Thursday, December 21, 2006

Exclusive: Jerry-Anne Twofer in Attorney General's Office Still a Strong Possibility

by Will Harper
Thu, Dec 21, 2006 at 3:25 PM

Attorney General-elect Jerry Brown told the Oakland Tribune he won't be "hiring" wife, Anne Gust, to work for him in the AG's office. That's technically true � he won't be "hiring" her or even paying her a salary. However, Brown is investigating whether Gust can work for him as a volunteer entitled to travel reimbursements and workers' comp, according to a public document obtained by the Express.

In a December 19 letter to the Fair Political Practices Commission, James Humes, the chief assistant attorney general of the civil division, asks whether Gust can work as a volunteer for Brown. "In short," the letter says, "we ask whether the Political Reform Act prohibits or restricts the Attorney General Elect from appointing his spouse ... to work as a volunteer in the Department of Justice in a formal executive-level position once he assumes office."

It's unclear what that "formal executive-level position" would be. In the Tribune today, Brown said his wife wouldn't be replacing the outgoing chief deputy for administration and policy, who oversees the executive staff and 3,000 non-attorney workers.

Humes asks for a prompt reply because Brown takes office January 8, "and some organizational decisions affecting the Department's more than 5,000 employees could be deferred pending receipt of your advice."

Jon Matthews, a spokesman for the FPPC, says the commission is preparing a written response to Humes' letter. That advice letter will be a public document, he says.

Tom Dresslar, a spokesman for the attorney general's office, left a message for the Express saying Brown had not inquired about whether his wife could work for him. When the Express called back for clarification, Dresslar stuck to his guns and said Brown indeed had not asked about whether Gust could work for him. As to whether she could volunteer for her husband, Dresslar said that was an entirely different question. Fucking lawyers.

Humes will stay on in the Brown administration, although not in the same job: He'll take over as chief deputy attorney general for legal affairs.

Back to 92510, the East Bay Express news blog.

After the Quake, Get Your InterWeb Geek On

by Lauren Gard
Thu, Dec 21, 2006 at 3:25 PM

Find yourself pondering the meaning of life after the earthquake in Berkeley last night? No? Okay, so maybe the 3.7-magnitude quake wasn't exactly a biggie. Still, take two minutes to complete a questionnaire at the bare-bones yet fascinating US Geological Survey Web site. Then, check out the data compiled from the more than 7,000 reports to see how other folks in your ZIP code reacted. In our case, 181 of our Emeryville neighbors took the survey, resulting in an average quake intensity rating of 4 ("light") on a scale of one to ten. The long-distance award goes to the one person in Eugene, Oregon, 689 miles away, who reported feeling the jolt. (Hey, we're not saying the site is objective!)

At Last, A Name for Castro Valley Jane Doe

by Kara Platoni
Thu, Dec 21, 2006 at 3:25 PM

For those of you who remember The Vexing Mystery of Jane Doe, the more than three-year hunt by the Alameda County Sheriff's Department for the identity of a murdered teenage girl discovered in a dumpster behind a Castro Valley Carrow's restaurant, on Wednesday night the mystery reached its endgame with the revelation of the victim's name: Yesenia Nungaray. The teenager from Yahualica in the Jalisco state of Mexico had come to the United States on her sixteenth birthday, and had briefly lived in Hayward with Miguel Angel Nunez-Castaneda, a former Carrow's dishwasher who is now considered a "person of interest" in her death, and who had returned to Mexico shortly thereafter.

Sheriff's deputies had doggedly pursued the case, confused as to why no one had come looking for a young girl who seemed so healthy and well-dressed, even after they had widely circulated forensic artists' sketches of Jane Doe, images of a 3-D model created of her head, and even pictures of the outfit she was found in. (All of which, by the way, did not do justice to what a pretty girl she was, judging by the actual photos of her now being released by NBC 11, which also has video of an investigator recapping how the investigation was conducted.) Some deputies broke into sobs in front of news crews last night when they announced that they had finally located the girl's mother thanks to a trip to Mexico to pass out fliers of the sketches. It's not the Christmas miracle Yesenia's family was no doubt hoping for, but it's certainly a testament to the hard work of a group of investigators who would not give up.

