Chef Ann Cooper to Leave Berkeley Unified in June

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Tuesday January 20, 2009 - 06:47:00 PM

Berkeley’s self-named “renegade lunch lady,” Ann Cooper, will leave her position as Berkeley Unified School District’s nutrition services director and move to Colorado at the end of the school year to work with a school district there, Berkeley school officials confirmed Tuesday. -more-

Berkeley Students Watch President Barack Obama Take Office

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Tuesday January 20, 2009 - 12:12:00 PM

For the 3,500 Berkeley High School students who watched the presidential inauguration unfold Tuesday morning, the steps of the Community Theater could have very well been those of the U.S. Capitol—their solemn expressions and sporadic bursts of laughter capturing one of the greatest moments in the nation’s history. -more-

BUSD High School Performance Data Worries School Board

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Monday January 19, 2009 - 04:58:00 PM

There were few bright spots in the overview of the Berkeley Unified School District’s high school student data for 2009 at the Berkeley Board of Education meeting last week, especially not the challenges posed in analyzing the test results. -more-

Building Heights Trigger Commission Questions

By Richard Brenneman
Monday January 19, 2009 - 04:57:00 PM

One of Berkeley’s two new planning commissioners last week proposed a move that would scrap outright the key compromise of the downtown plan shaped by a now-disbanded citizen committee. -more-

BUSD Families March in Honor of Martin Luther King Jr.

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Monday January 19, 2009 - 04:56:00 PM

A small but dedicated crowd came to Jefferson Elementary School in North Berkeley early Monday morning to make the short trek over to King Middle School for Berkeley’s first-ever march to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday—at least in recent history. -more-

UC Workers Take Over Regent's Office To Demand Pay Raise

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Friday January 16, 2009 - 01:58:00 PM
Ruben Santos, a union organizer and a custodian at UC Davis, greets his fellow workers in front of UC Board of Regents Chair Richard Blum’s office in downtown San Francicso on Friday after being released from the Central Police Station. More than 60 UC service workers took over Blum’s office at 909 Montgomery St. to demand pay raises and a contract renewal.

More than 60 UC service workers belonging to AFSCME Local 3299 took their fight for higher wages and contract renewals to the office of the chair of the UC Board of Regents, Richard Blum, in downtown San Francisco Friday morning, leading to the arrest of at least 19 workers. -more-

Victim of Shooting Near UC Campus Testifies

By Bay City News
Thursday January 15, 2009 - 04:37:00 PM

A Berkeley man quietly sobbed on the witness stand today as he testified about an incident in which he was shot and his former brother-in-law was killed one block south of the UC Berkeley campus on senior graduation day last spring. Marcus Mosley said he argued with murder suspect Nathaniel Freeman on Durant Avenue about 3:50 p.m. on May 13 and then Freeman opened fire, injuring Mosley and killing Oakland Parks and Recreation employee Maceo Smith, a 33-year-old Berkeley man who was the father of three children. -more-

BART Police Officer Charged With Murder

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Thursday January 15, 2009 - 07:01:00 PM

Alameda County District Attorney Tom Orloff said Wednesday that his office has charged former BART Police Officer Johannes Mehserle with murder for the New Year’s Day shooting death of 22-year-old Hayward-resident Oscar Grant. “What I feel the evidence indicates is an unlawful killing done by an intentional act,” Orloff said. “There was nothing that would mitigate it to something less than murder.” -more-

Berkeley Council Raises Fees, Passes on Cell Phone Towers

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Thursday January 15, 2009 - 07:18:00 PM

The Berkeley City Council (finally) disposed of one cell-phone-antenna tower facility request but punted on the other on Tuesday night. The two appeals have been on the council agenda for several straight meetings now. -more-

Long Haul Sues UC, FBI, County

By Richard Brenneman
Thursday January 15, 2009 - 07:19:00 PM

Attorneys for two civil rights group filed a federal court lawsuit Wednesday charging numerous violations by local law enforcement and the FBI in an Aug. 27 raid of Berkeley’s Long Haul Infoshop. -more-

Reshaped Helios Building Sparks Further Community Criticism

By Richard Brenneman
Thursday January 15, 2009 - 07:19:00 PM
Pamela Shivola and Carl Fryberg show what Shivola says are seismic and landslide hazards at the site where UC Berkeley and LBNL want to build the Helios lab on the slopes above Strawberry Canyon.

One after another, Berkeley residents voiced their frustration last week with the building that will house a program that is the brainchild of the nation’s energy secretary-designate. -more-

Police Arrest Two Suspects In West Berkeley Shooting

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday January 15, 2009 - 07:20:00 PM

Police arrested Berkeley residents Rhonda Reid, 47, and Lee Freddy Green, 50, for the attempted murder of William Payton on Sunday. They are being held without bail, authorities said Monday. -more-

State, National Budget Deficits Affect UC System

By Rio Bauce Special to the Planet
Thursday January 15, 2009 - 07:22:00 PM

As the U.S. Congressional Budget Office announced last week that the federal budget deficit is going to hit $1.2 trillion in fiscal year 2009, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced that he would like to cut $210 million from the University of California’s budget in order to reduce the state budget deficit. -more-

