Road to Defeat 

Extra! Bush, Kerry trounce Cobb! Why do Berkeley workers keep destroying Trish Tripp's murals? and ANG plays musical publishers.

Green Party candidate David Cobb was soundly defeated yesterday in his bid to be president of the United States. That's the one thing Feeder can say for sure, since this newspaper inconveniently went to press before the polls closed and the media could declare Thomas Dewey the winner. Sure, there are red states and blue states, but there are no green states and so, even without the luxury of always-reliable exit polling, it's safe to say that Cobb is not our president-elect. At least, unless his national fund-raising director Leslie Bonett of Oakland gets the wish she expressed before the election: "I keep hoping for a miracle."

Yeah. Like what? A midair collision between Bush and Kerry's planes, she says. Okay, Leslie, we know you're joking, but don't be surprised if you get a call from the Secret Service.

Cobb's campaign wasn't helped by a split in the party, which is sort of ironic considering the Greens like to do everything by consensus. The Alameda County Green Party wound up recommending both Cobb andRalph Nader, who couldn't get on the ballot in California but qualified as a write-in.

Cobb made a final push over the weekend, renting an enviro-conscious Honda hybrid to drive from SoCal through the Bay Area for a few campaign stops and ultimately to his home up in Eureka. Bonett says there had been some talk in the campaign about renting a Ford Escape, the brand-new hybrid SUV. Bonett says she suggested the Escape, thinking perhaps Ford might loan it to the campaign for a positive media spin. In the end, that idea got nixed because Greens feared people might mistakenly think Cobb was driving a gas-guzzler. "No matter what you say," she says, "people would see an SUV."

The Cursed Muralist
Last year Feeder reported that a Berkeley Public Works crew had accidentally used panels from a $10,000 mural being stored at the corporation yard to shore up an underground trench. "The Bicycle Mural," which once hung at Berkeley High School, has since been deemed unsalvageable because of the extensive damage to the painting -- that and the fact the city lost two of the other panels, according to the mural's creator, Trish Tripp.

Tripp just might be cursed when it comes to the preservation of her artwork. She's in town again this week, down from Portland, to repair another defaced mural of hers in Berkeley. This one, an homage to People's Park and the homeless that covers the length of the southside wall of Wicked, the store at the corner of Haste and Telegraph, was first the victim of taggers. But Tripp and her collaborators Elvi Jo Dougherty and Berkeley artist Edythe Boone were prepared for taggers when they painted the mural in 1998. They covered it with a protective sealant that would allow graffiti to be removed without damaging the artwork, which was originally sponsored by the Ecumenical Chaplaincy to the Homeless.

What they didn't count on was damage done by the graffiti abaters. That's right: The leaders of the Telegraph Business Improvement District (BID), a city-sponsored network of local merchants, covered up the graffiti, and thus the mural, with ugly splotches of gray paint in the fall of 2002. Cleaning up graffiti is one of the improvement district's primary goals.

Tripp is trying to see the bright side. "It's a blessing in disguise," she told Feeder while taking a short break from painting last week. "We get to put new life and new energy into the mural."

She and her partners also got an apology and up to $17,000 from the BID leadership to restore the mural. San Francisco attorney Brooke Oliver, who represented the muralists, says federal and state laws protect original works of art from destruction or modification without consent of the artist.

The big question now is where the mural will go once it's fixed. Rasputin Records kingpin Ken Sarachan has submitted plans to develop the vacant lot next to the building where the mural -- painted on movable panels -- now resides. If the lot gets developed, the mural will be obscured again -- this time by a multistory building. Boone says they are looking for another home for the painting.

And hey, if there are no takers, the city Public Works department always has storage space available.

Oops, Publisher Exploded Again
Over the past couple of years, the position of publisher at ANG Newspapers, formerly the Alameda Newspaper Group, has been the equivalent of being the drummer for Spinal Tap. One minute you're the new backbone of papers such as the Oakland Tribune, Tri-Valley Herald, or Argus, and the next you're the victim of spontaneous combustion -- or combustible personalities. First P. Scott McKibben left abruptly in early 2003, whereupon Dean Singleton, chief of ANG's parent company, Denver-based MediaNews Group, tapped Beverly Jackson for the job. She lasted less than six months. Ian Lamont, who'd been publisher at the Long Beach Press-Telegram, took over as publisher at the beginning of this year. He lasted only until July.

Lamont, however, has resurfaced, filing a lawsuit against ANG a couple of weeks ago in Alameda County Superior Court for wrongful termination and disability discrimination. In the complaint, Lamont says he was reluctant to take the post "because ANG had a reputation of being in disarray." But MediaNews Chief Operating Officer Jerry Grilly threw a lot of money at him, and Lamont agreed to move north to be ANG's chief exec. According to the suit, Lamont had his work cut out for him: "Employee morale was rock bottom. Senior management positions were vacant, including the senior advertising executive, whom Grilly fired the day before Lamont started." Lamont's task was made even harder by his chronic fatigue syndrome, which he says required him to sometimes work from home or take short rests in his office with the door closed.

Grilly plays a prominent role in the lawsuit, which makes him sound like the boss from hell. During Lamont's first annual budget review, it claims, Grilly "openly demeaned" everyone in the room. After the meeting, Lamont privately protested to his boss, pointing out all the hard work he'd done in spite of his disability. Apparently Grilly didn't know about the chronic fatigue thing. "Do you have any other fucking problems?" the lawsuit quotes Grilly as saying. Grilly canned Lamont a month later without explanation.

Feeder managed to catch up with Grilly on his cell phone to ask about the lawsuit. "I have absolutely no comment whatsoever," he grumbled.

So much for all my other fucking questions.

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