Author Archives: Frances Dinkelspiel

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

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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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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

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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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