Monthly Archives: February 2011


The Berkeley Wire: 02.28.11

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Crime in Berkeley was down in 2010

Crime scene
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What with the rash or armed robberies that occured last fall, including one that ended in the death of a 35-year-old man walking home on Adeline Street, one would have been forgiven for thinking that Berkeley was witnessing a surge in violent crime last year.

However, according to newly released figures, violent crime was down 13% in 2010 and crime overall saw an 8.8% decline compared to the previous year.

In its report citing the statistics, the Berkeley Police Department said this is the largest decrease in crime the city has seen for more than a decade — and it is in line with the department’s goal of reducing crime by 10% in 2011. … Continue reading »

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Say ‘adieu’ to the North and Claremont branch libraries

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Even though no firm date has been set for the closure of the Claremont and North Branch libraries, Berkeley is throwing a bon voyage party for the two buildings.

Library patrons and residents are invited to say goodbye (albeit temporarily) to the structures as they are shuttered and extensively remodeled. The party for North Branch is Saturday March 5 from 2 to 5 pm and the party for the Claremont Branch is Saturday March 19 at the same time.

“We are doing a small closing event just to celebrate the next step,” said Suzanne Olawski, the library’s neighborhood services manger.

She has invited the mayor and city council members to the celebrations, she said. There will music and some activities geared for children. … Continue reading »

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The days of waiting for many hours to voice one’s opinions to the Berkeley City Council may soon be over if a suggestion being put forward by Councilmembers Kriss Worthington and Jesse Arreguin is adopted. The agenda item, which will be heard at the Council’s March 8 meeting, proposes starting public hearings at City Council meetings at a set time — most probably 8pm. Councilmembers Worthington and Arreguin suggest establishing a six-month trial period to test out the idea. The set time would apply to items heard on appeal to decide whether or not to have a public hearing, as well as hearings that are already on the schedule. As it stands, public hearings occur in tandem with the time of the agenda item. For members of the public wishing to speak about an issue, this can sometimes mean having to be present in Council chambers for many hours, sometimes late into the night or early morning.

Update, 19:10: Kriss Worthington tells us that he introduced this idea as part of the Sunshine Ordinance but it didn’t make it into that legislation, so he is bringing it to Council as an autonomous agenda item. “It is the number one, simplest step we could take to stop driving people crazy,” he tells Berkeleyside.Worthington concedes the proposal could be controversial. “There are those who will worry that public hearings could push other important items off the agenda, but that’s why I changed the suggested time from 7:30pm to 8:00pm so that there is time before the hearing to consider the important item,” he says. He adds that if there are multiple public hearings he believes they should be allocated a night each, “even if it means scheduling a special meeting”.  “The system is very dysfunctional now and this would be more friendly to the public,” he concludes.

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Berkeley filmmaker wins Academy Award for “Inside Job”

AFP Photo/ Gabriel Bouys
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When Berkeley resident Charles Ferguson walked onto the stage last night to accept an Academy Award for his documentary Inside Job, he used the limelight to castigate those who fostered the 2008 economic collapse.

“Forgive me, I must start by pointing out that three years after our horrific financial crisis caused by massive fraud, not a single financial executive has gone to jail, and that’s wrong,” Ferguson told the millions of people tuned into the Oscars broadcast.

That … Continue reading »

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Film about father of conservation to be shown in Berkeley

A scene from Green Fore: Aldo Leopold and A Land Ethic for Our Time
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When the famed conservationist Aldo Leopold was a young ranger in the early part of the 20th century, he and some friends came upon a pack of wolves crossing a river. It was an era when killing wildlife was routine, and the group whipped out their shotguns and sent a fusillade of bullets at the wolves.

When Leopold climbed down the craggy cliff to claim his trophy, he watched a “fierce green fire” dying in the wolf’s eyes.

