News

The Berkeley Wire: 11.30.16

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Berkeleyside

A new goal, as readers step up to invest in Berkeleyside

Berkeley by Joe Parks
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Berkeleyside is trying something that has never been tried before by a news organization: asking our readers to become shareholders to ensure a robust future for our award-winning local news site.

On Nov. 3 we announced a direct public offering to raise $800,000 in capital to invest in Berkeleyside. In just over three weeks, we have raised over $260,000 from over 62 investors.

Now we’ve set ourselves — and our community — a challenge: to get half way there and raise $400,000 by Dec. 31. 

Visit invest.berkeleyside.com to learn more and invest.

Supporting independent journalism is more important than ever. Berkeleyside will continue to bear witness and hold the powerful accountable during these uncertain times, and keep you informed about everything that’s going on in the city. In the past few weeks alone, Berkeleyside’s tiny team reported 167 stories on the Berkeley elections; unveiled serious mail delivery problems in the city, and the need for a new bike lane after a near-fatal accident. We also told you about the deer that jumped into the King pool during a kids’ swimming lesson, the plight of the monarch butterflies, and the coming together of hundreds of people in the “greatest little city in America” after the election for a sunrise unity gathering. … Continue reading »

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State files legal action against Library Gardens contractor

A balcony at Library Gardens in downtown Berkeley collapsed Tuesday, killing six. Photo: David Yee
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A state agency is seeking to revoke the license of the construction company that built Library Gardens, where a fifth-floor balcony sheared off on June 16, 2015, sending six young people to their deaths and seriously injuring seven others.

The California Contractors State License Board filed a formal accusation Tuesday against Segue Construction stating that the construction company “willfully departed from or disregarded building plans or specifications, and willfully departed from accepted trade standards for good and workmanlike construction,” according to a press release.

Read more on the June 16, 2015, balcony collapse.

The legal document essentially states that Segue, which hired subcontractors to build and waterproof the balconies at 2020 Kittredge Ave., did not follow the building plans for the apartment complex. Segue neglected to use pressure treated wood on the joists holding up the balcony that sheared off and instead used an inferior composite that was expressly prohibited in the plans and did not wrap the wood in a waterproof membrane, according to the legal document. … Continue reading »

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Storyteller Joel ben Izzy has new book on Hanukkah (or Channukah or Chhhanukah or Chanaykayah)

Joel Ben Izzy
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Joel ben Izzy has been regaling audiences around the globe for years with his delightful stories, many with a Jewish twist. A graduate of Stanford University and a long-time Berkeley resident, ben Izzy brings humor and pathos to the tales he spins. He has performed and led workshops in 35 countries (he is also a story consultant, helping companies and organizations better tell their own stories), and his six recorded story collections have garnered numerous awards.

Ben Izzy wrote his first book, The Beggar King and the Secret to Happiness, after he  unexpectedly lost his voice, threatening his career. Now he has written a fictionalized prequel of sorts geared to middle-school kids 10 and over. (Although it is a fun read for adults, too). Ben Izzy will be talking about Dreidels on the Brain all around the Bay Area in December (just in time for Hanukkah, which is spelled every which way in the book) with his first appearance Thursday at Books, Inc. in Berkeley at 7:00 p.m. Berkeleyside caught up with the author before his book tour began.

You have been a teller of stories for more than 30 years, mostly in oral form. You wrote one book for adults, The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness. Why did you decide to write a book for kids over 10?

For one thing, I love telling stories to kids that age, when there is so much at stake. I wanted a chance to go back to that time, when I was miserable and confused, wondering whether I should believe in magic or miracles or anything at all.

Dreidels on the Brain is also something of a prequel to my first book. The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness is a memoir, set in modern times, based on the true story of the journey that began when I awoke from surgery to discover I could no longer speak. That book included a couple forays into my childhood and the stories of my family — my mother’s smile, my father’s inventions and my grandmother’s insanity. Readers told me they wanted to hear more, the story behind the story.

Technically, Dreidels on the Brain is a novel, or perhaps a “fictionalized memoir.”  Because it’s set in 1971, when I was 12, it’s now considered “Historical fiction.” Oy! I was going for “Hysterical fiction,” but what can you do? … Continue reading »

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Berkeley native Cierra Ford fatally shot in Georgia

Ford at her graduation from Contra Costa College
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A young man from Berkeley is trying to raise money to bring home his little sister’s body for burial after she was killed Friday in Georgia where she was attending college.

