Tuesday, October 31, 2006

You Write Too Long: This Week's Feature Bite-Sized

by Kelly Vance
Tue, Oct 31, 2006 at 3:23 PM

This week, "2006 Election Issue": Bruce Brugmann has been moaning for years that those darned East Bay libertarians refuse to endorse candidates. We could do it the Bay Guardian's way, but our way's better - giving the reader the facts and letting her/him think it out. Take this issue into the voting booth next Tuesday, or not. It's up to you. A few notes from the Express' tip sheet: Alameda has a racist history, and it's not exactly ancient. Prop 1A looks faulty, until you examine Prop 1B. Prop. 86 is a mixed blessing, but a blessing nonetheless. Prop 87 pisses off Big Oil. Mailers lie. Nobody remembers Jerry McNerney's name, but he's the only anti-Pombo we've got. Pat Kernighan invented the term "strange bedfellows." Most people are pretty vague on ballot propositions. You can vote early at Alameda County's mobile voter unit, but most people don't want to get involved. Shout the battle cry of freedom!

Wealthy Lefties Open Wallets for Green Party candidate Aimee Allison

by Will Harper
Tue, Oct 31, 2006 at 3:23 PM

City Council candidate Aimee Allison has dinged her opponent for being backed by moneyed interests like the Chamber of Commerce, but it turns out Allison has her own deep-pocketed supporters trying to buy the election. Last week as Mayor-elect Ron Dellums intervened on Allison's behalf and persuaded the Chamber to halt its campaign on Kernighan's behalf, Allison's backers were putting out two glossy mailers and at least one "push poll," a bogus survey designed to spread negative information on Kernighan.

"This woman is such a hypocrite and such a phoney," Kernighan fumes about Allison. "She doesn't even stand by agreements. There's this total double standard that nobody should be able to spend any money on me, but her independent contributors have probably shelled out $30,000 over the last three days on all this crap."

Allison spokesman Ben Wyskida says that the campaign has no control over independent committees. "These are pieces we didn't ask for and didn't want," Wyskida said.

: He adds, "It's worth asking, though - why are antipoverty and social justice activists throwing everything they have on the table for Aimee, while developers are throwing out everything they have for Pat?"

If that explanation sounds familiar, it's the same one Kernighan gave when news spread that OakPAC was going to dump at least $58,000 into the race.

Earlier this month OakPAC sued the city, challenging its rules restricting the spending of independent expenditure committees as an unconstitutional restriction of free speech. A federal judge agreed, and suspended the campaign-finance rules until next month and OakPAC reps planned to spend at least $58,000 on Kernighan's behalf.

But Allison complained that the court order unfairly changed the rules at the last moment and gave OakPAC an advantage. She pressured Dellums to denounce the attempt to "buy the election," which resulted in OakPAC agreeing to halt its campaign (although the business PAC had already sent out two mailers for Kernighan by that point).

It appears that a pro-Allison mailer paid for by San Francisco attorney Steven Phillips would have been legal under the rules in place before the federal judge's ruling. However, an anti-Kernighan mailer sent by a group called Oaklanders for New Leadership appears to take advantage of the rule-change decried by Allison and her backers.

The group's hit piece says, "Since Pat Kernighan took office, HOMICIDES HAVE TRIPLED in our neighborhoods." According to records on file with the city clerk, Oaklanders For New Leadership paid $10,778 to produce an mail the piece on October 27. On October 25 - a day before Dellums held a press conference announcing his deal with OakPAC-- philanthropist M. Quinn Delaney, chair of the ACLU of Northern California, gave $35,000 to Oaklanders for New Leadership.

Under Oakland's campaign law, a recipient committee like Oaklanders for New Leadership can spend only $300 per donor per mailing. If the group is relying on the $35,000 donation from Delaney to finance the mailer attacking Kernighan, it would be violating the old city rules, campaign finance experts say.

Meanwhile, San Francisco attorney Steven Phillips spent $11,160 to finance a mailer that also criticizes Kernighan for letting crime get out of control. (Does anyone find it weird that a Green Party candidate is running on a crime-fighting platform?) Experts say that an individual like Phillips would not have been restricted by the spending limits under the city's old rules.

Kernighan supporters believe that Phillips also financed a "push poll," phone calls designed to plant negative information about candidates in voters' minds. The pollster reportedly asked things like, "Did you know that Pat Kernighan has associates that have been interviewed by the FBI for corruption?"

