Tag Archives: City of Berkeley

Nature

Update: Unhappy ending for crow rescued in Berkeley

Crows in flight. Before they took to the air, they were calling to one another and hanging out in pairs in bare trees. Location: Fairfax. Photo: Elaine Miller Bond
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A city animal control officer rescued an injured crow Thursday afternoon after it got tangled in a piece of string and stuck in a tree 40 feet off the ground in West Berkeley.

Workers in an office building called the city Thursday at roughly 2:10 p.m. after noticing the bird struggling but unable to take flight, said John Kindle, an animal control officer for the city.

The Berkeley Fire Department responded to the scene, at 700 Heinz St., along with Kindle, to assess the situation.

When Kindle arrived, he used binoculars to take a closer look. He saw the crow high up in the tree with what appeared to be string tied to a branch and wrapped around one of its claws. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley to launch Nixle crime alerts for phone, email

Berkeley police officer Stephen Burcham presents 10-year-old Brandon Coleman with a certificate. Photo: Mark Coplan
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The city of Berkeley is kicking off its first foray into social media communication with a six-month pilot program to let police officers send crime and safety alerts directly to the public, city staff announced Monday night.

City staff has been saying since 2011 that plans to explore social media usage, and develop a policy to govern its use, are in the works. As of this week, there’s finally something to show for it.

Beginning May 1, Berkeley Police officers will be able to use online alert network Nixle to send out a variety of information concerning anything from missing people or wanted suspects to road closures and other advisories.

City spokesman Matthai Chakko announced the pilot program to a group of about 60 community members who attended a neighborhood watch-type meeting with police Monday night. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley officials: Social media ‘critical’ for transparency

Councilmen Gordon Wozniak and Jesse Arreguín are pushing for more transparency from Berkeley's city manager. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Two members of the Berkeley City Council are pushing the city manager to come up with a concrete plan about how city staff will use social media, via a consent calendar item on Tuesday night’s council agenda.

City staff said in February that a social media policy is in the works. Berkeleyside took a look at the issue that month to follow up on promises from the city in 2011 that the social media policy was in development.

Councilmen Jesse Arreguín and Gordon Wozniak cited Berkeleyside’s article in their April 1 agenda item, in which they direct city manager Christine Daniel to make a report to council on staff efforts to create the policy, and come up with a plan for the use of social media by city departments.

Arreguín and Wozniak said it is “critical” for the city to “move ahead in adopting a social media policy and implementing the use of social media by the Berkeley Police Department, Public Works and other city departments,” particularly because the city is a university town with a large number of residents who use social media “as a primary means of communication.” … Continue reading »

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In potholed city, which Berkeley streets will be paved?

Find out if your street will be paved in the next two years by consulting our interactive map. (Blue lines are scheduled for 2014, and red lines are scheduled for 2015.)
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The city of Berkeley has budgeted nearly $15.4 million through June 2015 to repave nearly 25 miles of city streets, many of which are in rough shape and desperate need of improvement.

So which streets will be paved? Berkeleyside has created an interactive map — scroll down to view it — to show which streets are on the list for fiscal years 2014 and 2015. Streets marked in blue are set to be repaved in 2014 by June, while those in red are slated to be fixed in fiscal year 2014-15. … Continue reading »

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3 years on, city of Berkeley still stuck on social media

Berkeley student Brandon Coleman, shown here during an interview in January with a local TV station, helped find a missing Berkeley man after the Oakland Police Department used alert service Nixle to inform community members about the case. Berkeley Police do not use Nixle. Photo: Mark Coplan
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Nearly three years after Berkeley city staff said the municipality was working on a social media policy to allow for greater transparency and communication, the city still has virtually no online presence apart from its official website.

In the meantime, surrounding cities have taken up the challenge, particularly in the area of crime fighting, with Oakland, Emeryville and Albany using sites like Twitter, Facebook and alert network Nixle to increase the public trust and share information.

Many other Bay Area law enforcement agencies, including the Alameda County district attorney’s office and the San Francisco office of the FBI, are also using social media to various degrees. That’s because social media is widely considered one of the best ways to reach the public, whether the goal is to share breaking news, crime tips or agency successes. … Continue reading »

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Government

Berkeley to investigate claims of unfair employment

Photo: NAACP via Facebook
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Two months after city employees and the NAACP raised issues about job discrimination, unfair housing practices, declining health services and racial profiling of African Americans in Berkeley, city officials are taking steps to investigate those concerns.

