The tipster said his name was Mike Baker and that he had some dirt on Emeryville City Council candidate Jason Crouch. Among other things, he accused Crouch of making an unwanted and inappropriate pass at him (not long after Ahnuld's groping was making daily headlines). He'd even slapped together a Web site condemning the candidate. Why, Bottom Feeder wanted to know, would he go to such lengths to badmouth a political nobody? The tipster explained that Crouch was greedy and power-hungry and had made himself a target by running for public office. At the end of the phone conversation, he admitted his name wasn't really Mike. It was Tony. But he wouldn't give his last name.
The timing -- one week before the city's November 4 election -- seemed suspicious, a last-minute political smear. So Bottom Feeder phoned Crouch to find out what he'd done to deserve such a determined enemy. A 35-year-old yuppie realtor and first-time political candidate, Crouch denied the allegations but said he knew who the tipster was. He believed his antagonist was a neighbor who rents the penthouse in Pacific Park Plaza, the condo building where he lives.
If you don't know the Plaza by name, you'd probably recognize it. Clearly visible from Interstate 80, it's the angular thirty-story skyscraper that seems out of scale with the East Bay's bite-sized architectural aesthetics. Boasting about eight hundred residents -- roughly 10 percent of Emeryville's population -- it's like a small town unto itself, to paraphrase one Plaza-dweller. It has its own gym, pool, dry cleaners, weather patterns and, like any small town, feuding neighbors.
Which brings us back to our tipster, whose real name is Tony DeBartolo or "Tony D." Crouch directed Feeder to a few Web sites featuring DeBartolo and his exploits to provide a feel for the guy. If you believe the sites, Tony D. is a millionaire party boy who claims motivational speaker Tony Robbins as a friend and mentor and proudly displays pictures of himself with porn stars such as Berkeley's own Nina Hartley. He also appears to have a knack for computers and boudoir photography. Back to that in a sec.
DeBartolo also has made himself a few enemies -- most notably members of his building's condo association board, which filed a suit against him. One of these people is Kris Owens, an Emeryville planning commissioner -- and friend of Crouch. When Bottom Feeder called back DeBartolo, he acknowledged that he thought Crouch and Owens were part of a cabal trying to force him out of the building. He insisted that his Crouch allegation was true. But by now DeBartolo was proving himself more interesting than the candidate. So Feeder checked out the suit against the Gen X-er who rents the penthouse.
The guy willing to dish out sexual allegations about a small-time candidate is apparently wrapped up in his own dispute over perceived indecency. The board is suing Tony D. to make him follow condo rules and refrain from running a business out of his top-floor apartment. What kind of business? Well, the owner of the penthouse said he was told by the building manager that his tenant was taking "porno pictures." The Plaza's security chief, meanwhile, claimed that on June 2, DeBartolo met a group of guests and asked one woman if she was "up for making a movie?" "Only if all of you fuck me," security heard the woman say.
The security chief also supplied the court with a Craigslist posting with a picture of the Plaza that said: "FEMALE PARTY PENTHOUSE 4 CUTE EROTIC ARTISTS -- TV SHOW. ... FREE FOR LESBIAN, BISEXUAL, OR BI-CURIOUS FEMALE who would like to live and party with us in total luxury as part of a new alternative erotic lifestyle reality TV show..."
DeBartolo insists he's not running any business from his penthouse, let alone taking "porno pictures." Sure, photography is a hobby, and he likes to shoot tasteful pictures of hot young women in various stages of undress. "It's tasteful fine art," he sniffs.
While the "fine art" thing is open to debate, the photos, which can be seen at Erosic.com, are indeed pretty tame, although the site also refers to "private photos" Bottom Feeder hasn't seen. DeBartolo says he doesn't make money from his hobby. He told the court that a former roommate put up the Craigslist posting without his knowledge and that he asked her to take it down when he found out. As for the racy guests, he told the court they were just coming over to hang out after a late dinner. See, no big deal.
Tony D. says the board is making a big deal out of things to get back at him. Shortly after DeBartolo moved in, he launched PacificParkPlaza.com, which had a forum where residents could bash the Plaza's powers that be. In a motion, DeBartolo claimed the board's suit was designed to silence him, and he asked Judge James Richman to dismiss it. Instead, the judge rejected the motion as "frivolous" and ordered him to pay $5,043 of his accusers' legal expenses. Tony D. is appealing that ruling.
And what, meanwhile, has become of Jason Crouch? Well, he lost the election. But Feeder is confident he learned what a rewarding experience it can be running for public office in a small town.
But What an Inning!
Displeased Pleasantonian Christopher Peacock thinks the Oakland A's should give him $5,000 for making him miss the first inning of a weekday game in July. At least that's what he's asking from the team in small-claims court.
Peacock told Judge pro tem David Fischer in a Oakland courtroom last week that he, his wife, and two kids missed the beginning of the July 10 game against the lowly Devil Rays because parking attendants wouldn't take a $50 bill. The parking attendant in question, who testified at the hearing, said Peacock refused to move his car and held up the line until her supervisor arrived. The supervisor, who also testified, explained that a new policy forbids lot employees from breaking big bills, so he instructed Peacock to go to a nearby gas station and come back. He did so, albeit under protest. By the time he and his family returned, it was already the second inning and his tickets were rendered "worthless," he claimed, because he couldn't see the whole game, which the A's won 5-2. "It wasn't the pleasant outing it should have been to see a baseball game. ... I think the inconvenience was ridiculous," Peacock reasoned to the judge. "For a twelve-dollar parking fee, a fifty-dollar bill isn't unreasonable."
And suing for $5,000 -- the maximum you can ask for in small-claims court -- is reasonable? Athletics in-house attorney Caleb Jay, who also attended the hearing, didn't think so. The small-bills-only policy, he said, was implemented midseason because of "an influx" of counterfeiting at the gates. (Hey! Bottom Feeder thought only Raiders fans did stuff like that.)
Surprisingly, the judge didn't send Peacock running back to the 'burbs with his feathers between his legs. Fischer instead took the case under submission to decide whether the team did anything wrong, and if so, what the damages should be for missing the first inning of an all-Mark Mulder midseason victory.
And while it never came up in court, it might be worth noting that five of the game's seven runs were scored in the first.
Seven Days - March 22, 5:57 PM
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Seven Days - March 21, 8:22 PM
Seven Days - March 21, 7:27 PM