Rare burrowing owl found dead in West Berkeley park

This dead owl was found Sunday in a Berkeley park. Photo: Urban Bird Foundation

This dead owl was found Sunday in a Berkeley park. Photo: Urban Bird Foundation

A rare burrowing owl was found dead recently at Berkeley’s Cesar Chavez Park, raising some concern in the community.

Local resident Heidi Sachs saw the dead bird on a bench during her run at the Berkeley Marina on Sunday and shared the news with Berkeleyside.

“Really sad for me to think about,” she said, adding, “a passer-by mentioned a puncture wound on the owl’s head.”

On Friday, Earth Island Institute’s nonprofit Urban Bird Foundation released a statement about the discovery of the dead owl. The group said it received a report about the carcass Thursday night.

According to the Urban Bird Foundation, the bird was placed on a bench and puncture wounds could be seen on its body. But the group said it did not recover the carcass itself to verify those reports.

Carolyn Jones, a spokeswoman for the East Bay Regional Park District, said it is hard to know exactly where the bird was killed, but noted it could have died on EBRPD property, at Cesar Chavez Park, or nearby. Its cause of death, however, remains a mystery.

“The owl could have been killed by a feral cat, another raptor (hawks will go after burrowing owls, for example), or another predator,” Jones said by email. “Feral cats are a problem at several East Bay parks.” … Continue reading »

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Photos: Goodbye to Berkeley’s iconic Caffe Med

Last day at Caffe Med. Photo: Ted Friedman
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A crowd turned out Thursday evening for the send-off of Caffe Med, the storied Telegraph Avenue café that has seen more than its share of city history, is referred to as the “home of the latte,” and — famously — was featured in the movie The Graduate.

After six decades on Telegraph, Caffe Mediterraneum to use its full name, is now closed. Longtime owner Craig Becker has transferred the lease to a group of restaurateurs.

Read more about Caffe Med on Berkeleyside.

Becker spoke at Thursday’s event, which doubled as the Telegraph Avenue Business District’s holiday party, as did Berkeley’s newly sworn-in mayor, Jesse Arreguín.

Becker plans to hand over the keys to the café, which is at 2475 Telegraph, on Jan. 1 and, after an extensive renovation, the café is expected to reopen some time next year. It is not known whether the name, or any other aspect of the place, will be retained.

Contributing photographer Ted Friedman, a regular at Caffe Med, took the photographs published here. … Continue reading »

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Two Berkeley High students hospitalized after eating marijuana edibles

Berkeley High School. Photo: Nancy Rubin
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Two Berkeley High School students were taken to the hospital yesterday after eating marijuana edibles on campus. Both are reported to be fine.

According to BHS principal Sam Pasarow, six students were found to have eaten the products. In a statement to the Berkeley High community, he wrote, “We take this incident and all incidents involving controlled substances on our campus seriously. This investigation is ongoing at this time and does involve cooperation with local law enforcement.”

Pasarow said parents should remind students to never accept food from other students without knowing their origin. “Edible products are particularly dangerous as they can include a range of substances and unclear dosages and drug potency,” he wrote. … Continue reading »


Bites: La PanotiQ, Monster Pho 2, Brooklyn West

Croissants from La PanotiQ. Photo: La PanotiQ/Facebook
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Openings, closings

LA PANOTIQ BERKELEY HAS CLOSED The Berkeley location of the Bay Area bakery and café chain has closed suddenly. A post on La PanotiQ‘s Facebook page read: “We are sorry to announce that our store is temporarily closed until further notice, and are sorry for inconvenience. Join us in our other locations @Campbell, San Francisco (Marina & Noe Valley), Mountain View, Livermore, & Burlingame very soon. You’re always welcome at #lapanotiQ!” La PanotiQ opened in the former location of Padi Restaurant (and Holy Land) Elmwood this spring, serving a selection of French-style sandwiches salads, cakes, pastries, freshly baked bread, coffee and tea. We have reached out to the La PanotiQ owners and will update you as we learn more. … Continue reading »

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Could Premier Cru sale help wine counterfeiters?

Some of the hundreds of empty wine bottles that will be auctioned Saturday. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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An expert in wine counterfeiting is trying to put a stop to parts of the auction of the assets of Berkeley’s Premier Cru, concerned that the empty bottles and original wooden wine cases on sale could be used to flood the market with fake wines.

