The Week

The intersection where a 6-year-old was struck on her way to school this morning.
By Riya Bhattacharjee
The intersection where a 6-year-old was struck on her way to school this morning.
 

News

Flash: Elephant Pharm Goes Out of Business After 6 Years in Berkeley

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Tuesday February 03, 2009 - 04:55:00 PM

Elephant Pharm, which opened in Berkeley six years ago as a pharmacy promoting holistic health merchandise, has closed and declared bankruptcy, blaming the economic downturn and the tightening of the credit market, according to a notice posted at its 1607 Shattuck Ave. location on Tuesday morning. -more-


Flash: Video of Friday Shooting Incident in Downtown Berkeley

Received from a reader on Monday
Monday February 02, 2009 - 05:08:00 PM

I came across the article today about the shots shutdown at the GAIA building on Friday night. I was walking home through downtown Berkeley when the shots were fired. It was disappointing to have no mention on it from ANY bay area news source over the entire weekend. The berkeley police don't even appear to mention it in their bulletin. We had no idea what was happening - or what happened.. Police were out in force and even closed off the streets... Allston, Center, etc. Anyway, the article raised doubt as to how many shots were fired. I came across this video taken during the shots fired... there were 3 - they happened just after halfway. -- Moni -more-


Citizens vs Caltrans Suit Wins Berkeley Road Improvements

By Richard Brenneman
Tuesday February 03, 2009 - 05:00:00 PM

Caltrans will fund $2 million in improvements to Highway 13 in Berkeley as part of the settlement of a lawsuit by civic activists challenging the state’s plans to drill a fourth bore for the Caldecott Tunnel. -more-


Judge Sets $2M Bail for UC Berkeley Frat Row Murder Suspect

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Tuesday February 03, 2009 - 05:08:00 PM

Acknowledging that Andrew Hoeft-Edenfield, charged with murdering UC Berkeley graduate Chris Wootton in May, posed a threat to the community and a flight risk, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Morris Jacobson set his bail at $2 million Monday. -more-


Granting $3 Million Bail, Judge Blasts Former BART Officer as Danger to Community

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Monday February 02, 2009 - 08:14:00 PM

While protesters and the family of Oscar Grant III reacted with anger and anguish to the announcement that former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle would be granted bail Friday afternoon, the most significant action taken at last week’s bail hearing may have been the words directed to the former officer by the Alameda County Superior Court judge in charge. -more-


Two Downtown Plan Chapters Lead Agenda

By Richard Brenneman
Monday February 02, 2009 - 08:13:00 PM

Berkeley planning commissioners will be back at work on the new Downtown Area Plan Wednesday night, this time looking at access and streetscapes and open space. -more-


Police Shut Down Another Gaia Arts Center Party--Shots Fired in Aftermath

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Sunday February 01, 2009 - 10:15:00 AM

The Berkeley Police Department shut down yet another party at the Gaia Arts Center in downtown Berkeley Friday night, after it attracted a large unruly crowd which blocked streets at Shattuck Avenue and Allston Way, and led to gunshots being fired in its aftermath, authorities said Saturday. -more-


Malcolm X Student Hit By Car Will Survive

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Friday January 30, 2009 - 01:15:00 PM

The Malcolm X kindergartener who was hit by a car Friday morning on her way to school in South Berkeley came out of surgery at Children's Hospital in Oakland around 1 p.m. and is expected to recover soon, authorities said. -more-


West Berkeley Zoning Battle Fills Planning Commission Seats

By Richard Brenneman
Friday January 30, 2009 - 05:14:00 PM

The struggle over the West Berkeley’s future brought a packed house of worried small business owners, craft workers and artists to the Planning Commission on Wednesday. -more-


BART Hands Over Grant Murder Investigation

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday January 29, 2009 - 06:36:00 PM

Bay Area Rapid Transport (BART) announced Thursday afternoon that it will turn over its internal affairs investigation to an independent third party which will inspect the actions of all the officers involved in the events leading up to the killing of Oscar Grant on New Year’s Day at the Fruitvale station in Oakland. -more-


School Board Approves Funds for Berkeley Alliance to Develop 2020 Vision

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday January 29, 2009 - 05:19:00 PM

