Tag Archives: Alejandro Soto-Vigil

Berkeley councilman says city mishandled legal fees in Measure S redistricting lawsuit; city disagrees

The BSDC map approved by Judge Grillo will be used in November, unless an appeal overturns the decision.
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Less than a week before Berkeley voters will decide whether to adopt new council district boundaries, a local official has criticized the city for how it handled legal fees for a lawsuit over the proposed council lines that are on the Nov. 4 ballot with Measure S.

It’s the latest rebuke in a prolonged public battle over district lines that began in earnest last year. City officials and staff have countered that proper procedure was, in fact, followed, and that nothing inappropriate occurred.

At Tuesday night’s Berkeley City Council meeting, local resident Stefan Elgstrand told officials he had been dismayed to learn about the payment by staff of $140,000 — which he said council did not approve — to lawyers who represented the city in a lawsuit related to redistricting earlier this year. Elgstrand, who was previously an intern for Councilman Kriss Worthington, authored a map last year that was rejected by council and has been among those leading the charge to have the adopted map thrown out. He’s also a lead organizer in the opposition campaign against Measure S. Since Elgstrand’s public comment Tuesday, Councilman Jesse Arreguín and his aide Anthony Sanchez have added their voices to the criticism, and publicly excoriated the city for how it handled the payment of the legal fees.

City officials have been working to adopt new district lines for several years, but the process has been contentious. Council adopted a new map in December, and said the boundaries had garnered widespread community approval and complied with all legal requirements. Critics of that map — including Elgstrand, Arreguín, Worthington, Phoebe Sorgen and Council 1 challenger Alejandro Soto-Vigil — then led a referendum drive to force council to rescind that map in favor of a compromise, or put the issue to the voters.

The referendum drive was successful, which suspended the use of the map council had adopted. The city then took to the courts to determine which lines should be used leading up to the November election. A judge ultimately ruled that the map council adopted should determine the districts up through Nov. 4.  … Continue reading »

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Michael Bloomberg has now spent $370K in support of Measure D; other Berkeley election news

A still from the Yes on Measure D ad paid for by Michael R Bloomberg. It ran during the 4th game of the World Series
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Michael R. Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City, contributed another $285,000 in support of the Yes on Measure D campaign in the last few days, bringing his total contribution to $370,000. More may be coming, according to Howard Wolfson, his senior aide.

All you need to know about the elections is at Berkeleyside’s Election Hub.

Bloomberg paid $200,000 for television ads, including one that aired during the fourth game of the World Series, according to Wolfson. (Campaign finance statements had not been filed as of press time). A second ad will run on Berkeley cable television through the election, he said. Bloomberg also gave a second $85,000 directly to the Yes on Measure D campaign. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley 2014 election hub: What you need to know

I voted
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Absentee ballots have arrived and the November 2014 election is just around the corner. Berkeleyside has been covering the issues for months, and we’ve collected some of our best Berkeley election coverage in a single post to help readers get informed before they cast their votes.

Browse Berkeleyside’s 2014 election coverage.

Berkeley has several council seats up for grabs, and seven ballot measures under consideration. If you haven’t yet plugged into the local issues on the table, here’s your chance. On election night, we’ll cover the results live, and we plan to keep this hub updated as Nov. 4 approaches. If you think it’s a good resource, we hope you’ll share it with your friends and neighbors.

What else do you need to know?

The deadline to register to vote in Alameda County for the Nov. 4 election is Monday, Oct. 20. Registration can be completed online. Berkeleyside does not endorse candidates or measures.

