Thursday, November 6, 2014


This news photo taken by Photojournalist Lloyd Francis in the summer of 1987 from the Iran-Contra Hearings was one of his best, in my opinion. 

Lloyd worked as a photojournalist all over the world, including nine tours of Iraq, I believe.

This photo is about the press in 1980s Washington D.C. The boundaries between the government and the press seemed sharper in 1987. Today, we're too often getting our news from folks who do not even have an AP Stylebook.

It tells us much about the American press and the relationship our free press has with the American government and the American people. 

After the Dot-Com Boom, journalism changed tremendously. Voters in 2016 are nearly waterboarded with "breaking news" all day, all night. We consume too much media, become overwhelmed and consequently, know less.

One can't be bombed with news every day; the voter begins to hear the news like he/she hears traffic outside. 

In 2016, people must be their own news reporters and learn the basic rules of editing. 

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Friday, July 9, 2010


Photo by Lurene Helzer, unpublished, late 1980s, Oakland's Diamond Park.

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There is no news story to go with this picture. I was just walking around with my camera, had it loaded with 400 speed black-and-white film. Stumbled into Oakland's Diamond Park, saw this small group in playground.

I post it here today, July 9, 2010, because Oakland saw more rioting lastnight. This photo was not out to predict anything, of course, but with the shadows of chains on man, the grim girl in his lap, the man posed as what seems like a guard in rear, the photo, to me, speaks plenty about the problems of African Americans in Oakland, CA.

Again, this photo was not staged. I just asked if I could snap a photo on that sunny day. I did not see the shadows of chain on man's arms until in darkroom later, developing pic.

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Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Published news story by Lurene Kathleen Helzer, partial clip is undated, but probably published after February, 1990, The El Cerrito Journal, “New Development Commission Nixed By Time-Frugal Council”. (Photo of me, 2007)

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This, I hope, is the last entry for these two news blogs, bayarealurene and bayarealureneb. I can concentrate on other areas now, some editing.

I was tempted to finish last week, but decided to throw these last few old news stories in at end. I like this last story because of Mr. Abelson's funny remarks. The Bay Area has lost its tolerance by 2010 for frank local leaders like Abelson, takes itself too seriously today:

With the El Cerrito city staff two to four weeks behind in their work, redevelopment agency members scoffed at the prospect of forming a new commission to help attract developers to the city, saying it would further burden the staff.

Redevelopment agency Executive Director Pat O’Keeffe said an economic development commission would require additional staff and “would cause a significant decrease in my effectiveness.”

Councilman and Redevelopment Agency Chairman Charles Lewis, IV, said Monday night El Cerrito business leaders on the proposed commission could help the agency promote El Cerrito and provide feedback from El Cerrito business leaders.

One of the disadvantages of a commission, according to a staff report released at the meeting, is that the commission’s duties would overlap with duties of existing city departments.

“I hadn’t intended that this would be a mini-planning commission,” said Lewis, who brought up the idea at the February 17 agency meeting. “El Cerrito business leaders are a resource we’re not currently tapping.”

Another point brought up in the report was the current overload of work. The report said the processing time for policy and development plans would be “doubled as a result of staff having to move proposed projects and plans through two policy bodies for decision.”

The report said “some of the projects we have already established are not being given proper attention.”

Councilmember Howard Abelson also criticized the council for contributing to the staff’s overload of work.

At a previous council meeting, staff members were directed to study the city of Richmond’s request for $1,100 toward the Richmond Rescue Mission.

Abelson said at the earlier meeting, “Instead of spending staff time studying the issue, we should just give the funds to the one homeless person in El Cerrito. It would be more economical.”

During an interview Abelson said, “I get the impression that these requests for reports take staff time away from things that are more important to the city. Council members ought to be able to make a few phone calls themselves.”

During the Monday night meeting, Abelson asked City Manager Ronald D. Creagh how much money and time had been spent studying the issue.

Creagh said the study took 10 to 11 hours of staff time, or from three to five hundred dollars to complete.

