Daily Archives: October 11, 2012

News

The Berkeley Wire: 10.11.12

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The power of two: Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas

Fraser Haas Front cover HI RES
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When it comes to the world’s most dynamic traditional Scottish music duo, everything old is new again. Over the past decade, Scottish-born fiddler Alasdair Fraser and Menlo Park-raised cellist Natalie Haas have turned the Celtic music scene on its ear with their dazzling partnership, a creative bond forged in the Santa Cruz Mountains at Fraser’s Valley of the Moon Scottish Fiddle School. While the instrumentation initially left many people scratching their heads, wondering about the lack of a piano, guitar or accordion, Fraser points out that in the 18th- and early 19th-century fiddle/cello duos were the standard combo for dances.

“It’s astonishing to me that the cello was so prominent, but it’s well documented that fiddle and cello was the dance band of choice,” says Fraser, 57, who performs with Haas on Friday at Freight & Salvage. “The more we play together the more we feel like the instruments really are bonded musically. It makes perfect sense, two string instruments that speak the same language.

“Our goal is, you have two voices, what kind of conversation can we have, and how full a sound we can make?” Fraser continues. “It’s about carving out a sonic space where we don’t actually say everything. We can allude to the bass notes, and the middle harmonies and touch in on them and leave. We both love the challenge of setting things in motion, and keeping the plates spinning.” … Continue reading »

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Moody’s places Berkeley bonds under review

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Moody’s Investor Services, one of the two dominant bond ratings companies, announced on Tuesday that it was reviewing the ratings of 32 California cities, including Berkeley. Three issuances by Berkeley are under review by Moody’s: the $28 million 2003 certificates of participation, the $5.8 million 2010 animal shelter financing, and the $9.1 million 1999 lease revenue bonds.

Refinancings were recently agreed on both the 2003 and 1999 issuances, with new AA ratings from Standard & Poor’s. According to City Finance Director Robert Hicks, both of the refinancings will be completed before the Moody’s review. That is likely to mean that only the $5.8 million animal shelter financing, currently rated Aa3, will be subject to review.

According to David Jacobson, a spokesman for Moody’s, the overall economic and legislative climate in California triggered the reviews.

“The factors here don’t apply just to Berkeley,” he said. “Over the last few years, California municipalities have been through interesting developments. There have been three bankruptcies. Over 50 have declared fiscal emergencies. We reanalyzed all the 90 cities in California that we rate. We determined that there were about 30 where we decided to place the rating on review and decided to just make sure they were rated appropriately.” … Continue reading »

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Mountain lion sighting forces Lab staff to shelter in place

Mountain lion by princecody:CC
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Update, 2:31pm: Authorities have determined that the mountain lion has moved on, Lab staff who had been told to shelter in place have been given the all-clear, and McMillan Road has been reopened, according to Lab spokesperson Jon Weiner.

Original story: A confirmed mountain lion sighting has closed part of McMillan Road on the Berkeley Lab campus in the Berkeley hills today, and employees in several nearby Lab buildings are being asked to shelter in place until told otherwise.

The Lab sent an internal email to staff at 1:47 pm today alerting them of the situation. It said that the UC police were on the scene and California Fish & Game was also responding.

At 2:20pm Lab spokesperson Jon Weiner said police and California Fish & Game staff were tracking the animal. The decision to ask employees to stay indoors is standard protocol, he said. “Any time there is any potential danger to employees we would take this step.” … Continue reading »

Capitelli, Hahn go head to head in Berkeley’s District 5

Laurie Capitelli and Sophie Hahn campaign signs, Oct. 10, 2012.
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Incumbent Laurie Capitelli and challenger Sophie Hahn will face off in November for the second time in a pitched battle for Berkeley’s District 5 City Council seat, in a race that has been tinged with allegations of distortion and ill will.

In 2008, Capitelli won District 5 re-election by defeating Hahn 4,299 to 3,898. But Hahn said Wednesday she believes her past four years of service and experience will help her come out on top in the polls on Nov. 6.

“I have a strong record of getting things done,” she said. “I do believe one person can make a difference. With hard work, collaboration, and really listening to and involving the community, you get good results for the community. And I think people recognize that. I think people have been waiting for a long time for change in Berkeley.”

So far, both candidates have raised about $30,000 for their campaigns. Each had $14,000 to $15,000 left in their coffers as of the most recent filing. The amount of money raised is second only to the mayor’s race on the ballot in Berkeley. … Continue reading »

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Shattuck Avenue goes car-free for 17 blocks on Sunday

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More than a mile of Berkeley’s Shattuck Avenue will be open to pedestrians, cyclists, roller-skaters, dancers, and kids on Sunday Oct. 14 — but not cars — as the city holds its first Sunday Streets event from 11 am through 4 pm.

Seventeen blocks, from Rose to Haste streets, will also be a hive of activities as merchants, musicians and community organizations take the opportunity to engage with and perform for local residents. The offerings run the gamut from free free bike repairs courtesy of Mikes Bikes, Missing Link Cooperative and the Bike Station, to street soccer games, free yoga classes, belly dancing, hands-on science activities for kids, and a performance by the UC Berkeley Gospel Choir.

The idea of Sunday Streets, or Open Streets as they are also known, originated in Bogatá, Colombia and has spread around the world, including to San Francisco where it has been a regular occurrence in different neighborhoods for a couple of years. … Continue reading »

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Contractor mistake damages lone redwood tree at library

The redwood tree at the West Branch of the Berkeley Library that will have to be taken down. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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A towering redwood tree that was to be the focal point of the garden at the new West Branch of the Berkeley Public Library was so damaged by the contractor that it will have to be taken down, library officials announced Tuesday.

The contract with West Bay Builders required the company to take precautions to preserve the root structure of the redwood, but those measures were not followed, according to a letter Donna Corbeil, director of library services, sent out to neighbors. The contractor damaged the roots while excavating around the tree.

Dan Gallagher, the city’s forestry engineer, recently examined the tree’s roots and determined that they were so damaged that the tree is unstable and unhealthy. … Continue reading »

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Vandals target artists’ work on Berkeley utility boxes

Utility boxes at Shattuck and Kittredge before the vandalism (left) and after (right)
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Two utility boxes in downtown Berkeley, decorated by artists as part of the city’s Streets Alive initiative, were vandalized over the weekend.

One of the boxes, on Allston and Shattuck, whose artwork was unveiled a year ago this month, had two sides almost completely ripped off. The letters “FLIGO” were also inscribed at the top of the box, on the east-facing side, according to Christina Monzer, Restorations Project Associate at Streets Alive. The design, titled “Redwood,” is by artist Ryan Kerrigan who is known for his rock poster art. It is sponsored by the Earth Island Institute.

The other vandalized box was recently installed at Kittredge and Shattuck outside of Peet’s coffee shop, which sponsored the artwork. Two panels were removed from the box. The artwork, titled “Cup to Cup,” was created by Amelia McCrea, Jamine Hain, Alaytra Johnson, and Lilian Zakki Manahl of Berkeley’s YMCA-PG&E Teen Center, and unveiled on Oct. 2.

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