Thursday, March 27, 2008

County to Psych Workers: Yer On Yer Own

by Chris Thompson
Thu, Mar 27, 2008 at 8:08 AM

Despite years of violent attacks and one murder at John George, Alameda County's psychiatric hospital, county administrators have voted to remove sheriff's deputies from patrolling the hospital. Instead, the county has farmed out the job to a private security company, in order to save $380,000 a year. According to the Oakland Tribune, this move has provoked outrage among John George employees, who fear for their lives thanks to a long history of shoddy security and traumatizing attacks on nurses and doctors. As the Express has reported, state officials have repeatedly investigated the hospital and fined it for failing to protect its own employees. Now, it looks like the docs and nurses are on their own once more.

SEIU Tries to Crush Local Union Dissident

by Chris Thompson
Thu, Mar 27, 2008 at 7:55 AM

The San Francisco Chronicle has obtained a letter by Andy Stern, the leader of the massive Service Employees International Union, that charges Oakland health care union giant and longtime rival Sal Rosselli with abusing his role as a union leader. The letter appears to be a prelude to an effort by Stern to strip Rosselli of his leadership of the 120,000-strong United Healthcare Workers and install his own allies. For years, Rosselli has accused Stern of compromising workers' rights in order to cut deals with health care companies and grow the union's membership. SF Weekly columnist Matt Smith has done some stellar work charting this fight, which seems to be coming to a head. This June, Stern and Rosselli will come face-to-face at a national SEIU meeting in Puerto Rico; don't forget to dust off those brass knuckles, boys.

Alameda County's "Hot Spots of Death"

by Chris Thompson
Thu, Mar 27, 2008 at 7:28 AM

Tonight, Alameda County's Public Health Director Anthony Iton will be one of the stars of a new PBS series on the dismaying tendency of poor Americans to die more than six years earlier than their wealthy and middle-class counterparts. Iton mapped the life expectancy of Alameda County residents, and found that it precisely correlated with household income; in other words, if you live in East or West Oakland, don't count on collecting much Social Security. As the San Francisco Chronicle reported, Iton figures it has nothing to do with homicide or AIDS. Rather, poor people die of cancer and heart disease just like everyone else; they just do it sooner. The Chron even has a useful if low-tech map charting life expectancy across the county. Like Jared Diamond said: geography is destiny.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The East Bay Today: March 26, 2008

Wed, Mar 26, 2008 at 6:29 PM

Today's Top Event: Brighton Beach Memoirs at the Willows Theatre.

Brainiac: Learn something new every day. Today's event: An Introduction to Baby Carriers and Slings at the Nurture Center in Lafayette.

Is It Lunch Yet? Express food critics recommend: Jong Ga Jip in Oakland.

On the Town: Going out tonight? If you've never seen "Diamond Dave" Hosley perform at Petar's Restaurant in Lafayette, here's your chance.

Hardly Working: You've got time. We know how to waste it. Check out this self-entertaining dog.

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

Time runs out for Cal coach Ben Braun

Wed, Mar 26, 2008 at 5:13 PM

The countdown for Cal hoops coach Ben Braun is done. Fired early this afternoon, it's time to sum up a career.

12-The number of years Ben Braun had as Cal basketball coach.

11-Post-season victories in his Golden Bear career.

10-The last full year (2010) that Braun will still be on the Cal payroll. Severance pay $985,000 to watch the team on TV, or not!

9-The place Cal finished in the Pac-10

8-The other place the Bears finished in the Pac-10 in the last three of the past four years

7-Losses in his last nine games at Cal is what made this year's spin-out more egregious, I suppose.

6-The number of Pac-10 teams that made the NCAA tournament this year. Cal's been there once in the past five years.

5-The number of fans who attended Cal's N.I.T. home game against New Mexico to give Braun his final victory at Cal (OK, it was 1,906 but that's like five seats per customer)

4-The number of starters who are going to return for next year. But don't feel like Braun's getting hosed; his best year at Berkeley, his first was done on the backs of former coach Todd Bozeman's recruits.

