Oakland businessman Donald Cooper, the star witness in an FBI corruption case that involved a City Hall hanger-on and implicated the president of the city council, has died of liver cancer, according to the Oakland Tribune.
In a scandal first reported by the Express following a tip from Oakland freelancer Sanjiv Handa, Maurice Himy was arrested and accused of trying to extort at least $65,000 from Cooper in exchange for getting him a city contract.
Himy was the longtime owner of Spaccio, a now-defunct men's clothing store in City Hall Plaza, and a regular presence around City Hall. He made suits for, and socialized with city officials, including then-mayor Jerry Brown and City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente, whom Himy implicated in his conversations with Cooper. At the heart of the case, in fact, was Himy's claim he had enough juice with De La Fuente to make or break a city contract. According to the feds, Cooper resisted Himy's demand for cash to help the businessman secure a city auctioneering contract, and at some point the tailor told him, "Pay me or I will kill the contract." The alleged extortion scheme continued until Cooper was awarded his contract this past February.
The FBI complaint stated that Cooper had walked into its Oakland office in April 2005 and spilled his guts. He reportedly told agents that an acquaintance with connections inside City Hall was trying to extort money from him. The FBI then had Cooper wear a wire and taped his cell-phone conversations with his permission. But Cooper later left a voice mail for a city employee disputing the official story and claiming he'd never contacted the FBI. What really happened, Cooper said in the voice mail, was that the feds had bugged Himy's phone and then came to Cooper and threatened him if he didn't cooperate. "I would never go to the FBI," he told former Express reporter Will Harper.
He certainly won't now.
Whew, nice quake. According to the US Geological Survey's preliminary report, the sudden lurch you felt just a few minutes ago was a 3.4 quake centered in Berkeley. Check out their "Did you feel it?" form, which lets you fill in lots of fun little details about how you reacted and if you've noticed any damage. Go on, make a bunch of geologists happy.
The Chron reports that Orinda housewife turned accused murderer turned do-it-yourself lawyer turned convicted murderer Susan Polk has been denied a retrial. Last June, Polk was convicted of the stabbing death of her husband, Felix Polk, after a bizarre, lengthy trial that included Polk's allegations that she had been seduced and brainwashed by her much-older psychologist husband-to-be when she had gone to him for therapy as a troubled teenager, that he was a member of Israeli spy agency Mossad, and that she was psychic and had predicted the September 11 attacks.
"The trial became a spectacle as Polk defended herself in court, repeatedly calling for a mistrial and bickering with nearly everyone in the courtroom. She accused the judge, jurors, the prosecutors of misconduct and even castigated people in the audience for tittering," the Chron reports -- not to mention the fact that the family's three children split over which parent to defend, and had to be questioned on the stand by their mom, who served as her own attorney. Polk was sentenced to sixteen years to life in prison, but demanded a retrial saying the judge and jurors were biased against her. Will Harper wrote the original who-do-you-believe? story for the Express : He Said, She Said, He's Dead.
So what if spring is still a month away? We're pining for warmer days and lighter clothes. This week, Buy Curious evaluates some of the scary, otherworldly trends top fashion mags are pushing this season, and we've come up with our own down-to-earth looks, from lightweight trenches to wedge espadrilles. And we show you where to buy them on the cheap! Plus, we trolled the fashion blogs for the latest news: Girls Gone Wild launches a sportswear line, social networking is all the rage, and an interactive dressing room mirror may finally text you the truth. It's another delicious Buy Curious!
Our Sartorialist Moment It's not everyday that we have a Sartorialist moment in the East Bay, so we were pleasantly surprised when we came upon this young lady in Berkeley, who perfectly captured the well-put-together look of a bygone era with her vintage navy coat (from Denmark) and pearl earrings. Nice job!
Spring Hit List While the world of high-fashion is already touting its fall collections, we're still stuck in the real world of what-the-hell-to-wear for spring (which still seems far off). Luckily for us, one of the perks of living in the Bay Area is that the climate is basically one long spring/fall, so we can rightfully justify our purchases will work year-round. That makes our slim pocketbooks happy, too.