The day after Thanksgiving, around 3 a.m., 25-year-old Cierra Ford was fatally shot in her home in Sandy Springs, a suburb north of Atlanta, according to news reports. A 21-year-old man with her in the home also was shot and was reported to be in critical but stable condition at the hospital. Police said robbery may have been the motive. No arrests have been made. 

Ford graduated from Berkeley High in 2009, then went on to get her associate’s degree from Contra Costa Community College.

Her brother Clarence — a master’s student at UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy — wrote that his sister “excelled academically earning A’s and B’s which allowed her to apply and receive multiple scholarships” while attending community college.

She later transferred to Clark Atlanta University, a historically black university in Atlanta, where she was majoring in communications. … Continue reading »

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Where in Berkeley?

Where in Berkeley?

WIB

Know where this is? Take a guess and let us know in the Comments, below.

Photo: Don Melandry / Photographer.

Send your submissions for “Where in Berkeley?” to tips@berkeleyside.com. The more obscure the better —  just as long as the photos are taken in Berkeley. Thanks in advance.

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News

The Berkeley Wire: 11.29.16

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Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates retires after 14 years: “I always felt I could do the right thing”

Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates in November 2016. Photo: Kelly Sullivan
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Think back to Berkeley in 2002. Home prices were less than half of today’s values. There were just over 100,000 people in the city, versus 120,000 today. About one in eight Berkeleyans were over 60-years-old, against nearly one in five today. The politically minded were wondering how to survive the presidency of George W. Bush and his “global war on terror.” And Tom Bates was the newly elected mayor of Berkeley.

Tonight’s City Council meeting marks Bates’ last time chairing a City Council meeting. After 14 years as mayor (and 20 years in the Assembly and four years on the Alameda County Board of Supervisors before that), the 78-year-old Bates is retiring. Jesse Arreguín, often a dissenter to the Bates majority on the Council, takes over the mayorship on Thursday.

“I’ve been so blessed to have had this opportunity to represent Berkeley,” Bates told Berkeleyside in an interview before Thanksgiving. “I’ve always felt like I could do what I thought was the right thing, and never really had to compromise.” … Continue reading »

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Laurie Capitelli steps down after 12 years on City Council

Councilman Laurie Capitelli speaking at a press conference held in Berkeley  Monday to report on how the soda tax was working. Photo: Melati
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City Councilman Laurie Capitelli was born in Berkeley but moved away at a young age, only to return to attend UC Berkeley. He never left, raising his children here. He worked as a real-estate agent for Red Oak Realty for decades and got involved in the public sphere in 1996.

After running for mayor and filling out dozens of questionnaires, Capitelli declined Berkeleyside’s request to answer some written questions because he said he had ‘questionnaire fatigue.’ So Berkeleyside sat down with Capitelli on Monday to ask him for his parting thoughts as he leaves the City Council after serving 12 years. His Council seat representing District 5 was won by Sophie Hahn.

Capitelli seemed relaxed and at ease over coffee at Philz Coffee on Shattuck Avenue. Even though he had lost the mayor’s race (City Councilman Jesse Arreguín defeated him by a 47.4% to 33.6% vote), Capitelli said he was proud of his campaign and thankful for the endorsements he had received. “I don’t dwell on things,” he said. “I am a big believer in having no regrets.”

Capitelli said his loss was the result of “a perfect storm.” U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders’ endorsement of Arreguín mattered more than Capitelli initially realized, he said, as it gave those disappointed at not being able to vote for Sanders for President a “proxy.” He also thought there was some fatigue among residents about the rate of development in Berkeley, but pointed out that Berkeley has not built much housing in the last 35 years and “we were just catching up.”

As for Arreguín’s win, “the general mood in the country was voting for change,” said Capitelli. “I think they are going to get it.” [Both in the U.S. and Berkeley.] He also said that Arreguín is a professional politician who has never held any other job and spent four years gearing up for the mayor’s race. “Jesse is a politician. I don’t mean that in a negative way. He worked the last four years on the coalition that elected him. That was not something I had a desire to do.”

Tonight will be Capitelli’s last City Council meeting and he doubts he will hold public office again. He started his political career as a member of the Planning Commission in 1996. He then went to the Zoning Adjustments Board in 2000 and was elected to City Council in 2004.

