Several months ago, people were aghast to learn that UC Berkeley officials had given police chief Victoria Harrison $2.1 million upon her retirement, then turned around and hired her again for more money. Now, University of California officials plan to examine how many Victoria Harrisons they have on the books, and what to do about the "retired" staffers who draw their pensions and get their old jobs back, often with a higher salary. According to the Chron, these double-dippers number about 1,900, drawing more than their share of salary and pension at a time when the system faces massive budget cuts.
Speaking of obits (see below), the Chron gives outgoing state Senator Don Perata the Lion in Winter treatment this morning. See Perata reflect upon his time in Sacramento! Hear him ruminate upon the financial mess he won't be able to clean up! Quake as the Don says he's coming back to run Oakland with an iron fist! Scoff as the Chron tallies up his potential rivals for mayor, including Councilwoman Jean Quan and City Attorney John Russo! Ask yourself why the story takes for granted that Ron Dellums won't be running for a second term! Glumly shake your head as you ponder how thoroughly Dellums would get his ass handed to him if he did!
On Sunday, Ralph Nader led hundreds in gathering at the International House to remember Peter Camejo, the longtime activist, Green Party candidate for governor, and 2004 Green vice-presidential candidate. According to the Trib, Camejo's friends and fellow lefties recalled a lifetime of wacky antics, from displaying a distinctive mathematical intuition to skinny dipping, getting kicked out of UC Berkeley, and raising hell for decades thereafter. Camejo died of cancer in September.
Whaddya know, the Raiders actually won a game yesterday, beating the Denver Broncos 31-10. They also scored their first offensive touchdown in 15 quarters. It's too late to save the season, of course, but it gave some spirit back to this decidedly dispirited team. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, coach Tom Cable actually cried when talking about the victory. We guess you gotta take your miracle moments wherever you find them.
There was a red carpet, plenty of security, and a closed, tight guest list. But the hoards of fans at YouTube Live yesterday, held at Fort Mason Center in San Francisco, weren't there to see your average celebrity. No, this was all about Internet phenoms - those who've bared their all on YouTube (willingly or unwillingly) and as a result have found fame, fortune, or just an audience for the really weird stuff they do in their spare time.
As we write this, Contra Costa County sex crimes prosecutor Michael Gressett is in a Martinez courtroom, learning whether the Attorney General's office will file charges that he raped and sodomized a fellow prosecutor earlier this year. Gressett's attorney, Michael Cardoza, told the Chron he expects the prosecution, which he denounced as "political," will go forward. If that's true, expect to hear a lot more about this case in the next few months.
Finally, some good news! The state Office of the Patient Advocate has released its latest report on the quality of health care at California hospitals and HMOs, and just about every Bay Area group got improved marks. According to the San Francisco Business Times, Kaiser Permanente was singled out for providing "excellent" care, ranking it in the top ten percent for health plans around the country.
On the eve of the Big Game, the Daily Cal has published a list of the best Cal-Stanford pranks ever, and UC Berkeley wins, 2-1. Cal jokesters kidnapped the tree costume and held it hostage, releasing "proof of life" videos and interviews in which the tree complains that working at Stanford sucks. One intrepid Bear fan hijacked the Stanford public address system during the 1997 game, substituting his own editorial comments for the refs' penalty calls. And, of course, Stanford got its own edition of the Daily Cal out after The Play in 1982, publishing a story that claimed the NCAA ruled the ball dead before Cal got in the end zone. So far this year, Stanford fans have gone virtual, buying the stanfordrejects.com and crappyschool.com URLs and having them redirect the user to Berkeley's home page. We're still waiting for the flash plug-in.
As JP Morgan Chase continues to digest Washington Mutual, the bank has announced it will close some key Bay Area offices, sending hundreds of people to the unemployment line. According to the Chron, Pleasanton will take the biggest hit, as Wamu will close a massive customer service center in the oversized subdivision. Some 1,200 customer service reps, who once spent their days fielding annoyed phone calls about credit cards and checking accounts, will lose their jobs.
The Oakland Police Department's investigation into allegations that cops fabricated evidence to get search warrants has broadened. According to the Oakland Tribune, the department has put an additional three officers on administrative leave pending the investigation's conclusion. Meanwhile, cops are starting to refuse to testify in court, out a fear that they might be asked questions about search warrants.