Author Archives: Lance Knobel

Will Berkeley be first in nation to impose soda tax?

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Berkeley has embarked on a path that could lead it to becoming the first city in the nation to tax sugar-sweetened beverages.

On Tuesday night the City Council agreed to put a sugar tax on a community poll assessing possible ballot measures for the November 2014 election (the poll will also test opinions on a commercial vacancies tax, a business license tax on rental housing, and a bond and tax measure for parks). A broad coalition of local groups, rallying under the banner of Berkeley vs Big Soda, turned out a crowd of vocal advocates for a one cent per ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages.

“No city has been able to successfully pass a sugar-sweetened beverages tax. But it will happen here in Berkeley,” said Councilman Darryl Moore.  … Continue reading »

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UC Berkeley

Cal footballer Ted Agu collapses, dies after workout

Cal junior Ted Agu, who died after collapsing in a workout this morning. Photo: Cal Athletics
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UPDATE, 3:55 P.M.: UC Berkeley athletics officials released some details of the events leading to the death of 21-year-old defensive lineman Ted Agu at a press conference this afternoon. The death occurred during a supervised training run near Cal’s Memorial Stadium, KQED News reports. Dr. Casey Batten, a team physician, said medical staff were monitoring the workout and noticed that Agu appeared to be having difficulty completing it. As a precaution, staff members stopped Agu’s workout. “He was hydrating, he was responsive, he was talking,” Batten said. As a further precaution, he was placed on a cart and moved to a medical facility about 150 yards away. Agu collapsed there. Batten said medical staff immediately started what he called “high-quality CPR” and use of an external defibrillator. Agu was then rushed to Alta Bates Hospital in Berkeley, where he died.

ORIGINAL STORY: Ted Agu, a 21-year-old junior defensive end on Cal’s football team, collapsed during a conditioning workout this morning and died shortly afterwards. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley MLK breakfast builds community, calls for action

Pastor White asked everyone to "give a hug and a sloppy kiss" to the person next to them. Councilman Laurie Capitelli complied with his neighbor Mayor Tom Bates. Photo: Mark Coplan
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The third annual community breakfast honoring Martin Luther King Jr. brought together more than 350 Berkeleyans for rousing addresses, joyous music, calls to action, awards to young students, and plenty of hugs.

The theme of the breakfast was “beyond the dream… standing together,” and many of the speakers emphasized the importance of the community working together on many challenges, from the academic achievement gap, to unequal health outcomes, to violence in many neighborhoods.  … Continue reading »

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Dramatic West Berkeley police stop proves false alarm

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(The video above was shot by a citizen reporter at around 10 a.m. on University near Sixth Street.)

Berkeley police were responding to a report of a man with a gun in the 1900 block of Center Street, according to Berkeley Police spokeswoman officer Jennifer Coats. … Continue reading »

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Gusty winds in Berkeley keep fire crews on high alert

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Gusty winds in Berkeley today brought down trees on both Henry Street and Bonita Avenue this morning, and the National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning from 10 p.m. tonight to 8:00 a.m. Tuesday, with local gusts expected up to 25 m.p.h.

According to the Berkeley Fire Department, the winds call for heightened alertness of fire danger, particularly in the East Bay hills.

“We are aware of the wind, and because of the dryness of the year we’ve had, we still have a hazardous fire season in effect,” Avery Webb, deputy chief in the Berkeley Fire Department, said. “In a normal year, within the first two weeks of November we generally declare a close to fire season.”

Webb said that the fire season has never extended so late since he joined the department in 1985. … Continue reading »

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Local business

How do you know it’s New Year’s Day without a calendar?

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For over 30 years, a slightly eccentric Berkeley tradition has been building: flocking to Pegasus Books on Shattuck or Solano to buy a calendar on New Year’s Day. Calendars are $3.99 or three for $10 (the sale continues until the stock runs out, but “the best ones” go on day one). Pegasus dubs it “the earth’s biggest calendar sale,” but whether that’s true or not, there’s ample evidence that Berkeleyans like physical calendars even in an era when most have calendars on their smartphone and computer.  … Continue reading »

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News

The Berkeley Wire: 12.31.13

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Events

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

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HERE COMES THE SUN According to the forecast, daybreak on Saturday won’t be as cold as some recent mornings. That will be welcome news for the hearty souls who join the Meet the Solstice Sun hike, organized by the East Bay Regional Park District. The hope is to greet the morning sun on the shortest day of the year. Bring your own coffee! The hike, from the Tilden Nature Area’s Environmental Education Center, starts at 6:15 a.m. and returns by 8:30 a.m. No registration and spaces are unlimited. Further information call (510) 544-3249.  … Continue reading »

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Events

Local birders to flock to annual Christmas count

Photo: Ilana DeBare
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If you live near Claremont Canyon and hear unusual activity at 4 a.m. on Sunday morning, rest assured that it’s a group of birders out owling.

