Tag Archives: Susan Wengraf
Berkeley City Council agreed on Tuesday night to raise the cost for the annual residential parking permit from $34.50 to $45, a 30% increase. The increase was a compromise following a recommendation from city staff that a 60% increase was necessary to cover the full costs of the Residential Preferential Parking program (RPP).
The RPP is projected to have revenues of nearly $1.6 million for the city in the 2013 fiscal year. But that barely covers the cost of parking enforcement, while the $311,000 cost of permit issuance and $105,000 cost for the transportation to administer the program results in overall losses. When the city council considered overall budget shortfalls in January, it instructed city staff to find ways to cover the RPP program losses. … Continue reading »
Berkeley City Council last night unanimously approved both the Downtown Streets & Open Space Improvement Plan (SOSIP) and a schedule of fees that will help fund the proposed projects. SOSIP aims to help create a more pedestrian-oriented neighborhood downtown, and will help guide the design of parks, plazas and streetscapes in the area.
The SOSIP is the first concrete action on the streets and open space provisions of the Downtown Area Plan, which was approved by the council in March 2012.
“I’m very excited about a lot of the projects put forward,” said council member Jesse Arreguín, whose district includes downtown. ”If we can do even a fraction of these projects, it would really make a difference in making downtown a much more pedestrian friendly and vibrant environment.”
The major projects identified in the SOSIP as priorities are: … Continue reading »
Update, 9:10 p.m.: Les Blank was able to attend the City Council meeting and heard the proclamation that was made about him. He was accompanied by his son Harrod Blank and many friends showed up to support him. Berkeleyside’s Emilie Raguso was at the meeting and posted the photo below to Twitter and on our Facebook page (where there’s also video of Harrod Blank addressing the Council.)
Original story: “Les Blank is one of the best documentary filmmakers in America,” says Susan Wengraf, councilwoman for district 6 in Berkeley, who plans to present Blank with a proclamation at tonight’s meeting of the City Council.
Blank, who has lived in Berkeley for 35 years, and whose company Flower Films, is based in El Cerrito, may not be able to attend the meeting at which he will be honored, however, as he is very ill. (On Monday, Blank’s son Harrod told friends he hoped his father would be there.)
Wengraf, who has know the filmmaker for nearly 40 years, says she is crossing her fingers Blank will be there, but she takes comfort from the fact that an informal proclamation was made at a recent screening of clips of Blank’s films. Many of his friends were there and Blank answered questions from the audience. “Harrod said it made him very happy and lifted his spirits,” Wengraf says. … Continue reading »
Berkeley in 2012 was filled with drama — a contested election, a failed nomination for a new school superintendent, a few missteps by the Chief of Police, and major changes at the University of California, among other events. Here’s a recap of the issues that had the deepest impact on Berkeley, plus a few fun ones thrown in.
The year got off to a tragic start with the untimely death of 37-year-old City Clerk Deanna Despain. She fell down the stairs of her Oakland home on Jan. 8. Her husband discovered her body when he returned from a late-night meeting. Their daughter was soundly asleep upstairs. Since then, Mark Numainville has been filling in as acting city clerk. In May, after serving as interim city manager for six months, the City Council appointed Christine Daniel permanently to the job. She replaced Phil Kamlarz, who had held the city’s top job for eight years. … Continue reading »
How much will it cost to mail an absentee ballot? It depends who you ask.
Last week, a reader pointed out to Berkeleyside that the mail-in absentee ballot for the November 2012 election requires extra postage, but that the exact amount needed isn’t specified.
“I just filled out my ballot and, when I slipped it all back into the huge envelope and began to mail it, I realized the postage was not prepaid, nor did it say how much it should cost. It only says ‘Additional Postage Required’ and the envelope looks oversized and is fairly heavy for a letter. You might think it’s easy enough to go to the post office and find out, or I could weigh it and then look up the rates online. But these things are a major hassle.”
At Tuesday night’s council meeting, city officials and staff offered some insights to help voters know what to do with their absentee ballots. In Berkeley, the full package involves inserting four separate pieces into the envelope.
City Manager Christine Daniel said the vote-by-mail ballot requires $1.50 in postage, according to county Registrar of Voters Dave Macdonald. The city has posted more detailed information on its website about what voters need to know. … Continue reading »
On a recent Friday evening, City Councilmember Susan Wengraf put on a heavy bulletproof jacket and went on a ride-along with a Berkeley Police patrol officer. By the end of a thoroughly exciting night, Wengraf was talking enthusiastically about a second career in law enforcement — she had also been instrumental in solving a crime.
The ride-along – which was a first for Wengraf who looks after District 6 in the Berkeley hills — started out routinely with the police officer responding to calls coming in over the dispatch radio. “There was a traffic accident with a woman who was 7-months pregnant,” recalled Wengraf. “A call about a 5-year old child who was missing, and an alarm going off at a home on Indian Rock.”
