Author Archives: Guest contributor

An ode to the shuttered Berkeley pier

The Berkeley pier by Dorothy Brown
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By Dorothy Brown

There is something mysterious and perhaps even romantic about abandoned spaces. The rust and decay can have a certain kind of beauty, and can engage our imaginations as we wonder what the place might have been like in its prime. Movies often employ a time-fade technique where decrepitude is gradually replaced by the life and color of earlier years. A different time.

How strange, then, to witness the day the change happens. The day a familiar site goes from lively to off-limits.

On July 22, 2015, without warning or ceremony, the Berkeley Pier was fenced off and closed to the public. The pier has long been a favorite spot for fisherfolk, runners, strollers, and anyone who appreciates a knockout view and a breathtaking sunset. I always found it a friendly place. … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Request to Berkeley is abuse of Public Records Act

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One of the strongest safeguards of open government is the California Public Records Act, but like any powerful instrument, it can cause great damage when abused.

I was shocked on July 14 when I was informed that Shirley Dean, a former Mayor of Berkeley, has filed a Public Records Act request for hundreds of thousands of city records that will require several weeks of work by many City employees.

Her request – which the City is legally bound to fulfill – is for all records related to appointments for meetings involving the Mayor or any Councilmember for the past five and a half years. She seeks all calendars, memos and meeting notes from every appointment, as well as all emails and correspondence with other parties, “that are relative to appointments, including those seeking, confirming, mentioning and discussing appointments in any way.” … Continue reading »

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A remembrance of D’Army Bailey, former Berkeley city councilman

D'Army Bailey, courtesy of the National Civil Rights Museum
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D’Army Bailey, a former Berkeley city council member and a longtime activist, died July 12 at the age of 73. Bailey, a judge, was instrumental in preserving the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis, Tenn. where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. He assembled a group of donors to buy the hotel. It became the National Civil Rights Museum in 1991.

By Ted Edlin

On July 12, 2015 D’Army Bailey died in Memphis, Tennessee. He had a successful career as an attorney … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Tobacco, smoking costs Berkeley in more ways than one

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Tobacco’s deleterious effects are not confined to smokers, vapers, or second- and third-hand exposure. Tobacco waste devastates our environment as well. Every year over 5 trillion cigarettes are sold globally, with 360 billion cigarettes sold in the United States alone.[1]

In 2012, the cost of smoking in California was $6.5 billion, including nearly $20 million in Alameda County. [2]

Smoking costs Berkeley a lot of money – money that could be spent elsewhere to make our city an even better place … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Let’s say ‘yes’ to a vibrant downtown Berkeley

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As a long-time resident and member of the Downtown Area Planning Committee I have participated in ten years of planning, debate, initiatives, referendums and heated viewpoints on the future of our downtown. After two decisive votes, the hugely popular new plan is finally underway with exciting new buildings proposed that will contribute greatly to achieving our community vision for Downtown.

Now is the time to listen to the 74% of Berkeley voters who want a vibrant downtown and to say YES to the … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Berkeley should be the first city in the US to host the ‘Anything to Say?’ public art project

On Nov. 3, 1964 Mario Savio stood in defiance of the establishment on the UC Berkeley campus and called out words now embedded in history: “There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part; you can’t even passively take part. And you’ve got to put your bodies on the gears and on the levers, and on all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop.”

Savio’s speech became a catalyst that contributed to the Free Speech Movement, the Black Power movement, anti-Vietnam war demonstrations across the country and other movements for women’s rights, gay rights, trans gender rights, leading today to the Arab Spring the Occupy Movement and more.

On the down side, the reaction against these movements led to 40 years of Reaganism, oil wars, the perceived war against the Muslim World and the ISIS reaction, a growing police state, the explosive growth of the 1% and a Supreme Court and Congress they control and a Presidency they dominate. This has produced a society split between those convinced that “big government” is the problem (allowing corporate power to run free), and those who recognize that the problem is the extreme imbalance of power between rich and poor.

The “Anything to Say?” public art project is an attempt to address the problem of power imbalance and keep Mario Savio’s words alive by honoring and supporting three individuals who have had the courage to stand up against government power aided by corporate power gone amok and sacrificed their freedom to protect us: Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, and Julian Assange.

American journalist Charles Glass and Italian sculpture Davide Dormino collaborated to create “Anything to Say?,” which opened May 1 in Berlin and is now touring Europe. The concept is simple. Dormino has created impressive life size bronze statues of Snowden, Manning and Assange standing on chairs, with a fourth empty chair.  Anyone who wishes can stand with them on that chair to show support and exercise their free speech.

Davide Dormino’s dream is that Berkeley, home of the Free Speech Movement, be the first city in the United States to host “Anything to Say?” One important change will be to honor and respect Chelsea Manning’s courage as a transgender person, and Dormino will have her statue recast as she is today in prison garb, and not as she appeared when arrested.

Glass and Dormino would also like the statues located near where Mario Savio spoke and through the local sponsoring organization, Green Cities Fund, have approached the University asking to place the statues near the corner of Telegraph and Bancroft only a few feet from where Mario Savio delivered his fiery speech in 1964. Then, the University, under pressure from Governor Reagan in collaboration with FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, fought the Free Speech Movement [1]. Hopefully it will make a wiser choice today and allow Snowden, Manning and Assange to stand on this hallowed ground.