Don Cornwell, a Los Angeles attorney who said he worked with the FBI on the fraud case involving Premier Cru’s owner, John Fox, and who is well known in the  anti-counterfeiting world, has reached out to Premier Cru’s bankruptcy trustee, the U.S. Trustee, the FBI, and the auctioneer to stop the sale of hundreds of high-end empty wine bottles and crates. He started his campaign Thursday after reading Berkeleyside’s story on the auction of Premier Cru’s assets, set to happen at 11:00 a.m. Saturday.

“It is critically important that the empty bottles and empty wine boxes NOT be sold – particularly as to the oldest or rarest wines,” Cornwell wrote in an email to Dan Clar, whose Dan Clar Auctioneers is conducting the sale. … Continue reading »

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Kronos Quartet’s ‘Strange Fruit’ Saturday at Zellerbach

Kronos Quartet--John Sherba, Sunny Yang, Hank Dutt and David Harrington-- perform at Zellerbach Hall on Saturday.  Photo by Jay Blakesberg.
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Kronos Quartet lives in the vanguard. The celebrated San Francisco string ensemble returns to Zellerbach Hall Saturday for a Cal Performances concert with three new works from Fifty for the Future, a program that turbo charges the group’s longtime practice of commissioning and presenting music by young composers.

But the emotional centerpiece of Saturday’s concert is likely to be the Bay Area premiere of ‘Strange Fruit,’ a song that was written and recorded before any members of Kronos were born. Arranged by trombonist Jacob Garchik, a gifted New York-based improviser and composer who’s collaborated widely with Kronos over the past decade, the anti-lynching anthem made famous by Billie Holiday has taken on a new resonance.

Berkeleyside recently caught up with Kronos violinist David Harrington just after he returned from a European tour, where the quartet performed the arrangement in Warsaw as the third encore “in a program of music written by Jewish composers,” Harrington said. “I introduced it saying that in my opinion this song is right at the center of most of the problems that exist in our country.” … Continue reading »


The Berkeley Wire: 12.01.16

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At Premier Cru auction, a peek into major wine fraud

The interior of Premier Cru's retail store. Dan Clar Auctioneers will sell off the contents of the Berkeley business on Saturday. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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John Fox, the former owner of the wine store Premier Cru, who has pleaded guilty to wire fraud, certainly lived the high life.

When he entered a guilty plea in federal court in August, Fox admitted he had stolen at least $20 million from his clients over the years by selling ‘phantom wine.’ He also admitted he spent $5 million of his clients’ money on race cars, nice homes, golf-course memberships, a college education for his daughter, and $900,000 on young women he met online.

Now, the contents of the Premier Cru office and warehouse at 1011 University Ave. are set to be auctioned off on Saturday, and they reveal other luxuries the 66-year-old man indulged in. The auction, which starts at 11 a.m., will also provide the public a chance to peek at parts of Fox’s lifestyle. Previews are Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

 Read the back story about Premier Cru on Berkeleyside.

The former wine merchant had a full-size workout room connected to his spacious office, complete with a treadmill, rowing machine, bicycle, weight machines and free weights. Fox also had a ProTee golf-simulator, worth thousands of dollars, that allowed him to practice his swing while looking at a wide screen and imagining he was on a world-renowned golf courses. … Continue reading »

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Bake your way through these 11 tasty gift ideas

Rosehip graham crackers. Photo: Moriah VanVleet
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Now that we’ve turned our calendars to December, it’s time to get serious about holiday gift giving. Here at Nosh, we believe that some of the best gifts are hand-made, edible ones — they may have a shorter lifespan than a VR headset scored on sale the day after Thanksgiving, but they’re just as (if not more) thoughtful. And because we stand by homemade gifts, we’re here to help you choose the best possible selection. Thanks to our friends at Bay Area Bites, Uproot Kitchen and Butter, Sugar, Flowers, we’ve put together a collection of some of our favorite treats that can be neatly packed into a gift bag or spooned into a cute jelly jar.
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Berkeley’s new mayor, new council members are sworn in

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A large and enthusiastic crowd gathered at Berkeley’s Old City Hall Thursday morning at 10 a.m. to watch Jesse Arreguín and three new council members — Cheryl Davila, Ben Bartlett and Sophie Hahn — be sworn in to office.

Berkeleyside recorded some of the event using Facebook Live (unfortunately the feed cut out before Ben Bartlett and Sophie Hahn were sworn in, and the quality of the video was fairly poor due to poor internet connectivity at Old City Hall). Watch the video below.

