The Berkeley Wire: 12.06.16

Love and Tribute by Nancy Rubin

Love and Tribute at Flowerland nursery on Solano Avenue, by Nancy Rubin

GE snaps up Berkeley-based (SF Business Times)
Three from campus community confirmed as fire victims (UCB News)
Donations underway in Berkeley for Oakland fire (KGO)
Physicist Surjeet Rajendran shares $100K New Horizons prize (UCB News)
A Look Back: Blackouts, sirens in city after Pearl Harbor attack (East Bay Times)
Conductor Elim Chan makes her Berkeley Symphony debut (Mercury News)
Who owns CRISPR, one of the world’s most important genetic inventions? (The Verge)

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Memorials begin for 11 people connected with Berkeley who died in Oakland Ghost Ship fire

Highwire Coffee on San Pablo Avenue will be holding a memorial at 4 p, for two employees who died in the Oakland warehouse fire. Donna Kellog is on the left and Em Bohlka is on the right. Photo: Highwire Coffee Facebook page
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Highwire Coffee at 2049 San Pablo Ave. will hold a memorial at 4 p.m. Tuesday to remember two employees who died in the Ghost Ship warehouse fire on Friday night.

Donna Kellogg, 32, and Em Bohlka, 33, both of Oakland, worked for Highwire, which has stores in Oakland and Berkeley. (Kellogg was also a barista at Flowerland on Solano Avenue). They were among the 36 people who perished when flames ripped through the warehouse that had been converted into an arts space.

“We lost two lovely, vibrant members of the Highwire family to the Ghost Ship fire on Friday,” the company posted on its website. “We’re devastated, and pulling together to support each other in this time of loss.”

The East Bay Alternative Book and Zine Fest will also hold a memorial for another Berkeley-connected victim of the fire. The festival, which will be held Saturday at the David Brower Center, will commemorate Ara Jo, 29, a visual artist and one of the festival’s main organizers, according to Sharon Coleman, a poet who teaches English at Berkeley City College. She had worked on the festival with Jo in recent years. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley lawyer on the secret to avoiding lawsuits

Lainey Feingold
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Lainey Feingold is a long-time Berkeley resident, a disability civil-rights lawyer, and an author. She has worked with the blind community for more than two decades to increase access to information and technology. Feingold, her co-counsel, and clients have negotiated deals with Bank of America, Major League Baseball, CVS, the City of San Francisco and dozens of others – all without filing a single lawsuit. Now she tells the story of how that happened – and how others can use her method — in her new book, Structured Negotiation, a Winning Alternative to Lawsuits.

Berkeleyside recently caught up with Feingold to learn more about her work and her new book.

 What is Structured Negotiation and why did you want to write a book about it?

Structured Negotiation is a way to resolve legal disputes without lawsuits. I’ve used the process for 20 years so I know that it is capable of achieving great results. My cases focus on digital and information access for blind people – things like accessible websites and mobile applications, talking prescription labels, accessible pedestrian signals, and Talking ATMs. But the process is suitable for other types of claims as well. The method is cost-effective, builds relationships, and avoids so much of the conflict and stress that is part of a typical lawsuit.

Lawsuits play a very important role in society, and they are an important tool in any advocate’s toolbox. I wrote my book to offer advocates and lawyers another tool. … Continue reading »


Big Screen Berkeley: ‘Old Stone’, ‘Fire at Sea’

Gang Chen in Johnny Ma's 'Old Stone'
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Over the last few decades the term ‘film noir’ has been increasingly misused. Where once it represented a distinct type of story – one in which the central character finds him or herself trapped in a predicament not entirely of their own making – it’s since been applied to routine police procedurals, gothic thrillers, and any film (especially those filmed in black and white!) with a suspenseful and tricksy plot.

Director Johnny Ma’s Lao Shi (Old Stone), opening at Landmark’s Shattuck Cinemas on Friday, Dec. 9) is a noir in the original sense. Coming as a total surprise (and really coming out of nowhere), it’s also one of the best films of the year.

Gang Chen plays the title character, a taxi driver who runs into a motorcyclist when a drunken passenger distracts him. Though the accident wasn’t exactly his fault, Lao finds himself caught up in a maze of trouble in which the police, the victim’s family, their insurance company, and the jerk responsible for the accident unintentionally conspire to make his life impossible.

Gang delivers the understated performance of the year as Lao Shi, whose personification of sadness and regret summoned memories of Carlo Battisi’s unforgettable Umberto D in Vittorio De Sica’s 1952 film of the same name. De Sica’s film, of course, was neo-realism not noir, but Umberto D’s plight would certainly fit comfortably in the noir realm. … Continue reading »


Berkeley High principal on sudden leave; VP in charge

New Berkeley High principal Sam Pasarow at a preparatory meeting with teachers and staff. Photo: Mark Coplan
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Beginning Tuesday, Berkeley High Principal Sam Pasarow will be on leave, and Vice Principal Erin Schweng will oversee campus operations, according to a brief email sent to BHS families Monday evening by a school district official.

