Berkeleyside’s 4th annual Uncharted Berkeley Festival of Ideas: Fighting the good fight

Mark Bittman talks with UC Berkeley's Jill Bakehorn. Photo: Kelly Sullivan
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Sitting down on the stage of the Berkeley Rep Roda theater to talk with Autodesk distinguished researcher Andrew Hessel about the synthetic genome project in the first session of the fourth annual Uncharted Festival of Ideas, Quentin Hardy, deputy technology editor of The New York Times, said, “Uncharted is our humble attempt to make America smart again.” It was a joke, but it resonated throughout the two-day festival.

The Republican candidate for the president was not actually name-checked that often during the festival, but the reasons for his rise and his impact — what speaker Aaron James, author of Assholes: A Theory of Donald Trump, described as “American-born fascism” — both in this country and globally, underscored much of the discussion this year.

View photo galleries of the Uncharted 2016 festival: day one and day two.

Uncharted curator Lance Knobel, co-founder of Berkeleyside which produces the festival, deliberately avoids planning the program with a theme in mind, preferring that themes emerge organically. And if there was one that rose to the top this year it was that there is a silver lining to Trump’s ascendency: the fight to ensure he doesn’t enter the White House has brought issues and campaigns that were dormant back on the table. Positive change can be spurred by hatred, negativity and fear-mongering.

Scroll down for ways to connect with Uncharted and to see photos of the 2016 festival. See a gallery of day one photos and day two photos. … Continue reading »


6 candidates compete for 4 slots on Berkeley Rent Board

Berkeley Rent Board candidates (clockwise from upper left): Nate Wollman, Alejandro Soto-Vigil, Leah Simon-Weisberg, Christina Murphy, Igor Tregub and Judy Hunt. Photos: Courtesy
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Six candidates are vying for four open seats on Berkeley’s Rent Stabilization Board, in a race that has seen one slate of decidedly pro-tenant candidates boast numerous endorsements and a large war chest, while their landlord-leaning opponents lag — both in terms of endorsements and cash.

It’s an important, if not widely covered race: Established in 1980, the Rent Board controls a $4.5 million budget, and is composed of nine elected commissioners, which each draw a monthly salary of between $50 and $500. The Board is responsible for the day to day oversight and management of the city’s rent control ordinance, and moreover, those elected this election cycle will likely have a substantial influence the appointment of a new executive director, among other policy initiatives. … Continue reading »

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12 Berkeley measures will determine city’s infrastructure, education budget, campaign financing and more

Berkeley students carry Yes on E1 signs during the Solano Stroll. Photo: Yes on E1 campaign
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As a presidential campaign colored by controversy inches ever closer, local races and campaigns struggle to be heard amid the cacophony. But Berkeley’s ballot is packed with measures that will determine the near-future of the city’s infrastructure, affordable housing stock, education budget, and campaign finance system.

We’ve rounded up the 12 measures that will be on your ballot Nov. 8, taking a look at what they would change and who is gunning for them to pass.

Click the links to jump to the section of interest.

Measure T1: Infrastructure bond

What it would do: Measure T1 would authorize the city to issue up to $100 million of general obligation bonds to fix and rebuild Berkeley infrastructure over a 40-year period. Initially, property owners would be taxed at a rate of $6.35 per $100,000 of assessed value. That amount would increase as new bonds were issued, up to a high of $31.26 per $100,000. The maximum interest rate that could be paid on the bonds would be 6 percent.

See complete 2016 election coverage on Berkeleyside.

The proceeds from Measure T1 would go toward the repair or renovation of sidewalks, streets, storm drains, parks, city senior and recreation centers, and other facilities. One percent of the proceeds will be used for public art incorporated in the infrastructure. The measure also requires a public input process. … Continue reading »

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20 savory and sweet recipes for fall

Spiced pear sandwich cakes. Photo: Moriah VanVleet
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All that rain over the weekend has us thinking about pulling out our sweaters and cranking on the oven. Yet even if the weather turns warm again — as it likely will — it’s hard to deny the incoming mountains of winter squash, apples and persimmons at East Bay farmers markets. In that spirit, we recommend embracing fall with some of Nosh’s most delicious seasonal recipes from contributors Uproot Kitchen, Butter Sugar Flowers, Dining with Dostoevsky, Yummy Supper and Bay Area Bites. We’ve got you covered from morning to night, with ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert and any snacking you’d need to do in between. … Continue reading »

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Dash cam footage ties man to Berkeley shooting attempt

Berkeley police investigate a shooting on Stanton Street. Photo: Daniel McPartlan
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An Oakland man has been charged with five felonies after a shooting attempt in broad daylight on a South Berkeley street last month, authorities report, after dash cam footage from a parked vehicle helped them crack the case.

