Cows Run Amok on Freeway! Or Was It Humans? 

Plus an Alamedan is picked to lead the NAACP, budget delays in Oakland, and water restrictions across the East Bay.

It's just not a good news week unless a herd of cattle stampede down the freeway. And lo and behold, guess what happened last week? While transporting a group of cows along I-680, a cattle trailer crashed, and the cows broke loose and hoofed it down Highway 4! Traffic was brought to a halt as motorists gawked at the bovine beef-providers scampering toward the hills and freedom. Unfortunately, cars also slammed into two of the poor creatures, mortally wounding them. One grim gentleman hopped out of his truck, drew his knife, and put one of the cows out of her misery. Then he dragged her off the road. Even amid this mad dash for freedom, the commute must go on.

NAACP Picks Alamedan to Lead

The East Bay just doesn't have its proper share of luminaries, so it's with no small measure of glee that we report that the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has tapped Alameda's very own Benjamin Jealous to be its next president. And he's a young'un to boot; at age 35, Jealous is the youngest NAACP president in the history of an organization that has often struggled with the challenge of staying relevant to young African Americans. And get this: he's even a journalist. After working as a Harlem NAACP community organizer, Jealous became the managing editor of the Jackson, Mississippi newspaper The Advocate, and was eventually the head of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, a professional association of black-owned newspapers. Welcome to the spotlight, Ben.

Oakland Budget Stalls

As a new generation of civil rights leaders takes the helm, one of the most prominent members of the old guard can't seem to get his math right. Last week, Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums informed the city council that his office would need another two weeks to finalize its budget proposal. The housing market's collapse has put a big dent in the city's finances — the budget deficit is projected to hover around $15-$20 million — so it may be understandable that Dellums wants more time to figure out which desperately needed program should be cut. On the other hand, city councilmembers need to look at the proposed budget as well, and many expressed annoyance that the delay will only give them a month to review it.

Like They Say: Don't Drink the Water

But what do you care? After all, you've got bigger problems to worry about — like trying to figure out how to cut 20 percent of your water usage. After weeks of warnings, the East Bay's water district finally announced mandatory cutbacks on all water use, citing two extraordinarily dry years and seriously depleted reservoirs. Repeat offenders could ultimately see their water cut off; looks like it's a bad time for the temperature to hit 98 degrees.

Solar Pays Off; Mortgages Not Really

But at least one company is only too happy about all this sunshine. A few months back, the Oakland solar company BrightSource announced that it had just signed a deal with PG&E to build and operate power plants in the Mojave Desert; the plants would provide enough electricity to power 375,000 Bay Area homes. Now, Wall Street has signaled its approval; last week, company officials declared that they had raised an additional $115 million in venture capital from Google, Morgan Stanley, and Chevron, among others. Too bad the same thing can't be said for the PMI Group, the Walnut Creek-based insurance company and one of the largest firms in the East Bay. PMI officials have announced that mortgage defaults have bled them so badly that the company lost a remarkable $274 million in the first quarter.

Coliseum Declared Rat-Infested Pit

The Oakland A's have Billy Beane and an unexpected winning record; now here's one more superlative they can add to their resume. Portfolio Magazine recently compiled a list of the filthiest baseball parks in America, and McAfee Coliseum was ranked number two. According to the report, the Coliseum's food concessionaire racked up 493 health code violations, exposing food to rodents, insects and chemical contamination. When the Oakland Tribune contacted the county Public Health Department, supervisor Ron Browder insisted all was well. "It's not like rats are running around and chasing people out of there," he said. Actually, Ron, it is.

Three-Dot Roundup

After a freighter smashed into the Bay Bridge last November, spilling fuel into the bay and killing thousands of bird, everyone got a little on edge. So when a tugboat crashed into a gas pipeline near Martinez last week, public officials jumped into action and immediately drug-tested the crew. Reports that 1,500 gallons of gas spilled into the bay proved false, but at least two tugboat operators have nonetheless been fired for boozing it up. ... And the world turns a little colder as word broke that Hugh Bradner, the UC Berkeley physicist who invented the wet suit, died in San Diego. Surfers everywhere north of Big Sur are hanging ten in his honor.

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