O’Keeffe and Creagh both refused to comment when asked to give more details on the backlog of work. But Creagh complained at an earlier meeting that he didn’t have time to prepare a report on homelessness.
Lewis and Howe were the only council members who supported the idea of an economic development commission. Most said O’Keeffe was doing a god job and the commission would be a waste of city resources.

The staff surveyed 10 Contra Costa cities in making the report. They found that Concord had a commission similar to what El Cerrito might require.

The Concord commission advises the Redevelopment Agency on redevelopment plans and policies, budget matters, and advises the agency on its potential for participation in redevelopment projects, the report found.

El Cerrito’s Land Use Committee, similar to what an Economic Development Commission would be, was disbanded after initial redevelopment planning for the city was complete, according to the report. –end--

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475a: San Francisco State, Angela Davis, History of the African-American Woman, 1991

There are so many course notes I've lost. I've never been able to cite them, for this reason. I took course by Angela Davis, who was teaching at SF State around 1991. Ms. Davis is quite famous in her own regard. (Photo by HK, 2006, found on Wikipedia.)

Angela Davis was an American communist in the 1970s, activist on a number of issues. She'd been in trouble with American federal authorities in the 1970s, but was able to prove herself innocent with a team of attorneys. It's a detailed story, but a fascinating one in American history.

So, here she was teaching. I was (and am) not a leftist radical at all, but could not pass up opportunity to hear her views on American history, whatever my disagreements might have been.

The class went well for me, though. Some good history about Black women in the days of American slavery, other subjects. I wanted to learn something about women as they were under American slavery, the days of Jim Crow, and she was able to bring some light to that little-studied subject for us.

What was she like? I remember she relied on reputable scholars and documents, and spoke in moderate tones during lectures. So, I never really knew the radical Angela Davis of lore, of 1972. She was more mature by the early 1990s, spoke only briefly on her experiences of the 1970s.

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Sunday, April 11, 2010

475. El Cerrito, Redevelopment, IBEX, 1990

Published news story by Lurene K. Helzer, December 6, 1990, The Journal, “EC moves to obtain IBEX project area; Angered businesses on target site may face legal action”. Only a portion of this clipping is available.

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Photo above, from is from interior of abandoned building in Detroit, not El Cerrito. When cities begin redevelopment programs, they are usually trying to avoid growing urban or suburban blight. Once blight's rooted, it's expensive for a city to fight. People leave in droves.

EL CERRITO – The Redevelopment Agency may have to slap lawsuits on some El Cerrito and business property owners to make way for the IBEX project.

“It’s going to hurt my business tremendously. I’ve got a lot of walk-in business here and now I’m going to a place where I’m not even known. It’s going to take time for that walk-in traffic to build up,” complained Shirley Levias, who leases office space for her insurance business at 11722 San Pablo Ave.

Levias said she will move to 12962 San Pablo – and pay rent three times higher than the rent she is now paying.

“They’ve had me on hold for almost two years,” Levias said. “They have given us the month they’re going to tear us down so many times…Do you know what that does to a business?”

The agency passed four resolutions Nov. 25 authorizing the agency’s staff “to acquire the properties and leasehold interests by eminent domain.”

The agency is required in its agreement with IBEX to acquire the site for development.

The four parcels of land which are being acquired through eminent domain are all on San Pablo Avenue, where IBEX Group plans to develop housing and retail shops.

Raphael and Maria Sosa, who ran the former Bert’s Place Bar, Ramillaben and Gidda S. Patel, who own the Bay Bridge Motel, Shirley Levias, who owns the Levias Insurance Agency, Eugene and Vivian Agnitsch of the Silver Dollar Restaurant and Jean Wightman of the Wightman Bookkeeping and Tax Service are all named in the resolutions.

Acquisition and relocation are separate matters, Redevelopment Agency Director Gerald Raycraft said Friday. Addressing the issue in general, he added, “Sometimes being in a redevelopment project area scares people.”

“I think her type of business can relocate in a relatively easy fashion and still maintain contact and continuity with her clients,” said Raycraft.

Levias complained the agency offered her no compensation for the relocation other than moving assistance. But Raycraft said the agency has limits set by law.

“We have to be very careful,” Raycraft said. “If we offer her something that she’s not entitled to, it could be construed as a gift of public funds.”

