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Berkeley Today: Tuesday

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Tuesday May 25, 2010 - 07:38:00 PM

In the news today: Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates and some councilmembers show support for the Measure C pools bond by jumping into a swimming pool, the East Bay Humane Society continues to receive an outpouring of donations and Japanese American Internment survivors receive honorary degrees at UC Berkeley. 

Mayor, councilmembers jump into pool to support Measure C 

Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates and Councilmembers Linda Maio and Kriss Worthington showed up for a dunking at Willard Pool May 23 to show support for Measure C. All three allowed themselves to be pushed into the pool by members of the Berkeley Barracudas swim team during a swimathon to benefit the pools campaign.  

Measure C will use $22.6 million in voter-approved bond money to rebuild and repair the city’s four public pools—including the Berkeley High School warm water pool—which is up for demolition next year. Willard pool is also in danger of closing if the bond measure doesn’t pass in the June 8 election. 

“We don’t want to lose one square foot of our beautiful municipal pools and I am ready to get dunked because of that,” said Councilmember Linda Maio, who brought her granddaughter along to push her into the pool. 

Bates urged everyone to vote on June 8 for Measure C, and immediately got dunked into the pool fully clothed by some young swimmers. Councilmember Kriss Worthington, who has been dunked on earlier occasions for various causes, said although he was “passionately against any corporations or politicians” pushing him around, “today I am happy and honored to let the children of Berkeley push me into the pool.” 

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East Bay Humane Society continues to receive donations 

Almost everyone is doing their bit to help the fire ravaged-Berkeley East Bay Humane Society, including children, who are donating money made from selling lemonade and cupcakes. The organization, which lost 15 cats in the May 20 fire, is a recent winner of Maddie’s Lifesaving Award. So far, more than $ 115,000 has been collected to help with the tragedy. 

A good part of the two-story blue building was devastated in the flames and although the majority of the animals were rescued through swift action by staff members, volunteers and the Berkeley Fire Department, the adoption offices and the hospital was closed down due to a lack of water and electricity. According to a recent press release, “it is not clear when the organization will be able to resume normal shelter and hospital operations.” The Board of Director and staff are currently working on a comprehensive recovery plan. 

"After saving more than 40,000 animals over almost a hundred years, the future of the Berkeley-East Bay Humane Society could be in jeopardy," said Stacey Street, Executive Director in a statement. "Every day that our shelter is closed means fewer homeless animals that we are able to rescue. Therefore, we will be relying on the continued generosity of the animal welfare community, as well as the continued financial support from the community at large, in order to continue our mission of helping animals in need." 

Some animals rescued from the fire were taken to Berkeley Animal Care Services where they received medical evaluation by Berkeley East Bay Humane Society staff. Other animals were transported to local veterinary hospitals where, according to the press release, “they are in good health.” Many have been sent to foster homes. 

"We have suffered a major setback," said Virginia Gray, president of Berkeley East Bay Humane Society’s Board of Directors. "Thanks to swift and heroic action by our staff and the Berkeley Fire Department, we were able to save many animals. Now, our challenge will be to rebuild our shelter facilities so that we can continue to rescue local dogs and cats." 

The Berkeley East Bay Humane Society closed its veterinary hospital to the public in Feb. 2009 to focus on rescuing abandoned animals. Founded in 1927, it has provided homes to more than 40,000 animals to date. 

Japanese internment survivors receive honorary degrees at UC Berkeley 

UC Berkeley awarded honorary degrees to eleven Japanese-Americans last week whose studies at the university ended abruptly when they were forced to go to internment camps during World War II. 

Of the four honorees still alive, 92-year-old Saburo Hon and 87-year-old Sachi Kajiwara were expected to attend the event where the degrees were handed by the Department of Ethnic Studies’ graduation ceremony. Family members of the other honorees were present to accept their degrees. According to a statement from the university, more than 2,500 students of Japanese ancestry were enrolled at California community colleges and universities when World War II broke out. Out of that, some 500 students attended UC Berkeley. When the U.S. attacked Pearl Harbor in 1942, their families were among the more than 100,000 Japanese Americans sent to detention camps. Saburo Hon was an engineer working on his graduate degree when he was sent to the Topaz internment camp in Utah. 

More information on UC Berkeley’s role in the California Nisei College Diploma Project, launched as a result of a California law passed in 2009, can be found here.