Back to 92510, the East Bay Express news blog.

The East Bay Today: December 21, 2006

Thu, Dec 21, 2006 at 3:25 PM

Today's Top Event: Circus Finelli, a fearsome foursome fresh from the Clown Conservatory, at Julia Morgan Center for the Arts in Berkeley.

Brainiac: Learn something new every day. Today's lecture: Mandy Cheung teaches students about the guzheng, or Chinese zither at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center

Is It Lunch Yet? Express food critic John Birdsall recommends: Nibblers Eatery in Pleasant Hill.

On the Town: Going out tonight? Check out the underground jazz hideaway, cafe and bar at the Jazzschool.

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

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

Ignacio De La Fuente Sends Message to God, Mayor-elect

by Will Harper
Thu, Dec 21, 2006 at 3:25 PM

Oakland City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente took the very unusual step of temporarily giving up his seat as council chairman Tuesday night and handing the gavel to a colleague. The move allowed De La Fuente to personally make the motion approving outgoing Mayor Jerry Brown's last-second appointment to the Port Commission. The mayor made the appointment even though Mayor-elect Ron Dellums had asked Brown to refrain from doing so. "I wanted to make sure nobody else took the heat for it," De La Fuente said of his decision to play musical chairs and make the motion himself. Hmmm, sounds fishy.

Councilmembers Jean Quan and Henry Chang will no doubt get heat from the Chinatown Chamber for not insisting on an Asian appointee. No, Nacho musta had another reason to make the symbolic gesture. "Also," De La Fuente allows, "it was an interesting message." A message to whom? "God," he cackled.

Well, we hope that De La Fuente isn't in the habit of telling God, "Fuck you," because that's what the message was for those reading between the lines. We suspect, however, his message wasn't intended for God, but for Dellums, who defeated De La Fuente in June. Dellums had lobbied council members not to vote for Brown's port commission appointee, Mark McClure, according to the Oakland Tribune.

De La Fuente will be a force to be reckoned with once Dellums takes office January 8. If you believe a story in the Sunday Oakland Tribune, De La Fuente is poised to be re-elected by his colleagues as city council generalissimo for another two years.

Back to 92510, the East Bay Express news blog.

Grease Trap: MediaNews Sections Serve Warmed-Over Food Coverage

by John Birdsall
Thu, Dec 21, 2006 at 3:25 PM

It's been brewing for months, but today the consolidation of MediaNews weekly food sections boiled over. "Holiday Memories, Latin Flavors," Merc Latino culture writer Javier Erik Olvera's sweet reminiscence of Christmas, is the main feature in all three dailies: the San Jose Mercury News, Contra Costa Times, and Oakland Tribune. Sure, all three food sections have been picking up some of each other's stories a week or more after they originally ran, and evidence of homogeneous coverage has been percolating through the news pages for months.

But today's food sections set a new precedent. The Trib even makes a weak attempt at fudging the fact that Olvera's story is rooted in the Merc, built around recipes from Latino co-workers. In the Merc, Olvera's story refers to recipe contributor Natalie Martinez as "an editor in Features," but in the Trib Martinez is simply an editor: maybe for the Merc, maybe for corporate publications in Kansas City. Who knows?

Before the MediaNews deal, original stories in weekly food sections skewed diligently local. Freelancers had to root stories in the papers' readership areas, with neighborhood sourcing guides and quotes from local chefs and home cooks. After today, that no longer appears to be strictly true. Bad news for readers. Really bad news for budding food writers, since Wednesday food sections have been places where novice freelancers had a chance of seeing print.

