Lake Merritt Foretells the Future 

Of Brooks' Not-So-Chipper Lawsuit, Mervyn's' Bankruptcy, or OPD Nepotism?

Let's get down to what you really need to know: last week, the bathrooms behind the Lake Merritt Boating Center backed up, and a nasty stream of human waste flowed past the patios and right down into the lake water for several days. Like the Jovian pig entrails of yore, East Bay soothsayers are hard at work determining what this could have portended. Could it have been ...

Desley Brooks' Lawsuit Against the Chronicle?

Yes, the East Oakland city councilwoman was apparently fed up with San Francisco Chronicle columnist Chip Johnson's reminders that she was once accused of receiving kickbacks from a city employee in return for hiring her. So last week, she filed a defamation lawsuit against Johnson and his paper, claiming that Johnson knew the allegations are false, but printed them anyway. Chronicle spokespeople didn't respond, not even to their own reporter who covered the story. With all the Edgerlygate implications, this one's a prime candidate for the Lake Merritt prophecy. On the other hand, it could have been ...

Mervyn's Bankrputcy Filing

Unfortunately, the Hayward-based department store chain has been unable to keep up with the Joneses, and company officials filed for bankruptcy after almost sixty years of selling moderately priced Hush Puppies to the nation. It's been a tough couple of years for Mervyn's, as JC Penney offered the chain stiff competition on the higher end, and Wal-Mart ate into its sales by stealing the discount market. Executives have valiantly tried to cut costs, even going so far as to close seventy stores around the country in the last four years, but that wasn't enough to get over the massive debtload and competition. Now that the company is reorganizing, Wachovia has offered Mervyn's a nice, fat $465 million credit line. So the bell hasn't quite tolled for it yet. On to the next candidate ...

Nepotism for Cop Union Leader's Son?

An excellent catch by KGO's investigative team suggests that nepotism doesn't necessarily stop in City Hall. For years, Bob Valladon has run the Oakland Police Officers Association with an iron fist, and KGO reported that Valladon's son Scott may be skating through the police academy despite a misdemeanor criminal record and dubious resume. The news station uncovered a memo from deputy city attorney Vicki Laden, in which Laden wrote, "Unless OPD is taking all warm-blooded candidates, I can't figure out why they'd take Valladon." After the report was aired, police attorney Michael Rains (who got the Riders acquitted, among other accomplishments) demanded an investigation into who in the city leaked Valladon's medical records to the media. Moving on ...

Your Black Muslim Bakery Fallout

When several bow-tied thugs smashed up a few West Oakland liquor stores in 2005, a few inconvenient security cameras caught the action vividly enough to make it irresistible for the national news media. Three years later, the culprits have finally cut a deal with prosecutors. Kahil Raheem is expected to snag probation in return for his testimony in the upcoming trial of Yusuf Bey IV, the Your Black Muslim baker leader who is facing charges of kidnapping and torture for profit. Speaking of Mr. Bey, he also cut a deal with prosecutors, pleading no contest to eight felony counts connected to the affair. The Oakland Tribune reported that Bey is likely to get three years in prison for the incident, to say nothing of what he might get for the aforementioned torture unpleasantness.

Meanwhile, it's been one year since Oakland journalist Chauncey Bailey was murdered, and former Your Black Muslim Bakery associates used the occasion to rally outside the old San Pablo Avenue headquarters. Saleem Bey, who first tipped off Bailey to rumors of financial problems at the bakery, accused the police of allowing Bey to run the bakery despite a bevy of criminal charges hanging over his head, all in order to let his ineptitude destroy a valuable Oakland institution. Bailey's friends and family also marked the occasion by gathering at the site of his death and praying for the strength to carry on.

Hey, Someone's Making Money!

But it wasn't all corruption and slander and violence and rivers of excrement; some local institutions were having a very good week. Let's start with Chevron, everyone's favorite transnational oil conglomerate. Company officials reported that once again, they posted record quarterly profits of $6 billion, even after blowing it in the refining and fuel marketing area. Meanwhile, another high-octane marketer did quite well for itself. Peet's Coffee representatives announced that while Starbucks is busy closing six hundred stores around the country, their sales jumped 17 percent, thank you very much. Profits almost doubled, in fact, rising to $3 million.

Light a Spliff for Babs

Finally, there's great news for the pot clubs of California, as the state appeals court struck down an effort by San Diego and San Bernadino counties to start prosecuting medical marijuana users again. Lawyers for the counties argued that complying with state medical pot laws constituted illegal complicity in the defiance of federal drug laws, an argument that the courts found, well, inapplicable to say the least. And East Bay Congresswoman Barbara Lee announced that she would sponsor legislation that would end the federal prosecution of people for marijuana possession.

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