Who says the law has to be a stodgy affair? Earlier this month, Sacramento resident Karen Fowler came across the Contra Costa County family court's sample petitions to seek child support, and the fictitious names on the samples were a little, um, colorful. In one instance, the mother's name was listed as "Shari Frazzled," and the father's as "Bert Calm," marking the custody dispute as the case of Frazzled v. Calm. In another sample, the mother's name was "Irene B. Bonkers"--or I.B. Bonkers--and the father's name was "U. Robert Bonkers"--or U.R. Bonkers. We hear that the court is in the process of changing the fictitious names to something a little less opinionated. If they're looking for candidates, Jerry Brown has a nice ring to it....
As if Oakland doesn't have enough problems--now we have to answer for Jane Fonda . In the May 8 Village Voice retrospective of Fonda's radical past, author J. Hoberman writes that the actress was never the same after a visit to the East Bay. "Steelyard Blues--a programmatically amateurish guerilla-theater parody of Klute in which [Donald] Sutherland plays a visionary social bandit and Fonda a happy hooker with an Afro wig--went into production [the summer of 1971] in Oakland," Hoberman writes. "It was there that Jane encountered radical feminism; she spent time at the Red Family collective, the most celebrated of East Bay political communes, ostentatiously stocked with shotguns and the writings of Kim Il Sung . (The Red Family had recently expelled one of its founders, Tom Hayden , either for 'male chauvinism' or the 'bourgeois privatism' of his relationship with the ex-wife of fellow-communard Robert Sheer. )" We just hope the East Bay had nothing to do with her breakup with Ted Turner .· · ·
Despite vows by Oakland City Councilmembers Nancy Nadel and Dick Spees to lay down on the tracks lest a casino be built at the Oakland Army Base, it looks like City Manager Robert Bobb is still looking at doing just that. Bobb is in discussions with several groups interested in building a Las Vegas-by-the-bay on the abandoned former Army property; these parties include an unidentified Indian tribe (there's some speculation that it could be a Ohlone band that had expressed interest in an earlier plan), and Donald Trump , of all people. But it's going to take some doing to convince the City Council and the Oakland Base Reuse Authority, of which Spees and Nadel are members, to go along with this type of plan. Spees has five different ways of saying he's absolutely against any casino, and Nadel has started a petition drive to nip it in the bud.· · ·
How long was Berkeley's new transportation planning manager Joe Kott on the job before he decided to quit? Try a month. Kott is returning to his old job in Palo Alto after dipping his toe into the waters of our city government--and since Kott lives in Albany, that means he'd rather face a three-hour commute than deal with Berkeley bureaucrats. Word is that Kott was originally hired by City Manager Weldon Rucker to oversee a new transportation management unit that would integrate city planners and traffic engineers in the hope of adopting a more coherent approach to the city's parking and traffic woes. But the engineers over at public works balked at the plan and raised just enough hell to scuttle the new arrangement. Kott had reportedly taken a $15,000 pay cut in return for the chance to fix our traffic problems, but once it became clear that his authority was hamstrung, off he went back to the land of Stanford and Page Mill Road. His resignation has prompted a scathing memo from Stephen Wheeler , the chair of the city's transportation commission. In addition to Kott's departure, Wheeler wrote, "About six months ago our new transportation engineer, Jeff Knowles , also quit in part for similar reasons. That position is still vacant. Two longtime transportation planners, Nathan Landau and Rochelle Wheeler , have also left in the last six months or so for other reasons. This leaves us with virtually no staff to carry out transportation-related planning and engineering functions."
This isn't the only Rucker initiative that has fallen apart. For months, Rucker has been trying to create an Environmental Services Department, which would combine the city's solid waste services, toxics management, energy officials, and the Environmental Health Division into one integrated group. But department heads balked at splitting off their functions, and the project is reportedly dead in the water. Word is that the only way Rucker could have hammered the plan through would be to fire some of the more reluctant higher-ups, and he's not a man to issue pink slips casually.