Eat Local for Christmas � Take an Hour's Drive for Groceries

The Chron goes local for the holidays, with a cover feature on how to cook a feast sourced from within a hundred-mile radius of the city. Cool, but authors Georgeanne Brennan and Ann M. Evans come face to face with one of the biggest challenges for the uber-green carnivore: finding locally raised pork. The authors recommend getting local pork loin from Manteca, Santa Cruz, or at the Sacramento farmers' market, as well as from Prather Ranch in the Ferry Building (with pigs raised in the Capay Valley). Can't someone start raising heritage piggies a bit closer, maybe, say, Livermore?

But Will He Make Headcheese for Banh Mi?

Chris Cosentino, chef of San Francisco's Incanto restaurant and an organ-meat obsessive, will soon be twisting up salame on International Boulevard. The Chron reports that Cosentino and Mark Pastore have bought the Moniz Portuguese Sausage factory at International and 20th in Oakland, and hope to start production as soon as they can get permits. It'll be called Boccalone, which according to the Chron is "obscure Italian slang for someone with a big mouth." Is this the first step toward culinary gentrification on a street devoted to birria and pho?

Back to 92510, the East Bay Express news blog.

The War on Errors

by Kathleen Richards
Thu, Dec 21, 2006 at 3:25 PM

It's a sad day in the news business when someone can devote a whole blog to mistakes reporters make. And as consolidation and layoffs continue in the media biz, it's likely we'll see a whole lot more of them. Regret the Error highlights some of the biggest mishaps, such as a headline in the Fresno Bee that incorrectly stated that soccer player Andrew Jude Thompson was found guilty of killing his father, when he was arrested on suspicion of murder. The site also has links to the Corrections pages of some local papers, including the Contra Costa Times , the San Francisco Chronicle , and In the interest of full disclosure, we're guilty of some mistakes, too, such as confusing a producer by the name of Jay-Z that worked with rapper Saafir, with the famous Jay-Z in our Nov. 22 issue. Want to see something really scary? Check out the blog's 2006 Plagiarism/Fabrication Round-Up.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Essential Travel Tip for People Flying with Infants

by Lauren Gard
Wed, Dec 20, 2006 at 3:25 PM

Don't put a baby through the X-ray machine at airport security, like a woman did at LAX over the weekend. Biggest shocker? It wasn't Britney Spears.

You Write Too Long: This Week's Cover Story Bite-Sized

by Kelly Vance
Wed, Dec 20, 2006 at 3:25 PM

This Week, "The Best Movies of 2006": Nikki Finke of the LA Weekly predicts we'll be up to our jumbo Cherry Cokes in sequels at this time next year. At last, a reason to embrace the future. The looming Writers Guild and SAG strikes won't help the situation. Good thing we've laid in a stock of old Hammer horror films to see us through 2007 and possibly 2008. Reviewer Jim Ridley talks to director Alfonso Cuar�n (Children of Men), who reckons we're tired of jump cuts. Dude's got something there. Filmmaker James Longley updates writer Rob Nelson on the Iraqis seen in Longley's documentary, Iraq in Fragments. Amazingly, some of them are apparently still alive. Clint Eastwood tells Scott Foundas that if he never makes another movie, that's fine with him -- which is exactly what many of us thought after seeing Flags of Our Fathers. Robert Wilonsky thinks director Rian Johnson's Brick can stand with Fast Times at Ridgemont High. And director Daniel Burman, quizzed by Ella Taylor, discusses Woody Allen (he admires him "more than anyone else in the world") and states that he doesn't care what happens to the women characters in his own film, Family Law. You may regret either or both of those lines, mate.

The East Bay Today: December 20, 2006

Wed, Dec 20, 2006 at 3:25 PM

Today's Top Event: Storyteller Joel ben Izzy hosts Black Oak Books' Wednesday evening Chanukah party, along with menorah lighting, snacks, games, songs, and a live bluegrass band.

Brainiac: Learn something new every day. Today's lecture: Computer Skills Evening Workshop at the Delta Community Technology Center in Antioch.

Is It Lunch Yet? Express food critic John Birdsall recommends: Daawat in Union City.

On the Town: Going out tonight? Treat yourself to VIP status at one of the most happening nightclubs in Berkeley, the Shattuck Down Low.

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

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

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