7 Days  

New jobs for the Dynamic Duo. New excuses for the lone contractor. New glory for the UC lecturer. New kudos for old stories.

The Dynamic Duo's new capes: What once looked like the next big boner for the Oakland Police Department now looks as if it's climaxing without a mess. It all began in September when then-vice cops Eric Richholt and his partner, Mark Neely Jr., got busted for soliciting an undercover cop posing as a hooker in a San Leandro brothel while on duty. They later quit their jobs, pleaded no contest, and were placed on probation. But the hooker thing wasn't the real explosive stuff. Narcotics, cash, and guns found in their undercover truck -- contraband that apparently hadn't been properly checked into evidence -- hinted at something far more serious than a wrongheaded trip to the whorehouse. As this space reported in April, District Attorney Tom Orloff was investigating the cops' possession of the guns and drugs at the time of the solicitation arrest. Also, an Oakland resident had filed a claim against the city alleging that Richholt and Neely had stolen his legally owned handgun on the same day the two got caught with their pants down.

That's about as far as things got. The city turned down the claim, leaving it up to the gun owner to file a lawsuit in court. But Berkeley civil rights attorney Jim Chanin TK, the lawyer for the gun owner, chose not to sue (though he wouldn't say why). Orloff, meanwhile, says he has no plans to file any charges against the two ex-cops. He added that his office isn't delving much further into the matter for the time being. "It's not really being followed right now," Orloff said, adding, "but we are leaving it open."

Neither of the ex-cops had nice things to say about the DA when they were interviewed by a probation officer regarding their solicitation conviction. They blamed him for making an example of them because they were cops. A regular citizen, they argued, would have had the charges reduced to disturbing the peace, and would have only had to take a weekend class.

So where is the dynamic duo now? The 35-year-old Richholt, who has a wife and three stepchildren, is trying to start his own business installing screen doors and window screens, according to his probation report. "This one poor decision," he told a probation officer, "has cost me a ten-year career, a career that was a life's dream." Neely, in contrast, sounded more sanguine than his former partner. He told his probation officer that his bust was actually a blessing in disguise because he felt miserable as a cop: "I'm a much happier person now."

Memo to Neely: So are we. -- Will Harper

Too much information: Earlier last month, Joe Lupton, a former employee at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, arrived for sentencing in an Oakland courtroom. He already had pleaded guilty to accepting bribes for steering work toward a contractor named Larry McCarthy. Over the course of a year, Lupton admitted he'd taken up to $15,000 in cash from McCarthy, six gold coins, two gold chains, a tool chest, and a gun safe, as well as some complimentary cement work done at his home. Now, facing up to one year in prison for his crimes before Judge Wayne Brazil, Lupton's attorney Michael Murray argued in a plea for leniency that his client had engaged only in "atypical conduct," and that a few years of probation was a just penance.

"The embarrassment caused by local newspaper coverage and lab-wide knowledge of the crime, the consequent financial loss" -- Murray said Lupton could never find legitimate work again -- "and the personal sense that he has failed his family and the larger community coupled with a period of community confinement provides just punishment for the defendant's breach of public trust." Then, to bolster his argument, the attorney cued up the violin music, as it were, and got a touch personal: "Joseph Lupton stands six feet tall but seems a somewhat shorter man, because he weighs 370 pounds." Murray brought his audience's attention to his client's multiple physical maladies, public embarrassment be damned.

There was the diabetes. And then the neuropathy, which recently invaded both of his client's feet. Lupton's left foot experienced a constant burning sensation in which he felt heat crawling from the tips of the toes up into the ankle. Then there was the Charcot's joint disease, which Lupton recently underwent surgery to remedy. Wouldn't you know it: He came away with an infection that now requires constant medical attention and could result in amputation.

"The defendant does not raise these points as complaints or to whine about a situation for which he is personally to blame," Murray said. "He raises them simply to establish that rain does not, as the adage insists, always fall on rich man and poor man alike. Ironically, the poor man sometimes has a raincoat, whereas the rich man does not."

Judge Brazil remained unmoved by the rainstorm. He sentenced Lupton to the suggested one year in prison -- and then added one more day. -- Justin Berton

Cum laude: For years, the University of California has kept a lid on the dirty little secret that lies beneath the vainglory it churns out with each new Nobel laureate. While the system -- particularly its flagship institution at Berkeley -- enjoys its standing as the nation's preeminent public university, UC officials are considerably more reluctant to point out that most undergraduates will almost never get a chance to sit at the feet of its most talented faculty. Instead, their education is increasingly in the hands of hundreds of underpaid, non-tenure-track lecturers who have low pay, no job security, and the institutionalized contempt of their research-obsessed colleagues "The New University Underclass," August 28, 2002). Last week, the UC system finally took a small step toward recognizing lecturers as an indispensable part of undergraduate education. After months of negotiations (and a chaotic one-day walkout early in the fall semester), UC officials and leaders with the lecturers' union have agreed on a new contract that offers starting lecturers a remarkable $10,000 raise in their base salary, bringing full-time pay up to $37,000. But the most lecturers' most sought-after concession was simple and bloodless: respect from the academic system that depends on their labors but has historically regarded them as mere teachers who are unqualified to join the ranks of real faculty. From now on, lecturers will have a seat on campus academic senates, where they will help craft course structure and curricula. In addition, lecturers will enjoy a modest "professional development fund" with which to publish research papers and generally act like, you know, guys with Ph.Ds.

"The issue is recognition, and it always has been," says Kevin Roddy, president of the lecturers' union. "When they set up this fund, that was a major issue for us. It's not much of a fund, but it's a start. The point of recognition is that it has to happen before anything else can happen. Without it, anything else is going to be ephemeral."

With this contract, the UC system finally puts an end to a year of protracted and contentious labor wars with its clerical, professional, and lecturer unions. As administrators prepare for the seismic budget shocks about to issue forth from Sacramento, at least they won't have labor woes to worry about. "We worked very hard to strike what we feel is a fair contract that recognizes the important role that lecturers play in the university, especially given the state's current budget challenges," says UC spokesperson Paul Schwartz. "And we look forward to what will hopefully be several years of labor peace." -- Chris Thompson

And now, about us: Reporter Chris Thompson's two-part investigative series on Yusuf Bey and his clan ["Blood and Money," November 13 and 20, 2002] has received the Maggie Award from the Western Publications Association for best series in a consumer publication in 2002. Kara Platoni's profile of drug designer Sasha Shulgin ["2C-T-7's Bad Trip," May 1, 2002] and our entire September 11 anniversary issue were chosen as finalists in other categories. The Maggies are a journalism contest open to magazines and magazine-style newspapers published west of the Mississippi. This year's contest garnered 1,700 entries.

Meanwhile, art director Mark Gartland received a merit award for cover design from the New York-based Society of Publication Designers for the cover of our aforementioned 9/11 issue.

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