Last night marked the first well-attended Fair Campaign Practices Commission meeting on the TUFF violations; there were 20 audience members, and the Oakland Tribune sent a reporter. The result was predictable, with commissioners whose Council appointers had endorsed the slate voting to accept the stipulation arrived at between city legal staff and the offenders (with one important change) and commission members appointed by Councilmembers who hadn't backed the slate voting in the minority (4-3) to reject it. But the path to the vote involved four different kinds of hand-wringing by the prevailing majority that at least provided the audience, the vast majority of which had spoken against accepting the stipulation, with moments of suspense and mystery. -more-
California is approaching a crucial turning point. Next year, many of our strongest legislators on important issues like the environment are leaving the State Legislature due to term limits, including our current Assemblymember, Nancy Skinner.
Assemblymember Skinner has been an outstanding leader on the environment, on climate protection, the State budget, and many other essential issues. Her absence will be a significant loss to our community and to our Assembly District, a District with a long tradition of representation by strong progressive and environmentalist public officials.
So we need real leadership in Sacramento this next decade. We need leaders who will recommit California to a strong future for our environment, our schools, and our community.
And that is why today I'm announcing that I will be a Democratic candidate for California State Assembly in the 15th District in 2014. -more-
The west side of the Cordonices Creek bridge that supports Oxford Street is layered with patches of colorful graffiti that extend over the wall on both sides of the tunnel through which the creek flows. But there's another wall of art hidden on the eastern side. To reach it, however, you may have to take the same path used by the graffiti artists – through the tunnel. -more-
"The State of Equality and Justice in America" is a 20-part series of columns written by an all star list of contributors to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. The contributors include: U. S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) LCCRUL 50th Anniversary Grand Marshal; Ms. Barbara Arnwine, President and Executive Director, Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (LCCRUL); Mr. Charles Ogletree, Professor, Harvard University Law School/Director, Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice; the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr., President/CEO, Rainbow/PUSH Coalition; the Rev. Joseph Lowery, Co-founder, Southern Christian Leadership Conference; U. S. Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.); and 14 additional thought leaders and national advocates for equal justice. -more-
[Editor's note: this piece originally was published in the East Bay Express. The editor thoroughly enjoyed it and secured the author's permission to reprint it here. ]
While it is certainly understandable that many people are upset, if not disgusted, at the opening of yet another big box chain store in Berkeley, it would not be fair to see the Derby/Telegraph CVS as the same old/new thing.
We should recognize that, due to the foresight and leadership of Berkeley's city government, on many levels, we now have a situation many of us can applaud. Led by Mayor Tom Bates and city staff, an arrangement was negotiated with CVS to reopen the now closed, and very much missed, Willard Pool as a condition for building and use permits for the CVS just across the street.
While such arrangements are common in many other cities, it's been a long time since we saw one in supposedly progressive Berkeley. -more-
The darkest deeds are done in the dead of night. That’s why it’s often a good idea to check out the last item on the online video of the Berkeley City Council meetings. Yes, if you’re a political junky you can watch the council in real time on your home computer (or godforbid even attend in person) but you have to be badly addicted to stay awake until the wee small hours when the powers-that-wanna-be take up their worst proposals. -more-
The Editor's Back Fence
The Sunday Chronicle headlined a juicy story from the Center for Investigative Reporting over the weekend: Speaker Perez Gave Top Donors Plum Posts.
On the CIR website, this was the title:
California speaker gives Assembly's juiciest jobs to biggest fundraisers
And Berkeleyans will be interested to learn some information that for some reason was cut from the Chron’s version of the story: our own Assemblymember Nancy Skinner, now termed out of the Assembly, expected to be tapped by the queenmakers to succeed Loni Hancock as State Senator, is one of the big players (and the big payers) in this pay-to-play system. -more-
May 3rd brought news that the unemployment rate has dipped to 7.5 percent and there’s been an alarming rise in the suicide rate for middle-aged Americans. According to the Center for Disease Control, “The [suicide] increase does coincide with a decrease in financial standing for a lot of families…” 4.35 million Americans have been unemployed for more than 26 weeks. Whose fault is this? -more-
When someone, anyone, experiences emotional distress, they have an instinctive reaction to try to alleviate or get away from that. When someone with a severe mental illness experiences distress or perhaps painful emotions, they may have a lot of difficulty coping with it. -more-
Maybe it's true that life begins at 50... but everything else starts to wear out, fall out, or spread out. That’s according to Phyllis Diller. She was ninety-five years old when she died last year, a devotee of cosmetic surgery, and a strong woman. -more-
Arts & Events
Composer Aaron Blumenfeld works in three fields of music: classical, jazz and Jewish music. He has composed a jazz piano concerto (funded by a grant from the New Jersey Council on the Arts), two operas, several albums of original jazz and blues, and numerous classical works. In 2010 and 2012 he received awards from Shalshelet: The Foundation for New Jewish Liturgical Music. Today's concert will consist of two sections: classical songs set to the poems of Berkeley poet Judith Goldhaber (performed by soprano Eliza O'Malley and pianist Willis Hickox), and selections from "42 Brief Hebrew Art Songs" (performed by Cantor Izthak Emanuel, former cantor at Congregation Beth David in Saratoga, with Mr. Blumenfeld at the piano). -more-
There is something special about seeing Michael Frayn’s “Copenhagen” in Berkeley. Oppenheimer’s home, the Lawrence lab’s cyclotron, and this small city’s part in the history of the creation of the nuclear bomb makes it a special place to see it, a masterstroke to produce it here, and a must for Berkeley-ites of intellect to attend. -more-