Berkeley Police detectives arrested Ronnie Leggett, 39, early on the morning of Oct. 5 during the service of several search warrants at locations linked to him in both Oakland and another county, according to court papers.

Leggett is being held at Santa Rita Jail on $600,000 bail.

According to court papers, police believe Leggett is one of two people who got into an argument at about 9 a.m. Sept. 14 in the 2900 block of Sacramento Street, near Ashby Avenue.

During the argument, two shots were fired. Police say Leggett tried but failed to shoot the other person involved in the dispute, according to court documents. No injuries were reported.

Read more about shootings in Berkeley.

Leggett fled the scene, police said, in a green van that was caught on the dash cam of a vehicle parked on Sacramento Street at the time of the shooting. Police were able to use that video to get the van’s license plate, which they ultimately linked to Leggett.  … Continue reading »

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Where in Berkeley?

Where in Berkeley?


Know where this is? Take a guess and let us know in the Comments below  — that’s where we announce the winner too!

Photo: Sandy Friedland.

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

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The Berkeley Wire: 10.18.16

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Federal probe launched into dumped Berkeley voter guides, returned election postcards

Scott Wheeler found nearly 100 Alameda County voter guides dumped in a Berkeley recycling bin. Photo: Scott Wheeler
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Authorities with the U.S. Postal Service are investigating how nearly 100 sample ballots wound up in a Berkeley recycling bin last week along with the plastic ties that kept them bound together. As part of the same investigation, they are also looking into mistakenly returned mail that caused at least one Berkeley voter to lose his active registration status.

The Alameda County Registrar of Voters office says the problems are “isolated,” but some local residents say they aren’t so sure.

Longtime North Berkeley resident Scott Wheeler spotted the dumped voter guides last Wednesday, Oct. 12, in a bin near the 1600 block of Walnut Street when he was looking for discarded egg cartons for a friend’s chicken farm.

Wheeler said he was particularly concerned because he had just learned, the prior week, he had been inactivated by the Registrar of Voters due to some mistakenly returned mail. He said it was a real coincidence that both of the issues happened to him, and that he saw that coincidence as “serendipitous.”

“When I found those things in the bin, boy did I get cracking on this,” he said.

Check your voter status now. Scroll down to learn more.

Wheeler said he is concerned there’s an issue with a mail carrier potentially shirking duties in the neighborhood — or an even broader issue with the U.S. Postal Service — which could have potentially problematic results for elections. He said he also thinks the Registrar of Voters office needs to take more responsibility for the problems and do its own investigation and public outreach.

Augustine Ruiz Jr., a spokesman for the USPS in the Bay Area, confirmed Monday that the agency’s Office of the Inspector General is investigating the issue of the dumped ballot guides.

“We do know that it happened,” he said. He was unable to provide any additional information prior to publication time.  … Continue reading »

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Numerous op-eds weigh in on Berkeley mayor’s race

Berkeley ballot photo. Photo: Kristen Van Dam
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The election is three weeks away and Berkeleyside is getting lots of op-ed submissions. We just published three op-eds on the mayor’s race, which join others we have published in recent days.

The recap:

Jonathan Jaffee talks about how he finds mayoral candidate Laurie Capitelli more knowledgeable than Jesse Arreguín.

Nicky Gonzalez Yuen said that Capitelli is not a true progressive and holds out as an example the times Capitelli reneged on his promise to vote for a $15 minimum wage.

Eric Panzer argues that Berkeleyans aren’t facing a choice of who is the most or least “progressive” but who has the temperament, the relationships, and the leadership to successfully govern. He supports Capitelli. … Continue reading »

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‘Tangled Vines’, wine’s dark side, now in paperback

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The book tells the story of Berkeley native Mark Anderson, who set fire to a wine warehouse in Vallejo on Oct. 12, 2005. The arson destroyed 4.5 million bottles of fine California wine worth at least $250 million. It was the largest ever crime involving wine.

Ninety wineries lost wine in the inferno, including Sterling Vineyards, Saintsbury, Long Meadow Ranch, Viader Vineyards, Justin Vineyards and others. Among the bottles lost were 175 made in 1875 by Dinkelspiel’s great-great grandfather, Isaias Hellman, from a vineyard in Rancho Cucamonga in San Bernardino County, then the heart of California’s wine industry.

In addition to writing about the arson and exploring why Anderson set the fire, Dinkelspiel traces the history of that southern California vineyard. There were five killings associated with Cucamonga Vineyard, many of them racially motivated. The 580-acre plot of land also reflects the history of California in many ways; it was controlled at different times by Native Americans, Californios, a Confederate sympathizer, a German-Jewish immigrant turned businessman and a wine monopoly that controlled 80% of the production and distribution of wine in the state.

