The Week

A new structure going up, without permits, at  the home of Ryan Lau, Council Aide to Councilmember Darryl Moore and Moore's appointee to the City of Berkeley Zoning Adjustment Board.
Fred Dodsworth
A new structure going up, without permits, at the home of Ryan Lau, Council Aide to Councilmember Darryl Moore and Moore's appointee to the City of Berkeley Zoning Adjustment Board.
 

News

Berkeley Police Still Looking for Hit-and-Run Driver

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Monday March 15, 2010 - 09:32:00 PM

Berkeley police are still looking for a hit-and-run suspect who struck a bicyclist at Sixth and Hearst streets Friday morning. -more-


New: Police Alcohol Decoy Operation Cites 22 People in Berkeley

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Monday March 15, 2010 - 05:21:00 PM

A decoy shoulder tap operation by the California Alcoholic Beverage Control Saturday cited 22 people in Berkeley for various violations. -more-


What Happened to the Comics?

Friday March 12, 2010 - 10:10:00 AM

A number of regular readers have asked what's become of the comic strips. The good news is that you can see Sylvia, Doonesbury and many more on the GoComics website. and Get Fuzzy on the comics.com site. -more-


Berkeley Plants 13 Trees As Part of Tree City USA

Friday March 12, 2010 - 02:56:00 PM
Berkeley celebrated its first day as Tree City USA by planting 13 trees in and around Thousand Oaks Elementary School in North Berkeley.

Berkeley celebrated its first day as Tree City USA by planting 13 trees in and around Thousand Oaks Elementary School in North Berkeley. -more-


“Berkeley Scholars to Cal” Celebration

By Raymond Barglow,
Friday March 12, 2010 - 01:06:00 PM
At the reception, Malyka Akom on the left and Stephanie Munoz on the right

What do many Berkeley African American and Latino students need in order to do well in school and get into the college of their choice? One answer to that question, an intense mentoring program that is now eight years old, was celebrated this past Monday evening at a reception on the UC campus. -more-


Berkeley Police Want Help in Finding Andronico's Robber

Bay City News
Friday March 12, 2010 - 12:24:00 PM
Berkeley police are asking for the community's help in identifying a suspect who robbed an Andronico's Market Sunday.

Berkeley police are asking for the community's help in identifying a suspect who robbed an Andronico's Market in the city Sunday night. The robbery was reported at about 10 p.m. at the grocery store, located at 2655 Telegraph Ave., according to police. -more-


AC Transit Bus Route Major Change Alert

Friday March 12, 2010 - 02:49:00 PM

On Sunday, March 28th, AC Transit will implement major service changes in Berkeley and other East Bay communities. These changes reduce service overall by 8.4 percent and were necessitated by reduced state funding, declining sales tax revenue and other economic factors. Below is a summary of changes to bus routes serving Berkeley: -more-


Updated: Berkeley Council Aide Skips Permits for His Building Project

By Fred Dodsworth
Wednesday March 10, 2010 - 09:55:00 PM

Dear reader: There are two types of people in Berkeley: rubes like you and me, and there are the elite. The normal rules that rubes live, bleed, and die by don’t apply to the elite. The elite needn’t follow the well-established required procedures nor abide by municipal regulations. They’re special and they know what’s best for us, and what’s best for them.

One of Berkeley’s most onerous departments of rules and regulations is its Building Department. If the average citizen rube wants to replace a water heater, stove or even a light switch, the law says he has to pull a building permit. If the rube wants to repair his front porch, he has to turn in working drawings and a lot map, and pay hundreds of dollars to get said building permit. I know from personal experience.

Heaven forbid after buying your 1,145 square-foot house for $435,000 less than a year ago, as Ryan Lau did, you should want to tear down your miniscule old and decrepit garage built in the 1920s and replace it with a lovely residential structure twice as large and located far less than the required four feet from the property line. If a rube wanted to build too close to his neighbor’s property he would have to get a ‘Use Permit,’ which would likely require a public hearing and cost the rube thousands and thousands of dollars. He might even end up in front of the Zoning Adjustment Board!