Phillips did not immediately return a phone call. He used to serve on the SF Board of Education and now is involved in PowerPAC, a political committee devoted to social justice issues.

As you might guess, OakPAC officials are pretty pissed. OakPAC president Michael Colbruno issued a statement saying, "The activity by Allison's supporters is deplorable and makes us wonder if her attacks on independent expenditures by OakPAC and the Democratic Party were only meant to squash our ability to exercise our right to free speech in this election. We demand that Allison call on her supporters and millionaire friends to cease all attempts to buy this election with negative campaigning."

Back to 92510, the East Bay Express news blog.

Richmond Mother Arrested for Torturing, Killing Son

by Will Harper
Tue, Oct 31, 2006 at 3:23 PM

Police believe the mother of eight-year-old Raijon Daniels tortured him for more than a year before he died, apparently from drinking household cleaner. According to the MediaNews papers, "Reports of Raijon's problems at home had crossed the desk of social workers at Contra Costa's Children and & Family Services at least three times since May 2005, records show. In each case, he went home to his mother in south Richmond." The Chron reports that "in an interview with police that lasted several hours, Moses was 'strictly business,' didn't appear remorseful and never once asked about how her son was doing." The woman also had a three-year-old daughter who showed no signs of abuse and had toys in her room.

Why Halloween Is Sad, Not Scary

by Lauren Gard
Tue, Oct 31, 2006 at 3:23 PM

Columnist Tony Hicks laments in today's CoCo Times that Halloween has become sanitized and dull as hell. And it seems to be true - parents these days lug their pint-size pirates and princesses to Main Street extravaganzas and fluorescent-lit shopping malls to collect candy from store clerks rather then trekking with them through their own neighborhoods to knock on doors. Hicks is among them, already stressing over how long it will take to find a parking space when he brings his daughter to Walnut Creek's Broadway Plaza tonight. "I don't advocate sending your little ones alone down unlit streets lacking proper sidewalks. You just can't do that in these times of Amber Alerts," he writes.

Um, yes you can, Tony. Just do it. Fewer than four hundred Amber alerts have gone out since the program's initiation in 2002 - that's less than a hundred a year. So stop stressing, and give your daughter a sense of community that involves generous people who aren't on a payroll, and may be sincerely interested to know not only who she dressed as but who she is. Wave from the curb when your neighbors peer past her to see who her father is. If your daughter is kidnapped one day-or trips over a crack in the crappy sidewalk and skins a knee - chances are you'll both be better off if the neighbors know her and can help.

Back to 92510, the East Bay Express news blog.

Vote Early, Vote Often, Vote However You Like

by Chris Thompson
Tue, Oct 31, 2006 at 3:23 PM

It's not an election season unless the San Francisco Bay Guardian chastises Village Voice Media newspapers such as ours for not endorsing political candidates. This year, Guardian publisher Bruce Brugmann takes over the duties on his blog, accusing Village Voice (formerly called New Times) honchos of stifling our sacred duty to tell you what to think. "The New Times editor Mike Lacey and publisher Jim Larkin have historically refused to allow any of their papers, including SF Weekly and the East Bay Express, to do editorials, endorse candidates, or take real positions on such critical issues as the war and occupation of Iraq, the Bush vs. Kerry presidential race, or even local races for mayor, governor, and the U.S. House and Senate," Brugmann writes. "Why? It has always baffled me and it baffles the staffs of their 17 papers."

We know that the narrative of Village Voice Media buying alt-weeklies and eliminating their voice in the upcoming elections is a compelling one, but at least in the case of the East Bay Express, it doesn't square with history. The Express never published endorsements in the 22 years it operated as an independent newspaper. Instead, the editors and writers published stories that laid out the issues in the important races, fleshed out what the candidates stood for, and let the readers make up their own minds. Which is exactly what we will do this Wednesday, when the paper's election issue hits the stands. But thanks for thinking of us, B3.

Back to 92510, the East Bay Express news blog.

The East Bay Today: October 31, 2006

Tue, Oct 31, 2006 at 3:23 PM

Happy Halloween, East Bay!

Today's Top Event: The Monster of Phantom Lake at Oakland's Parkway Speakeasy Theater.

Brainiac: Learn something new every day. Today's event: Lifemark Group Honors' annual Día de los Muertos celebration continues at Oakland's Chapel of the Chimes columbarium.

