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The Review in review

The latest news: A 4.4 quake rumbles off the Northern California coast.

Something’s fishy: A San Leandro pastor is ordered to pay $100,000 in fines and spend one year and one day in prison for organizing a shark poaching ring.

Fruit for thought: The pomegranate is a powerful antioxidant, making it a jack-of-all-trades in the produce world.

Brokering a deal: A group of Sacramento investors and mortgage brokers have forged a relationship with the Chinese government to send over China’s first American hip-hop artist, Richmond native Tha Gift.

Whoowee Cheechoo: Sharks star and All-Star starter is finally getting his groove back after a scoring slump.

Sound off: Check out today’s Letters to the Editor. Want your voice heard? Click here.

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“Survivor Vee” gets appointed to Hayward task force

We can’t wait for the day when Mayor The Rock , School Board Trustee Spice 1 and City Councilwoman Kristi Yamaguchi, all ex-Haywardites, come back to run things at City Hall.

In the meantime, Hayward Mayor Mike Sweeney and the City Council have tapped Vecepia “Vee” Towery-Robinson, winner of “Survivor: Marquesas,” to the Keep Hayward Clean and Green Task Force.

It can’t be easy spending 37 days fighting for taro root, coconuts and Immunity Idols, making like Machiavelli on a deserted South Pacific island while your every move is being scrutinized by a CBS reality show camera.

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But, as failed City Council candidate Robert Lopez can tell you, it’s tough getting on a city commission, too. And once you do get appointed, you have to navigate through heavy paperwork and a potentially perilous crew of bureaucrats, gadflies, ex-officials and officials of organizations you’ve never heard of, all under the watchful eye of Mayor Mike. Here’s a vintage Review photo showing Sweeney (background) directing his task force on schools in 1993.

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The Review in review

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Today’s top news: Will President Bush be seeing green tonight?

Care to convert?: The Hayward City Council will tackle the city’s condo conversion law at a meeting tonight.

Straight from the horse’s mouth: TV columnist Susan Young dishes on this year’s winter press tour in Pasadena, which Fox closed out with a bang. Find out what “American Idol” judge Paula Abdul has to say for her recent odd behavior.

Done deal: The Raiders finally hire a head coach — USC offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin.

May the force be with them: Sun Microsystems and Intel team up in the corporate servers and software war.

Mail bag: Read today’s Letters to the Editor. Want to send one? Click here.

Today’s boredom killer: Think twice before going diving in Australia.

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The Review in review

The latest news: The Supreme Court has overturned California’s sentencing law.

A younger point of view: This week’s teen columnist, Courtney Edwards, muses on the idiosyncracies of pet beagles.

Signs that V-Day is approaching: How do you know when to take your relationship to the next level?

He’s no Susan Lucci: Colts q-back Peyton Manning is finally headed to the mother of all football games.

Where’s the romance?: SF-based Prosper Marketplace Inc. matches borrowers with lenders.

Mail call: Check out today’s Letters to the Editor. Want to send us one? Click here.

Time to kill?: Try your hand at Line Rider. Need something to shoot for? Try this.

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Meditating on downtown Hayward

You’d think Brangie was in town the way downtown Hayward was swooning over San Francisco Chronicle architecture critic John King last week.

King, not to be confused with the carefully coifed CNN guy of the same name, was making the rounds on Thursday, talking to merchants and pedestrians of all sorts. Literary-minded customers and staffers at The Book Shop on B Street were positively giddy about the visit and are waiting to see what the writer has to say in his Tuesday column — apparently it’ll have something to do with downtown Hayward’s redevelopment progress.

“I think he perceived that we have not been as successful — yet — as we want to be,” said one customer who got caught by King while perusing books.

When the architecture critics at our competitor across the Bay weigh in, they weigh in deeply. Story has it that King’s predecessor, Allan Temko, called the 11-story Hayward City Center Building a “toaster” and the name stuck. Unfortunately for its detractors, the building, vacant for nearly 15 years, has stuck too.

Changes in downtown Hayward have come slowly and not without significant debate. It’s been a while since King wrote about it and well over a decade since architect Dan Solomon’s vision for a livelier and more livable downtown Hayward was featured in Peter Katz’s book “New Urbanism: Toward an Architecture of Community.”

Planners had big visions then. A new city hall and downtown condos were built, the new Albertsons plaza has brought some shoppers back downtown and a new 12-screen cinema complex, despite delays and some cutbacks, is on its way.

