Monday, October 30, 2006

How to Lose Your Appetite: Surf Restaurant Sanitation Reports

by John Birdsall
Mon, Oct 30, 2006 at 3:23 PM

Scary, the CoCo County eateries busted for creepy-crawlies, or for not making sure the prep cooks wash up after toilet time. Restaurant inspection reports are public domain, and Contra Costa Health Services has an easy-to-use site that breaks it down in gory detail. Who's clean? A random search gave thumbs up to Lafayette's Pizza Antica and The Peasant & the Pear in Danville. Who's been busted? Let's just say that when Concord's Elephant Bar closed for a day in August, it wasn't for inventory.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Buy Curious: October 27, 2006

by Lauren Gard
Sat, Oct 28, 2006 at 3:23 PM

Welcome to the first edition of the East Bay Express' new shopping and style report, Buy Curious! Every Friday, we'll post photos of the fashion fabulous of the East Bay, as well as news on store openings, closings, new items, and sales.

StyleFile #1: "Ninety percent of my wardrobe is vintage."

Who: Kyla Haskins, 40

Spotted: Upper Rockridge, hanging clothes on a rack outside a shop

Wearing: Vintage linen skirt, menswear vest buttoned over modern-era tank top, vintage men's fedora, Macy's-brand heels she bought two years ago and revamped using velvet piping and grosgrain ribbon, four-strand vintage pearl necklace and five-strand vintage pearl bracelet.

Gigs: 1) Buyer for Soiree, a boutique stashed with sumptuous, meticulously restored vintage frocks and accessories. "I buy vintage but keep up with the trends designers are showing. Everything looks fresh, but it's old." 2) Shoe revisionist. Bring her that tired pair you just can't part with and she'll render them both current and gorgeous for as little as $20. Or stop by the store and get on her mailing list to score an invite to her next shoe party.

Life altering experience: Reading Coco Chanel's autobiography when she was 16.

Style Tip: Spray fabric shoes with Scotchguard before you wear them. Most stores will spray them for you at the time of purchase, but you've gotta ask. Doing this makes cleaning them as simple as a single swipe-dirt will literally disappear.

(Soiree, 5405 College Ave., Oakland. (510) 601-5822. Hours: Wed.-Fri. 12-5; Sat. 11-5) **Soiree is currently having a fantastic sale!

Shop Talk

Store opening: Favor

Finally! Jewelry that's whimsical, modern and bold-and still so darn pretty! After landing her pieces in more than 500 stores and countless magazine spreads, Caramia Visick decided it was high time to settle down. Lucky for us, she chose Oakland. Even luckier, her husband is a chef, and his savory treats will be yours for the sampling at Favor's opening celebration all weekend. Go ahead, have some bubbly, too. You've got to actually buy the jewelry, but don't worry-with stunners that start at $24 and rarely tip $100, you can afford to.

(Favor, 5337 College Ave., Oakland. (510) 653-2741. Hours: Wed.-Sat. 11-6; Sun. 12-5; closed Mon. & Tues. Website: coming soon.)

Island Couture: Time to throw out the capris. M Zoe Couture promises to bring high fashion to the sleepy suburban town of Alameda. The upscale boutique, which debuted earlier this month in a red carpet affair, carries lines like Donald J Pliner, C&C California, and Nicole Miller. Judging by the long gowns in the window, owner Rafael Henry Perez can definitely help Alamedans up their fashion a notch or two.

(M Zoe Couture, 1424 Park St., Alameda. (510) 814-6950. Hours: Mon.-Fri. 10-8; Sat. 10-7; Sun. 10-6)

Dish to Carry Dishes: Beloved Berkeley boutique Dish is remodeling its upstairs in preparation for a new section of houseware items, notecards, and possibly baby-wear. The new items will be unveiled at a special opening/ten-year anniversary celebration on Friday, November 3 at 6 p.m. Owner Desiree Alexander has repurposed the upstairs section several times since the store's opening - first carrying menswear, then shoes, then lingerie and handbags. We hope this new twist will stick 'cause we're a sucker for pretty cards.

(Dish, 2981 College Ave., Berkeley. (510) 540-4784. Hours: Mon.-Fri. 10-6. Sat. 11-6; Sun. 11-5)

Denim Habit? If you're looking for designer denim at discounted prices, look no further than Habit. This College Ave. store, which opened six months ago, carries lines like Hudson , Yanuk, and James Jeans, which retail for upwards of $200 for about $60. Most are bootcut, however, so don't expect to find any skinny-leg styles.

(Habit, 5467 College Ave., Oakland. (510) 652-2247. Hours: Mon.-Sat. 11-6)

All They Need Is Abercrombie & Fitch: J Crew unveiled its first East Bay store on October 17 at the growing Broadway Plaza Shopping Center in Walnut Creek. The preppy brand carries affordable, bright cashmere sweaters, great gifts for the holidays, though the quality is a little questionable. In any case, it's just one more step toward making WC a more viable alternative to San Francisco for East Bay shoppers.