The Berkeley Board of Education, at a public meeting Wednesday, unanimously approved a $50,000 contract with the non-profit Berkeley Alliance to oversee the process of developing a city-wide plan to close the achievement gap for minority students, as outlined by the 2020 Vision, a partnership started by the City of Berkeley, the Berkeley Unified School District and a group of community organizations in June. -more-


Council Approves 3M Library Contract, City Manager’s Raise

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Wednesday January 28, 2009 - 07:20:00 PM

In a sometimes testy meeting that lasted until after midnight, the Berkeley City Council approved a compromise two-year agreement with 3M Corporation for maintenance of the city library’s electronic book monitoring system, granted City Manager Phil Kamlarz an 8 percent raise, and told staff that more work needed to be done before complicated modifications to the city’s condominium conversion ordinance can be passed. -more-


Scharffen Berger to Close Berkeley Factory

By Kristin McFarland
Wednesday January 28, 2009 - 07:21:00 PM

The Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker factory in West Berkeley will be closing this year, leaving 150 employees without work. -more-


Oakland Police Chief Resigns, City Focuses on Law Enforcement Problems

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Wednesday January 28, 2009 - 07:21:00 PM

After spending the last two weeks dealing with the sometimes violent aftermath of the Fruitvale BART station shooting death of a Hayward man by a BART police officer, Oakland turned its attention to its own law enforcement problems this week with the suddenly embattled chief of police announcing his retirement, two prominent civil rights attorneys threatening to initiate contempt of court charges against the city because of failure to fully implement a court-imposed police settlement agreement, and Mayor Ron Dellums calling for a 10 percent reduction in crime over the next year. -more-


Stimulus Plan Will Net Berkeley Unified School District $4 Million Over Two Years

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Wednesday January 28, 2009 - 07:22:00 PM

The $819 billion federal economic recovery package that the House approved Wednesday will inject California’s public school system with nearly $10 billion in federal aid over the next two years, providing funds for scholarships, child-care development, at-risk children, Head Start, school renovations and other programs. -more-


UC Berkeley Campus on High Alert for Sex Crimes

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Wednesday January 28, 2009 - 07:25:00 PM

Berkeley police are asking the community to help them track down a serial sexual predator accused of assaulting at least three college women around UC Berkeley’s South Campus area early Saturday morning. -more-


More Financial Woes for MediaNews, Pay Cuts at SJ Merc

By Richard Brenneman
Wednesday January 28, 2009 - 07:27:00 PM

MediaNews, the region’s dominant newspaper publisher, Wednesday ordered all its Bay Area employees to take a mandatory unpaid week off during the next two months. -more-


Lawsuit Challenges Point Molate Casino

By Richard Brenneman
Wednesday January 28, 2009 - 07:25:00 PM

Two environmental groups filed suit Monday in an effort to block construction of a casino resort and condo complex at Richmond’s Point Molate. -more-


Zoning Board Approves Kashani’s Ashby Ave. Condos

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Wednesday January 28, 2009 - 07:26:00 PM

Despite protests from neighbors and community members about traffic impacts and height, the Berkeley Zoning Adjustments Board approved local developer Ali Kashani’s five-story mixed-use project last week. It would bring 98 condos, 7,770 square feet of ground-floor commercial space and 114 parking spaces to a 43,210 square-foot lot at 1200 Ashby Avenue, on the corner of San Pablo. -more-


City Releases Draft of Pools Plan, Asks for Input

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Wednesday January 28, 2009 - 07:22:00 PM

The public is now able to comment on the Berkeley citywide pools master plan, which was released on Friday, a week later than it was originally promised. -more-


2020 Vision to Launch Citywide Equity Task Force This Week

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Wednesday January 28, 2009 - 07:23:00 PM

The 2020 Vision program, initiated in June as a collaboration between the City of Berkeley, the Berkeley Unified School District and community organizations to close the achievement gap in the schools, will launch an All City Equity Task Force during a three-day retreat at the Berkeley Yacht Club today (Thursday). -more-


Study Session, Forum Planned for Berkeley High Redesign Plan

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Wednesday January 28, 2009 - 07:24:00 PM

The proposal for the Berkeley High School redesign—which has generated controversy so far but has been moving at a brisk pace since it was first unveiled in November—is scheduled for public discussion to give the community and district officials a chance to comment on its strengths and weaknesses. -more-


Downtown Plan Draft EIR Available for Comment

By Richard Brenneman
Wednesday January 28, 2009 - 07:26:00 PM
The Oxford Plaza affordable housing building is just one of the projects changing the face of downtown Berkeley. The Downtown Area Plan’s draft environmental impact report, required before the city and UC Berkeley can sign off on a new downtown plan, is now open to public comment.

