Author Archives: Lance Knobel

Deal to buy Post Office fizzles; police clear encampment

Tents on the front of the building were not being taken down at lunchtime on Thursday. Photo: Lance Knobel
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The proposal by Berkeley developers Hudson MacDonald to buy the downtown Berkeley Post Office has fallen through after they were unable to reach agreement with the Post Office on a deal.

Meanwhile, police from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service prompted an orderly clearance of parts of the makeshift encampment at Berkeley’s main Post Office Thursday morning. Protesters, who call themselves Berkeley Post Office Defenders, and a homeless advocacy group, First They Came for the Homeless, have been camped around the building for four weeks.

According to a spokesperson for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, officers provided protesters with a list of federal regulations and criminal statutes that prohibit the encampment. No arrests were made.  … Continue reading »

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Cleophus Quealy: A tech start-up approach to beer

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Cleophus Quealy Beer Company has both an unusual name and an origin story that is decidedly different for a craft brewery.

Founders Peter Baker and Dan Watson are software developers who met while working at Google in 2005. A friendship bloomed, and when Baker and Watson were traveling together in Europe, they confirmed a joint love for beer. Five years ago they started brewing together in a garage.

“In some ways we’re trying to follow the tech path of doing a startup and iterating,” Baker explained. “Two years ago we had a showcase event to see if people liked our beer. We wanted to see how people responded to the beer and how we responded to the people.”  … Continue reading »

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Crime

Suspects in Grizzly Peak robbery, kidnapping identified

Moon crescent over Emeryville by Ira Serkes. Photo taken Nov. 23, 2014
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Update, Dec. 17: UCPD spokesman Lt. Eric Tejada said the initial release that went out saying three people had been arrested in this case had been wrong, and has since been corrected. The release posted online now reads that three people were identified in the case Dec. 1.

“This investigation is ongoing, but three suspects have been identified. There is reason to believe that these suspects committed similar additional crimes in the hills above Berkeley & Oakland on the night of Wednesday, November 26th / early morning of Thursday, November 27th (Thanksgiving Day). We are asking for any additional victims or witnesses to please contact the UC Berkeley Police Department or their own local police department to make a report as soon as possible.”

UCPD sends out crime alerts by email, but never sent out a corrected news release.

The department announced Dec. 17 that arrests were made Tuesday. Read more on Berkeleyside.

The headline and story below have now been corrected to reflect the accurate information. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Armed robbery, kidnapping on Grizzly Peak Blvd

The view from Grizzly Peak Boulevard near Signpost 15. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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Three men armed with handguns and a baseball bat kidnapped and robbed a man and a woman at a dirt turn-out along Grizzly Peak Boulevard at 2 a.m. today.

The two victims, a 26-year-old woman and a 23-year-old man, were sitting in their car looking out toward the bay. Three suspects, two armed with handguns and one with a baseball bat, approached them and demanded money. The victims had no money on them, so one suspect entered their car and demanded that they drive to an ATM. The other suspects followed in their car.

At the ATM, the victims provided the suspects with the money and the suspects left the area. There were no injuries during the encounter. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley composer John Adams’ opera ‘The Death of Klinghoffer’ opens to protests in New York

People, some in wheelchairs, gather at Lincoln Center, with the Metropolitan Opera House in the background, as they protest "Death of Klinghoffer" Monday, Oct 20, 2014, in New York. The protest centered around the opera at the Metropolitan Opera that they call anti-Semitic. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
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Last night’s performance of Berkeley-based composer John Adams’ The Death of Klinghoffer at the Metropolitan Opera in New York wasn’t a typical opera opening. Protesters, many in wheelchairs, lined Columbus Avenue in front of Lincoln Center, and police were stationed inside and outside the opera house.

The New York Times reported that “a roar of cheers” greeted Adams when he took the stage at the end of the opera. Despite fears of disruption, only two small incidents marred the performance. One man who shouted, “The death of Klinghoffer will never be forgiven,” was escorted out of the opera house and arrested for disorderly conduct.

Adams’ opera has been acclaimed by critics since its debut in 1991 as a modern masterpiece. But since then, it has also attracted vehement criticism from some groups because of what they see as a glorification of terrorism. The opera is based on the hijacking of the Achille Lauro cruise ship in 1985 by members of the Palestinian Liberation Front. Leon Klinghoffer, a wheelchair-bound American Jewish passenger, was killed by the hijackers. … Continue reading »

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Politics

Berkeleyside does not endorse candidates, measures

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From our founding five years ago, we’ve had a consistent policy on Berkeleyside of not endorsing election candidates or taking sides on local measures. We are sticking to that principle.

We do this because we’re deeply committed to providing even-handed reporting on issues and candidates. We think our journalism benefits from our determination to be unbiased.

At a bigger news organization, it’s possible to have a well-constructed separation between reporting and opinion. On a small team like Berkeleyside, that’s just not possible, so the fairness of our reporting would inevitably — and rightly — be questioned. (We do welcome opinions, however. Check out our Opinionator section for a torrent of views on the 2014 election.)

We also trust our readers. We’re confident that if we report the news in as straightforward a fashion as we can manage, we will give you the tools to make your own minds up. Why should our opinion be privileged in some special way? … Continue reading »

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Scholarships for Uncharted: The Berkeley Festival of Ideas

A coffee break at Uncharted 2013, which, like the 2014 festival, will be held at Berkeley Rep and the Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse. Photo:
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In two weeks, on Friday Oct. 24 and Saturday Oct. 25, the second edition of Uncharted: The Berkeley Festival of Ideas, will throw open its doors in downtown Berkeley. It’s going to be a an extraordinary two days of conversations on food, technology, arts, innovation, society, environment, politics, and much, much more.

