Author Archives: Frances Dinkelspiel

Berkeley to kill squirrels, gophers to protect bay

A ground squirrel at Cesar Chavez Park. Photo: Bill Williams/Creative Commons
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In Berkeley, squirrels are in the cross fire.

In an attempt to make sure no toxins leak out of the old landfill under Cesar Chavez Park and leach into San Francisco Bay, Berkeley is hiring a pest control company to trap and kill hundreds of squirrels and gophers that make their home there.

It seems that when the squirrels and gophers do what comes naturally—digging holes or tunneling in the ground—they are getting perilously close to the clay cap that covers the landfill. If the rodents penetrate that barrier, dangerous toxins like gasoline, lead, iron, herbicides and pesticides, could leach into the bay. So the city needs to reduce the animal population to lessen the risk, according to city spokesman Matthai Chakko. … Continue reading »

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Best of Berkeleyside: This week’s most popular posts

Eucalyptus grove on the Nimitz Trail. Photo: Colleen Neff

Eucalyptus grove on the Nimitz Trail. Photo: Colleen Neff

The week opened with a welcome site: a celebration of all the rain that fell over the Bay Area during a recent storm. Readers sent us pictures of raging creeks, flooded backyards, drops of rain on flowers, and people picking their way gingerly through puddles.

The most controversial and talked about story by far was the City Council’s tentative first steps to put a tax on sugary beverages on the ballot. The council agreed to include a question about the tax in a forthcoming poll to determine which bond measures might go on the ballot. Readers weighed in with 178 comments.

City officials are also trying to decide whether to include a bond measure to reopen Willard Pool. If they do, it will be the third such measure.

Two lawsuits – one pending, one resolved, also sparked a lively discussion.

If you value the kind of coverage we provide you every week please support Berkeleyside. It will only cost you pennies a day but will help ensure the site endures. 

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Berkeley slapped with lawsuit over Kayla Moore’s death

Kayla Moore, from Facebook
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Berkeley police used excessive force when attempting to arrest Kayla Moore and declined to give her mouth-to-mouth resuscitation when she stopped breathing because they considered her transgender status as something objectionable, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court Wednesday.

At least one Berkeley Police officer who responded to reports of a disturbance at Moore’s apartment at the Gaia Building on Allston Way on Feb. 13, 2013, referred to Moore as “it,” according to the lawsuit. … Continue reading »

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Lawsuit yields money for historic preservation in Berkeley

Concerned Library Users did not want Berkeley to tear down the old South Branch because they and others considered it historically significant.
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Berkeley residents may soon see the fruits of a legal settlement between the city and a group that sued over plans to tear down and rebuild two branch libraries.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation announced Wednesday that it will award $87,000 in grant money to historic places in South and West Berkeley. The money can be used for maintenance, physical improvements, and preservation of historic properties.

The Trust is encouraging “properties with a clear public benefit that are open to the public on at least a part-time basis,” to apply online by May 15 for grants ranging from $10,000 to $25,000. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Authors’ Dinner honors writers and library staff

Tables await patrons. Photo: Richard Friedman
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Berkeley, a literary city if there ever was one, celebrated local authors, readers and the renovation of its branch libraries Saturday night at the 12th annual Authors’ Dinner.

The Central Branch of the Berkeley Public Library was transformed for the evening into an elegant dining room, complete with fancy stemware, plates, and glasses, and table centerpieces that incorporated books and the printed page.

The staff of the Berkeley Public Library, which just came out of a four-year renovation campaign of the four branch libraries, was awarded the Fred and Pat Cody award, which honors individuals and institutions that embody the spirit of the long-time Berkeley couple who founded Cody’s books. In the last ten years the award has gone to individuals , organizations and bookstores that have enhanced Berkeley’s literary environment. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley to celebrate Valentine’s Day with mass wedding

Photo: marie-11/Creative Commons
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Forget a mere box of chocolates or a bouquet of red roses or a pretty pink heart. The Downtown Berkeley Association has much bigger plans for Valentine’s Day.

To celebrate love, and the first Valentine’s Day since the repeal of Defense of Marriage Act and the overturn of Proposition 8, Berkeley will be holding a mass outdoor wedding for gay, straight and other couples on Friday. Everyone who decides to say “I Do,” at the 5:00 p.m. celebration near Berkeley BART also gets the chance to win an instant mini-honeymoon in downtown Berkeley.

“What better way to celebrate the first Valentine’s Day since the repeal of DOMA and Prop 8 than a mass wedding for all?” said John Caner, the CEO of the Downtown Berkeley Association. “Our merchants were thrilled to donate mini honeymoon packages for three lucky couples.” … Continue reading »

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First Berkeley Black History Celebration on Saturday

Akayaa Atule will perform at the Berkeley Black History Celebration. Photo: Elizabeth Heath
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The organizers who have been putting on Berkeley’s Juneteenth celebration for the last 27 years are expanding and will produce the first annual Berkeley Black History Celebration at a seven-hour free event on Saturday.

The theme of the Feb. 8 celebration is “Harambee: Community Pulling Together,” and will feature everything from music, historical exhibits, a short film, good food, games, and an award ceremony, according to Gerald Baptiste, Jr, the chair of the event.  … Continue reading »

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Berkeley turns out to honor Pete Seeger at concert

At the end of the concert, Ronnie Gilbert, Holly Near, Country Joe McDonald and others sand "Goodnight Irene." Photo: Colleen Neff
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Hundreds of people waited hours in line Monday night to get into the Freight & Salvage for a free, all-star tribute to Pete Seeger, who died Jan. 27.

