of the East Bay


(This site last updated: July 26, 2016)

We have vacated our office in the Niebyl-Proctor Marxist Library
We have a new mailing address: P.O. Box 1126 Berkeley CA 94701
Our phone has been switched to 845-6156 or 841-5337
Email is still:
Manager of this Web Page
is Steve Geller --

Gray Panthers of the East Bay is a 501(c)(3) organization
Our Tax ID number is C0737920

Edie Hallberg --
Leeza Vinogradov --

Social Security Guides for Disabled

Here is some onformation from The Simple Dollar, a website dedicated to conducting data driven and unbiased research about topics that can help make an impact in people's lives. This information may be valuable for those who are living with disabilities.

The Simple Dollar recently investigated the Social Security Disabilities Benefits and in the course of their research, found that most people who have become or already living with disabilities are not fully aware of the benefits and resources that are available to them.

So, their team spent weeks reviewing the US Social Security Administration's documentation to develop their 2016 Disability Benefit Guide.

This guide breaks down qualifications and the application process, as well as a provides a calculator that can help estimate monthly and annual benefits.

===Past Meetings===

April Membership Meeting

was held Wednesday, April 27, 1:30 PM, North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst
Stories from families of victims brutalized and murdered by the police in the Bay Area
The moderator will be Gerald Smith, a leader in the Peace and Freedom Party and the Oscar Grant Committee. He will help us focus on questions like: How often have incidents of brutality occurred, and have they increased or decreased in the past few years? What can we in our communities do to stop this madness? What would a just outcome be like?
Click here for Steve Geller's summary report.

March 2016 Membership Meeting

The March 2016 membership meeting was held on March 23 at North Berkeley Senior Center
Celebrating Women's History Month: Women as Change-Makers
speaker: Janet Weil of Code Pink.
Click here for Steve Geller's summary report.

February 2016 Membership Meeting

(February 24 -- speaker did not appear)

January 2016 Membership Meeting

January 2016 Meeting was at North Berkeley Senior Center on Wednesday, January 27 1:30pm.

Jasmine Kavezade from TURN was not available; however, TURN's organizer Ana Montes was available. She told about TURN and PG&E rate increases.
Click here to see Steve Geller's report.

Fundraiser at Redwood Gardens

This was held on March 8, celebrating International Women's Day
there was a performance by the Rockin' Solidarity Labor Heritage Chorus
It very successful. Over 70 people attended.

WARNING: scam!

People are being called by "tech support" to fix non-existent problems with your computer. ALWAYS hang up in their ear.
For details, click here.

Free Legal Advice

March 12 @ 6:30 p.m. Claremont Library - 2940 Benvenue Ave

The “Lawyers in the Library” program offers free consultation and referrals on a wide variety of issues including landlord/tenant disputes, probate matters, employment problems, and general consumer issues.

Sign-ups start at 5:00pm for a spot with our visiting lawyer.
Names are chosen at random at 6:00pm for appointment times.

How to Fight the Republicans

The newly elected Republican majority in Congress has begun Destroying Social Programs

Here are some details and what you can do to fight back.

This page was supplied by Harry Brill. Click here

Monthly Peace Rally

Every 3rd Friday, Gray Panthers and Strawberry Creek Lodge sponsor a Peace rally, at Acton and University in Berkeley.

Here's a picture from the June 19, 2015 rally.

Next rally will be on Friday August 19, 2016, 2-3 pm.
Come sing, wave signs, listen to approving honks.
For more info, Call Fran Rachel at 841-4143
We need reinforcements! Please come! It's fun!
During the July rally, we got honks from several big trucks and a cement mixer.
We've also had honks from a Berkeley Police cruiser and a Brinks money truck.

Steve and Claire Get a Seat on BART

On BART trains, a sign above those aisle-facing seats near the doors says that priority on those seats is for senior, disabled and pregnant riders. Some young riders sitting in those seats don’t seem to understand that they need to get up and let senior, disabled or pregnant people sit down.

Claire and Steve frequently ride BART, travelling between music and theater venues in San Francisco and the East Bay. Claire is very good at securing a pair of seats near a door. Steve isn’t very aggressive about his senior seating rights, but Claire is pushy enough for both.

When they board a crowded train, Claire pulls Steve along as she scouts for young-looking people sitting in the door seats. She firmly draws their attention to the sign about priority, saying “these seats are for old people.” Steve is 75 and white-haired but does not appear especially disabled. He is shy about making someone give up a seat for him. Claire always rousts the youngsters out. Sometimes one of two people in the seat will yield to Claire, but the other will remain seated. Then Claire makes Steve stand in front of the non-yielding person, hanging on to the overhead bars while presumably looking abused. Often, then, the other person will yield too.