That said, we have a hard time relying on couture trend setters, and can't help but wonder: do designers have some secret Dead Designers' Society meeting where they just throw a bunch of rehashed looks in a pot, then randomly pick what styles they'll push next season? Do fashion mags just cobble together disparate looks from the runway into a vaguely defined "style?" Just check out Style.com's Spring 2007 Trends. According to the online site of style-bibles W and Vogue, the truly fashion-forward will be splurging on something sporty, romantic, '40s pin-up, '80s fluorescent, space-agey, and swingy.
Further down the fashion totem pole, Lucky Magazine has concocted its own must-have Spring Trends: quirky nautical, soft opulence, brights, menswear, and Grecian. While we give them props for coming up with more wearable ideas, we have to admit, we're not excited by any of them. Nor are we buying into that wearing these will make us feel au courant.
So we've compiled our own spring trends, based on a) what we see on the street b) what we actually want to wear and c) what's actually cute! That's not hard, is it?
1) Cotton Trenchcoat Designer-discounted site BlueFly is having an amazing sale on spring trenches. Try lighter colors, such as cream, khaki, or navy, instead of basic black. This Michael Kors white double-breasted belted trenchcoat is a perfect cover-up for chilly spring nights. Plus, it's water-resistant and machine washable. $96 (orig. $160)
2) Espadrilles Whether you're looking for peep-toes or lace-ups, Espadrilles Etc. has all the cutest looks, direct from Spain! We're in love with this leather peep-toe style, Flavia, and its totally walkable height. $105.
3) Shirt Dress Let's face it: the shirt dress is a staple. If it's not hip this season, just wait a few more and it's likely to come back around. For something different, try this soft cotton shirt dress by Rebecca Taylor in a fetching plum color. $229.60 (orig. $328)
4) Cropped jacket Wherever we go, we can't escape the cropped jacket! At first, we thought the style was a little haphazard, but eventually we came to see this as the perfect spring dress accessory. Here are two options: This zip-up style with adorable dolman sleeves from Young Fabulous & Broke for $81.50 (orig. $163). Or for something more substantial and constructed, try this Charlotte Ronson double-breasted blouson jacket. $238.
5) Metallic ballet flats In case you don't already have a few pairs in your closet, these shimmering staples will go a long way in dressing up your jeans or accessorizing dresses comfortably. We suggest something subtle, like these flats from Matt Bernson in a dainty rose hue. 20 percent off $139 when you enter "LUCKYMAG" in checkout.
Denim Sale Need a denim fix? Head over to Underground Denim's public sale this weekend, and pick up jeans for as low as $40. When: Sat. & Sun., Feb. 24 & 25 (Sat. 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m.-4 p.m.)
Where: Embarcadero Center, in the former Harbor Village Restaurant, 4 Embarcadero Center, San Francisco
FASHANALYSIS: STYLE NEWS & VIEWS Browsing the Blogs
FashionSpace Social networking is the biggest craze on the Internet, and many sites are vying to become the MySpace for the fashion-obsessed. The newest launch comes from Iqons, a project by several fashion insiders and commentators, which allows users to post videos and photo slideshows, and search by tags. The layout is a bit wonky, but we think they're on to something. Others trying to get in the game include ShareYourLook, Shoutfit, Stylehive, and StyleDiary.
Want Candy? Daily Candy is on the auction block, and some speculate the site could fetch more than $100 million. The popular site generates email newsletters on shopping, entertainment, food, and media in 11 markets, including San Francisco, Chicago, and London. Why didn't we think of this?
Girls Gone Clothed Apparently, the same a-hole that takes advantage of drunk girls (and even not-drunk reporters) is now attempting to patch up his reputation with a line of Girls Gone Wild sportswear, with the slogan "when clothing isn't optional." The youth-oriented collection of sportswear, loungewear, intimate apparel, and swimwear will retail for $32 to $72 for tops; $98 to $198 for outerwear; and $72 to $148 for bottoms. We imagine they'll have easy access.
