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Archive for June, 2007

Lights out

A tree falling into a power line was to blame for a power outage that affected more than 500 Lafayette residents earlier this week.
The tree fell into a power line at Happy Valley Road and Deer Trail Road at about 1:15 p.m. Tuesday, said Brian Swanson, spokesman for PG&E.
The outage left 570 residents without electricity, he said.
PG&E crews arrived to make repairs and were able to restore power to about half the customers by 2:15 p.m. It took about six more hours for the rest of the residents to have electricity restored, he said.
Katherine Tam

Posted on Thursday, June 28th, 2007
Under: Lafayette | No Comments »

Road rage, mail theft and the big move in Orinda

I dropped by the new city offices today — the departments are starting to settle into their new digs, and the piles of boxes and general moving chaos has calmed considerably since last week.

A couple of notable items popped up in the Orinda police logs:
There seems to be a rash of mail thefts over the last few weeks, with reports from areas such as La Cuesta, Sleepy Hollow, Normandy Lane, Miner Road and Berry Brook Hollow.

In the La Cuesta incident, a woman found her mail scattered on the ground near her mail box on June 13, but couldn’t tell if anything was missing. The next day, however, someone used her new Chevron card, which hadn’t yet arrived, to spend $95 in Pinole.

Orinda police have a list of tips for avoiding mail theft on their Web site, including:
· Purchase a locked mailbox or convert your unlocked box to a lockable type.
· Promptly report non-receipt of expected credit cards, checks, and other valuable mail to the senders.
· Get together with neighbors and the Postal Service and arrange for the neighborhood delivery. These group mailboxes are known as Neighborhood Delivery and Collection Box Units (NDCBU). With an NDCBU mailbox, each address has an individual locked unit for delivery and collection. (Note: A minimum of seven neighbors are needed to sign a petition requesting a NDCBU.)
· READ IT then SHRED IT!!
· Destroy anything with your name, address or other identifying information on it before discarding, especially credit card and home loan applications. Junk mail to you is a gold mine to a thief. They often use those discarded applications to open fraudulent credit accounts in names of unsuspecting victims.
· The Postal Service pays rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of mail thieves. Report suspect or crime information to Postal Inspectors, 24 hours a day, at 415-778-5800.
Click here to see more tips.
More information about identity theft is available here .

Also, from the “I mean, seriously?” file, comes this report of an Orinda man with a bad case of road rage.

According to the police report, a 19-year-old woman was attempting to save a parking space for someone in front of a Moraga Way restaurant on June 15. The man was apparently set on parking there, told her to move and, when she explained she was saving the spot, he proceeded to park there anyway — hitting her with his vehicle four or five times to move her out of the way.

The man was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon.

— Brooke Bryant

Posted on Thursday, June 28th, 2007
Under: Orinda | No Comments »

Drumming up support

Harriet Ainsworth plugs next Wednesday’s 2007 Fourth of July parade, led by Lafayette’s Mo Levich, in her Sun column this week: Mo says: “All instruments and all levels of musicianship are welcome: If you need music in advance, call me at 925-283-0361. Drums (only) must register in advance: call 925-254-9169. We meet at 9 a.m. at Valero gas station next to Casa Orinda; practice one hour and parade at 10 a.m. sharp. Uniform is blue shorts, white shirt and something red — socks, cap, what have you?”
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Posted on Wednesday, June 27th, 2007
Under: Lafayette, Lamorinda, Music, Orinda | 1 Comment »

Ode to La Fayette, the city’s namesake

The man for whom the city of Lafayette is named turns 250 this year — and city leaders want to help throw him a party.
The City Council on Monday unanimously allotted up to $5,000 in next year’s budget for some initial birthday party planning, such as securing space and providing basic supplies.
Gilbert du Motier de La Fayette, who fought in two revolutionary wars, was born 250 years ago on Sept. 6.
Twenty-one cities and counties across the country are named Lafayette, with the city in Lamorinda being the only one in California. At least two dozen more bear some other version of his name such as “Fayette” or “Fayetteville.”
The Consulat General de France a San Francisco has approached Mayor Carol Federighi to inquire about any birthday celebrations. In addition, local businesses and two Rotary Clubs are interested in organizing or participating in commemoration.
The Lamorinda Sunrise Rotary Club has raised the idea of a mural at the Lafayette BART station.
Katherine Tam

Posted on Tuesday, June 26th, 2007
Under: Lafayette | No Comments »

Lafayette murder trial begins

By Bruce Gerstman
CONTRA COSTA TIMES

MARTINEZ — A door-to-door magazine salesman accused of killing and raping an elderly Lafayette woman told investigators that he remembered coming into her house, but did not assault her, a sheriff’s deputy testified today.

“He said there was a slight possibility they might have brushed shoulders,” Contra Costa County sheriff’s deputy Cary Goldberg said in Superior Court at the preliminary hearing of Richard McNew.