The first draft of the key regulatory document required before the city and UC Berkeley can sign off on a new downtown plan is now available online. -more-


Interim Chief Named for LBNL

By Richard Brenneman
Wednesday January 28, 2009 - 07:27:00 PM

UC President Mark Yudof named a key ally of new U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu’s to fill the secretary’s former post as head of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. -more-


Woman Initially Charged in Shooting Has Been Released

By Richard Brenneman
Wednesday January 28, 2009 - 07:26:00 PM

While a Berkeley man was charged last week with murder following the death of the victim of a Jan. 11 West Berkeley shooting, a 47-year-old woman originally charged with the shooting has been released. -more-


Police Blotter

By Rio Bauce Special to the Planet
Wednesday January 28, 2009 - 07:28:00 PM

BB attack -more-


UC Student Murder Suspect to Request Bail Again

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Wednesday January 28, 2009 - 07:28:00 PM

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Morris Jacobson scheduled a bail motion for former Berkeley City College student Andrew Hoeft-Edenfield—accused of murdering UC Berkeley nuclear engineering student Chris Wootton in May—for Feb. 2. -more-


Kress Store Opened Downtown 75 Years Ago

By Steven Finacom Special to the Planet
Wednesday January 28, 2009 - 07:32:00 PM
Today’s refurbished Kress Building houses Half Price Books and retains nearly every exterior architectural element from 75 years ago.

Berkeley’s downtown had a big event in the midst of the Great Depression. -more-


First Person—Birthday Schmirthday: Whinings on Mortality

By Sonja Fitz
Wednesday January 28, 2009 - 07:32:00 PM

I turned 43 on Friday. Woo hoo! Age doesn’t scare me, in the just-a-number chronological sense: I hope never to lie about my age—ridiculous vanity. Wrinkles don’t scare me: peaches are sweet and delicious, but so are raisins. Gray hairs don’t scare me: gray is a lovely neutral. I’ll look fab wearing chartreuse. The fact that I am, technically, old enough to be my 3-year-old son’s grandmother doesn’t scare me. -more-


Opinion

Editorials

Community-Supported Journalism: Is It Sustainable?

By Becky O'Malley
Wednesday January 28, 2009 - 07:20:00 PM

On Monday morning this week we groaned to discover that one of our local National Public Radio stations has launched another pledge drive. This is in addition to listing what seems like 17 different commercial sponsors for every quarter-hour segment all day long. We knew that it was just a matter of time before the other NPR station followed suit, and that KPFA wouldn’t be far behind with another pledge drive of their own. We’ve also gotten letters complaining that some stations which shall be nameless have been selling individual recorded talks by newsmakers instead of playing them for free on the air for everyone to hear. -more-


Cartoons

Daschle's Tax Troubles

By Justin DeFreitas
Tuesday February 03, 2009 - 11:45:00 AM

The Obama Presidency: Finished Before it Began

By Justin DeFreitas
Saturday January 31, 2009 - 06:45:00 PM

Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Wednesday January 28, 2009 - 07:22:00 PM

THANK YOU, RICHMOND -more-


Letters to the Editor

Monday February 02, 2009 - 12:06:00 PM

BRAINS WIN! -more-


Oscar Grant and the Real Test for Oakland and the Bay Area

By Reiko Redmonde
Wednesday January 28, 2009 - 07:22:00 PM

In his Jan. 22 UnderCurrents column. “Oakland’s Test In the Aftermath of Oscar Grant’s Death,” J. Douglas Allen-Taylor says that Oakland is being tested. I agree that people in Oakland, and the Bay Area, are being tested, but not in the way he describes. The important question is, when people rise up against brutal injustice, what stand do you take? Do you stand aside and criticize? Or do you join the struggle, and see it through? -more-


