Author Archives: Lance Knobel

News

Berkeley ranks 10th for income inequality among U.S. cities

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News and financial information giant Bloomberg ranks Berkeley the city with the tenth highest income inequality in the country.

Berkeley’s rank is based on Bloomberg’s computation of the Gini coefficients for 300 cities with more than 100,000 people in the U.S. A Gini coefficient of 0 would represent perfect equality (everyone with the same income), while a coefficient of 1 would show perfect inequality (one person with all the income). Bloomberg calculates an average Gini in U.S. cities of 0.4757. Berkeley’s Gini is 0.5438. Atlanta, Ga. has the most income inequality, according to Bloomberg, with a Gini of 0.5882.  … Continue reading »

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Events

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

Berkeley CERT training, May 2013. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS FAIR The city of Berkeley is holding a free fair to encourage emergency preparedness on Saturday, Apr. 26, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the North Berkeley BART station. The theme this year is on protecting kids and pets, and among the demonstrations will be one on pet first aid and hands-only CPR led by the Red Cross, and one on animal safety, led by Berkeley Humane. In addition, there’s live music, food, children’s activities, survival demonstrations, fire extinguisher practice and family preparedness games. North Berkeley BART, 1750 Sacramento St.   … Continue reading »

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Mayor proposes East Bay regional minimum wage

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Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates today proposed that a number of East Bay cities, including Berkeley, join together to enact a regional minimum wage.

Bates’ proposal comes little more than a week before the Berkeley City Council holds a special meeting on a citywide minimum wage on May 1. Richmond has already had the first reading of a minimum wage ordinance, and a minimum wage initiative for the November ballot is being circulated in Oakland.  … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Council hears minimum wage increase pleas

Waiters at Comal. Photo: Postcard PR
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Berkeley’s adoption of an increased minimum wage moved a step closer this week. The City Council heard a long line of advocates urging adoption a $10.74 minimum wage for employees in Berkeley.

The City Council will have a special meeting on May 1 on a minimum wage ordinance.

The Commission on Labor’s recommendation to the Council is to set a $10.74 minimum wage (the same as San Francisco’s) for businesses with fewer than 50 employees and non-profits, to include a medical benefit requirement, and to adjust the minimum wage annually in line with CPI. For “corporate franchises” or businesses with over 50 employees, the commission recommends a minimum wage increase to “the equivalent of the Berkeley Living Wage,” which is currently $13.34 per hour. … Continue reading »

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News

5 Berkeley stories you will not want to miss

Freshly picked asparagus are washed off at the Willard Middle School garden. Photo: Kaia Diringer
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Every week, Berkeleyside publishes dozens of articles about what’s going on in Berkeley. You’re busy — some of them might have passed you by. Here are five stories we think you’ll want to catch up on. 

1. Police respond to 3 shootings this week

Two shootings on Harmon Street in South Berkeley and one on Bonar Street in West Berkeley raised safety issues around the city.

2. School district finds funding for reduced gardening program

Berkeley’s famed school cooking … Continue reading »

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Berkeley teachers, district, reach tentative agreement

Berkeley teachers protest
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Berkeley Unified School District and the Berkeley Federation of Teachers have reached tentative agreement on a 2013-2015 contract, subject to ratification by the school board and the BFT. Agreement seven months into the school year is rapid compared to some recent contract negotiations.

In the agreement, all teacher wages, including salaries, stipends, daily rates and hourly rates, will be adjusted to reflect a 1.5% increase backdated to July 1, 2013, and an additional one-time bonus payment equal to 2.0% of the teacher’s 2013-2014 salary. Each teacher will also receive a 2.0% increase effective July 1 this year.  … Continue reading »

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Smitten: High-tech, organic ice cream to Rockridge

Smitten founder Robyn Sue Fisher started her business serving ice cream out of a red Radio Flyer wagon. Photo: Smitten
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The dreams of most Stanford MBA students tend to Silicon Valley start-ups, prestigious consulting firms, and high-paying investment banks. It’s a fair bet that Robyn Sue Fisher is unique: she spent the first two years after graduated from Stanford prototyping an ice cream machine.

What was a quixotic quest at the start has grown into the acclaimed Smitten ice cream business, which plans to open its first East Bay outpost at 5800 College Ave. in Rockridge on April 1.

