Daily Archives: February 4, 2011


The Berkeley Wire: 02.04.11

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Blakes on Telegraph closes after 71 years

Blakes logo
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Blakes on Telegraph, a fixture in Berkeley for 71 years, closed yesterday after the restaurateurs defaulted on their lease. While the restaurant’s website announces the change, phone calls to Blakes are still being answered by a recorded message that encourages callers to check out the schedule of live music on the website.

According to John Lineweaver, the building’s owner since 1984, Blakes had lost its way in recent years.

“Blake’s has made more changes to its business plan in … Continue reading »

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Another gun incident at Berkeley High today

Berkeley High School. Photo: Lance Knobel
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Berkeley High School weathered another incident with a student carrying a gun today. The student involved in the previous incident on January 10 was finally arrested last night.

On today’s incident, Principal Pascuale Scuderi notified parents this afternoon that:

“At approximately 9:45 a.m. this morning BHS staff was given information indicating that a student was seen near the campus attempting to conceal a firearm. That information, along with a detailed description of all parties involved, was relayed to safety staff and administrators.

“An … Continue reading »

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Bollywood Berkeley takes the stage tomorrow

Bollywood Berkeley, which describes itself as “the largest collegiate Hindi film dance competition” (and who are we to argue?), will be at Zellerbach Hall tomorrow night.

The competition has eight teams from a number of UC campuses as well as the University of Arizona, University of Washington and University of Southern California. UC Berkeley is the reigning champion in the competition. Arizona finished second last year.

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Natasha Boissier forages fruit, feeds hungry

North Berkeley Harvest volunteers with founder Natasha Boissier (far right)./Photo: Sarah Henry
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Driving around North Berkeley with Natasha Boissier is an educational experience. Where others see a quiet residential area she sees streets lined with potential pickings and delights when she spots prospective bounty or familiar fruit.

Boissier is a part of a growing movement of urban gleaners who pick fruit from people’s yards (with permission) and donate this surplus produce to food banks, senior centers, and schools who can put this fresh food to good use.

Some residents view an abundant fruit tree as a problem but the 42-year-old clinical social worker sees a simple solution to excess bounty and a way to fill a community need.

Boissier grew up, in part, in Switzerland and remembers climbing her favorite walnut tree during her childhood. She’s turned her love of fruit picking into a kind of foraging philanthropy as the founder of North Berkeley Harvest.

Since the summer of 2007 Boissier and her loose-knit volunteer crew (about 30 in all, around 10 regulars) has harvested a cornucopia of fruit including apples, pears, Asian pears, oranges, lemons, limes, plums, peaches, figs, nectarines, apricots, persimmons, feijoas, grapefruits, sour cherries, walnuts, quinces, and loquats.
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NEWS BRIEF: The 15-year-old student who brought a gun to Berkeley High on Jan. 10 was arrested last night in connection with a robbery at Shattuck and Kittredge around 10 p.m. The young man and two other suspects, all under 18, fled the scene of the robbery on foot as the police attempted to detain them. All were caught and arrested. In addition to last night’s robbery, there was a warrant for the 15-year-old, because of the gun as well as an amount of marijuana consistent with dealing at BHS. In the incident on Jan. 10, although the gun was secured by the police school safety officers, the student ran away.

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Parents cross their fingers in Berkeley school lottery

Erika Pollak hopes Zev gets into Malcom X Elementary
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By Chris Hammond

Ring the school bell. Today marks a day of hope and trepidation for hundreds of Berkeley parents. The deadline to submit applications for the Berkeley public school lottery is 4 pm.

For kindergartners, the lottery marks a crucial beginning. The results will determine which school they get. Parents and guardians wait to find out, will it be the neighborhood school? Or the school on the other side of town?

Then there are all the other considerations parents sweat: will we get one of the few seats in a Spanish language immersion class, or the school with the intensive music and dance program?

“I really, really do want my first choice,” said Erika Pollak, whose son will attend kindergarten next year. She visited all five schools the district listed for her child, based on where they live in Berkeley. The one she wants is spacious Malcolm X Elementary School, an arts and academic magnet school. “If I don’t get it, I’ll be disappointed, I’ll do what I can to change. I’ll go to the school administration.”

Parents and guardians receive assignment letters by mid-March. Melissandra Leonardos, Manager of Admissions and Attendance, said 68% of students received their first choice last year, and 11% got their second choice.

“Honestly, I don’t make exceptions,” Leonardos said. “Unless it’s truly for the health and safety of a student.” She described the school lottery as a controlled choice — parents get to choose first, second and third from a number of schools, but the school district puts controls on where students end up. Parents who are still unhappy with the choice they get can join a waiting list for the school they want.

Controls such as race, education and income influence the pick. The goal that both parents and school officials said they hope for: good schools for everyone.

The philosophy behind Berkeley Unified’s school enrollment is steeped in careful consideration and history. The path to today’s lottery began when Berkeley schools became the first in the nation to integrate voluntarily in 1968. For the next 27 years elementary students got on the bus in an effort to make sure all students shared schools equally.
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