The Week

Mario and Rosalinda Tejada are moving their Mexican restaurant to Haste Street.
By Riya Bhattacharjee
Mario and Rosalinda Tejada are moving their Mexican restaurant to Haste Street.
 

News

Office Vacancies Climb, But Retail Remains Solid

By Richard Brenneman
Tuesday February 17, 2009 - 05:58:00 PM

If housing is a bust, offices and commercial rentals aren’t far behind. -more-


Commission Expands Downtown Area for High Rise Construction

By Richard Brenneman
Tuesday February 17, 2009 - 01:46:00 PM

A proposal to dramatically expand the section of downtown Berkeley where high rises could soar hit a rough spot last week. -more-


More Bad News For The News Biz

By Richard Brenneman
Sunday February 15, 2009 - 04:49:00 PM

The California newspaper business continued its precipitous descent into an ever-growing pool of red ink last week, beginning with news of further layoffs. -more-


ZAB Allows Berkeley Thai Temple To Continue Sunday Brunch

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Friday February 13, 2009 - 05:40:00 PM

Mango sticky rice and pad Thai aficionados in the Bay Area can finally breathe a sigh of relief. -more-


Chaotic BART Board Meeting Ends With Little Movement On Police Issues

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Friday February 13, 2009 - 05:39:00 PM

In a chaotic, unruly, and frequently disrupted special meeting held in part to move forward on the Oscar Grant controversy, members of the BART Board of Directors took virtually no action Wednesday on the controversy itself, instead spending most of their time answering immediate audience concerns and, in some cases, responding to repeated audience participation. -more-


School Board Approves Berkeley High Redesign Plan

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Friday February 13, 2009 - 08:49:00 AM

The Berkeley Board of Education voted 4-to-1 at a public meeting late Wednesday evening to approve the Berkeley High School redesign plan, as recommended by Berkeley Unified School District Superintendent Bill Huyett and Berkeley High principal Jim Slemp, which aims to help close the achievement gap. -more-


Local News Round-up: reports from other sources

Friday February 13, 2009 - 02:50:00 PM

Friday -more-


City Council Passes on Parking Meter Decision

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Wednesday February 11, 2009 - 07:15:00 PM

Caught between the need to find new sources of revenue because of the failing economy and state cutbacks and the overwhelming opposition of Berkeley neighbors and business owners, the Berkeley City Council postponed on Tuesday an ambitious project to add parking meters along long stretches of San Pablo Avenue and Gilman Street, one block areas of 9th, 10th, and Camelia streets in West Berkeley, and along Adeline Avenue and Shattuck Avenue in the vicinity of the Ashby BART Station and Berkeley Bowl. -more-


DA Moving Ahead With Charges in BART Shooting Protests

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Wednesday February 11, 2009 - 07:21:00 PM

A volunteer attorney with the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild says that, while charges have been dropped for many of the individuals arrested in recent Oakland protests over the shooting death of Hayward resident Oscar Grant by a BART patrol officer, the Alameda County District Attor-ney’s Office is moving forward with between six and seven cases, at least three of them felonies. -more-


Mario’s La Fiesta Restaurant Leaves Telegraph After 50 Years

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Wednesday February 11, 2009 - 07:24:00 PM

For half a century, Mario and Rosalinda Tejada have brought a little bit of Mexico to Telegraph Avenue by serving authentic, inexpensive meals to more than three generations at their restaurant, Mario’s La Fiesta. -more-


Obama Justice Dept. Moves to Keep Moth Spray Secret

By Richard Brenneman
Wednesday February 11, 2009 - 07:22:00 PM

For one prominent Bay Area attorney, the bloom is already off the Obama rose. -more-


New State Law Strikes at Heart of Berkeley Development Fights

By Richard Brenneman
Wednesday February 11, 2009 - 07:32:00 PM

(Editor’s note: This is the second of two articles on major changes in California development law.) -more-