Claire can be a little too pushy, making remarks about someone’s ability to read the sign. Steve usually would rather put up with standing rather than make a scene.

It’s not always easy to gauge someone’s age. When Claire asks the age of a seated rider, some people turn out to be seniors too, sometimes older than either she or Steve, or they claim a disability.

On a trip a while back, Claire pressured a young woman to yield her seat, until the woman said that she was pregnant.

Students are very nice about yielding.

Some young adults show annoyance at having to give up their seat. It may be that when the approaching senior citizen is not obviously disabled and does not look in danger of falling down, young riders don’t see the need for giving the senior special treatment.

Sometimes it takes a little social pressure from other riders to get some action. On a recent BART trip returnng to the East Bay, Claire got one of the senior seats, but a young man sitting next to her showed reluctance to get up to give the other seat to Steve. A young woman rider gently lectured him about the rules posted in the sign. Finally, the young man got up and said “OK, I’ll just sit here on the floor” and did so, leaning against the car wall on the side of the car opposite to the contested seat. Steve, embarrassed, shut his eyes, folded his hands and tried to look tired and senile. The young man was still on the floor by the time Claire got off at Macarthur. At one point, the young woman who had given the lecture about the sign came over to him and may have apologized.

The moral to this story is that sometimes senior citizens riding BART need to assert their rights to one of those seats near a door. A balance needs to be struck between being obnoxious and being firm.

Presidential Candidate Positions on Social Security

Click here

Koch Brothers Products

The notorious Koch brothers own major shares in a wide variety of companies.

One big one is Georgia Pacific. This company makes products familar to us all.

Paper Towels: Angel Soft, Quilted Northern, Soft'n'Gentle, Brawny

Zee Napkins, Vanity Fair, Dixie Cups

Sign the pledge not to buy their stuff.

Resources and Links

For links to all US Government departments and agencies, plus to special federal portals for disability and senior citizen resources and information useful to parents, teachers and youth.

Go to this page.

Tax Break for Wealthy Hedge Fund Managers

Congress has granted an especially generous tax break to some of our very richest citizens. Managers of Hedge Funds make huge amounts of money, yet pay income tax at a rate lower than most of the middle class.

Have a look at this.

Our East Bay Gray Panther Newsletters Online

To display the February 2016 newsletter click here

To display the January 2016 newsletter click here

(there was no December 2015 newsletter)

To display the November 2015 newsletter click here

To display the October 2015 newsletter click here

To display the September 2015 newsletter click here

To display the July 2015 newsletter click here

To display the June 2015 Newsletter click here

To display the May 2015 Newsletter click here

To display the April 2015 Newsletter click here

To display the March 2015 Newsletter click here

To display the February 2015 Newsletter click here

To display the January 2015 NewsletterClick here

To display the November-December2014 Newsletter click here

To display the October 2014 Newsletter click here

To display the September 2014 Newsletter click here

(no August 2014 newsletter)

To display the July 2014 Newsletter click here

To display June 2014 Newsletter click here

To display May 2014 Newsletter click here

To display the pages of the March 2014 Newsletter, click here.

To display the pages of the Jan-Feb 2014 Newsletter, click here.

March 2015 newsletter

Tax The Rich

Every Monday, the "Tax the Rich" rally gathers near the top of Solano Avenue to protest the inequality of taxes in our country. We hold signs saying “Tax the Rich” and “Tax the Big Corporations.” Cars passing by honk in support. Pedestrians take leaflets.

October 27 was the last 5-6 pm rally time. The following Monday, November 3, with the end of Daylight Saving Time, rallies will be 4-5pm . The obvious reason is to avoid rallying in the dark.

Senator Bernie Sanders has Ten Fair Ways to Reduce the Deficit and Create Jobs.

For the Gray Panther Calendar of Events click here.

How to update this calendar, add events.

For a CHART to help you understand Obamacare, click here.

Social Security 78th Birthday

Read article on the 78th birthday of Social Security.

Here's a great letter responding to the notorious Senator Alan Simpson about Social Security.

Protecting Seniors from Financial Abuse

Here's a summary report on a presentation at South Berkeley Senior Center.

Reports on Past Membership Meetings

October Membership Meeting

The October Gray Panther membership meeting was held on October 28. The subject was the United Nations. Click herefor Steve Geller's summary report.

