Tag Archives: Susan Wengraf

Op-ed: A response to Terry Roberts

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When responding to an opinion piece, as Terry Roberts purports to do, it is often quite useful to base your response on both on the opinions expressed in the original piece and also on actually relevant personal experience. The first makes it easier to follow your response and the second, of course, is more of a courtesy offered to logical argument. Evidently Roberts considers neither standard binding.

Isabelle Gaston and Patricia Mapps did not say that utility undergrounding … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Utility undergrounding must be considered in disaster planning

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I read Patricia Mapp’s Oct. 27 and Isabelle Gaston’s Oct. 26 Opinionater articles suggesting that utility undergrounding is not an important priority when considering public safety and disaster preparedness.

I totally disagree.

I have first-hand experience when it comes to utility undergrounding, emergency preparedness and public safety. I am a former public works director in Oakland, managing first-line emergency response in both the 1989 earthquake and the 1991 Oakland/Berkeley fire.

I was behind the fire lines in Oakland … Continue reading »

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Berkeley mail delivery prompts tidal wave of complaints

Local residents have reported numerous problems in Berkeley with postal service, particularly in recent weeks. Photo: Sonny Abesamis
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It’s definitely not just you. Late-night and skipped mail deliveries, suspect delivery “attempts,” slow service and mis-delivered mail: Berkeleyside has received complaints about the U.S. Postal Service from more than 80 Berkeley residents in the past week who detailed a range of problems throughout October. And some say there has been trouble for much longer.

“USPS has been horrible lately – either very late nighttime deliveries or none at all,” wrote one resident. “I’ve lodged a complaint with the USPS but as yet have no reply, just confirmation of its receipt. Very very frustrating, especially at voting time.”

Said another: “You can’t get anyone to help you. The people in the post office might (at most) give you a number to call, but you can never reach an actual person. This is frustrating, and should be unacceptable for a federal organization, especially one that people rely on on a daily basis.”

Berkeleyside became aware of the widespread problems last week after breaking the news about a local man who found nearly 100 sample ballots dumped, along with their plastic bindings, into a Berkeley recycling bin. The carrier responsible has been identified and interviewed by authorities but the investigation is ongoing and no further information has been provided.

Berkeleyside has since received reports of more dumped ballot guides and actual vote-by-mail ballots, of people not receiving their guides at all, and of others who were still waiting for their ballots as of this week. But the shoddy service seems to be impacting more than just election mail. Reports have come in from all sectors of the city, as well as Albany, Kensington and Oakland.

“Very late deliveries many times after 10:00 p.m. The carrier is walking around with a head lamp,” wrote Bill Newton. “Budget cuts, staff shortages, anyone have any ideas?”

Berkeley’s new postmaster, Candace Champion, was “not available” to talk this week, according to the USPS spokesman for the region. Champion, who became postmaster in August, did not respond to an email request for an interview. … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Preserve public safety — Do not tie undergrounding utilities to disaster preparedness

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Disaster preparedness and undergrounding utilities have become campaign issues in the District 6 Council race because the incumbent, Susan Wengraf, put “Improving Public Safety” at the top of her list of accomplishments and said she improved public safety because she “initiated a plan to underground all utilities in Berkeley to make streets safe for evacuation”. However, there is no existing plan for undergrounding all utilities in Berkeley, nor will undergrounding all utilities in Berkeley make streets safe for evacuation in case … Continue reading »

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District 6 candidates clash over development, homeless

Appearing in ballot order, top row from left, District 6 candidates: Susan Wengraf, Fred Dodsworth, Isabelle Gaston. Photos: Courtesy
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With less than two weeks until election day, District 6 incumbent Susan Wengraf has raised more than twice the cash as both her opponents — Fred Dodsworth and Isabelle Gaston — combined, according to the latest campaign filings.

Stark differences between the candidates emerged during a candidate panel sponsored by the League of Women Voters in mid-September, Dodsworth and Gaston appearing more closely aligned against Wengraf than each other. As cash separates the candidates, so too do their platforms.

Among the most contentious and disputed at the candidate forum were the perennial issues of affordable housing and development as well as how to handle the city’s homeless population.

