City Council District 5
City Council District 5

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May 11, 2010

In this issue:

A Note from Councilmember Capitelli
The 2010 Census; It's Not Finished Yet
Community Crime Alert: Credit Card Fraud
North Berkeley Police Reports
Every Day is An Arts Festival
Walk On By

A Note From Councilmember Capitelli

Dear District 5 Neighbors,

The late rains and lingering cold weather of April have provided an amazing explosion of spring beauty. "Glorious" is the only word that comes to mind - plus my favorite declaration about those of us in north Berkeley who already feel like we've died and gone to heaven. Summer will be here soon, and from a Council perspective that means an election in June, the hard slog of finishing the city's budget, and the beginning of the political season both at the state level and here at home.

The only municipal item on the June ballot is the pools renovation bond, Measure C. The result of a lengthy and spirited public process, Measure C would provide resources to renovate the public pools at Willlard Middle School and West Campus, build a new warm water therapeutic pool at West Campus, and replace the pool at King Middle School with a large multi-purpose pool. The measure also includes a small parcel tax to pay for ongoing maintenance and programming. For the ballot language and the pro and con arguments, go to the City Clerk's election information.

Looking forward to November, voters in Districts 1, 4, 7 and 8 will be asked to rank the candidates for City Council. For the first time, a Berkeley election will be decided through Instant Run-off Voting (IRV), or ranked-choice voting (RCV). It offers voters the opportunity to rank their preferences for candidate races on one ballot. The voters' choices for first preferences are counted, and if no candidate reaches 50% +1, the voting system conducts an "instant runoff" by eliminating the candidate with the fewest votes and assigning the second votes from the ballots for the eliminated candidate to the remaining candidates. This process is repeated until one candidate has a majority of the votes. RCV was approved by Berkeley voters in 2004, and the necessary technology is now available to facilitate implementation. The City Clerk will begin a major public outreach campaign this summer and in future newsletters I will provide more information and announce opportunities to learn more.

I've recently learned that a citizens group is distributing a petition to put before the voters in November their version of a "Sunshine Ordinance" that would purport to expand citizen access to City information. I would encourage anyone interested in greater sunshine for Berkeley government to read both the full text of the measure and the City Attorney's analysis of an earlier, similar version on the ordinance. (Staff will do a more up to date analysis after the close of the petition period.)

But without a doubt the most difficult series of decisions in the coming months will be around budget issues. Thanks to many of you who have written about your budget priorities, and serious concerns regarding unfunded liabilities, labor contracts and certain departmental deficits. According to our budget Director Tracy Vesely, Berkeley is still in better shape than most of our large neighbors. But State cuts, particularly in the areas of public health, social services and transit, will devastate much of our programming. The city is considering layoffs for the first time in many years. And, as a service-oriented organization, lay-offs and furlough days mean inevitable reduction in services.

These choices and their impacts will evolve in the coming weeks. Thanks to all of you for your support and suggestions. All budget documents and a schedule of the remaining public hearings can be found at FY 2011 Mid-biennial Budget Update.

In the meantime, enjoy the beautiful weather. Come downtown for the Berkeley Arts Festival. And please remember to keep your sidewalks accessible for your neighbors and maybe a few late census takers who may journey through your neighborhood.


Laurie Capitelli
Berkeley City Council, District 5

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The 2010 Census; It's Not Finished Yet

Despite that fact that Northeast Berkeley has the highest rate of returns on Census surveys, expect to see census workers in a neighborhood near you. Accurate population information is critical for knowing what kinds of government programs are needed and at what level they need to be funded. Census data also is used to draw equitable political boundaries at the state, county and city level.

On May 1, census takers will begin going door-to-door to households that did not mail back their 2010 Census form. Please help them get an accurate picture of our community by responding to the knock on the door! The census takers are people from our community who are hired by the U.S. Census Bureau to ensure our neighborhoods are counted as accurately as possible.

To view a map of Census results, go to:

To view City of Berkeley Census information:

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Community Crime Alert: Credit Card Fraud

In recent months, the City of Berkeley Police Department (BPD) has seen a spike in identity theft and credit card fraud. These cases may originate in the City of Berkeley, but personal and credit card information is usually used by a larger national and international network of criminals. After community members' credit and bank accounts are compromised, suspects often use them at large retailers across the United States, with a high concentration in Texas, Louisiana, Michigan and Georgia.

BPD is investigating these cases and has some indications that they may be part of a larger data breach. Ultimately, BPD cannot confirm where the compromises originate.

In light of these reports, BPD suggests the community employ these crime prevention measures and take the listed action right away if they become victims of identity theft and credit card fraud.

Fraud Prevention Tips:

  • Regularly check your bank statements and credit card bills and look for fraudulent charges.
  • If you shop over the Internet, use reputable retailers.
  • Do not give personal information to anyone over the telephone or Internet unless you know who you are talking to.

If You Become a Victim of Fraud:

  • Report the issue to your bank/credit card company.
  • When you talk to your bank/or credit card company, keep a detailed log of who you talk to and what was discussed.
  • Make a police report in the city or town where you reside.

For more information go to the Berkeley Police Department Crime Alert

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North Berkeley Police Reports

Our liaison to the Berkeley Police Department, the charming and unflappable Officer Casimiro Pierantoni, provides to the community semi-regular reports about very local crime and efforts by citizens and police to combat it. I usually do not forward these reports, in large part because Cas is happy to include folks who want to receive them directly. If you do not receive them but would like to, just e-mail Cas at

I will be posting the most of these reports and links to current Berkeley Police Department Press Releases on my website, Area 1 Crime Updates.

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Every Day is an Arts Festival!

What: The Berkeley Arts Festival
When: The month of May
Where: Performances 2121 Allston Way and exhibits at various places around town

See a play. Listen to a music ensemble. Contemplate poetry. Witness the art of a local artist.

During this month of May, the Berkeley Arts Festival Calendar is dedicated to the notion that in Berkeley, every day is an arts festival. There are exhibits around town, plays at all the regular venues, and almost daily performances (either noon or in the evening) at 2121 Allston Way, the future home of the Judah L. Magnes Museum.

Check it out.

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Walk On By

Last fall I took a walk with my neighbor who travels around north Berkeley in her motorized wheel chair. It was stunning to witness first hand her very physical hurdles — low hanging branches, overgrown hedges and intrusive vines — most of which are easily removed by targeted pruning. I am heartened to see that since that walk several sidewalks formerly overgrown with shrubbery have been liberated, I hope for the conscious benefit of local pedestrians.

As this glorious spring inspires our landscaping to grow beyond friendly parameters, please make an effort to keep yours trimmed back to the edges of the sidewalk.

If you are a walker, we do have courtesy notices available on my website that you may hand deliver to neighbors who may need a gentle reminder.

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