A Berkeley Activist's Diary, Week Ending March 12

Kelly Hammargren
Saturday March 18, 2023 - 02:53:00 PM

The plus of not finishing my Activist’s Diary for the week by Monday as planned is the March 14, 2023 Tuesday Council meeting is over and the 10:49 pm vote on public comment is in.

The Tuesday evening March 14, 2023 City Council meeting was a good example of how we got to dueling sides and public frustration with the way council meetings are run. And even that takes a little background.

Former Councilmember Droste, in a parting gesture on December 5, 2022, sent an item, “Reforms to Public Comment Procedures at Meetings of the Berkeley City Council”, to be considered by the full council. I first wrote about this in the January 8 Berkeley Daily Planet Activist’s Diary. On January 4, 2023, the Agenda Committee moved Droste’s item to “unscheduled”, where it sat until February 14, when the three Agenda Committee members, Mayor Arreguin and Councilmembers Hahn and Wengraf, voted to place it with a negative recommendation as the last action item for the February 28 City Council meeting.

The Droste proposal to limit public comment at City Council meetings was nearly dead on arrival until Councilmembers Rigel Robinson as the author and Susan Wengraf as the co-sponsor stepped in to revive it. They submitted a “supplemental” with modified language to change the proposed procedure from allowing public attendees to make one comment on the entire council agenda to letting them comment twice: once on the consent calendar before it’s addressed by councilmembers and once on all of the agenda items on the action calendar just before it was taken up, before hearing any presentations, staff reports or council discussion. The three exceptions to this schedule were hearings, appeals and quasi-judicial proceedings (court like). -more-

Public Comment

A Berkeley Activist's Diary, Week Ending March 5

Kelly Hammargren
Saturday March 11, 2023 - 09:34:00 PM

Look how far we’ve come in thirty years. In 1993 the movie that won the Academy Award for Best Makeup, the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Motion Picture was a fictional story that brought joy and laughter about a father dressing up as a female housekeeper to be close to his children. Twentieth Century Fox Blue Wolf Productions gave us that 1993 movie Mrs. Doubtfire with Robin Williams dressing as a female housekeeper.

2023 gives us state legislative bodies set to outlaw drag shows, female impersonators, men dressing as women and women dressing as men. Lawsuits, fines and prison are the vision of Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and West Virginia. Tennessee banned “[M]ale or female impersonators who provide entertainment for a prurient interest…” Florida has the anti-gay bill and Missouri bans women lawmakers from showing bare arms. As a female the right to control my own body hangs by a thread even in states that enshrined access to abortion. Are they coming for my jeans next?

Looking back over the last week what stands out are “branding,” limiting public participation in city council meetings, the Bird Safe Ordinance crossing a major hurdle and a re-do of University Avenue on the table. The cost of picking up garbage will go up for most of us, Berkeley is divided on living with COVID-19, owner move-in evictions into one unit or a single-family house will be allowed and COVID-19 commercial eviction protections are over. Berkeley’s COVID-19 emergency ends March 31, 2023, the international and national investors got their in-lieu mitigation fee pushed back to the 2020 rate and a sliding scale discount for buildings with less than 10,000 square feet of living space (as only in the units, not the hallways, mailrooms, etc.)

Mayor Arreguin and councilmembers Hahn and Wengraf sit on the Agenda Committee. These are the three who decide the order of the regular council meeting agenda, what should be scheduled as a special meeting, what should be referred to a committee, and what should be rescheduled to a future meeting. Mark Numainville, City Clerk, gives the rules of what can’t be postponed, and Dee Williams-Ridley, City Manager chimes in with changes and for which agenda items she requests a delay in order to write an opposition, known as a companion report.