The two challengers doubled down on isolationism as a response to the housing crisis. 

“Oakland has plenty of room, El Cerrito has plenty of room, and so do Walnut Creek and Concord,” Dodsworth said. “It’s not our obligation to feed everyone in the world, it’s only our responsibility to take care of people who live here now.”Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Why undergrounding utilities is not the answer to earthquake and firestorm safety

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With the anniversaries of the Loma Prieta earthquake and the Oakland-Berkeley Firestorm occurring in the middle of a “hot” election, there’s been much discussion about safety in the hills. Councilwoman Susan Wengraf has made this a key issue in her bid for re-election to the Council for District 6, by promising to “underground all utilities in the city” — a promise that is not only not impractical but dangerous because it leads the city away from solutions that will actually save … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Why 11 current and former Berkeley elected officials endorse Laurie Capitelli

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We are former and current Berkeley elected officials who are united in our support for Laurie Capitelli as our next mayor. With our direct firsthand experience, we all deeply appreciate Laurie’s love for Berkeley, his trustworthiness, good humor, compassion, decency and intelligence. We urge you to vote for Laurie as your first choice.

Laurie is a team builder. A leader in the campaign to tax the soda industry, Laurie built the broad coalition and served on the steering committee that beat Big Soda. Laurie has the collaborative skills and leadership that are needed to continue the fight for public health and ensure that Alta Bates continues to serve our community.

Laurie is a mediator and consensus builder. Laurie negotiated the groundbreaking $15 minimum wage, bringing together labor, businesses and nonprofits in a historic agreement. Prior to this achievement, Laurie co-authored and led the passage of two $15 minimum wage measures in 2015 and 2016, which were among the most progressive wage measures in the nation, reaching $15 several years faster than the state of California.

Laurie believes in the transformative power of education and has raised millions of dollars for our public schools. As a former school teacher, Laurie is committed to closing Berkeley’s achievement gap by establishing universal preschool. It’s no surprise that every endorsing School Board member supports Laurie. … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Why is the Berkeley City Council so right-wing?

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You would think in a left-leaning city like Berkeley – a bastion of free speech and the home of one of the soda tax – that the City Council would be a pretty liberal group. So, it came as a surprise to me to learn that this liberal town has a right-wing City Council.

We’re used to thinking of right-wing politics in terms of social issues – anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage, pro-gun, pro-fossil fuels, etc. But this misses the point. The right wing is the business party. In right-wing politics, big business seeks to influence government decisions by backing candidates who will tilt the regulatory and taxation playing field their way. Some of our local council members are pretty clear about this. For example, Susan Wengraf (District 6) said, in effect, at a candidates’ forum that “what’s good for business is good for Berkeley.” A more effective approach, taken by Laurie Capitelli, is to find a wedge issue to distract ordinary voters from the favors that are being granted to big campaign contributors. … Continue reading »

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Real-estate interests spend $92K to help elect candidates

Mayoral candidates Laurie Capitelli and Jesse Arreguín butted heads Tuesday night over the minimum wage proposal. Photos: Mark Coplan
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The political action committee of the National Association of Realtors has poured $92,486 into the Berkeley election in recent weeks, with almost two-thirds of that going to support Laurie Capitelli in his race for mayor.

The realtors spent $60,382 to send out flyers in support of Capitelli, whose main challengers are fellow City Councilmen Jesse Arreguin and Kriss Worthington. Those two are running in tandem and are encouraging voters to rank them first and second on Berkeley’s rank-choice ballot in a bid to defeat Capitelli.

See all local 2016 coverage on Berkeleyside.

(Berkeleyside reported on Oct. 12 that the realtors had spent $36,342 in support of Capitelli’s campaign, but the group has since filed additional documentation.)

The National Association of Realtors Fund is considered an independent expenditure, which means the organization does not coordinate with the candidates’ campaigns. These groups are not restrained by Berkeley’s $250 limit for individuals.

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Election 2016 Berkeley: Spotlight on District 5, District 6

Appearing in ballot order, top row from left, District 6 candidates: Susan Wengraf, Fred Dodsworth, Isabelle Gaston. Bottom row, District 5, from left: Sophie Hahn, Stephen Murphy. Photos: Courtesy
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Berkeleyside wants to help you get to know your 2016 candidates for Berkeley City Council, School Board and Rent Stabilization Board. This week, we plan to publish questionnaires with the candidates daily at 11 a.m.

