed other than approving minutes


Peace and Justice Commission, 7 pm at 2180 Milvia, 1st Floor Cypress Room, Agenda: 8. Proposed project to develop a framework for social justice approach to human needs in Berkeley, 9. 75th anniversary of atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki educational forum and development of nuclear weapons at Livermore National Weapons Lab, 13. 1/21 Council 5 to 4 vote rejecting resolution to oppose new US Base construction in Henoko-Oura of Okinawa


Personnel Board, 7 – 9 pm, 2180 Milvia, 6th Floor Redwood Conference Room, Agenda: V. Revise Firefighter, Sworn Fire Inspector, Deputy Fire Marshal and Fire Marshal Classifications


Public Works Commission – Paving Subcommittee, 6:30 – 7:30 pm at 2000 University, Au Coquelet, Agenda: 3. Creating Revised Streets Policy


How We Win in These Polarized Times, George Lakey, Author Talk, 7 pm, at 6501 Telegraph, Niebyl-Proctor Marxist Library, no fee, donations appreciated, Sunday workshop is full with a waiting list


Tax the Rich Rally, with music by Occupella, 4 – 5 pm at the Top of Solano in front of the Closed Oaks Theater, Rain Cancels

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Berkeley City Council, Tuesday, at 1231 Addison Street, BUSD Board Room, https://www.cityofberkeley.info/Clerk/City_Council/City_Council__Agenda_Index.aspx

3 pm Special Closed Session: Conference with Labor Negotiators, Employees Berkeley Police Association

4 pm Special Session: Public Hearing Berkeley Election Reform Act, Action: 1. Cost of Living Adjustment, 2. Prohibit Officeholder Accounts

6 pm Special Session, Agenda: 1. Discussion Services Council may wish to fund thru revenue measures (ballot initiatives) and community survey, 2. Adeline Corridor Planning Process Update.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Board of Library Trustees, 6:30 pm at 1901 Russell St, Tarea Hall Pittman South Branch, Agenda: Consent: B.36 month contract with First Alarm Security & Patrol $550,000 with option to extend, Action: A. Potential Impact Berkeley Patient Group relocation on West Branch Library


Commission on Disability, 6:30 – 9 pm at 1947 Center, 4th Floor, Agenda: 2. Census Presentation, 5. Elevator Ordinance, 6. New Construction and Renovations – Accessibility Guidelines and Regulations


Homeless Services Panel of Experts, 7 pm at 2180 Milvia, 1st Floor Cypress Room


Planning Commission, 7 – 10 pm at 2939 Ellis, South Berkeley Senior Center, Agenda: 10. Southside EIR discussion – increase density adjacent to UCB campus (roughly Bancroft Way - Dwight, Prospect – Fulton, Telegraph extends to Parker), 11. Public Hearing Amend Zoning Map and General Plan for Rose Garden Inn - 2740 & 2744 Telegraph, 2348 Ward, 12. State ADU regulation and local ADU ordinance,


Police Review Commission, 7 – 10 pm, at 2939 Ellis, South Berkeley Senior Center, Agenda: 9. Berkeley Police Dept policies regarding interactions with persons possibly on probation or parole


Thursday, February 6, 2020

City Council Land Use, Housing & Economic Development Committee, 10:30 am, at 2180 Milvia, 6th Floor Redwood Room, Agenda: 3. Inclusionary Units in Opportunity Zones, 4. Chain Store Regulations, 5. Small Business Listening Sessions, 6. Amend Ordinance 13.78 to prohibit additional fees for roommate replacements, lease renewals and terminations.


City Council Facilities, Infrastructure, Transportation, Environment & Sustainability Committee, 2 pm, at 2180 Milvia, 6th Floor Redwood Room, Agenda: Bright streets – paint crosswalks, bike lanes, traffic signage within 3 blocks of schools, 3. Regulate plastic bags at retail and food service establishments, 4. Terminate sale of gasoline, diesel and natural gas passenger vehicles in City of Berkeley by 2025, 5. Revive Berkeley Bus Rapid Transit, 6. Establish Brilliant 100 as EBCE default for residential and commercial, Renewable 100 (100% renewable energy) for Municipal accounts, 7. Potential Bonding and Funding Opportunities for improving the PCI (Paving Condition Index) and creating a Paving Master Plan. Unscheduled/Items for Future Agendas: Traffic Circles, Climate Emergency Dept/Office


Cannabis Commission, 2 – 4 pm, at 2180 Milvia St, 6th Floor, Agenda: VII. A. Best Practices for Equity Programs, B. Cannabis Ordinance passed 1-28-2020


Fair Campaign Practices Commission, 7 pm at 2180 Milvia, Cypress Room, 4. Public Campaign Financing Program certification for Alexander Sharenko


