Monthly Archives: July 2012


The Berkeley Wire: 07.31.12

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Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

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POOR SALES FORCE ALKO CLOSURE  Alko Office Supplies, which has been operating in one form or another at 2225 Shattuck Avenue for 104 years, announced Tuesday that it is shutting its doors. Gary Shows, president of the Cliff Radston Company, said in a press release published in the Daily Planet that the store is closing because of declining purchases from UC Berkeley, changes in the shopping patterns in downtown Berkeley, and the perception of shoppers that chains offer better deals than small, locally owned businesses.

“We sincerely regret disappointing loyal retail customers,” Shows said in the release. “We are appreciative and grateful; there just are not enough of them to sustain us.” The retail operation will remain open and “fully stocked” until the building is sold. After that, the company will continue to supply business and Internet customers in a “less costly location.” … Continue reading »

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Tune into Berkeleyside Radio, hear artists playing locally

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The editors of Berkeleyside, truth to tell, are not regulars at local rocks gigs. It’s perhaps a question of age and taste, but it’s also a result of a common problem: how do you know whether you’ll like a band you’ve never heard?

We’ve now provided an answer (not to age and taste, but to unfamiliarity). Berkeleyside Radio, which launches today, plays songs only by artists who will be performing locally in the next two weeks. You can access it either through the link above or by clicking the button in the central column on our homepage.

Berkeleyside Radio comes courtesy of Berkeley startup DeliRadio, the brainchild of Wayne Skeen. … Continue reading »

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Hundreds of bike crashes near UC Berkeley over 5 years

A ghost bike marks the spot where Shlomo Bentin died cycling in Berkeley. Photo: Zusha Ellison/Bay Citizen
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By Zusha Elinson / Bay Citizen 

Shlomo Bentin, a world-renown neuropsychologist, bought a bicycle last summer to commute to UC Berkeley from his home two miles away. An expert on facial recognition, the 65-year-old Israeli was on a one-year research sabbatical at the university.

“He took up biking in Berkeley because people in Berkeley bike,” said Lynn Robertson, a friend and colleague. “He was very cautious. He was the kind of bicyclist who would stop at stop signs and signal.”

On July 13, Bentin was riding home from the campus gym on Bancroft Way when he was killed. Police received reports that a dump truck might have hit Bentin west of Fulton Street. Jennifer Coats, spokeswoman for the Berkeley Police Department, said investigators are trying to determine whether the truck was a factor in the collision. … Continue reading »

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Brainy B-movies at free Summer Cinema series

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Demented surgeons who know no bounds, crazed doctors keeping brains alive, abductions and decapitations — you can tell Steve Seid had an enormous amount of fun putting together the program for this year’s Summer Cinema on Center Street, a free outdoor movie series which kicks off on Saturday August 4.

“I wanted something different from common currency films. I wanted to pull out some of our more disgraceful examples,” he says, laughing.

Seid, Video Curator at Pacific Film Archive, delved into the museum’s 18,000-strong collection of films to come up with his selection of 16-mm prints for the series, which takes place over three weekends in August and is organized jointly by Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive and the Downtown Berkeley Association. The event was launched last year and proved immensely popular, drawing up to 400 people to the Bank of America parking lot for each screening.

The films, which will be shown on the wall of the future Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive, are all in the classic B-movie “mad scientist” genre. … Continue reading »

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The Berkeley Wire: 07.30.12

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BUSD responds to Berkeley High harassment costs story

Photo: BPD
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The Berkeley School district says there were inaccuracies in an article by Anika Anand and Emily Hartley of California Watch which set out to uncover the cost to BUSD of a sexual harassment case at Berkeley High.

The California Watch article, which Berkeleyside published in full on July 25, said that over a period of about one year Berkeley officials had balked at disclosing how much they spent defending BHS counsellor Anthony Smith, and had failed to respond to most queries from reporters, including two Public Records Act (PRA) requests for information.

In a statement released on July 27, BUSD Deputy Superintendent Javetta Cleveland said BUSD did not respond to two PRA requests initially because the district was involved in ongoing litigation and was therefore not legally obliged to disclose any information. Once the lawsuit was settled, Cleveland said, a lawyer representing BUSD spoke with the California Watch reporter covering the story and provided information. “It was the District’s understanding that counsel’s email satisfied the requirements of both Public Record Act requests,” the statement concludes. … Continue reading »

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Three Berkeley homes featured on architecture tour

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Three Berkeley homes are featured on the American Institute of Architects’ second annual East Bay Home Tour which takes place on Saturday August 11. There are seven homes to explore in total: along with those in Berkeley, two are in Lafayette, one in Albany and one in Emeryville.

