Welcome to Seven Days, where we can absolutely guarantee that no one will throw any shoes at you and scream, "This is a farewell kiss, dog!" during the reading of this column. Let's go to press!
Don Perata's Funny Money
As Don Perata watched his last term as state senator expire, many Sacto observers wondered why he kept hanging around town. After all, Darrell Steinberg was waiting in the wings to take over as Senate president. What could he possibly be doing?
Last week, Oakland Tribune reporter Josh Richman hit upon a piece of the answer: Perata was using the clout of his Senate presidency to raise cash as long as he could. Ostensibly, the money, raised under Perata's Leadership California committee, was supposed to fight the governor's redistricting ballot measure. Funny, then, how there was still $1.5 million left in the coffers on Election Day. And even funnier how the day after the election, Perata transferred that wad into his personal legal defense fund to deal with any corruption charges that may or may not be brought by the US Attorney. Yeah, that Don Perata. What a laugh riot.
This ain't exactly the first time the Don's pulled a fund-raising bait-and-switch; a couple years back, this paper caught him seeding the legal defense fund with cash that was supposedly going to help him get elected to the obscure and decidedly unrewarding Board of Equalization. As Richman noted last week, most donors don't really care what Perata wants the money for. They're buying access, not donating to causes they care deeply about. Still, Perata's lingering around the capitol became so unseemly that the Sacramento Bee actually penned an editorial begging him to leave town.
Chauncey Bailey Blunder
You may recall that the San Francisco Chronicle reported that the cops had interviewed an associate of Your Black Muslim Bakery leader Yusuf Bey IV, who allegedly gloated as he watched television news accounts of the murder of reporter Chauncey Bailey. And then, of course, they proceeded to lose the interview, and only discovered it buried in a file two months ago. Police representatives have constantly defended their dubious performance in the Bailey case, but they couldn't defend this and finally apologized for screwing up last week. A few days later, homicide chief Lt. Ersie Joyner III and veteran investigator Derwin Longmire were transferred to patrol; police representatives insist the transfers were routine, but everyone noticed how closely they followed upon the heels of the latest blunder.
People Are Mean to John Yoo
Last week, the Berkeley City Council voted to call on the incoming Attorney General and the local US Attorney to charge Boalt law professor John Yoo with "war crimes," for his role in developing the legal framework to torture people in Guantanamo Bay. The scene was a mess; people showed up dressed in the orange jumpsuits and black hoods of Gitmo prisoners, and City Councilman Max Anderson cried as he recalled watching people tortured in Vietnam. But the council stopped short of calling on UC Berkeley to rearrange student schedules so no one has to take Yoo's classes. That's because, it turns out, no one has to in the first place. So there's that.
Meanwhile, it seems that some Berkeley children are breathing industrial poison. Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency released a long report ranking 128,000 schools around the country according to their exposure to toxic emissions. And three West Berkeley schools (Black Pine Circle, the Nia House Learning Center, and the Via Center) ranked among the most toxic environments in America. The Trib identified Pacific Steel Casting, the Gilman Street foundry a mile up the way, as a major contributor; the foundry produces quite a fair bit of manganese as a byproduct of its work.
You're Too Fat, Unless You're a Raiders Fan
Seriously, what is it with the Oakland Raiders? It's bad enough they're limping into the end of a losing season, and Al Davis acts like he's swapped his lithium for mescaline. Now comes a report from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which states the Oakland Coliseum serves the second-most vegetarian-friendly fare in America! Next Sunday, we wanna see each grubby fist wrapped around a barbecued pork rib. But don't go too crazy. Last week, the United Health Foundation declared that California's obesity rate had doubled since 1990, that some 23 percent of the state's residents are now significantly overweight, and that California is the ninth fattest state in the union.
State education evaluators have recommended that the state Department of Education return control of the Oakland school district to local hands. ... The Oakland Housing Authority settled a nuisance lawsuit with the City of Oakland, agreeing to attend neighborhood crime prevention meetings, regularly inspect its properties, and set up a center to handle complaints from neighbors and residents. Many of the Housing Authority's properties have been horribly blighted and serve as crime and drug magnets. ... Atlanta rapper T.I. told a group of West Oakland children that guns and violence are bad; the hip-hop star shared this bit of wisdom as part of a plea agreement, after he was caught trying to buy illegal machine guns and silencers.
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