The Berkeley Wire: 03.27.15

Mr. Balloons by Thomas Hughes

Mr. Balloons by Thomas Hughes

Berkeley Post Office: Judge asks USPS to rescind documents (CoCo Times)
‘That’s so Berkeley': Our stereotype might be a little true (Daily Clog)
Berkeley police want residents to register their bikes (Patch)
Residential burglaries are on the rise (NBC Local)

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Berkeleyside blotter: Crime in Berkeley, March 12-18

Selected calls to the Berkeley Police, via CrimeMapping.com. Scroll down for detailed maps. Click the map above for the list. See the map key here.
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This overview of recent crime in Berkeley is based on reports to the Berkeley Police unless otherwise noted. Please don’t hesitate to share photos, videos or tips, about breaking news or neighborhood safety issues, via email at crime@berkeleyside.com or on Facebook or Twitter; let us know if you prefer to be anonymous. Don’t assume someone else will alert us — we value your eyes and ears, and you may be the only one to get in touch. We very much want to know about issues of neighborhood concern.

From March 12-18, there were reports of five robberies25 burglaries11 assaults or batteries, six weapon-involved calls and one sexual assault, according to CrimeMapping.com. There were also nine stolen vehicles13 disturbances and 33 auto break-ins or thefts from vehicles reported. Significant incidents from the University of California Police Department (UCPD) included one assault and two robberies. These numbers are subject to change. Click the links for the latest numbers. The following items represent a sampling of calls, and times may be approximate.

Thursday, March 12

There was a misdemeanor sexual assault reported at 7:14 a.m. in the 1000 block of Keeler Avenue.

Police arrested Tiffieny Dean, 40, on a warrant related to a felony grand theft case from earlier this year. She is no longer in custody, but has been charged and is scheduled for a further pre-trial hearing April 9 at the Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse in downtown Oakland.

There were three home burglaries: at 7:45 a.m. in the 600 block of Addison Street; at 8:30 a.m. in the 2400 block of Grant Street; and at 9 a.m. in the 1300 block of Carleton Street.

There was a disturbance at 8:50 a.m. in the 1500 block of Alcatraz Avenue.

Police arrested Joseph Catania, 35, in San Francisco on a warrant related to a 2014 Berkeley case involving identity theft. He remains in custody at Santa Rita Jail, without bail, and is scheduled for a report and sentencing hearing April 22.

There was a robbery at 1:31 p.m. in the 2300 block of Shattuck Avenue.

Police handed two calls involving weapon brandishing — at 1:50 p.m. in the 1200 block of Talbot Avenue, and at 7:01 p.m. at Durant and Telegraph avenues — and a call involving a gun or other weapon, at 5:30 p.m. in the 1600 block of Russell Street. Police arrested Ronald Moredock, 42, in connection with the incident on Durant and Telegraph on suspicion of robbery. He remains in custody. … Continue reading »

The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

Tartuffe caption. Photo: Courtesy kevinberne.com
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TARTUFFE AT THE REP Molière’s Tartuffe, a satirical attack on religious hypocrisy, still has its sting after 350 years. Berkeley Rep’s production, adapted by David Ball and directed by Dominique Serrand, was acclaimed as “revelatory” by the Chronicle. Actor Steven Epp stars in the title role. If you go on Friday, March 27 (as in tonight!), you can also enjoy the “last call” reception after the play, sponsored by Berkeleyside. Tartuffe is in repertory at the Berkeley Rep through Apr. 12. Tickets from $41 at Berkeley Rep, 2025 Addison St.    … Continue reading »

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2 men take plea deals after 1 is beaten on video

Downtown Berkeley ambassador assault. Image: Bryan Hamilton
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Two homeless men shown on video in a heated interaction that turned violent, when a Downtown Berkeley Association staffer appeared to punch one of the men repeatedly in the head, entered no contest pleas on Monday to misdemeanor battery and will be sentenced to two years of probation, authorities said.

According to a video of the March 19 incident that was posted on YouTube by local resident Bryan Hamilton, two association workers had asked the pair to leave the alleyway behind the downtown Berkeley CVS, at Shattuck Avenue and Bancroft Way, when one of the men became upset and proceeded to shout invectives at a DBA worker identified in court documents as Jeffrey Bailey. In the video, Bailey then appears to punch the man — identified as 30-year-old James Cocklereese — at least 10 times, pushing him to the ground.

Bailey initially reported the incident and told police he was only defending himself, and officers arrested Cocklereese and his associate Nathan Swor, 23, who can be seen in the video using a pole that authorities said had a blade attached to it to try to stop the apparent attack on Cocklereese. Both men were arrested Thursday night, March 19, on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon and making criminal threats.

