Dropping the Bomb 

Who owns Richmond? ChevronTexaco; Sandia smokes delivery guys; Bra-Ball babes for Dean; ex-Tribune publisher lands at the Ex.

If ever there were doubts about whether ChevronTexaco holds the reins in Richmond, let them be laid to rest. For a decade now, the city has painstakingly negotiated with US Navy officials over the future of Point Molate, a beautiful waterfront stretch of surplus Navy land that Richmond hopes to turn into something magnificent. Unfortunately, security and maintenance costs for the property could run $1 million annually, and Richmond needs to make the land profitable enough to shoulder that expense. Housing is out -- the neighboring Richmond Chevron refinery might one day spring an ammonia leak, after all -- so that left office parks, open space, casinos, and bed-and-breakfasts as the best options.

Then the refiners butted in: In a July 9 letter to city officials, refinery manager Gary Fisher declared his facility a terrorist target; though ChevronTexaco doesn't own Point Molate, the company would have to insist that no use other than industrial or "restricted open space" would be acceptable (See "Chevron Discovers Safety," August 20).

But now, just in case Richmond had any delusions of independence, ChevronTexaco has unleashed its nuke. Two weeks ago, board chairman and CEO David O'Reilly sent a letter to Acting Secretary of the Navy Hansford Johnson in which he wets his pants over the prospect of suicide bombers hitting his refinery and insists that none but the most restrictive use of Point Molate will do. "These proposed uses fail to take into account the serious and immediate security risks development of the Point Molate property presents to the Bay Area, the local community, and the Richmond refinery," O'Reilly wrote.

And what happens when a small, struggling company town goes up against the nation's eighth largest corporation? ChevronTexaco wins every time, says City Councilman Tom Butt. The Navy is scheduled to convey the property to the city this Tuesday, but Butt worries the oil giant will somehow slip language into the agreement that precludes virtually any profitable or constructive use of Point Molate. "It makes me nervous -- very nervous," he says. "I figure the Navy's been co-opted by ChevronTexaco already. ... I can't help but think these guys have dinner together and cut these deals, and what you see in public is just window dressing." -- Chris Thompson

Deliver Us from Evil
Speaking of security, administrators at the Sandia National Laboratory, along with folks at that other nearby nuke lab, began restricting access to Livermore's East Avenue corridor last month. It's just the latest measure taken by the labs since 9/11. For instance, Sandia now randomly searches visitor vehicles and all delivery trucks coming onto the property. So far, though, no would-be Saddam bin Attas have been thwarted by the new checkpoint. Don Charlesworth, manager of the lab's security operations, says the typical busts have involved unsuspecting delivery drivers who had drugs -- usually pot -- in their vehicle. Apparently, the security cops haven't uncovered anything worthy of a High Times centerfold: Just modest personal stashes in the glove box, he says. So which company's drivers were dumb enough to bring their dope into a high-security weapons-research facility? Charlesworth wouldn't name names, but he did say none of the alleged stoners worked for any major delivery company such as FedEx or UPS. The ones getting popped tended to drive for smaller outfits. Most of the drivers' stories, he says, have been the same. They've never seen that Baggie before: "'It must belong to the previous driver,'" they say. -- Will Harper

Follow the Bouncing Bra Ball
Remember the giant bra ball? A couple of years ago, rags from the Chronicle to People magazine were busting out with puff pieces on the duel between East Bay artists Emily Duffy and Ron Nicolino over who first came up with the idea to create a giant, boulder-sized ball of bras. Then September 11 hit, the economy went to shit, and the media forgot all about the bra-ball battle. But not Bottom Feeder, which couldn't help but admire an art object that has touched so many, uh, lives.

We're happy to announce that Duffy has finally finished her ball, a five-foot-diameter, one-ton collection of 17,000 bras donated by women around the world. On August 24, two dozen women participated in the final "roll on" at the SomArts Gallery in San Francisco to attach the last few undergarments. Duffy says what distinguishes her ball from Nicolino's is that hers was assembled entirely by women. She forbade males -- including her hubby, Ken -- from manhandling the boulder-sized brassiere sphere. "It's about women learning how strong they are," she says.

As for Nicolino, he toured his own giant bra ball around California in his pink Cadillac in 2001. Then he disappeared, Duffy says. Bottom Feeder tried his old bra-ball Web site, but the link now takes surfers to a porn haven called FilthyLetters.com. Eventually, we caught up with Nicolino in Crockett. The artist says he's been busy moving and dealing with family issues, and the big ball has been collecting dust in his studio. However, he's scheming to get a crane to lift it one hundred feet in the air and then let it drop to the ground to see if it'll bounce.

Now that Duffy is finished with her ballsy task, she'll have more time to devote to her latest passion: Electing Democrat Howard Dean president. The bra-baller has even been acting as an organizer and unofficial spokesperson for the Dean campaign's Meetup groups in Berkeley.

Nicolino hasn't decided who he's supporting for president yet. But he and his artistic nemesis both agree on one thing: Lick Bush in 2004. -- Will Harper

Revolving Doors
The San Francisco Examiner announced last week that ExIn LLC, its parent company, had hired P. Scott McKibben as its new president and CEO. That'd be the same P. Scott McKibben fired in March as publisher of ANG Newspapers, which puts out the Trib, the Argus, the Times-Star, etc., etc. ... oh, did we say "fired"? We meant "left for personal and professional reasons" (See "Battle for the Soul of ANG," March 26).

The big question is: Why bet on the Examiner? In media circles, the Ex -- now run by San Francisco's notorious Fang family, which also publishes the Independent (that yellowing thing you occasionally spot in SF doorways) and Asian Week -- is widely viewed as a sinking ship, a workplace through which journalists have circulated as if swept by a revolving door run amok.

Besides, McKibben could have applied for his old ANG position. After just five months on the job, successor Beverly Jackson recently left, um, "to pursue other interests." That, at least, is what Gerald Grilly, CEO of ANG parent company MediaNews, told the Associated Press.

McKibben, meanwhile, seems optimistic. "When you put the Independent together with the Examiner, it's a powerful package," he was quoted as saying in last Thursday's Fangxaminer. "And my role is find a way to better market it, sell it, promote it, and brand it."

How 'bout as packaging for fish markets? Just a suggestion. -- Michael Mechanic


Fun with Anagrams
Hey kids, let's arrange the letters in a few East Bay names and see what we get.

Ignacio De La Fuente (Oakland Council): Alienated eco-funghi

Gus Morrison (Fremont mayor): Grooms ruins

Gayle Uilkema (CoCo County supervisor): Alkali eye gum

Albert Seeno (Pittsburg developer): Beaten loser

Don Perata (state senator): A tad Peron?

Irma Anderson (Richmond mayor): Insane ramrod

Alice Waters (Berkeley foodie): Eats raw lice

Al Davis (Raiders owner): LA's diva

Billie Joe Armstrong (Rock star): Jilt Beamer-girl soon

Rita Moreno (Berkeley actress): Romeo train

Frank Brunetti (Orinda superintendent): Brat-fink tuner

Tom Bates (Berkeley mayor): State mob

Leslie Griffith (KTVU news anchor): Grief, lies, filth

Jerry Brown (Oakland mayor): No results. (But that'd be typical.)

Collected by Michael Mechanic (Chichi Clam Enema)


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