(J Crew, 1279 Broadway Plaza, Space C14, Walnut Creek. (925) 943-7664. Hours: Mon.-Fri. 10-9; Sat. 10-7; Sun. 10-6. Web site:

We want to hear from you! Tips? Openings? Sales? New Items? Closings? Sales? Send them to us! and Kathleen Richards

Back to 92510, the East Bay Express news blog.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Berkeley Commissioner Serves Two Places at Once

by Will Harper
Fri, Oct 27, 2006 at 3:23 PM

Michael St. John, a member of Berkeley's Housing Advisory Commission, is also a member of Mendocino County's Historical Review Board. St. John has served on both boards simultaneously for the past year. Read on to see how he can get away with it.

St. John, who was appointed by Councilman Gordon Wozniak , assures us he that legally he can serve in two places at once. He's registered to vote in Mendocino, where he has a weekend home, so he can serve there, he says. But because Berkeley is his primary residence, St. John says the rules allow him to serve in the college town too.

Tenant activists no doubt recognize St. John's name. For years, he represented landlords fighting Berkeley's Rent Stabilization Board. These days, however, St. John says he mostly deals with condo conversions. Guess what the biggest housing issue on the horizon is for the housing commission? That's right, condo conversions.

Back to 92510, the East Bay Express news blog.

Exclusive: More Trouble for Tailor Indicted in FBI Corruption Probe of Oakland City Hall

by Will Harper
Fri, Oct 27, 2006 at 3:23 PM

The City of Oakland has filed suit against Maurice Himy, who was recently indicted for allegedly shaking down a city contractor, to collect in $181,678 he owes in back rent and fees. Himy used to operate Spaccio, a men's clothing store in Frank Ogawa Plaza in a space he rented from the city until March, when he went out of business. Follow the jump to see the special deal the city gave Himy to try to keep his clothing business afloat.

Frank Fanelli, the city's real estate director, says the city tried to help Himy by cutting his rent in half. Himy promised to pay more for rent once business got better, but it never did, Fanelli says. Fanelli described it as a "work out" deal, one that banks often offer.

Fanelli said the city likes to help businesses like Spaccio succeed, which is why they agreed to the deal with Himy. He acknowledged that Himy was the first and only retailer to get the "work out" deal from the city. He described it as a "test case."

The city filed to collect the money on September 28, two weeks after federal prosecutors filed an extortion charge against Himy. At first blush, the timing of the collections suit is fishy. City Hall sources say FBI agents, who interviewed several city department heads after Himy's arrest, were suspicious of a rent-break the city had offered to Himy but not other retailers.

But Bill Noland, Oakland's finance director, says that the timing of the lawsuit had nothing to do with the federal probe. He said the finance department referred the issue to a collections agency before the scandal broke.

Himy was a good friend of Jacques Barzhagi, the longtime advisor to Mayor Jerry Brown who was fired in July 2004 after a brush with the law in a domestic dispute. Prosecutors say Himy also boasted of having a pay-to-play relationship with someone identified in court papers only as "City Official A." City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente has acknowledged he is City Official A, but denies doing anything wrong or illegal.

Back to 92510, the East Bay Express news blog.

Shocker: City Vendors Give to Oakland Library Campaign

by Will Harper
Fri, Oct 27, 2006 at 3:23 PM

The Oakland Residents for Peaceful Neighborhoods details some of the special interest donations to the Measure N campaign to build a downtown Taj MaLibrary.

Judge Says San Ramon Day Care Provider Must Stand Trial

by Jonathan Kaminsky
Fri, Oct 27, 2006 at 3:23 PM

Last November, a ten-month-old baby suffered severe brain injuries while in the care of Navy Saha. Prosecutors at a preliminary hearing said the day care provider caused the damage by shaking the baby. Judge Robert Barclay ruled Wednesday that she must stand trial for child abuse, reports the Contra Costa Times.

SF Supes Race Goes Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em

Fri, Oct 27, 2006 at 3:23 PM

Hey, did you know it's election season on the other side of the bay, too? SF District 6 Supervisor Chris Daly has picked up some media flak recently thanks to this ad, which takes a not terribly subtle swipe at the ... er, youthfulness of San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom's girlfriend -- not that Daly is running against the mayor. But c'mon, let's not take this too seriously, people! This is an ad that stars a sock puppet snarfing an ice cream sandwich! -- Kara Platoni

Faxploitation: I Hooked Up a Trader Joe's -- Vote for Me!

by Jonathan Kaminsky
Fri, Oct 27, 2006 at 3:23 PM

Pat Kerninghanmay not be getting the courage assist from OakPAC she'd been counting on down the stretch, but she can at least claim credit for bringing a new Trader Joe's to the neighborhood. According to a campaign press release, Lake Merrittites will be able to get their Joe's O's and frozen edamame without venturing over to Emeryville starting in early 2007, all thanks to the tireless efforts of the councilwoman's staff. It will go in the old Albertsons on Lakeshore Avenue. "YES," Kerninghan summarizes, "I GOT A TRADER JOE'S!" The press release after the jump.

