News

More Aftershocks Today

By Sasha Lekach (Bay City News Service)
Saturday October 22, 2011 - 07:36:00 PM

Another aftershock with a 2.5 magnitude struck this morning, after two small quakes shook the East Bay this morning, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. -more-


Updated: Earthquake in Berkeley Now Estimated to be 3.9 Magnitude

Thursday October 20, 2011 - 02:46:00 PM

According to the U.S. Geological Service, a magnitude 4.2 3.9 4.0 earthquake rattled Berkeley today at 02:41:04 PM, with the epicenter located within blocks of the site where U.C. Berkeley's Memorial Stadium is currently being reconstructed. -more-


Updated: Second Earthquake Strikes Berkeley Tonight: 3.8

By Bay City News Service
Thursday October 20, 2011 - 10:55:00 PM

The U.S. Geological Survey has downgraded tonight's earthquake from its original preliminary magnitude of 4.2, to 3.9 a short time later, and now experts report it was a 3.8-magnitude tremor. -more-


Berkeley City and BUSD Consider Moving Meetings to West Berkeley, Abandoning Old City Hall

By Steven Finacom
Thursday October 20, 2011 - 10:23:00 AM
The run down old cafeteria at West Campus. City and School District staff have been working on a plan to relocate City Council and BUSD Board meetings to this structure, at a cost of $2.1 million.

If a proposal being developed by City and School District staff comes to fruition, a battered, vacant, one-story former cafeteria on a quiet residential side-street in West Berkeley may soon become Berkeley’s new City Council chambers—and meeting place for other City deliberative bodies, from the Rent Board to the School Board.

The project—estimated to cost $2.1 million—would trigger the essential abandonment of Berkeley’s 102 year old City Hall Downtown and the relocation of City Council and School Board meetings to the old cafeteria at “West Campus”, the School District property on University Avenue between Curtis and Bonar Streets.

The cafeteria, a dilapidated one-story structure, faces out on Addison Street between Bonar and Browning.

City and School District staff said at a community meeting Tuesday night (October 18,2011) that they have not yet presented the concept to either the School Board or the City Council for consideration.

Some of the neighbors of West Campus who spoke at the meeting characterized the meeting relocation proposal as “completely crazy”, “nuts”, ridiculous”, “not a good choice”, and “under the radar.” -more-


Berkeley City College Student Wins Norman Mailer Writing Award

Thursday October 20, 2011 - 03:09:00 PM

Editor's Note: The Norman Mailer Center and Writers Colony has announced that this year’s recipient of the National Community College Nonfiction Writing Award is Christopher Woodard of Berkeley City College. He'll get his award and a check for $5,000 at the Center’s third annual benefit gala on Tuesday, November 8 in New York City. Honorary Chair Tina Brown (Newsweek and The Daily Beast) and an advisory board of writers including Joan Didion, William Kennedy, Nobel Laureate Gunter Grass, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Gay Talese, and others will host a lively evening of cocktails, dinner, and an awards ceremony. The Planet is pleased to reprint the winning essay below: -more-


New: Occupy Berkeley Deliberates Reviving "How Berkeley Can You Be" Oct. 30; Calls for "Grade-in" and Lawn Watering Saturday--in Lieu of a March

by Ted Friedman
Friday October 21, 2011 - 01:05:00 PM

Next up for Occupy Berkeley, a teacher grade-in and lawn watering at Martin Luther King Center Park behind City Hall Saturday noon. No March is planned. The following week, Occupy will homage Berkeley's beloved (and not) How Berkeley Can You Be? with its own, "How Occupy Berkeley Can You Be?" -more-


Earthquake Advice

By Dorothy Snodgrass
Thursday October 20, 2011 - 02:55:00 PM

Having been warned by scientists that the Bay Area is due a sizable earthquake in the next 30 years, we're passing on valuable information [found on a postcard, author unknown] on what to do when that earthquake occurs. -more-


Press Release: Village Movement Takes Root among UC Berkeley’s Dynamic Elders

By Yasmin Anwar | UCB Media Relations
Thursday October 20, 2011 - 03:22:00 PM

Launched just over a year ago in the San Francisco Bay Area’s East Bay, the 170-member social network – driven in considerable part by expertise and membership from the University of California, Berkeley – is among the newest additions to the Village Movement, a nationwide, neighbor-helping-neighbor effort that has spread to more than 50 U.S. cities and communities.

“It’s about being engaged with a lot of really smart people and trying to figure out what we want our community to look like as we get older,” said Steve Lustig, former associate vice chancellor of health and human services at UC Berkeley, and an Ashby Village board member.

Next week (Oct. 24-26), the Village to Village Network, a national nonprofit organization that helps communities manage their villages, will host its annual conference in Oakland. An envoy of some two dozen Ashby Village members will attend. Speakers will include UC Berkeley social welfare professor Andrew Scharlach, whose research on aging-friendly communities has contributed to the Village Movement’s success. -more-


Berkeley City Officials Push UC to Choose West Berkeley for New LBNL Site--
With No Public Review(News Analysis)

By Zelda Bronstein
Tuesday October 18, 2011 - 09:13:00 AM

Mayor Bates and his allies like to gripe about public process in Berkeley, complaining that an inordinate amount of citizen participation results in costly and unnecessary delays. But a striking aspect of our current civic affairs is the lack, if not total absence, of public process with respect to some of the biggest issues in town.

The problem of City employees’ budget-busting benefits, for example, was last agendaized, as they say in City Hall, at the council’s meeting on January 18, 2011 . The plan to spend $1.4 million to renovate the West Campus cafeteria into a meeting space for the council has never appeared on the public agenda of the council or any City commission.

