Author Archives: Guest contributor

Op-ed: Berkeley needs to spend money to upgrade earthquake shelters

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On the evening of Jan. 19, Timoth Burroughs, Berkeley’s chief resilience officer, delivered a presentation to city council on the seismic upgrade needs of the City’s seven “city care and shelter sites”.

City care and shelter sites are sites that provide “regular day-to-day services but also serve as a care and shelter service in times of catastrophic loss to the city” such as an earthquake.

According to Mr. Burroughs — none of the existing city’s shelters would be able to serve their function in the event of a major earthquake — without “significant and costly repairs.”

He went on to say that recent seismic evaluations by structural engineers had concluded that all of the seven sites are at “high risk from earthquake damage.” … Continue reading »

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Opinionator

Op-ed: Berkeley latest homelessness recommendations are a lackluster response to a true emergency

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On Tuesday the Berkeley City Council was presented with a report from the Homeless Task Force, with recommendations for action to address homelessness in the city. Leaving aside the likelihood or unlikelihood of any of the recommendations passing, for a Task Force whose self-stated goal is “ending homelessness in our city”, the report is notable for a lack of urgency on the core issue: HOUSING.

Tier 1 recommendations included expanding outreach and crisis intervention initiatives, and expanding access to winter shelter … Continue reading »

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Opinionator

Op-ed: Let’s not forget Kayla Moore

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It’s been three years since Kayla Moore was killed in her home by Berkeley police. What did she do you ask? Was she threatening, was she suicidal, was she a danger to society? No Kayla was mentally ill, black and transgender. Those three criteria alone made her a target, as African Americans, transgender women, and the mentally ill are killed at an alarming rate due to police encounters. It truly is a national crisis.

The reality is the mentally … Continue reading »

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Opinionator

Op-ed: Let’s help keep youth politically engaged

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Bernie or Hillary? It’s the question I’ve been hearing in person and online almost every day for the last couple of months. All over my Facebook newsfeed there are posts and pictures, memes and videos, comments and arguments about which candidate should be our democratic candidate.

And why is this relevant? It’s not because my newsfeed is very clearly “Berkeley liberal.” It’s because 95% of my newsfeed is people under the age of 30 and they’re ALL talking about politics. … Continue reading »

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Opinionator

Op-ed: Berkeley worker co-op resolution could usher in equitable economic development

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Berkeley has the potential to become the first city in the nation to adopt an ordinance giving worker-owned businesses preference in city contracting and procurement.

On Tuesday, Feb. 9, Berkeley City Councilman Jesse Arreguín (District 4) will introduce a resolution to draft the ordinance, which could also provide tax incentives and educational resources to worker cooperatives.

Arreguín hopes to broaden support in the East Bay for the development of cooperative businesses owned and controlled by workers. Last September, the Oakland … Continue reading »

Opinionator

Op-ed: Berkeley must prohibit use of CS gas on protesters

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The Berkeley Police and the Police Review Commission’s (PRC) recent report on the police response to the Dec. 6, 2014 Black Lives Matter protests reflected a remarkable amount of agreement, and came up with commendable recommendations. But it had omissions which should not go unremarked, among which is the refusal to prohibit the use of CS gas on protesters.

CS gas is a chemical agent banned in warfare per the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993. Most nations, including the United … Continue reading »

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A former Cal librarian’s recipe for life: bake, swim, give

Photo: Brittany Kirstin
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By Gretchen Kell / Berkeley News

Before sunrise, swimmers begin arriving at UC Berkeley’s Hearst Pool for workouts, their fins, goggles and caps in tow. Like 67-year-old David Kessler, many are diehard swimmers conditioned to slip out of bed and into the cold water without much thought. But Kessler’s morning ritual begins much earlier, around 5 a.m., in his kitchen in the Oakland hills.

There, as he has for about 40 years, he assembles assorted sandwiches on his homemade bread and packs them in brown paper lunch bags with “two cookies, that’s standard,” says Kessler. Then, he totes to the pool an average of 12 lunches, and occasionally more than twice as many, in large canvas bags.

