Tag Archives: Kriss Worthington

Performance of Berkeley’s library director under fire at meeting of library trustees

Jeff Scott, far left at table, talks to members of BOLT before an Aug. 26 meeting. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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More than 40 people expressed concern about the actions of the Berkeley Library director at a specially called meeting Wednesday night of the Board of Library Trustees.

Those who spoke publicly – who were supported by 40 observers  – not only complained about the aggressive book weeding policy put forward by Jeff Scott, the director, but about other issues, including what they perceive as a hostile working environment and a lack of honesty and trust. They said they thought Scott had lied to the community about the number of books weeded out. (Scott initially said he thought 2,200 books had been discarded this year. He later acknowledged that the real number was 39,000). Some also said they were punished for speaking out against the collections management policy.

As Scott sat at the front of the room, his head bowed as he took notes, in what must have been an excruciatingly difficult meeting for him, a number of the speakers called for him to be either fired or suspended without pay. Others asked for an independent investigation into the weeding process: how it occurred, what might have gone wrong, and what could be learned from it. … Continue reading »

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Library

Berkeley library director admits vast discrepancies in numbers of weeded books

Berkeley’s Central Library on Kittredge Street: its collection is being weeded and not everyone is happy and how it’s being done. Photo: Kaia Diringer
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Over 39,000 items have been weeded from Berkeley Public Library this year, far more than the couple of thousand previously cited by Library Director Jeff Scott. The 39,000 items include 13,850 deleted last copies of books. According to Scott, however, the 39,000 items is comparable to the average weeded over the last two years.

“I had the wrong information,” Scott said. “There was an internal process different to what I realized.”

The vast discrepancies emerged following protests by an ad hoc group of retired librarians and other library users over a new system for deaccessioning, introduced by Scott. Two Public Records Act requests — by a Berkeley High student and a Bay Area News Group reporter — failed to produce either the number of weeded items or details on which titles had been removed. Councilman Kriss Worthington met with Scott on July 24 and, according to Worthington, he was able to find the real number of weeded items after Scott “pushed the right buttons” on his computer.

Worthington and the retired librarians are holding a rally at noon today, Aug. 12, on the main library’s steps protesting what he has dubbed “Librarygate.” … Continue reading »

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Government

Berkeley mayor nominates interim city manager

Dee Williams-Ridley
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The Berkeley mayor’s office has asked city officials to appoint Deputy City Manager Dee Williams-Ridley as interim city manager following the expected departure later this month of Christine Daniel.

Daniel announced in June that she would be leaving Berkeley to work for the city of Oakland as assistant city administrator. Her final day in Berkeley is set for Friday, July 24.

Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates announced Thursday afternoon in a prepared statement that he has formally asked the Berkeley City Council to appoint Williams-Ridley to serve on an interim basis until a permanent city manager can be selected.

The nomination is set to go before council at its July 14 meeting.

The mayor has recommended an annual salary of $225,000 for Williams-Ridley to match the current city manager salary, plus a $1,600 housing allowance. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley council open to proposals to end homelessness, but questions how to pay for them

Since Measure S failed in 2012, many say Berkeley's homeless population has only grown. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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At a special worksession Tuesday night, the Berkeley City Council expressed interest in a raft of recommendations from an independent citizen panel related to how the city might change its approach to homelessness, but some officials said they remain unconvinced that the changes are something the city can afford.

The recommendations came from the Berkeley Homeless Task Force, which was initiated by Councilman Jesse Arreguín in 2013 after Measure S failed the prior November to win popular support, but sparked a broad community discussion about the city’s homeless. Since then, Arreguín said, the city’s homeless population appears to have grown, though official estimates won’t be available until fall.

“There is still clearly more we can do,” Arreguín said. “Berkeley can be a leader in ending homelessness.”

Read more about homelessness in Berkeley.

Tuesday night, Arreguín and Genevieve Wilson, one of the chairs of the panel, presented a series of recommendations for how the city might direct its funding in its efforts to end homelessness. They emphasized a “housing first” model, which they said has been endorsed by Alameda County and worked in other cities — ultimately leading to cost savings despite high initial start-up expenses. … Continue reading »

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Urban planning

Open house displays plans for Shattuck Square facelift

Shattuck Ave. Image: Google Maps
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Berkeley residents got their first look at the city’s plan to redesign traffic patterns around Shattuck Square on Tuesday night at an open house in the Aurora Theater.