Arreguin holds the committee power, which is how the hottest agenda item of the February 28 City Council meeting, limiting public meeting participation, “Reforms to Public Comment Procedures at meetings of the Berkeley City Council”, was scheduled as the very last item of that night, and how a presentation, “The City of Berkeley, Employer of Choice Initiative” from Dee Williams-Ridley, City Manager, stayed on the action agenda in the middle of the evening instead of being scheduled as a special meeting. -more-

ECLECTIC RANT:The Dreaded "S" Word

Ralph E. Stone
Monday March 13, 2023 - 11:46:00 AM

In January 2023,, the House passed HR9, a resolution denouncing socialism. The resolution states, Congress denounces socialism in all its forms, and opposes the implementation of socialist policies in the United States of America.” I bet many of the House members (or many in the public at large) who voted for HR9 could not explain what they mean by socialism. Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) called it for what the resolution is: This resolution is little about intelligent discourse and everything to do about laying the groundwork to cut Social Security and Medicare.” -more-

SMITHEREENS: Reflections on Bits & Pieces:SmitherDithers&DiceyData

Gar Smith
Monday March 13, 2023 - 11:19:00 AM

Honorifics in Overdrive

If you access online petition drives, you're familiar with the screen request to select a "prefix." Most options are fairly simple and range from Mr. and Mrs. to Dr. and Prof. But the League of Conservation Voters has gone a bit beyond what's normal.

The LCV's prefix list contains 61 options. These include: Ambassador, Bishop, Brother, Captain, Chaplain, Colonel, Gov, Honorable, Imam, Judge, Maj Gen, Master, Miss, Rabbi, Rector, Rep, Rev, Senator, Sister, The Rt. Rev and The Very Reverent. With so many choices, it's hard to see how the LCV's list (which is widely used to contact political leaders) includes the option of "Congressman" but fails to offer the choice of "Congresswoman." -more-

ON MENTAL WELLNESS: The Suffering of Psych Medications

Jack Bragen
Monday March 13, 2023 - 11:32:00 AM

Psychiatric medications are typically dispensed to people who show severe signs of a mental affliction. Such a person could behave in ways that do not make sense. They may be "gravely disabled" and unable to care for themselves, to do such basics as showering, washing clothes, cleaning up after oneself, paying bills, and more. Secondly, a person could be considered severely ill if they behave violently with no apparent reason. And third is where there are suicide attempts or self-mutilation. None of this is cheery stuff. The standard practice is to give medication, in some instance by force. Yet, psych meds have their own problems. They affect health and they affect well-being. The side effects may cause physical and mental suffering. -more-


The War on Environmental Quality Loses a Berkeley Battle

Becky O'Malley
Monday February 27, 2023 - 11:30:00 AM

UPDATE: March 23, 2023

Frankly, I’m getting pretty tired of being right. The 20th anniversary of the ill-fated U.S. invasion of Iraq is also the 20th anniversary of the O’Malley family’s ultimately unsuccessful attempt to provide Berkeley with a printed newspaper. Here in Berkeley that spring we made every effort from day 1 to warn the Bush administration that their foray into the middle east was doomed, but they ignored us—what a surprise.

Along with our correspondents and our extended families we marched with signs in Berkeley and San Francisco. Many wrote about it, here in Berkeley and elsewhere. A San Francisco Chronicle reporter marched and didn’t write about it but was fired anyway. The war against Iraq took no notice, even though all of us were right.

The Editor's Back Fence

Berkeley Council Will Address Limiting Public Comment

Monday March 13, 2023 - 12:13:00 PM

Anyone concerned about the attempt by several Berkeley Councilmembers to limit public comment at council meetings on agenda action items to one minute per citizen at the beginning of the action agenda should attend Tuesday's meetings in person or by zoom. See how to do it from The Berkeley Activist's Calendar in this issue. Several readers have sent me a copy of a YIMBY (Yes in Your Back Yard) astroturf call to action, so that point of view will probably be in evidence. If you're not on the same page, be there or be square. It's Item 20. -more-

Arts & Events

The English Concert Performs A Splendidly Tedious Handel’s SOLOMON Oratorio

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Monday March 13, 2023 - 11:52:00 AM

Although I appreciate Handel’s extraordinary gift for composing beautiful music, I often find his works, especially his oratorios but also some of his operas, overlong, tedious and downright boring. Take, for example, Handel’s oratorio Solomon, which the highly regarded Baroque music group The English Concert just performed on Sunday, March 5, at Zellerbach Hall. The performance of Solomon was announced as lasting three hours and ten minutes, including two intermissions, though in fact it lasted far longer than that. When one considers Handel’s use of the da capo format, with its endless repeats, I find that my attention wanes and my impatience mounts. -more-