How Does This Look? You know the moment: you've got something cute on in the dressing room but it's a little expensive, there's no return policy, and you're not sure if your shopaholic-glasses are fogging your vision. You desperately need a second opinion but the sales girl is nowhere in sight and you can't quite muster the gumption to ask the stranger in the next room. What to do? IconNicholson, a New York interactive agency, proposes an interactive mirror. The company imagines you send a pic of yourself to your friends (presumably from your cell phone), who will then text-message their response, which will show up on the fitting room mirror. Sounds like a lot of coordinated effort to us.
Thinking Inside the Box
Some lucky lady's thoughtful husband came up with this ingenious shoe box called Shoe Stor: a clear, ventilated, stackable box that opens at the end. Actually, clear plastic shoe boxes were all the rage back in the '70s, but unfortunately disappeared from the map. We're glad they're back, but of course, they're not cheap, either. Ten sell for $39.95. Order now on their site and get 15 percent off when you enter "BussBuss" at checkout, through 2/28/07.
Every Friday, Buy Curious dishes on the hottest fashion trends, news, and sales in the East Bay ï¿½ and we want to hear from you! Tips? Suggestions for things you'd like to see? Questions for Buy Clueless, our advice column? Send it all to us. Email BuyCurious[at]EastBayExpress[dot]com
Back to 92510, the East Bay Express news blog.
Sunday's San Francisco Chronicle will include a special advertorial supplement with articles penned by freelancers operating out of India. The stand-alone annual supplement, Perspectives, covers different business segments such as automotive, health, fitness, education, and retail (this year's supplement includes biotech). This will mark its fourth year of publication, but the first time the content has been produced offshore.
In the past, said Henry Ford, the Chron's senior marketing director, the articles were basically a repurposing of material provided by advertisers. "There's been declining interest," he explained. "We thought if it had a more editorial look and feel it might have better results, so we decided to bid it out to freelancers for the writing portion."
The company selected was Mindworks Global Media, a New Delhi-based firm -- slogan: "Trusted by editors worldwide" -- that offers editing, design, and "content creation" services. Client publications on its Web site are largely of the gadget-whoring, automotive, and financial varieties. "A significant number of stories for any publication can be written from anywhere, irrespective of geographic boundaries, if a high-level of domain expertise is combined with superior journalistic skills to get information, analyse it correctly and write in an engaging manner," the site states. "Offshore teams can readily undertake remote reporting for content that is not location-sensitive. When necessary, local reporting can also be done by posting team members at the locations."
Ford seemed happy enough with the result. "They pull together some great articles," he said.
Now please, Henry. Let's not give Dean Singleton any brilliant ideas.
Remember that time you got cited for pot possession at nineteen? Well, say goodbye to your family's next ski vacation at Whistler, the famed British Columbia resort. Or that trip to Toronto. In a departure from the past, Canadian customs and immigration agents, the Chron's C.W. Nevius reports this morning, have started turning back Americans with petty, long-ago drug convictions. O Canada! Maybe our customs should start turning away any Canuck ever arrested for public intoxication. That'd show 'em.
Attention local news junkies, cubicle dwellers, flacks, geeks, and shut-ins: Here are ten questions to test your knowledge of the past week's Bay Area news. To get the answers, scroll way, way down. 1. What brand of peanut butter was still selling in some East Bay stores last week, even after it was recalled due to a salmonella outbreak? 2. Police issued an arrest warrant late last week for a young man who attacked an elderly Nobel Laureate in San Francisco. Name the victim. 3. Albany Pool, according to an article in the Tribune, holds a monthly event in which patrons can do what while soaking in the pool? 4. What type of East Bay communities tend to have higher rates of teenage drug and alcohol abuse, according to data from a state Healthy Kids Survey of high school juniors? 5. What did a Haight-Ashbury resident discover in his apartment upon returning home from an extended vacation this week? 6. Staffers for one East Bay city have recommended that the city not get involved in hosting or sponsoring a community forum on the Iraq war "due to the sensitive and polarizing nature of the topic at the local level." Name the city. 7. The tree-sitters in the oak grove at Cal's Memorial Stadium unveiled a new argument this week as to why the grove shouldn't be cleared to make way for a modern athletic training facility. What is it? 8. In a lawsuit filed this week, what did medical-marijuana advocates accuse the federal Department of Health and Human Services of lying about? 9. Darrell Steinberg, a Democratic State Senator out of Sacto, has introduced a bill proposing that a new category of people be protected by hate crime laws. Who does the bill aim to protect? 10. Tens of thousands of professors employed by the Cal State University system are threatening a massive strike at the end of March. What is the sticking point in their contract negotiations?