July 2015 Membership Meeting

The July 22 Gray Panther membership meeting was held at North Berkeley Senior Center

The subject was Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Click here for Steve Geller's summary report.

June 2015 Membership Meeting

The June 24 Gray Panther membership meeting was held at North Berkeley Senior Center

The subject was housing for senior citizens. Click here for Steve Geller's summary report.

Click here for related article in Street Spirit newspaper.

May 2015 Membership Meeting

The May membership meeting was held on May 27 at North Berkeley Senior center. There were reports from the Labor Commission, Save Shattuck Cinemas and Save the Berkeley Post Office.
There was a song and words performance celebrating Labor History and Struggles
Here is the summary report by Steve Geller.

April 2015 Membership Meeting

The April membership meeting was held on Wednesday, April 22, 2015
Mary Nicely from Tony Thurmond's office spoke on "Blue and Green California"
Click here for Steve Geller's summary report.

March 2015 Membership Meeting

The March membership meeting was held at North Berkeley Senior Center on March 25. Attorney Jim Chanin spoke on the First Amendment and Women's Rights
Click here for Steve Geller's summary report.
Even today, some people still can't vote. Click here

February 2015 Membership Meeting

The February membership meeting was held on Wednesday, February 25 at 1:30pm at North Berkeley Senior Center. The speaker was civil rights lawyer Moni Law.
Click here for Steve Geller's summary report.

January 2015 Membership Meeting

The general membership meeting was held on Wednesday, January 28. The subject was Low Income Housing Needs for Seniors.
Click here for a summary report.

December 2014

There was no membership meeting in December 2014. Instead, there was a holiday party, held jointly with the staff of North Berkeley Senior Center, on December 17.

It was a great success. Food was provided by the Senior Center. Panthers Claire and Steve brought some mandarin oranges. The masters of ceremonies were panther co-convenor Edie Hallberg and the senior center's Rodney Wong. The center's Tuesday sing-a-long group led everyone in Christmas carols and other seasonal songs, accompanied by piano.

Elliot Kennan played his banjo and sang songs, including some Hanukkah favorites. He gave the group a quick history of the origin of Hanukkah, the story of the one-day supply of oil for the temple lamps that miraculously lasted 8 days.

To celebrate the possible re-opening of diplomatic relations with Cuba, there was a performance of afro-Cuban percussion and songs. Some people got up and danced.

Beautiful dances: A Chinese group of women, exquisitely dressed, performed a dance.

Then there was more sing-along of seasonal songs.

Different dancers performed a Korean dance, and a bunch of long-braided cowgirls ended with country-western line-dances.

November 2014 Membership Meeting

The Subject of the November 19, 2014 general membership meeting was "Where Does Stuff Come From?" including a short film "The Story of Stuff," created by Annie Leonard.

Click here for a summary of the movie and presentation.

October 2014 Membership Meeting

The October 2014 membership meeting was held on Wednesday, October 22.

It featured two women from WILPF - "Talking with our Grandmothers" about women who tried to stop World War One.
Click here for the summary report.

The September 2014 membership meeting was held on September 24.
Omar Rodriguez, Operations Manager for the Bay Area Alternative Press (BAAP)
spoke on the subject:
"The Death of Journalistic Ethics -- What News Are We Getting?"
He discussed how BAAP helps improve news and information for communities of poor and disadvantaged people.
Here is a report on the talk.

(no meeting in August)

The July 2014 Membership Meeting was on Wednesday July 23.
There were speakers about Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
Click here for a report.

The June 2014 membership meet in was on June 25

The featured speaker was Richmond's Mayor Gayle McLaughlin speaking on the topic:
The Road to a Progressive Future Runs through Richmond, CA
Here is a summary report.
If you as an individual are interested in working on her campaign, click here.

The April 2014 membership meeting was on April 23
The speakers were Larry Kolb and Sonia Diermayer from the Sierra Club
Here is the summary report on their talk.

The March 2014 membership meeting took place on March 26.
The speaker was Tessa D’arcangelew, Organizer for ACLU of Northern California
Topic: "Big Brother IS Watching You and How It Is Done"
Here is the summary report.

The February 2014 general membership meeting was held on Wednesday, February 26, 1:30 p.m. at North Berkeley Senior Center. The speaker's topic was Obamacare.
Click here for a summary report.

The January 2014 membership meeting wwas held at 1:30pm on Wednesday, January 22, 2014, at North Berkeley Senior Center. The speaker was Victor Menotti, Executive Director of International Forum on Globalization. He gave a talk on the TPP -- Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Click here for a summary report.