Few details have been made available, and Pasarow’s email has been disabled.

Former BHS Principal Pasquale Scuderi, now an assistant superintendent for the Berkeley Unified School District, sent the email to the BHS listserve just after 5 p.m.

Read more about Berkeley High.

Scuderi wrote that Schweng will “assume the role of lead administrator” immediately and “until further notice.”

He continued: “We understand that the minimal detail included [in] this communication may be concerning for some, yet we are obliged to respect confidentiality whenever private or personnel matters arise.”

BUSD spokesman Charles Burress said no further information could be shared by the district at this time. … Continue reading »

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The Berkeley Wire: 12.05.16

Evening star by William Smock

Evening star by William Smock

Berkeley opens one-way car share applications (Daily Cal)
170-year old Persian carpet with 15M knots included in ultimate gift guide (Biz Wire)
The ex-con scholars of Berkeley (New Yorker)
Local bookstores bring Bernie Sanders to Zellerbach Hall (Daily Cal)
Nonprofit gets kids with disabilities involved with sports (East Bay Times)

Follow Berkeleyside on Twitter and Facebook or get the latest news in your inbox with Berkeleyside’s Daily Briefing. Email us at Keep Berkeleyside running and support independent local journalism by becoming a member.

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Photos: The early days of Berkeley’s now-gone Print Mint

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When the Reprint Mint closed in late November, Telegraph Avenue and Berkeley lost another portal to our past. It was an important cultural institution for more than 50 years.

Don and Alice Schenker opened the Print Mint as a picture-framing shop on Telegraph Avenue in 1965. … Continue reading »

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Photos: Children revel in winter play on Berkeley Snow Day

Snow Day Berkeley 2016. Photo: Nancy Rubin
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Kids and their adults came out to enjoy a fresh, albeit manmade, snowfall in North Berkeley Sunday. Snowballs were thrown, snowmen were crafted, photos were taken with the resident Snow Queen and, generally, a good time was had by all.

The event, on Shattuck Avenue between Rose and Vine streets, was also slated to offer free DIY crafts for kids, hot cider and ginger snaps courtesy of Andronico’s, musicians, dancers, and a balloon twister.

Contributing photographer Nancy Rubin was there to document the event.

The seventh annual Snow Day in Berkeley was sponsored by the North Shattuck Association in conjunction with Coldwell Banker of Berkeley, Andronico’s Community Markets, M. Lowe & Co., Thornwall Properties, Left Coast Lit, and Buy Local Berkeley. … Continue reading »

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Beloved ‘VJ’ and Berkeley High alum killed in Oakland fire; LA vigil planned for Jonathan Bernbaum on Monday

Photo: Jonathan Bernbaum
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A talented visual artist from Berkeley who made a name for himself in the international electronic music scene is reportedly among those killed Friday night in the Ghost Ship warehouse fire in Oakland.

Friends and former classmates have planned a “candlelight and laser vigil” Monday night for 34-year-old Jonathan Bernbaum at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. He graduated from the program in 2008.

Bernbaum graduated from Berkeley High School in 2000, and was a member of the Berkeley High Jacket staff, according to former Berkeley High teacher Rick Ayers, writing on Facebook at 4:25 p.m. Sunday to confirm that Bernbaum had died. According to Bernbaum’s Facebook page he lived in Oakland at the time of his death, but was from Berkeley.

Bernbaum worked as a VJ, mixing lights and video projections for electronic music shows, including large tours. (One person told Berkeleyside Bernbaum was performing Friday night at the Ghost Ship party, but another said all of equipment is still in his apartment, so he could not have been performing.)

Authorities announced at 6 a.m. Monday they had found the bodies of 36 people, but needed to suspend the search until the afternoon because conditions in the building became unsafe. Three individuals with Berkeley ties were among the first named victims — Nick Gomez-Hall, David T. Cline and Donna Kellogg — while another three have widely been reported to be missing: Vanessa Plotkin, Jenny Morris and Griffin Madden.

Sgt. Ray Kelly of the Alameda County sheriff’s office said late Sunday night that the next group of names was expected to be released Monday. … Continue reading »

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As death toll from Oakland fire rises to 33, 3 with Berkeley ties are dead, 3 others reported missing

Gomez-Hall, Cline and Kellogg have been confirmed to have been killed.
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Update, Monday, Dec. 5, 8:55 a.m. A talented visual artist from Berkeley who made a name for himself in the international electronic music scene is reportedly among those killed Friday night in the Ghost Ship warehouse fire in Oakland. Friends and former classmates have planned a “candlelight and laser vigil” Monday night for 34-year-old Jonathan Bernbaum at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. He graduated from the program in 2008.

The confirmed death toll has risen to 36, and authorities have suspended recovery efforts until Monday afternoon due to unsafe conditions. Read more.

Update, 6:15 p.m. The city of Oakland has released the first seven names of those killed during the Ghost Ship warehouse fire Friday night. They are Oakland residents Cash Askew, 22, David Cline, 35, Travis Hough, 35, and Donna Kellogg, 32; Brandon Chase Wittenauer, 32, of Hayward; Nick Gomez-Hall, 25, of Coronado; and Sara Hoda, 30, of Walnut Creek.