The District Attorney’s Office started presenting evidence today at a preliminary hearing where a judge will decide whether McNew, 34, must stand trial for the killing of 90-year-old Ann Elizabeth Vuori on Dec. 10, 2005. He is charged with rape and murder and faces special circumstances which could make him eligible for the death penalty if convicted at trial. To read more, click here.

The sheriff’s department responded to a neighbor’s call on Dec. 10 saying that Vuori was in her bedroom, not moving. Investigators found her body bound by cords and a belt tying her arms, legs and head to the bed.

Clothing covered the floor, Goldberg said. Somebody had opened her drawers and rifled through them. Some savings bonds were missing.

“It appeared to me that the entire room had been ransacked,” Goldberg testified.

Investigators initially arrested a neighbor but prosecutors declined to charge him because the crime lab did not match his DNA with crime scene evidence.

By January, investigators matched the evidence with McNew through a national criminal database.

Posted on Tuesday, June 26th, 2007
Under: Crime, Lafayette, Lamorinda | No Comments »

Hearings begin in Lafayette murder case

By Bruce Gerstman
CONTRA COSTA TIMES

MARTINEZ — A door-to-door magazine salesman accused of killing and raping an elderly Lafayette woman told investigators that he remembered coming into her house, but did not assault her, a sheriff’s deputy testified today.

“He said there was a slight possibility they might have brushed shoulders,” Contra Costa County sheriff’s deputy Cary Goldberg said in Superior Court at the preliminary hearing of Richard McNew.

The District Attorney’s Office started presenting evidence today at a preliminary hearing where a judge will decide whether McNew, 34, must stand trial for the killing of 90-year-old Ann Elizabeth Vuori on Dec. 10, 2005. He is charged with rape and murder and faces special circumstances which could make him eligible for the death penalty if convicted at trial.

The sheriff’s department responded to a neighbor’s call on Dec. 10 saying that Vuori was in her bedroom, not moving. Investigators found her body bound by cords and a belt tying her arms, legs and head to the bed.

For more testimony, click here.

Posted on Tuesday, June 26th, 2007
Under: Crime, Lafayette, Lamorinda | No Comments »

Seniors beware: identity and financial theft is on the rise

With identity theft on the rise, Lafayette Senior Services is sponsoring a workshop next week to tell people how to protect themselves.

Seniors in particular are often preyed upon because they are more likely to be home during the day and answer the telephone, officials said. They also hang out less in social settings and therefore tend to be more friendly and open to conversation.

The workshop is 10:30 a.m. to noon June 28 at the Lafayette Community Center, 500 St. Marys Road. Experts will talk about recent problems and share tips.

Katherine Tam

Posted on Friday, June 22nd, 2007
Under: Lafayette | No Comments »

The beauty of a web cam

A web cam posted on the lightpole on Mt. Diablo Boulevard captures the construction of Lafayette’s new library in real time so residents can watch the building go up without leaving home. Click here for the webcam.

The $43 million Library and Learning Center is the city’s most expensive public project. Construction began in April, and crews have spent the last several weeks digging at the site for the underground parking garage and are preparing to install the foundation footings.

Meanwhile, city officials are working on other aspects of the library. They are partnering with the Lafayette Community Foundation to pay for running the library, and are tapping the Oakland Museum for a little expertise in acquiring some public art.

The library is slated to open in 2009.
Katherine Tam

Posted on Friday, June 22nd, 2007
Under: Lafayette | No Comments »

Cafe Society

Orinda’s Cafe Teatro draws lots of young moms and kids in strollers. Seen this morning: A mother pushing her toddler daughter in a stroller. Mom seemed to be enticed inside by all the yummy baked goods and fancy coffee drinks while the child seemed perfectly content to munch on grapes from home and a box of raisins. Don’t’ know what was in her sippy cup.

The Squirrels cafe in Lafayette is a perfect people-watching spot, right on the corner of Mount Diablo Boulevard. Show up at the door with a walker or cane and multiple staff members rush to greet you.

Watch all the cars go by. Every other one seems to be a silver Honda or white Lexus.
Park on Mt. Diablo and pay at the automated meter box out front.

The only minor problem: Now that it is summer and the sun is bright, it’s hard to read the display to see how many minutes remain. Lots of people Friday had their noses right on the screen display and still couldn’t see what they owed.

As noted in the June 22 Sun, the Lafayette council has approved more meters at $1 an hour for downtown parkers. Bring ‘em on but make ‘em bright..

Posted on Friday, June 22nd, 2007
Under: Lafayette, Lamorinda, Orinda, Restaurants | No Comments »

From the city manager …

Check out the latest city news — and thoughts on eating in Lafayette — from Lafayette City Manager Steve Falk …by clicking here.

Posted on Thursday, June 21st, 2007
Under: Lafayette, Lamorinda, Restaurants | No Comments »