The Week

The Oaks Theater is in need of a new operator.
Michael Howerton
The Oaks Theater is in need of a new operator.


Mayor Proposes Another New Downtown Plan for Berkeley

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Tuesday February 16, 2010 - 12:37:00 PM

The battle over the future of Berkeley’s downtown is headed back to the City Council on Feb. 23. Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates is proposing to rescind the most recent version of the controversial Downtown Area Plan, which was approved by the council last July but was stayed by a successful referendum campaign to put it on the ballot for voters to decide in a future election. The mayor said Monday that he wants to put his own new plan on the November ballot instead. -more-

Police Seeking Berkeley's First Homicide Suspect of 2010

Bay City News
Saturday February 13, 2010 - 09:00:00 PM
Berkeley police are looking for Kevin Aaron Alvarado in connection with the Thursday night fatal shooting.

Berkeley police are looking for a 22-year-old man who is suspected -more-

Despite Budget Shortfall, Council Approves Funds for Affordable Housing Study, Black Infant Program

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Monday February 15, 2010 - 12:05:00 PM

Despite a $10 million budget shortfall in the next fiscal year, the Berkeley City Council made a commitment to the Black Infant Health Program at its Tuesday meeting. -more-

BART Airport Connector Hits Snag

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Monday February 15, 2010 - 12:16:00 PM

BART’S $492 million Oakland Airport connector plans hit a road bump Friday after the agency failed to convince federal authorities that it could complete studies showing the project’s impact on minority communities in a timely manner. -more-

Berkeley’s Hesperian Foundation Helps Haiti Victims With Free Health Manuals

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday February 11, 2010 - 04:15:00 PM

Berkeley’s Hesperian Foundation is working around the clock to help earthquake victims in Haiti. -more-

Metropolitan Will Not Renew Lease for Oaks Theater

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday February 11, 2010 - 09:16:00 AM

Metropolitan Theaters will not renew its lease for Solano Avenue's Oaks Theater. -more-

Council Weighs Budget Woes, Recycling Revenues

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday February 11, 2010 - 09:25:00 AM

“Four-day work weeks,” “special no-parking-fee days,” “bi-weekly refuse pick-ups.” -more-

Council Approves IRV Voting, Pools Ballot Measure

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday February 11, 2010 - 09:25:00 AM
Eric Stangl (left) spoke in support of a larger pool for the Barracudas program, of which his two children, Nolan and Yumi, are members.

Correction: The City Council voted unanimously to approve the pools ballot measure. The Feb. 11 story incorrectly reported the 5-4 straw vote as the final vote. -more-

Vik’s Chaat Corner Re-Opens in Revamped West Berkeley Factory

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday February 11, 2010 - 09:26:00 AM
Viks proprietor Amod Chopra at the restaurant’s new location Wednesday.

What happens when you transport street food from the crowded, dusty streets of India to a sleek, no-fuss, 25,000-square-foot warehouse in West Berkeley? -more-

Partisan Position: Children’s Hospital Turns A New Leaf? Meet the CEO

By Robert Brokl 
Thursday February 11, 2010 - 09:27:00 AM

Children’s Hospital Oakland, while providing good jobs and good care to many children and their families over the years, has also been a mixed blessing for its neighbors. Alta Bates Hospital in Berkeley and nearby residents have hammered out a modus vivendi for relatively peaceful coexistence, but CHO has morphed over the years, expanding outward from their 52nd Street campus by acquiring neighboring businesses and homes. Most recently, the hospital intended to build a 180-foot tower north of the campus, clearing an area occupied by single-family homes, but that effort was doomed by the failure of bond measures on the ballot in February 2008. The distinctive “Original Baby Hospital” is nearly swallowed up by later construction, and likely to be toast under plans for CHO’s fallback expansion plans.  -more-

Charter School Proposal to Include More State Funds

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday February 11, 2010 - 09:28:00 AM

Although the Berkeley Board of Education was scheduled to vote on Berkeley’s first public charter school proposal Wednesday, Feb. 3, the petition was withdrawn at the last minute. -more-

School Board Wants More Information on Equity Grants Before Redirecting Lab Funds

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday February 11, 2010 - 03:13:00 PM
Berkeley High School English teacher Susanna Bell (front left) and other school staffers ask for equity in education during the school board meeting Wednesday.

