Seven Days 

Flag-waving in Richmond, witch-hunting in Berkeley, gerrymandering in Oakland.

Page 2 of 2

Tom Brokaw and the National Enquirer aren't the only members of the media to feel the fallout of the war. Last week, a staffer at the KPFA newsroom answered the phone and heard a voice say a bomb was primed to explode in the studio. "The person said you should get out of the building in ten minutes, because a bomb was going to go off," says Matt Martin, who works in the newsroom. "We went off the air for about half an hour. Interestingly, the last bomb threat was more than ten years ago, when we were reading The Satanic Verses on the air."

Meanwhile, the convoluted internecine politics of the KPFA-Pacifica feud have entered a new phase with word from Pacifica board member Pete Bramson that executive director Bessie Wash has been fired. When Wash replaced Lynn Chadwick as Pacifica's head, she initially promised to peacefully resolve the conflict, but soon resorted to the same bizarre, tyrannical tactics that seem to be Pacifica's stock-in-trade. At one point, she even interrupted a national broadcast of Pacifica Network News to read a rambling diatribe against her opponents at KPFA and New York's WBAI, violating her own gag order. KPFA staffers aren't sure what Wash's ouster portends; Pacifica chair Robert Farrell recently made overtures to mediate the dispute, but he's held out the olive branch before, only to yank it back. It may not matter in the long run; Pacifica officials recently announced that after two years of fighting with its own stations, the network is broke and may not be able to continue operating.

Rush told them to write

Pity Tamlyn Bright, executive assistant in Berkeley Mayor Shirley Dean's office, who has the thankless job of sorting through thousands of e-mails that have poured in from irate Americans upset with the City Council's resolution to condemn the bombings in Afghanistan. So far Bright has glanced through only 1,500 e-mails; roughly half threaten to boycott the city's businesses. The messages (of which the Express has also received its fair share) arrive with subject headings such as "Are you with the terrorists?" and prose proclaiming, "You traitors disgust me!"

The mayor and some neighborhood merchants' associations have tried to distance themselves from the City Council's action. The mayor's Web site notes, in capital letters no less, that she and three councilmembers "DID NOT VOTE" for the resolution. Bright says Dean has already asked the other side to reconsider. Reid Edwards, chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, says the business community does not support the resolution. "This was just simply the council, which on occasion decides that the city of Berkeley will have its own foreign policy," he says.

Lisa Bullwinkel of the Solano Avenue Merchants' Association says businesses are feeling the burn, though how much can be directly attributed to the boycott is difficult to discern as the economy was not exactly robust prior to the council vote. Bullwinkel, part of the Main Street Alliance, says the group is preparing an advertising blitz for the holiday season.

Whether they agree with the resolution or not, everyone seems to agree that people have overreacted. The text of the resolution contains five sections, the first of which condemns the terrorist attacks and applauds the heroism of the rescue effort. "There's a certain part of the actual resolution that all of us could agree with," Edwards says. For her part, Bright says of the correspondents: "They're not quite informed. But everybody is pretty much enraged and indignant and basically wish to revile Berkeley, as it is the patriotic thing to do."

Brunner, we hardly knew ye

As soon as former Berkeley mayor Loni Hancock threw her hat into the race for the 14th Assembly District, rumors began swirling about eroding support for former front-runner and Oakland City Councilmember Jane Brunner. First, two of Brunner's most critical supporters -- state Senator Don Perata and Senator Barbara Boxer -- were already reportedly backing out of her corner. Simion Gant, a spokesperson for Perata, confirmed that the senator was on the verge of withdrawing his support for Brunner. According to incumbent Assemblymember Dion Aroner, who has endorsed Hancock, Perata's sudden neutrality was a bad sign for Brunner, who had counted on his expertise and phenomenal fund-raising capacity to carry the day. Given that most of the district's labor support was heading for attorney Charles Ramsey, Brunner needed Perata's support more than ever. In addition, Brunner had been keeping Boxer's endorsement a secret trump card to be played at the right moment. But Boxer and Hancock have been good friends thanks to Hancock's work in Bill Clinton's Department of Education, and rumors immediately started buzzing that she was about to yank her endorsement.

Last week, Brunner's campaign distributed a flier around the district trashing the Berkeley City Council's recent vote to condemn the bombing of Afghanistan; Hancock's backers said the flier was a desperate attempt to pin the vote on Hancock and tar her with the old "Galloping" Gus Newport brush. "I think it's incredibly inappropriate, but if Jane wants to run against the Berkeley City Council, I guess she can do that," Aroner said. If nothing else, it seemed a sign of desperation, for mere days later, Brunner withdrew from the race. Citing the recent redistricting fight, Brunner barely held her punches when diagnosing the speed of her decline. "We looked at the numbers and it became clear that after the gerrymandering was through, we only had 16,000 Oakland residents left in the district," she told 7 Days.

"Wait a minute -- did you just say gerrymandering?" we asked.

"Yes I did."

"Who did the gerrymandering? Was it Dion?"

Long pause. "It was ... somebody."

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