News

The Berkeley Wire: 11.14.14

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Crime

Teen now faces murder, attempted rape and robbery charges in McClellan killing in South Berkeley

A 2011 photograph of Kamau Berlin. Source: Facebook
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The Alameda County district attorney’s office on Friday charged 18-year-old Kamau Berlin with murder in the stabbing death of 72-year-old Nancy McClellan in South Berkeley in September.

Berlin — a B-Tech student — also has been charged with attempted rape, attempted robbery and attempted carjacking, as well as elder abuse resulting in death.

He appeared in court Friday morning, as did about half a dozen family members and supporters, and had been scheduled to enter a plea in the case.

Berlin’s plea was postponed until Jan. 9 due to the addition of significant charges in the case.

His family declined to comment to the media Friday morning.

See Berkeleyside’s complete coverage of the case.

Also in attendance were about nine of McClellan’s supporters from the Berkeley Zen Center. McClellan was mortally stabbed Sept. 19 after leaving a wedding at the center, near Russell and Otis streets.  … Continue reading »

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Op-eds: Berkeley seniors, Citizen United, Measures D, R

Downtown Berkeley, May 2014. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Opinion pieces keep on rolling in to Berkeleyside, although the pace has slowed since election day. All of them are published in our Opinionator section.

Four recent op-eds tackle a range of subjects.

Xavier Morales, executive director of the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California, applauds Berkeley for passing Measure D, the so-called soda tax measure, and says that for Latinos and African Americans, who suffer disproportionately the ravages of diabetes, heart disease and stroke, “this win inspires hope.”

Zach Franklin says he’s thrilled that Measure R, the downtown initiative, was defeated, but urges us to build on the momentum, and “get serious about addressing the massive housing shortage in our community that is hitting working families hard.”

Judy Turiel, a Berkeley resident who served for eight years on the the city’s Commission on Aging, argues for more voices in the discussion about priorities for Berkeley’s older population. … Continue reading »

Ms Barstool: Cocktail invention at food mecca Corso

Justin Sutton making cocktails at Corso. Photo Corso
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At the height of service, it’s not always easy to get into a conversation with a bartender, even when you are a person who calls herself Ms Barstool. So we set up a pre-cocktail meeting with bar manager Justin Sutton and bartender Matt Bruns prior to hopping on a barstool at Trattoria Corso in Berkeley.

We wanted to hear about some changes the trattoria has undergone, including a new bar program, and what happened when they took the TVs away.

Sutton, a former Marine, had jobs in several local dining establishments, including Absinthe in San Francisco and Revival in Berkeley, before finding his way to Corso. Bruns went to culinary school, worked in several restaurants in Atlanta, then moved here and started a new business in town.

Both Sutton and Bruns were delighted to have the chance to talk about what they do, and to share some of their behind-the-bar techniques. A dedicated bartender will tell you that what one orders off the cocktail menu is often the result of several tries at getting the drink just right. Bruns said he likes to put a “modern-day twist” on the cocktails he creates. (Bruns also creates at Shrub & Co based at Berkeley Kitchens, producing a variety of shrubs: a blend of fruit, sugar, and vinegar—originally intended as a way to preserve fruit in Colonial times, now enjoying a second career as tasty additions to cocktails.) … Continue reading »

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How Quirky is Berkeley? The story behind hex signs

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Hex signs are a form of folk art indigenous to southeastern Pennsylvania. German immigrants to Pennsylvania in the 17th and 18th centuries became known as the Pennsylvania Dutch. They delineated  themselves as the “fancy Dutch” (mostly Lutherans) and the “plain Dutch” (mostly Old Order Amish).

Hex signs are an artistic expression of the fancy Dutch; the Old Order Amish do not paint hex signs on their barns, and in fact they generally do not paint their barns at all. There are competing theories on the origin of hex signs. One theory holds that they are used as a talisman, warding off evil spirits. This theory is consistent with the use of “hex,” yet the term “hex sign” is not found until an outside travel writer wrote about the paintings in 1924. The second theory is that they are simply decorative, an extension of fraktur, an elaborate style of letter ing and flourish-rich folk art.

Whatever their original intent, hex signs can be found in Berkeley. To date, I have found nine, far fewer than the ubiquitous Buddhist iconography in our front yards, but still a significant number. … Continue reading »

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News

The Berkeley Wire: 11.13.14

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Lori Droste takes District 8 council seat by 16 votes

Lori Droste is the new District 8 councilwoman. Photo courtesy of Facebook
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Final tallies released Wednesday night make Lori Droste the narrow winner in what became a tense and protracted race for Berkeley City Council District 8.

Alameda county will certify the results by Monday, but all votes have been counted, leaving Droste with 2,072 votes, or 50.19%, compared to opponent George Beier’s 2,056 votes, or 49.81%.

Beier has said he will not challenge the results.

