Berkeley police warn about 5 Northside robberies

Five robberies in Berkeley's Northside neighborhood may be linked, police said. Red dots indicate a gun was used, and green dots indicate that a weapon was not used. Source: BPD

Five robberies in Berkeley’s Northside neighborhood may be linked, police are reporting. Red dots indicate a gun was used, and green dots indicate a weapon was not used. Source: BPD

After three new pedestrian robberies in North Berkeley in just five days — all of which involved a gun — police are warning local residents to pay attention to their surroundings, and say they believe the crimes may be linked.

Authorities say these latest crimes follow a trio of robberies in November that could also be connected.

The three most recent incidents happened in the Northside neighborhood above the UC Berkeley campus between Dec. 1 and Dec. 5, according to a notice police released Wednesday afternoon.

“In light of these events, the Berkeley Police Department will be increasing the number of patrols in North Berkeley,” authorities said in Wednesday’s statement.

Read more about other robberies in Berkeley.

Monday, just after 7:10 p.m., the robbers approached a couple near Spruce and Virginia streets and robbed them. One of the men pulled out a gun and demanded their phones and backpacks. The robbers, described as men in their 20s or 30s, fled east on Virginia. … Continue reading »

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The Berkeley Wire: 12.07.16

Ghost bike by Steve Crawford

Ghost bike by Steve Crawford

Ohlones express concerns about development on Fourth Street (East Bay Times)
Griffen Madden called gifted and luminous by UC Berkeley professors (SFGate)
Arabic fusion comes to Berkeley with Saha (East Bay Express)
UC Berkeley student Vanessa Plotkin confirmed dead in fire (SFGate)
Cafe Rouge to close after 20 years (Inside Scoop)
Geneticist honored for his pioneering work in plants (UCB News)

If you like the photographs we run on the Daily Wire, be sure to check out our Flickr page. Berkeleyside gets many more submissions of great photos than we can use. Enjoy our community’s artistry. 

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Convicted killer sentenced to 118 years to life

Yellow tags marked the location of evidence at the 2010 shooting scene. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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Alameda County Superior Court Judge Jon Rolefson has denied a defense motion for a new trial and sentenced Brandon Wallace, 27, to 118 years to life in prison for a 2010 shooting in Berkeley that claimed one life and could have taken another.

The sentencing came more than eight months after Wallace’s conviction for the murder of Gary Ferguson Jr. and the attempted murder of Larry Belle outside a South Berkeley barbershop on Sacramento Street.

Thursday, Rolefson heard arguments from defense attorney Bonnie Narby and prosecutor Matt Wendt about whether a statement from codefendant Coleon Carroll presented significant enough evidence to trigger a new trial. Carroll took a plea deal in the case and said he was the getaway driver after the shooting.

Rolefson heard Carroll’s testimony and that of several others, but ultimately denied the defense motion and said he did not believe Carroll was credible. Carroll said his deceased cousin Jermaine Davis was actually responsible for the crime of which Wallace had been convicted.

Wallace was convicted in March of being one of two assailants in the 2010 double shooting. Police found him in the hospital, with a gunshot wound to the thigh, shortly after they were called to the Sacramento Street crime scene. Detectives said Wallace’s description, injury and clothing tied him to the Berkeley shooting. The other gunman has not been arrested or publicly identified. … Continue reading »

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Future uncertain for Berkeley school due to unsafe building

German School
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A private elementary school in North Berkeley may have to find a new location after assessments of its landmarked building revealed potentially significant work is needed to make it safe to occupy.

Michael Koops, head of school at the German International School of Silicon Valley — which opened in 2012 at the old Hillside School site at 1581 Le Roy Ave. — wrote in an email to the school community Monday that, “continued use of the Hillside building requires significant short-term investments in structural improvements and possibly very substantial additional seismic retrofit work in the near future.” Koops also makes clear that funds for any structural work are not available, not least as current tuition had not covered the costs of instruction and facilities “for some time.”