The Berkeley Activist's Calendar, March 12-19, 2023

Kelly Hammargren, Sustainable Berkeley Coalition
Sunday March 12, 2023 - 09:40:00 PM

Worth Noting:

City Council Spring Recess is from March 22 – April 10, 2023. The March 21 City Council meeting is posted and available for public comment. The planned special meetings on March 20 for the Berkeley Marina Area Specific Plan and on March 21 on Civic Arts Grantmaking Process & Capital Grant Program at 4 pm, Civic Center Vision Project at 4 pm are not yet posted. For updates keep checking the City website at: https://berkeleyca.gov/

A very full week ahead with another atmospheric river arriving on Tuesday.

City Council, Council Committees and the Police Accountability Board will meet in the hybrid format with the option of attending in person or virtually on zoom. The Civic Arts Commission subcommittee will meet via videoconference only on Monday. All other city meetings are in person only.

  • Monday: The Health Life Enrichment, Equity & Community Committee meets in the hybrid format at 10 am. The City Council meets in closed session in the hybrid format at 3 pm. The Civic Arts Policy subcommittee meets virtually at 4:30 pm and the Youth Commission meets in person at 6:30 pm. The Community for a Cultural Civic Center (CCCC) meets online at 12 noon.
  • Tuesday: City Council is the go to meeting of the week. If you go in person prepare for a long evening. The City Council meets in a hybrid format starting with a special meeting on the crime report at 4 pm followed with the regular meeting at 6 pm. Item 20 on the agenda is the Droste – Robinson-Wengraf proposal for limiting public comment on all action agenda items to one comment. There are three legally required exceptions: hearings, appeals and quasi-judicial (court-like procedings). The last item of the night Item 25 another Droste proposal limits councilmembers to one major legislative submission per year. (I commented on both of these agenda items in my 2/26/23 Activist’s Diary https://www.berkeleydailyplanet.com/issue/2023-02-26/article/50200?headline=A-BERKELEY-ACTIVIST-S-DIARY-Week-Ending-2-26--Kelly-Hammargren )
  • Wednesday: The Commission on Aging meets in person at 1:30 pm. The Civic Arts Commission meets in person at 6 pm. The Police Accountability Board is meeting at 6:30 pm in a hybrid format. The Human Welfare and Community Action Commission meets at 6:30 pm in person only. The Commission on Labor meets in person at 7 pm.
  • Thursday: FITES is scheduled to meet at 1 pm in a hybrid format, but no agenda is posted. The Fair Campaign Practices and Open Government Commission meets at 6 pm in person. The Design Review Committee, Mental Health Commission and Transportation and Infrastructure Commission all meet at 7 pm in person.
  • Friday: The Climate Emergency Task Force has not posted the agenda for the planned webinar from 9 am – 12 noon. This event will be online.

Directions with links to ZOOM support for activating Closed Captioning and Save Transcript are at the bottom/end of this calendar.



Back Stories


The Editor's Back Fence

Berkeley Council Will Address Limiting Public Comment 03-13-2023

Public Comment

A Berkeley Activist's Diary, Week Ending March 5 Kelly Hammargren 03-11-2023

ECLECTIC RANT:The Dreaded "S" Word Ralph E. Stone 03-13-2023

SMITHEREENS: Reflections on Bits & Pieces:SmitherDithers&DiceyData Gar Smith 03-13-2023

ON MENTAL WELLNESS: The Suffering of Psych Medications Jack Bragen 03-13-2023


A Berkeley Activist's Diary, Week Ending March 12 Kelly Hammargren 03-18-2023

Arts & Events

The English Concert Performs A Splendidly Tedious Handel’s SOLOMON Oratorio Reviewed by James Roy MacBean 03-13-2023

The Berkeley Activist's Calendar, March 12-19, 2023 Kelly Hammargren, Sustainable Berkeley Coalition 03-12-2023