Housing Advisory Commission, 7 – 9 pm at 2939 Ellis St, South Berkeley Senior Center, Agenda: 8. 1654 Fifth St, 9. Climate Emergency Subcommittee,


Landmarks Preservation Commission, 7 – 11:30 pm at 1947 Center St, Multipurpose Room, Basement, http://www.cityofberkeley.info/landmarkspreservationcommission/

1399 Queens Road – Landmark or Structure of Merit Designation

3000-3006 San Pablo – Demolition Referral

2590 Bancroft Way – Demolition Referral

2300 Ellsworth – Landmark or Structure of Merit Initiation

Certified Local Government Grant Application

2043 Lincoln – Landmark or Structure of Merit designation

2133 University - Sign Alteration Permit

2200-block Piedmont Ave – Structural Alteration Permit

Public Works Commission Regular Meeting, 7 – 10 pm at 1326 Allston Way, Willow Room, City of Berkeley Corporation Yard, No Agenda posted, check before going


Public Works Commission – Utility Undergrounding Subcommittee, 4 – 5 pm at 1947 Center, 4th Floor, Elm Room, 5. Council work session March 24, 6. Transition from undergrounding subcommittee to task force if approved by Council


Friday, February 7, 2020

California on Fire – Toyota protest rally, 4 – 5:30 pm, at 2400 Shattuck, Toyota Dealership, can’t come call Toyota USA CEO Jim Lentz @ 800-331-4331.


Saturday, February 8, 2020

No City meetings/events found

Sunday, February 9, 2020

350 Bay Area ½ day training (in Berkeley) on how to impact State of California critical climate legislation, 12:20 – 4 pm, sign up online to attend



Agenda for February 11 Council meeting: Agenda: CONSENT: 1. Approvals Development Agreements for 2012 Berkeley Way, 2. 2nd reading Cannabis Ordinance, 3. Appoint Lisa Warhaus as Director of Health, Housing and Community Services, 5. Add $235,000 (total $450,000) with Sloan Sakai LLP for Chief Labor Negotiator services, 6. Apply for CA Dept of Housing and Development (HCD) funds $1 – 5 million under CalHome Owner-Occupied Rehabilitation Program and agreements if awarded, 7. Apply for Infill Infrastructure grants for 2527 Blake (SAHA) and 2001 Ashby (RCD), 8. Modify Block Grant to use CSBG funds for mobile shower program, 9. Support HR 5038 – Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2019, 10. Support HR 5609 – Homelessness Emergency Declaration Act, 12. Improve enforcement ordinance Wage Theft Prevention, 13. Installation William Byron Rumford Plaque, 14. Referral to City Manager Electric Moped Ride-Share Franchise Agreement, ACTION: 15. Recommendations Related to Code Enforcement and Receivership Actions, 16. Disposition 1631 fifth St, 17. Resolution Safe Overnight RV Parking at Designated City-Owned Parking Lots, 18. Discussion Potential Ballot Measure for inclusion in community survey, 19. Electric Bike Share Program Franchise Amendment, 20. Resolution Discouraging the Use of Cell Phones, Email, Texting, Instant Messaging and Social Media by Councilmembers during Official City Meetings, 21. 2-Lane Option on Adeline St between MLK Way and Ward.



Public Hearings Scheduled – Land Use Appeals

0 Euclid – Berryman Reservoir TBD

2422 Fifth St – mixed-use building 2-25-2020

1581 LeRoy Ave – convert vacant elementary school property – LPC & ZAB 2-25-2020

Remanded to ZAB or LPC With 90-Day Deadline

1155-73 Hearst (develop 2 parcels) – referred back to City Council – to be scheduled

Notice of Decision (NOD) With End of Appeal Period

1872 Allston 2-12-2020

910 Ashby 2-12-2020

1168 Cragmont 2-4-2020

2336 Eighth 2-12-2020

1412 Hearst 2-6-2020

1801 Shattuck 2-5-2020

1612 Stuart 2-4-2020

1508 Virginia 2-11-2020



Feb 4 – Discussion of Community Poll (Ballot Measures), Adeline Corridor Plan

March 17 – CIP Update (PRW and Public Works), Measure T1 Update

May 5 – Budget Update, Crime Report

June 23 – Climate Action Plan/Resiliency Update, Digital Strategic Plan FUND$/Replacement Website Update

July 21, Sept 29 – no workshops scheduled “yet”

Oct 20 – Update Berkeley’s 2020 Vision, BMASP/Berkeley Pier-WETA Ferry

Unscheduled Workshops/Presentations

Cannabis Health Considerations

Vision 2050

Systems Realignment


To Check For Regional Meetings with Berkeley Council Appointees go to


To check for Berkeley Unified School District Board Meetings go to



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

http://www.sustainableberkeleycoalition.com/whats-ahead.html and in the Berkeley Daily Planet under activist’s calendar http://www.berkeleydailyplanet.com

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