Berkeleyside is producing Uncharted and is committed to having an engaged, active group of participants attend — people like our readers who are curious, opinionated, and hungry for knowledge and new ways of thinking. That is why we are offering a limited number of scholarships to ensure the diversity of the audience.

Scholarships are intended for people who can contribute substantively to the discussions during Uncharted, but would otherwise be unable to attend. … Continue reading »

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Local business

Berkeley stealth start-up seeks unsigned musical talent

David Hyman
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David Hyman is that rare thing: a successful serial entrepreneur who is committed to Berkeley. And he wants people to audition for his new start-up.

Hyman was CEO of founded music database company Gracenote in Berkeley in the ’90s before going on to found streaming music service MOG in 2005 — in Berkeley again. MOG was bought by Beats Electronics in 2012 and moved to Southern California (Beats, in turn was bought by Apple in August this year). Now, Hyman has returned to Berkeley intent on making a success of another music start-up, Chosen.

But don’t expect to follow that link to find out anything about Chosen. It’s currently in stealth mode. There’s a small team in west Berkeley and a team of developers in Israel.

Here’s all Hyman will say: “Chosen is a new online performance platform geared towards unsigned talent and is aiming to change the way people interact and engage with music and video content.” … Continue reading »

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Cal prof Joshua Bloom makes earthquake alert kit for $110

Joshua Bloom's homemade earthquake early warning alarm, in a Gregoire box. Photo: Joshua Bloom
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When the Napa earthquake struck on Aug. 24, Joshua Bloom had a 5-second warning.

That’s because the UC Berkeley astronomy professor likes to tinker.

It was when Bloom was a beta tester in the prototype ShakeAlert system being developed by a consortium of seismological researchers (including UC Berkeley), that he came up with an idea.

“I thought it was silly that every time I closed my laptop, I couldn’t get a warning,” he said.

So Bloom cobbled together his own earthquake alarm for just over $100, using a Raspberry Pi single-board computer ($36.39), a wired speaker ($14.99), a mini-WiFi adapter ($6.71), and SD card.

To house it, he uses a box from Grégoire, the local restaurant group known for its crispy potato puffs. And he keeps the device in the living room of his North Berkeley home, next to the fireplace.

ShakeAlert triggered a 10-second early warning alert for the Magnitude 6 Napa quake last month. Bloom’s device provided a five-second warning. (Bloom details how it worked on his blog.)

Meet Joshua Bloom at Uncharted on Oct. 24-25. Get your early-bird tickets now!

For Bloom, this is tinkering with a definite purpose. He sees his demonstration project as validation that Californians could have an earthquake alarm in every home for about the same price as smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms. And he hopes it adds pressure to the legislature to fund the $80 million it will take to roll out the ShakeAlert network beyond its few privileged early testers. … Continue reading »

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Government

The Lowdown: Berkeley council on ballot measures, downtown post office, FY2015 budget

Downtown Berkeley, May 2014. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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On June 24, the Berkeley City Council is considering a raft of November ballot measures, discussing a preservation covenant for the Main Berkeley Post Office, and voting on adoption of the fiscal year 2015 budget.

On the action calendar

The council has spent several meetings debating how to fund much-needed maintenance for Berkeley’s parks. Polling commissioned by the City Council indicated that the two-thirds vote required for bond measures would be a difficult hurdle for a parks proposal. But at the May 20 meeting, the council agreed to move forward with a 16% hike in the parks special tax and create a Mello-Roos district for continued funding of parks operations. The council is scheduled to vote to place both measures on the ballot at tonight’s meeting. There will be a public hearing on the Mello-Roos district.  … Continue reading »

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Glenchur named Berkeley High interim principal

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Kristin Glenchur, vice principal at Berkeley High for the last six years, has been appointed interim principal of BHS for the 2014-15 school year by the BUSD superintendent and board.

Glenchur’s appointment comes after a brief search for a replacement for Pasquale Scuderi, who was appointed assistant superintendent for educational services for Berkeley Unified at the start of May. When the Scuderi appointment was announced, superintendent Donald Evans said he expected to hire a new principal by the end of May.

“There wasn’t a sufficient number of applicants,” said Mark Coplan, spokesman for BUSD.

Coplan said the school district would advertise the position and seek applicants from across the country next year. … Continue reading »

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News

7 Berkeley stories you won’t want to miss

Overflowing trash near Prospect St. Photo: Jasper Burget
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1. Building begins on site of Sequoia Apts fire on Telegraph
2. Once in a lifetime chance to see plant bloom in Berkeley
3. Photos: Departing Cal students leave debris piles behind
4. Berkeley officials hold off on minimum wage task force
5. Surveillance camera registry a possibility for police
6. Authorities uncover drug operation on Oregon Street
7. Potential Walgreens suit brews as Berkeley officials tackle new drugstore … Continue reading »

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East Bay’s Lush Gelato set to open in San Francisco

Lush Gelato in Berkeley's Gourmet Ghetto. Lush plans to expand to San Francisco's Nob Hill with a combined ice cream store and open kitchen.
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Lush Gelato, which was founded in the East Bay five years ago, is planning to expand to San Francisco.

Co-owner and gelato maker Federico Murtagh has launched a Kickstarter campaign to open a new ‘farm-to-cone’ store at1817 Polk Street in Nob Hill, where he’ll also have a demonstration kitchen.

“We want to show off how we make our gelato,” Murtagh said. “Most ice cream makers you know buy the mixture pre-made, then they flavor it and then they sell it. We make everything from scratch. We want to show all that process.”
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