In addition to our news coverage, a lively debate has been going on in our opinion pages. Berkeleyside welcomes submissions of op-ed articles of 500-800 words. We ask for first refusal to publish. Topics should be Berkeley-related and local authors are preferred. Please email submissions to the editors. … Continue reading »

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

Students register for classes at Vista College during its earliest years. Now called Berkeley City College, the institution is celebrating its 40th anniversary. Photo: www.berkeleycitycollege.edu
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BERKELEY CITY COLLEGE 40TH ANNIVERSARY Berkeley may be best known for one of its higher-ed institutions, but this week a much-deserved spotlight will be trained on the other. Although it has gone by many different names over the years, Berkeley City College has been producing scholars for four decades. BCC’s 40th anniversary celebration will kick off Friday, Oct. 17, and will continue with various events and activities throughout the coming year. Starting at noon, the day will be packed with discussion panels, live music, campus tours, and presentations by a host of officials including Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates. At 5:15 p.m. there will be a dedication of “From the Ground Up/Desde las raices,” a brand new mural created by local artists including BCC students. The college is located at 2050 Center St. RSVPs are encouraged. … Continue reading »

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Soda tax, school board race, open council seat bring campaign cash to Berkeley

The proponents of a tax on soda kicked off their campaign on Aug. 2. Photo: Berkeley vs Big Soda
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The lure of an open Berkeley City Council seat has turned the race to replace Gordon Wozniak in November into a big bucks proposition.

The District 8 race for Wozniak’s position, the city’s proposed sugar-sweetened beverage tax on distributors and the Berkeley School Board race — with four people vying for three seats — are already bringing in significant campaign contributions as the November 2014 election approaches.

Read Berkeleyside’s 2014 election coverageContinue reading »

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Berkeley Asphalt: New technology will reduce odors

Berkeley Asphalt plant on Virginia St. Photo: Mary Flaherty
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Berkeley Asphalt plans to invest in a new manufacturing process designed to reduce emissions and odors in its West Berkeley neighborhood starting in January, officials announced recently.

Its neighbors have complained about the noise, odors, and pollution from the plant for at least 20 years, most recently in June when a group questioned whether the plant has been violating its use permit with excess odors and noise.

What the company has decided to do is convert to a new technology called “warm-mix” asphalt, which produces paving material at a lower temperature than traditional asphalt, yet performs as well on the road and releases fewer pollutants into the air, according to company officials. The decision was the result of negotiations between the company and city staff that began last year.

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Rent Board commissioner Alejandro Soto-Vigil challenges 22-year incumbent Linda Maio in Berkeley’s District 1

alejandro Soto-Vigil
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Alejandro Soto-Vigil, city Rent Board commissioner and aide to Councilman Kriss Worthington, has filed to run for Berkeley City Council in District 1. He is the sole challenger to incumbent Linda Maio, who has occupied the seat since 1992.

Soto-Vigil said he is running to burst what he calls the “bubble” of the current council.

“I think I could take the bubble out, and bridge people who are on the ground to council,” said Soto-Vigil, who grew up in Richmond and graduated from UC Berkeley and the UDC David A. Clarke School of Law in Washington, D.C.  “I want to know what the pulse is of the people.” … Continue reading »

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Berkeley asphalt plant emissions dangerous, say residents

Residents allege that the Lehigh Hanson asphalt plant at 699 Virginia St. in West Berkeley is emitting dangerous fumes. Photo: Charles Siler
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A small group of West Berkeley homeowners gathered at City Hall on Monday this week to submit a Public Record Act request, claiming the Berkeley Asphalt & Ready Mix plant on Virginia Street has been violating its use permit by emitting excessive odors and noise.

The company, owned by Texas-based Lehigh Hanson, operates an asphalt plant at 699 Virginia St. in the Oceanview area. The group of residents, who call themselves Oceanview Neighborhood Action, say the plant is constantly emitting noxious fumes, to the point that they can’t go outside or leave their windows open.

“It smells like sulfur most days, like burnt sand,” said Kate Stepanski, a resident of the neighborhood. “It’s making people sick and it’s a public hazard — it’s irresponsible.”  … Continue reading »

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Judge plans to rule today on Berkeley redistricting lines

More than 20 people attended a hearing Tuesday about contested redistricting lines in Berkeley. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Update, 4:30 p.m. The judge has ruled in favor of using the council-majority-approved district lines. See his ruling here. (A more in-depth Berkeleyside story on the decision is online here.)

Original post: An Alameda County Superior Court judge is expected to rule Wednesday, April 30, about which district lines the city of Berkeley should use in the November 2014 general election.