Answers to Friday News Quiz 1. What brand of peanut butter was still selling in some East Bay stores last week, even after it was recalled due to a salmonella outbreak? Peter Pan. Wouldn't touch that junk anyway. 2. Police issued an arrest warrant late last week for a young man who attacked an elderly Nobel Laureate in San Francisco. Name the victim. Famed Nazi-hunter Elie Weisel. 3. Albany Pool, according to an article in the Tribune, holds a monthly event in which patrons can do what while soaking in the pool? Watch movies. The watery film series kicked off Friday before last with Jaws. 4. What type of East Bay communities tend to have higher rates of teenage drug and alcohol abuse, according to data from a state Healthy Kids Survey of high school juniors? The affluent ones. Hey, it's tough to be rich. 5. What did a Haight-Ashbury resident discover in his apartment upon returning home from an extended vacation this week? A corpse, naked and handcuffed. Welcome home, pal! 6. Staffers for one East Bay city have recommended that the city not get involved in hosting or sponsoring a community forum on the Iraq war "due to the sensitive and polarizing nature of the topic at the local level." Name the city. Pleasanton. Guess they want to keep it pleasant. 7. The tree-sitters in the oak grove at Cal's Memorial Stadium unveiled a new argument this week as to why the grove shouldn't be cleared to make way for a modern athletic training facility. What is it? That the site might be an Indian burial ground, based on the discovery of a partial human skeleton of unknown origin during a site survey in the 1920s. 8. In a lawsuit filed this week, what did medical-marijuana advocates accuse the federal Department of Health and Human Services of lying about? The feds still publicly claim pot has no accepted medical use, despite scientific studies to the contrary. Those bureaucrats are hitting the bong too much. 9. Darrell Steinberg, a Democratic State Senator out of Sacto, has introduced a bill proposing that a new category of people be protected by hate crime laws. Who does the bill aim to protect? The homeless. Steinberg's legislation was motivated by reports of increased beatings and abuse of homeless people by thrill-seeking teens. 10. Tens of thousands of professors employed by the Cal State University system are threatening a massive strike at the end of March. What is the sticking point in their contract negotiations? Pay. Their union wants a 25 percent hike over four years. According to a MediaNews report, Cal State says it has offered a 24 percent pay increase, but union reps dispute that, noting contingencies in the university's offer that would limit the raise to 14 percent. They also say that CSU employees are paid 18 percent less than their peers nationwide. Good! Now it's time to rate yourself... Number of Correct Answers 8-10: Needs more time with family. 5-7: Goes home and blogs. 2-4: Gets the news from KCBS. 0-1: How did you even find us? Want to contribute a question to next week's news quiz? Submissions should relate to Bay Area (preferably East Bay) news and events from Saturday, Feb. 24 through Friday, March 2. Send 'em to this guy: Michael Mechanic. Put "Quiz Question" in the subject line.
Anyone who wants to run a business is required to file a fictitious business name with the county, and that means fun for us. Here are a few choice DBAs (Doing Business As) registered with Alameda County in January, along with our admittedly wild speculation as to what these cunning entrepreneurs might be up to. ...
Business name: WAAAGH! ZONE Registered by: GOODRICH, DEREK; WRIGHT-LA, FORCE BRET What we're guessing this company does: Since spanking your child may soon be a crime in California, these guys will do it for you, assuming all the legal risks thereof.
Business name: THE GIANT PEACH INC Registered by: THE GIANT PEACH INC What we're guessing this company does: Offers scenic aerial and ocean tours to orphans, mutant insects, and ill-tempered centipedes. Will kill evil aunts for an additional fee.
