The Rape That Shocked the Nation 

Up to ten young men laughed and snapped photos as they allegedly gang-raped a fifteen-year-old girl outside a Richmond High dance. And passersby did nothing to stop it.

The brutality and callousness of the Richmond High gang rape struck a chord last week. It was bad enough that up to ten young men and boys savagely attacked a fifteen-year-old girl on campus while the school's homecoming dance was going on. But authorities say the teens laughed and snapped photos during the incident. And to make matters worse, dozens of people walked by during the two-plus-hour ordeal and did nothing to stop it. The whole gruesome affair seemed to perfectly encapsulate a youth culture that honors the gang code of not snitching while glorifying the degradation of women.

Not surprisingly, the case grabbed national headlines, and the outrage ran so deep that Contra Costa County jailers decided to dress three of the young suspects in bullet-proof vests during their court appearance. Prosecutor Dara Cashman then cited the "coldness" of the alleged attack for why her office has decided to try the three teens — ages fifteen, sixteen, and seventeen — as adults. If convicted, they could spend their lives in prison.

Although the case shone an unflattering light on Richmond and its long-struggling high school, it turns out that only one of the first four young men charged in the case actually attended the campus. Cody Ray Smith, fifteen, of San Pablo, was the lone Richmond High student facing felony charges. He is believed to have enticed the fifteen-year-old girl to a secluded spot on the campus, where the young men got her drunk, repeatedly raped her, and left her under a picnic table.

Two other teens charged — Ari Abdallah Morales, sixteen, of San Pablo and Marcelles James Peter, seventeen, of Pinole — had been Richmond High students but were transferred to continuation high schools because of academic problems, sources told the San Francisco Chronicle. And the fourth teen — nineteen-year-old Manuel Ortega — was a disruptive student, before running away from home and dropping out of school after his junior year, sources told the paper. Two other young men were arrested.

The Week with No Bridge

It turns out that not having the San Francisco Bay Bridge isn't that bad after all. Sure there was nightmarish traffic on the other bridges and the lines at BART were just plain ugly, but the Bay Area did not grind to a halt. Instead, BART set records for ridership as CalTrans crews worked feverishly to fix the bridge after strong winds sent 5,000 pounds of steel cascading onto the upper deck during the October 27 evening commute.

The bridge finally reopened on Monday, after the new repair work underwent a series of stress tests. CalTrans officials declared the bridge safe, but said they may have to close the bridge in the future for a long-term repair.

Cal Football Isn't the Problem

The Chronicle itself created a stir last week when it strongly implied in a front-page article that UC Berkeley's football program was losing lots of money and draining the campus of essential operating funds. But then UC Berkeley's officials, including Athletic Director Sandy Barbour, corrected the record, telling KNBR radio that Cal's football and basketball programs are actually very profitable, but they don't bring in enough money to make up for the school's lesser-known sports programs. So while it's true that the athletic department often requires multimillion-dollar subsidies to stay afloat, Cal football isn't the problem.

And Then There Was Brown

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom abruptly pulled out of the California governor's race last Friday, citing family reasons. But it's no secret that Newsom had suffered from dismal poll numbers and disappointing fund-raising totals. It also seems apparent that his aggressive, pro-gay-marriage stance had hurt him politically. His decision to drop out also leaves state Attorney General and former Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown as the only major Democratic candidate in the 2010 governor's race.

Three-Dot Roundup

Oakland Raiders head coach Tom Cable struck his ex-wife and his ex-girlfriend, the two women told ESPN over the weekend. Cable denied hitting the ex-girlfriend, but admitted to striking his former wife, although he said he slapped her with his open hand. He had been accused of breaking the jaw of an assistant during training camp. ... Former Oakland City Manager Robert Bobb is officially out of the 2010 mayor's race now that he has agreed to extend his contract as financial czar of Detroit public schools for another year. ... Former Oakland mayoral candidate and longtime Alameda County Supervisor Mary King was appointed interim general manager of AC Transit. King takes over for outgoing GM Rick Fernandez, even though she has no experience running a transit agency. ... Embattled Emeryville City Councilman Ken Bukowski is being investigated by the city's police department for accepting nearly $100,000 in loans from local business people. Questions also are swirling as to whether Bukowski actually lives in San Francisco. ... And the Chronicle reported that even though its circulation has dropped more 25 percent this year (the worst decline among major newspapers nationwide), it's actually doing much better financially. The paper said it expected the circulation drop after substantially raising subscription rates earlier this year.


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