The new Death Row under construction at San Quentin is projected to exceed construction costs by $40 million, the Chron reports. This ain't exactly the best moment to get this sort of news, seeing as how California has a $15 billion deficit. But here's an even more unsettling factoid: California has executed fourteen inmates since the death penalty became an option again. Now, the state has 674 inmates awaiting execution. And unless the state gets the courts to approve its plan to house the condemned two men to a cell, the new Death Row's capacity of 1,152 inmates could be filled in as few as three years.
Damn! Mervyn's, the Hayward-based middlebrow department store chain and mainstay of American Main Streets for almost sixty years, has filed for bankruptcy. According to the East Bay Business Times, Wal-Mart's been eating it up on the cheap side of the industry, and JC Penney has been going at it from the other end. (note to self: Eew.) Even after closing seventy stores in the last four years and consolidating its business, the chain just couldn't handle its massive debt load. All is not lost, however; a group of financiers led by Wachovia has just floated the company $465 million in credit. (Wait: Wachovia's got that kind of cash lying around? Didn't they just flirt with collapsing themselves?) Finally, here's a fun fact: One of the two companies that owns Mervyn's is New York's Cerberus Capital Management. You know who sits on the Cerberus board of directors? Dan Quayle. So if Hayward loses one of its most important economic players, we can always blame him.
The Tribune's Kristin Bender has a nice, uplifting story about the latest twists and turns in the Freight and Salvage saga. As you undoubtedly know, Freight and Salvage plans to move from its current West Berkeley digs to the downtown art center, where it will join the Berkeley Rep, the Aurora Theater, and other nonprofit arts joints to form a critical mass of highbrow hoity toities strolling around and revitalizing the area. The F & S folks need a few more million bucks to finish the new venue, and what do you know? Along comes an anonymous fella who's cut a deal: if you can raise $2 million, I'll throw in another million bucks. Like we said, how nice. If you're looking for a break from Yosemite fires and housing market catastrophes, read the whole thing.
When state health officials found alarmingly high levels of vinyl chloride and other deadly chemicals in the soil near West Oakland's old Lane Metal Finishers site, they called in the feds for more tests. After all, numerous people live near the old industrial land near the corner of 30th and San Pablo. Today, the Trib writes, the Environmental Protection Agency is happy to report that whatever crap might be in the ground, the neighbors aren't breathing it. And here's the Trib's account of the nabe's relief. "'I'm thanking God almighty,' said [neighbor Linda] Jenkins, who ... suffers from a variety of ailments, including multiple sclerosis, diabetes and a rare blindness disease called keratoconus."
Today's Top Event: Picto-Calligraphy & Sculpt-Script: Symphony of Chinese Calligraphy & Sculpture at the Alameda Museum.
Brainiac: Learn something new every day. Today's lecture: Old Oakland Tour at G.B. Ratto's and Co.
Is It Lunch Yet? Express food critics recommend: Angeline's Louisiana Kitchen in Berkeley.
On the Town: Going out tonight? At the Ruby Room in Oakland's "Rock n' Roll," DJs spin punk, indie, new wave, and classic rock.
Hardly Working: You've got time. We know how to waste it. Check out the evolution of the fight scene.
Feed Us: Got an East Bay news tip, photo, video, or link we need to know about? E-mail us.
From the Oakland Tribune: "Human Waste Seeping into Lake Merritt." Yes, that's right: the restrooms behind the Lake Merritt Boating Center are all plugged up, and a stream of excrement is flowing past the patio and into the lake. So, readers: what's this a metaphor for? Edgerlygate? The Chauncey Bailey murder? The Acorn Gang? Oakland's four hundred foreclosures? Gosh, there are so many candidates...
One day after attorney John Burris called for criminal charges against Oakland cop Hector Jimenez for a Friday shooting, an autopsy revealed that Jiminez fatally shot the man in the back. Mack Woodfox was behind the wheel of his car when Jimenez and another officer tried to pull him over. After a brief chase, Woodfox got out of the car and was shot by Jimenez. The officer claimed that Woodfox ran and made a sudden furtive movement toward his waistband, but a passenger in the car claimed that he just got out and put his hands up. Jimenez and his partner are off the streets until the investigation is concluded.
Two suspects in the boneheaded and unexpectedly telegenic 2005 assault on West Oakland liquor stores have cut a deal with county prosecutors, the Trib reports. One gentleman, Donald Eugene Cunningham, caught a break when the district attorney's office decided he was too old to bother with. The other suspect, Kahil Raheem, is expected to get probation in return for his testimony in the kidnapping and torture trial of Your Black Muslim Bakery leader Yusuf Bey IV. Two other suspects, including the esteemed Bey himself, have charges outstanding in the case.
Hey, maybe celebrity mayors aren't such a good idea. That's the gist of Chip Johnson's new column this morning, as the Chron writer notices that guys like Ron Dellums and Jerry Brown tend to be detached and barely interested in the prosaic details of governing the city. "If Oakland's experience with celebrity mayors provides a lesson, it would be that hard work, long hours and a continuous vigil for opportunities - and efficiencies - are the ingredients to becoming a successful mayor," Johnson writes. "There's no doubt that a dash of celebrity will go a long way in a political campaign but Brown's and Dellums' terms have shown that that is not enough by itself. ... Beware of the celebrity candidates, and listen to the substance of the words before believing the messenger - even if it comes from a well-known, longtime pitchman." Welcome to the club, Chip! Now, if only someone had been nagging Oakland about this three years ago...