The student lifeguards, who often struggle mightily to arrive for 6 a.m. shifts, are grateful for Kessler, who never fails to personally greet them and hand out the bags, marked with a “Made in David’s Kitchen” stamp, before he swims. He strives to know their names, who eats meat, prefers peanut butter, has food allergies or is lactose-intolerant or vegetarian. … Continue reading »

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Remembering Richard Neil Lerner

Dick Lerner campaigning to save Old City Hall. Photo: courtesy family
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Richard Neil Lerner: 1939- Dec. 16, 2015

Dick was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1939 and graduated from Stuyvesant High School. He came from a family of activists. His father was an organizer, writer and photo-journalist for the United Electrical Workers of America. (Dick published his father’s memoir, Course of Action, in 2012.)

Dick was known for his several decades as active citizen and community organizer in Berkeley, California. He helped run many successful local election campaigns for the progressive Berkeley … Continue reading »

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Samuel “Ribitch” Martin: Poet, artist, musician, educator

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By David and Jason Martin

Samuel Martin, or Ribitch as he was known to most – son, father, brother and husband… artist, poet, musician, surrealist, teacher… a man of vision with an extraordinary mind – passed away Dec. 22 after a well-fought battle with pancreatic cancer, at age 69.

He is survived by his wife Dorlene, his mother Marjorie, his sister Sandra and his two sons, David and Jason.

Ribitch inspired so many throughout the Bay Area and across the … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Library Gardens before and after the tragedy

Library Gardens. Photo: Devisadaria Duchine-Khauli
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In 2009, moving to Library Gardens seemed like a dream come true. It’s within walking distance to transportation, restaurants, movie theatres, schools, colleges, workout facilities, the library and city offices, not to mention its scenic downtown Berkeley views. However, our dream dwelling gave way to nightmarish undertones fairly quickly.

Initially, we felt like royalty while living at Library Gardens. The management and maintenance staffs were awesome. They were professional, friendly, responsive, prompt and, importantly, the management lived on-site. The … Continue reading »

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Berkeley now has its first and only columbarium

Gate looking into the garden – John Penberthy
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By Karen Queen

Berkeley now has its first and only columbarium. It is located at the far end of a walled meditation garden in back of Northbrae Community Church. Both are open to the public.

Why a columbarium? In 2004, Reverend Ron Sebring proposed an idea to honor Native American spirituality to the Northbrae congregation. The chapel’s stained-glass windows honor major religions of the world but not the spirituality and culture of indigenous people. Reverend Sebring had a deep, personal interest in Native American spirituality. He proposed a medicine wheel, also known as a sacred hoop, as an appropriate symbol and sketched a drawing of how one would look when placed on the ground behind the chapel. … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Utility-free restrooms in Cesar Chavez Park — A briefing

Photo: courtesy Martin Nicolaus
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The need for permanent restrooms in Cesar Chavez Park has been on the City’s agenda since at least 1977, when the North Waterfront Park Land Use Plan said that “of course, a park headquarters building and restroom structures will be needed for the park to function.” [1] The 1991 Conceptual Master Plan for North Waterfront Park envisioned restrooms as part of a constructed park entry area.[2] “Permanent restrooms” in the park formed part of the 2003 … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: An open letter to the Landmark Preservation Commission about Telegraph Village

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To the Landmark Preservation Commissioners:

At your Jan. 7 meeting, you acted to dismiss landmark (or related) status for a quaint, “uncategorizable”, unsafe, barely patronized — and utterly unique and irreplaceable — relic of ‘the Ingrate Generation’. In so doing, you really have felt the pulse of our times.

In denying the application of ‘The Village’ (2556 Telegraph) for landmark (or related) status, of all Berkeley’s national and city landmarks, only three 60s/70s-era sites remain so honored. One is the … Continue reading »

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