Daily Archives: February 15, 2011


The Berkeley Wire: 02.15.11

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Comic Relief

Comic Relief, the iconic comic book store on Shattuck Avenue, closed its doors yesterday. The closing has been likely for months, with reduced business and staff turnover following the death of founder Rory Root two years ago. Berkeleysider Christopher Allen pointed us to a tribute to the store on Shannon A’s blog. Shannon suggests that science fiction specialist Dark Carnival plans to reopen the store under a different name if they can secure the lease.

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City budget faces $1.8 million mid-year shortfall

City Manager Phil Kamlarz
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The City Council tonight will hear a report on mid-year budget revisions for the current fiscal year, designed to respond to a revenue shortfall of $1.8 million. According to City Manager Phil Kamlarz, planned savings are already on track for $1 million. The remaining $800,000 of the deficit will be covered by deferring capital expenditures, primarily from the street rehabilitation budget. An increase in projected expenses from the adopted budget is being covered from $4.62 million from the reserves.

The trimming of the budget comes on top of the effort to close an expected $16 million deficit in the FY2011 budget before it was adopted by the council last year. The original plan was to eliminate 77 jobs, 47 of which were unfilled at the time. Because of the voluntary work reductions by staff and other cost saving measures, including a hiring freeze, that gap was closed with only seven layoffs, Kamlarz explained during a briefing meeting with the media this morning.

The drop in revenues compared to the adopted FY2011 budget came from a wide number of sources:

  • Secured property tax: down $528,083 because the expected 2% cost of living adjustment actually was -0.24%
  • Utility users tax: adjusted downward by $494,084 because of declining natural gas prices
  • Parking fines: projections lowered by $200,000
  • Ambulance fees: down by $463,370 because of change to a national fee schedule and lower transport volumes
  • Sales tax: down by $216,136 even though revenues are beginning to creep up
  • Franchise fees: decreased by $279,844 … Continue reading »
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Big Screen Berkeley: Even the Rain

Juan Carlos Aduviri in Even the Rain
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Mary Poppins taught us that a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. Tambien la lluvia (Even the Rain), a new Spanish film opening at the Shattuck Cinemas this Friday, February 18, features its own digestive aid: a tiny bottle of water. It arrives late in the game and doesn’t exactly transform the film from angry political polemic to feel-good movie of the year, but it will make it a bit more palatable for viewers in need of a happy ending.

Directed by Iciar Bollain, whose 2003 feature Te doy mis ojos (Take My Eyes) examined the literally tortuous relationship between a woman and her abusive husband, Even the Rain is similarly provocative stuff. The film reunites Bollain with Take My Eyes star Luis Tovar, here cast as Costa, a film mogul whose current production is an historical drama about the conquest and enslavement of indigenous South Americans by Christopher Columbus and the Spanish Empire.

Costa is a cold-blooded realist: all he cares about is completing the film on time and for as little money as possible. Sebastian (Gael Garcia Bernal), the film within a film’s director, is an idealist: he hopes to create something that will be important both politically and artistically. The two have brought their crew to Cochabamba, an Andean city run by a racist mayor who tells them, “If we give one inch, the Indians will drag us back to the stone age.” It seems that the centuries old struggle between Anglos and Indians hasn’t quite ended yet. … Continue reading »

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Two Berkeley youth on U.S. Ski Team

Keith Moffat at Alpine Junior World Championships. Photo by Jeff Shifrin
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On February 3, the day of his 20th birthday, Berkeleyan Keith Moffat, strapped on his skis, tightened his helmet and stood at the top of the downhill course in the mountains of Crans-Montana, Switzerland.

The starter went off and Moffat careened out of the gate, gathering speed as he raced down the course that had been set up for the Alpine Junior World Championships. Moffat, who had been ranked the #2 downhill racer in the world for his age in 2010, finished the course in 1:38:16, garnering him a fourth place finish. It was the best American time in a sport that is usually dominated by Europeans.

“It was tough but I’m happy with how I skied,” Moffat told a reporter on the scene. “Right now I’m just looking forward to the super G and hopefully get an opportunity to slide in there tomorrow.”

That opportunity never came. As Moffat, a Berkeley High graduate now studying at Dartmouth College, was warming up for the super G, he collided with another skier and fractured an elbow and broke his left leg.

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‘This was my company’: Rapper Yelawolf revisits Berkeley

Screen shot 2011-02-15 at 2.53.48 PM
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There isn’t much rapper Yelawolf hasn’t seen or experienced. As his online biography notes, this “badass Alabaman” was born Michael Wayne Atha to an absentee father and a bartender mother, he attended over 15 schools while “soaking up slang and spiritualism in Baton Rouge, Antioch, Tennessee, and Atlanta”. He worked as a commercial fisherman in Alaska and crossed the country on Greyhound buses exploring and honing his musical skills.

Yelawolf also spent time in Berkeley, trying to … Continue reading »

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