The Week

Thousands gathered to watch the outdoor broadcast of the inauguration of Barack Obama this morning on UC Berkeley’s Sproul Plaza, one of many public gathering held around the area to celebrate the event
By Steven Finacom
Thousands gathered to watch the outdoor broadcast of the inauguration of Barack Obama this morning on UC Berkeley’s Sproul Plaza, one of many public gathering held around the area to celebrate the event
 

News

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-


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-


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-


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 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-


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-


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-


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-


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-


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-


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-


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-


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-


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-


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-


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-


Police Blotter

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

Domestic violence -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-


Opinion

Editorials

Enjoy Inauguration Day While You Can

By Becky O’Malley
Thursday January 15, 2009 - 06:27:00 PM

As Inauguration Day approaches, people around here seem to be buffeted by conflicting sentiments. There are absolutely no regrets about the impending departure of George W. Bush, of course. Even as a figure of fun, Dubya seems to be shrinking in size from the absurd to the merely pathetic, like the inflated standup punching toy in his image that someone gave us as a gag gift a few Christmases back. As a villain, he also seems to have deflated, as it appears increasingly likely that the crimes committed in his name were conceived and carried out by others, with the putative Commander-in-Chief often out of the loop while the big boys made policy. -more-


Cartoons

Obama's Burden

By Justin DeFreitas
Thursday January 22, 2009 - 03:48:00 PM

Hopeful in Berkeley

By Justin DeFreitas
Thursday January 22, 2009 - 03:48:00 PM

Shovel-Ready

By Justin DeFreitas
Thursday January 22, 2009 - 03:49:00 PM

The Pottery Barn Rule

By Justin DeFreitas
Thursday January 22, 2009 - 03:49:00 PM

Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Thursday January 15, 2009 - 06:28:00 PM

LEAVE ARTISAN DISTRICT ALONE -more-


Rezoning = Business Gentrification in West Berkeley

By Mary Lou Van Deventer
Thursday January 15, 2009 - 06:29:00 PM

In his Jan. 8 commentary, “Berkeley Is About to Blow It Again,” Russ Mitchell sees high-tech research and development and the traditional model of college-town-and-research-park as the sole hope for West Berkeley. One obstacle, the intent of a citizens’ plan drawn up by people who live and work there, has to be kicked aside. He insults it first. -more-


Protect Westside Zoning Rules

By Daniel Knapp
Thursday January 15, 2009 - 06:29:00 PM

Russ Mitchell may be a “long-time journalist,” but he didn’t bother to fact-check his Jan. 8 hit piece on West Berkeley and Urban Ore (“Berkeley is About to Blow It Again”). He says that Urban Ore is a “cool place,” and I agree, but when he says future kids will be “stuck taking over Dad’s job sweeping sawdust at Urban Ore” if all of West Berkeley isn’t upzoned for UC’s convenience, he got it wrong. We don’t cut or finish wood at Urban Ore. The amount of sawdust we generate in an average 10.5-hour day might fill a thimble. -more-


Sidewalks, Liability and Street Trees

By Bob Brokl
Thursday January 15, 2009 - 06:29:00 PM

At the federal level, all the talk has been about boosting infrastructure spending to lift the economy. In Oakland, property owners may be required to ante up the stimulus out of their own pockets. -more-


The Silence of Barack Obama

By Osha Neumann
Thursday January 15, 2009 - 06:30:00 PM

Oh Father, I cried. There was no shame in your confusion. Just as there had been no shame in your father’s before you. No shame in the fear, or in the fear of his father before him. There was only shame in the silence fear had produced. It was the silence that betrayed us. -more-


Unity for the Sake of Change

By Keith Carson
Thursday January 15, 2009 - 06:31:00 PM

The New Year is forecasted to be a year of continued economic volatility, higher unemployment and business closures. Downsizing in government and businesses will increase the financial and emotional strain on individuals and families yet, together we can weather this storm. -more-


The Great Depression: An Essential Lesson

By Harry Brill
Thursday January 15, 2009 - 06:31:00 PM

The front page of the New York Times recently captioned “In His Emphasis on Economy, Obama is Looking to History.” Elected officials and working people should take a careful look at the history of the Great Depression of the 1930s for guidance on not only how to generate millions of decent paying jobs, but how to do so within a very short period of time. To accomplish this challenging task, the main lessons to be learned are not from the well known 1935 WPA program, which although it created many jobs, it was nevertheless a work relief, needs tested program. The nation’s most effective and largest ever job program both before and after WPA, is barely known to most people and perhaps not even to Obama himself. -more-


Senior Power?

By Helen Rippier Wheeler
Thursday January 15, 2009 - 06:32:00 PM

The mission statement of the Division on Aging (DOA)—“to promote a dignified, healthful quality of life for older adults by advocating for vital services, providing opportunities to develop meaningful fellowship, offering lifelong learning activities, recognizing the continued and varied accomplishments of older adults, and being an accessible and trusted community resource”—is belied by the status quo. The DOA is berthed in Health & Human Services; senior center directors report to a city career employee who, it is said, also functions as Commission on Aging (COA) secretary. The COA is “charged with identifying the needs of the aging, creating awareness of these needs, and encouraging improved standards of services to the aging. Council shall appoint one of its members as liaison;” each Councilmember is able [responsible] to appoint a COA Commissioner. Council has neglected its COA in ways not all attributable to lack of funds, e.g. its liaison not attending COA meetings, a seat left vacant for more than a year (said to prefer a young person,) attempts made to reduce meetings frequency to quarterly, agendas and minutes not posted in a timely fashion, dwindling access to pools, increased taxi fares while unacceptable treatment of some passengers is tolerated, failure to manage senior centers’ staff searches and appointments affirmatively. How the COA functions is reflected in its annual Work Plan as well as Berkeley’s nursing homes, senior centers, Tri-Center Nugget newsletter, lunches, etc. -more-


Who Will Police Bus Rapid Transit?