Supporters of the “Anything to Say” project in Berkeley include Free Speech hero Dan Ellsberg, who released the Pentagon Papers and is subject of the documentary The Most Dangerous Man In America, UC professor and former Poet Laureate of the United States, Robert Hass, Congresswoman Barbara Lee and Mayor Tom Bates.

Green Cities Fund is in the process of raising $80,000 for the project, a portion of which will be donated to the honorees’ legal defense funds. $10,000 has already been raised.

Anything to Say? in Berkeley, California – Indiegogo from Almaz Media on Vimeo.

For more information, or to contribute go to the Green Cities site.

[1] Seth Rosenfeld’s book “Subversives” is a fascinating account of this unholy collaboration against Free Speech.

Berkeleyside welcomes submissions of op-ed articles. We ask that we are given first refusal to publish. Topics should be Berkeley-related, local authors are preferred, and we don’t publish anonymous pieces. Email submissions, as Word documents or embedded in the email, to The recommended length is 500-800 words. Please include your name and a one-line bio that includes full, relevant disclosures. Berkeleyside will publish op-ed pieces at its discretion.

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Op-ed: The Berkeley balcony tragedy and the American legal system

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In recent days, much has been written about the tragic Berkeley balcony collapse and its victims – mostly Irish students visiting the United States on the U.S. government’s J-1 nonimmigrant visa. More than 150,000 Irish students have used the program for J-1 visas to visit the United States in the past 50 years, including 8,000 last summer, many of finding work in the San Francisco Bay area at retail shops, restaurants and tourist attractions, such as Fisherman’s Wharf.

Our hearts … Continue reading »


From Rotten City folk: Branch Line bar in Emeryville

Branch Line: opening in July  on Hollis Street in Emeryville. Photo: Branch Line
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By Rob Arias / The E’Ville Eye

Jonas Bernstein is a bit of an Emeryville historian. He should be — he’s been doing business here for 17 years. Like any good business person, he pays attention to what’s going on around him and tries to stay ahead of the curve. His second business in Emeryville took what some would construe as a derogatory reference toward Emeryville, but he decided to own it.

“I took a bit of a gamble naming a pizza place ‘Rotten City’,” said Bernstein, referencing the famous Chief Justice Earl Warren quote. [Originally established as a ‘pleasure town,’ Emeryville was described by Warren” in 1927 as “the rottenest city on the Pacific Coast.”] “It ended up working out OK though,” added Bernstein.

Read more about eating and drinking in Emeryville on Nosh

Rotten City, at 6613 Hollis St., has a loyal following, and pies like its Porchetta (Fresh Mozzarella, Ricotta, Parmigiano, Pork Belly Porchetta and Salsa Verde) have helped put it on the map in a crowded field of competitors. Pizza has, and always will be, popular, but there are still peaks and valleys as burgers moved into the spotlight, followed by fried chicken sandwiches … and who knows what’s next? … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Youth on the street, Berkeley anti-homeless laws, and the Supreme Court

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On Friday, June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court announced that LGBT couples have the right to marry in all 50 states. Households all over the nation either celebrated, stiffened, or wondered what it meant to their community and to history.

In the Bay Area, the Gay Pride celebrations have been an historical way to honor the nation’s deepening acceptance of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender (LGBT) community members. That acceptance is strengthening at a pace once considered impossible. And across the nation in … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: A student responds to the AMPS yearbook incident

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I am responding to the recent hateful comment in the Berkeley High School yearbook directed at the Academy of Medicine and Public Service (AMPS) small school.

My overall reaction was pure disgust.

Someone on the yearbook committee took the time out of their day to perpetuate racial discrimination against our small school. This, after a long year of high emotions from the recent attention to the many killings and injustices done to people of color and the weight of discrimination … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Loss of Christine Daniel reflects serious and growing problem within Berkeley government

City Manager Christine Daniel, leaving for the deputy position in Oakland. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Christine Daniel has only been city manager for three years, but in that short amount of time her work addressing Berkeley’s unfunded pension liabilities has been impressive, argue the board members of the North East Berkeley Association in an Opinionator piece published on Berkeleyside.

“Ms. Daniel did a superb job in outlining the City’s vast unfunded liabilities over time and in creating budgets which more clearly addressed these liabilities. Under her leadership, we have seen great improvements in the way plans and projects for parks, streets, and other services are conceptualized, presented and budgeted,” the five board members write. … Continue reading »

Op-ed: City manager’s departure is big blow to Berkeley

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The North East Berkeley Association (NEBA) recently convened a board meeting for the express purpose of discussing the sudden resignation of the City Manager Christine Daniel.

We believe the loss to the city of Ms. Daniel reflects a very serious and growing problem within our city government.

Although we did not always agree with Ms. Daniel on many policy decisions, we appreciated her clarity, brevity, breadth of knowledge, and amazing ability to stay on top of almost all city … Continue reading »

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Hot Property: 115 Parkside Drive, Berkeley

25 Front1
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This charming Dutch Colonial home, with its gracious public rooms and wonderful kitchen/family room, was orginally built in 1926.

It is located on the coveted Parkside Drive in the beautiful Claremont neighborhood, close to Round Park, Claremont Spa tennis and swimming, Star Grocery, BART and all the goodies that the Elmwood shopping district has to offer.

Scroll through a photo slideshow of the home, below, to take a tour: … Continue reading »

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