This week, however, police became aware of the video and, after watching it Wednesday, March 25, they alerted the Alameda County district attorney’s office to it, said Berkeley Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats. … Continue reading »

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Dog lovers to help eliminate foxtails in César Chávez Park

Foxtails at Pt Isabel. Photo- Kathy
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Dozens of dog lovers are expected to join a city of Berkeley crew in the off-leash area of César Chávez Park on Saturday, March 28, in a novel attempt to rid the area of foxtails.

Berkeley has been mowing a 2-acre patch of the 17-acre off-leash area for 15 years, but the effort has not eliminated foxtails, an invasive grass whose barbed seed heads can cause serious injury to dogs. The city has left the grass about 6 inches high so it could also act as a ground cover for squirrels and other animals in the park.

In 2014, dog owners complained to the city that the drought was making the foxtail situation worse and asked that officials step up their mowing and even consider mowing a larger area. … Continue reading »

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Bites: Newberry Market to Uptown Station, more

Newberry Market & Deli, which will sell fresh produce among other things, is the first tenant to sign on to open in the renovated Sears Building in Uptown Oakland which developers hope to see transformed into a foodie and tech hub for the Millennial generation. Rendering: Steelblue
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Openings, closings…

NEWBERRY MARKET & DELI TO UPTOWN STATION The first tenant to sign on to the ambitious Uptown Station project in the old Sears building above Oakland’s 19th Street BART station is upscale grocery store Newberry Market & Deli, reports Inside Scoop. The 20,000-square foot store will take its cues from artisanal markets such as Bi-Rite and Market Hall, and will offer everything from organic produce and grocery staples to hot and cold prepared items such as sandwiches, salads, rotisserie meats, and soups. Newberry Market also plans to have a a full-service butcher shop, charcuterie and cheese counter, a café, flower shop, and grab-and-go pizza by the slice. Even with all of these amenities, owners Ann Thai and Loren Goodwin hope to keep the prices “affordable and accessible.” Newberry Market, named after the old Newberry’s department store that operated next door many years ago, will be the anchor tenant in the ground floor food hall, which developers Lane Partners hope to fill with other niche food  and tech businesses and turn into a type of hip Ferry Building for the Millennial generation. Thai and Goodwin hope to open the market in fall 2016. Newberry Market will be at 1954 Telegraph Ave. (at 19th Street), Oakland.Continue reading »

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Getting Frisky with Macy Blackman & The Mighty Fines

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Maybe a Manhattan methadone clinic wasn’t an auspicious setting for encountering a musical hero, but Macy Blackman wasn’t going let an opportunity to hang out with New Orleans drummer Charles “Hungry” Williams go to waste. Looking to get clean in the bitter winter of 1978, Blackman was sitting on a couch in the lounge of the Bernstein Institute strumming a guitar when someone informed him that Fats Domino’s drummer was in the next room.

“After a while he came in and started singing Chuck Willis’ ‘You’re Still My Baby’ with me,” says Blackman, a Kensington resident for the past 13 years. He celebrates the release of his new album Friskin’ the Whiskers with his band The Mighty Fines at Ashkenaz 9 p.m. Thursday, April 2.

A pianist, cornetist, and vocalist with a gruff, rhythmically assured delivery, Blackman is one of Northern California’s leading exponents of classic New Orleans R&B, and he absorbed a good deal of the music directly from the source. He and Williams struck up a fast friendship after that first encounter, and ended up playing music together up until the drummer’s death in 1986. Blackman, who still supplements his income as a piano technician, even taught Williams his trade. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley student suspended after stabbing other student

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A Berkeley High School student was suspended after stabbing a fellow student in the back Thursday. The incident happened off campus during the lunch period. The BHS senior who was injured sustained a non-life-threatening knife wound, and was in stable condition with his family Thursday afternoon, according to an email put out by BHS Principal Kristin Glenchur at around 5 p.m.

Glenchur issued the first of two emails to the Berkeley High community just before 3 p.m. She said the incident happened near Milvia Street and University Avenue. Initially it was thought the perpetrator was not affiliated with Berkeley High but, in her second email, around two hours later, Glenchur said authorities had identified a BHS student “as the person who had the knife.”

“The altercation appears to have been personal and not random,” she wrote. … Continue reading »

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The Berkeley Wire: 03.26.15

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Berkeley police arrest man wanted after brutal attack on his mother

Randy Francis. Photo: Stockton Police
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Police officers arrested a man found in a stolen truck at the Berkeley marina who authorities say tried to kill his 86-year-old mother in Stockton earlier this month in a brutal assault.

Police have been looking for the man since the March 14 attack, which left the woman unresponsive. Doctors said initially she was not expected to survive, according to media reports.

