Friday, May 25, 2007

The East Bay Today: May 25, 2007

Fri, May 25, 2007 at 4:55 PM

Today's Top Event: Shohei Imamura's Japan film series plays at the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley.

Brainiac: Learn something new every day. Today's lecture: Novelist Ron Carlson talks about his first book in 30 years, Five Skies, at Rakestraw Books in Danville.

Is It Lunch Yet? Express food critic John Birdsall recommends: Bucci's in Emeryville.

On the Town: Going out tonight? Celebrate the weekend with DJ Lash and Fat Rob spinning R&B and soul at Kimball's Carnival's "Sultry Fridays."

Hardly Working: You've got time. We know how to waste it. Check out Monopoly Cards We'd Like To See.

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

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The East Bay Today: May 24, 2007

Thu, May 24, 2007 at 4:55 PM

Today's Top Event: Measure of Time, now at the Berkeley Art Museum, examines the broad, abstract notion of time as examined in two, three, and four dimensions, in analogue and digital form.

Brainiac: Learn something new every day. Today's lecture: Beloved food blogger Clotilde Dusoulier has brought her knowledge and enthusiasm for her native Paris and its food to her first cookbook, Chocolate & Zucchini: Daily Adventures in a Parisian Kitchen at Cody's Books in Berkeley.

Is It Lunch Yet? Express food critic John Birdsall recommends: Le Cheval in Oakland.

On the Town: Going out tonight? Belt out your favorite Scottish and Irish tunes with Fun with Finnoula at Beckett's.

Hardly Working: You've got time. We know how to waste it. Check out What's Special About This Number?

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

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

BHA Fires All 22 Staffers

by Lauren Gard
Wed, May 23, 2007 at 4:55 PM

Not only did Berkeley's Housing Authority pay rent to landlords on behalf of dead tenants, as we reported earlier this month , they also allegedly knowingly committed numerous other acts of fraud as well. As a result, the entire staff has been canned, according to a story in today's Oakland Tribune. Well, in theory, at least. Officially, because fourteen of the 22 are protected by union contracts, they'll be shown the door... and then given directions for their new desks in other departments. (Transfer employees responsible for destroying one department to work in another? Pure genius!)

The Housing Authority's brazen thrashing of the affordable housing system apparently came to light when a new manager took over last summer and noted "two to four alarming claims of staff wrongdoing each day," Berkeley's city attorney told the Trib. For the list - and it's a doozy - check out the article. Still dying to know more? Watch the video of last night's very heated, very long special City Council meeting.

Grease Trap: MediaNews Knows How to Spot a Great Sinker

by John Birdsall
Wed, May 23, 2007 at 4:55 PM

Jimmied into today's Trib-slash-CoCo Times food feature about vegan pastries, the profile of newbie donut company Peoples' Donuts is a tasty scooplet. It's the first big exposure for the month-and-a-half-old micro-startup, which fries up fat, tender-crumbed vegan sinkers in kitchen space it rents from Berkeley's Eclair Pastries. You can pick up a dozen at the old-school bakery on Telegraph, and also (though the Trib failed to mention it) at Rudy's Can't Fail Cafe in Emeryville, Cole Coffee in Rockridge, and Fellini on University. Peoples' Donuts is the glazed and nut-crusted brainchild of Josh Levine, a real estate agent when he's not helping manager Rachael Devlin mix, fry, drizzle, and sprinkle. Levine told us that, apart from being vegan and generally awesome, the donuts are mostly organic, too, including the sugar. We love it when the virtuous merges with the fried and the sugary. And, despite a misplace apostrophe in the company's name, congrats to MediaNews staffer Kristin Bender for being the first to hype a local gem.

Would Adding Fleet Of Youth Workers Make BART Safer?

by Lauren Gard
Wed, May 23, 2007 at 4:55 PM

Think BART should run a teen escort service? Oakland Councilwoman Jane Brunner does. (The perfectly legit kind, of course.) On the heels of an uptick in robberies in North Oakland, she's proposed the "Oakland Ambassadors" program, in which at-risk teens would be employed as attendants at BART stations to help reduce crime. "The ambassadors would work in five-member teams at each Oakland BART station from dusk until 8 p.m., helping commuters to their cars, accompanying people to restaurants or guiding elderly residents making their way home," reports the SF Chronicle.