Of course if the person who wants to do such a thing is named Ryan Lau, Councilman Darryl Moore’s long-time aide and appointed Commissioner to the Zoning Adjustments Board, rules mean nothing. -more-


New: Prosecutor Calls Alleged Killer of UC Berkeley Student "Wannabe Thug"

By Bay City News
Tuesday March 16, 2010 - 05:31:00 PM

A prosecutor and a defense attorney agreed today that a dangerous mixture of alcohol and testosterone led to the stabbing death of University of California at Berkeley senior Christopher Wootton near campus two years ago. -more-


Berkeley High Principal Jim Slemp Announces That He Will Retire in June

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday March 11, 2010 - 10:40:00 AM
Berkeley High Principal Jim Slemp cheers on more than 3,000 high school students who formed a human chain around the campus in June 2008 to protest immigration raids by ICE agents in Berkeley.

Berkeley High School Principal Jim Slemp, whose tenure was sometimes marked by controversy and contentious relationships with parents and teachers, announced Wednesday morning he was going to retire in June. -more-


Judge Rules UC Must Reimburse About $38 Million to Graduate Students

By Bay City News
Friday March 12, 2010 - 06:04:00 PM

A San Francisco Superior Court judge ruled earlier this week that nearly 3,000 graduate students in the University of California system will be reimbursed about $38 million in fees that were improperly raised. The ruling, issued by Judge John Munter on Wednesday, affects about 2,900 students who applied to and accepted an offer of admission to various UC professional schools prior to Aug. 25, 2003. -more-


Berkeley Bike-Pedestrian Safety Remains Consistently Poor

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday March 11, 2010 - 08:07:00 PM
Frank and Jody Cruz, parents of Zachary Michael Cruz, who was killed in a pedestrian accident in 2009, with Zach's baby brother Miles at the Berkeley City Council Tuesday. The council has named March Zachary Cruz Pedestrian Safety Month in honor of Zachary.

Records from the state Office of Traffic Safety show that Berkeley has consistently been one of the least safe—and in some cases the most unsafe—places in California for bicyclists and pedestrians for the last several years. -more-


Women Dies in Berkeley's First Pedestrian Fatality of 2010

By Riya Bhattacharjee with Bay City News
Thursday March 11, 2010 - 12:00:00 PM

An Oakland woman was struck and killed by a truck Wednesday night near a South Berkeley intersection.The suspect, 42-year-old Jesse Donald Kelly of Oakland, was arrested at the scene and booked for gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and driving under the influence of alcohol, causing injury or death. The driver, stopped after the incident and cooperated with police, Berkeley Police Department spokesperson Officer Andrew Frankel said. He said the incident was Berkeley’s first pedestrian related fatality of 2010. -more-


Updated: Dean Reports on Violent Clashes at Berkeley High This Week

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Monday March 15, 2010 - 09:36:00 PM

More details are emerging about the string of violent incidents that took place in and around Berkeley High School last week. A message from Berkeley High Dean of Students Ardarius McDonald on the school e-tree message service Friday said that a fight which broke out between two groups of Berkeley High students Thursday escalated in the On Campus Intervention office when a parent and at least one non student arrived. -more-


Public Health Cuts Could Cost City its Own Health Department

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday March 11, 2010 - 05:18:00 PM

A special City Council workshop on cuts to Berkeley’s Public Health funds revealed some hard truths Tuesday, including the possible threat of losing the city’s independent health department. The 5:30 p.m. meeting began with Berkeley’s Budget Manager Tracy Vesely briefing the council on the $14.6 million deficit the city faces in 2010-2011, including a $3 million shortfall in the Public Health Department. -more-


Berkeley Council Tackles Alcohol Permits, Columbaria and Google Internet

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Wednesday March 10, 2010 - 08:06:00 PM
John Caner of the Downtown Berkeley Association said that faster use permits will help quick service restaurants such as Amanda’s on Shattuck Avenue.