The following answers are curated from some notes Capitelli made and the Berkeleyside interview. … Continue reading »

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Darryl Moore steps down from City Council after 12 years

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Darryl Moore was born in California, graduated from UC Santa Cruz in 1984, and later earned a masters degree in public policy from the University of Chicago. After working for the District of Columbia, he moved to Berkeley in 1996 where he worked as a legislative aide for City Councilman Kriss Worthington. Moore later worked as a senior management analyst for the Berkeley Department of Public Works. Moore now works at the Oakland Housing Authority.

Moore was first elected to public office in 2000 when he won a seat on the Peralta Community College Board of Trustees, becoming the first openly gay African American elected to office in the East Bay. He was elected to the Berkeley City Council in 2004, representing District 2, and has been an advocate for youth, recreation, public safety, and housing, among other issues. Tonight will be his last City Council meeting. His replacement on the Council is Cheryl Davila.

What are you most proud of accomplishing as a Berkeley City Councilman?

I am very proud of my accomplishments related to supporting our youth. For the last 12 years, I have provided backpacks and school supplies to incoming Rosa Parks Elementary School students, drastically expanded our YouthWorks program to provide jobs to all youth during the summer, and worked extensively on the 2020 Vision to eliminate the academic achievement gap by year 2020. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley author shines light on nature on our doorsteps

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Berkeley-based author Nathanael Johnson’s book Unseen City was published in April, but its subject matter — the close examination of, and appreciation for, the nature that directly surrounds us — has provided him with particular comfort in the past few weeks.

“I’ve been finding peace by focusing intently on the life in front of my nose these days — there’s some relief in knowing that the antics of ants will continue even if the antics of a certain chaos president leads to global nuclear war!” he said a few days ago.

Scroll down to read an excerpt from Unseen City and for a chance to win a copy of the book by sharing your local nature photos.

Johnson will be giving a free public talk about his book Wednesday Nov. 30, 7:30 p.m., at a Shaping San Francisco event at the Eric Quezada Center for Culture and Politics on Valencia Street.

Unseen City‘s subtitle provides a good descriptor of what the father of two and food writer at Grist set out to achieve with this, his second book: “The Majesty of Pigeons, the Discreet Charm of Snails & Other Wonders of the Urban Wilderness.”

The idea for Unseen City came to Johnson  when he realized he couldn’t teach his then toddler-age first daughter the names of many local trees, as he didn’t know them himself. He decided he would explore the natural world on his doorstep with his daughter and write a field guide about it, grounded in their observations, and drawing on the help of experts. … Continue reading »

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Shop Talk: Jeremy’s, Utrecht, Patelco, Hannah’s

Hannah's on Solano is now online only    Photo: Gill South
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JEREMY’S DEPARTMENT STORE Jeremy’s in the Elmwood is no more. The discounted designer apparel store had been at its 2967 College Ave. (at Ashby) location since the 1990s and closed for good on Nov. 20. According to a farewell letter that was posted on the store’s website, Jeremy’s did not have financial difficulties and was in profit when it shuttered. Owner Jeremy Kidson opened the first Jeremy’s store in 1987 in San Francisco’s South Park. He closed that store last year and made plans to consolidate both the SF and Berkeley stores into a converted church after buying the First Church of Christ Scientist at 1701 Franklin St. in Uptown Oakland. But, according to the East Bay Times, Kidson hit several roadblocks while trying to develop the space for retail, including permit delays, and he ran out of steam on the project. Kidson said: “From here, I will work on establishing a foundation to help kids from underprivileged backgrounds and continue my never-ending pursuit to help the underdog, along with some other ideas I have. I will still be finishing the Franklin building to serve as my home base and maybe even open a little café.” No news yet on new tenants for the vacated space on College and Ashby. … Continue reading »

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News

The Berkeley Wire: 11.28.16

Mushrooms by William Smock

Mushrooms by William Smock

New Heyday publisher, a man of many words (SF Chronicle)
Op-ed: The privileged immigrant (NYT)
With $265K grant, police will focus on traffic safety (East Bay Times)
Op-ed: Blame our self-absorbed Berkeley liberals for election results (LA Times)
National medical marijuana conference set for Berkeley (The Leaf Online)

Follow Berkeleyside on Twitter and Facebook or get the latest news in your inbox with Berkeleyside’s Daily Briefing. Email us at tips@berkeleyside.com. Keep Berkeleyside running and support independent local journalism by becoming a member.

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