Daily Archives: February 28, 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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