The October 2013 general membership meeting of Gray Panthers of the East Bay was on October 16. The speaker was Pennie Opal Plant, on the subject: "The Tar Sands: Pipelines and Climate Chaos"

Here is a summary report on what she said.

The September 2013 membership meeting was held Sept 25 at North Berkeley Senior Center.

The speaker was Toby Blomé. An activist with CODEPINK, Toby has been very involved in the drone warfare resistance movement in the U.S. She was part of a CODEPINK legation to Pakistan, to learn firsthand about the consequences of drone warfare in Pakistan and to support the growing resistance to U.S. drone strikes.

Here is Steve Geller's report on her talk

There was no meeting in August 2013.

The July 2013 membership meeting was held July 24 at the North Berkeley Senior Center.
The speaker was Gray Brechin, on the subject of the Post Office (Berkeley and elsewhere)
Here is the summary report.
Here's a Daily Cal article written by Gray Brechin.

On June 26, 2013, Steve Geller spoke on public transit for senior citizens.
Here is a report and summary.

Here's a report on the David Bacon talk, on immigration at the May 22, 2013 membership meeting.

David Bacon passed out a model letter to DHS Secretary Napolitano, urging her to stop the I-9 audits.
Click here for an abbreviated version which you can print out, sign and send personally.

The Panther Membership Meeting on April 24, 2014 featured Adam Scow of Food and Water Watch, talking about fracking.
Here is the full report.

Click here to read the report on the Cindy Sheehan talk at the March 27, 2013 membership meeting.

Click here for the report on the February 27 membership meeting, during which new officers were elected. Speaker was Keith Carson..

Membership meeting January 23, 2013 the featured speaker was Gus Newport.
Here's the report.

Here is a report on the general membership meeting held on October 24, 2012, about the present and future of the Occupy Movement

Gray Panther General Membership meeting on June 27,2012 speaker was Nicky Gonzalez Yuen, Trustee, Peralta Community College
Topic: The Crisis in Education
Here is the report

The Gray Panther membership meeting on May 23, 2012 featured a talk by Cecile Pineda, about Fukushima and the nuclear industry.
Here is the report.

April 25, 2012 Gray Panther Membership Meeting was about the changing nature of War under Obama
Speaker: Activist Janet Weil of Code Pink.
Here's the report.

March 28, 2012 Membership meeting on was about the Attack on Women. Here is the report.

Membership meeting on February 22,2012 was about prison reform. Here is the Report.

***We're open to ideas for future general membership meetings. What are your interests? Send us a postal mail with suggestions.


Berkeley's Mayor Bates has shown some exciting leadership in the fight against downtown traffic congestion. It's called goBerkeley.

Affordable Housing

There's plenty of housing available for low-income people, but the system does not manage it well.
Read this article from the SF Chronicle about the public housing mess in The City.
There really should be better ways to connect people with affordable housing. A Panther project?

Richmond's Eminent Domain

The City of Richmond proposes rescuing people who are "underwater" with their homes by using eminent domain to get the mortgage adjusted. This article is from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Here's another article, from SALON


Colonoscopy procedures are a leading reason for high health care costs.

Read this article from the New York Times.

Panther Position

Gray Panthers believe that post-retirement years should be spent in dignity and security. In addition to our strong support for Social Security, we support union movements that gain and protect pension rights for both government and private-sector jobs. Existing government pensions must be protected for both current and future retirees.

We are tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code
We are not allowed to support candidates for office, but we may support Propositions and Measures.

Click here for a list of Progressive Principles.

Interesting Items

Report on the April 15 debate at UC about Single-Payer vs Market-Based health insurance.
Click here.

Article about impact of sequestration on Medicare

Report on The Health Care Movie about efforts toward universal national health insurance.

Open House for California Assembly in Oakland

Report on meeting about single-payer, held in San Francisco, basement of Saint Mary's Cathedral
Click here.

Training Bus Drivers -- Prodded by mail we received from a bus driver, I sent an inquiry to the AC Transit Board about how they train their drivers, especially on unfamiliar routes.

Here's the letter, followed by the nice response I received.
Click here.

LA Times Article on the nefarious motivation for privatizing the US Post Office.

Ecumenical Peace Institute

Website: click here.

Read this letter from Alan Simpson to CARA, complaining about CARA's leafleting of the Simpson-Bowles talk at Paramount Theater.

