By far the most talked-about topic on Berkeleyside — and in Berkeley — this week was the pending selection of Edmond Heatley for school superintendent. Early in the week, teachers and union officials expressed concern that Heatley’s ties to the Broad Academy (a school funded by Los Angeles billionaire Eli Broad) might mean that he would use a top-down style of leadership and promote “disruptive change,” in the district. Then speakers at the school board meeting on Wednesday night reported that Heatley was involved in the passage of a resolution supporting Prop 8, which banned gay marriage, when he was superintendent of the Chino Valley School District in San Bernardino County in 2008. There were hundreds of comments on Berkeleyside about Heatley’s position, and an informal poll indicated that many (73% of the 401 who responded) thought the Berkeley school board should withdraw its offer to Heatley. (The board is already slowing down the process to do more vetting). Heatley has some defenders, too, with the most fervent being his former boss, Michael Calta, who was president of the Chino Valley School Board in 2008. He wrote (many times) in the Berkeleyside comment section that the wording on the resolution supporting Prop 8 was his, not Heatley’s, and there was no indication Heatley supported a ban on gay marriage. Many Berkeley residents who looked at the wording of the resolution and accompanying memo under Heatley’s signature disagreed with that argument.
There was other important news in Berkeley this week. The City Council voted to change zoning to let Sports Basement take over the Iceland ice skating rink. The Rent Stabilization Board made some minor changes in response to a critical report issued by the Alameda County Grand Jury. And an art show highlighting the work of underground graffiti artists went awry when taggers painted graffiti on a number of building around Fourth and Fifth Streets.
On the Berkeleyside front, we were very excited to announce that we have pulled together what we think will be an unusual and exciting event. On Dec. 10, the three Michaels of Berkeley — Michael Chabon, Michael Lewis, and Michael Pollan — will take the stage at Berkeley Rep in a first-ever three-way conversation. What will they say about living in Berkeley? Please buy a ticket and find out. The evening will benefit 826 Oakland, a new writing program for East Bay youth based on Dave Eggers’ well-respected 826 Valencia in San Francisco.
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