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Press Release: Illgen Enters Berkeley District 6 Council Race

Richard Illgen
Friday July 10, 2020 - 03:45:00 PM

Berkeley attorney and former Planning Commission Chair Richard Illgen has mounted a strong early challenge in his race for City Council in District 6. -more-

Public Comment

Berkeley Mayor Proposes Private Contractor for Traffic Patrol and Citations

Glen Kohler
Friday July 10, 2020 - 04:16:00 PM

Mayor Jesse Arreguin wants to allow a private, for-profit vendor to field 'officers' on Berkeley's streets to monitor traffic and write citations. Claiming such service will be 'free of bias', the mayor seems to overlook the obvious business formula: more citations equal higher profits. I'm sure some language is being crafted to obscure or hide this inconvenient (to citizens) aspect of this deal.

Private employees will not be bound by the same laws and standards as sworn professional police officers. The 'defund the police' meme that has suddenly swept the nation thanks to intensive coverage by the corporate-controlled media—conveniently gives municipalities reason to off-load the burden of paying police salaries (another topic that deserves consideration). Strong police unions have increased cops' pay to very high levels. -more-

Defund Berkeley PD

Najia Humayun
Friday July 10, 2020 - 04:11:00 PM

The police receive the largest percentage of the Berkeley City Budget. In 2020, $70,622,557 of the city budget has been dedicated to the Police Department—compare that to $36,019,089 for the next leading Fire Department, not to mention a comparatively frugal $17,553,283 for Health, Housing & Community Services.

One systemic solution to police violence is to divert funding from police to programs which directly address the socioeconomic conditions which drive crime in the first place. Better public services in the areas of education, mental health services, and employment will naturally foster the type of “safe” communities that we currently overfund militarized police to protect. -more-

The Official vs. Real Unemployment Rate

Harry Brill
Friday July 10, 2020 - 03:47:00 PM

Many members of the public are aware that the real unemployment rate is higher than the Bureau of labor statistics (BLS) monthly estimate. But it is not widely known that as the rate of unemployment climbs, the gap between the real rate and the BLS widens. In other words, to avoid fully reporting as many unemployed as the number of jobless workers grow, the data excludes from the calculations an increasing segment of unemployed workers. -more-

Another July 4 passes, time for reflection

Jagjit Singh
Friday July 10, 2020 - 04:06:00 PM

As yet another July 4 slips away into the pages of our history books, it is time for reflection. A society should always be judged on how it treats its most vulnerable citizens. African-Americans continue to suffer disproportionately to the pandemic, systemic racism and gut wrenching police brutality. These appalling crimes have been exposed time and time again and it is heartening to finally see white Americans protesting alongside blacks, Hispanics and Asian Americans to demand change.

Even Donald Trump’s harsh, racist and divisive language has lost its allure with many of his supporters. On a slightly optimistic note, comparatively little white backlash occurred when confederate statutes were being pulled down reflecting the beginning of a change of in attitudes. Consider that in 2001 Mississippi had a referendum on what to do with their confederate flag. Two-thirds of those who participated voted to keep it. In 2020 the governor decided to bring it down with few dissenting voices. The momentum for change, initiated by “Black Lives Matter” must be accelerated. -more-


A Heart for Any Fate

Becky O'Malley
Friday July 03, 2020 - 12:28:00 PM

As one of the smallish number of surviving members of the pre-boomer generation, I was encouraged to memorize poetry in elementary school. This verse from Longfellow’s Psalm of Life stuck with me, even though almost everything about it went out of style in the many decades since I was in Grade 5:

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time.

First, of course, it needs to be de-gendered: “Lives of great ones all remind us…”

Then, rhyming? Surely not. Another aspect of poetry that was not only abandoned but almost forbidden in my lifetime. Though, thanks to rap culture, rhyme is once more appreciated in some circles, so let it be.

Then there’s that moral. Poems seldom have morals anymore, especially not like this one:

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.

In other words,it’s a thoroughly old-fashioned poem, expressing an obsolete optimism not often seen in this modern world of woe.