Café Provides a Fresh Start For County Foster Youth

By Kristin McFarland
Thursday February 12, 2009 - 11:22:00 AM

For 19-year-old Tony Montoya, working in Oakland’s Fresh Start Café is more than just serving coffee and sandwiches. It’s an opportunity to get a boost out of state-funded foster care and into an independent life. -more-


Elephant Pharm Transfers Prescriptions to Longs Drugs

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Wednesday February 11, 2009 - 07:08:00 PM

Elephant Pharm, which closed stores in Berkeley, San Rafael and Walnut Creek on Feb. 3 and filed for chapter 7 bankruptcy, has transferred all its prescriptions to Longs Drugs, which was recently acquired by CVS Caremark. -more-


Stadium Gym Moves Ahead; New Athletic Site Proposed

By Richard Brenneman
Wednesday February 11, 2009 - 07:05:00 PM

While work on the new gym at Memorial Stadium moves ahead, UC Berkeley is calling for an architect to design another athletic project. -more-


James Schevill, 1920-2009

By Dorothy Bryant Special to the Planet
Wednesday February 11, 2009 - 07:03:00 PM
James Schevill and his golden retriever Emily Dickinson, circa 1980.

Jim Schevill—poet, playwright (stage and radio), biographer, novelist, critic, editor, teacher, producer, administrator, and loyal friend to many—was born in Berkeley. -more-


Injured Child Will Receive Temporary Home Schooling

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Wednesday February 11, 2009 - 07:06:00 PM

The Malcolm X Elementary School kindergartner hit by a truck on Jan. 30 on her way to school in South Berkeley was released from Children’s Hospital in Oakland last week and will be home-schooled for at least two weeks starting this past Tuesday, said Berkeley Unified School District spokesperson Mark Coplan. -more-


Police Blotter

By Ali Winston
Wednesday February 11, 2009 - 07:07:00 PM

Prostitution sting -more-


Fire Dept. Log

By Richard Brenneman
Wednesday February 11, 2009 - 07:07:00 PM

Berkeley firefighters haven’t had any serious flames to battle in recent days, but several beneficiaries of their services were on hand Friday when badges were pinned on three newly promoted members of Berkeley’s bravest. -more-


17 Candidates to Vie for AC Transit Board Seat

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Wednesday February 11, 2009 - 07:06:00 PM

The AC Transit Board of Directors has begun the process of filling the remaining two years of the term of former At Large Board member Rebecca Kaplan, who resigned from the board after her election last November to the At Large Oakland City Council seat. -more-


Berkeley Teachers Protest Lack of Contract

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Wednesday February 11, 2009 - 07:09:00 PM

Berkeley public school teachers took to the streets after class Tuesday to protest what they said was the 194th day that their union, the Berkeley Federation of Teachers, has been without a contract with the Berkeley Unified School District. -more-


New Deal Civil Works Project Remembered in Berkeley

By Steven Finacom Special to the Planet
Wednesday February 11, 2009 - 06:54:00 PM
Harry Brill stands next to the stone carvings proclaiming the work of the Federal Civil Works Administration inset in a low wall adjoining the Codornices Park tennis courts, just north of the Berkeley Rose Garden.

In 1934, during the Great Depression, a group of Berkeley’s unemployed left a poignant message to the future in a local park. -more-


In Light of State Budget Mess, School Board Says ‘Prepare for the Worst

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Wednesday February 11, 2009 - 07:08:00 PM

With the Berkeley Unified School District facing nearly $9 million in cuts over the next two years from California’s worsening economic crisis, the Berkeley Board of Education cautioned the public last week that the time has come “to prepare for the worst.” -more-


Landmarks Commission: Secretary Bids Adieu; New Elmwood Marquee Approved

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Wednesday February 11, 2009 - 07:10:00 PM

Terry Blount, the first person to be hired by the city to be exclusively the secretary of the Berkeley Landmarks Preservation Commission, left his position Friday to become the new planning manager for Martinez in Contra Costa County. -more-


