Daily Archives: May 15, 2012


The Berkeley Wire: 05.15.12

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Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

Vegi Food:  may close
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BETTER BOOKS Reader Carla Shapreau writes in to say she had the pleasure of visiting a new business in Berkeley where rare books are restored and the book arts are taught. “I have an old book in disrepair that needed some conservation, which is what led me to the Family Book Lab on MLK, which is also the workshop of book conservator Coriander Reisbord,” she says. Reisbord, who has been repairing and restoring books for more than 20 years, has just opened Family Book Lab which offers a program of workshops for both adults and kids (or both together, as the name implies). She teaches bookbinding, paper decoration and typesetting among other skills. Both that business and the book repair store are based at 1413 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way, three doors down from Mr Mopp’s. Reisbord can be reached at coriander@corybooks.com

NEW LOOK Skates on the Bay, Berkeley’s restaurant that literally floats over the bay, is re-opening following an extensive interior redesign. Look out for the restaurant’s new menu, that includes oysters, sashimi, lobster and crab when in season, and an “extensive” raw bar. Skates is at 100 Seawall Drive Berkeley, CA 94710. Tel: 510-549-1900. … Continue reading »

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Unfunded liabilities prompt initiative, council resolution

Measure M will provide more funds for improving streets, but it still will fall short of the need. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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A ballot initiative to force the city to do biennial reports on obligations for employee and retiree expenses and for Berkeley’s physical infrastructure and capital assets appears likely to appear on the ballot in the November election, according to supporters of the plan. At the same time, at tonight’s City Council meeting a similar measure is being proposed by four councilmembers, led by District 5’s Laurie Capitelli. The council measure, however, lacks the penalties for failing to produce the report that the initiative draft contains.

The ballot initiative is called the Berkeley Fiscal Accountability, Clarity, Transparency and Sustainability Ordinance of 2012, which shortens to FACTS. It would require biennial reports on the city’s financial obligations for the next 20 years, and would prohibit the City Council or the voters from “incurring any debt financing, or imposing any new tax, assessment or property-related fee, or increasing any existing tax, assessment or property-related fee, or scheduling an election to impose or increase and tax, assessment or property-related fee” unless the report required in the ordinance has been published and certified. … Continue reading »

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McDonald’s tries to rebrand itself in Berkeley of all places

The McDonalds on San Pablo Avenue. The fast food franchise is trying to rebrand itself as a restaurant that offers healthy fare. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiele
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In an attempt to rebrand its current image as a place that only serves fatty fast food and super-size sodas, McDonald’s Corporation has launched a makeover campaign.

Titled “Rediscover What’s Under the Arches,” the marketing effort includes reaching out to stealth taste-makers like mommy and food bloggers to show them that the menu at the world’s largest fast food franchise (28 million people a day and counting) isn’t just French fries, Chicken McNuggets, Happy Meals, and hamburgers. It now includes more healthy items like oatmeal and fruit and yogurt parfaits.

On May 4, in what may seem like a visit to the lion’s den, the PR campaign came to Berkeley.

Call it a case of reverse marketing. What better way to challenge perceptions than by coming to a city with three farmers’ markets and a population that embraces all things organic, fresh, and local? … Continue reading »

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Big Screen Berkeley: Payback, Yellow Submarine

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Payback, it is sometimes said indelicately, can be a bitch. Jennifer Baichal’s new documentary Payback, opening this Friday, May 18 at Landmark’s Shattuck Cinemas (and most definitely not to be confused with the 1999 Mel Gibson thriller of the same name), takes a more contemplative approach to the term: payback, it turns out, can also be a restorative in the right hands.

Inspired by Canadian author Margaret Atwood’s book “Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth”, the film takes a decidedly broad approach to its topic. Traveling around the world, Baichal examines the interrelatedness of payback, debt, reparations, and revenge, with especial attention paid to debts of the non-monetary variety.

The film begins in Albania, where the question emerges — how do you keep them down on the farm once they’ve seen Tirana? The not so obvious answer is to invoke Kanun, an ancient, quasi-legal code of honor developed hundreds of years ago. Kanun still holds sway in the remote regions of northern Albania, where farmer Llesh Prenaga has been under virtual house arrest for the last three years. … Continue reading »

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Op-Ed: What price democracy in Berkeley?

Old City Hall. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
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Tonight the Berkeley City Council will vote on whether to adopt a resolution submitting what is known as the Sunshine Ordinance to a vote of the people in the November general election. Dean Metzger and Josh Wolf of the Berkeley Sunshine Committee believe the $2 million price tag that the City calculates is needed to comply with the proposed ordinance is overinflated, and designed to “convince voters to turn their backs on open government.” Read their op/ed piece published in Berkeleyside’s Opinionator … Continue reading »