Monthly Archives: February 2012


Berkeley home hotbed of crime and nuisance for decades

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Bebo Turman describes the household at 1722 Ninth Street in Berkeley as “the neighbors from hell.”

For more than 30 years the home, near Virginia Street in west Berkeley, has been a hotbed of criminal activity and civic non-compliance, according to testimony given by Berkeley police and staff at a hearing of the Zoning Adjustments Board last Thursday. There have been more than 40 criminal-related reports, including cases of illegal weapons possession, drug use, theft, using the house to trade in stolen goods, public drunkenness, and excessive noise, according to BPD officer Cesar Melero.

It is the “nexus for drug activity in the neighborhood,” said one police officer.

Fifteen people with Alameda County criminal records have used the house as their address of record, and some are associated with the city’s notorious Westside gang, said Sgt Peter Hong. … Continue reading »

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Photos: Berkeley High School celebrates, and remembers

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Berkeley High School organized three very different events last week.

The Black Scholars Awards were held on Thursday evening . This ceremony honored the school’s 205 Afro-American students with a 3.0 GPA or greater.

On Saturday, students celebrated Mardi Gras with a ball at the Jack London Aquatic Center.

Also that night, hundreds of friends and family gathered at Longfellow Middle School to remember the late Terry Doran who taught at BHS for 33 years and was school board president/director for eight years.

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Berkeley’s Gioia Pizzeria gets its tables back
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Berkeleysider Neil Mishalov went by Gioia Pizzeria on Saturday and saw that the popular restaurant has gotten a quick serve restaurant license from Berkeley. The stools at the interior banquet, which were removed in late January, have returned, making it all that much easier to eat Gioia’s slices of formaggio, fungi, and other flavors.

Councilmember Laurie Capitelli stepped into the fray when it turned out that Gioia had been operating without the proper permits since its opening in 2004. (The issue prompted a significant response from readers when we reported it in early February with no less than 85 comments. This is, after all, Berkeleysiders’ favorite pizza joint in town.)

The restaurant actually hurt its own cause when it found out, for the owners applied for a much more difficult to obtain permit when all they needed to do was submit some standard paperwork to the Planning Department, said Capitelli. He helped sort things out. … Continue reading »

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Best of Berkeleyside: This week’s most popular posts

In heartening news this week, Berkeley saw the opening of Casa de Chocolates, an artisanal chocolate boutique where Latin flavors reign supreme

This week, readers were focused, understandably, on the terrible murder of Peter Cukor, 67, a Berkeley resident who was bludgeoned to death outside his home on the evening of Feb. 18. The suspect, Daniel Jordan DeWitt, a paranoid schizophrenic, is due in court on March 22.

Also this week, we reported on the worrying shooting of a Berkeley High senior who was riding his bike near the Oakland-border Berkeley, most likely on his way to school. His identity has yet to be revealed and the police had no suspect as of yesterday. The student is recovering in hospital from a non-life threatening wound.

On Wednesday, we broke the story that the city had ordered two medical cannabis collectives to be shut down, leading one to close its doors. Berkeleyside wrote about the situation in September 2011 and the coverage prompted the Medical Cannabis Commission to take up the matter, but officials did not take any action until councilmembers requested the issue be looked at in December.

On Friday, it emerged that Berkeley High School’s safety officer, Billy Keys, had been arrested, accused of identity theft. Principal Scuderi wrote to the school community, commenting: “BHS will continue to hold the highest expectations for all of its staff and students and place no one above consequences if and when their actions jeopardize the integrity or security of our school.”

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Adopt a pet: Dani and Donald, close and adorable together

Dani and Donald
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Dani is a sweet, sweet, tail-wagging, happy mommy dog. She is not much more than a puppy herself, maybe 1+ years old.

Dani looks like cross between and Dachshund and a Beagle. She was found in mid-November in Merced, probably hit by a car. She was in and out of vet offices for two weeks, and diagnosed with a broken pelvis (now healed). It was not known then that she was pregnant. Once discovered, she was within a week of giving birth. Dani was rushed north to a foster home with the Milo Foundation, and gave birth that night!

Dani had three puppies early on January 7th. Sadly, only Donald survived the birth. Because of this, and their closeness, and how adorable and funny they are together, we want them to be adopted as a pair. Donald is such a little doll. He is so advanced for his tiny size. … Continue reading »

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BHS head of security accused of identity theft

Berkeley High School
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Billy Keys, who headed up security at Berkeley High School and who was instrumental in formulating new policies after the spate of gun incidents at the school in 2011, has been arrested on allegations of identity theft.

Berkeley police took Keys into custody on Thursday after an investigation, according to an email sent out by BHS Principal Pasquale Scuderi Friday afternoon. Keys has been placed on administrative leave while the school district looks into the matter, Scuderi wrote.