Not all the homes eligible for legitimate snooping have been realized with lavish budgets, although most have. The 2012 homes include an award-winning prefab house, two “transformational” renovations, and “net-zero” energy houses.

There follow snapshots of the three Berkeley homes: … Continue reading »


Photo essay: Berkeley Kite Festival proves a visual delight

Kite Festival 2012 by Pete Rosos
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The annual Berkeley Kite Festival, one of the largest of its kind, was held again this weekend at Cesar Chavez Park on the bay. The gathering, which was expected to attract more than 35,000 people, included stunt kites, Japanese kite teams, Rokkaku battles, the beautiful Octopi kites, lashings of good food and music, as well as the traditional free candy crop for kids.

Several of Berkeleyside’s favorite photographers were there to capture the magic of the event.

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Best of Berkeleyside: This week’s most popular posts

Until recently, Rogue Café operated a public brunch business on Ellis Street in South Berkeley. It is now a by-invitation-only event.

By far the most controversial story of the week surrounded Rogue Café, a pop-up brunch spot in south Berkeley. With its crisp waffles, which its chef Eric Thoreson spent weeks perfecting, and its funky back-door décor, the story seemed a perfect example of this region’s do-it-yourself locavore movement. But readers wanted to know more: did Rogue have a permit? Was the food safe? How could the owners operate a commercial business in a residential district? There were 167 comments  on the story, expressing concerns that wavered between the operation’s legality and Berkeley’s rush to regulate. The commentators also criticized us for not asking the tough questions in the first place. By the end of Monday, the Health Department had contacted Thoreson about his operations and Rogue Café officially became a private, by invitation, brunch.

Kriss Worthington’s decision to jump into the Berkeley mayoral race prompted discussion of Berkeley’s political future and whether Worthington, Tom Bates, or someone else would be the city’s best steward.

With the Berkeley City Council poised to adopt a resolution next week asking that the U.S. Postal service not sell the main post office at 2000 Allston Way, the future of this historic building has suddenly become central to the future of downtown. But, given the lack of success of other communities around the country, the likelihood of stopping the sale is slim. Still, Berkeleyans are not going to sit idly by. They held a rally outside the building on Tuesday, and are talking about forming a national coalition to fight the sales of historic post offices.

And for something just plain fun, check out John Rieger and Nancy Rubin’s podcast/slide show of proud chicken owners. Berkeley backyard farmers take pride in their chicks.

Do you like staying informed about local news? Would you miss Berkeleyside if we were gone? Then please consider helping to sustain this independently owned, locally grown news site by supporting us with a subscription of as little as $5 a month.

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The Berkeley Wire: 07.27.12

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Berkeleyside says thank you to its advertisers

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

Actor’s Ensemble of Berkeley: Noises OffAmoeba Music, Andronico’s Community Markets, BAM/PFA Summer CinemaBerkwood Hedge SchoolBernardo Lopez Garden Design & InstallationBuy Local BerkeleyCarolyn Jones: The Grubb Company, Citycentric InvestmentsContemporary Jewish Museum: Do Not DestroyDowntown Berkeley AssociationFive RestaurantFocal PointThe Grubb CompanyIra & Carol Serkes: Pacific Union/Christie’s International Real Estate, Last Sundays FestLMi.netMarsh … Continue reading »


Oakland Planning Commission approves Safeway plans

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On Wednesday, the Oakland Planning Commission unanimously certified the final EIR and approved Safeway’s proposed plans for its College Avenue store which sits on the Oakland-Berkeley border.

A statement released by Aroner, Jewel & Ellis Partners, who have been retained by Safeway, said the grocery store was “heartened by the commission’s support and their comments in support of the design, the size and the community benefit our proposal would convey on Rockridge.”

The statement continued: “The commission did not agree with the opponent’s assertions that our project violated zoning, or that traffic was unmitigatable. They did not buy arguments that the store would negatively affect the small merchants across the street, or that the EIR was in any way inadequate.” … Continue reading »

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