“Man found dead outside in Berkeley” by Emilie Raguso (berkeleyside.com)

A man’s body was found at Hearst and Shattuck avenues Sunday morning. Photo: Heidi Sachs

January 22, 2017

A man who has not been identified was found dead outside in North Berkeley’s popular Gourmet Ghetto neighborhood Sunday morning, authorities report.

Berkeley Police Lt. Andrew Rateaver said a man was found dead, but that no further details about him could be released pending the ongoing coroner’s case.

Rateaver said authorities were called at 9 a.m. to offer medical aid to someone at 2044 Hearst Ave. Police and firefighters responded. But when they got there, they found that the person who reportedly needed help had already died.

The investigation is going, Rateaver said.

The coroner’s office said Sunday afternoon that the man has not been identified so no further information was available.

It may, however, be the latest in a series of troubling deaths outside of people sleeping on Berkeley streets.

Last weekend, the body of a 55-year-old woman was found in the yard of a home on Martin Luther King Jr. Way.

Homeless activist Mike Zint said Tuesday at a vigil for her that the woman was the ninth homeless person who had died outside in the East Bay in the past few months. He said four were in Oakland, and several others were from Berkeley. Zint said their long years in the elements had contributed to their deaths.

One of those individuals was Roberto Benitas, who died in September in the doorway of the old U-Haul business on San Pablo Avenue and Addison Street.

In mid-December, a man may have died after having a medical issue outside the McDonald’s at 1998 Shattuck Ave. (The coroner’s office had no information on the man identified by the community as the victim when Berkeleyside called to check in December. The Berkeley Fire Department said a person was transported by ambulance from that location but could provide no further information due to privacy laws.)

That same week, according to reports from the First They Came For The Homeless activist group, other Berkeley fatalities included a man known as “Caveman” who died after being in the hospital for several weeks, and “a homeless woman new to housing.”

In the last month or so, Berkeley has doubled the number of shelter beds it offers by opening three emergency warming centers in addition to its regular shelters. The newest one, at 1231 Second St., can accommodate dogs and large amounts of gear. Berkeley even opened two places that people can stay during the day, but they are not being well-used and are being phased out, according to a staff report.

Note from Mike Zint:

The fatalities are occurring frequently. Two in one week in Berkeley. Have enough died, or do you want more?

T O D A Y !!! Join the Women’s March in San Francisco at 3 PM (from Ruthie Sakheim)



“Come out to the Women’s March in San Francisco on January 21st. Let’s show our neighbors that we won’t tolerate hate and that we will stand up for our rights.”
Valeria Avila, E4FC Community Educator
January 21, 2017 

My name is Valeria Avila. I was born in Mexico and came to the United States when she was 16 years old. I am studying Mechanical Engineering at Santa Clara University. I am also part of E4FC’s Community Education team.

My fellow E4FC Community Educator, Angelica Vargas, will speak at the Women’s March in San Francisco on Saturday January 21st. Please join us in advocating for undocumented immigrants nationwide!

The Women’s March is open to everyone who stands for human rights, civil liberties, tolerance of diversity, and compassion for our shared humanity.

Time of Rally: 3:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Time of March: 5:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Starting Location: San Francisco’s Civic Center
Ending Location: Justin Herman Plaza

Find out more information about the Women’s March here

Why join me at the Women’s March? Marching with thousands of people brings me hope that, although our circumstances may differ, we’re all united in our pursuit of social justice. We are not alone.

My fellow E4FC Community Educator, Mitzia Martinez, and I will be at the rally and march to organize our E4FC group. We’ll be gathering at SFAC Galleries Window Installation Site at 2:30 pm. If you have questions, call me at (510) 943-8671.



First They Came for the Homeless (FTCftH) decries the loss of yet another life on the streets of Berkeley – ‘Body of homeless woman found near Berkeley High’, reported in Berkeleyside 1/15/17. People without shelter and without hope is the mark of a failed society, one that will likely fall even further over these next four years as tolerance and compassion continue to lose ground to bigotry and mean-spiritedness.

FTCftH will be holding a press conference, followed by a 24-hour vigil commencing at 5:00 PM, Tuesday, January 17th on the grounds of Berkeley’s New City Hall in memory of lives lost needlessly – in Berkeley, San Francisco, in Portland, OR, Denver, CO and all across the country.

Mike Zint, an organizer with FTCftH, said

“A tent is not a permanent solution. Housing is. But with no housing available, a tent in a sanctioned tent city would provide shelter, storage, security, privacy, and most importantly, stability. And stability is what will help the most. Give people time without harassment, hours, abuse, or rules that don’t fit in with life.”