In addition, the young people "would also be assigned to pick up litter, greet merchants and give directions to people in and around the stations."

What do you think? Fantastic idea or waste of taxpayer dollars?

You Write Too Long -- This Week's Cover Story Bite-Sized

by Kelly Vance
Wed, May 23, 2007 at 4:55 PM

This week, "Living Large": Hey, big spender. For a politician whose office is so safe that he regularly beats opponents by more than fifty percentage points in primary elections, state Senate president pro tem Don Perata sure has lots of "campaign expenses": swanky hotels, big restaurant bills, luxury boxes at Raiders football games, golf tournaments for fat-cat contributors, cigars, and plenty of red wine. No doubt about it, the dapper Don is a great customer for a lot of Bay Area businesses, and he claims that using campaign funds like his personal party account is perfectly legal. But staff writer Bob Gammon has his doubts, and he's been digging into thousands of pages of Perata's campaign expense reports. Now, in the first of a two-part investigative report, Gammon is asking hard questions about one of the most powerful elected officials in the state.

Their (Former) Number One Fan?

by Kathleen Richards
Wed, May 23, 2007 at 4:55 PM

San Jose native Robert Comer killed a camper and raped a woman in front of her boyfriend near Phoenix twenty years ago. But in his last moments prior to being executed yesterday, his grisly crimes weren't on his mind. Instead, when the warden asked if he had any last words, he simply uttered: "Yes, go Raiders." We're not mind readers, but it's safe to say this final utterance didn't give his victims or their families any peace of mind. And probably not Al Davis, either.

The East Bay Today: May 23, 2007

Wed, May 23, 2007 at 4:55 PM

Today's Top Event: The Berkeley Art Museum hardly needs excuses to show off its collection, but the current Kunstkammer exhibition will do.

Brainiac: Learn something new every day. Today's lecture: David Talbot discusses his book Brothers: A Hidden History of the Kennedy Years at Cody's in Berkeley.

Is It Lunch Yet? Express food critic John Birdsall recommends: Yuet Foo Seafood Restaurant in El Cerrito.

On the Town: Going out tonight? Travel back in time with DJ Spaceage spinning disco hits at the Lost Weekend Lounge.

Hardly Working: You've got time. We know how to waste it. Check out Lost Cities.

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

The People and Corporations Behind Perata's Peacekeepers

by Robert Gammon
Wed, May 23, 2007 at 12:08 AM

As noted in today's Full Disclosure, state Senate boss Don Perata has created a new non-profit, Peacekeepers, which he says will help quell violence in Oakland and Richmond. The group started sending out mailers earlier this month. Though Peacekeepers is new, the list of people and corporations behind it includes several longtime, heavy contributors to Perata. They include: CBS Outdoor/Viacom Outdoor, the nation's largest billboard owner; the DeSilva Group, which is owned by Perata's top East Bay contributor, Ed DeSilva; Ron Cowan, owner of Doric Realty of Alameda; and Jon Reynolds, partner with developer Signature Properties in the giant Oak-to-Ninth condo development on Oakland's waterfront. After the jump, click for scanned images from the Peacekeepers mailers. Peacekeepers Image 1

Peacekeepers Image 2

Peacekeepers Image 3

Posted: Don Perata's "Living Large" Expenditures

by Robert Gammon
Wed, May 23, 2007 at 12:08 AM

As promised in today's cover story, "Living Large," here's the spreadsheet (Excel, PDF) detailing state Senate boss Don Perata's lifestyle-related campaign expenditures over the past decade. The Express compiled this list from more than two thousand pages of campaign finance reports, and it includes only expenses -- such as dining at fine restaurants, staying at posh hotels, and buying wine -- that didn't appear to be directly related to actual campaigning. Perata has run virtually unopposed since 1998, so he doesn't spend campaign funds like a typical politician. The list includes some items that Perata labeled as "fundraising" because it was impossible to distinguish where the fundraising stopped and the partying began. The list also includes office supplies, because the senator's various campaigns did not have formal offices.

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