Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Chronicle Likes It When You Treat Her Bad

by Chris Thompson
Thu, Nov 30, 2006 at 3:25 PM

We know the Chron likes to keep a firewall between its news and opinion pages, but today's op-ed offerings are just a little much. A few inches below Debra Saunders' latest tongue-clucking (study groups are bad! Especially when they talk to Thomas Friedman!), you'll find four hundred meaningless words about how methamphetamine "is a community problem and requires a community response." Ah, but the kicker here is the author of this zesty slab of tripe: none other than Kevin Ryan, the United States Attorney in San Francisco! Careful readers may recall that two Chron reporters face eighteen months in prison for refusing to say who told them embarrassing secrets about Ryan's office and the incompetence it displayed in the BALCO case. Memo to editorial page editor John Diaz: Grow a pair and stand by your colleagues. Tell Ryan the next time he wants to tell us drugs are bad, he can rent a friggin' billboard.

Danville Puts on the Ritz

by Chris Thompson
Thu, Nov 30, 2006 at 3:25 PM

It's been a tough couple of weeks for Danville. High school hazings, allegations of fraud against some of its finest businessmen, an epidemic of bad dancing - the sleepy suburb has had it all. What's a townlet of cul-de-sacs and Starbucks outlets to do? Kick-start an aggressive marketing campaign, of course! According to the East Bay Business Times (subscription required), the Little City That Could has created the Danville Tourism Business Improvement District to sell its myriad tourism and entertainment destinations. Did you know, for example, that Danville boasts "one of the top Best Western hotels in the country?" It's true.

Faxploitation: Steer Clear of Meth! (Today, Anyway)

by Lauren Gard
Thu, Nov 30, 2006 at 3:25 PM

When a press release from announcing that Nov. 30 is Meth Awareness Day landed in our inbox, we assumed it was a joke, or at least a very minor event sponsored by the site. It just seemed so darn arbitrary. But it turns out that meth awareness has been proclaimed the cause du jour by the U.S. Department of Justice, which is evidently sick of seeing tweakers fill America's coutrooms. College students in Georgia will receive an e-mail containing "graphic photos of meth users with oozing sores and rotting teeth." But we'll simply share with you evidence of the Express staff doing its part (see photo), and hope you'll be adequately inspired to go out and help stop the methidemic. The full press release after the jump., the most comprehensive Web site available in the war on methamphetamine abuse, praises the federal government's call to communities to recognize the problem of methamphetamine use by urging communities and citizens to participate in Methamphetamine Awareness Day, November 30, 2006.

    Methamphetamine Awareness Day is the first national effort to draw attention to the fight against the production, distribution, and use of methamphetamine. The U.S. Department of Justice is sponsoring the effort and is asking its agencies throughout the federal government to plan activites and events in their communities.

    Methamphetamine, also known as meth, crystal meth, ice, glass, or crank, is a debilitating and highly addictive stimulant that acts on the users' central nervous system. Over 12.5 million people in the United States over the age of 12 have tried methamphetamine once in their lifetime, according to the 2004 National Study on Drug Use and Health.

    "Methamphetamine is destroying families and communities across the United States," said Jim Copple, founder and CEO of "Its impact is widespread, but national awareness of methamphetamine use is still lacking. Our hope is that with education and programs such as National Methamphetamine Awareness Day, the public will increase its awareness and work with education, public health and law enforcement officials to curb and eventually eliminate the drug. The emerging methamphetamine epidemic must be stopped." is a fully interactive Web site, providing the most comprehensive information clearinghouse on methamphetamine, including local, state, and national efforts to stop methamphetamine abuse and production.

    Statistics on methamphetamine abuse, and information on laws combating abuse, are available state-by-state. also provides tips on identifying a methamphetamine lab, congressional correspondence and action, education, prevention, and treatment. is mobilizing communities to collaborate with local, state and federal officials to address this threat to our children, communities, environment and families. "Now is the time to act and our actions must move beyond a single day of recognition if we are to succeed," said Copple.

    Copple asserted that "Methamphetamine is a dangerous and fatal drug, and it affects everyone - from rural to urban to suburban communities. It has no regard for class, race, or gender. Therefore it will take all of us to confront this insidious and highly addictive drug."

    For more information on methamphetamines and what you can do in your community to fight its production and abuse, visit

Bank Robbery for Dummies

by Jonathan Kaminsky
Thu, Nov 30, 2006 at 3:25 PM

Note to aspiring bank robbers: Your escapade will probably be captured on tape. In light of this, consider a form of disguise that might obscure at least some of the following:

    A hundred pounds of extra weight, A protruding chin with acne, Crooked upper teeth, Lower teeth covered by a silver grill, Possession of a hardcover book with a photo of Toni Braxton on the cover.
The preceding, in case you missed it, is a portion of the description of a man who robbed a bank in Dublin on Tuesday. Although this moron is still at large, as MediaNews reports, the cops feel pretty good about their prospects of catching him.

Violent Crime in Oakland Up, Arrests Way Down

by Will Harper
Thu, Nov 30, 2006 at 3:25 PM

Over the last five years, violent crime in Oakland has risen 45 percent, but arrests are plummeting, KTVU's Priya David says in a special report . David says that stats show that in the late nineties Oakland police averaged more than 35,000 arrests a year. This year, however, the department is on track to make less than 20,000 arrests. Why? A lot of cops blame the court-approved Riders settlement, also known as the consent decree, that they say discourages police from doing anything that might spark an internal affairs complaint. Although, the TV report notes, the short-staffed department is down 100 cops. Follow the jump to see what a civil rights lawyer involved in the Riders case has to say about the KTVU story.

