Author Archives: Lance Knobel

Council passes minimum wage law for $15 in 2018

A Friday morning special council meeting with low attendance. Photo: Lance Knobel
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Berkeley City Council unanimously approved a new law Friday that will see the city’s minimum wage increase to $15 in 2018.

The vote came during an unusual Friday morning special session of the council, after weeks of negotiation to resolve a battle between two competing minimum wage ballot measures. One of those, the council-approved Measure BB, would reach $15 by 2019; the other, labor-supported Measure CC, would reach $15 in 2017.

Read more about the minimum wage on Berkeleyside.

“This is a consensus document,” said Councilman Laurie Capitelli, who said it involved 40 or 50 hours of meetings over the last few weeks. “I don’t consider it a compromise document.”

The new law will make Berkeley one of the first jurisdictions in the country to reach a $15 an hour minimum wage. San Francisco will reach the $15 mark on July 1, 2018. Berkeley’s $15 wage starts on October 1, 2018. … Continue reading »

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Council plans special meeting on minimum wage (again)

Berkeley City Council, Jan. 27, 2015. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Remember the special Berkeley City Council meeting on the minimum wage that didn’t happen?

On Aug. 10, the City Council hurriedly announced a special meeting for the following day. The two often-divided wings of the council had seemingly agreed wording for a new, accelerated raise in the minimum wage that would remove the need for dueling ballot measures in November. But in the 24 hours between announcing and holding the meeting, the council failed to summon a quorum. Only council members Kriss Worthington, Jesse Arreguín and Darryl Moore showed up.

The council is trying again, with a special meeting called for the unusual time of 11:30 a.m. Friday, Aug. 26, in the council chambers in Old City Hall. In this second effort, four council members — Laurie Capitelli, Lori Droste, Linda Maio and Susan Wengraf — have jointly submitted a new ordinance that would raise the city’s minimum wage to $15 on Oct. 1, 2018, one year earlier than the council-approved ballot measure and one year later than the union-supported measure.  … Continue reading »

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Events

The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

Herding the Lanterns
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GILMAN ART WALK Four participating studios and seven local businesses are collaborating for the Gilman Art Walk on Saturday afternoon. The four studios — Firehouse Art Collective Gilman Studios, Firehouse Art Collective Toki Building, Potters’ Studio and Makers Workspace — will open their doors for visitors to talk to artists and browse new works. The seven businesses — Whole Foods Markets, Philz Coffee, Doughnut Dolly, T-Rex Restaurant and Bar, Stella’s Studio, Eastern Classics and Farm Burger — will display artworks by artists from Gilman District art studios. The free art walk will run from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday, August 6 in the Gilman District, centered around the intersection of Gilman and Tenth Street.  … Continue reading »

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Events

The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

Let's go fly kites by Daniel Parks. Taken at the 2014 Berkeley Kite Festival
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KITE FESTIVAL If you’ve never been to the Berkeley Kite Festival, you’ll goggle at the Octopile and cheer at the rokkaku battles. If you’ve been before, you know that the festival provides sights and experiences for the whole family, powered by the steady winds across the Bay. You’ll see aerial competitions from the Bay Area Sport Kite League, traditional kites from the Sode-cho Kite-Flying Society of Hamamatsu, Japan, and (get ready kids) candy drops. In addition to all the activity in the air, the festival includes a kids’ zone with pony rides, a petting zoo, sumo soccer balls, and plenty of bouncy houses. The free festival runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, July 30-31, Cesar Chavez Park at Berkeley Marina. Parking is $15 at the marina or at Golden Gate Fields. Free shuttles from both areas. Free bicycle parking.  … Continue reading »

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UC Berkeley

UC Berkeley student confirmed dead in Nice terror attack

UC Berkeley student Nicholas Leslie, who was killed in the Bastille Day attack in Nice. Photo: Facebook
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Nicolas Leslie, a 20-year-old UC Berkeley student who had been in Nice in a study abroad program, has been identified as among the 84 people killed in Thursday’s Bastille Day attack. His death was reported to campus officials by the FBI, which was notified by French officials earlier today.