3-The number of wins it takes to get past the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament. That's one more than Braun ever won.

2-Schools Braun coached at before he joined Cal, and is likely twice the number he has in front of him.

1-Lonely banner hanging at Haas Pavilion, the 1999 N.I.T championship. At the time that was thought to be pretty weak, compared to winning the Pac-10 title.

0-The number of Pac-10 titles won in Braun's time at Cal.— Kibby Kleiman

Mortgage Fraud Marches On

by Chris Thompson
Wed, Mar 26, 2008 at 12:47 PM

Okay, this story just keeps a'comin'. Federal prosecutors in Sacramento have announced yet another massive mortgage fraud scheme operating in Southern California. This time, the alleged scammers deployed a "foreclosure rescue scam," in which they suckered people into giving title of the house to a straw buyer, who borrowed against the increased equity and gave to the scammers for a fee. The con men allegedly pocketed the money and walked away. According to the Los Angeles Times, the culprits allegedly did this more than one hundred times and snagged roughly $12.6 million. That's a spicy meatball!

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Catellus Coming to Oakland

by Chris Thompson
Wed, Mar 26, 2008 at 8:31 AM

Catellus Development, the massive mixed-use project developer that remade Mission Bay and large parts of Emeryville, is moving its offices to Jack London Square, the East Bay Business Times reports. The company, which was originally formed to figure out what to do with all the surplus land owned by Southern Pacific Railroad, is now one of the largest developers in the West Coast. Their arrival in Jack London Square could be a huge boost to the area, which has struggled to fill both office and entertainment space in the last few years.

Clear Channel Buyout Going Bust?

by Chris Thompson
Wed, Mar 26, 2008 at 8:17 AM

Ruh roh. Looks like Clear Channel's $19 billion buyout may be going belly up. Two years ago, the massive national radio chain announced that it was ready to be snatched up by a pair of private equity firms. The company operates seven radio stations in the Bay Area, and observers speculated that the prospective new owners were likely to sell at least of few of these assets off. (Which, needless to say, was welcome news to critics who have long complained about the consolidation of broadcast media.) But now, The Wall Street Journal reports, the deal could die off, because Clear Channel's shareholders and the private equity firms have not been able to agree on a price. Wait: private equity firms still have equity?

New UC President Knows How to Raise Cash

by Chris Thompson
Wed, Mar 26, 2008 at 7:57 AM

That's the gist of a new Associated Press story about incoming UC President Mark Yudof. According to the AP account, Yudof displayed remarkable skill in cajoling the Texas state legislature, which faced a $10 billion deficit, into giving the University of Texas system $500 million more than it had originally penciled in. Yudof was similarly successful at securing federal research money, but critics hammered him for overseeing a 40 percent hike in student tuition. Looks like Yudof will be dedicated to keeping UC in the black; whether it'll be on the backs of students remains to be seen.

Yusuf Bey Clan Gets Heat, Loses Oversized Posters

by Chris Thompson
Wed, Mar 26, 2008 at 7:50 AM

Fresh from winning a prestigious national award from Investigative Reporters and Editors, the Chauncey Bailey Project has pubished a new story about the Yusuf Bey family, in which Santa Barbara police have reopened an investigation into a forty-year-old double murder. When Bey and his brother Billy X Stephens were operating their first mosque in Santa Barbara, two members of their sect were killed in their beds in 1968. In the original police investigation, mosque member Wendell Scott had allegedly written a letter to Nation of Islam leaders, complaining that he was forced to commit arson and insurance fraud on behalf of Stephens and Bey. Shortly afterward, someone kicked open the door of his apartment and used a rifle to shoot Scott and his wife, Birdie Mae Scott. Police were stymied at the time, but have reopened the case thanks to inquiries from the Chauncey Bailey Project.

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