Judge: Oakland Must Repay Measure Y Money

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Wednesday February 11, 2009 - 07:09:00 PM

An Alameda County Superior Court judge tentatively ruled this week that Mayor Ron Dellums “Augmented Recruitment Program of 2008” was an “impermissible use” of Measure Y violence prevention funds, and that the money spent on that program must be paid back. -more-


Planners Give Thumbs Down to Closed Center Street

By Richard Brenneman
Wednesday February 11, 2009 - 07:10:00 PM

Planning commissioners sailed through two sections of the downtown plan last week, in the process diluting a call for a Center Street pedestrian plaza. -more-


Merchants Unhappy With ‘Riots’ at Gaia Building

By Richard Brenneman
Wednesday February 11, 2009 - 07:11:00 PM

Downtown Berkeley merchants are tired of the Gaia Building—or at least the series of disturbances stemming from wild parties held there by the business owned by the building’s former owner and a partner. -more-


Thai Temple Brunch Dispute Returns to Zoning Board

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Wednesday February 11, 2009 - 07:12:00 PM

The nearly year-long zoning battle over Sunday brunch at the Berkeley Thai Temple may finally come to an end Thursday when members request a permit modification from the Berkeley Zoning Adjustments Board that would allow the temple to sell food weekly instead of only three times annually. This proposal has sparked much opposition from a group of neighbors. -more-


Opinion

Editorials

Oakland’s Example for Berkeley

By Becky O’Malley
Wednesday February 11, 2009 - 07:15:00 PM

The first writing I did for publication after we moved back to California in the early ‘70s was a little article for a four-page pickup paper whose name now escapes me. -more-


Cartoons

"Lucky Phil" Kamlarz and Other Recession-Era Berkeleyans

By Justin DeFreitas
Wednesday February 11, 2009 - 07:20:00 PM

Meg Whitman for Governor

By Justin DeFreitas
Wednesday February 11, 2009 - 07:23:00 PM

Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Wednesday February 11, 2009 - 07:15:00 PM

DISCONNECT THE PRESCRIPTION LINE -more-


Letters to the Editor

Tuesday February 17, 2009 - 11:40:00 AM

-more-


Who Remembers the Holocaust?

By Annette Herskovits
Wednesday February 11, 2009 - 07:16:00 PM

Three weeks into the Hamas-Israel truce, the Gazans are still imprisoned. The Israeli military, poised on the border, enters and shoots at will, the terrifying sound of jet fighters and helicopters continues, day and night. Truckloads of humanitarian aid are barred from entering. -more-


Telegraph Ave., Past and Present

By Dorothy Snodgrass
Wednesday February 11, 2009 - 07:17:00 PM

Hearing the sad news that La Fiesta Restaurant on Telegraph Avenue will close its doors in a couple of months, my friend Joy and I had dinner there last evening. We were a decidedly morose pair, lamenting the many changes that have occurred in the years we’ve lived in the area. Losing Mario and Rosalinda Trejeda is in itself a great loss, although this wonderful couple will happily still operate their beautiful Banquet Hall on Haste Street. -more-


Meleé at the Gaia Building

By Dorothy Bryant
Wednesday February 11, 2009 - 07:17:00 PM

When I read Riya Bhattacharjee’s account of yet another incident at the Gaia Building (Feb. 5-11 edition) I had one of those old-geezer “in-my-day” moments. I was born with the Great Depression, and grew up in San Francisco’s Mission District. My parents, Italian immigrants with strict traditions on the rearing of daughters, did not allow me to date, but I was allowed, at 14 or 15, in the last year of World War II, to attend cheap, well-advertized public dances with half a dozen other girls. We walked about a mile (from Army Street, now Caesar Chavez) and crossed Market Street, to Civic Auditorium, then not much more than a vast barn-like dance floor with a stage filled by whatever “big band” was in town. Hundreds of teenagers from every corner of the city converged on Civic Auditorium. I danced with strangers or stood in the clapping, stomping circles that gathered around the best (usually black or hispanic) jitterbuggers. There were probably some discreetly pocketed pints of whiskey in some boys’ zootsuit pockets, but no noticeable drunkenness. There was probably police presence, but we hardly aware of it in all the noise and excitement. If the place became filled to capacity, I never heard of any problem turning people away. At about ten, as ordered by our parents, our group of girls walked back home together through the Mission’s dark streets, quite assured, as our strict parents were, of our safety in numbers. -more-


