Monthly Archives: March 2011


4-alarm fire on Sacramento Street

Sacramento fire
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Citizen reporter Lee Horowitz sent in this photo of fire engines attending to a fire on Sacramento and Cedar at 7:13 p.m. tonight.

At 7:24 p.m. Cathryn Hrudicka reported on Twitter that she could see and smell smoke and that there was a helicopter circling overhead.

Update, 7:50 p.m.: Berkeleysider Jackson Pritt emailed us the photo below and wrote: “I was walking home from work and noticed four fire vehicles pulled up in front of … Continue reading »

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The Berkeley Wire: 03.31.11

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School board considers response to gun incidents

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In a special session of the Berkeley Unified School District board last night, board members, staff and parents agreed on the need for urgent action in response to a string of gun incidents at Berkeley High School and B-Tech. Among the immediate likely steps will be a requirement for visible IDs for students and staff.

Before the board received a staff presentation on its response to weapons at the schools (large PDF), a stream of concerned parents spoke about their worries and concerns.

“This is a crisis,” said Jason Lewis, who has two children at BHS. “We are entrusting you to take care of our children and to educate them. If children aren’t safe, they can’t be educated.”

Ginny Roemer, who has a freshman son at BHS, said, “Law enforcement has not permeated through the gates of Berkeley High.”

Antoinette Douglas, who has a freshman son at BHS, said he had been warned on how to behave to be safe: “Don’t wear certain colors, avoid these people, stay out of these peoples’ ways.”

Joyce Fleming, whose daughter is a freshman at BHS, said, “I want to know what we’re going to do. My blood is boiling.” … Continue reading »

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Weaning off the bottle: UC Berkeley tests the waters

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Being a college student means starting to make tough decisions. But here’s one you might not expect: bottled water or tap?

Students at UC Berkeley are poised to vote next week on whether they want to be sold plastic water bottles on their own campus. On the April 5-7 student election ballot, they can check off an initiative to support phasing out the sale of bottled water and improving access to public water, including campus drinking fountains.

UC Berkeley would join an eco-trend that has swept colleges nationwide. Washington University and the University of Seattle  jumped on the bandwagon last fall and the University of Portland was the first West Coast campus to start a ban in 2010. And it’s not just universities: in 2007, former San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom prohibited all city departments from purchasing bottled water.

Student leaders of the movement say it’s a way for them to take charge over their consumption of a wasteful product. By reducing plastic waste on campus, a bottle ban would help the campus reach its goal of trimming waste by 75% by 2012, says UC Berkeley senior Rose Whitson, who is spearheading the effort with student senator Elliot Goldstein. … Continue reading »

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Broken water main floods some downtown streets

A broken fire hydrant spews water. Photo: Alica Abramson
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A fire hydrant that had been repaired on Wednesday broke off at its base Thursday around 8:30 am on Fulton Street near Durant. It spewed gallons of water into the air for about 20 minutes before the fire department turned it off. The water rushed down to Channing and onto Shattuck Avenue, slowing the morning commute. Fire officials speculated that whoever repaired the hydrant did not affix the seal properly, allowing it to tip over.

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Tiny amounts of radiation reach Berkeley from Japan

Miniscule concentrations of isotopes of cesium, iodine and tellurium in local water
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Are you still concerned about radiation crossing the Pacific from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan, despite the steady stream of scientific advice that it poses no danger?

Now you can check radiation readings from right here in Berkeley, thanks to the monitors that the Department of Nuclear Engineering has on the roof of Etcheverry Hall. A team of scientists working under Kai Vetter is testing air and water quality (from rainwater) every day.

What are the … Continue reading »

BSEP decisions: yes to drums, no to soccer

Entrance to Berkeley High School. Photo: Jeremy Franklin.
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By Karen Laws

A budget unanimously approved by the Berkeley High BSEP (Berkeley Schools for Excellence Project) site committee on March 21 will provide salaries for both college counselors, 100% of the supplies for art classes, beakers and flasks for chemistry labs, and much more. With student enrichment proposals valued at nearly $230,000 over the $774,454 the committee had to spend for the 2011-12 school year, it’s no wonder the budget meeting lasted six hours.

Depending on whether windows in the cramped, below-street-level room were cranked open or shut, the 15 members, including Principal Pasquale Scuderi, endured alternately freezing and stifling conditions as they debated and voted. … Continue reading »

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Fire on Berkeley Way between MLK and Grant

FIre Berkeley Way
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A fire has broken out at 1830 Berkeley Way between MLK and Grant Street (according to ActionNews510). Early reports coming in on Twitter suggest it may not be too serious.

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The Berkeley Wire: 03.30.11

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Students on probation not involved in BHS gun activity

Berkeley High School. Photo: Charlotte Wayne
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None of the 35 Berkeley High School students who are on probation was involved with the recent spate of gun incidents at the school, according to Alameda County’s top probation official.

Despite the fears of some parents that those who have previously been arrested are a rogue element in the school and largely responsible for the guns, this is not the case, said officials.

“There have been no youth on probation who were arrested for gun charges at Berkeley High,” … Continue reading »

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Berkeley High School is currently on lockdown as we write. Prinpical Pasquale Scuderi issued an email to the parent community stating: “This is a precaution we are taking because we believe there were individuals with weapons on the perimeter.  All of our students are safe inside their classes and we will have more information to follow within the hour. The incident has been resolved.”

Berkeleyside will bring you updates as we get them.

3:50pm: The school is no longer on lockdown. Principal Scuderi will be issuing more details shortly, according to an email from BHS. … Continue reading »

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End of budget negotiations imperils city, school budgets

Governor Jerry Brown ended budget negotiations today. Photo: Thomas Hawk.
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Already tough budgets for the city and the school district became significantly tougher with the collapse today of negotiations between Governor Jerry Brown and the Republicans in Sacramento.

Since Brown took office in January, his highest priority has been a plan to close the state’s $26.6 billion deficit. Lawmakers have agreed $11.2 billion in spending cuts and funding shifts, but Brown’s plan required a June vote to extend various tax measures. That would have required at least four Republicans — two in the Assembly and two in the Senate — to reach the required two-thirds majority. With today’s end of negotiations, there will be no June vote and the taxes will expire at the end of June. … Continue reading »

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City honors planning pioneer Dorothy Walker

Dorothy Walker in the '70s, when she became active in urban planning issues
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By Alan Tobey

The Berkeley City Council last night approved a proclamation honoring longtime resident Dorothy Walker for her exceptional life record of contributions to the Berkeley community.

As the proclamation states: “Over the past five decades, Dorothy has served the City, and contributed to significant improvements to the quality of life in Berkeley today, including leading campaigns to fund new parks and school buildings, protecting neighborhoods from traffic, preserving the waterfront, improving transit, supporting affordable housing and advocating for social and economic justice.” Overall, “Dorothy has spent over 10,000 hours in community meetings in the interest of making Berkeley a better city.” … Continue reading »

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