Seven Days 

Enviros try happy talk; Mayor Dean's not going to Sacto, after all; Whither the Daily Cal?

Journalism Jihad: Castigating progressives as intolerant PC Nazis is an old conservative canard, but the jerks at the Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC) are playing right into the hands of the right wing. It's not enough that when the Daily Californian ran a political cartoon depicting the World Trade Center terrorists as turbaned Muslims burning in hell, protesters occupied the paper's offices and hacked into its Web site. Now, three ASUC senators are trying to throw the paper out on the street. The Daily Californian's offices are located on the sixth floor of Eshleman Hall, for which privilege the paper pays the ASUC an annual rent. But listen to the language of the ASUC bill recently proposed by senators Sajid Khan, Evan Holland, and Tony Falcone. "Whereas the Daily Californian's editorial cartoon of two Muslims in the hand of the devil printed on Tuesday, September 18 shows a complete disregard for the value of dynamic intellectual community and ... falls outside of the realm of human decency, sensitivity, responsibility and respect," the bill reads. "Resolved: That the ASUC Senate ... base the continued occupation of the sixth floor of Eshleman and rent rates in future contracts on the Daily Californian's actions to rectify its complete insensitivity to the needs of its campus and its values."

Don't like what a newspaper has to say? Raise its rent. Or better yet, evict it. Wait till David Horowitz hears about this.

The e-End: In e-commerce, it's not really over till your assets are liquidated, but it looks like the end has finally come for what was once the East Bay's biggest and flashiest Web-based businesses. Last week, Oakland-based Kaiser Foundation Hospitals agreed to pay just over $4 million to acquire the East Oakland warehouse and sorting machinery left behind by bankrupt online grocer Webvan, outbidding even Webvan founder Louis Borders. That sticker price includes $1.4 million for the four miles worth of conveyor belts and carousels and another $2.65 million for the software that drives the system. Kaiser plans to use the warehouse as a hub for routing medicines and hospital supplies to its 27 facilities statewide. "This is going to provide us with an ability to upgrade our current distribution network," says Kaiser spokesman Terry Lightfoot. There was no word yet as to how the software and systems originally built to move groceries -- some at below-freezing temperatures -- will have to be modified to accommodate the needs of the hospital industry. Webvan had already sold off its consumables inventory to Berkeley-based closeout and surplus food retailer Grocery Outlet, and auctions of the contents of other warehouse facilities throughout the nation are still pending.

The worst-kept secret in East Bay politics right now has to be that former Berkeley Mayor Loni Hancock is going to run for her husband's old Assembly seat. Though she hasn't made an official announcement yet, 7 Days has it on good authority that Hancock has tapped San Francisco political consultants Mary Hughes and Cliff Staton of Staton & Hughes to run her campaign. Do they sound familiar? Staton & Hughes ran both of Shirley Dean's successful Berkeley mayoral campaigns. Last we heard, Dean was still toying with the idea of running for Assembly herself -- an idea that Hughes and her partner helped put in the mayor's head in the first place. Dean told 7 Days that she has once and for all decided to seek reelection instead of running for Assembly. And, yes, she coyly acknowledges having heard that her consultants are going to work for her old nemesis. And, no, she concedes that she's not happy about it. "I wouldn't be human if I told you anything else," she says. "They have learned about Berkeley politics from the two times I've used them." Nonetheless, Dean says she still hopes the duo returns to oversee her three-peat next year.

Terminal disgrace: The pork-barrel politics that infected the Oakland Port Commission's decision to award the airport security contract to ABC Security have become more than a national disgrace -- now they're a subject of a grand jury investigation. You may recall that when the Port Commission sat down to decide which local company should get the contract, critics accused the port staff and local politicians of trying to rig the game in favor of their favorite companies. Three weeks ago, port officials received a letter from the Alameda County Grand Jury requesting information on the request for proposals and all competing bids. Meanwhile, we hear that Oakland Tribune reporters Bob Gammon and Laura Counts are preparing a big story on the subject. Look for heads to roll, and soon.

Doom and Gloom by Any Other Name: We're accustomed to receiving notices from the Natural Resources Defense Council about dire environmental threats and the hard-hitting lawsuits necessary to fight them. The national group has specialized in suing corporations for environmental ruin, as well as taking government agencies to task for failing to enforce their own rules. But the release of the NRDC's "Green Gate," a report on the environmental health of the Bay Area, promises not to be "all doom and gloom." Reads the cheeky press release: "In fact, [the report] is surprisingly upbeat and written with apparent affection and optimism that the region's enlightened citizenry can turn things around." The report hopes to cash in on the region's supposed tree-hugging mentality, operating on the principle that if we can just get folks outside they'll surely have to wake up and smell the contaminants. But the fact is, there's plenty of doom and gloom in any survey of environmental conditions around the bay. Bay Area residents are driving more, using more water, generating more trash, breathing more particle pollutants, and building sprawling suburbs on more and more open space, according to the report. Is it possible the "enlightened citizenry" has forgotten its supposed environmental roots? At the NRDC, hope springs eternal that a gentle nudging is all it will take to get us back on track: "Get out and enjoy the Bay Area's many green spaces and natural wonders," the report reads. "Hike. Go to the beach. Take kids to parks around the bay. Get to know the natural richness of the Bay Area. To know it is to love it, and to love it is to want to protect it."

Forgetting the Local: In the wake of the airplane hijackings on September 11, Americans across the country have emptied their pockets to help the victims. The United Way's September 11 Fund has already generated nearly $300 million in pledges, and the Red Cross' Liberty Fund is also filling coffers. Here in the Bay Area, some fund-raising efforts have been particularly creative: Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty sparked a program to allow county employees to donate vacation days, which the county would cash out, to the United Way Fund. That could generate $8.5 million -- an amount that, we might point out, could do wonders for some very pressing problems here at home that the county is perpetually too short on funds to fix.

We certainly don't mean to detract from the generosity of these donations or to express anything but deepest sympathy for the victims of the attacks, but we take note that many in the nonprofit and charity community are starting to get a little worried as they watch donation dollars flee the local community. The unprecedented damage and suffering caused by the attacks have opened a floodgate of sympathy -- but some of those donation dollars, surely, would have otherwise gone to feed the homeless, comfort the troubled, and soothe the ill here at home. "It's not that we're not grateful as a national organization," says Red Cross Bay Area Chapter spokesperson Dominick Albano. "I've been running all over town picking up checks, and I'm so proud of the Bay Area for stepping up. When we get a check for the Liberty Fund, we immediately send it to the East Coast, not here. But we continue to do work locally: The very morning of the attacks, at 11 o'clock our time, there was a huge fire in Livermore that put a whole family out. We had to send a team out, put the family up in a hotel, give them clothes -- every day that happens. The next Saturday, there was a family with four children killed, and they needed money for a funeral -- those needs are constant. I hate to make it sound like we're competing, but there is local work and there is national work, and they're both important. The reality for us, and other local-based groups, is that we're going to feel this, especially in the upcoming holiday season, which tends to be the heavy fund-raising season."

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