Richmond’s School District Bailout: Like Putting a Band-Aid on Gangrene

By Charles Rachlis
Wednesday February 11, 2009 - 07:17:00 PM

A palpable wave of relief passed through the crowd during the Feb. 4 meeting when the representatives of the City of Richmond announced their bailout of four schools potentially slated for closure. While not looking a gift horse in the mouth, however, the community understands that one-time bailouts from the cities won’t put the West Contra Costa County School District (WCCUSD) in the black. Without a commitment for another $2 million from somewhere, prior to Feb. 11, the School Board sees no road to a balanced budget other than closing the doors of a number of our neighborhood schools. -more-


Charles Darwin’s 200th Birthday

By Ralph E. Stone
Wednesday February 11, 2009 - 07:18:00 PM

Feb. 12 marks the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth. Darwin’s theory of evolution as set forth in his Origin of Species, published in 1859, and his subsequent writings, is considered the foundation of biology. Darwin’s theory is supported by information that has been tested again and again. The later discovery of DNA further confirmed Darwin’s theory and explained how traits are passed on. Genetics also confirmed the most controversial part of Darwin’s theory: that humans and apes have a common ancestry. Remarkably, today only 40 percent of Americans accept Darwin’s theory of evolution. Here is a bit of background on the issue. -more-


AC Transit’s Divide-and-Conquer Strategy

By Russ Tilleman
Wednesday February 11, 2009 - 07:18:00 PM

As the Berkeley City Council prepares to vote on AC Transit’s Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) proposal, people in the neighborhoods surrounding Telegraph seem to be overwhelmingly against the idea. I live four blocks from Telegraph, and I shop on Telegraph every day and often eat dinner in restaurants on Telegraph. Essentially everyone I talk to in the area hates the idea of losing two driving lanes and two parking lanes on the avenue, and they find it difficult to believe that BRT might actually be approved. It seems like such an obviously bad idea that most people don’t even take it seriously. They are expecting the City Council to make a responsible decision and preserve the neighborhoods for the people who live and work here. I hope their faith in our government is justified. -more-


The Obamas and Washington, D.C., Statehood

By Jean Damu
Wednesday February 11, 2009 - 07:19:00 PM

News item: In a Feb. 2 press release, President Barack Obama announced the theme of this year’s African American History Month as “The Quest for Black Citizenship in the Americas.” -more-


Growthzilla Still Ravaging Berkeley—And Everybody Loses

By Gale Garcia
Wednesday February 11, 2009 - 07:19:00 PM

It was the mother of all housing bubbles, fueled by a lending industry gone mad. For years I warned members of the Berkeley City Council and Zoning Adjustments Board (ZAB)—in e-mails, hand-delivered letters and colorful flyers—to stop approving every turkey of a housing project that came before them. I was completely ignored. -more-


UC Service Workers Examine Settlement Offer

By Hank Chapot
Wednesday February 11, 2009 - 07:19:00 PM

As you read this, low-wage employees at all 10 University of California campuses represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) are voting on a new contract, one close to that given union-represented patient-care workers a few months ago. -more-


A New Climate for Our Downtown Plan

By Alan Tobey
Wednesday February 11, 2009 - 07:20:00 PM

In 2005 the city and the university agreed to cooperate on the completion of a new city plan for downtown Berkeley—the Downtown Area Plan (DAP). In pursuance of that plan a 21-member citizen task force—the Downtown Area Plan Advisory Committee or DAPAC—met more than a hundred times. Its draft plan, completed late in 2007, has since been undergoing review by the Planning Commission; that commission’s comments, potentially including its alternative version of the plan, will go to the City Council in April. The Council must approve a final DAP in May or begin to forfeit significant fees from the university. The university (whose own properties within our downtown district are not constrained by city zoning) must also agree to the completed DAP. -more-