Those in the audience for the event, which lasted about 15 minutes, included former Berkeley mayors Shirley Dean and Gus Newport, current council members Linda Maio, Lori Droste and Kriss Worthington, former councilman Max Anderson, former mayor of Oakland Elihu Harris, and Berkeley acting police chief Andrew Greenwood.

City Manager Dee Williams-Ridley presided over the event and the swearing-in was conducted by City Clerk Mark Numainville. … Continue reading »

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Kate Harrison begins campaign for District 4 Council seat

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The race to replace City Councilman Jesse Arreguín formally began Wednesday when Kate Harrison held a press conference in front of old City Hall to announce her candidacy for the District 4 seat. She was surrounded by a group of officials and activists who had helped elect Arreguín to the mayor’s office, a move that ushered in a more liberal City Council.

Arreguín, on his last day as the District 4 City Councilman, introduced Harrison, who has served on the Housing Advisory Commission, the Parks Commission, the Waterfront Commission and is a co-founder of the Berkeley Progressive Alliance.

“Kate is an experienced public policy professional,” said Arreguín. “She is overqualified to be on the Berkeley City Council having worked for (San Francisco) Mayor Art Agnos, having served as a consultant for not just cities but counties and nations. She has a wealth of public administration experience and will hit the ground running as an effective representative for District 4 and for Berkeley.”

Ben Gould, a UC Berkeley graduate student who ran for mayor in the November election, has also said he will run for the District 4 seat and plans to make a formal announcement soon. City Councilwomen Susan Wengraf and Lori Droste have endorsed Gould, who also chairs the Community Environmental Advisory Commission.

Brianna Rogers, a UC Berkeley student who also sits on the Children, Youth and Recreation Commission, had also been thinking about running, but she said Wednesday that she thinks she should focus on finishing college instead of launching a campaign.

The special election to replace Arreguín happens on March 7. … Continue reading »

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KPFA honors Phil Elwood, jazz critic, pioneering disc jockey

Phil Elwood on the job at KPFA. The station dedicates the Phil Elwood Music Library on Saturday, before airing a documentary about his legacy at 2 p.m.
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FM radio was an obscure broadcasting technology when Phil Elwood started sending out jazz over the airwaves on KPFA, a station that was just three years old when he came on board in 1952.

On Saturday afternoon the station honors one of its foundational voices when the Phil Elwood Music Library is dedicated to the late disc jockey before an 80-minute radio documentary about Elwood’s legacy airs at 2 p.m. It’s a labor of love spearheaded by Elwood’s son, Berkeley resident Josh Elwood, who has been taking care of his father’s vast archive of interviews, articles and broadcasts. Elwood died at the age of 79 in January 2006, just one month after his wife Audrey.

A radio pioneer, Elwood was one of the first people to spin jazz records on an FM station when he started his “Jazz Archive” program on KPFA in 1952, a weekly show that ran until 1996. The son of UC Berkeley agriculture professor Clifford Franklin Elwood, he was a proud Berkeleyan who graduated from Berkeley High in 1943. He earned a history degree from Cal, served in the Navy, and spent several decades teaching history at Albany High (the great jazz singer Denise Perrier was one of his students). … Continue reading »

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The Berkeley Wire: 11.30.16

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A new goal, as readers step up to invest in Berkeleyside

Berkeley by Joe Parks
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Berkeleyside is trying something that has never been tried before by a news organization: asking our readers to become shareholders to ensure a robust future for our award-winning local news site.

On Nov. 3 we announced a direct public offering to raise $800,000 in capital to invest in Berkeleyside. In just over three weeks, we have raised over $260,000 from over 62 investors.

Now we’ve set ourselves — and our community — a challenge: to get half way there and raise $400,000 by Dec. 31. 

Visit invest.berkeleyside.com to learn more and invest.

Supporting independent journalism is more important than ever. Berkeleyside will continue to bear witness and hold the powerful accountable during these uncertain times, and keep you informed about everything that’s going on in the city. In the past few weeks alone, Berkeleyside’s tiny team reported 167 stories on the Berkeley elections; unveiled serious mail delivery problems in the city, and the need for a new bike lane after a near-fatal accident. We also told you about the deer that jumped into the King pool during a kids’ swimming lesson, the plight of the monarch butterflies, and the coming together of hundreds of people in the “greatest little city in America” after the election for a sunrise unity gathering. … Continue reading »