Well, they probably saw it coming. At Chevron's annual shareholders meeting yesterday, activists and indigenous tribespeople from around the world berated the San Ramon oil giant's leadership about a wide variety of alleged environmental and human rights abuses. Where shall we start? Ecuador, where tribal groups have accused Chevron of polluting vast tracts of land and causing cancer and birth defects? Burma, where the company owns part of a natural gas plant and does business with the vicious military junta? According to the Oakland Tribune, the one that really got under CEO David O'Reilly's skin was Nigeria, where company has been accused of polluting the delta. In 1998, after Nigerian groups took Chevron employees hostage, the local cops shot and killed people who were conducting a protest against the company. One of those who survived took the microphone and accused Chevron of hiring the cops who shot him. Yeah, O'Reilly really didn't like that. Good thing he has his $31.5 million compensation package to comfort him.
Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums has finally released some of his budget proposals, and the mayor has proposed shutting down city services for twelve days in order to make up a projected $15 million budget shortfall. Police, fire, and Head Start programs would stay open, and the twelve days would obviously not be consecutive. Still, shutting down the government is a pretty serious step. According to the Trib, city union leader Dwight McElroy says his members will oppose the move, and that the mayor didn't seriously consider other options. Of course, he doesn't mention what those options might be. Bank robbery? Arbitrage trading with city funds? Meanwhile, Ignacio De la Fuente suspects that the city's deficit numbers may be too optimistic, especially since the state will probably cut millions in city funds.
Before the Athletics leave for Texas, here's a handful of queries to finish off the homestand:
* How is it possible that Rich Harden can be either dominant or disabled? Wouldn't it be more likely that he'd have a state in-between pitching ineffectively? Going only a few innings? Having less velocity? Instead he's 100% or 0%. Why does no other pitcher in baseball do that?
* Toronto in town this week, and I wonder how they like being the only team in baseball having to endure two national anthems a game.
* Do they still play America the Beautiful or a flaggy song in the 6th inning in ballparks? Really one patriotic tune per game works for me.
* Any better way to get on diamond vision than being a babe? Or a cute kid wearing the team colors? Or a fat guy dancing?
* Really, Greg Smith?
* How great was it to sweep the Red Sox? How much better that it dropped them out of first place? To the Rays?
* It isn't that Devil Rays was such a cool name, but the rhyme scheme seems all off now> Doesn't "Tampa Bay" deserve two syllables in return?
* Black uniform tops with green and yellow helmets? Let's go all the way and wear pinstriped pants.
* Why is mlb.com use Mychael Urban to cover the A's when he's on KNBR flacking for the Giants? We can't even get our own homer on the A's website. That sucks and blows.
* Um, we got rid of Dan Johnson, but Daric Barton seems a lot like DJ 2.0. Unless you like your first baseman batting eighth?
* Isn't it about time we play the Yankees?
* I guess lead-off guys are overrated. The A's are still winning, though starting every inning down one out.
* Think the Angels ever get annoyed winning four or five games in a row and unable to shake the A's?
* What happened to our funny commercials? Everyone liked them. They made us stand apart from the treacly Giant ads. (Hey Dad, let's go to a game!). Why are our ads so dull now?
* Why do our announcers go to such extremes pronouncing Emil Brown's first name? And why does each pronounce it with such emphasis and then in a completely different way?
* How did Huston Street get better all of a sudden?
* And why did Alan Embree get worse?
* Is it even worth voting for an A for the all-star game, when they have no star power and don't actually deserve any of the starting spots? Maybe it would be better to vote for Angels and tire them out for the second half of the season?
* Anyone else miss the exploding bobble-head promotions on the A's scoreboard?
* Isn't it cool that even though the Giants have the Bay Area media by the short hairs, we're the team that has a two and a half hour pre-game show? Which goes nicely with the two and a half seconds of video we get on Baseball Tonight or the local sports wrap.
I guess that wasn't a question at all.— Kibby Kleiman
Today's Top Event: MAXTRIX/REDUX at the Berkeley Art Museum.
Brainiac: Learn something new every day. Today's lecture: "Keeping Your Business Strong During the Downturn." Panel of experts finance, land purchasing, real estate, and economics at the Alameda Chamber of Commerce.
Is It Lunch Yet? Express food critics recommend: Lagosia in Berkeley.
On the Town: Going out tonight? The Shattuck Down Low welcomes the New Swing Sextet. Catch the show plus salsa dance lessons for only $10 (students $5).
Hardly Working: You've got time. We know how to waste it. Check out another sneezing panda.
Feed Us: Got an East Bay news tip, photo, video, or link we need to know about? E-mail us.
It's been a week since one thousand East Bay janitors walked off the job, and there's no indication they'll be coming back anytime soon. According to the Biz Times, janitors in the East Bay make significantly less than their San Francisco counterparts: eleven bucks an hour compared to SF's prevailing wage of $17 an hour. Now, the janitors' union has decided enough is enough, and they've put away the mops until they get a better deal. The janitors have hit BART, Chevron, UC Berkeley, and Kaiser Permanente, among other establishments.
In a bulletin sent to neighborhood-watch groups throughout the city about a thieving pair playing a sneaky trick on seniors, Oakland Police Lt. Larry Riggs explains:
We admit to a hint of cautious optimism when we learned that Bay Area residents had started buying homes again, but that fleeting hope has been quite efficiently obliterated by the latest news. The East Bay Business Times reports that in March, Bay Area home prices dropped by...wait for it...twenty percent from a year ago! All that equity just drying up and wafting away. The Bay Area's housing collapse is just barely exceeded by the nation's leading losers, Las Vegas and Miami. Ouch.
On the other hand, this CoCo Times piece about the strange affection sports agencies have for Walnut Creek is kinda fun! Apparently, three major sports agencies have set up shop in the tony suburb, drawn by its proximity to San Francisco nightlife and two major universities. Top-tier athletes such as Rockets center Yao Ming can sample some of the Bay Area's finer nightclubs, but don't have to deal with the nasty traffic in the metropolitan core. As a result, major sports-star sightings are a lot more common than any mid-sized bedroom-and-boutique community has a right to expect.
You gotta feel for poor Contra Costa Times reporter Matt Krupnick, who was given the dreadful assignment of reporting on what radical changes incoming UC President Mark Yudof has planned, when no one has any idea yet. But even given that Krupnick had to stretch a non-story into a few hundred words, we find it hard to forgive him for his opening graf: "The new University of California president says he's a pancake aficionado, but Mark Yudof likely will be stirring up more than batter when he arrives next month." That gets you four weeks in the basement with nothing but Bisquick to eat, Matt.
Hey, looky here! According to the latest Field Poll, a majority of Californians now support gay marriage, and oppose amending the state constitution to ban it! Support for gay marriage was strongest in the Bay Area, at 68 percent. Meanwhile, only 38 percent of Central Valley residents supported homosexual unions. According to the Chron, Field Poll director Mark DiCamillo surmised that the state Supreme Court's recent ruling may have swayed voters that were ambivalent about the issue, by casting it in terms of equal treatment under the law. Makes this November even more interesting, if that were possible.