The Berkeley City Council went through a flurry of motions Tuesday night, approving over-the-counter alcohol permits for quick service restaurants downtown, columbaria within city limits and a $130,000 package for a new rent board deputy director. -more-


COMMUNITY COMMENTARY: Downtown Streetscapes Planning

By Steven Finacom
Thursday March 11, 2010 - 08:50:00 PM

Berkeley’s Downtown Streetscape and Open Space Improvement Plan (SOSIP) subcommittee, which is charged with advising the City Council on changes to Berkeley’s downtown, got off to an initially bumpy start Monday, then settled into a series of relatively quick decisions about preferred directions. There was little discussion of how all this would be paid for, however. -more-


Updated: COMMUNITY COMMENTARY: Landmark Preservation Commission Reviews Mobilized Women of Berkeley Designation

By Steven Finacom
Thursday March 11, 2010 - 07:53:00 AM

Review of the expansion of one historic branch public library building, likely demolition of another, and affirmation of the landmark designation of the old Mobilized Women of Berkeley building at 1007 University Avenue were major issues before the Berkeley Landmarks Preservation Commission at its regular monthly meeting on Thursday, March 4, 2010. The Commission also considered several shorter items including building remodels and historic plaques. -more-


City’s Deputy Director Lisa Caronna Retires

Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday March 11, 2010 - 12:59:00 PM
The Berkeley City Council Tuesday bade farewell to the city’s Deputy Director Lisa Caronna who will be retiring this week.

The Berkeley City Council Tuesday bade farewell to the city’s Deputy Director Lisa Caronna who will be retiring this week. -more-


American Hikers Allowed to Call Home from Iran

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday March 11, 2010 - 12:47:00 PM

The three UC Berkeley graduates who were detained in Iran last July were allowed to call home March 9 for the first time in more than seven months. -more-


Dean Reports Violent Clashes at Berkeley High This Week

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Friday March 12, 2010 - 02:05:00 PM

A string of violent incidents took place in and around Berkeley High School over the last couple of days, details of which are still not clear. -more-


Hit-and-run Accident Injures Bicyclist in Berkeley

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Friday March 12, 2010 - 05:49:00 PM

Berkeley police said that a bicyclist was hospitalized after being in a hit-and-run accident at Sixth and Hearst streets Friday morning. -more-


Police Alcohol Decoy Operation Cites 22 People in Berkeley

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Monday March 15, 2010 - 05:21:00 PM

A decoy shoulder tap operation by the California Alcoholic Beverage Control Saturday cited 22 people in Berkeley for various violations. -more-


Coroner's Bureau Identifies Woman Hit by Truck

Bay City News
Friday March 12, 2010 - 12:28:00 PM

The Alameda County coroner's bureau has identified a pedestrian who was killed in Berkeley on Wednesday night when she was struck by a pickup truck driven by an alleged drunken driver. -more-


The Richmond Chamber of Horrors

by Richmond Councilman Tom Butt
Monday March 15, 2010 - 10:40:00 PM

The Richmond Chamber of Commerce, erstwhile defenders of land speculators and global oil corporations, just can’t let go of politics. They should rename themselves “Richmond Chamber of Horrors.” -more-


Opinion

Editorials

We Need More Jobs, Yes, But What Kind of Jobs?

By Becky O'Malley
Wednesday March 10, 2010 - 03:11:00 PM

Last week the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, a (privately-funded) program for what used to be called old folks (people my age) which operates on and around the UC Berkeley campus, staged an afternoon event in the glamorous new (privately funded) Freight and Salvage auditorium. -more-


Cartoons

O'Neill

By Dan O’Neill
Wednesday March 10, 2010 - 08:50:00 PM

Public Comment

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Wednesday March 10, 2010 - 10:28:00 PM

The Feb 11 edition of BDP included yet again another extremely lengthy commentary by small school zealot Rick Ayers. Typical of Ayer's diatribe was a reference to the “factory model” in an attempt to make a distinction between small schools and the traditional comprehensive structure. I have never found Ayers reference meaningful. In fact I find the local discussion about educational equity to be superficial, racially divisive, and missing a clear focus on true educational equity which requires administrative oversight ensuring all students access to quality content and instruction. So I was pleased to read the March 5th editorial from Ayers' home town paper, the Chicago Tribune, “Keep the best teachers”, with this ironic and inspired use of the “factory model” reference. -more-


Berkeley's Refuse-Recycling Budgeting and Fiscal Planning Reflects A Failure in Economic Thinking

Bruce A. Smith, Ph.D.
Thursday March 11, 2010 - 05:51:00 PM

Berkeley's refuse-recycling budget deficit has been on the minds of a growing number of people, including me. Stories have appeared in the Planet and other newspapers about the topic. Based on what I've read, it appears public decision-makers are economically clueless in Berkeley. -more-


