It's been a bad couple of months, we know. Foreclosures, gas prices, catastrophic fires, pick your poison. But when the Yankees sweep the A's in the first series after the All-Star break, that's beyond enduring. Lenny DiNardo lost the second game by hitting Jose Molina with a pitch, for God's sake! What have we done to offend thee, O Lord?
Memorial Stadium Keeps on Entertainin'
Maybe it's time to count our blessings. How about we still get to watch the Big Game for free up on Tightwad Hill? Last week, the University of California at Berkeley settled a lawsuit with said hill-dwellers, who raised a fuss over hints that Cal officials might block the view with alterations along the eastern wall of Memorial Stadium. Apparently, university officials decided that they couldn't simultaneously fight the Tightwad crew, the tree-sitters, the Panoramic neighbors, and the City of Berkeley all at the same time. So they agreed that the Tightwad folks would be consulted whenever they planned to change the eastern bleachers, guaranteeing the freeloaders at least a seat at the table.
Because they really, really want to get started ripping out the oaks and building the new training center, see? UC lawyers asked the court last week to let them start construction on the new training center more or less immediately, and requested that the city and other plaintiffs in the anti-center lawsuit post a $1.5 million bond. Apparently, they want the city to be at least partially responsible for the daily $47,000 UC must pay to provide security for the tree-sitters and delay construction. But the prospect of angry, drunken football fans, um, interacting with the arboreal hippies must weigh at least a little on the minds of university administrators.
Speaking of hippies, a bunch of them visited Cal Chancellor Robert Birgeneau's mansion last week, rallying in opposition to the training center and imminent defoliation. At least six of them planted an oak seedling on the mansion grounds to make their point, earning them a trip to the pokey and charges of trespassing, vandalism, and conspiracy. Meanwhile, back at Ground Zero, one of the last remaining tree-sitters clambered down into the hands of the cops after learning of a death in the family. Apparently, he forgot to ditch the weed that kept him entertained up in the tree, which earned him a marijuana possession beef.
Chevron Gets What it Wants
Let's try blessing number two: Could we finally see relief at the gas pump? That's the promise behind the Richmond City Council's decision last week to let Chevron expand its refinery capacity. But it might come with a price: environmentalists and refinery neighbors are terrified that the new facility, as well as the lower-grade crude oil it will refine, may pump out more toxic particulate matter, a claim that Chevron denies. Said neighbors and greenies packed the council chambers for two consecutive nights, alternately pleading and haranguing their leaders not to greenlight the deal. But just after midnight on Day Two, that's just what they did, ending months of bitter recriminations. Or is that beginning?
Oakland Looks for Another Savior
Moving on to blessing number three: Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums, apparently noticing that people have a low opinion of his somnambulant style, has hired former city manager Robert Bobb to lead the effort to find a new city administrator. Along the way, Bobb will review different city departments, exposing and weeding out the nepotism, laziness, ineptitude, and sloppiness we've been learning about over the summer. At least, that's what he's getting $150,000 to do.
Meanwhile, the City Council has placed a new parcel tax on the November ballot, in hopes of getting close to the number of cops it needs to get a handle on the crime problem. If the measure passes this November, home-owners will pay a tax that ultimately will rise to $276 a year, in order to hire 105 additional cops and 75 police services technicians. The Edgerlygate scandal has left a lot of Oakland residents feeling skeptical about the city's capacity to spend their money, and there's some very public opposition to the tax. But a recent poll found support for the new tax at 61 percent, just under the two-thirds threshold it needs to pass. So all bets are off for now.
Okay, we've run through as many blessings as we could find. Now for the cold, hard reality. Berkeley City Coucilwoman Dona Spring died after years of painfully coping with rheumatoid arthritis. ... The former leader of the Berkeley Sea Scouts, who sued the city in a public battle to retain the group's free marina berth, is going to prison for six years for molesting children under his charge. ... The City of Oakland has agreed to give sixteen women $2 million, as compensation for being groped and sexually harassed by a police officer. ... A new report finds one in three Oakland high school students drop out. ... Home prices dropped 27 percent compared with June 2007. ... Statewide unemployment rose to almost 7 percent, and CalPERS, the pension fund that provides a secure retirement for hundreds of thousands of state employees, posted a 2.4 percent loss in investments this year.
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