Business name: PRECIOUS LITTLE LAMBS FAMILY DAYCARE Registered by: LAMBERT, SHERYL What we're guessing this company does: Bottle-feeds toddlers with warm milk for three to six months, then shears them to make sweaters.
Business name: GOTBASS PRODUCTIONS Registered by: PHILLIPS, MARCUS What we're guessing this company does: You like smallmouth? Marcus knows all the prime spots! Ditto largemouth. Hell, he even knows when the stripers are running, and he's a freshwater guy.
Business name: BOBBY-THE PARKER Registered by: PIWOWARSKI, ROBERT JOSEPH What we're guessing this company does: You're late for that job interview, so you call Bobby. He'll score you a parking spot somewhere in the neighborhood, then feed your meter till you come back. Sort of like on-call valet parking.
Business name: THE SEE A DOG, HEAR A DOG CO. Registered by: PERKINS, PHILIP What we're guessing this company does: Phil holes up on his roof with a BB gun. When he spots dogs out for a walk, he pelts 'em in the haunches and makes 'em yelp. God knows how he makes any money from this activity.
Business name: TRANS YARD WORK Registered by: BUI, THAO THU What we're guessing this company does: Mows lawns and all that, but the crew somehow doesn't feel comfortable in the bodies they were given.
Business name: PLUSIZEBARBIE Registered by: JONES, BRANDI LASHAWN What we're guessing this company does: Fends off an incessant stream of lawsuits from Mattel.
Business name: GOD'S HANDS UNLIMITED FEATURING EUNIQUE FASHIONS Registered by: PARKS, EUNICE MAE What we're guessing this company does: Makes flowing white robes that seem to shimmer, as though hewn of a material not quite of this earth.
Business name: GODDESS OF THE BAY Registered by: JONES, BRANDI LASHAWN What we're guessing this company does: Self-esteem workshops.
Business name: FLASHLIGHT JANITORIAL Registered by: TIDWELL, ALONZO What we're guessing this company does: You can save on energy bills by hiring these guys. Will clean your office at night and never once turn on the lights.
Business name: COLLEGE STUDENT HAULING Registered by: TULLUS, JR. DAVID What we're guessing this company does: Helps parents get rid of adult children who've come home to live while earning their art history degree.
Business name: DOMINO COMPUTER Registered by: HUANG, SHENG What we're guessing this company does: Will stack your business' countless PCs just so.
Business name: ALONSO'S CLEANING SYSTEM Registered by: ALONSO, JORGE F
What we're guessing this company does: Piles up dirty dishes in your sink every day. Cleans them all on Sunday.
Business name: WOMEN'S PLUMBING REPAIR Registered by: WEBER, ROSEMARY What we're guessing this company does: Hey, don't you need a medical license for this sort of thing?
Business name: FINE ART BY DAY Registered by: ART MANAGEMENT SERVICES GROUP LLC
What we're guessing this company does: Sells tacky landscapes and low-quality, mass-produced prints by night.
Business name: STRANGE MAGIC GAMES Registered by: MITCHELL, KENT & SHARON What we're guessing they do: Dress up, respectively, as Orion and a giant scorpion, and engage in epic fantasy battles in the rumpus room.
Business name: COME TO LIFE Registered by: MITCHELL, KENT & SHARON
What we're guessing they do: This company helps out when either Orion or the scorpion, or both, are slain.
Business name: THE WRITER Registered by: MITCHELL, KENT & SHARON What we're guessing they do: What's an epic battle without someone to chronicle the glory and the shame of it?
Business name: HIGHLAND PLACE CONDOMINIUM ASSOCIATION Registered by: MITCHELL, KENT & SHARON
What we're guessing they do: Play strange magic games with your condominium bylaws.
Business name: WE GROUP Registered by: WEBB, TIM J. What we're guessing this company does: Comes into your train-wreck of a garage and puts all the junk into neat little piles according to size, color, or attribute of your choice.
Business name: FIREDOG Registered by: CIRCUIT, CITY STORES WEST COAST,INC.
What we're guessing this company does: Dalmation breeders.