Another business owner who leases space in the same building as Levias is Jean Wightman.

“In my lifetime, I didn’t want to move this office again,” Wightman said.

But Wightman, who was planning to retire or sell the business within five years, said she would begin moving her office to 12960 San Pablo on Dec. 3.

“I’d just rather not move,” Wightman said.

Although she is satisfied with her new Richmond location, she dreads losing clients and tolerating the inconvenience.

The IBEX Group intends to build 136 apartment units and a 19,000-square-foot retail complex on San Pablo Avenue. The development agreement, signed with the agency in July of this year, requires the agency to adhere to a timetable in delivering the site to IBEX. – end of clipping –

474. El Cerrito Childcare Center's Neighbors, 1990

Published news story by Lurene K. Helzer, November 8, 1990, The El Cerrito Journal, “EC council sets a limit on home childcare center”. Only a portion of this clipping is available.

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When reviewing all these old news items from the East Bay, I remind myself that groups of people will always find new things to argue about because it’s just what people do, day in, day out; chasing “world peace” is actually pointing to a dog chasing his tail, defining it as “progressive.” (I'm sure I've heard this joke elsewhere.)

EL CERRITO — Home childcare center owner Patricia Cooper was seething with anger after the City Council last week decided to limit the number of children she can watch in her home.

Cooper, who runs Rainbow’s End Childcare, said she would take legal action to keep the center open for 12 children, rather than only six, and complained bitterly about the “ugly neighbors” who complained to the city council about her business.

She said her neighbors didn’t consider traffic from the nearby El Cerrito Del Norte Bart station, and only complained about noise from her center even though other children live in the neighborhood. She also said a rock band frequently rehearses in the Harper Street neighborhood.

Area residents appealed an Oct. 3 Planning Commission decision granting Cooper a permit to operate the center. The council voted unanimously in favor of the residents’ appeal.

Councilmember Cathie Kosel, who said before voting that she was sympathetic to Cooper since she is a single parent herself, said a smaller childcare center was best for the neighborhood.

“This vote is in no way an indictment of your childcare facility,” said Mayor Bob Bacon. He also said the ordinance allowing operation of home childcare centers in El Cerrito was “not written broadly enough” to consider the concentration of other neighborhood facilities.

Many who complained about the center said it did not meet the street-width and backyard space requirements of the ordinance.

The center is just slightly short of the requirements, so the Planning Commission had originally passed the shortfalls off as “minor” discrepancies.

But most City Council members agreed that the center should met the minimum space requirements exactly. Councilmember Jean Siri said the discrepancy in the minimum street-width requirement should not be compromised.

Several neighbors complained about the existence of the center on 2008 Harper St. before the council meeting through letters to City Hall.

“To award the permit is to reward illegal actions,” Dr…..—end of clipping—

Thursday, April 8, 2010

473. El Cerrito Plaza, 1990

Published news story by Lurene K. Helzer, December 13, 1990, The El Cerrito Journal, “El Cerrito Plaza redevelopment more than another quick facelift”. 

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Only a portion of this clipping is available:

EL CERRITO—A Bay Area developer laid out a dramatic plan for rehabilitation of the El Cerrito Plaza in a proposal in the Redevelopment Agency.

The developer said it is designed to “make everyone happy” — even Emporium-Capwell owner Carter Hawley Hale.

But happiness may not be quick or cheap for the agency. The estimated $50 million plan, as presented at the Dec. 3 meeting, would include building new sites for Lucky’s and the Emporium, demolishing some existing buildings and attracting new tenants for the revamped plaza — more than a simple facelift.

The San Leandro-based Brookmat Corporation also proposes to build apartment units in the final stages of construction, which Brookmat President William Mathews Brooks said would leave less room for retail, but give the plaza a “focal point.”

The project, which would be implemented in phases, could take up to two years to complete, if a contract is signed between the agency and the developer. “What we have tried to do is create a plan that’s conservative, practical and presents the best opportunity of going forward,” said Brooks, who spoke before the agency.

Brookmat “expressed interest in purchasing the interests of Columbia Savings and Carter…--end of clipping--