“I was naive and optimistic,” Fisher said. “It took two years and all my life savings to get a prototype.”  … Continue reading »

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Events

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

Yiddish singer Anthony Russell
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CONVERGENCE One of the highlights of this year’s Jewish Music Festival will be Sunday night’s performance of Convergence by Anthony Mordechai Tzvi Russell, together with Bay Area klezmer trio Veretski Pass. “I knew no precedent of a Yiddish song organically growing out of a Negro Spiritual, but inside my own head — and I hesitate to say this, but in my heart — I felt I didn’t particularly need a precedent,” explains Russell. Convergence combines diverse strains of traditional Jewish and African-American music to explore exile, spirituality, hope and redemption. The performance includes animation work by San Francisco-based artist Meredith Leich. Tickets ($25, $22 for students, seniors and JCC East Bay members) are available from Brown Paper Tickets. 7 p.m. Sunday, March 23, JCC East Bay, 1414 Walnut St.  … Continue reading »

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Local business

Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

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LOOK OUT, AUSTIN  We brought you the news last week that a BBQ spot called Perdition Smokehouse would be taking over the space that was briefly Amadeus at 2050 University Ave. The Chronicle’s Inside Scoop reports that Chuck Stilphen, who runs The Trappist in Oakland, Ol Beercafé & Bottle Shop in Walnut Creek, and Mikkeller Bar in San Francisco, is behind the venture. With chef Michael O’Brien at the grill, the plan is to provide Texas-style barbeque. Stilphen, known for his craft beers, told Inside Scoop: “Our main goal there is to provide good barbeque. The beer just kind of goes with it.” Stilphen hopes Perdition can be open in June.  … Continue reading »

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Sugar tax hits the sweet spot for Berkeley residents

Proponents of a soda tax were out in force in neon green at Berkeley City Council. Photo: Lance Knobel
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Berkeleyans seem eager to enact a new tax on sugar-sweetened drinks, but less likely to support other potential ballot measures being considered by the City Council.

A community survey of just over 500 voters taken last week showed healthy majorities for the so-called soda tax, whether it was for a new general tax or a special tax. In contrast, measures to increase the business license tax for landlords, establish a commercial vacancy tax, increase the parks parcel tax, and issue a pools bond failed to reach majorities or just crossed 50% support. City Council members said that support for measures often declines from levels indicated in community surveys.  … Continue reading »

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Local business

West Berkeley’s Pacific Steel files for bankruptcy

Photo: Michael Layefsky
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Pacific Steel Castings, based in west Berkeley since 1934, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Oakland on Monday. Pacific Steel, one of the largest independent steel casting companies in the U.S., has 410 employees in three separate plants at the eight-acre site off Gilman Street. There are no immediate layoffs or interruptions in payment of wages or pensions.

The company hopes the bankruptcy proceedings will enable it to restructure its liabilities and remain in operation, possibly under a different owner from the Genger family which is in its fourth generation of ownership. Pacific Steel makes carbon, low-alloy and stainless steel castings for U.S. and international customers, largely for heavy-duty trucks and construction equipment.  … Continue reading »

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Local business

Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

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CUGINI MANZONE Giuseppe and Michele Manzone opened Cugini Manzone last Thursday night in at 2930 College Ave. in the Elmwood. The restaurant features an Italian wood-fired oven for thin-crust pizza and calzone (the Manzones are also cooking eggplant parmesan and roast chicken in the wood-fired oven), as well as a full menu of Italian antipasti and pastas. The restaurant is only open for dinner at the moment (5 p.m. to 10 p.m.), but plans to open for lunch and mid-afternoon snacks soon. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley city budget in good short-term shape, but problems loom with pension costs

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When the Berkeley City Council held a worksession on the budget on Feb. 25, there was good news and bad news.

The good news is that Berkeley’s revenues are up and expenses are down in the current fiscal year. Using very conservative forecasts, Berkeley budget manager Teresa Berkeley-Simmons projected revenues in the 2014 fiscal year will be $800,000 ahead of the budget passed last June, and expenses over $2 million lower. As a result, so-called carryover expenditures — from revenues accumulated in previous years for as-yet uncompleted projects — will be reduced from $6.3 million to $3.3 million.  … Continue reading »

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