The early-morning owl spotting will kick off a busy day for local birders, engaged in the Audubon Society’s annual Christmas bird count, run by the Golden Gate Audubon Society. Berkeley is included in the 74th Oakland bird count, which encompasses a 15-mile diameter circle from Treasure Island, to the San Pablo Reservoir, to St. Mary’s College to the Oakland airport. All of Berkeley is included in the count circle. The count typically records more than 170 species.  … Continue reading »

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NAACP raises issues of race discrimination in Berkeley

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A town hall meeting organized by the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) on Sunday, Dec. 8 in Berkeley examined progress on proposals intended to address a range of issues concerning Berkeley’s African-Americans, low-income families and other marginalized communities.

The three most vigorous discussions at the meeting concerned housing, the police and employment. Attendees also expressed concerns about Berkeley’s shrinking black population.

Berkeley police chief Michael Meehan, deputy city manager William Rogers, and Berkeley Housing Authority (BHA) executive director Tia Ingram were among the officials who spoke on Sunday — and weathered a barrage of comment and criticism from questioners. In addition, councilmembers Max Anderson, Daryl Moore and Kriss Worthington attended, as did city manager Christine Daniel.  … Continue reading »

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Berkeley named one of 33 resilient cities in global network

Berkeley firefighters speak with residents during a community emergency response drill in April. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Berkeley has been selected as one of 33 cities worldwide in the first group of the Rockefeller Foundation’s Resilient Cities network.

The designation is for cities that, according to Rockefeller Foundation President Judith Rodin, “have demonstrated a dedicated commitment to building their own capacities to prepare for, withstand, and bounce back rapidly from shocks and stresses.”

One-third of the inaugural group are U.S. cities — including San Francisco, Oakland and Alameda — with the other 22 distributed around the world.

The Rockefeller Foundation will now provide Berkeley and the other cities with at least two years of funding for a full-time chief resilience officer. According to City Manager Christine Daniel, the chief resilience officer will coordinate implementation of the draft Local Hazard Mitigation Plan, advancement of local climate adaptation strategies, and other efforts related to disaster preparedness and response.  … Continue reading »

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Naming rights at Memorial Stadium sell for $18m

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In 2001, Michael Li took Engineering 110, Venture Design: The Startup Company, at UC Berkeley. As part of the course, Li wrote a business plan for a new company. Today, Kabam, the mobile gaming company Li founded with two other Cal grads, and the university unveiled a 15-year, $18 million agreement for naming rights to the field at California Memorial Stadium.

“This is a great Cal story,” said athletic director Sandy Barbour. “It’s an opportunity for us to form a unique academic and athletic partnership. We’ve hit a home run here.”

According to Barbour, the deal is the largest in the country for college field naming rights. The University of Maryland sold naming rights for the field at its Byrd Stadium to Chevy Chase Bank for $20 million, but that was over 25 years.

“I can’t imagine a closer tie for a CEO with the alma mater he loves,” said co-founder and CEO Kevin Chou, who majored in business at UC Berkeley and graduated in 2002.  … Continue reading »

Wiseman’s ‘At Berkeley’ shows a university under strain

Documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman. Photo: Lance Knobel
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Frederick Wiseman, interviewed by Berkeleyside this week, has been steadily making documentaries about institutions since his 1967 Titicut Follies took viewers inside a Massachusetts hospital for the criminally insane. His subjects have ranged from a high school to basic training to meatpacking plants to ballet in Paris. In the fall of 2010, Wiseman and two collaborators — a cameraman and an assistant — arrived on the UC Berkeley campus to subject the university to the same treatment.

Wiseman had written to then-Chancellor Robert Birgeneau to see if the university was receptive to the project. After lunch with Birgeneau and Provost George Breslauer, Wiseman received the go-ahead for the project. The only thing he wasn’t allowed to film was tenure discussions. Wiseman, in turn, said the university could have 48 hours after he filmed anything to request it not be included. In the event, virtually nothing was affected, according to Wiseman. … Continue reading »

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