Capitalism: A Self-Devouring Beast

By Michael Parenti
Wednesday January 28, 2009 - 07:23:00 PM

The capitalist state has two roles long recognized by political thinkers. First, like any state it must provide services that cannot be reliably developed through private means, such as public safety and orderly traffic. Second, the capitalist state protects the haves from the have-nots, securing the process of capital accumulation to benefit the moneyed interests, while heavily circumscribing the demands of the working populace. -more-


A War Over the Ocean

By Avi Criden
Wednesday January 28, 2009 - 07:23:00 PM

The Inauguration As Seen From the Couch

By Laura Santina
Wednesday January 28, 2009 - 07:23:00 PM

Though I missed the thrill of being there, I felt privileged to experience the historic 44th inauguration (I wish we could get rid of that monarchial word) through the lens of various media cameras. The Channel 4 talking heads even had a surprisingly impassioned “pre-show” discussion about the significance of a black presidency and articulately placed the event upon Dr. King’s shoulders and upon the shoulders of the Civil Rights Movement activists who shed their blood, sweat and tears for this day. Protests and marches were discussed in an almost surreal heroic and positive light. I had the feeling that dissent might even become fashionable for the mainstream, in which case I could give it up and move on to other things. -more-


The Church and State Equation in Proposition 8

By Michael Smith
Wednesday January 28, 2009 - 07:24:00 PM

As director of the Asylum Project at the East Bay Sanctuary, I see those who want to escape marriage and be free and those who want to be free to marry. We represent women who have fled forced marriage and wife inheritance—both sometimes including female circumcision—and domestic violence. Apart from the lack of love and the slavery aspects of forced marriage and wife inheritance, they can be death sentences in polygamous societies where AIDS is rampant. Domestic violence can be a long, slow death sentence, or a sudden one. We also represent clients who have suffered lifelong and truly horrible persecution on account of their sexual orientation. -more-


California’s Fiscal Situation: Time to Start Anew

By Damian Bickett
Wednesday January 28, 2009 - 07:25:00 PM

California’s fiscal state frustrates anyone who pays attention. The discontent comes from two angles—either someone is fed up that Republicans insist on not raising taxes, arguing that paying taxes is an important duty of all citizens, or someone is upset that California cannot live within its means as it continues to spend more and more and then cries for help when revenues deviate from expectations. -more-


The Great Pretender

By John F. Davies
Wednesday January 28, 2009 - 07:25:00 PM

With the coming of the new Obama administration, much has been said about how much change and hope he will bring to this country. Indeed, Barack Obama did accomplish quite a creditable victory over his Republican opponent. Many thousands of starry-eyed individuals enthusiastically cast their votes for the Democratic candidate, with the hope of electing a government which would be more responsive to people’s needs. While it is quite a historic occasion to have the first black man elected to this country’s highest office, my concern is what he actually intends to do once he is there. Careful examination of Obama’s rise to power, his past voting record, and those who have supported and advised him, sadly indicate that the majority of the American public has fallen for a grand deception. -more-


Columns

The Public Eye: Heroes of the Resistance

By Bob Burnett
Wednesday January 28, 2009 - 07:29:00 PM

He’s gone. George Bush has left the White House; it’s safe to come out of hiding. But, before progressives take a deep breath and begin attacking Barack Obama for not pursuing our pet issues vigorously enough, let’s stop and applaud those of us who, for the last four plus years, have fought the good fight against Bush’s fascism: the heroes of the resistance. -more-


Undercurrents: Justice Coalitions Fracturing in Oscar Grant Case

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Wednesday January 28, 2009 - 07:31:00 PM

In the immediate aftermath of the public release of the first cell phone video of the New Year’s Day Oscar Grant shooting death, we were cautioned by “police experts” that conclusions should not be immediately drawn from the videotaped scene of the horrific event because the video lacked context. -more-


Wild Neighbors: Probably the Last Parrot Column

By Joe Eaton
Wednesday January 28, 2009 - 07:30:00 PM

The parrot reports keep coming in. (For anyone who got here late, I had asked readers for any information on the red-and-green parrots, conures, or parakeets that frequent northwest Berkeley. Based on the response, the flock consists of four mitred parakeets, AKA mitred conures, and they’re seen most often in the vicinity of James Kenney Park. Most of the sightings have been fairly recent, although Steve Halflich has been observing them for 19 years.) -more-


About the House: Is It Time to Reconsider the Prefab Home?