Learning on the March

By Michael Diehl
Thursday March 11, 2010 - 06:18:00 PM

I decided to join the student march from UC Berkeley down to Oakland's Frank Ogawa Plaza. From there I joined the contingent that went by the UC administration building in downtown Oakland on Franklin and continued to follow when they headed to what turned out to be highway entrance to 880 on 11th St., not knowing the intention was to march on the highway and to block traffic during rush hour at 5pm. -more-


Acceleration Blues: Berkeley Incident Ignored by Toyota Corporation

By Dorothy Snodgrass
Wednesday March 10, 2010 - 06:21:00 PM

For the past several weeks we've been inundated with newspaper stories and TV coverage of the Toyota acceleration problem -- hapless drivers doing over 100 miles per hour on freeways, unable to stop. Let me tell you about my own personal experience -- one that's left me shaken after three weeks. -more-


Marijuana, Bipolar, and the Governor

by Jack Bragen
Wednesday March 10, 2010 - 06:35:00 PM

The Governor's wish to legalize pot has some problems that people ought to think about. While the illegality of marijuana resembles an unnecessary restriction like that of Prohibition, making it legal could cause unforeseen problems. -more-


A New Challenge to Stadium Project

by Nigel Guest
Wednesday March 10, 2010 - 06:45:00 PM

An open letter to Mayor Bates and City Council Members: We note with interest that UC Berkeley’s Vice-Chancellor wrote you on December 14, 2009, addressing what we believe to be an unconstitutional exemption that UC has recently obtained from California’s premier earthquake protection statute. He stated: ‘The exemption is also consistent with and supportive of Alquist-Priolo's primary purpose: "to provide the citizens of California with increased safety and to minimize the loss of life during and immediately following earthquakes …"’. This is a clear contradiction in terms. An exemption from a safety-related statute cannot be consistent with ensuring public safety. -more-


Disputed Facts Re Lawrence Lab Transportation

By Nikki Frenney
Wednesday March 10, 2010 - 06:55:00 PM

A February 11 Letter to the Editor regarding MV Transportation and the transit service we provide for Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory wholly mischaracterized our company and safety performance. In fact, the letter completely misrepresented the facts. -more-


Columns

DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE: The Iranian Tsunami

Conn Hallinan
Monday March 15, 2010 - 06:07:00 PM

Earthquakes, like the recent Haitian and Chilean monsters, are not subtle events: They flatten buildings, crush houses, and turn infrastructures into concrete and steel confetti. But earthquakes can also generate a power that remains largely unseen until a huge tsunami rises out of the sea and obliterates a coastline. -more-


DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE:Dubai: Debacle or Dangerous Prelude?

By Conn Hallinan
Thursday March 11, 2010 - 01:46:00 PM

At first glance, the recent assassination of a mid-level Hamas operative in Dubai by the Israeli intelligence organization, Mossad, was a comedy of errors, as if the Three Stooges has suddenly been put in charge of one of the fabled agency’s hit squads: Easily traced passports and credit cards were used; team members put on fake mustaches and beards, sometimes so clumsily they could clearly be identified; and a female agent slipped on a disguising wig, only to walk back and forth in front of a surveillance camera for half an hour. -more-


PUBLIC EYE: America's Locust Years

By Bob Burnett
Wednesday March 10, 2010 - 03:18:00 PM

This past week I was reminded of a Winston Churchill speech where he lamented, "these are the years that the locust hath eaten." Speaking before the House of Commons, Churchill chronicled Hitler's rise to power, Germany's rearmament, and England's failure to respond. He used the locust metaphor to refer to the multiple opportunities England had to prevent war. -more-


SENIOR POWER: Why Are All Senior Centers Closed at Once?

By Helen Rippier Wheeler
Thursday March 11, 2010 - 09:26:00 AM

“In youth we learn; In age we understand.” -more-


EAST BAY THEN AND NOW: Bread and Music Were Staples of West Berkeley Block

by Daniella Thompson
Thursday March 11, 2010 - 03:09:00 PM
The former American Photo Player Company buildings, now Strawberry Creek Design Center.