Under the consent decree, which is set to expire in 2008, the department has to investigate every citizen complaint now, the report says. Police chief Wayne Tucker told David that out of 170 internal affairs investigations, only four officers were disciplined, suggesting the department is spending too much time on bogus complaints.

Civil rights lawyer Jim Chanin, who represented several people who sued the city over alleged misdeeds by the Riders, described the KTVU story as "a Fox hatchet job." (Actually, KTVU is owned by Cox Communications even though the station is a Fox affiliate.) Chanin says David interviewed him off-camera, but didn't include any of his points such as the fact that violent crime is up in big cities across America. "To say that [crime is up] because we have a consent decree in Oakland is ridiculous."

By the by, Chanin says he hopes to negotiate an extension to the consent decree with the city. A hearing is scheduled in federal court on Dec. 14.

For some unclear reason David interviews Sheriff Charlie Plummer for the story. Plummer polices the county, not the city of Oakland.

The East Bay Today: November 30, 2006

Thu, Nov 30, 2006 at 3:25 PM

Today's Top Event: Burning Man exhibit at the Berkeley Public Library

Brainiac: Learn something new every day. Today's lecture: Chinese Calligraphy Classes at Oakland Asian Cultural Center.

Is It Lunch Yet? Express food critic John Birdsall recommends: the Red Tractor Cafe in Dublin.

On the Town: Going out tonight? Take advantage of $2 discounted drinks and complimentary hors d'oeuvres at the Air Lounge.

Hardly Working: You've got time. We know how to waste it. Check out the IgNoble Awards.

Feed Us: Got an East Bay news tip, photo, video, or link we need to know about? E-mail us.

Will Dharma the Dog be Brown's New Chief of Staff?

by Will Harper
Thu, Nov 30, 2006 at 3:25 PM

New West Notes says that Jerry Brown isn't bothering with a transition team as he prepares to become the state's attorney general. Thus, there are few leaks that aren't coming from the man himself. By the by, from what we hear, Jerry's been spending a lot of time around City Hall after being MIA during the campaign.

Grease Trap: Can't Trust Bagged Spinach? Collect Dinner Under the Freeway

by John Birdsall
Thu, Nov 30, 2006 at 3:24 PM

Some Bolinas eco-foodies are turning the clock back on human culinary evolution - way, way back, to the good old days before cultivated food crops. The CoCo Times offers more tasty evidence that the sustainable food movement is burrowing deeper into esoterica as it roots for meaning in a world gone mainstream organic.

"Wildcrafting" is the practice of turning weeds like distaff and bull thistle into treats of questionable tastiness. Leslie Harlib reports that at the recent Taste of Marin festival, there were few takers for wild weed bars made of curly dock seeds and stinging nettles. But "bite-size crackers covered with a paste made of ground-up bull thistle hearts topped with a tiny whole thistle heart no bigger than a child's pinkie nail disappeared in the first hour." You gonna let Bolinas throw down like that, Berkeley?

Weed Bars? How About Cooking with Nitrogen?

Catalan superchef Ferran Adria blew into Northern California earlier this month, giving a cooking-demo-slash-chemistry-experiment at Greystone in St. Helena. Exec chef at Spain's iconic molecular gastronomy restaurant El Bulli, Adria sprayed tomato juice and olive oil into minus-320-degree liquid nitrogen. "Fluffy kernel-like pieces emerge," reports the Merc's Carolyn Jung. "They are cold and weightless on the tongue, melt into a slick of buttery fat in the warm confines of the mouth, and taste wistfully of delicate gazpacho." Adria pooh-poohed the Bay Area's crunchy cuisine, based on impeccable ingredients and minimal artifice. "If very little cooking is going on in a restaurant," Jung reports the chef as saying, "why should I go to eat?"

And You Thought "Va de Vi" was Odd

Chef Kelly Degala of Walnut Creek's Va de Vi unveiled his new global menu at brand-new, ginormous Pres a Vi across the Bay in the Presidio. No surprises on the concept, an expanded version of Degala's gem in downtown WC (Mediterrasian small plates and impeccable wines). The only question is how to pronounce the unpronounceable name. Press-a-veye? Pray-za-vee?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Not Paying to Play Still Costs Money Under Mayor-Elect Ron Dellums

by Will Harper
Wed, Nov 29, 2006 at 3:25 PM

The people of Oakland will need more than their brilliance and their genius if they want to get special treatment during Ron Dellums' first week as mayor in January - they'll need cold, hard cash. Matier & Ross report that Dellums is sending out letters hitting up developers and other businesses for up to $50,000 (the "visionary" level) to help finance his week-long inaugural celebration. Ironically, the fundraising letter contains a passage in which Dellums promises to end the "backroom deals" and "pay to play" environment in City Hall.

News You Can Snooze Through

by Chris Thompson
Wed, Nov 29, 2006 at 3:25 PM

While everyone is preoccupied with Eritrean and Russian immigrants who allegedly murder their relatives, we defiantly ply you with boring stories you oughtta know about. Let's go through the rundown. According to the Oakland Tribune, the Port of Oakland has signed a new contract with its janitors' union, curtailing its reported practice of hiring people on a part-time basis to avoid paying health benefits. The CoCo Times reports that managers of San Pablo's beleaguered Doctors Medical Center will no longer be allowed to bill the hospital for booze they drink at conferences. And ooh, ooh! The Trib says that someone pretending to be a Berkeley firefighter is scamming residents for contributions to the "firefighters' association!" Okay, that last one wasn't so boring.

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