Author Archives: Frances Dinkelspiel

Former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg donates $85,000 to support Berkeley’s proposed soda tax

Michael Bloomberg
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Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who fought unsuccessfully to establish a cap on the size of soda portions sold in that city, has donated $85,000 to the Yes on Measure D campaign.

His contribution – the largest the soda tax advocates have gotten to date – is one of three significant donations made by national groups in recent days, according to Josh Daniels, the co-chair of the campaign. The American Heart Association recently gave $23,000 and the Center for Science in the Public Interest kicked in $15,000. … Continue reading »

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A Berkeley artist turns 50, creates 50 pieces about light

Clothesmaker Cari Borja was inspired by Milan Kundera's Impossible Lightness of Being when she made these pieces. Photo: Deb Durant
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When Berkeley artist Deb Durant thought about how to celebrate her 50th birthday, she decided she didn’t want an over-the-top party with champagne and colorful hats.

Instead, Durant wanted to savor the transition between her 40s and 50s and use the time to connect with others. So she launched the 5050Light project – a yearlong endeavor to create 50 art pieces – 25 by herself and 25 in collaboration with other artists.

The results of Durant’s efforts were on display Sunday Oct. 12 in the cavernous space on Shattuck Avenue that once held Black Oak Books (which, as reported on Berkeleyside, will soon become Books Inc.). As Sunday Streets took place outside, dozens of people wandered through the building to admire Durant’s pop-up art exhibit, which will be on display until Oct. 28.  … Continue reading »

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Beverage companies spend $1.675 million to defeat Berkeley soda tax

The No on Measure D campaign covered the Ashby BART station with signs - on the floor, on the walls, and next to the ticket machines. BART made the campaign takes some of the signs down on Oc. 8. Photo: Marian Mabel
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Any traveler who walked into the Ashby BART station Wednesday night would have been barraged by “No on Measure D” ads. They were plastered on the walls across from the trains, pinned to spaces near the ticket machine, and laid out on the floor of the station.

It’s known as saturation advertising and the No on Measure D campaign is using it across Berkeley to get its message across. There are ads in bus shelters. There are ads on Berkeleyside. There are ads in the Daily Californian and on SF Gate. There are campaign signs pinned to posts and stuck in medians around town.

Get used to it. Newly filed campaign disclosure reports show that the No on Measure D campaign has spent $1.675 million so far trying to defeat a 1-cent-per-ounce tax on sugary beverages, which is about $275,000 more than was previously disclosed. … Continue reading »

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Campaign donations reach record levels in Berkeley; beverage companies donate $1.4M to defeat soda tax

Dustan Batton of Rodriguez Strategies  (left) and Josh Daniels (right) argue the merits of Measure D, a proposed tax on sugary beverages, at an election event on Oct. 6. Batton is a spokesman for the No on D campaign, and Daniels is co-chair of the Yes on D campaign. Photo: Mark Coplan
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The beverage industry in recent days contributed another $600,000 to its fight to defeat Measure D, a proposed tax in Berkeley on sugary beverages, bringing the amount it has given so far to $1.4 million.

The contribution comes on top of $7.7 million the beverage industry has donated to stop a similar soda tax measure on San Francisco’s ballot. The Measure D campaign had already won the distinction of being the most expensive in Berkeley, and the new contribution made Oct. 1 only accentuates that fact. The beverage industry spent more than $2.6 million to defeat a similar tax in Richmond in 2012. … Continue reading »

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What’s the link between a WWII admiral and Berkeley?

Nimitz assumes command of the Pacific Fleet ion the submarine, USS Grayline of Dec. 31, 1941.
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While admiring the view at Inspiration Point in Tilden Park, have you ever wondered  why the nearly path is named after a World War II commander, Chester Nimitz?

Well we have. And lucky for denizens of Berkeley and history buffs, The Berkeley Historical Plaque project has two new entries that explain all. … Continue reading »

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Assembly race: Echols, Thurmond to debate in Berkeley

Screen Shot 2014-10-03 at 5.52.28 PM
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One of the most hotly contested seats in the Nov. 4 election is the race for Assembly District 15. Nancy Skinner, who has held the seat for six years, is termed out of office and is stepping down.

The battle for the vacant seat pits two Democrats against one another – Tony Thurmond, a former member of the Richmond City Council and the West Contra Costa School Board, and Elizabeth Echols. Echols has never held public office but has served under two presidents, including a recent stint as the regional administrator of the Small Business Administration under President Obama. … Continue reading »

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After 3 years of negotiations, Berkeley school district and union reach tentative agreement

Berkeley Council of Classified Employees demonstrated on Friday March 28, 2014 outside BUSD's HQ on Bonar Street. Photo: Ted Friedman
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A fact-finding panel brought in to assist with talks between the Berkeley Unified School District and one of its unions finally led to a contract breakthrough – after three years of negotiations.