Predicting Success

By Marvin Chachere
Wednesday February 11, 2009 - 07:20:00 PM

Malcolm Gladwell is a good writer with a flair for shining lights on smudged but well-worked subjects. In the Dec. 15 New Yorker he takes on a question at the rotten root of our education system: How can we know which teachers are “Most Likely to Succeed”? -more-


Columns

The Public Eye: The City Manager’s Raise: Fact and Fiction

By Zelda Bronstein
Wednesday February 11, 2009 - 07:12:00 PM

On Feb. 2 Mayor Bates told the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce that “falling real estate transfer taxes and property taxes will force the city to cut about $4.5 million from city services in the next two years…’ The next year scares the bejesus out of me.’” -more-


Dispatches From The Edge—Purple Hearts: A Cold-Blooded Decision

By Conn Hallinan
Wednesday February 11, 2009 - 07:13:00 PM

Behind the recent decision by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) to deny Purple Heart medals to soldiers suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a cold-blooded calculation: it saves money. -more-


The Public Eye: Obama’s Foreign Policy

The Public Eye
Wednesday February 11, 2009 - 07:14:00 PM

During his first 100 days in office, the deteriorating economy will occupy most of President Obama’s attention. Nonetheless, he will have to attend to a host of international problems. By May 1, his foreign policy should be apparent. -more-


Undercurrents: Oakland Will Be Judged By Response To Youth’s Cries

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Wednesday February 11, 2009 - 07:14:00 PM

In the summer of 1966, I was part of that crowd of angry young African-Americans that exploded into rioting starting on the corner of 82nd and East 14th Street (now International Boulevard) in East Oakland. -more-


Wild Neighbors: First Encounters with Charles Darwin

By Joe Eaton
Wednesday February 11, 2009 - 06:52:00 PM

I don’t remember where I read this story, but here’s how I recall it: Charles Darwin, during his years at Down House, becomes obsessed with the behavior of ants. He hasn’t figured out how natural selection works among the social insects, and it bothers him. So he spends a couple of days observing the traffic at an anthill. He in turn is observed by two women from the village, one of whom says: “That poor Mr. Darwin. He really needs a hobby.” -more-


About the House: Underwater Real Estate and Other Acts Of Faith

By Matt Cantor
Wednesday February 11, 2009 - 06:53:00 PM

Real Estate Owned properties (REOs), which are essentially bank owned properties, are all the rage right now and rage may be the operative word once you’ve taken possession. So take your time, pry open those cavalier jaws and say “Ahhhhh.” -more-


Arts & Events

Arts Calendar

Wednesday February 11, 2009 - 06:56:00 PM

THURSDAY, FEB. 12 -more-


Don Clausen: A Life in Art

By Valerie Gladstone Special to the Planet
Wednesday February 11, 2009 - 06:56:00 PM
Whitgul is one of the Clausen paintings on exhibition at Alta Galleria.

When Don Clausen looks out over the hills from his house in Piedmont, he sees the countryside where he came of age and realized his dream of becoming an artist. Though his life has not been easy, he conveys a sense of contentment only afforded individuals who have lived their passions. “I always search for new ways of seeing things,” he says. “I’m an incurable experimenter. I live for art.” -more-


The Friends of Negro Spiritual Sing Out in Oakland

By Ken Bullock Special to the Planet
Wednesday February 11, 2009 - 06:58:00 PM

It’s the “Collaboration of the Year.” The Oakland East Bay Community Chorus, directed by Bill Bell, will perform spirituals, and the Friends of Negro Spirituals will present the African American Museum and Library of Oakland with In Our Own Words, their 10-DVD compilation of oral histories concerning the learning of and preservation for spirituals, from 4 to 5:30 p.m. this Saturday at the museum. The performance will be followed by a panel discussion with some of the “Heritage Keepers” who were recorded for the DVD set. -more-