Business name: HYPNO TOAD VENTURES Registered by: MIRANDA, SCOTT WILLIAM; TEIXEIRA, JOHN MICHAEL; TRICOSKI, ROBERT; IRWIN, CHARLES EDWARD What we're guessing this company does: Amphibian hypnosis, acupuncture, and aromatherapy. These people must be from Berkeley!
Business name: THE SMALL THINGS THAT COUNT Registered by: WILEY, SONJA E.
What we're guessing this company does: Sells those little clickers bouncers use to tell how many people they've let into the club. Also sells four-year-old children, who will gladly count to one hundred again and again and again.
Business name: SHATTER THE GLASS Registered by: WINSTEAD, SARAH JANE MANNING What we're guessing this company does: Manufactures those wall fire alarm units for elementary schools. Either that, or they run a really, really alternative china shop.
Business name: STACKED Registered by: MARTIN, ANGELA
What we're guessing this company does: Hmmm.
Business name: POLISHED Registered by: MARTIN, ANGELA What we're guessing this company does: Stacked and polished? Okay, it's a date.
Business name: FAIRY GODMOTHER GOWN RENTALS
Registered by: SCHNEIDER, JEREMY What we're guessing this company does: Rents evening gowns to the stacked and polished Angela Martin.
Business name: BEDROOM GOLF GEAR Registered by: HOLSEY, WILLIAM III What we're guessing this company does: This is just a side business. The real money is in pocket pool gear.
Business name: TIME FOR CHANGE
Registered by: SNYDER, CYNDI; WARREN, LISA ANN What we're guessing this company does: Underpants wholesalers.
Business name: VOLUPTUOUS ENCOUNTERS Registered by: SANCHEZ-SILVA, RUBY What we're guessing this company does: Ain't goin' there.
Business name: RONCO TRADING
Registered by: ALRON, GROUP, INC. What we're guessing this company does: Miss that Veg-O-Matic? That Inside-The-Shell Egg Scrambler? That Rhinestone and Stud Center or Pocket Fisherman? My friend, you've come to the right place. Just pick up that phone and dial 1-800-777 ...
Business name: KNODDIGSKULL Registered by: BOX, INDUSTRIES, LLC What we're guessing this company does: Now who says the people who exhume dead bodies have to be dour? These guys will take any job with a smile.
Business name: DOG GONE GOOD!
Registered by: WOMBACHER, MICHAEL J.; GUILBERT, ROSEMARIE What we're guessing this company does: Is your recently acquired St. Berdoodle too big for your house? Puggle not working out as well as you thought when you saw that one article in the New York Times Magazine? Well now you know whom to call.
Despite years of impotent rhetoric from area educational leaders about the importance of resuming local control of the Oakland schools, the district and the state have shelved what appeared to be the only viable option for making that happen. As Jill Tucker notes in today's Chronicle, the district and the state have killed a proposed downtown property sale that could have helped pay off the bulk of the district's $100 million debt. Elimination of this debt is a likely precondition to the state returning control of the public schools to Oakland's elected school board. A multitude of critics had opposed the property deal for reasons ranging from opposition to development to support of a competing plan to general obstreperousness. But school board member Kerry Hamill got it exactly right when she called the deal's death a "terrible, wasted opportunity." For the complete story of how the deal could have bailed out the schools, check out Robert Gammon's 2006 feature "The Plot to Oust Randy Ward."
Today's Top Event: Linda Kramer and James Chan's Random Portraits series of photos is on display at Julie's Coffee & Tea Garden in Alameda.
Brainiac: Learn something new every day. Today's lecture: Jews and Arabs: Past, Present, and Future: Rabbi Sherwin T. Wine leads this fourth annual scholar-in-residence weekend seminar, sponsored by Kol Hadash and the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism at the Albany Community Center.
Is It Lunch Yet? Express food critic John Birdsall recommends: Holy Land in Berkeley.
On the Town: Going out tonight? Check out "The Luna Lounge" at the House of Stormz Studio, a special hip-hop, old-school, and funk party especially for women.
Hardly Working: You've got time. We know how to waste it. Check out Invertit.
Feed Us: Got an East Bay news tip, photo, video, or link we need to know about? E-mail us.