Cline and Gomez-Hall had Berkeley ties and further information about them appears below.

Kellogg worked at Berkeley’s Highwire Coffee Roasters and was well-known to many in the community. She was a barista at Highwire’s coffee trailer at Solano Avenue’s Flowerland nursery. Said one community member, “She made a lot of people their coffee and will be deeply missed by customers, coworkers and friends.”

There have been reports that the fire broke out near a wooden stairway made of pallets that was the only link between the first and second floors of the artist collective, which has been described as a rabbit warren and, ultimately, a tinderbox due to its cramped collection of wooden furniture, sculpture and other materials. The main party area, where musicians were performing and people were dancing, was on the second floor.

One friend, writing Sunday about Kellogg on Facebook, said, “Donna was on the second floor. She was a beautiful giggly, wise, person who will be very missed.”

Highwire has asked for privacy during “the very difficult process of absorbing the horror of what has happened” and being able to grieve.

According to the city, one of the victims is a 17-year-old whose name will not be released because he or she was a minor.

Original story, 3:58 p.m. Two friends from UC Berkeley, two UC Berkeley alumni and one staff member from a West Berkeley publishing house are among the dozens reported dead or missing after the three-alarm fire that tore through an Oakland warehouse during a party at an artist collective late Friday night. … Continue reading »

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UC Berkeley student fights off sexual predator

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A female UC Berkeley student managed to fend off a stranger who tried to rape her as she walked home from the downtown Berkeley BART station, authorities report.

The student is being treated for injuries at a local hospital following the sexual battery, the University of California Police Department reported Saturday.

The sexual battery took place Sunday, Nov. 27, at about 10:30 p.m. UCPD said the exact location has not been determined.

“The victim fought back and managed to get away from the suspect,” UCPD reported. The agency described the incident as sexual assault with the intent to rape.

The assailant was described as a white man in his mid-30s, 6 feet 2 and 220 pounds, with a muscular build, short light brown hair, and “short stubble” facial hair. He was wearing a black baseball cap with a flat bill and “SF” in white stitching, a white T-shirt under a black-and-red-colored flannel shirt, dark jeans and dark shoes.

UCPD was advised about the attack Friday, Dec. 2, by a campus security authority — individuals who are federally mandated to report certain types of crimes they witness or are told about.
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Man dies after being struck by train on Berkeley tracks

A man died on Saturday Dec. 3, after being struck by a train at Addison Street and the train track, according to Berkeley Police. Image: Google Maps
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A train struck and killed a man in Berkeley on Saturday at 3:15 p.m., according to Berkeley police. Traffic in the area was delayed as a result.

The train fatally struck a man near Addison Street, according to Lt. Alyson Hart of the Berkeley Police Department.

Police issued two Nixle alerts about the incident. The first, at 3:32 p.m., advised people to avoid the railroad crossing at Addison Street near the tracks due to “traffic congestion.” The second, at 3:47 p.m., advised motorists to avoid the area due to a “collision investigation.”

Lt. Hart said Union Pacific was conducting the investigation into the collision.

Earlier this month a pedestrian died after a collision with a train in Albany. The fatality happened about 7:55 a.m. on Monday Nov. 21 on the tracks in the area of Cleveland and Washington avenues, according to the East Bay Times. … Continue reading »

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City clears out homeless encampment after feces found spread on city buildings

Mike Lee of First They Came for the Homeless, sitting beside the site of the camp that was cleared by the city on Dec. 2.2016. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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The city cleared out a homeless encampment that had set up just north of City Hall Friday at around 5:15 a.m. The move came the day after the city said feces were spread, over a period of 24 hours, at various places  on or near City Hall. The city also reported problematic behavior from campers including public masturbation and offensive chalk messages on the sidewalks.

According to Mike Lee, part of the First They Came for the Homeless group and former candidate for Berkeley mayor, about 20 police officers raided the camp, which Lee estimated was about 20-strong and included disabled people. Lee said officers were accompanied by the city’s code enforcement manager Greg Daniel and Assistant City Manager Jim Heyns.

City Manager Dee Willams-Ridley said staff removed “12 cubic yards of garbage, food, end caps of needles, mildewed or soiled fabric, broken chairs, and other debris.” “People who were staying on the grass were given time to collect their belongings,” she wrote in a statement released after Berkeleyside asked for comment. “There were no arrests and no citations. Any items of value are being stored at the Transfer Station and are available to be reclaimed.” She said city staff and a city homeless outreach worker from the Mental Health Division had been visiting this group for several weeks to offer resources.

Read more about homelessness in Berkeley, including Berkeleyside’s award-winning SF Homeless Project coverage.

This is not the first time the largely same group of homeless people has been asked to leave a camp on public property. There have been several similar raids over the past two months.

By Friday lunchtime, some of the campers had set up on the sidewalk across from the former camp, on the corner of Center and Milvia streets. … Continue reading »

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The Berkeley Wire: 12.02.16

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