The news, which came as a surprise to parents, followed a report by geotechnical and structural engineering experts on the seismic performance of the Hillside building.

One parent who has two kids at the K-8 school, and who asked not to be named, said parents were “freaking out.” Many are angry and disappointed, some are even talking about lawsuits, he said.

Koops said in the email that the school board had discussed the problem last week, but that no decision had been reached. He announced a town hall meeting for all the school’s parents and staff on Thursday, Dec. 8 at 7 p.m.

Before that, the board will meet again, on Wednesday, to “make an informed decision on next steps, including whether or not, and under what conditions, continued use of the Hillside campus is feasible.” … Continue reading »

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Ben Gould enters campaign for District 4 council seat

Photo: Courtesy of Ben Gould
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Former mayoral candidate Ben Gould announced today that he will run for the District 4 City Council seat vacated by Mayor Jesse Arreguín. Public-sector consultant Kate Harrison announced last week that she would run for the seat. The election will be held on March 7.

Gould, a graduate student in public policy at UC Berkeley, finished fourth in the mayoral race, behind Arreguín, former Councilman Laurie Capitelli and Councilman Kriss Worthington. Gould has been endorsed by council members Lori Droste and Susan Wengraf. Harrison is endorsed by Arreguín and council members Ben Bartlett and Sophie Hahn.

“I am running to make Berkeley more affordable, inclusive, and sustainable,” Gould said in his announcement.

A native Berkeleyan and graduate of Berkeley High School, Gould chairs the Community Environmental Advisory Commission. He previously served on the Housing Advisory Commission and the Zoning Adjustments Board. He is also on the UC Berkeley Chancellor’s Community Partnership Fund Advisory Board.  … Continue reading »

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9 new favorite spots added to updated Nosh Guide

From left: Hit the Hay saison, Are You Ready for the Country patio beer, and Good Call IPA from Temescal Brewing. Photo: Temescal Brewing/Facebook
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When we first announced the Nosh Guide earlier this spring, we did so with an intention of keeping the guide fresh with regular updates and changes as new restaurants opened and older spots closed. We’ve been doing so, quietly, for the last couple of months, and now we’re happy to share an updated guide with you.

Check out the Nosh Guide.

We’ve added nine new restaurants and watering holes, some of which, like Temescal Brewing, recently opened, and others, like AS B-Dama, have been around for years. We’re now eating salads on the regular, thanks to Berkeley’s Sweetgreen, and drinking lots more natural wine at The Punchdown.

Belotti Ristorante has given us ethereal pasta and Firebrand Artisan Bread has fed us more than our fair share of ham and cheese croissants. Standard Fare is now one of our favorite lunch spots, along with The Butcher’s Son and its surprising vegan deli creations. And we’ve been spending more and more time in Fruitvale at the ever-growing Ale Industries, drinking its exquisite barrel-fermented beers. … Continue reading »

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Police investigate gunshots in West Berkeley

Police cordoned off an area in West Berkeley to investigate gunshots on Tuesday Dec. 6, 2016. Photo: Guillaume Pierre
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Berkeley Police are investigating evidence of gunfire in the middle of the afternoon Tuesday in the area of Seventh Street and Channing Way.

According to BPD’s  Sgt. Andrew Frankel, at 2:46 p.m. police dispatch received multiple reports of shots heard and/or fired “somewhere in the area of Seventh Street and University.”

Once on scene the police found that a sedan parked on the 2400 block of Seventh Street had been hit gunfire.

There were no reported injuries associated with the shooting and it remains unclear what the motive was, Frankel said by email. … Continue reading »

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Where in Berkeley?

Where in Berkeley?

Know where this is? Take a guess and let us know in the Comments below  — that’s where we announce the winner too!

Photo: Mara Melandry.

Send your submissions for “Where in Berkeley?” to The more obscure the better —  just as long as the photos are taken in Berkeley. Thanks in advance.

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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)

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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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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