“In an attempt to head off speculation and to be out in front of any rumors, I want to inform you of a very difficult development that has occurred within the Berkeley High School Community,” Scuderi wrote. “…BHS will continue to hold the highest expectations for all of its staff and students and place no one above consequences if and when their actions jeopardize the integrity or security of our school.” … Continue reading »

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The Berkeley Wire: 02.24.12

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Berkeleyside says thank you to our advertisers

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Berkeleyside would like to express its gratitude to our current advertisers:

Amoeba Music“Body Awareness” at Aurora Theatre CompanyBerkeley LabBerkwood Hedge SchoolBernardo Lopez Garden Design & InstallationBHS LiveCal Youth CampsCarolyn Jones at The Grubb CompanyFive RestaurantFocal PointGreener PrinterThe Grubb Company, Jewish Music FestivalMarsh InteriorsMcKevitt FiatPhoto LaboratoryPsychotherapy InstituteSutter East Bay Medical FoundationTom Miller & Friends LawyersTravlyn Russell Tupperware, and UC Berkeley Optometry.

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Berkeley documentary film shortlisted for an Oscar

If you’re stocking up on snacks in preparation for Oscars night on Sunday, make a note to watch out for a nominated film with a Berkeley connection.

The Barber of Birmingham is an Academy Award nominee for best documentary short subject this year. The film, which explores the impact of the then potential nominee Barack Obama as the first African American president on a group of aging Civil Rights activists in the South, was co-directed by Gail Dolgin, a Berkeley-based independent documentary filmmaker who died in October 2010 while working on the film.

Dolgin’s co-director and producer, photographer Robin Fryday, who lives in Marin, completed the movie which was given financial suport by the Berkeley Film Foundation. … Continue reading »

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Murder trial delayed for psychological assessment

Daniel DeWitt, charged with felony murder and use of a deadly weapon. Photo: KTVU
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Judge Sandra Bean yesterday delayed the trial of homicide suspect Daniel Jordan DeWitt so that two doctors could assess him for mental competence under section 1368 of the California Penal Code.

On Wednesday, DeWitt was charged with felony murder and use of a deadly weapon in the killing of Peter Cukor outside his home in the Berkeley hills on Feb 18. Yesterday, Dewitt’s lawyer, Brian Bloom, asked the court for a delay so that DeWitt’s competence to stand trial could be assessed.

Cukor and his wife Andrea Cukor returned home around 8:45 pm on the night of Feb. 18 and saw DeWitt loitering in their garage. Peter Cukor told DeWitt to leave, went inside the house, then came out again and was attacked, according to BPD. A ceramic planter was allegedly used in the attack.

Al DeWitt Jr., DeWitt’s father, said his son was diagnosed five years ago with paranoid schizophrenia and has been in mental health facilities at least nine times. … Continue reading »

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No suspect in Berkeley High student shooting case

The scene of the Feb. 23 shooting of a Berkeley High senior at Market and Lowell near the Oakland- Berkeley
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Oakland Police Department say they have no suspect for Thursday morning’s shooting of a Berkeley High senior as he was riding his bike at the intersection of Lowell and Market streets in North Oakland.

The 18-year-old victim, who is not being identified by OPD nor by BUSD, sustained a non-life threatening gunshot wound from a gunman who was also riding a bicycle. The call to OPD was made at 8:03 a.m. The victim, an Oakland resident according to OPD, is recovering at Highland Hospital after surgery yesterday.

OPD cannot confirm whether the victim was also carrying, or may have shot, a gun, as has been reported in other media. “The investigative team is not releasing any information while it conducts its research,” said an OPD spokesperson. … Continue reading »

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Latin flavors lie at the heart of Casa de Chocolates

Chocolatier Arcelia Gallardo and co-owner Amelia Gonzalez bring a taste of Latin America to The Elmwood. Photo: Omar Wandera
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Two Latinas originally from L.A, with a shared passion for chocolate, Mexico, and social justice, are combining forces to open Casa de Chocolates in The Elmwood today.

Amelia Gonzalez, 50, who worked for KPFA Radio for 20 years, most recently as general manager, was approached by chocolatier Arcelia Gallardo, 35, about coming on board as an angel investor for her artisan sweet treats store that pay homage to cacao’s Latin American heritage.

Gonzalez was interested, but also wanted to play an active role in the development of the budding business, which suited Gallardo, who preferred to focus on perfecting her products, handcrafted in small batches.

So Gonzalez, who has lived in Lima, Peru, and Oaxaca, Mexico, has handled everything from managing construction permits with the city to sourcing ancillary merchandise such as ceramics, tin boxes, and molinillo (wooden whisks for making Mexican hot chocolate), while her partner focuses on flavor pairings. … Continue reading »

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Putting a focus on Berkeley, looking for improvements

Sunset over Berkeley
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Last night, Berkeleyside’s Lance Knobel appeared on the Soapbox Derby radio show on KALX-FM to talk about Berkeley and Berkeleyside’s March 5 Business Forum which will shine a spotlight on the city’s economic climate. In particular we will be asking: can Berkeley become a more startup-friendly city?

You can listen to the conversation — which includes a discussion of “resolutions” for the city, both past and present — by visiting Soapbox Derby a production of KALX Berkeley 90.7 … Continue reading »

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