“This is tragic, devastating news,” said UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks in a UC Berkeley news release. “All of us in the UC Berkeley family — both here on campus, and around the world — are heartbroken to learn that another promising young student has been lost to senseless violence. I join Nick’s parents, friends and the entire campus community in condemning this horrific attack, and in mourning the loss of one of our own.”

Leslie’s death comes less than two weeks after the death of 18-year-old Berkeley student Tarishi Jain in a terrorist attack in Bangladesh.

Three other Berkeley students were injured in the Nice attack. 23-year-old Vladyslav Kostiuk and 20-year-old Diane Huang have been released after medical treatment. 21-year-old Daryus Medora, whose leg was broken, remains in the hospital.

Leslie was reported missing on Friday, following the attack by a man who drove a truck through crowds who had gathered to watch Bastille Day fireworks.  … Continue reading »

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The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

BAZP
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BLOCK PARTY William Byron Rumford was the first African American elected to state public office in northern California and he authored legislation banning discrimination in employment and housing. On Sunday, July 17, Rumford will be celebrated with a block party on Sacramento Street, between Ashby and Julia. At 3 p.m., a sculpture memorializing Rumford will be unveiled. In addition, there will be music, a barbecue, kids’ zone, presentations on neighborhood history, and two screenings of a documentary on Rumford. Sunday, July 17, noon to 5 p.m. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley council denies landmark status for The Village

The Village. Photo: Emily Dugdale
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The Berkeley City Council on Tuesday, June 14, rejected an appeal to landmark The Village, the eccentric collection of restaurants and small businesses at 2556 Telegraph Ave. A seven-story mixed-use project is planned for the site. In January, the Landmarks Preservation Commission had denied landmark designation to the two-story The Village, which dated in its current form to 1972.

Public comment on the appeal at the council meeting elicited extreme reactions on both sides.

“It’s a bit of a dump,” said John Caner, CEO, Downtown Berkeley Association, speaking in a personal capacity.

“This is a site and a place of high significance,” said John Mink, one of the appellants on the appeal. “This is a very important cultural, architectural, historic and educational landmark in Berkeley.”  … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Council approves alternative minimum wage measure for ballot

Many Berkeley business owners say they are still concerned about whether they would be able to survive a new minimum wage plan under consideration by the city. Photo: Postcard PR
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After a heated debate, the Berkeley City Council voted 6-3 Tuesday night to place a measure on the November ballot that would raise the minimum wage to $15 in 2019. A citizens’ ballot initiative that would raise the minimum wage to $15 next year will also be on the ballot.

“What we’re proposing is a progressive and aggressive approach to getting to $15,” said Councilman Laurie Capitelli. “It gets us to $15 four years ahead of the SEIU state proposal.”

Councilman Jesse Arreguín scoffed at Capitelli’s description of the measure as “progressive,” saying that Berkeley had lagged behind neighboring cities on the minimum wage. That’s what had driven citizen groups to launch their initiative, he said.

“They didn’t have faith in this council majority to do the right thing,” Arreguín said. “The fact that we’ve got to the point of two competing measures on the ballot is a real failure of leadership by this council.”

The citizen initiative raises the minimum wage to $15 next year, and then increases it annually by CPI plus 3% until it reaches $16.37 in 2016 dollars (after that, increases are by CPI). It also mandates a minimum 72 hours of paid sick leave each year. It was organized by a coalition of unions, politicians and community activists, under the banner Berkeley for Working Families. The council measure is more gradual in its increases and mandates 48 hours of paid sick leave.  … Continue reading »

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The Lowdown: Berkeley council on minimum wage, housing, small business, more