Neither has the distinct possibility that Berkeley will house the second campus of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

The second LBNL campus is a very big deal. The first phase will involve 480,000 square feet of development; the second will bring that figure up to two million. Square feet aside, the presence of the second lab will raise land values and boost the “innovation” quotient of whatever place it occupies.

Twenty-three applicants responded to the RFQ that was issued in January 2011. Six made it to the final round.

One, from Wareham Development, would situate the new facility partly in Berkeley and partly in Emeryville, wholly in Berkeley or wholly in Emeryville . A second, from The Stronach Group, would locate it on the current site of Golden Gate Fields racetrack (owned by the Group), which is partly in Berkeley and partly in Albany . A third, from the Goldin brothers and the Jones family, would put the new campus alongside Berkeley's Aquatic Park . The other three possible sites are in Alameda (the former Naval Station), Oakland (the Estuary) and Richmond (the University of California Field Station).

Wherever it goes, the project will have an immense impact on the surrounding community. Accordingly, the second LBNL campus has been publicly vetted by every prospective host city—except Berkeley. -more-


Inside "Occupy Berkeley"—A Week in the Life of a Nascent Revolution

by Ted Friedman
Monday October 17, 2011 - 11:06:00 AM
Last week and days before she resigned, Sistah, fires up the "general assembly--at Occupy Berkeley

The first thing some protesters experience is demo-paranoia.

Paranoia shone its bloodshot eyes early—on all factions among the protesters.

Some of the paranoia: fear that the occupy movement is a sting operation to identify America's most dangerous radicals and charge them as terrorists: fear of provocateurs and obstructionists; fear of being co-opted by larger movements; fear of politicians, fear of reporters and photographers; fears that unauthorized flyers and buttons would not benefit the protest; and the fear that someone would steal the donations that support the protest.

Saturday, I investigated a suspicious police training in a large building (the old U.C. Press Building), at Oxford and Center. Signs in the lobby touted police trainings, and an FBI Van was parked out front, less than a half block from Saturday's protest. -more-


The Unfinished Legacy of 2010: How a massive Democratic voter cop-out in last year’s elections put the reactionary right in the driver’s seat (News Analysis)

By Frank Viviano (New America Media)
Tuesday October 18, 2011 - 10:23:00 AM

Take a close and objective look at the angry demonstrators now gathered on Wall Street, and at similar protest encampments burgeoning from San Francisco to Madrid. What you see is not simply a vast expression of rage at the crisis enveloping the world of democracy.

The demonstrations also frame a fundamental contradiction – a profound source of strength that has been transformed into a disabling weakness.

They deserve enormous credit for drawing a global spotlight to the perpetrators of that crisis: a sinister cabal of financial scamsters and rightwing politicians, backed by the dubiously “grass-roots” electorate of the Tea Party. What almost no one, on the right or left alike, wants to talk about is that the cabal was empowered by the very people who are now denouncing it.

Progressives, out of a mixture of political correctness and embarrassment, carefully avoid the subject. The Republicans are delighted at the silence, because it masks what should be fatal weaknesses in their own position.

It may not be pleasant to hear, but a massive Democratic voter cop-out in last year’s elections is what put the reactionary right in the driver’s seat, creating the disastrous logjam in Congress, and bringing to a dead halt the hyper-active first two years of the Obama Administration. -more-


One Fountain, One Hundred Years: The Circle Has a Centennial Party

By Steven Finacom
Tuesday October 18, 2011 - 09:05:00 AM
The Circle bear cubs wore party hats in honor of the fountain centennial celebrated Sunday, October 16, 2011.

The splendid and beloved bear cub fountain in the Circle on Berkeley’s Marin Avenue had a one-hundredth birthday celebration on Sunday, October 16, 2011.

More than 300 people crowded temporarily closed Mendocino Avenue and Los Angeles Avenue northwest of the busy traffic hub to congratulate volunteers, applaud the revived civic amenity, and raise funds for adjacent restoration. -more-


Add Your Opinion to the Downtown Berkeley Perceptions Survey

By Deborah Badhia, DBA
Tuesday October 18, 2011 - 11:32:00 AM

The Downtown Berkeley Association (DBA) is in the process of developing a Strategic Marketing Plan for Downtown Berkeley. This survey is part of the rollout of our Property-Based Business Improvement District (PBID) in 2012.

As part of that strategic marketing process, we are looking to get input from a broad range of Berkeleyans and Bay Area residents. We'd like to know why they come--or do not come--to Downtown Berkeley, and what kind of improvements they would like to see in the future.
We are looking to get responses this week, and no later than Monday, October 24th:


-more-


Remembering the Firestorm (First Person)

By Dorothy Snodgrass
Tuesday October 18, 2011 - 11:52:00 AM

I shall never forget October 19, 1991, the day of the Oakland Hills Firestorm. From my sixth floor window looking out on the east bay hills, I saw one house after the other go up in flames. At the same time, I could also watch this devastation on my television, a rather surrealistic touch. I stayed glued to my window most of that day. -more-


Fire This Morning at Berkeley Iceland: A Neighbor's Reaction

By Jane Stillwater
Monday October 17, 2011 - 04:41:00 PM

There were at least six fire trucks clustered outside of Berkeley's Iceland on Milvia Street at 6:00 am this morning. What caused the fire and how much damage did it do? I asked around. "The building itself is basically indestructible," commented one bystander who appeared to have insider knowledge regarding Iceland, "so no basic damage was done. However, some rubber mats were set on fire and so the smell of burning rubber has permeated the building." -more-


Hikers Freed in Iran to Speak Tonight at Occupy Oakland

By Dan McMenamin (BCN)
Monday October 17, 2011 - 04:37:00 PM

The three University of California at Berkeley graduates who were imprisoned in Iran on espionage charges are expected to attend an "Occupy Oakland" rally this evening. -more-