Tag Archives: California Watch


BUSD responds to Berkeley High harassment costs story

Photo: BPD
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The Berkeley School district says there were inaccuracies in an article by Anika Anand and Emily Hartley of California Watch which set out to uncover the cost to BUSD of a sexual harassment case at Berkeley High.

The California Watch article, which Berkeleyside published in full on July 25, said that over a period of about one year Berkeley officials had balked at disclosing how much they spent defending BHS counsellor Anthony Smith, and had failed to respond to most queries from reporters, including two Public Records Act (PRA) requests for information.

In a statement released on July 27, BUSD Deputy Superintendent Javetta Cleveland said BUSD did not respond to two PRA requests initially because the district was involved in ongoing litigation and was therefore not legally obliged to disclose any information. Once the lawsuit was settled, Cleveland said, a lawyer representing BUSD spoke with the California Watch reporter covering the story and provided information. “It was the District’s understanding that counsel’s email satisfied the requirements of both Public Record Act requests,” the statement concludes. … Continue reading »

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Report: Berkeley Patients Group earned $15m in 2009

As Berkeley Patients Group prepared to shut its doors on May 1, it advertised its delivery services on a sign behind the reception desk. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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Berkeley Patients Group took in $15 million and paid its top executives $911,000 in 2009, while only donating $18,083 to charities, according to a story released Wednesday by California Watch.

Etienne Fontan earned $357,529, Tim Schick earned $290,765, and Debby Goldsberry earned $263,299 in 2009, part of $3.3 million spent on labor costs, according to story. The medical cannabis dispensary, which operated at 2747 San Pablo Avenue until May, when the federal government forced it to close, spent $151,789 on security in 2009 and distributed $253,433 to marijuana advocacy organizations, according to California Watch. It made about a 40% profit on its products.

BPG officials had told the Oakland Tribune in 2009 that it donated about $300,000 a year to charities. … Continue reading »

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Thousands of schools at risk during earthquake

The City Council currently meets in the Maudelle Shirek building but is looking for new meeting space.
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A team of California Watch reporters and researchers spent the last 19 months investigating how the state enforces the Field Act, a strict seismic safety law that is supposed to protect school children at public schools. California Watch is partnering with dozens of California newspapers, television stations, radio outlets, and websites, including Berkeleyside,  to distribute their findings. Berkeleyside will have a story about the hazards of the city’s schools later today.

Among the findings to be presented in California Watch’s three-part series:

  • At least 20,000 projects – from minor fire alarm upgrades to major construction of new classrooms – were completed without receiving a final safety certification required by law. A California Watch analysis determined that roughly six out of every 10 public schools in the state has at least one uncertified building project.
  • A separate state seismic inventory created nearly a decade ago shows more than 7,500 older school buildings as potentially dangerous. But restrictive rules have prevented schools from accessing a special $200 million fund for seismic repairs. Only two have tapped the money. The vast majority of the buildings remain unfixed, and the money unused. … Continue reading »
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Berkeley business is model for new journalism

California Watch website
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It could be a scene right out of any decent movie about newspapers: veteran reporters and editors sit around a big table and bounce around news ideas.

“It gives me chills,” one of the top editors says about a pending news investigation.

“The reporting is so amazing,” responds another.

A movie set? No.  A memory from long ago when newspapers actually had the funds to do in-depth reporting? No.

It’s actually a description of a scenario that happened recently … Continue reading »

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Are there chickens on the loose in Berkeley?

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Veteran investigative reporter Lance Williams of California Watch tipped us off to this caper: there was a chicken running loose in the Elmwood a few days ago.

Fortunately, a kind citizen noticed the bird trying to cross Ashby Avenue, picked it up, and took it home. The Good Samaritan then put up this poster seeking the bird’s owner.

The rescuer did not identify himself, but Williams used his well-honed investigative skills to determine his identity. As he … Continue reading »

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