City Officials Question Both Berkeley Marina Ferry Sites

By Richard Brenneman
Thursday January 15, 2009 - 06:49:00 PM

The regional agency that governs Bay Area ferries gave too little consideration to the impacts of a ferry terminal at Berkeley Marina, city officials say. -more-

UC Berkeley Report Claims No Burial Ground at Grove Site

By Richard Brenneman
Thursday January 15, 2009 - 06:48:00 PM

“No prehistoric cultural deposits or materials” were found during an archaeological survey of the site once occupied by an oak grove west of Memorial Stadium. -more-

Julia Morgan Enters the California Hall of Fame

By Dick Bagwell Special to the Planet
Thursday January 15, 2009 - 06:33:00 PM

Julia Morgan, California’s first certified female architect, was inducted into the California Hall of Fame last month. The Hall of Fame was established in 2006 “to honor legendary people who embody California’s innovative spirit and have made their mark on history.” -more-

Nonprofits Gear Up for Recession Challenges

By Kristin McFarland
Thursday January 15, 2009 - 07:35:00 PM

As many private corporations are crumbling under the pressures of an economy in recession, Berkeley nonprofits are preparing to promote their strengths and make 2009 a productive year. -more-

First Person: A Chaotic Night In Oakland

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Wednesday January 14, 2009 - 06:25:00 PM

The BART shooting wasn’t on my assignment list, and I had several other stories to write, so I missed all of the day’s activities on Jan. 7—Oscar Grant’s funeral, the meeting with Alameda County District Attorney Tom Orloff, and the march from Fruitvale BART to Lake Merritt BART. About 5:30 p.m., I went down to the Oakland Y to work out. I was on the exercise bike when I saw the televised news accounts of the confrontation at Lake Merritt BART. The reporter at the scene said that most of the crowd had dispersed, and everything seemed like it was over. I went on to finish my workout. -more-

Budget Cuts May Pose Challenge for Berkeley High Redesign Plan

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Wednesday January 14, 2009 - 06:51:00 PM

Calling the Berkeley High redesign plan “tough work in tough economic times,” Berkeley Unified School District Superintendent Bill Huyett discussed some of its challenges at a School Governance Council meeting at the Community Theater lobby on Tuesday, where Principal Jim Slemp introduced a revised plan to the public. -more-

City to Release Pools Draft Master Plan This Week

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Wednesday January 14, 2009 - 06:50:00 PM

City of Berkeley officials are getting ready to release the citywide pools draft master plan by Friday to the Pools Task Force, which will look at rehabilitating and in some cases replacing the city’s existing public pools and aquatic programs, said Deputy City Manager Lisa Caronna Tuesday. -more-

Off-Campus Muggings Escalate at Berkeley High

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Wednesday January 14, 2009 - 06:50:00 PM

At least two Berkeley High students were arrested and another student was sent to the Berkeley Police Department Youth Services Division for disciplinary action in the weeks before Christmas break for a string of strong-arm robberies of Berkeley High School students in and around Martin Luther King Civic Center Park. -more-

Zell’s Apartment Business Takes a $115 Million Hit

By Richard Brenneman
Thursday January 15, 2009 - 06:52:00 PM

Sam Zell, media mogul and Berkeley’s biggest landlord, has taken another financial hit. -more-

Police Blotter

By Rio Bauce
Thursday January 15, 2009 - 06:56:00 PM

Domestic violence -more-

North Berkeley BART Station Vandalized

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday January 15, 2009 - 06:54:00 PM

The North Berkeley BART station was vandalized on the morning of Jan. 8, apparently as a protest against the killing of Oscar Grant III by a BART police officer. -more-

Dental Records Give ID for Berkeley Burnt Body

By Richard Brenneman
Wednesday January 14, 2009 - 06:55:00 PM

East Bay Regional Parks District Police last week announced their identification of a body found in a burning trash can along Interstate 80 beside the Berkeley shore. -more-

First Person: The Baracka Bump

By Winston Burton
Thursday January 15, 2009 - 06:34:00 PM

In the past few months I’ve noticed that, when greeting each other, more and more people are doing the Baracka Fist Bump. For those of you who didn’t see the Baracka Bump on TV, let me describe it. After he finally won the Democratic presidential nomination, Barack was on stage thanking everyone when his wife, Michelle, came up to join him. Instead of greeting each other with a hug or kiss, they gently bumped their closed fists together. It was more subdued than a high five and much more personal than a handshake. It was a greeting as well as an eloquent sign of victory. The gesture seemed to capture the spirit of the Obama campaign, and incidentally I believe that the fist bump may lead to something very important: the possible elimination of an outdated and unsanitary tradition—the handshake. -more-

Questions Remain on Fate of East Bay Casino Plans

By Richard Brenneman
Thursday January 15, 2009 - 07:36:00 PM

The East Bay heads into the new year with two Las Vegas-style casinos on the drawing boards and economic uncertainty ahead. -more-

Berkeley Ski Jumping Event, 1934

By Steven Finacom Special to the Planet
Thursday January 15, 2009 - 06:39:00 PM

Winter ice and snow are uncommon in Berkeley’s temperate climate. Every several years there might be a brief hard freeze, and once in a while Grizzly Peak is dusted with white and those yearning to scrape up a local snowball or two head up for a look. -more-