CARA (California Asociation of Retired Americans) has a list of Priority Bills

Housing Issues

***Eleanor Walden, housing chair, is especially looking for any news/rumors about housing issues.
Contact her at 510-848-6397 or 510-847-2579 (cell)
Her email is
She has a website:

Current Gray Panthers office Address in Oakland:
Berkeley - East Bay GRAY PANTHERS
6501 Telegraph Ave
Oakland, CA 94609

Phone: (510)595-9696

East Bay Gray Panther Officers and Board
Election was held during the membership meeting on October 22. Seven (7) ballots were cast. New officers are:

Co-convenors -- Edie Hallberg and Leeza Vinogradov

Secretary -- Claire Risley 
Treasurer -- Chris Caldwell 
Newsletter Publisher -- Steve Geller

Committees, go-to persons:
Margot Smith -- co-convener emeriti, Coalition Health Care, Post Office
Carolyn Scarr -- United for Peace and Justice,(Ecumenical Peace Institute)
Leeza Vinogradov -- Code Pink liason
Edith Hallberg -- Labor Commission liason
Fran Rachel -- Third Friday Anti-War Rally with Strawberry Creek
Jeanne Dritz -- Health Care
Charles Robinson -- Kaiser
Steve Geller -- Transportation, Web Site, Tabling at Events
Eva Bluestein -- National and International Issues of Importance
Eleanor Walden -- Housing
Henry Clarence -- letter writing; help with Newsletter

Schedule for Staffing Panther office on Telegraph
Mondays    1-3   Jeannie Dritz
Tuesdays   1-3   Edie Hallberg and Leeza Vinogradov
Thursdays  10-12 Margot Smith
Thursdays        Chris Caldwell
Fridays    1-3   Henry Clarence

California Gray Panthers website:
List of all California networks
US National Gray Panthers website:

This Website:

Webmaster: Steve Geller

CARA Website -- California Alliance for Retired Americans

United Seniors of Oakland website

***Here are some letters sent from East Bay Gray Panthers to public officials by GP Secretary Henry Clarence

Letter to Senator Feinstein about Social Security

Letter supporting ILWU Local 10

Letter showing support for SB810

Some more LETTERS

What Class War Looks Like

It is most interesting to match up the "programs at risk" (targets for budget cuts) with selected tax breaks for the wealthy.
Click here for chart "This is What Class War Looks Like". (Sources for the figures are listed at the bottom of the page)


Here is a statement by Dylan Ratigan. About "get money out of politics," the protesters today and some good history.

Social Security

Letter from GP National Vice Chair in Monday Jan 31 SF Chronicle
Strengthen Social Security
In the State of the Union address, while speaking at length on deficit reduction, President Obama referenced a bipartisan solution to strengthen Social Security. The program deserves far more robust support. For 75 years, Social Security has been America's most successful anti-poverty program. It is the most fiscally responsible part of our federal budget, paying entirely for itself and adding nothing to the deficit. The funds surplus is expected to reach $4.3 trillion by 2023, and the program is able to pay full benefits through 2037. About 85 percent of Americans oppose Social Security cuts. There is no reason it should be part of any deficit reduction plan. Yet the program faces threats from Congress. John Boehner calls for cuts in benefits and an increase in the eligibility age, delaying benefits for future recipients and unfairly burdening America's most vulnerable populations. Some seek to privatize the system, putting it into the hands of Wall Street, the very people who created our current economic crisis. President Obama appears to oppose these ideas, and as vice chair of the Gray Panthers national board, I urge Congress to lift the cap on taxable income, guaranteeing the benefits promised to current and future beneficiaries.
Brooke Hollister

For a guide to rebut all the lies about Social Security, click here.

Letter sent to President Obama about Social Security

Reparations for Women?

Proposal for Action Item calling for Reparations for Women who have been underpaid in the past and thus are getting lower social security today.


Summary of ObamaCare talk at May 26 General Membership Meeting Click here for a summary.
If you have MicroSoft WORD installed, click here for a copy of the entire handout.

Housing Committee

Click here for information on senior and low-income housing.

Need Help Paying for Utilities?

Click here

Other Items

HICAP -- medical advice for seniors, call HICAP 1-800-434-0222

Roger Sanjek's book on the history of Gray Panthers.

Don't like banks paying their execs big money? You can move your money to another bank or to a credit union. Here's some information.

Checklist form for actions.


Click here for other useful phone numbers and websites.


"Word of Mouth trumps everything, even money"

Join Gray Panthers

Membership dues: $35/year, $15 low-income.

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East Bay Gray Panthers
6501 Telegraph Ave
Oakland, CA 94609


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