Bill Ayers showed up to speak at St. Mary's College last night, and so did about 150 people determined to denounce his presence, at the behest of former KSFO talk show host Melanie Morgan. The Chron sez the crowd signs reading, "Ayers lied, innocents died," and chanted, "Terrorist go home." Inside the hall at the Soda Center, Ayers was ostensibly there to promote a book he wrote with his wife, fellow Weather Underground member Bernadine Dohrn, about race relations. But his election-season notoriety simultaneously overrode the subject and guaranteed a big turnout. As Ayers said, "Had it not been for the recent presidential campaign, there would be 22 of you here."
In Moraga tonight. The Trib sez it's set for 7:30, at the Soda Center. Demonstrators against Ayers' Weather Underground years will mount a protest outside; Larry Grathwohl, an FBI informant who infiltrated the Weather Underground in the 1970s, will be there to speak. It's time to fight the culture wars again!
Chron columnist Chip Johnson makes an interesting proposal this morning. The confrontation between the City Council and Mayor Ron Dellums over Police Chief Wayne Tucker shows that Dellums can be bullied, and Johnson calls on the Council to start pushing him around right away. The Council should essentially pretend that Dellums doesn't exist and govern without him, refusing to accept any of his ideas or appointees, slapping him with no-confidence votes every time he objects, and generally treating him like a child. It's not the first time Johnson has suggested this, but it's the first time he's been so explicit about it.
You may have heard that woodpeckers in Rossmoor, the vast retirement community near Walnut Creek, have been drilling holes in the homes of residents and generally being a nuisance. Community leaders have tried scaring the little critters away with robot spiders and recordings of predators horribly devouring woodpeckers, but these are some wily birds, and they know when they're being scammed. Finally, two of Rossmoor's housing associations voted to hire a sharpshooter to wander around the golf courses and splatter 50 of the feathered folks against the aluminum siding. This prompted an outcry from the Audubon Society and others who begged them to reconsider. But yesterday, one of the housing associations decided to kill the birds after all. This, the Chron reports has left Rossmoor spokeswoman Maureen O'Rourke dismayed at the P.R. problems, but it could be worse. In Franklin Township, New Jersey last week, thousands of dead starlings plunged to the earth after the U.S. Department of Agriculture decided to poison the birds, but forgot to tell the neighbors. Thousands of people in Franklin Township watched as dead birds hit their roofs and bounced off their front lawns, fearing that a strange plague or vengeful God had come to town. Now, that's a public relations problem.
Wayne Tucker, who resigned as chief of the Oakland Police Department yesterday, acknowledged that his officers screwed up the Chauncey Bailey murder investigation. He also admitted that they still want Yusuf Bey IV for the murder. As the Trib points out, Tucker still dealt in generalities, never mentioning Derwin Longmire, the cop who caught the case, happened to be a close friend of Bey, and has been accused of burying key evidence in the investigation.
Aggh! When Hershey bought the West Berkeley specialty chocolate manufacturer Scharffen Berger, local folks got nervous, figuring it was only a matter of time before the company did something to kill it. That time has come. According to the Chron, Hershey plans to close the West Berkeley plant, as well as a specialty truffle plant in San Francisco, and consolidate its boutique operations in a plant in Illinois, although they'll be keeping the brand name. And check this out: Hershey isn't even doing this to cope with the recession. The company's fourth-quarter earnings were $82 million, compared with $54 million from the same period a year ago. And it's projecting 3 percent growth for 2009! Oh, well. We suppose it was too good to last.
And then there was one. Robert Bobb, the former and very competent city manager who was seen as one of two possible candidates for city administrator, has taken a job at the Detroit public school district. You know things are bad when Detroit looks better than Oakland. Ron Dellums is expected to name his pal Dan Lindheim as permanent city administrator.
That's it for OPD Chief Tucker. The Trib reports that he just resigned at a press conference, and he took a few slaps at the City Council on his way out: "Quite frankly I've lost faith in the City Council. ... They've given lip service to public safety in the city." Tucker faced a vote of no-confidence from the City Council, owing to the countless scandals under his watch: phony search warrants, Chauncey Bailey, the cop union bribery scandal, you name it. It's not too late to revoke his pension, is it?
Last night, Ron Dellums got to do what he loves best: call for action to be taken by someone else. In his state of the city address, the Chronicle reports, the mayor decided to tackle crime by declaring, "I challenge us all to bring down crime by ten percent this year." Us? We're supposed to do it? How about Chief Wayne Tucker, who is facing a no-confidence vote from the City Council and has presided over more scandals than any top cop we can remember? How about the city administrator? Oh, right, we don't have one, 'cause Dellums hasn't named anyone. How about you, Ron? What are you planning to do? Challenge us some more?
The Oakland Tribune reports that OPD Chief Wayne Tucker is expected to resign any moment now. Tucker has faced a growing chorus of complaints and scandals, including allegations that he bribed the head of the police officers' union to sabotage a no-confidence vote. We'll let you know as soon as we do.