Is It Lunch Yet? Express food critic John Birdsall recommends: The Peasant & the Pear in Danville.

On the Town: Going out tonight? Concord's Bourbon Street is the perfect place to get your ghoulish groove on.

Hardly Working: You've got time. We know how to waste it. Check out the Ghostly Pictures Vault at Ghost Trackers.

Feed Us: Got an East Bay news tip, photo, video or link we need to know about? E-mail us.

One Too Many Artists on Display at Livermore's ArtWalk

by Jonathan Kaminsky
Tue, Oct 31, 2006 at 3:23 PM

An unwelcome freelance artist nearly killed the buzz at downtown Livermore's ArtWalk festival the Saturday before last. The culprit, who is still at large, tagged about a dozen downtown storefronts the night before the big day, reports the Tri-Valley Herald. "It was sort of ironic that we are promoting art in Livermore and then this guy takes it upon himself to display his art with no application or fee," grumped the victimized owner of Fine Fretted Friends on First Street.

The Lifecycle of Fines

by Nate Seltenrich
Tue, Oct 31, 2006 at 3:23 PM

The cycle of life applies to money, too. The Contra Costa County Fish and Wildlife Committee announced last Thursday it's accepting applications for grants to be used to enhance the county's fish and wildlife resources. Funds for the grants come directly from fines for violations of Fish and Game code. This means that the same $200 taken from a trout poacher can be used to help save local trout. Refreshing, isn't it? Last year, a total of $44,160 was awarded to 11 projects, with awards ranging from $490 to $10,000. Applications are due Dec. 28.

So Do They Serve Coors?

by Kelly Vance
Tue, Oct 31, 2006 at 3:23 PM

Is El Cerrito the new home of movie cool? Or is it just North Berkeley with genuine bohemians? No one but us was thinking about that at Saturday night's media/staff grand opening of the new Cerrito Theater, half a block north of El Cerrito Plaza on a previously sleepy stretch of San Pablo Avenue. They'll need a couple of new restaurants up there to handle the after-dark crowds if the new twin-screen movie house is any indication - it's a jewel box, from its restored architectural details (gorgeous Deco etched glass back bar, classic marquee and blade) and comfy chairs (fewer couches than Speakeasy's Parkway but better amenities and a few real theater seats) to Speakeasy's customary beer-wine-pizza snack bar and a street-level café, the It Club. The big problem will be keeping patrons from abandoning the lovable-but-funky Parkway after they've seen the new place.

The Cerrito opens Wednesday, November 1 with two oldies - Casablanca and Pulp Fiction, then switches into its regular second-run format on Friday. Want to have a say in the Cerrito's programming? Feed the theater's Suggestion Box. Owner Kyle Fischer says they'll take their booking cues from audience preferences.

Alongside El Cerrito community dignitaries and Speakeasy stalwarts at the party were the film people, including East Bay movie man Gary Meyer, operator of SF's second-run indie bastion, the Balboa. Gary knows a little about starting a neighborhood cinema - he founded the Landmark art circuit at Berkeley's fabled calendar-house UC Theatre in the '70s, then sold it. These days, he's the new codirector of the prestigious Telluride Film Festival ("Like Cannes died and went to heaven," says Roger Ebert). In fact, Gary and veteran SF movie producer Tom Luddy (Barfly, Mishima), the über-hip film fest's founding codirector, are moving their respective offices into a new Telluride-centric space in the Berkeley flats. And to bring this thing full circle, Meyer and Luddy plan to use the Cerrito to screen Telluride entries next summer for the fest's judges. El Cerrito is coming up in the world. Think Rocky Mountain High.

Back to 92510, the East Bay Express news blog.

Pombolooza: Rednecks for the Other Guy!

by Chris Thompson
Tue, Oct 31, 2006 at 3:23 PM

The Jerry McNerney campaign to dump Dick Pombo continues apace, but just in case Central Valley voters are a little queasy at the prospect of electing some Chez Panisse pansy, have the Dems got a TV spot for you! No hippies, no Pelosi talking points, just a shitkicker rancher squeezing a horse between his thighs and telling you his homespun truth. "Now I was raised to be a good neighbor, and to speak my piece," says the curmudgeonly cowpoke, who goes on to talk about, uh... watershed management and leveraged buyouts. Oh, well -- at least he doesn't mention McNerney by name.

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