The room was lined with illustrations of the project plans and grids where attendees could rate the current pedestrian, cycling and driving conditions of Shattuck Avenue. Around the displays, engineers, city officials and urban designers associated with the project were on hand to answer questions and provide additional information.

Read more about traffic safety in past Berkeleyside coverage.

The Shattuck Avenue reconfiguration and pedestrian safety project is a part of the larger Downtown Area Plan, which was adopted by the City Council in 2012 and encompasses environmental goals, transit and access, community health, economic development and more.

Among the most dangerous intersections in the city for pedestrians, the corner of University Avenue and Shattuck is number two on the list for pedestrian-car collisions and near misses. … Continue reading »

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Wireless carriers sue Berkeley over phone radiation law

Please destroy cell phones before entering: A front gate in Berkeley, Calif. Photo: Fragmentary Evidence
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A wireless trade association filed suit against Berkeley on Monday, claiming that the city’s new law requiring notification of possible radiation from cellphones is a violation of the First Amendment.

CTIA The Wireless Association filed the federal suit in the Northern District of California court.

“Berkeley’s Ordinance violates the First Amendment because it will require CTIA’s members to convey a message to which they object, and which is factually inaccurate, misleading, and controversial,” the lawsuit contends, according to The Hill, a Washington D.C.-based website that covers Congress, politics, and political campaigns.

One of the attorneys representing the wireless trade group is Theodore B. Olsen, who successfully argued to overturn California’s Prop 8 that banned gay marriage. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley passes cellphone ‘right to know’ law

Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig and Devra Davis from the Environmental Health Trust at Berkeley City Council. Photo: Lance Knobel
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Berkeley City Council on Tuesday unanimously passed the first reading of a “Right to Know” ordinance to require cellphone retailers in Berkeley to provide consumers with information that warns them to keep a minimum safe distance between their bodies and their phones.

“The world is watching what you do tonight,” said Devra Davis, president of the Environmental Health Trust. “And you have the opportunity to do the right thing.”

The ordinance would require cellphone retailers to provide consumers with every sale or lease of a phone with a notice on radio frequency (RF) radiation exposure guidelines, warning that carrying the phone in a pants or shirt pocket or tucked into a bra could result in exceeding federal guidelines. City staff had assistance from Lawrence Lessig, a law professor at Harvard, and Robert Post, dean of Yale Law School, in drafting the ordinance. Lessig has offered to defend the city pro bono if the law is challenged, as expected, by cellphone manufacturers.  … Continue reading »

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Transportation

Berkeley Bicycle Plan workshop draws a crowd

Attendees at Monday's bike plan workshop gave feedback about what they like, and don't like, about cycling in Berkeley. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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More than 100 people turned out Monday night to offer feedback to the city of Berkeley, which is updating its Bicycle Plan for the first time in over a decade.

The city held a public workshop on the bike plan at the Central Library, complete with interactive exhibits, snacks and activities for children.

The plan itself, which was adopted in 2000, is an overview of the city’s existing bike networks, facilities and programs. It discusses local bike use, problems in the infrastructure and how cycling fits into the city’s overall sustainability goals. The update will help the city figure out how to improve its facilities going forward, and get a better sense of existing conditions.

Participants perused informative displays — many of which sought comments in various ways — that were set up around the library’s community room. They included data about who is cycling in Berkeley, the economic benefits of cycling, attitudes of local residents about cycling, funding for bike projects, collision information and much more.

Eric Anderson, a transportation planner for the city, called the turnout “incredible.”  … Continue reading »

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Berkeley bike festival, cycling plan open house coming up

Get your bike on with two important events coming up in Berkeley in the next week. Photo: Bikes in Berkeley
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Berkeley cycling aficionados have two big events coming up in the next week: the city’s third annual Bikes in Berkeley Festival on Sunday, followed by an open house Monday focused on a major update to the city’s Bicycle Plan.

The Bikes in Berkeley Festival is scheduled to take place Sunday at Malcolm X Elementary School, 1731 Prince St. (between Ellis and King streets), from noon to 4 p.m. It is set to kick off with a family cycling workshop (more information and a pre-registration form is here), followed by a youth bike swap (details here) and the festival itself.