By Matt Cantor
Wednesday January 28, 2009 - 07:31:00 PM

Berkeley is a city filled with “Custom Homes.” This is a term I hate, but in the absence of something better, there it will have to lay on the page, windless and mundane. To me, the term “custom home” brings to mind brochures filled with hackneyed images of rock jawed builders (plans rolled up under one arm, a pipe smoking in one hand) as they explain procedure and rectitude to their adoring clients. Custom homes are those that are built on site on an individual basis rather than as part of some larger group, tract or prefab model to be shipped out to an awaiting customer in Tuscaloosa. -more-


Arts & Events

Arts Calendar

Wednesday January 28, 2009 - 07:27:00 PM

THURSDAY, JAN. 29 -more-


Premiere of New Opera by Berkeley Composer

By Jaime Robles Special to the Planet
Wednesday January 28, 2009 - 07:25:00 PM

The woods decay, the woods decay and fall, -more-


Actors Ensemble Presents Ionesco’s ‘Exit the King’ at Live Oak Theater

By Ken Bullock Special to the Planet
Wednesday January 28, 2009 - 07:26:00 PM

The King is Dead ! Long live the King!” Was Ionesco thinking of that traditional cry of mortality and the mantle passed on, when he wrote Exit the King, now onstage at Live Oak Theatre, produced by Actors Ensemble of Berkeley, at the start of Ionesco’s centennial year? -more-


Poetry Events Honor Pat Parker, Feature Adnan and Fraser

By Ken Bullock Special to the Planet
Wednesday January 28, 2009 - 07:27:00 PM

Two unusual events, a musical and poetic tribute to the memory of one influential local poet, and the joint reading of two others, take place in Berkeley this week. -more-


Veteran Journalist’s Clear View of Cuba

By Conn Hallinan Special to the Planet
Wednesday January 28, 2009 - 07:27:00 PM

One of the more annoying subterfuges of American journalists is that reporters present themselves as “objective” blank slates on which the “news” etches itself. Under that artifice, the U.S. media wage a clandestine war against things they don’t approve of: Palestinians fighting for their own nation; uppity presidents of former client states, like Venezuela; virtually anything that has the slightest tinge of “Left.” And most of all, Cuba. -more-


‘Leave of Absence’ at Berkeley City Club

By Ken Bullock Special to the Planet
Wednesday January 28, 2009 - 07:29:00 PM

Around the East Bay: Oakland Magic Circle Gala Show

Wednesday January 28, 2009 - 07:30:00 PM

Oakland Magic Circle has been in the business of prestidigitation since 1925. On Tuesday, Feb. 3, they will put on their 84th annual Installation Banquet and Gala Show, featuring European magic and quick-change team Stoil & Ekaterina, plus comic magician, juggler and unicyclist Frank Olivier, veteran of Broadway and the Johnny Carson show, and others. Bjornson Hall, 2258 MacArthur Blvd. Oakland. Dinner & show: $25 ($20 for kids 12 and under), advance tickets required: brownpapertickets.com (800) 838-3006. Show only, $20 at door from 7:30-8 p.m. -more-


About the House: Is It Time to Reconsider the Prefab Home?

By Matt Cantor
Wednesday January 28, 2009 - 07:31:00 PM

Berkeley is a city filled with “Custom Homes.” This is a term I hate, but in the absence of something better, there it will have to lay on the page, windless and mundane. To me, the term “custom home” brings to mind brochures filled with hackneyed images of rock jawed builders (plans rolled up under one arm, a pipe smoking in one hand) as they explain procedure and rectitude to their adoring clients. Custom homes are those that are built on site on an individual basis rather than as part of some larger group, tract or prefab model to be shipped out to an awaiting customer in Tuscaloosa. -more-


Community Calendar

Wednesday January 28, 2009 - 07:29:00 PM

THURSDAY, JAN. 29 -more-