By Russ Tilleman
Thursday January 15, 2009 - 06:32:00 PM

There has been a lot of discussion recently about the land use ramifications of Bus Rapid Transit, but so far I have not heard much about the law enforcement side of the issue. If the Berkeley City Council approves BRT and donates the center two lanes of Telegraph to AC Transit, they will also be handing over the responsibility for law enforcement there. Anyone who drives down Telegraph or walks across it will fall under the jurisdiction of AC Transit’s police force. According to the BRT website, that police force will be the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department. -more-


Oak-to-Ninth Revisited

By Joyce Roy
Thursday January 15, 2009 - 06:33:00 PM

The Oakland City Council can revisit its approval of the Oak-to-Ninth project at its meeting on Jan. 20 when they will be asked to certify a revised EIR. A court ruling that upheld a CEQA lawsuit challenging the original EIR’s adequacy necessitated this revision. Three things in particular have changed since the original approval in July 2006. -more-


Columns

Undercurrents: Taking a Moment to Analyze the Situation in Oakland

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Thursday January 15, 2009 - 06:24:00 PM

In a situation as fast-moving as the Oscar Grant BART shooting death and its aftermath, it’s important to continue to collate and evaluate information on the run, even as we move forward. Such evaluation is going to be imperfect, of course, both because many things are still unknown, and we don’t yet have the historian’s benefit of the time and space needed to trigger the clarity of hindsight. But if we don’t take a breath and look around and make some preliminary conclusions as we go, there are many important things that will be forever lost. -more-


Dispatches From The Edge: Voices On Gaza

By Conn Hallinan
Thursday January 15, 2009 - 06:24:00 PM

Words have power, particularly when they confront each other. These are some words on the current crisis in Gaza: -more-


The Public Eye: Bush’s Day of Reckoning

By Bob Burnett
Thursday January 15, 2009 - 06:23:00 PM

When Barack Obama becomes the 44th president of the United States, he’ll face daunting challenges: a shattered economy, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and global climate change, to mention only three. -more-


Wild Neighbors: In Search of the Wild Parrots of Berkeley

By Joe Eaton
Wednesday January 14, 2009 - 06:47:00 PM
Mitred parakeet in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

A couple of weeks back, I got an e-mail from a reader suggesting a column about the Berkeley parrot flock. In trying to pull that column together, I was struck by how little I knew about these birds—in contrast to their celebrity cousins in San Francisco. -more-


About the House: What It Means to Say a House Has Good Bones

By Matt Cantor
Wednesday January 14, 2009 - 06:45:00 PM

During inspections, I often hear people refer to old houses as having “good bones.” This is such a trigger for me that I have to duct-tape my mouth shut to keep from launching into a harangue on what is good and bad about old houses. Luckily for me, when I sit down to my computer, I can digitally rant all day long. There’s no duct tape on my keyboard. So here goes: -more-


Arts & Events

Arts Calendar

Thursday January 15, 2009 - 06:36:00 PM

THURSDAY, JAN. 15 -more-


Martin Luther King Jr. Tribute This Sunday

By Ken Bullock Special to the Planet
Thursday January 15, 2009 - 06:35:00 PM

In the Name of Love, Rhythmic Concepts Inc.’s seventh annual musical tribute honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. will be presented at 7:30 p.m. this Sunday at the Oakland Scottish Rite Center, 1547 Lakeshore Dr. in Oakland. -more-


‘Dracul, Prince of Fire’ at Oakland’s The Crucible

By Ken Bullock Special to the Planet
Thursday January 15, 2009 - 06:36:00 PM

Nothing like sitting by a nice, cozy fire, just after New Year’s ... -more-


Kornbluth Asks: ‘Andy Warhol: Good for the Jews?’

By Ken Bullock Special to the Planet
Thursday January 15, 2009 - 06:37:00 PM

So they put Josh Kornbluth in a museum ... -more-


American Bach Soloists Perform Mass in B Minor

By Ken Bullock Special to the Planet
Thursday January 15, 2009 - 06:38:00 PM

American Bach Soloists, celebrating their 20th anniversary this year, will perform their namesake’s masterpiece, the Mass in B Minor, for the first time in six years, this Saturday night at 8 p.m., at the First Congregational Church, at Durant Avenue and Dana Street, as part of a series of local performances that begin Friday in Belvedere and ends Monday night at the Mondavi Center in Davis. -more-


Asian Art Museum Exhibits Treasures of Afghanistan

By Steven Finacom Special to the Planet
Thursday January 15, 2009 - 06:38:00 PM

There is a fine traveling exhibit at the San Francisco Asian Art Museum, where objects from Afghanistan take the visitor back well over two thousand years, through Jan. 25. -more-


About the House: What It Means to Say a House Has Good Bones

By Matt Cantor
Wednesday January 14, 2009 - 06:45:00 PM

During inspections, I often hear people refer to old houses as having “good bones.” This is such a trigger for me that I have to duct-tape my mouth shut to keep from launching into a harangue on what is good and bad about old houses. Luckily for me, when I sit down to my computer, I can digitally rant all day long. There’s no duct tape on my keyboard. So here goes: -more-


Community Calendar

Thursday January 15, 2009 - 06:08:00 PM

THURSDAY, JAN. 15 -more-