So why did it spring to mind when I got the text message telling me that Margy Wilkinson had died?

Because she exemplified everything that the rest of us can only aspire to. Wherever she was, whatever was happening around her, she was “up and doing”.

She and her husband were what might be called radical royalty, if that wasn’t such a contradiction in terms. The savage red-baiting their respective parents encountered in the pursuit of social justice in the 1940s and 1950s was memorialized in the obituaries Tony and Margy wrote for their mothers, both of whom died in Berkeley. -more-


THE PUBLIC EYE:Searching for Optimism

Bob Burnett
Friday July 10, 2020 - 03:53:00 PM

We're halfway through the worst year most of us can imagine and it's difficult to feel optimistic about the future. In the United States there has been a resurgence of coronavirus cases. The economy teeters on the brink of a depression. And President Trump has abandoned his post. Nonetheless, there's a ray of hope: once you acknowledge the social order is broken, you can set about rebuilding it.

A June 30 Pew Research Poll ( found Americans to be angry and unhappy: "As the United States simultaneously struggles with a pandemic, an economic recession and protests about police violence and racial justice, the share of the public saying they are satisfied with the way things are going in the country has plummeted... to just 12% today." Citizen understand that we have a serious problem. Conditions are ripe for change.

At this point it appears certain that the November 3rd presidential election will be held in the middle of a pandemic and an economic depression. It looks like Joe Biden will win and that Democrats will take control of Congress. On November 4th we'll still be in a deep hole, but we can begin digging out.

Because we're experiencing a catastrophe, there's opportunity for transformational change. Change in three areas: personal, communal, and societal. -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Recovery in the 2020's

Jack Bragen
Friday July 10, 2020 - 04:08:00 PM

To tell you what you already should know:

The current decade is shaping up to become one of the most challenging in human history. In the past, people have already seen challenging times, and yet the things we face in the present day have the potential to shape the future, possibly into the next century--if we make it that far.

The U.S. and other countries have been put to innumerable tests in the past. WWII tested the resolve of good people who needed to fight and defeat the Nazi's or be destroyed. The Cold War tested the resolve and sensibility of the U.S. and other countries in standing up to Russia, (which was then the Soviet Union) and not backing down, but at the same time, implementing a modicum of caution. (And, by the way, the Cold War, because of the ambitions of Vladimir Putin seems to have reappeared.) -more-

ECLECTIC RANT: Wearing a Mask—Political Statement or IQ Test?

Ralph E. Stone
Friday July 10, 2020 - 03:50:00 PM

Nhew daily cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. approach 60,000 with surges in Arizona, California, Florida, and Texas. At least 36 states have experienced a spike in new cases. Dr. Anthony Fauci focused on three main failings by both the public and authorities: Many states have reopened too quickly, people are not abiding by rules of social distancing, and the authorities could do a better job at contact tracing to track people who’ve been in contact with those who test positive. -more-

SMITHEREENS: Reflections on Bits & Pieces

Gar Smith
Friday July 10, 2020 - 04:02:00 PM

Chalk It Up to Experience

Lots of chalk on the sidewalks these days as enterprising youngsters shelter-in-place and engage in curbside bursts of instant messaging on family driveways. One grand announcement on Berryman Street (complete with colorful hearts and a rainbow) read: "Celebrate Violet's socially distanced birthday!"

On my morning run up Hopkins St., I watched as a young lady running a half-block ahead of me encountered a chalk-drawn hopscotch grid on the concrete. Without skipping a beat, she immediately executed a perfect seven-hop/ten-box maneuver and continued running at full speed.

Be All that You Can Bee

It's heart-warming to see all those colorful grad-placards adorning porches and front yards around town. Congrats graduates of 2020! Cheers for that pandemic-enforced diploma enforcing the dream that: "You can be whatever you want to be!"

Unless, that is, you're matriculating from Berkeley High School where the campus motto (proudly featured on BHS' graduation placards) stoutly declares: "Once a Yellow Jacket always a Yellow Jacket." -more-