The singers who crowded on stage included Ronnie Gilbert, who formed The Weavers with Seeger in 1948, Holly Near, Barbara Dane, Johnny Harper, Country Joe McDonald, Wavy Gravy, Vicki Randle, Lichi Fuentes, Fernando Feña Torres, Joel Rafael, Evie Ladin, Keith Terry, Erik Pearson, Gerry Tenney, Bill Amanteek, Robin Flower, Barbara Higbie, Shelley Doty, Roy Zimmerman, and Blame Sally. There were so many of them on stage at the same time that their guitar and banjo necks touched. … Continue reading »

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Long-time Berkeley progressives back referendum drive

City council members Kriss Worthington, Jesse Arreguin and members the Berkeley Referendum Campaign turn in signatures to the city clerk’s office on Jan 21. Photo: Anthony Sanchez
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The group that collected 7,896 signatures to force a City Council redistricting plan onto the ballot spent more than $5,000 on paid signature gatherers in January, but only raised $2,790, according to a campaign disclosure report filed with the city.

The single largest contributor to the campaign was Michael O’Malley who co-owns The Daily Planet with his wife Becky. The O’Malleys are a politically progressive couple who are often critical of Mayor Tom Bates and his more moderate allies on the council. Michael O’Malley contributed $1,000 to the referendum effort. … Continue reading »

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Fairmont hotel group in talks to buy Claremont Hotel

The Claremont Hotel & Resort has been purchased by the  Fairmont hotel group and Richard Blum, the husband of Senator Dianne Feinstein Photo: Paula Steele
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Update 1/29: The general manager of the Claremont Resort sent out the following email Tuesday night confirming that a sale of the hotel is in progress:

“The Claremont’s owner has entered into a Purchase and Sale Agreement with FRHI (The Fairmont/Raffles Hotels International group) and their Capital Partners.  It is expected that FRHI will complete the transaction on/about February 27, 2014.  The Claremont will become a Fairmont managed property at that time.”

Sincerely, Bruce Carlton
General Manager

Original story: A hotel chain that owns the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco and many luxury resorts around the world will acquire the Claremont Hotel and Spa, according to internal Claremont Hotel communications and numerous employees.

FRHI Hotels and Resorts, a Toronto, Canada based chain owned by investors in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, will take complete possession of the resort by Feb. 28, according to the memo, which was obtained by Berkeleyside. FRHI (Fairmont Raffles Hotels International) also owns the Raffles chain, (the Raffles in Singapore is considered its flagship hotel) and the Swiss hotel chain, Swissôtel. … Continue reading »

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Redistricting opponents secure signatures to force vote

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Opponents of a redistricting plan adopted by the City Council in December turned in 7,876 signatures to the City Clerk’s office on Tuesday that they hope will lead to a redrawing of District 7 boundaries.

Despite the fact that UC Berkeley students, who would be most affected by the changes, were on vacation during the 30 days opponents had to collect signatures, the Berkeley Referendum Campaign gathered more than the 5,275 necessary to reconsider the map, according to City Councilman Kriss Worthington. He led the drive along with City Councilman Jesse Arreguin. That response shows just how disenfranchised many Berkeley residents felt by the new redistricting lines, he said.

“Many progressives saw it (the redistricting plan adopted by the council) as classic gerrymandering for the advantage of a moderate candidate,” said Worthington. … Continue reading »

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Tech company after burglary: Do you know this man?

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Berkeley police are investigating the theft of four laptop computers on Monday from Tech Soft 3D at 931 Ashby Avenue near Seventh Street.

Police responded within 10 minutes to an alarm that went off around 6:47 a.m. on Jan. 20, but did not see any signs of forced entry, according to Officer Jennifer Coats, a spokesperson for the department. Around 10:17 a.m. an employee of the company called to say four computers were missing, said Coats.

Footage from Tech Soft’s security camera revealed these photos of an unidentified man in the company’s offices around the time the burglar alarm went off, according to Eric Smith, a senior network administrator. The company has shown them to the police, said Coats. (It looks like the time stamp for the camera was not readjusted to reflect the shift from Daylight Savings to Standard time.) … Continue reading »

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Best of Berkeleyside: This week’s most popular posts

Bill Gaebler, BHS swimming and water polo coach, stands next to the freshmen girl's water polo team at a meet. Photo: Marilee Enge

Bill Gaebler, BHS swimming and water polo coach, stands next to the freshmen girl’s water polo team at a meet. Photo: Marilee Enge

This was another newsy week with stories about a serious issue with the Berkeley High pool, somber revelations about a spate of killings across Berkeley and Oakland, and news that Berkeley confiscated and threw away the possessions of eight homeless people.

Berkeleyside broke the news in September that the city’s Health Department shut the Berkeley High School pool because of a chemical imbalance — the second time the pool had been shuttered in two years. Student swimmers and water polo players lost body hair and felt irritation to their eyes because of an out-of -whack pH balance. Berkeleyside filed a Public Records Request with the Berkeley Unified School District and discovered a long history of problems and lax maintenance. Now the district plans to take responsibility of the pool away from the high school. … Continue reading »

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