In coming weeks, we’ll have stories on all the key Berkeley races and initiatives that will be on the ballot, and hope to help readers make informed decisions about the potential leaders and policies that could help shape Berkeley’s future.

See all local 2016 coverage on Berkeleyside.

Q&As with the District 5 (North Berkeley) and District 6 (Northeast Berkeley) City Council races follow. We asked candidates why they were running, what sets them apart, what the city’s biggest challenges are and how they hope to solve them. Learn what each candidate thinks is her or his most inspired idea, and how each candidate plans to be accountable and accessible to constituents. Each questionnaire includes complete campaign info, including social media pages, to help readers connect.

Each race also includes a PDF grid to help readers compare responses side by side. The deadline to register to vote in Alameda County for the Nov. 8 election is Monday, Oct. 24. … Continue reading »

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Election 2016: Who is Susan Wengraf?

Photo: Courtesy of Susan Wengraf
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Name: Susan Wengraf

Age: 71

Job: Berkeley City Council, District 6

What office are you are running for? Berkeley City Council, District 6

What is the main reason you are running? I want to continue to represent the needs and concerns of District 6 residents and to bring a rational and civil approach to our city’s governance. I really care about our community and I want District 6 to continue to have strong, progressive representation. The hills have very specific needs that must be … Continue reading »

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Berkeley candidates outline their positions on the arts

Josh Kornbluth was the emcee for the evening. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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Five Berkeley mayoral candidates and a slew of contenders for City Council gathered Wednesday evening at the Freight & Salvage to discuss their commitment to funding the arts.

The Berkeley Cultural Trust, a consortium of individuals from various arts organizations in Berkeley, put on the candidates’ debate. Its setting could not have been more appropriate: the building, which once housed a garage, now serves as the Bay Area’s premiere venue for folk and bluegrass performances. The Freight & Salvage sits on Addison Street in the heart of Berkeley’s Arts District, right across the street from Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Aurora Theatre and the California Jazz Conservatory (which is expanding across the street).

Check out a round-up of more local election events coming up.

Years ago, this area was just another random block in downtown Berkeley, but it now serves as one of the most vibrant stretches in the city. When Mayor Tom Bates recently hosted a meeting of mayors from around the country, one of the most popular events of the conference was a tour of the downtown Arts District, according to Michael Caplan, the manager of Berkeley’s economic development department, who led the tours.

Berkeley has done a lot to ensure that dance, music, performance and the visual arts thrive. Earlier this year,  the City Council adopted a ‘1% for arts’ provision, which requires developers of new projects (except those in the downtown) to devote 1% of their construction costs to public art or pay an in-lieu fee. That’s on top of a similar 1.5% art requirement tied to public improvements and bond measures. In 2016, Berkeley will give out $389,00 in grants to various arts groups, a boost of $150,000 over recent years. Berkeley has also provided capital grants to places like the UC Theatre and the Kala Arts Institute.

Whether this is the beginning or the final shape of Berkeley’s commitment to the arts was a central question of the forum, which attracted around 250 people. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley candidates share their vision for downtown

Downtown Berkeley at dusk, aerial skyline. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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The race for several Berkeley City Council seats, as well as the top spot — the mayor’s seat — are up for grabs in November. With this in mind, the Downtown Berkeley Association sent a set of eight questions focused on the future of downtown to all candidates standing for office. It received responses from eight candidates: mayoral candidates Laurie Capitelli and Ben Gould; District 2 candidate Darryl Moore; District 3 candidate Deborah Matthews; District 5 candidates Sophie Hahn and Stephen Murphy; and District 6 candidates Isabelle Gaston and Susan Wengraf.

Read more about the Berkeley 2016 elections on Berkeleyside.

The DBA does not endorse candidates, but rather views the questions as an opportunity for the DBA to highlight its priorities and for the candidates to help inform the DBA, downtown stakeholders and the Berkeley electorate.  … Continue reading »

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