There's Just One Tree Left 

After UC finally gets the legal go-ahead, the treesitters can't keep it from clear-cutting all those oak trees.

I Am the Lorax. I Speak for the Panoramic Hill Association.

Take a drive up through the middle of campus, just past Frat Row and along the glorious old Memorial football stadium. Notice anything missing? How about 42 trees? Over the weekend, UC Berkeley officials finally wiped out the grove of oaks and other sundry flora that stood in the way of their new sports training center. The clear-cut event is the final episode in a two-year fight that pitted the university's sports program, and its legions of football fans, against environmentalists, neighbors, and the Berkeley City Council.

UC Berkeley officials, struggling to finance women's sports programs under state rules that require athletics to be self-financing, decided to mount a new effort to revitalize its potentially lucrative football action, and recruited Coach Jeff Tedford to lead the project. As part of the effort, they decided they needed a new, state-of-the-art training facility, and settled on the oak grove that abuts the stadium for the new site. Cue 24 months of lawsuits, tree-sits, arrests, protests, and heartache on all sides.

The trees are dead and gone now. The best anyone can hope for is a Rose Bowl appearance or two and enough advertising and merchandising cash to finance a few decades of field hockey.

Emeryville School Chief's an Oddly Repentant Liar

Amid all that sturm und drang, at least no one faked their postgraduate degrees. That honor belongs to Stephen Wesley, who served as the superintendent of the Emery School District. At least, he did until last week, when the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Wesley falsely claimed to possess a Ph.D and a Master's degree in theology and philosophy. In fact, he had been decertified as an education professional in Pennsylvania for doing exactly the same thing years earlier. A mortified school board immediately voted to fire Wesley; according to the Oakland Tribune, President Joshua Simon informed the public "after praising the otherwise smooth start of school on the district's first day." It's one thing to lose Lord Nelson when Trafalgar's already in the bag; having him riddled with the battle's first whiff of grapeshot is just depressing.

For his part, Wesley did his very best to be contrite. After panicking and running out of the school board meeting, and walking the streets pondering the enormity of his deeds, the former superintendent returned to the next day's joint meeting of the Emeryville school board and City Council. There, reported the Chronicle, Wesley apologized for "failing to be factual," "not being truthful," and "being stupid and selfish." Note to Deborah Edgerly: this is how someone with your record leaves public service.

Hiding Behind his Wife's Skirts

Speaking of Oakland, the dailies were agog last week with stories about how Mayor Ron Dellums' wife Cynthia is really running the city of Oakland. Apparently, Cynthia's role as de facto co-mayor has left city officials confused about whom they should report to, at a time when Oakland faces perhaps the worst budget crisis of its life and is searching for a new city administrator. Chronicle columnist Chip Johnson went so far as to claim that Cynthia's presence is symptomatic of a city that can no longer effectively govern itself. The mayor, as usual, wasn't talking.

Silver Lining, Where Art Thou?

We know what you're thinking: "Wait, isn't there something missing from this week's roundup? Something about, say, the worst budget crisis in the state's history?" You betcha, because nothing happened last week! Another seven days passed, and Arnold Schwarzenegger and Don Perata are still no closer to cutting a deal that would close the $17 billion budget gap. The Chron reported that if this keeps up, some $12 billion in social programs (Medi-Cal, student grants, etc.) will have been gutted. And if you think that's bad, the new No Child Left Behind tests results were released, and twelve more Oakland schools have been put on the federal probation list. Unless those schools get their acts together in the next few years, they could be closed down and reorganized altogether. But at least they'll be in good company; statewide, another 1,400 schools made onto the feds' shit list. Oh, and have we mentioned that national unemployment has now risen to 6.2 percent? The hits just keep coming.

Three-Dot Roundup

Richmond environmentalist groups have sued to stop Chevron's ambitious plans to expand its refining capacity; plaintiff's attorneys claim that the city illegally approved the environmental impact report, and demand that a second report be prepared; the process could take up to eighteen months. ... The Oakland Raiders officially threw their support behind a plan to build a new football stadium just north of the present McAfee Coliseum. ... Contra Costa Judge Barbara Zuniga ruled that Richmond must write up an environmental impact report (there's that pesky phrase again) before a local Indian tribe can build a casino in unincorporated North Richmond. ... Pleasanton has agreed to start building a new, 140,000-square-foot ice skating rink. ... The city of Hayward faces a steep budget deficit and has decided to lay off sixteen employees and freeze 33 vacant positions.


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