Author Archives: Frances Dinkelspiel

District 8 race a toss-up, Barry says he is still fighting for District 7, other council races settled

Sean Barry and Kriss Worthington campaigning at Cafe Med. Photo- Ted Friedman
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Nov. 9, 5:10 p.m. After several days in second place, Lori Droste has pulled into the lead in Berkeley’s Council District 8. She has 1,995 votes, compared to George Beier’s 1,983. Read more.

Original story, Nov. 5 While residents of District 8 may not know for days whether George Beier or Lori Droste will represent them on the Berkeley City Council, the results in two other districts are more clear-cut. But in District 7, where Councilman Kriss Worthington has the lead, his challenger Sean Barry is not willing to concede the race yet.

Jesse Arreguín won handily in District 4, as he ran unopposed.

See the latest figures in Berkeleyside’s election 2014 live blog.

Linda Maio won re-election in District 1, an area she has represented for 22 years. She garnered 55.35% of the vote (1,779 votes so far) while Alejandro Soto-Vigil got 39.98% of the vote (1,285 votes). A third candidate, Merrilie Mitchell, got 4.67% of the votes (about 150 votes).

Maio, who, before Soto-Vigil, had not faced a serious challenger since she first ran for office, said she spent a lot of time walking her district. When she spoke to people she emphasized Measure D, the proposed soda tax, and left literature behind that described her accomplishments, she said.

Soto-Vigil made the environment a centerpiece of his campaign, arguing that Maio had not done enough to address the issues surrounding air quality in the district’s asphalt plant, among other things. … Continue reading »

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Why Berkeley passed a soda tax while other cities failed

Berkeley vs Big soda rally outside City Hall in July
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The city of Berkeley was basking in glory Wednesday over its passage of the nation’s first soda tax, an accomplishment that the beverage industry dismissed as just a whacky — and inconsequential — victory.

Although the soda industry was quick to release a press statement Tuesday night after San Francisco’s defeat of a 2-cent-an-ounce tax on soda, it took them hours to respond to the win in Berkeley, where voters passed Measure D with 75% of the vote. … Continue reading »

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Bill Maher responds to critics; he is coming to Berkeley

More than 2,500 people have singed a petition protesting Bill Maher's appearance at Cal's December commencement. Photo: Bill Maher
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Bill Maher addressed the controversy surrounding his speech at Cal’s December commencement on his show, Real Time with Bill Maher.

Maher said on Friday he had been pleased to be invited to speak. After all, he loves Berkeley and he wasn’t busy in December.

He also said that accusations of him being racist couldn’t be true, because Islam is not a race. … Continue reading »

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A record $3.6 million spent in Berkeley campaigns

During Sunday Streets, the Yes on Measure R and the No on Measure R campaigns crossed paths. The race over the future of Berkeley's downtown has drawn record donations from developers. Photo: Franes Dinkelspiel
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2014 will go down in history as the most expensive election ever held in Berkeley, with around $3.6 million spent on two ballot items alone.

The two items — Measure D, which would levy a 1-cent-per-ounce tax on sugary drinks, and Measure R, which would substantially strengthen the environmental requirements for tall buildings in downtown Berkeley (and which critics contend would kill new construction)  — drew campaign donations from all over the country. The race to replace Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner also attracted huge outside donations. … Continue reading »

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UC Berkeley Chancellor: Bill Maher must speak

More than 2,500 people have singed a petition protesting Bill Maher's appearance at Cal's December commencement. Photo: Bill Maher
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Hours after a student group uninvited Bill Maher to speak at UC Berkeley’s December commencement, Chancellor Nicholas B. Dirks invited him back, citing his constitutionally protected right to free speech.

“The UC Berkeley administration cannot and will not accept this decision, which appears to have been based solely on Mr. Maher’s opinions and beliefs, which he conveyed through constitutionally protected speech,” the university said in a prepared statement. Continue reading »

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Crime

Man killed near Seabreeze market in West Berkeley

The killing took place in the parking lot of Seabreeze Market
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Update: Oct. 31: East Bay Regional Park District police identified the man shot and killed Tuesday night as 21-year-old Damarco J. Thomas of Stockton.

Investigators are looking for information on cars that might have been on the scene of the Tuesday shooting, according to a press release. They want information on a white Ford or Chevy style pick-up truck, extended cab, possibly a side step model. Investigators are also looking for a man spotted in the vicinity, described as a heavyset black male in his late 20s to early 30s.