FTCftH once again calls on the City of Berkeley to stop using police to terrorize homeless people, to stop confiscating the possessions they need to survive, and to stop dismantling the small, supportive communities they establish. Protecting and serving means all the people of Berkeley, not just the housed. In the absence of a place to call her own, would a tent and companions have saved this woman’s life? We don’t know. COULD a tent, companions and shared food saved this woman’s life? We think that’s a good possibility.

For more on our thoughts on homelessness please see http://tinyurl.com/jmqp4kj

Greg Palast: Cross Check- Motherlode of Vote Purge Scams

October 27, 2016

When Donald Trump says, “This election is rigged”—he should know. His buddies are rigging it.

Rolling Stone investigative reporter Greg Palast busted Jeb Bush for stealing the 2000 election by purging Black voters from Florida’s electoral rolls. Now Palast is back to take a deep dive into the Republicans’ dark operation, Crosscheck, designed to steal a million votes by November.

Crosscheck is controlled by a Trump henchman, Kris Kobach, Kansas Secretary of State who claims his computer program has identified 7.2 million people in 29 states who may have voted twice in the same election–a felony crime. The catch? Most of these “suspects” are minorities—in other words, mainly Democratic voters. Yet the lists and the evidence remain “confidential.”

Palast and his investigative side-kick Badpenny do what it takes to get their hands on the data, analyze it and go find some of these 7.2 million Americans tagged “suspects” and “potential duplicate voters” whose votes are threatened this November.

They hunt down and confront Kobach with the evidence of his “lynching by laptop.” Then they are off to find the billionaires behind this voting scam.

In this interview, Greg talks about his new film, “The Best Democracy Money Can Buy”. Called “The most important investigative journalist of our time”, Palast has been working for the BBC for 20 years and writes for the Guardian and the Rolling Stone.

See also: GregPalast.com

“Politicians Don’t See the Light Until They Feel the Heat” by Jacob Wheeler

October 17, 2011 (theuptake.org)

“Sometimes politicians don’t see the light until they feel the heat,” Congressman and Chair of the Progressive Caucus Keith Ellison told The UpTake yesterday during an interview about the growing Occupy Wall Street demonstrations.

(Watch OWS protests from around the world here)

Ellison fully supports the spontaneous demonstrations, doesn’t believe they are leaderless, and doesn’t think politicians should get in their way or try to co-opt the movement.


Haru is an 89 year old American woman of Japanese heritage who grew up in Riverside, California. She recalls how her family was put on a registry and incarcerated in an internment camp where they were forced to remain for four years. Then Haru stops talking and does something unexpected…

Executive Produced by Katy Perry

Made possible in part by
Visual Communications – www.vconline.org
Alterian, Inc. – http:/www.alterianinc.com
The Local Skill – @thelocalskill
Coyote Post – www.coyotepost.com

Photo Credits:
Haru as Young Girl – Haru Kuromiya

Evacuees of Japanese ancestry entraining for Manzanar, California – National Archives and Records Administration

Manzanar Internment Camp, California – National Archives and Records Administration

“SF’s Democrats keep up the internal warfare” by David Talbot (sfchronicle.com)

Photo: Gabrielle Lurie, Special To The Chronicle.  Former Supervisor David Campos, seen in this 2016 file photo, said: “We’re obviously not anti-immigrant or anti-Chinese. … But this is one of the worst displays of manipulating the process I’ve seen in years.”

January 9, 2017

‘On soggy, windy Sunday, I witnessed American democracy — in its raw and primal form — in action at a San Francisco labor hall. It was beautiful, and it was ugly.

The occasion was the Assembly District 17 delegates election, a generally obscure exercise in democracy that took place throughout the state this weekend. The 14 delegates selected at the District 17 level, which covers the eastern half of San Francisco, get to attend the California Democratic Party convention in May, where they will swill beverages and rub elbows with minor and major political personalities, as well as vote on resolutions that might or might not influence policy. Normally, these district elections excite interest among only party hacks and political wonks. But in case you hadn’t noticed, things are anything but normal these days.

On Sunday morning, while the rest of the city was still enjoying its coffee, a shockingly long line of San Francisco Democrats braved the rain and wind to cast their votes in the District 17 delegate race at the Laborers International Union hall in the Mission. The line snaked out of the building on 18th Street, rounded the corner on Shotwell, and turned right on 19th, where it finally ended in the wet and gloomy distance. Many people waited for as long as two hours under the leaky skies to vote.

The Trump effect has clearly hit San Francisco. No fewer than 1,500 Democrats turned out for this vote, according to artist Debra Walker, convener for the District 17 election — far more than for the last election, in 2015, when about 900 showed up, she said.