Judge Evelio Grillo heard arguments Tuesday from advocates of some kind of compromise map that is different from the map approved by a Berkeley City Council majority in December. The city of Berkeley sued the county registrar of voters and city clerk earlier this year to find out which lines to use after the council-approved map was suspended by a referendum drive.

More than 20 people — most of them in support of a compromise map, of which there are several — attended Tuesday’s hearing. They were represented primarily by Councilman Jesse Arreguín and Alejandro Soto-Vigil, along with attorneys for Councilman Kriss Worthington, Stefan Elgstrand and Phoebe Sorgen, all of whom have been named as “real parties of interest” in the lawsuit.

Attorney Margaret Prinzing, of Remcho, Johansen & Purcell, appeared for the city of Berkeley. … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: We don’t need a redistricting referendum

Xan Join collected a number of signatures in late December. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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There is a campaign afoot to waste Berkeleyans’ time and tax dollars.

On Dec. 17, 2013, the Berkeley City Council adopted a long-awaited redistricting map that rebalances population across Berkeley’s City Council Districts. The vote came after two rounds of redistricting over the last three years, including a total of 17 community forums, public hearings, and Council meetings, as well as a voter-approved amendment to the City Charter. But now, a vocal minority is spearheading a referendum effortContinue reading »

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Tight deadline to get redistricting referendum on ballot

Xan Join collected a number of signatures in late December. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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With only two weeks left to collect 5,275 signatures to force a city council redistricting measure on the ballot, members of the Berkeley Referendum Coalition are holding a rally on Saturday to train volunteers.

Those who are opposed to the redistricting plan approved by the City Council in December plan to meet at Mudracker’s Café at 2801 Telegraph Ave. at 11 a.m. to kick off an intense weekend of voter education.

“We are training people how to get signatures,” said Alejandro Soto-Vigil, an aide to City Councilman Kriss Worthington who is helping plan the campaign. “We are going to be sending teams out, generally two people per team, to certain blocks throughout the city of Berkeley, dispatching them to supermarkets, BART, and the neighborhoods that are going to be adversely affected by the redistricting.”

About 45 people showed up to the first meeting on Dec. 21 and organizers hope many more will turn out this weekend, said Soto-Vigil.

The Berkeley Referendum Coalition hopes to overturn a new redistricting map that they believe creates a less progressive District 7 and which is aimed at forcing out Worthington, said Soto-Vigil. … Continue reading »

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Worthington interns take to the dais for council practice

Kriss worthington interns, July 31, 2013. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Wednesday afternoon, interns from Councilman Kriss Worthington’s office took over Berkeley City Council chambers to present and debate 21 items they researched and wrote this summer.

The agenda was a preview into some of what will come out of Worthington’s office this fall; topics ranged from a proposal to set up an annual review for the city manager, to a referral on socially responsible banking and a suggestion on how to include more Cal group housing residences in the “campus district” under discussion by the council in its plans for redistricting.

The mock council meeting was also a way to give interns some hands-on experience with how city government works, said Worthington staffer Alejandro Soto-Vigil. This summer, 17 people took part in the internship program, which has taken place throughout Worthington’s 16-year tenure.

“We believe in supporting the next generation,” said Soto-Vigil on Thursday. “If you’re going to pass on the torch from the baby boomers, the next generation needs to know how the system works.” … Continue reading »

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Sid Lakireddy sues rent board candidates for libel

Lakireddy Bali Reddy leaves court in 2000. Photo: Examiner Collection, Bancroft Library
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The nephew of a notorious landlord who was sent to prison for transporting minors from India for the purpose of illegal sexual activity has filed a defamation lawsuit against four former Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board candidates.

Sid Lakireddy, president of the Berkeley Property Owners Association, said that Igor Tregub, Alejandro Soto-Vigil, Asa Dodsworth and Judy Shelton libeled him when they sent an email to supporters that overtly suggested Lakireddy was involved in the criminal case brought against his uncle, Lakireddy Bali Reddy. … Continue reading »

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