Update Oct. 30: Sgt. Tyrone Davis of the EBRPD police said that video taken at the scene indicated the victim knew his assailants. “It appeared based on the interaction that prior to the event they knew each other.” Davis said it looked like there were three people at the scene at the time of the shooting. The victim was shot multiple times. Police have not yet released his name.

Original story: A man in his 20s was shot and killed Tuesday night in the parking lot of a market near the Berkeley Marina, according to East Bay Regional Park District police.

Berkeley police received a call around 8 p.m, that there had been some sort of disturbance at the Seabreeze Market, which is located at the corner of University Avenue and West Frontage Road. They arrived to find a man, whose identity was not released, lying on the ground. EBRPD police arrived as well. … Continue reading »

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More than 2,500 protest Bill Maher’s speech at Cal

More than 2,500 people have singed a petition protesting Bill Maher's appearance at Cal's December commencement. Photo: Bill Maher
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Update: Oct. 30. The Chancellor has determined Maher will speak. See our update here.

The selection of TV host Bill Maher to deliver a December commencement address at UC Berkeley has come under fire from people who believe his views on Islam are racist.

More than 2,500 people have signed a petition on Change.org asking that the university withdraw its offer. The petition also suggests people boycott the address, now scheduled for Dec. 20 at 3 p.m. in Haas Pavilion. … Continue reading »

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Michael Bloomberg has now spent $370K in support of Measure D; other Berkeley election news

A still from the Yes on Measure D ad paid for by Michael R Bloomberg. It ran during the 4th game of the World Series
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Michael R. Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City, contributed another $285,000 in support of the Yes on Measure D campaign in the last few days, bringing his total contribution to $370,000. More may be coming, according to Howard Wolfson, his senior aide.

All you need to know about the elections is at Berkeleyside’s Election Hub.

Bloomberg paid $200,000 for television ads, including one that aired during the fourth game of the World Series, according to Wolfson. (Campaign finance statements had not been filed as of press time). A second ad will run on Berkeley cable television through the election, he said. Bloomberg also gave a second $85,000 directly to the Yes on Measure D campaign. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley city attorney: Main post office may have sold

Post Office by Darius Wekwerth
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The Berkeley city attorney has informed the City Council he believes someone has purchased the downtown U.S. post office at 2000 Allston Way, and that it is time for Berkeley to file a lawsuit against the U.S. Postal Service to stop the sale.

A letter to that effect was leaked to the Berkeley Daily Planet, which published it on Thursday.

Zach Cowan, Berkeley’s city attorney, told Berkeleyside he could not share the letter he sent to council since it was privileged attorney-client communication. But Cowan said the version on the Planet website was accurate.

“It is my conclusion that at a minimum a buyer has been chosen, and that it is likely that there is at least a letter of understanding in place, if not a contract and perhaps an open escrow,” Cowan wrote to council, according to the Daily Planet.Continue reading »

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Berkeley ballot snafu, more money in for 2014 election

Alameda County officials are mailing out postcards to alert voters that the date of the election printed on mail-in ballots is wrong. It reads Nov. 5, 2014, when it should read Nov. 4, 2014. Photo: KQED
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The Alameda County Registrar of Voters has sent out 27,000 postcards to Berkeley voters informing them that the date of the election printed on their mail-in ballots is wrong. The date reads Nov. 5, when of course the actual date is Nov. 4.

“This is an unfortunate error on some vote-by-mail envelopes sent to voters in Berkeley, and we deeply regret any confusion this may be causing,” Alameda County Registrar of Voters Tim Dupuis said in a press release.

Read all you need to know about local elections on our Election Hub page

A printer used by Alameda County and other California counties has accepted responsibility for the error, said Dupuis. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley author Elizabeth Rosner’s “Electric City” is a lyrical coming-of-age story

Screen shot 2014-10-21 at 5.11.46 PM
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When Elizabeth Rosner was growing up near Schenectady New York, a company town dominated by the General Electric Corporation, she couldn’t wait to leave. Her parents, who were Holocaust survivors, had moved there after the end of the war and did not mind the provincial atmosphere. But Rosner found the town confining.

When Rosner was 16, she won a scholarship to study in the Philippines. “I got as far away from home as I could without leaving the planet,” she likes to say. She never really went back. She graduated from Stanford and moved to Berkeley in 1986.

See Elizabeth Rosner at Pegasus bookstore, 1855 Solano Ave., tonight at 7:30 p.m.

Rosner’s first two highly acclaimed, award-winning novels, The Speed of Light and Blue Nude, were set in Northern California. She didn’t think she had anything to say about Schenectady. … Continue reading »

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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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