So that’s the good news for all those still in shock after November.

“The message today is that we’re alive and well, and we’re fighting back,” said Brian Salkin, one of the dozens of San Franciscans who threw his hat into the delegates race.

But any hope that the Democratic Party in San Francisco would blissfully unite against Trump was dashed by bitter divisions on full display Sunday morning. The friction that tore apart the national party during the primary season, and has pitted local progressives against centrists, grew red hot as the Democrats’ warring factions converged on the labor building.

“This is Bernie versus Hillary all over again,” said one young voter standing in line, who preferred not to give his name. He supported the so-called Rebuild slate, whose campaign was spearheaded by Assemblyman David Chiu, a pillar of the centrist coalition. The opposing Reform slate included a progressive chorus line of Sanders supporters, tenant organizers, LGBTQ activists and police-reform advocates.

As I entered the building, Reform slate members were fuming about what they alleged was “election-rigging” by their centrist opponents. A line of Bauer rental buses parked in front — observers counted at least five vehicles — was disgorging a steady stream of Chinese-speaking men and women. No one stopped them as they went directly inside the building, cutting in front of the long line of people who were patiently standing in the rain.

I spotted one middle-aged Chinese American woman, who declined to give her name, filling out multiple ballots. When challenged by an independent election observer, she became upset and said she was voting on behalf of relatives who could not read English. Meanwhile, at the table where the woman was filling out ballots, Rebuild slate organizers handed out doughnuts, tangerines, granola bars and bottled beverages to those who had just performed their civic duty.

“This is just more of the same corrupt stuff we saw in the Democratic primaries,” said Reform candidate Ben Becker, as he tried to physically block people from crashing the voter line. The young, ponytailed Becker and his wife, Claire Lau, had co-founded San Francisco Berniecrats, an organization that grew out of the Sanders campaign and became the main engine behind the Reform slate. “Hundreds of people are being bused in from Chinatown today — they don’t know who they’re voting for,” said Becker. “They’re just being told how to vote by David Chiu and his people.”

“We’re obviously not anti-immigrant or anti-Chinese,” said former Supervisor David Campos, a Reform slate organizer. “But this is one of the worst displays of manipulating the process I’ve seen in years.”

I found Chiu in front of the building, directing people as they exited the rental buses. He agreed the delegate election was “a chaotic process,” but he strongly denied that his centrist faction was “stacking the vote,” as Campos charged. “There are multiple slates, and everyone is asking people to vote for their candidates,” Chiu said. “I see this as a positive thing — our entire city and state is engaged in the process.”

“We paid for bus rental costs out of my campaign account,” Chiu acknowledged, adding that these expenditures will be reflected in his treasurer’s next report. As for some Chinese-only speakers having their ballots filled out by others, he said: “There were no bilingual ballots, so people needed help.”

But Walker, the election convener, disputed this. “There’s no language problem with the voting,” she said. “The ballot is just a list of names. And if they can’t read the names in English, there are Chinese-language translations.”

Like Chiu, newly elected state Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, who also backed the Rebuild slate, put the best possible spin on the tension-filled morning. “This is the ultimate expression of democracy, whatever side you’re on. At the end of the day, we’re all on the same side. We’re all going to unite against the existential threat to our democracy.”

But that unity seemed a distant mirage as I left the building, where I bumped into Kimberly Alvarenga, who lost a hard-fought battle for District 11 supervisor in November by only a few hundred votes. A soaked Alvarenga had been working the line outside the building for three hours on behalf of the Reform slate.

“There were elders, differently abled people, mothers with young kids, all standing in the rain, waiting their turn to vote,” she said. “And then all those people came pouring off the buses and cut in front of them, so they had to wait longer. That’s disingenuous; that’s disrespectful. Democracy needs to be a fair process.”

In the end, the progressive slate prevailed, by a slight margin, taking eight of the 14 seats. Becker was among the winning candidates. Despite winning a majority, progressives were still fuming. “If not for the questionable tactics by the other side, it would have been a progressive sweep,” said Campos. “It’s sad and embarrassing that there was such a horrible process.”

Sunday’s top vote-generator was a member of the centrist slate, Theo Ellington, a 27-year-old public affairs executive for the Warriors. In the midst of Sunday’s mad political circus, the politically ambitious Ellington, whom my family has called “Mr. Mayor” ever since he went to high school with my son, told me, “My job is to bring people together.”

He will have his hands full.

San Francisco Chronicle columnist David Talbot appears Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Email: dtalbot@sfchronicle.com