The district and the Berkeley Council of Classified Employees, which represents 590 employees, hammered out the details of an agreement on Wednesday. … Continue reading »

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Going blind and deaf will not defeat Rebecca Alexander

Rebecca Alexander writes about losing her sight and hearing in her new book, Not Fade Away: A Memoir of Senses Lost and Found. She is holding her mini goldendoodle, Olive.
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Rebecca Alexander’s world is slowly getting a little darker and quieter.

Every day, she loses a little sight. And a little hearing. But the 35-year-old athlete, spin teacher, therapist and new author refuses to let the shutting down of her senses defeat her.

Alexander suffers from Usher Syndrome type III, a rare genetic disorder that leaves most people deaf and blind by the time they are in their 40s. Alexander, who will be speaking about her new book Not Fade Away at Head Royce School on Monday, Sept. 29, and Books, Inc. on Fourth Street in Berkeley on Tuesday, Sept. 30, now has only about 10% of her vision left. She can see directly in front of her, but has no peripheral vision. It’s like “the end of one of those old Warner Bros. cartoons on TV, where Bugs Bunny sits in the center of the screen waving goodbye as the picture becomes an increasingly smaller hole, until it’s finally gone, leaving only blackness. That’s all, folks,” she writes in the book. … Continue reading »

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A kosher harvest at Covenant Winery in Berkeley

Jeff Morgan, the co-owner and wine maker at Covenant Winery
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Jeff Morgan couldn’t keep his hands off the grapes

The gleaming purple clusters were heaped in crates in the parking lot of Covenant, his new winery in Berkeley. Morgan, a saxophonist and writer turned award-winning winemaker, had just brought the fruit down from Sonoma. As he wrapped the straps that had tied the crates onto the flatbed truck, he kept plucking grapes. A smile spread across his face every time he popped one in his mouth,

“These are really good,” said Morgan, a man with abundant kinetic energy and a laugh to go with it. “I am very excited about these grapes. I have never made wine with them before.”

The Grenache grapes were beautiful. They had only been picked about two or three hours earlier from the 700-acre Kunde Vineyard and they glistened in the sun, plump and juicy and without a hint of shrivel. … Continue reading »

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Beverage companies donate $800K to fight soda tax

The PAC against a soda tax in Berkeley has poured $800,000 into the No on Measure D campaign. Will Berkeley be first? Photo: Mike Mozart
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The political arm of the American Beverage Association donated $500,000 on Sept. 16 to fight a proposed tax on sugary beverages in Berkeley, bringing to $800,000 the amount of money it has poured into the No on Measure D campaign.

The contribution, which appears to be the single largest in Berkeley history, will be used to print materials, mail campaign flyers, send campaign workers door-to-door, and pay for advertisements in newspapers and on websites. (Full disclosure: Berkeleyside has a number of No on D ads on its site, as well as a Yes on D ad.) … Continue reading »

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Events mark 50th anniversary of Free Speech Movement

An iconic image from the Free Speech Movement, which erupted on the Berkeley campus 50 years ago. Photo: UC Berkeley Libraries
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Oct. 1 will mark the 50th anniversary of the Free Speech Movement, a protest that only lasted for three months but set the stage for the turbulent 1960s.

On that day, thousands of UC Berkeley students surrounded a police car parked near Sproul Plaza. A young man named Jack Weinberg was inside. He had been arrested for distributing political material on university grounds despite rules that forbade it.

Many of the students who spontaneously surrounded the police car had been involved – or had been watching – the Civil Rights movement emerge. They were outraged by the injustices of the Jim Crow south. They had protested when the House Un-American Activities Committee held hearings in San Francisco. They had been furious when Clark Kerr, the president of the UC system, had declared that it was illegal to hand out political pamphlets on university grounds. … Continue reading »

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Bicyclist suffers life-threatening injuries after colliding with car at the intersection of Spruce and Eunice

A cyclist was struck by a car Sunday morning at the intersection of Spruce and Eunice. Photo: Larry Kudsk
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A bicyclist pedaling on Spruce near Eunice was seriously injured this morning when the bicyclist and a car collided, according to Berkeley police.

The accident happened at at 8:15 a.m. and the bicyclist suffered life-threatening injuries, according to police. He or she was transported to the hospital.

The Fatal Accident Investigation Team is on the scene. The driver and witnesses are cooperating with investigators. Police have not said which party was at fault in the accident.

The police department is … Continue reading »

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Woman jumps out 3rd story window to escape fire

A woman was injured Sept. 13 when she jumped from a third story window to escape a fire that had broken out at 3144 King St.
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A woman who jumped out of an apartment building to escape a fire Saturday morning suffered serious injuries and was transported to a local trauma center, according to officials.

The Berkeley Fire Department responded to a report of a fire at 3144 King Street, between Woolsey and Fairview streets at 9:01 a.m., according to Deputy Fire Chief Avery Webb. The fire erupted in a hallway outside a bedroom on the third floor and created a lot of black smoke, he said.

Two women were inside the bedroom when the fire started, said Webb. One apparently tried to escape by jumping from the window to a tree, but the branch sje landed on broke and she fell three stories to the ground, said Webb. The other woman was rescued by firefighters. … Continue reading »

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