Berkeleyside’s independent reviewer Thomas Riley called Tangled Vines “a stunning new look at the dark side of California wine.” Book reviewer Mal Warwick gave it five stars. The book was a New York Times bestseller, a San Francisco Chronicle bestseller, a finalist for the Northern California Book Award and was named a best wine book of the year by the Washington Post and Food and Wine magazine. … Continue reading »

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Shop Talk: Farrow & Ball; The Black Squirrel; The House; The Batchery

Farrow & Ball coming soon to West Berkeley   Photo: Farrow & Ball
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FARROW & BALL Coming soon to the Fourth Street shopping district is Farrow & Ball in the former home of the Claremont II (Claremont Rug Company) which has since relocated to Rockridge. Farrow & Ball Showroom will specialize in interior and exterior eco-friendly paint finishes, wall coverings, and products for preparation and application. Their website tells us they will have an expert service team on hand to offer advice and design schemes. An in-home color consultancy will also be available. Farrow & Ball, 1813 Fourth St., Berkeley 94710  Open Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sun. 12-5 p.m. Connect with Farrow & Ball on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest.

THE BLACK SQUIRREL Calling all craftspeople: a new shop is opening soon in Berkeley at 651 Addison St. near the Fourth Street shopping district for all manner of fiber artists. Starting out as a six-month trial pop-up, the shop will carry a collection of yarns and fibers from indie dyers from California and across the U.S. hand-picked by owner Chase Lometa Clark. Her intention is to provide unique, high-quality materials produced by small, mostly women-owned manufacturers. She hopes to attract a “slightly younger, hipper demographic of DIY-er’s than most.” Fabrics and supplies for quilting and sewing will also be on hand and there will be a range of classes, including beginner courses, offered from $5-$25. Chase tells Berkeleyside: “The shop is on the bottom floor of a new apartment building which is dog-friendly and has a great community of residents and building managers behind it. It’s got super tall ceilings and lots of windows in a huge space which means we can have a really awesome workshop space to host classes and special events. The workshop space will always be available for customers to use even when classes aren’t in session.” … Continue reading »

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2 sexual assaults reported in off-campus fraternities near UC Berkeley

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Two female UC Berkeley students reported having been sexually assaulted over the weekend at off-campus fraternities, authorities said in brief statements released Monday evening.

One of the sexual assaults took place Friday evening in the 2300 block of Piedmont Avenue, police said.

“The victim, a female UCB student, was attending a social event when she awoke the next day and reported unwanted sexual conduct,” according to a University of California Police Department notice released just before 6 p.m. “BPD is actively investigating the situation.”

Information about the next case was released about 10 minutes later.

In that incident, the student “was attending a social event when she was assaulted by an acquaintance” in the 2400 block of Prospect Street. Both calls were described by BPD as felonies. … Continue reading »

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Black Panthers focus of new UC Berkeley exhibit

Members of the Black Panthers lined up at a Free Huey (Newton) rally in DeFremery Park in Oakland. (Photo by Stephen Shames/Polaris)
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By Kathleen Maclay
UC Berkeley News

Oct. 15 marked the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Black Panthers. While the group is closely identified with Oakland, the Panthers also had roots in Berkeley. For a time they had their headquarters on Shattuck Avenue. Steven Shames, a history student at UC Berkeley, met Bobby Seale, one of the Panther founders, in 1967 and went on to take thousands of photos of those involved in the movement. 

Five decades after the founding of the Black Panther Party, an exhibit of two dozen photos taken from the front lines of the history-making, activist organization rooted in the San Francisco Bay Area opens Wednesday, Oct. 19, at the University of California, Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism.

The “Power to the People: The World of the Black Panthers” exhibit in the Reva and David Logan Gallery of Documentary Photography at North Gate Hall stirs memories of the Black Power movement for those who remember it, and instruction for those who don’t.

It also offers a bracing backdrop to current national dialogue and tensions around race as seen in reactions to the Black Lives Matter movement, protests following fatal police shootings of black men and boys, San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the National Anthem, and more.

Ken Light, the journalism school’s Reva and David Logan Professor of Photojournalism, said the photos by Stephen Shames “bring history alive and show the power of photography to record and share the Black Panthers’ social consciousness with generations that have only heard about them. Millennials and Gen Xers who are marching in the streets and raising their voices can share in the power, the pride and the struggle that was started over 50 years ago and come away with a renewed sense that Black Lives Matter.” … Continue reading »

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