The festival, called Fiesta de la Tierra — a nod in part to this week’s Earth Day (on Wednesday) — will have a bike and helmet decoration station, a “bike rodeo” to practice rules of the road, helmet fittings, bike-blended smoothies, bicycle-inspired entertainment, a cargo bike demo station, “and a whole lot more to inspire, educate and encourage bicycle riding,” according to organizers. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley council votes to support state vaccination bill

Opponents of state bill SB277 came out Tuesday night to testify before the Berkeley City Council. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Dozens of people opposing state legislation focused on making it tougher for people to opt out of vaccinations testified Tuesday night before the Berkeley City Council, which ultimately voted 7-1 to support the new bill.

Opponents of SB277, a state bill that would require vaccinations for more Californian schoolchildren, told council they should be allowed to make personal medical decisions with their doctors, and that too many vaccines are recommended on the current schedule. Many said they do not trust the pharmaceutical industry, and that it is unknown how many vaccines might be added to the schedule in the future.

“It is abhorrent for any government to force any medical procedure on children,” Leslie Hewitt, a Danville-based chiropractor, told city officials. Most of the people who testified — many of whom said they live in Berkeley or nearby Albany — agreed with her position, and urged council to do more research before voting to support the new law.

But a small group of medical students from UCSF told council they should support the bill. And one school nurse said the new proposed requirements are critical in the interest of public health: “It has to be done because a lot of our parents are not doing what’s right.” … Continue reading »

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Berkeley tells cannabis collective to shut down

Toya Groves and Chris Smith listen at the Jan. 20 city council meeting. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Even though more than 40 people testified about the importance of the Forty Acres Medical Marijuana Growers Collective to the black community, the Berkeley City Council voted 7-2 Tuesday night to declare it a public nuisance.

But the decision, which came almost four years after Berkeley officials first told its co-founder, Chris Smith, that his cannabis collective was operating illegally, may not be the last word on the operation. Lee Hepner, Smith’s attorney, said before the meeting that they would almost certainly challenge the action in court. Any legal challenge would join the three other lawsuits that Smith currently has pending against Berkeley and a number of employees.

Read more about medical marijuana issues in Berkeley.

Another possibility is for Smith to apply for the permit to open a fourth dispensary in the city. Applicants have until March 20 to declare they are interested. … Continue reading »

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Determined crowd demands fast action from Berkeley council; officials set meeting on protests for January

The crowd at Tuesday night's Berkeley council meeting listened closely to public testimony. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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An emotional crowd nearly shut down the Berkeley City Council multiple times Tuesday night during a public comment period that lasted the better part of four hours.

About 50 people spoke to council — and many more were in attendance — to share concerns about racial profiling as well as the actions of police on Saturday, Dec. 6, when officers used tear gas, projectiles and baton hits to control and clear a crowd that refused to disperse from Telegraph Avenue after several hours of demonstrations around the city.

Council members considered but rejected the possibility of scheduling a special meeting this month to discuss the events of Dec. 6, and how police should interact with protesters going forward.

See complete Berkeleyside coverage of the recent Berkeley protests.

Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates announced that council will hold a special meeting Jan. 17 that’s set to include a panel of experts as well as workshops for more interactive discussion of critical issues. … Continue reading »

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Police Review Commission asks for suspension of tear gas

A line of police officers marched down Telegraph Avenue during the Dec. 6th protests. Photo: Pete Rosos
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After hearing the testimony of about 10 people who said they were treated unnecessarily roughly during a Dec. 6 protest, the Police Review Commission voted Wednesday to ask Berkeley city officials to restrict the use of tear gas, over-the-shoulder baton hits and firing projectiles as a form of crowd control.

The PRC, which put the issue on its agenda as an emergency measure, is hoping the Berkeley City Council will do the same at its meeting Tuesday, Dec. 16.

Read more coverage of the recent protests in Berkeley.

“Our proposal was for a cooling-off period,” said Alison Bernstein, vice chair of the PRC. “[Using tear gas] is a crowd control technique. We’re not saying it’s right. We’re not saying it’s wrong. But we are hearing serious concerns from the community.” … Continue reading »

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