Berkeley prides itself on being at the forefront of national trends. This was already the case a hundred years ago, when newfangled inventions like the automobile and the movies found receptive local entrepreneurs ready to help them along. -more-


WILD NEIGHBORS: Last of the Berkeley Parrots?

by Joe Eaton
Thursday March 11, 2010 - 08:15:00 AM

A few days ago, Ron and I were walking down San Pablo Avenue near Hearst when we heard a familiar screeching noise. We located the source in a leafless tree: a midsized green parrot with a long tail and a red face. It appeared to be a mitred conure, also known as mitred parakeet, the species that’s frequented West Berkeley for at least a couple of decades. And there was only one. -more-


Arts & Events

Berkeley Arts Festival Calendar

By Bonnie Hughes
Thursday March 11, 2010 - 11:08:00 AM

Look here for an ongoing guide to selected arts events in Berkeley compiled by the producer of the Berkeley Arts Festival. -more-


VISITING SF MOMA

By Steven Finacom
Thursday March 11, 2010 - 10:20:00 AM
An orange-shirted SF MOMA visitor inadvertently complements the picture he’s perusing.

Earlier this year I took a trip to see what Modern Hath Wrought. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) turns 75 this year, and is celebrating with both special and retrospective exhibitions and programs. -more-


Berkeley Was in Oscar Spotlight

Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday March 11, 2010 - 02:27:00 PM
dith Ehrlich, director of the Oscar-nominated documentary, The Most Dangerous Man in America, on the way to the Kodak Theater for the Oscars with Daniel and Patricia Ellsberg. Judy's dress was designed and made in the East Bay by Devi, proprietor of Outback in Point Richmond,*with help from the LoveTribe (Outback's loyal customers). Jewelry by Clare Ullman.

The East Bay was well represented at Oscar ceremonies on Sunday. The Oscar-nominated documentary The Most Dangerous Man in America has Berkeley connections--directors Rick Goldsmith and Judith Ehrlich are both based in Berkeley. And Berkeley-based Earth Island Institute is behind the making of The Cove, which won an Oscar for best documentary Sunday night. -more-


Goodbye Videots

By Jessica Moore
Friday March 12, 2010 - 03:38:00 PM

We first met in 1997 when I moved to the Elmwood. Coming from Boston, by way of San Francisco, I was accustomed to neighborhoods where funky and fashionable apartment buildings jockey for frontage along bustling, always-entertaining sidewalk scenes. So when my husband and I moved our two-year-old marriage to this tree-lined district of Berkeley, with single-family homes cowering behind front yards of foliage, I was out of my element. -more-


Saint Patrick's Day Festivities

By Ralph E. Stone
Wednesday March 10, 2010 - 06:39:00 PM

On March 17th, the Irish, the more than 70 million world-wide who claim Irish heritage, and the Irish-for-a-day, will be lifting a pint of Guinness, or something stronger, to toast Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. I bet corn beef and cabbage will be on many a menu. And many will be wearin' the green. Why is it celebrated on March 17th? One theory is that is the day St. Patrick died; it is now celebrated as his feast day. -more-


EAST BAY THEN AND NOW: Bread and Music Were Staples of West Berkeley Block

by Daniella Thompson
Thursday March 11, 2010 - 03:09:00 PM
The former American Photo Player Company buildings, now Strawberry Creek Design Center.

Berkeley prides itself on being at the forefront of national trends. This was already the case a hundred years ago, when newfangled inventions like the automobile and the movies found receptive local entrepreneurs ready to help them along. -more-


WILD NEIGHBORS: Last of the Berkeley Parrots?

by Joe Eaton
Thursday March 11, 2010 - 08:15:00 AM

A few days ago, Ron and I were walking down San Pablo Avenue near Hearst when we heard a familiar screeching noise. We located the source in a leafless tree: a midsized green parrot with a long tail and a red face. It appeared to be a mitred conure, also known as mitred parakeet, the species that’s frequented West Berkeley for at least a couple of decades. And there was only one. -more-


Why is There No Longer an Events Calendar?

Saturday March 13, 2010 - 11:01:00 AM

Creating the very complete events calendar in the print Planet required a very substantial portion of the time of one full-time employee who is no longer working for the paper. We're trying to figure out a way to have some sort of events calendar in the future--volunteers to maintain it would be welcome. -more-