Berkeley has been in a dialogue with the NAACP since December 2012 regarding complaints from the community about city employment practices. On Sept. 6, City Manager Christine Daniel announced in a memo that the city is preparing to retain Mason-Tillman and Associates to investigate the complaints. It has taken some time to work out major kinks on how to protect the confidentiality of those who participate in the investigation, according to the memo. The firm now has the contract, but no date has been set yet for when the investigation will begin, said Matthai Chakko, the assistant to the city manager.  … Continue reading »

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Interactive map: Berkeley’s summer construction

Berkeley construction project map
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As you putter around Berkeley this summer, you may notice various construction projects that have taken over your secret downtown parking spot, halted traffic for several finger-drumming minutes, or even forced you to step off the sidewalk and take a detour.

Fear not, for Berkeleyside has compiled an interactive map to show you where construction is taking place, whether it’s rehabilitating the city’s sewers or narrowing The Alameda. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley offers free summer lunches, snacks for youth

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Berkeley is facilitating free lunches and snacks for under-18-year-olds this summer at locations across the city.

In the Berkeley Unified School District, 42 percent of students receive free or reduced lunch during the school year, which is easily accessible when school is in session but can become difficult to find during the summer. City Councilwoman Linda Maio recently sent an email to her district asking her constituents to spread the word about the free summer lunch program.

Berkeleyside has created a map, above, that shows where the lunches are distributed. Below is a list of the dates and locations of the free lunch and snack programs. … Continue reading »

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Government

News Group chief responds to Berkeley privacy breach

Screen shot 2013-04-25 at 9.58.32 AM
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Following this week’s disclosure by Berkeley city staff that roughly 11,000 municipal employee social security numbers had been erroneously divulged to a local media outlet in March, the media outlet’s managing editor said Tuesday that he doubted the data could have been compromised, though it had been “passed around” by employees over email.

Bert Robinson, managing editor for the Bay Area News Group, said the news outlet collects public employee salary and benefit information each year for an online database that is “very popular” on the company’s website. Reporters send 900 requests each year to public agencies to collect data for the project. Robinson said this was the first year “usable information” had been received from Berkeley. … Continue reading »

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Government

Berkeley shared SSNs from 11,000 current, past staff

Christine Daniel
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It emerged Tuesday afternoon that more people than previously thought had their social security numbers inadvertently released to a local news organization due to an error by a city of Berkeley employee.

City Manager Christine Daniel said Tuesday that the social security numbers of about 11,000 active and former employees were included in its response to a public information request about salaries from the Bay Area News Group last month.

On Friday Daniel said letters were sent to about 2,000 active city employees on April 15 alerting them to the mistake. … Continue reading »

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Government

City apologizes for inadvertent release of employee SSNs

Christine Daniel
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A Berkeley municipal staff member mistakenly disclosed the social security numbers of everyone who works for the city while responding to a public records request, and the city recently sent a letter to staff informing them of the error.

One staffer, who asked not to be identified, called the mistake “appalling,” and another criticized the city for taking weeks to inform employees about the breach. … Continue reading »

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News

Berkeley rejects idea of making city a No Drone Zone

A quadricopter drone. Photo: jalexartis
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At its meeting last night, the Berkeley City Council rejected a recommendation from the Peace and Justice Commission to establish a No Drone Zone in the city. Instead, the council referred the issue to three commissions — the Peace and Justice Commission, the Police Review Commission, and Disaster and Fire Safety Commssion — with guidelines for public safety agencies’ use of drones to be reviewed at a future council workshop.

During public comment more than a dozen people spoke in favor of the Peace and Justice Commission proposal, which would have banned all drones except for hobbyist use (and those would have been restricted to drones without cameras). … Continue reading »

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News

Moody’s places Berkeley bonds under review

Moody's
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Moody’s Investor Services, one of the two dominant bond ratings companies, announced on Tuesday that it was reviewing the ratings of 32 California cities, including Berkeley. Three issuances by Berkeley are under review by Moody’s: the $28 million 2003 certificates of participation, the $5.8 million 2010 animal shelter financing, and the $9.1 million 1999 lease revenue bonds.

Refinancings were recently agreed on both the 2003 and 1999 issuances, with new AA ratings from Standard & Poor’s. According to City Finance Director Robert Hicks, both of the refinancings will be completed before the Moody’s review. That is likely to mean that only the $5.8 million animal shelter financing, currently rated Aa3, will be subject to review.

According to David Jacobson, a spokesman for Moody’s, the overall economic and legislative climate in California triggered the reviews.

“The factors here don’t apply just to Berkeley,” he said. “Over the last few years, California municipalities have been through interesting developments. There have been three bankruptcies. Over 50 have declared fiscal emergencies. We reanalyzed all the 90 cities in California that we rate. We determined that there were about 30 where we decided to place the rating on review and decided to just make sure they were rated appropriately.” … Continue reading »

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