Friday, July 25, 2008

Armed Robbers Strike in Downtown Berkeley

by Anneli Star Josselin Rufus
Fri, Jul 25, 2008 at 3:46 PM

A bulletin just arrived from the UC Police stating that this morning at 12:56 a.m. (you know, just after midnight), a man was walking along Shattuck Avenue in the heart of downtown Berkeley when he noticed two men at the Kittredge Street intersection (you know, near the Main Library: "The two males approached the victim and demanded his money. One of the suspects pulled out a small semi-automatic pistol and pointed it at the victim while the other suspect searched the victim's pants pockets. The suspect with the gun then struck the victim across the nose with the pistol. The suspects fled the scene traveling southbound on Shattuck and then eastbound on Bancroft." According to UCPD, Berkeley PD officers "intercepted one of the suspects and arrested him. BPD and UCPD searched the area but were not able to find the other suspect. The victim suffered minor injuries." According to UCPD, the arrested man was "Burton, Trent T., a Black male, 20 years of age, 5'4" in height and weighing 110 lbs." (Petite!) The one who got away is described as "a Black male, approximately 18 to 19 years of age, 5'11" in height with a slim build, a black hooded sweatshirt with the hood up, and dark jeans."

De la Fuente's Anti-Nepotism Ordinance Stumbling in Committee

by Chris Thompson
Fri, Jul 25, 2008 at 5:14 AM

In the wake of Edgerlygate, City Council President Ignacio De la Fuente proposed an anti-nepotism law that would theoretically keep Oakland city officials from hiring their cousins and letting them live on tax dollars while playing World of Warcraft on city computers. But now, says the Oakland Tribune, the ordinance has run into a few roadblocks in committee, as his fellow councilmembers try to clarify certain elements of his proposal. Jane Brunner and Nancy Nadel, in particular, are worried that the new law may be too sweeping in character, and may infringe on the privacy rights of job applicants or disqualify otherwise competent candidates. To which we can only say: good on ya, Jane and Nancy. We know Oakland's nepotism and patronage scandals have made the city a national disgrace, but we've always been a fan of careful legislating, like the nerds we are. Let's get the best law we can, even if that means taking a month or two. Unless you're just trying to sabotage the ordinance on behalf of your more corrupt constituents. Then we'll hunt you down and...well, send a strongly worded letter, probably.

Budget Follies: Schwarzenegger Tries to Gut State Workers

by Chris Thompson
Fri, Jul 25, 2008 at 4:48 AM

Once you start with the premise that California's a mess, everything acquires a certain clarity. Take today's news that the state Controller John Chiang is asserting constitutional authority over the governor when it comes to issuing paychecks to state employees. We know what you're thinking: huh? But put it through the California-as-70s-disaster-movie filter, and things start to make a little more sense. See, the state faces a $15 billion deficit, and the Democrats want to raise taxes to pay the bills. Schwarzenegger disagrees; in fact, he wants to borrow against future state lottery revenue instead. Seriously, that's his idea of mature fiscal planning. We know it sounds like we're in one of his movies, where a mad scientist lurches from his wheelchair and howls, "Mein fuhrer! I can valk! Undt borrow against ze suckers who play ze gambling at ze liquor stores!" But no, he means it. And just to prove how serious he is, Schwarzenegger is trying to force the Democrats' hand by cutting the salaries of state workers to minimum wage as long as state legislators are fighting over the budget. Nice, huh? Ah, but enter Democratic Controller John Chiang, who claims he's the guy who has the constitutional authority to determine wages during budget crises. Check and mate, governor! Unless, of course, the courts say otherwise.

Berkeley Council Gives Up Memorial Stadium Fight

by Chris Thompson
Fri, Jul 25, 2008 at 4:14 AM

After seventeen months of lawsuits and political pressure, the Berkeley City Council cried uncle last night, when it decided not to pursue any more legal strategies to stop Cal from demolishing a strand of oak trees near Memorial Stadium. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, an environmental group and the local Panoramic Hill Association still plan to sue the university to stop construction, but the city's surrender comes as a serious blow to opponents of the new sports training facility. After the decision was announced in the council chambers, a crowd of environmentalists booed and jeered city leaders, chanting, "Shame! Shame!" Plaintiff by plaintiff, the deck is being cleared for Cal to proceed with its plans.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The East Bay Today: July 24, 2008

Thu, Jul 24, 2008 at 6:23 PM

Today's Top Event: Sugar Free Foods Tour at Whole Foods.

Brainiac: Learn something new every day. Today's class: Life Drawing Sessions at Frank Bette Center for the Arts.

Is It Lunch Yet? Express food critics recommend: Somerset in Oakland.

On the Town: Going out tonight? Just like every fourth Saturday, it's time for the $6 Starry Plough Bluegrass Session. This time around, Julay Brooks & the Nightbirds and the Backyard

Hardly Working: You've got time. We know how to waste it. Check out trap-jaw ants.

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

Altamont Windmills: Energy Godsends or Death Factories?

by Chris Thompson
Thu, Jul 24, 2008 at 9:41 AM

For years, the wicked blades of the Altamont windmills have sliced and diced California's glorious birds of prey, leaving their cuisinarted corpses strewn about the grasslands like little feathery divots. In order to make an Audubon Society lawsuit go away, wind power companies set up a plan to cut the number of dead raptor birds in half. Two years later, how are they doing? They've actually killed 27 percent more birds than before! The Trib reports that despite such measures as shutting down the windmills during two winter months decommissioning the mills with the highest kill rate, the dead birds are cluttering up the landscape.

Dellums Gets Ready to Face the Music

by Chris Thompson
Thu, Jul 24, 2008 at 8:28 AM

After a Finance Department report noted that Oakland's revenues may be as much as $38 million less than estimated, Mayor Ron Dellums has ordered a total review of the budget in order to figure out just what the city's financial situation is. The Council is expected to deal with this shortfall when it returns in September. Meanwhile, Deborah Edgerly, the disgraced city administrator whose office was responsible for estimating the budget, is busy trying to figure out how to spend her pension. How about a pleasant Caribbean cottage in a country without an extradition treaty?

Cosco Busan Owners Indicted on Felonies

by Chris Thompson
Thu, Jul 24, 2008 at 8:13 AM

Multiple felonies, to be precise. Yesterday, a federal grand jury indicted the Hong Kong firm that owns the Cosco Busan, the ship that smashed into the Bay Bridge and killed thousands of birds with fuel oil, on charges that they falsified reports and impeded an investigation into the affair. Fleet Management Ltd. representatives declare that they had discovered errors in the reports they submitted to the federal government and have suspended numerous employees while they look into the matter. According to the Chron, an attorney for pilot John Cota says the indictment goes a long way toward exonerating his client and placing the blame where it belongs.

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