The Berkeley Board of Education asked for more information from Berkeley High School Wednesday before weighing in on whether it should re-direct parcel tax funds from science labs toward equity grants. -more-

Berkeley High Student Suspended for Possession of Marijuana Cookies

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday February 11, 2010 - 09:29:00 AM

A Berkeley High School student has been suspended for handing out marijuana-laced cookies to his friends. -more-

UC Police Want Public to Watch for ‘Potty Pirates’

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday February 11, 2010 - 09:39:00 AM

UC Berkeley police are asking people to be on the lookout for “Potty Pirates”—thieves who are removing brass flushing hardware from toilets and urinals on the UC Berkeley campus. -more-

New Transportation Yard Should Save School District Thousands

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday February 11, 2010 - 09:42:00 AM
BUSD’s new $10 million transportation yard will save the district $450,000 annually.

Berkeley Unified School District has a brand new, state-of-the-art transportation facility that will save $450,000 annually. -more-

City Council Urges Compromise Between Cannabis Clinic, West Berkeley Neighbors

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday February 11, 2010 - 09:43:00 AM

The Berkeley City Council did not take any action in a closed-session discussion Monday regarding a cannabis clinic’s proposal to move into the former Scharffen Berger chocolate factory. -more-

On Gardening: Eggplants Provide Sumptuous Meals

By Shirley Barker, Special to the Planet
Thursday February 11, 2010 - 09:44:00 AM

A friend recently announced that our Berkeley winters are becoming warmer. Always inclined to scoff at categorical and unfounded opinions, I decided to see if evidence showed this to be true. -more-

The Folks Up Front at the Berkeley Public Library

By Phila Rogers, Special to the Planet
Thursday February 11, 2010 - 09:57:00 AM

When you first walk into the Central Library, the Information Desk is directly in front of you. Unless you know where you’re going, it’s a helpful and welcoming place to visit. -more-

News Analysis: Green Jobs Promise Broken? Low-Income Workers Find Road to Green Jobs Tough Going

By Claudia Rowe, New America Media
Thursday February 11, 2010 - 09:58:00 AM

By now, the drumbeat is impossible to ignore: jobs, jobs, jobs. With one in 10 adults unemployed, President Obama had little choice but to highlight jobs during his Jan. 27 State of the Union address. He mentioned the term nearly 30 times during the hour-long speech. -more-



A New Plan for a New Year

By Becky and Mike O’Malley
Thursday February 11, 2010 - 09:47:00 AM

For a few years now we have been trying to develop a sustainable model so that Berkeley could continue to have a periodic print newspaper. -more-

Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Thursday February 11, 2010 - 09:48:00 AM

ABAG -more-

The Fictions of ABAG

By Steve Martinot
Thursday February 11, 2010 - 09:48:00 AM

Once upon a time, back in the days when people were clamoring for justice and participation, some courageous souls formed an organization in the Bay Area consisting of delegates from the cities and counties of the region, for the purposes of curbing regional pollution and environmental despoliation, preserving urban open space, and guarding the traditional character of different neighborhoods. Thus was born the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG). It sought to coordinate common interests across city lines, and be the expression of local policy against the designs of centralized planning commissions, the top-down development of transportation and industry, and the urban sprawl that transportation technology incurred. It began as a way in which local constituencies could act politically up against the state. That was then; this is now. -more-

Bus Driver Responds to Paul Alivisatos

By Kat Bedford
Thursday February 11, 2010 - 09:49:00 AM

The Director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Paul Alivisatos, wrote a letter to you on January 28, regarding the change in bus service, which contained a number of errors.  Here are the facts: -more-

Small Classes Controversy at Berkeley High

By Raymond Barglow
Thursday February 11, 2010 - 09:50:00 AM

In 2003, with the help of a million-dollar grant from the Gates Foundation, Berkeley High School, which serves a diverse student body of about 3,400 students, was divided into six “small learning communities,” or “small schools” as they're sometimes called. The aim was to personalize education and reduce the achievement gap between higher- and lower-performing students. Many in the latter category are students of color, and so the reform, which was supported as well by the US Department of Education, “anticipated project outcomes [that] include improved standardized test scores and college preparedness for African American and Latino students.” -more-

The Governor’s Depraved Cuts To IHSS

By Jack Bragen
Thursday February 11, 2010 - 09:50:00 AM

Arnold Swartzenegger, and his longtime hero Clint Eastwood, are finally getting their fondest wish, which is to rid the state of what they believe to be a mere nuisance: The coexistence of disabled people in the community. If at all possible, these two anti-disability activists would have anyone with a significant disability be forced to live in state institutions, and out of their sight. -more-

Constructing the Achievement Gap 

By Rick Ayers 
Thursday February 11, 2010 - 09:52:00 AM

The recent flap over the “elimination of science labs” for students at Berkeley High is now upon us with another silly series of breathless media accounts and an unsatisfying non-conclusion – the facts fade away, leaving a universal fog of untruths.  For this one, let’s get the core lie out of the way.  The proposal of Principal Jim Slemp and the Shared Governance Committee was to incorporate science labs into the normal 5 period day – the way it is done at almost all California high schools – instead of the extra classes that had been created and paid for by parcel tax money that Berkeley taxes itself.  The proposal was to redirect some of this money towards projects designed to narrow the achievement gap.  It would also help to more equitably distribute the parcel tax money – since the extra labs were consuming a huge portion of the funds for a sector of the student population that already has great advantages.  -more-

Corruption or Serial Incompetence?