The PEN awards--given to writers for excellence in multicultural literature-- are supposed to provoke pride, not terror. But this year before the PEN Oakland National Literary Awards ceremony, Rabbi Michael Lerner , editor of Jewish bimonthly Tikkun and author of Spirit Matters, started receiving death threats. Lerner's support for Palestine has made him the target of a hate Web site that published his picture and instructions for getting to his home. Lerner is one of three authors to receive the Literary Censorship Award this year--another one went to Daily Californian editor-in-chief Daniel Hernandez , who touched off a controversy earlier this year when the paper ran David Horowitz 's ad arguing against reparation payments to the families of former slaves.
It was Wednesday, and the UC Board of Regents was huddled in a conference room at UC San Francisco figuring out what to do with SP-1 and SP-2, the resolutions they passed in 1995 that outlawed affirmative action. Should they overturn them, as the hundreds of students massed outside were demanding? (After all, minority admissions throughout the UC system had dropped after '95, especially at prestigious institutions like UC Berkeley's Boalt law school.) Or should they do something more moderate? Meanwhile, in Washington, DC, Cal alum and US Representative Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) was fretting. She'd been hearing rumors of compromises and what she calls "all kinds of shenanigans," so, expecting the worst, Lee fired off a strongly worded message to the board pushing for a full repeal of SP-1 and SP-2, calling the six-year period since they were instituted "a sad chapter ... at one of the finest public university systems in the country."
And then, surprisingly enough, on Thursday the regents did just that--and unanimously. You can imagine the delight of the thousands of students and activists who had been supporting the resolutions' repeal for years. "I was shocked," says Lee. "I was totally shocked." And who wouldn't be--the 22-0 vote included a total about-face by Regent Ward Connerly , the state's loudest mouthpiece for the end of affirmative action. The victory is mostly a symbolic one--state Proposition 209, passed in 1996, still prohibits using race or gender preferences as a factor in hiring or public university admissions processes--and the more cynical among us have pointed out that the overturn of SP-1-and-2 is more of a face-saving move for the UC system than anything. But there's no doubt that the regents' decision has helped build steam for the movement to outlaw Prop. 209 itself--and with Pete Wilson gone, the people of California may be more easily convinced. Says Lee, "The moral persuasion of the students, the facts, the figures, the reality of what has happened since this horrible measure took place--you cannot ignore that if you are a person of conscience."
Far be it from Seven Days to say something nice, but just to keep y'all on your toes, that is just what we are going to do. Now that Mother's Day is all wrapped up, we at 7 Days highly recommend a quick trip to the Oakland Rose Garden on Jean Street, just off Grand Avenue. "Ah," you say, "Roses in Oakland?" Well, yes.
Every Mother's Day the rose garden awards a "mother of the year" award and the gardeners time all their buds to go off around the holiday. The names alone will keep you entertained: "Winning Colors," "Christopher Columbus," "Lavaglut" (all ready to burn through the pavement with its fiery red!), "Desert Peach" (impossible but true!), and even a blazing field of dark, glowing-red "Ingrid Bergman"--all ready for an existential crisis.
As its name implies, the bright, huge, pale-yellow blooms of "Celebrity" are already fading fast. You'll see the baby-yellow phosphorous flares of "Shining Hour" and a mass of pinky-white "Pride of Oakland" marching up the hillside, framing the stepped bright-blue fountains leading to the spot where an inordinate number of weddings are celebrated. The Mother's Day walk, celebrated with brass plaques on the ground, is graced by a virtual arbor of small white buds held aloft by spindly brown trunks.
So grab your Sudafed, a thermos of tea, and a favorite mystery novel, and plunk your tush down amongst the flowers. Go on, you deserve it. Everybody should have a day or two where they just stop and smell the flowers. Really.
The Alameda County Board of Supervisors last week voted to go ahead with plans to build an expanded juvenile detention center in Dublin, despite the angry shouts and admonitions from activists gathered at the meeting. The center will include 540 beds for juvenile offenders, nearly double that of the seriously overcrowded 299-bed juvenile hall in San Leandro. The action came despite the fact that the California Board of Corrections, perhaps influenced by the protests, had voted to give Alameda County only enough money for 330 beds. "The Board of Corrections figured they could satisfy Sacramento's need by funding it, and could satisfy the youth's needs by withholding a small portion of [the funding]," said supervisor Scott Haggerty . Undaunted by the $2 million funding deficit, the supes will go ahead with the full plan believing they will find the remaining money somewhere. The new facility should be in operation by the end of 2004.
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