Photo by Melati Citrawireja
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After three months at the Berkeley Unified school board chambers, Berkeley City Council is returning to the seismically unsafe, dilapidated (but externally photogenic) Old City Hall. Before the regular Berkeley City Council meeting at 7 p.m. tonight, there is a brief special meeting of the Joint Powers Financing Authority at 6:45 p.m. to approve the issuance of up to $40 million in parking revenue bonds to finance the new Center Street garage. Then, at the regular 7 p.m. meeting, items include two rival minimum wage/sick leave ballot measures, support for the Berkeley Housing Authority, a small business development package, and a ballot measure to allow 16-year-olds to vote in school board elections. Scroll down to see how to follow live meeting coverage and participate from afar.  … Continue reading »

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The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

'Time to Choose,' a new documentary from Charles Ferguson, opens at the California Theatre on Friday
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TIME TO CHOOSE Berkeley-based director Charles Ferguson’s new documentary, Time to Choose, opens at the Landmark California Theatre on Friday night. Ferguson and a number of other figures involved in the film will be at the 7:05 p.m. showing on Friday. Time to Choose explores the full scope of the climate change crisis and examines the power of solutions already available. Among the experts and climate activists featured in the film are Berkeleyans Michael Pollan and Peter Calthorpe, as well as former Berkeleyan Steve Chu. Ferguson’s Inside Job won the Oscar for best documentary. California Theatre, 2113 Kittredge St.  … Continue reading »

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Second Bay Area Book Festival fills downtown Berkeley with literati, kids’ events, ideas

The Lacuna installation at the Bay Area Book Festival. Photo: Nancy Rubin
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The second Bay Area Book Festival took over downtown Berkeley on Saturday, June 4 and Sunday, June 5. Tens of thousands of book lovers filled 11 different venues, as well as the open-air kids’ stage, the Lacuna book installation in Civic Center Park, and scores of publisher booths.

According to festival founder and organizer Cherilyn Parsons, nearly 10,000 tickets were issued, which guaranteed seats at events, and thousands more participants were “walk ins” for the free sessions with authors.

“What really stands out this year was the excellent literary quality of the festival,” Parsons said. She also cited the popularity of the kids’ stage, the literary-themed movies at the Pacific Film Archive, and the international authors.  … Continue reading »

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The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

People enjoy Lacuna at the first Bay Area Book Festival in 2015. Photo: Ned Fielden
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BAY AREA BOOK FESTIVAL The second annual Bay Area Book Festival will take over downtown Berkeley on Saturday and Sunday with hundreds of author talks, panel discussions, book signings and literary kids’ events. Everyone will have their favorites, but among the highlights: Jonathan Lethem, Jacqueline Winspear, Tanya Holland, Sherman Alexie and two-time Pulitzer winner (and Berkeley resident) T. J. Stiles. All sessions — even those shown as sold out on the festival site — will have free seats available for those willing to stand on line. Plus there’s the Lacuna installation with 50,000 free books. Saturday, June 4 and Sunday June 5, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., throughout downtown Berkeley.  … Continue reading »

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Disability rights protest condemns film as ‘snuff movie’

Disability rights protestors at the Shattuck Cinemas on Thursday evening. Photo: Melanie Hoffman
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Around 30 disability rights activists demonstrated in front of the Landmark Shattuck Cinemas Thursday night, protesting that the movie Me Before You amounted to a “little more than a disability snuff film,” according to Ken Stein, one of the protesters.

Me Before You, described in a scathing review in The New York Times as a “floppy British romance,” is the story of a wealthy, aristocratic quadriplegic who falls in love with his carer. He is determined to commit suicide since his life isn’t worth living. Will the new-found love change his mind?

Me Before You insults audiences by presuming that they cannot handle the realities of disability,” said Ingrid Tischer, one of the organizers of the Berkeley protest. “The director claims the goal of ‘normalizing’ disability without any awareness that ‘normal’ is a freighted concept to people with disabilities. The only thing Me Before You normalizes is a deadly double standard when it comes to suicide prevention and people with disabilities.”   … Continue reading »

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