‘In the Other Room’ at Berkeley Rep

By Ken Bullock Special to the Planet
Wednesday February 11, 2009 - 06:59:00 PM

Describing Sarah Ruhl’s play In the Next Room, or The Vibrator Play, now onstage at Berkeley Rep, directed by Les Waters, it begins to sound like a fairytale or fable, albeit one for adults, perhaps part of its appeal. At the start of the Electrical Age, a female patient of an unconventional doctor, who has been treating her for hysteria, and the doctor’s wife start using the therapeutic equipment on themselves—and discover The Orgasm. -more-


CCCT Presents ‘Nine’

By Ken Bullock Special to the Planet
Wednesday February 11, 2009 - 07:00:00 PM

A famous Italian filmmaker, in the throes of midlife crisis, hides out from the world (and his producer) at a renowned Venetian spa, hoping to rekindle his imagination—and his marriage. But his producer descends on him, he’s recognized everywhere, his wife is hounded by reporters ... and he’s surrounded by women who either fawn on him or impugn him. He decides the movie he needs to make will be the musical his producer demands—but of the adventures of Casanova. -more-


Reading to Benefit KPFA, Poetry Flash

By Ken Bullock Special to the Planet
Wednesday February 11, 2009 - 07:01:00 PM

Hearts Gathering: Poetry, Laureates and Music for Valentine’s Day,” a benefit for KPFA and Poetry Flash, with performances by poets Diane Di Prima, Michael McClure, Carol Muske-Duke (California Poet Laureate) and Al Young (former California Poet Laureate, 2005–08), accompanied by Dan Robbins on bass, as well as famed didjeridoo player Stephen Kent and vocalist Eda Maxym, with performance artist, Buddhist teacher and author Wes “Scoop” Nisker as emcee, will be held Saturday at King Middle School Auditorium, co-sponsored by the Daily Planet and Moe’s Books. -more-


Anna Recording Live at Anna’s

By Ken Bullock Special to the Planet
Wednesday February 11, 2009 - 07:01:00 PM

For a soulful Valentine’s Day, it’s time for soulful love songs!” reads the calendar listing on the website for the Saturday show at Anna’s Jazz Island. The show, titled “Love in the Lost and Found,” will feature proprietor Anna de Leon recording live songs from the “Soulful American Songbook.” -more-


MOVING PICTURES: Motion and Emotion in F.W. Murnau’s ‘Sunrise’

By Justin DeFreitas
Wednesday February 11, 2009 - 06:58:00 PM
George O’Brien and Janet Gaynor in F.W. Murnau’s classic Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927).

In its first year—and only in its first year—the Academy Awards split its top honors for best film into two categories: Best Picture and Unique and Artistic Production. And, having made manifest the schism between the commercial and the artistic in American filmmaking, in which the latter so often suffered—and continues to suffer—at the hands of the former, the academy immediately discontinued the practice. -more-


Model Trains in Golden Gate Park

By Steven Finacom Special to the Planet
Thursday February 12, 2009 - 12:38:00 PM
Model trains and miniature San Francisco landmarks create a diverting landscape in the western end of the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park through April 19.

While the De Young Museum and the new Academy of Sciences building are the star draws in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park these days, a good time can also be had just around the corner in their enduring elegant Victorian cousin, the glass Conservatory of Flowers. -more-


About the House: Underwater Real Estate and Other Acts Of Faith

By Matt Cantor
Wednesday February 11, 2009 - 06:53:00 PM

Real Estate Owned properties (REOs), which are essentially bank owned properties, are all the rage right now and rage may be the operative word once you’ve taken possession. So take your time, pry open those cavalier jaws and say “Ahhhhh.” -more-


Community Calendar

Wednesday February 11, 2009 - 07:24:00 PM

THURSDAY, FEB. 12 -more-