“I realized then, and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes—something known only to her and to the mountain,” Leopold would later write in his landmark 1948 book Sand Country Almanac. “I was young then, and full of trigger-itch; I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, that no wolves would mean hunters’ paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view.” … Continue reading »

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If you needed a reason to hear Mahler 6 this afternoon…

Friday morning, Berkeleyside previewed the weekend residency by the Vienna Philharmonic in Berkeley. You can see and hear a glimpse of Friday morning’s rehearsal in the video above, which shows the orchestra rehearsing Gustav Mahler’s Sixth Symphony. The performance is this afternoon at 3 p.m. and there are still a few tickets left. It’s your last chance to hear this great ensemble in Berkeley. … Continue reading »

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Best of Berkeleyside: This week’s most popular posts

West Berkeley: A pivotal moment [Slideshow] In the week that saw the Berkeley City Council vote in zoning changes for West Berkeley, we brought you a photo essay by John C. Osborn of an area that is poised for transformation (above: Berkeley Bowl West).
From psych ward to bagel mensch: meet the man behind Noah’s Bagels Noah Alper started his bagel business with a single storefront on College Avenue in 1989. Six years later it had expanded to 38 West Coast outlets and was sold for $100 million dollars.
A historic Berkeley house makes a journey across town to its new home Tom White and Dmitri Belser have a habit of restoring period homes, but even they probably didn’t anticipate how complex their project of moving two homes, one in two parts, would prove to be.
Construction accident at Berkeley’s Apple store red-tags neighboring businesses The semi-collapse of two walls at the site of the emerging Apple store on Fourth Street led to the evacuation Tuesday of several businesses, but no injuries. Builders Booksource reopened Friday morning.
Sumo Grub’s outrageous food captures TV attention This tells you all you need to know: six tempura-fried hamburger patties, all covered with different sauces, two fried slices of macaroni and cheese, five fried Twinkies, and a bunch of fried Oreos. It’s the “Six Feet Under”, and it costs $45.

This week Berkeleyside reached two milestones: we passed the 1,000 Twitter follower mark and our Flickr photo pool welcomed its 100th member. And our stories have been read, and often remarked on, by more than 73,000 unique (and no doubt wonderful) visitors in the past 30 days alone. If you enjoy Berkeleyside, and think it is a valuable resource, please help us continue to break news and give the community a voice by contributing to local journalism and becoming a Berkeleyside subscriber. Thank you.

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The Berkeley Wire: 02.25.11

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Drum roll please… Berkeleyside would like to thank our current advertisers for their support: Amoeba MusicBAM/PFA, Bentley SchoolBerkeley Arts & LettersBerkeley Dining PassportCarolyn Jones at The Grubb CompanyFocal PointJewish Music FestivalKeneuoe VivereM2 Architecture & DesignMoe’s BooksRedfin, and UC Berkeley NewsCenter. We very much appreciate your support.

If you’re interested in reaching Berkeleyside’s 73,000 unique monthly visitors (latest figures), don’t hesitate to contact us.

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Should The Social Network win at the Oscars?

Tanya Jo Miller decided she’d ask some Berkeleyans whether The Social Network should win Best Picture at the Oscars. What do you think?

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NCAA places Cal men’s basketball on probation

Athletic Director Sandy Barbour
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NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions today penalized the Cal men’s basketball team for infractions that had been discovered and reported by the university’s own compliance office. The infractions concerned 365 impermissible recruiting calls made by coach Mike Montgomery and his assistants shortly after Montgomery arrived at Cal in 2008. Most of the calls were made by two unnamed assistants.

The university had already imposed a number of sanctions. These included restrictions on the off-campus and recruiting efforts of the assistants involved. The NCAA committee today added to that with a two-year probationary period starting today, a public reprimand and censure, a limit of five official paid visits for the next two academic years, and a requirement that Montgomery and two assistant coaches attend the NCAA Regional Rules Seminar.

The case was considered narrow in scope, since 305 of the 365 calls were judged “documentation violations”, meaning they would have been permissible if logged in a correct and timely fashion. The other 60 calls were at fault for exceeding the number of calls allowed to a prospect in a given time period. … Continue reading »

Another twist in the KPFA tale

Protest outside KPFA in November/Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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The long-running dispute over management of local non-commercial radio station KPFA took another turn yesterday. The Pacifica Foundation, which owns and runs the station, reinstated former Morning Show co-host Brian Edwards-Tiekert with back pay and benefits. But Edwards-Tiekert will return to the station as a news reporter, not as a show host.

In a letter to supporters, Edwards-Tiekert wrote, “Legally speaking, Pacifica management is throwing in the towel… Pacifica has basically conceded it can’t win the pending arbitration … Continue reading »