According to a statement released Thursday by Officer Joseph Silva, spokesman for the Stockton Police Department, Berkeley officers found Randy Francis in a stolen 2004 Chevrolet Silverado pickup Thursday morning. Police said he stole that truck when he fled the scene of the Stockton attack.

Thursday morning, Berkeley officers impounded the truck and took 55-year-old Francis into custody without incident.

According to Silva, Francis had been wanted by police in connection with the March 14 attempted homicide of his mother, which occurred at her home in the 7300 block of North Pacific Avenue in Stockton. … Continue reading »

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Thursday: Groundbreaking for new Dwight Way project

From left: Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates, architect Richard Christiani, Dan Deibel, president of Olympic Residential Group, and Downtown Berkeley Association CEO John Caner. Photo: Ted Friedman
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A 99-unit, 6-story building planned in downtown Berkeley is kicking off construction in earnest with a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday afternoon.

Demolition began last summer at 2121 Dwight Way, at Shattuck Avenue. Since then, the project has changed hands and promises a wide range of amenities to renters, such as high-quality kitchens, pet-friendly features, shuffleboard and “the latest Wi-Fi technology” in a communal lounge. There’s also 5,100 square feet of ground floor retail space “suited for a café and neighborhood-serving specialties.”

San Carlos-based Olympic Residential Group bought the property — where furniture shop Modernaire used to be located — in February. (Modernaire moved to 1621 San Pablo Ave.) The project is scheduled to be complete by summer 2016.

Read more about real estate in Berkeley.

Olympic described the units as “Class-A luxury apartment homes,” and said in a statement released Wednesday the project, set to reach 63 feet in height, is aimed at “an eclectic mix of young professionals attracted to the transit-oriented location, empty nesters, University faculty, and UC Berkeley students looking for a high quality housing option near the campus.”  … Continue reading »

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Video: Downtown Berkeley worker assaults homeless man

Downtown Berkeley ambassador assault. Image: Bryan Hamilton
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A Downtown Berkeley Association ambassador assaulted a homeless man Thursday evening behind CVS in what appears to be a violent incident that was captured on video. That homeless man and an associate were arrested by the Berkeley Police Department before the video came to light. After reviewing the video this week, police asked the district attorney’s office to take another look at the case.

The ambassador involved, whose name has not been released, will be fired Thursday, said Downtown Berkeley Association CEO John Caner. A second ambassador, who did not intervene to stop the apparent assault, will be suspended. The video, which appears below, contains graphic language and violence that some viewers may find disturbing. Viewer discretion is advised.

Lance Gorée, operations manager for the DBA, and the manager of the ambassador program for contractor Block by Block, said he received a report of the physical contact last week, but the severity of the incident was not made clear until he and Caner saw the video Thursday morning.

“I was called within the hour of it happening,” Gorée said. “I always get called right away. They didn’t fully represent what happened.”

“It’s clearly totally unacceptable,” said Caner. “We apologize to (the victim) and to the community. This is clearly so out of the realm of acceptable behavior and totally contrary to all of the training provided to ambassadors.”

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At first Bay Area Book Festival, a temple made of books

the rendition of the installation as built around the dormant foundation in Civic Center Park
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Berkeley, it’s been said, is a book town. But never before has it had an actual temple made of books.

Rising in Civic Center Park this June will be a public art installation made out of 50,000 books. The walls and ceiling will be constructed from books, the circular ceiling will be alive as pages of intact books strung upside down from guy-wire flutter in the wind like prayer flags. The walls of shelves will be permeable, the entire structure evanescent — because the purpose of this library-temple is for the books to be given away.

This installation will be one of the centerpieces of the first annual Bay Area Book Festival being held in downtown Berkeley all day Saturday and Sunday, June 6-7, 2015. The festival will bring more than 225 authors to speak on indoor stages. Downtown streets will fill with 150 literary exhibitors, a Children’s Arena, a Teen Stage, a Cooking Stage, a chalk street art contest, food trucks, and more. … Continue reading »

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How Quirky was Berkeley? Politics as Theater

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Berkeley was a crucible for New Left politics in the 1960s and 1970s. Often forgotten when we speak of the Free Speech Movement, the Vietnam Day Committee, People’s Park, and anti-war/anti-imperialism movements, are the several New Left ventures into electoral politics, three of which introduced an element of theater not typically seen in political campaigns.

The first radical venture into electoral politics was the most serious – Robert Scheer’s 1966 primary challenge of Rep.Jeffrey Cohelan, a pro-war Johnson liberal who had served in the House since 1959. Scheer campaigned on the war, poverty, and a new style of politics. … Continue reading »

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