“I’m humbled by the support of District 8 and I look forward to working hard on Council,” Droste said. “I want to congratulate all my opponents for running a great race.” … Continue reading »

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Zoning Board says cannabis collective a public nuisance

Berkeley officials contend that Forty Acres operatied an illegal cannabis operation on the top floor of this building at 1820-1828 San Pablo Avenue. Photo: Google Street View
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Berkeley’s Zoning Adjustments Board voted unanimously Nov. 6 to declare the Forty Acres Medical Marijuana Growers’ Collective a public nuisance – the latest step in Berkeley’s three-year odyssey to shut the place down.

ZAB officials listened to two and a half hours of testimony at the hearing, including impassioned pleas from neighbors who said the area near 1820-1828 San Pablo Ave., right above The Albatross pub, had become a no-go zone.

The smell of marijuana in the area is so strong that numerous families don’t let their children play outside, according to testimony of several neighbors. Cars routinely block driveways – and the drivers become aggressive when asked to move. Groups of people openly smoke cannabis on the sidewalks. Sometimes the partying goes on until the wee hours of the morning. Those that can’t make it home sometimes sleep in door-wells or on the sidewalk, according to neighbors. … Continue reading »

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Berkeleyside

Independent news site Berkeleyside recognized for journalism excellence for the second year running

Team at Uncharted close up Photo Pete Rosos
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At an awards ceremony last night at the San Francisco City Club, the organization announced Berkeleyside as the winner of the Community Journalism (print/text) category in its 2014 Excellence in Journalism Awards.

The judges said they chose Berkeleyside for the “range, depth and innovation reflected in its coverage of Berkeley.”

“The site provides residents with news as it is happening, plus comprehensive, timely stories about important issues in the community,” they said.

Four stories published by Berkeleyside were cited as exemplifying what the judges described as Berkeleyside’s “laser focus on one community”:

When last year’s Rim Fire near Yosemite first threatened, and finally destroyed, Berkeley’s beloved Tuolumne camp, Berkeleyside was posting updates and photos as soon as information became available… “the site provided more detailed information about the fate of the camp than was available in other media,” wrote SPJ NorCal. Read that coverage, written by Tracey Taylor and others.Continue reading »

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

Students at Le Conte Elementary enjoy persimmons from the school's tree. Photo: @BerkeleyDineOut on Twitter
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BERKELEY DINE OUT Berkeley schools district-wide incorporate gardening and cooking into the curriculum. The idea is that the school gardens produce healthy habits and interdisciplinary lessons, along with the fruits and vegetables. But the program has lost federal funding and needs help. To support the garden-based learning program at 16 BUSD campuses, participate in Dine Out on Thursday, Nov. 13. A portion of all bills at over one dozen popular Berkeley restaurants — from Café Clem to Comal — will go directly to the program. See the full list of participating restaurants. … Continue reading »

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School Board considers options for tackling student surge

Photo: Pete Rosos
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With an extra 250 students projected to crowd into Berkeley schools in the coming three years, the school board considered a long list of options for creating space at its Nov. 5 meeting. The board will narrow down the choices at its Dec. 10 meeting, and decide on a plan of action in January.

After hearing a report on the options to add up to 12 classrooms, board members asked staff to more fully explore three possibilities:

  • Moving transitional kindergartens out of the elementary schools to a pre-school site;
  • Converting some, but not all, of the 12 “enrichment classrooms” around the district to regular classrooms. Enrichment classrooms are those used for art, dance, theater, science or other purposes.
  • Moving Berkeley Technology Academy and Independent Study to the Adult Education School on San Pablo Avenue, and using the BTA site on Martin Luther King Jr. Way near Derby as an elementary school.

“There’s no solution that has no downside,” said board president Josh Daniels after the presentation. … Continue reading »

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New music in Berkeley: Leaping into unexpected realms

Caption: Cal Performances and the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players present Project TenFourteen, a series of four concerts featuring world premieres commissioned from 10 different composers.

Credit: Courtesy of San Francisco Contemporary Music Players
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There’s something irresistible about experiencing a composition at its premiere, about the possibility of witnessing an imaginative leap into unexpected musical realms. On Friday, East Bay trumpeter Ian Carey reprises his new work Interview Music: A Suite for Quintet + 1 at the Hillside Club, where he’ll be recording the suite with his talent-laden ensemble. And on Sunday, the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players (SFCMP) launch Project TenFourteen at Hertz Hall, an unprecedented season-long collaboration with Cal Performances featuring 10 newly commissioned works premiering over the course of four concerts.

Sunday’s inaugural program looks auspicious indeed, with Mexican composer Gabriela Ortiz’s commission “Corpórea” for an orchestral nonet with a balance of strings and winds, and Elena Ruehr’s “It’s About Time” for a string oriented sextet. The program’s defining presence is 85-year-old éminence grise George Crumb, who’s represented by three works, including two premieres. The latest of his many settings of poetry by Federico García Lorca, “The Yellow Moon of Andalusia” features mezzo soprano Tony Arnold, Kate Campbell on amplified piano, and percussionists William Winant and Nick Woodbury, while “Yesteryear” is a radically reworked piece for Arnold and pianist Kate Campbell. … Continue reading »

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News

The Berkeley Wire: 11.12.14

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