For those who have been watching downtown Hayward’s changes: Remember what you hoped or expected to see a decade ago? How does that match up to what you’re seeing now?

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Want a foot massage with your turkey-artichoke panini?

The line was 14-people deep and customers were reading their menus like it was in Sanskrit today at the newly opened Panera Bread restaurant near Southland Mall.

The restaurant is the second in a trio of chain restaurants opening near the mall. Elephant Bar opened just over two weeks ago and a Mimi’s Cafe is on the way this spring.

You might be wondering what’s next. The Cheesecake Factory? Nope, but how about some foot massages? According to Hayward’s planning department, a business calling itself the Far East Rehabilitation Center wants to open up a foot-massage parlor in a fairly remote area inside the mall, down the hall from the food court. Public comments on the massage parlor plans are due to the city by Jan. 26, and it’s likely to go to the Hayward Planning Commission a short time later.

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The Review in review

Today’s top story: The family of a developmentally disabled man blames a Union City care home for his death.

bday.jpg Hey shorty, it’s your birthday: The Hayward Area Historical Society’s newest display delves into how different cultures celebrate annual milestones.

The saga continues: Even more signs are pointing to Steve Sarkisian as the Raiders’ next coach.

Beauty in the eye of the beholder: Laura Casey examines artist Bruce Nauman’s new Berkeley exhibit.

What’s it worth to ya?: Rates on term life insurance are dropping.

We’ve got mail: Check out today’s Letters to the Editor. Wanna send one? Click here.

Just for fun: TGIF! Fill your day with some cuteness.

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We’re not talking about the Elvis song

During a community meeting held by California State University, East Bay, and the Hayward Unified School District to discuss the future of the closed Highland Elementary School site, a resident voiced concern over the possibility of having his children attend schools down the hill.

“I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but Hayward down the hill is considered a ghetto,” the resident said.

A ghetto? Hmmm.

Is it the new Elephant Bar restaurant? Or is it because the city has only two Jamba Juice stores?

Raised in Hayward, I wasn’t offended but more so surprised by the comment.

A ghetto is defined by Dictionary.com to be “a usually poor section of a city inhabited primarily by people of the same race, religion, or social background, often because of discrimination.”

Today, the word has taken on several meanings, mainly “old” and “bad,” according to conversations I can remember when the word was used.

OK. So you have an outdated computer. Maybe Windows ’98? Oh my, that’s so ghetto! Or how about that hole in your gym shoe? GHETTO!

Here’s UrbanDictionary.com’s definition.

Yelpers consider Southland Mall to be ghetto. So it isn’t only local residents who view Hayward negatively.

Is Hayward a ghetto? If so, when did it take on that reputation? Why? How?

I’m confused. Is it because I live in the flats? Wait. Does that mean I’m ghetto?

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Send in the 4-H floats: Hayward goes square

Is downtown Hayward’s Main Street getting straighter and squarer, or is it just a phase?

Hookalicious, the downtown hooka cafe that never was, finally showed signs that’s it’s not going to sit vacant in perpetuity. Those of you keeping track may remember that the short-lived cafe, downstairs from the Green Shutter Hotel, shut down almost as soon as city officials caught wind of it last year. What’s moving in? Supposedly, it’ll be a family-friendly coffee shop selling Fenton’s ice cream!

On the other side of B Street, we confirmed in a report today that Club Rumor’s transformation into the Funky Monkey means it is a gay bar no longer. It’s an end of an era for monthly underwear model contests, but whoever is the new house DJ gets one of the best parking spots in town:

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The Review in review

Today’s top news: A new gene test can predict the recurrence of certain types of cancer.

Get up, stand up: CSU faculty picket at the Cal State East Bay campus in Hayward over contract negotiations that so far have yielded no results.

Touchy feely: When it comes to friendly greetings, men really just wanna keep it simple. (Speaking of men, they love bacon. Did you catch our spread in Wednesday’s Food section?)

Maybe this one will stick?: USC assistant coach Steve Sarkisian and the Oakland Raiders are in talks about Oakland’s now vacant coaching position.

The weather isn’t the only thing on ice: Bay Area home sales continue to dive.

Speak up!: Check out today’s Letters to the Editor. Want to send us one? Click here.

Bored?: Sometimes we are too. That’s when we turn to Dave Barry’s blog.