After a couple of hours roaming the city streets, there was word of a house robbery on Buena Vista Way, right in the heart of Wengraf’s district. The suspect had fled the scene, but there was a description, as a neighbor had seen him. … Continue reading »
Berkeley’s city commissions are overwhelmingly white and do not reflect the city’s ethnic makeup, a new study by a group of UC Berkeley students has determined.
While 55% of Berkeley’s 112,000 residents are Caucasian, whites make up 59% of the appointees to the city’s 35+ commissions, according to the study, which will be released at a press conference today.
Asian and Pacific Islanders make up 19% of the city’s population, yet that group only holds 7% of the commission seats. African-Americans, who make up 10% of Berkeley, hold 7% of the seats. Latinos, who make up 11% of the city, hold just 4% of the commission seats. Students, who make up about 20%-25% of Berkeley, are also under-represented, holding 11% of the spots, according to the study. … Continue reading »
While eyes across the country are focused on Berkeley’s City Hall to see how it responds to Police Chief Michael Meehan’s attempts to get a reporter to change his story, the eyes at City Hall are all focused on Interim City Manager Christine Daniel.
With just a six-month contract that is due to expire in May, the way Daniel handles the Meehan matter may play a large role in whether she gets the job permanently.
Daniel learned on Friday March 9 that Chief Meehan had sent Sgt. Mary Kusmiss to the house of Oakland Tribune reporter Doug Oakley at 12:45 am that day to ask that he change a story on a community meeting about Peter Cukor’s murder. But Daniel did not issue a statement on the matter until around 2:20 pm March 10, hours after the story garnered significant airtime and play in regional publications.
And since then, Daniel has been quiet. … Continue reading »
An estimated 150-200 people turned out on Thursday evening to Northbrae Community Church on The Alameda in north Berkeley to ask the Berkeley Police Department about their response to the Feb. 18 murder of Park Hills resident Peter Cukor.
There was a palpable sense of anxiety in the room as the meeting got under way and a significant media presence, with several TV crews as well as print and digital journalists in attendance.
When Councilmember Susan Wengraf opened by saying questions would be taken on written cards, there were shouts of dismay and hostile accusations leveled by several members of the audience.
However, once the meeting progressed, the mood became calmer and there were even moments of levity. Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan received several rounds of applause from an audience that generally skewed towards the over-50s. … Continue reading »
Berkeley police have reviewed the agency’s actions on the night Peter Cukor was murdered and do not believe they took any missteps, Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan said Thursday.
But media reports have created the inaccurate impression that police ignored an emergency call from Cukor because they were too busy monitoring an Occupy march.
That was the message that Chief Meehan and some of his top staff delivered to Berkeleyside on Thursday afternoon in a wide-ranging interview that lasted more than an hour. … Continue reading »
Councilmember Susan Wengraf (District 6) has called a town hall meeting to discuss public safety in the wake of the Feb. 18 murder of Peter Cukor outside his home in north Berkeley. Police Chief Michael Meehan and City Manager Christine Daniel will both be in attendance, as will a supervising dispatcher, and BPD Area Coordinator Officer Byron White.
In a communication to her constituents, Wengraf wrote that she was saddened and disturbed by the murder. “The circumstances surrounding the incident have raised many concerns about safety and police protection. I have talked to some of you personally and others by email. However, given the nature of the incident, I think that a public meeting where you all have an opportunity to voice your concerns and get answers to your questions directly from the Police Chief would be in the best interests of our community.” … Continue reading »
Update, 4:32 pm: Murder suspect Daniel DeWitt did not enter a plea this afternoon at his arraignment in Alameda County Superior Court, according to an updated report by Henry Lee in the Chronicle. His father, Al DeWitt Jr., confirmed the person his son described as his fiancée, Zoey, does not exist. Daniel DeWitt was diagnosed five years ago with paranoid schizophrenia and has a pending misdemeanor battery case for an incident last year.
Original story: Berkeley City Councilmember Susan Wengraf is to meet with Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan to seek answers to what she says are still unanswered questions over the police response to the Feb. 18 killing of Peter Cukor, 67, outside his home at Park Gate in the north Berkeley hills.
In particular, Wengraf says she wants to understand more clearly the prioritization of non-emergency calls by BPD and larger protocol issues about how calls to the police from the community are handled.
BDP did not respond to a non-emergency call placed by Cukor at approximately 8:45 pm on Feb. 18. because patrol teams had been reconfigured to monitor an Occupy protest march which was coming into Berkeley from Oakland. The first of several BPD officers arrived at the scene within five minutes of a subsequent 911 call by Cukor’s wife, which was placed at 9:02 pm, after the murder suspect had begun to assault Cukor. … Continue reading »