Stories you shouldn’t miss:
1. Ex-BART cop Johannes Mehserle is scheduled to be released from custody on Monday after serving a short prison stint for fatally shooting unarmed train-rider Oscar Grant, the Trib reports. Grant’s family, who remains unhappy about Mehserle’s relatively light sentence, is planning a series of events over the weekend in Los Angeles. Mehserle was convicted last year of involuntary manslaughter, but the judge in the case threw out a gun-enhancement conviction that would have resulted in a much longer prison sentence.slaughtered six million young splittail fish last month, generating protests from environmental groups, the Chron reports. The pumps also have shredded tens of thousands of imperiled Chinook salmon since last October. But some regulators say the massive fish kills may be good news because they might be an indicator that there are more fish than previously thought.
This week, East Bay Express music editor/resident jazz nerd Rachel "Swantanamo Bay" Swan gamely dives into one of the bigger paradoxes facing the local music scene today: Here in the Bay Area, we've got a legacy of producing great jazz music as well as great jazz musicians, with one of the best high-school jazz programs in the country (at Berkeley High) and legenday clubs lie Yoshi's. We've got a relatively arts-happy populace that appears to be more than willing to sink money into nonprofit jazz projects. So why, then, can't we sustain a jazz scene, and why do most of our best and brightest move to New York to start their careers? It's a complicated question with a complicated answer, which is why you should really read the whole thing.
This week, it's all about art; specifically, the toxic chemicals that show up in many commercial art supplies and which are — and have been, for decades — been causing all kinds of health gnarliness for amateur and professional artists. We're talking cancer, chronic diseases, dizziness, headaches, and more, in addition to the significant environmental damage that comes with these toxins.
Stories you shouldn’t miss:
1. Kamala Harris appears to have built an insurmountable lead in the California attorney general’s race. According to the latest totals from the Secretary of State’s Office, the Democratic San Francisco DA leads Republican Steve Cooley by more than 40,000 votes. As of Friday, there were an estimated 500,000 ballots left to count, the Chron reported. And many of the uncounted ballots are in voter-rich Los Angeles County, where Harris is pummeling Cooley, even though it’s his home, 53 percent to 39 percent.
Despite the reaction to ex-BART cop Johannes Mehserle’s sentencing this afternoon, it looks like many of Downtown Oakland’s cultural events will still be happening tonight: Florence and the Machine are still set to play their sold-out show at the Fox Theater, according to a representative from the box office, and folks from Mama Buzz and Rock Paper Scissors Collective said First Friday Art Murmur will go on as usual, though Ara Jo at Rock Paper Scissors said there will be three security guards instead of the usual two stationed around 23rd Street and Telegraph. The Uptown, which is set to host Birds and Batteries tonight, isn’t answering its phone.
Here's video from our 2010 Best of the East Bay Home Grown Party at Jack London Square on August 6. Thanks to everyone who came out!
Oakland's City Council did not vote on the proposed cuts to its Cultural Funding Program last night, choosing instead to wait until April 29. As we previously reported, the council, facing a $30 million budget deficit, was considering a 50 percent cut to the $1 million program, which provides important grants and loans to various artistic and cultural institutions and artists in Oakland.
According to Margo Dunlap, chair and co-founder of the Oakland Cultural Trust, and executive director of Pro Arts, the council expressed strong support for the arts, and Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente said he would not support any cuts at all. "I'm very optimistic," said Dunlap, noting that the council acknowledged that the arts are an important investment that actually produce revenue for the city.
Dunlap estimates that about 200 people showed up to the meeting to express their support — including Oakland East Bay Symphony's Michael Morgan. "It was very powerful," she said of his statement. "He’s a tremendous leader and figure for Oakland." Dunlap said she would understand if the council makes a small cut to the arts funding, but thinks it should be proportional to other cuts. Other supporters, however, do not want any cuts, and some are advocating increased funding.
Last night, however, the council did approve 15-percent cuts to elected officials' offices. The council plans to vote on the city administrator's recommendations for closing the budget deficit on April 29. Dunlap says the Oakland Cultural Trust will stay in communication with councilmembers and will be present at the April 29th meeting.
Facing a $30 million budget shortfall for the upcoming fiscal year, the Oakland City Council will likely make some tough choices next week during its midcycle budget review process. One of the most severe is a proposed 50 percent reduction to the city’s Cultural Funding Program.
The Cultural Funding Program provides about $1 million in grants annually to arts organizations and artists, funding individual art projects, organizations’ operations, and arts education in the schools. Some of the city’s biggest arts and cultural institutions receive grants through the program, which is funded by the general fund.
And if the proposed 50 percent cuts are approved, it will undoubtedly put a strain on an already-strained arts community. “I don’t know what they’re thinking,” said Margo Dunlap, chair and co-founder of the Oakland Cultural Trust, an association of Oakland art organizations and artists, and executive director of Pro Arts, which receives funding through the program. “This is a time for trimming the budget, not for eliminating infrastructure. A 50-percent cut is one stroke from eliminating the entire program.”
If you’ve ever wondered what your neighbors are renting, or how the East Bay’s various place-based subcultural differences manifest themselves, take a look at The New York Times’ new, utterly mesmerizing multimedia feature, which uses data from Netflix to map the top movie rentals of 2009, zip code by zip code.
The East Bay Express is sticking its toe into the beer and entertainment business with the launch of EBX Bleeding Heart Lager and Club X. In keeping with the newspaper’s commitment to localism, the beer is brewed a few blocks from the Express’ office, and the 500-capacity club is conveniently located downstairs from the paper's headquarters.