    Trader Joe's is Coming Soon to Lakeshore Avenue Albertsons

    I am delighted to announce that at long last my efforts have paid off . . .Yes, the first Trader Joe's in Oakland will open in the old Lakeshore Avenue Albertsons building in early 2007. After considerable community advocacy organized by my office and months of negotiations, Sansome Pacific and Trader Joe's have signed a lease to open a Trader Joe's store on Lakeshore Avenue.

    The neighborhood has long hoped for this result. In response to my on-line survey, over 800 people wrote in to say that they wanted a food store in that location, and the great majority favored a Trader Joe's. For months, when I've been out in the neighborhoods, the question I'm most often asked is "What's happening at the old Albertsons? Can you get a Trader Joe's?" It took a long time, and it wasn't easy, but the answer is YES, I GOT A TRADER JOE'S!

    The exterior of the store will get a facelift, and at my insistence, the loading dock will be moved from the back of the store (Wesley Way) to the side (Lakepark), so as not to disturb the Wesley residents in the early morning hours.

    Many of our Grand Lake area seniors and folks without cars will be very happy that they can once again buy groceries within walking distance of their homes. And I've heard from many, many moms and dads with young families that they will be frequent customers. I am very pleased that we were successful in getting a store that the community really wanted.

    Councilmember Pat Kernighan

    P.S. Please be sure to check out my office's City Council website for more information and updates about the timetable for Trader Joe's opening.

Back to 92510, the East Bay Express news blog.

The East Bay Today: October 27,2006

Fri, Oct 27, 2006 at 3:23 PM

Today's Top Event: Ajamu Akinyele & Gemini Soul perform Friday at Shelby's in Orinda.

Brainiac: Learn something new every day. Today's lecture: Zen Pioneer author Isabel Stirling with poet Gary Snyder at Black Oak Books.

Is It Lunch Yet? Express food critic John Birdsall recommends: the EJ Phair Brewing Company and Alehouse in Concord.

On the Town: Going out tonight? Germans, pirates and bier, oh my! at the Speisekammer in Alameda.

Hardly Working: You've got time. We know how to waste it. Check out Cute Overload.

Feed Us: Got an East Bay news tip, photo, video or link we need to know about? E-mail us.

Faxploitation: Green Is Just Another Word For Nothing Left to Lose

by Kara Platoni
Fri, Oct 27, 2006 at 3:23 PM

It's getting pretty late in the election run-up, but the California Green Party has decided it's finally time to launch their first round of TV and radio ads for perpetual gubernatorial candidate Peter Camejo, and it looks like they've taken a page from the political playbook of Kinky Friedman, the outside candidate for the Texas gov's seat whose unforgettable campaign slogan is "Why the hell not?" The Cal Green's ad blitz is aimed at Democrats, and their pitch goes like this: Angelides can't win, so you might as well vote your conscience. True, votes for the Greens will help build the party, even if Camejo can't win either. And also true, as of today, Schwarzenneger is polling 18 points ahead of Angelides statewide. But with thirteen percent of the electorate still undecided, doesn't this sound an awful lot like an argument we heard back in 2000? The full press release after the jump.

    URGENT NEWS ADVISORY Thursday, October 26, 2006

    ATTN: Political Desk

    Camejo for Governor campaign launches first-ever TV, radio blitz; Camejo declares race 'over,' asks voters to vote for him, not Angelides

    SACRAMENTO - The Camejo for Governor Campaign announced here today it has launched - for the first time ever in a Green Party gubernatorial race - a statewide radio and television campaign.

    In the spots, Green Party candidate Peter Camejo, urges voters to not vote for Democratic Party candidate Phil Angelides.

    "The race for governor is over. Once again the democrats have handed the governorship to the republicans," said Camejo in one of the spots, directed at Democratic Party and other voters, who often say they want to vote for Camejo and other Greens but don't want to hurt the chances of democrat candidates.

    "You're (now) free to vote who whoever you want. A vote for the Green Party, which opposes war, the Patriot Act, that is against the death penalty and three strikes, that will tax the rich and corporations. It would be a powerful vote for peace, fair taxes, funding education, universal healthcare and to save our planet," Camejo said.

    The modest buy will include network and cable television, and radio time, in the Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento markets. Radio spots have already begun, and television ads are expected to begin early next week.

    Contributions for the advertising campaign - unlike the democratic and republican parties, who received obscene special interests monies - come entirely from small donations from individuals. The spots were created using volunteers.

    The Camejo campaign is not alone in pioneering mass media buys this election season. Dr. Forrest Hill, the Green Secretary of State candidate, already has television and radio spots running statewide, and many other Green candidates are running radio campaigns' for the first time.

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