Daily Archives: December 27, 2011


The Berkeley Wire: 12.27.11

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Most important Berkeley stories of 2011

Ambitious plans are in train to transform downtown Berkeley starting in 2012. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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What were the most important Berkeley stories of 2011? Not always the most read: our readers — and those of us at Berkeleyside — can get excited about the merits of pizza in Berkeley or the rights and wrongs of poop scoops on trails in the hills, but those stories don’t necessarily have enduring significance. Here’s our judgement on the stories that you should have read, and that we’ll probably be following in different ways in 2012.

The continuing challenges of Telegraph Avenue, and the potential revival of downtown. Much of our coverage of Telegraph this year concentrated on the long-vacant lot on the northeast corner of Haste. In September, the City Council voted to file for non judicial foreclosure on the property. But the devastating November 18 fire on the northwest corner — The Sequoia Building — was a bitter blow to local retailers on the brink of the holiday shopping season. Resolution of the future of both corners — and the vacant Cody’s Building on the southwest corner — will help determine the course of Telegraph for years to come. Downtown, in contrast, there has been some long-awaited good news. Downtown became a property-based improvement district (PBID), enabling it to raise funds for transformation. The Downtown Berkeley Association plans to embark on a first phase of improvements in 2012. … Continue reading »

Pacific Steel accused of labor violations in lawsuit

A former worker for Pacific Steel filed a $31 million lawsuit against the foundry on Friday, accusing management of breaking labor laws by not giving workers a break after six hours of work.

Timothy P. Rumberger, a Berkeley attorney, filed the class action lawsuit in Alameda County Superior Court on behalf of Roberto Rodriguez and 1,000 other workers. Rodriguez had worked at Pacific Steel for 45 years.

At a news conference in front of the foundry on Friday, Rumberger said California labor law requires companies to give employees a 30-minute break after working for six hours. Pacific Steel had negotiated a break at 11:30 am for workers who arrived at 5 am — which is longer than the law permits, said Rumberger.

When Rodriguez would complain, his managers would tell him he could always leave, he said on Friday. … Continue reading »

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Police searching for motive for double shooting

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Berkeley police still do not have a motive for Friday’s double shooting in broad daylight on Sacramento Street.

Two men – one 17, one 18 — were shot at 12:41 p.m. as they were walking on Sacramento near Woolsey. Their assailants — and there was more than one, although police declined to detail the exact number – then fled up Woolsey, prompting detectives to do a house-by-house search of that block. No suspects were apprehended.

One victim was treated and … Continue reading »

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Big Screen Berkeley: Best movies of 2011

The Smurfs: A movie John Seal managed to avoid in 2011
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This time last year I was moaning about what an Annus Horribilis it had been at the movies. This December the news is a bit better: whereas in 2010 I had a hard time scraping together a top 10, in 2011 I had a hard time whittling things down to a top 15.

Of course, any ‘best of’ list is subjective, anecdotal, and entirely based on personal opinion and whim. It could be that I missed a ton of great stuff in 2010, or perhaps this year’s sample is badly skewed: I did, after all, manage to avoid Jack and Jill, The Undefeated, The Smurfs, The Three Musketeers 3D, and Human Centipede 2 over the course of the last twelve months.

Or perhaps I totally nailed it, confirming that I am, indeed, the most astute film critic of this or any other age! Alternatively, I could be slipping into early dementia and have lost what few critical faculties I previously possessed. That’s a worrisome thought.

Whatever the case may be, here are the fifteen films I enjoyed most in 2011.

1. City of Life and Death—This powerful war film, set during Japan’s invasion of China during the late 1930s, gets the coveted number 1 spot thanks to its astonishingly realistic action sequences (eat your heart out, Steven Spielberg), skillful storytelling, and superb acting. Oh, and I’m a sucker for black and white cinematography, too.

2. Rubber—The strangest and most surreal film I’ve seen in ages. I’d be surprised if this shows up on too many other top 10 lists — it’s just as likely to get nominated for a Razzie — but I loved it. … Continue reading »

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Klezmer and latkes and Christmas

People wait to buy latkes on Christmas Day. Photo: Emanuah Hauser
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One of the more joyous street gatherings on Christmas Day happens in front of Saul’s, the Jewish deli on Shattuck Avenue near Vine.

For the last three years, Klezmer musicians have gathered to play outside the deli, their lively, upbeat music serenading the long line of people waiting to go inside the restaurant or those just wanting to hear a tune.

This year, the annual Christmas Day concert coincided with Hanukkah, and Saul’s owners’, Peter Levitt and Karen Adelman, … Continue reading »

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