By Nasira Abdul-Allem
Thursday February 11, 2010 - 09:51:00 AM

I was one of the participants at the Berkeley City Council meeting on Dec. 15, 2009 at which Dr. Rash B. Ghosh’s McGee and Dwight Way property lien was discussed.  -more-


The Public Eye: Obama’s State of the Union: 10 Lessons

By Bob Burnett
Thursday February 11, 2010 - 09:45:00 AM

A week after Democrats suffered a stunning defeat, Barack Obama bounced back with a memorable State of the Union address. After a year in office, Obama has to learn 10 lessons. -more-

Undercurrents: Oakland’s ‘Strong Mayor’ Charter Ambiguous As to Mayor’s Duties

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Thursday February 11, 2010 - 09:46:00 AM

One of the challenges in evaluating the administration of an Oakland mayor in these days and times is that 12 years after the passage of Measure X, residents and local media outlets (new and old) still are not certain exactly what a “strong mayor” is supposed to do and be responsible for. -more-

About the House: When It’s Totaled

By Matt Cantor
Thursday February 11, 2010 - 10:00:00 AM
Just one example of the superlative maintenance employed in this home.

There are times when an economic model in the evaluation of a house is particularly vital. In fact, in times like these, the avoidance of this model could result in financial trauma. Most houses I see don’t seem to demand this metric, but some (and they’re not always obvious) absolutely do. -more-

Wild Neighbors: Meadowlark Messages

By Joe Eaton
Thursday February 11, 2010 - 10:01:00 AM
A Western meadowlark belting out his loud and complex melody at Isenberg Crane Sanctuary near Lodi, California.

Standing a couple of yards from a singing male western meadowlark a couple of weeks ago, I was struck by several things. First, the sheer virtuosity of the song: this bird is consistently ranked among the best North American singers, and I couldn’t argue with that. Second, the volume: western meadowlarks are loud. Their vocal performance is “often the only song that can be heard from a car driving at highway speed with the windows open,” writes Alvaro Jaramillo in New World Blackbirds: The Icterids. Couldn’t argue with that either. -more-

Arts & Events

Arts Calendar

Thursday February 11, 2010 - 09:55:00 AM

THURSDAY, FEB. 11 -more-

Carneiro, Rivera Reunited at Berkeley Symphony

By Ken Bullock, Special to the Planet
Thursday February 11, 2010 - 09:53:00 AM

Berkeley Symphony, led by Music Director Joana Carneiro, will play Berkeley composer Paul Dresher’s Cornucopia, Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Five Images After Sappho, featuring artist-in-residence, soprano Jessica Rivera; and Beethoven’s Third Symphony, the “Eroica,” tonight (Thursday, Feb. 11) at Zellerbach Hall on the UC campus. At 7:10, Carneiro and Dresher will hold an onstage conversation about his music, free to concert ticketholders. -more-

‘The First Grade’ Opens at Aurora Theater

By Ken Bullock, Special to the Planet
Thursday February 11, 2010 - 09:55:00 AM

Sydney—who would have been called a grammar school teacher back in the day—faces her class (the audience) and explains to her precocious first-graders how to act in her absence, using polysyllables like “conviviality,” words the kids have brought in from their academic and professional parents. -more-

Eddie Gale and India Cooke Celebrate Jazz Great Sun Ra

By Ken Bullock, Special to the Planet
Thursday February 11, 2010 - 09:56:00 AM

“The motivation keeps coming back around,” said noted San Jose-based jazz trumpeter Eddie Gale, “What can I do for Sun Ra?” -more-

People and Cities in Ruins: Rossellini's 'Rome Open City' and Wenders' 'Paris, Texas'

By Justin DeFreitas
Thursday February 11, 2010 - 12:51:00 PM

In 1945, Roberto Rossellini took an idea, a limited supply of film stock and an even more limited supply of cash, and created not only a powerful landmark film, but spurred an entire genre, a school of filmmaking that quickly spread throughout the Italian film community and that still exerts great influence on filmmakers worldwide. -more-

Community Calendar

Thursday February 11, 2010 - 09:46:00 AM

THURSDAY, FEB. 11 -more-