Richmond: Online in public? Do more than look over your shoulder

“Like it or not, we are now living in a cyberpunk novel. When people find out how trivial and easy it is to see and even modify what you do online, they are shocked.”

A quote from Darren Kitchen, systems administrator for an aerospace company in Richmond, and the host of Hak5, a video podcast about computer hacking and security, in “New Hacking Tools Pose Bigger Threats to Wi-Fi Users,” last week’s Kate Murphy article for the New York Times’ technology section.

Here’s an explanatory video:


Richmond to speedy drivers: Ease off that gas pedal there …

Stop sign

Picture by Flickr user Kevin McCarthy under Creative Commons attribution license

One of the most common traffic complaints in Richmond are the drivers who flout the posted speed limits, infuriating pedestrians everywhere.

Engineers say they have found a way to help slow down gas pedal-happy drivers starting this summer. The city wants to spend $175,000 on stop signs, upgraded traffic signals, pedestrian medians and other devices at 16 locations.

Is your street on this summer’s work list? Here’s a presentation the city gave at a recent meeting that shows the 16 locations and what improvements are being considered.

Of course, more streets need help than just these. The city will get to them as funding becomes available, officials said.

A draft traffic safety study that outlines all the streets that need improvement — not just those eyed for this summer — is expected to reach the City Council soon. We’ll let you know when it’s available.


Richmond: USGS goes retro with map

A new fault line map from the United States Geological Survey was actually drawn up in 1982, when you could go to the drive-in movies in Richmond.

A "new" fault line map from the United States Geological Survey was actually drawn up in 1982, when you could go to the drive-in movies in Richmond.

So the United States Geological Survey is making its maps of earthquake fault lines in California available for download online to the public for the first time.

The maps, officially titled the “Alquist-Priolo Earthquake Fault Zone Maps,” show highlighted fault lines highlighted on a grayscale, topographical depiction of the terrain, but that doesn’t mean any new cartography was done.

We went to the site, downloaded a PDF of the map for the Richmond area and began examining. We were pleased to see the retro aspects of our selected map.

The map from our area is from 1982 and clearly shows a drive-in movie theater at the Hilltop Drive exit and no Richmond Parkway, where our beloved West County Times building has stood watch for more than 20 years.

While our particular map may not offer insight into all the newer infrastructure in the area, it does show just how close the fault lines are to all of us and just how much you need to be prepared. Training is available if you want it.

And kudos to the USGS for not commissioning a new map.


Richmond: Group donates body armor for local police dogs

Richmond police dog Rasp, now bullet-proof.

Richmond police dog Rasp, now bullet-proof.

At home, they probably wear cute little doggie sweaters. But on the job, Bosco, Ivan and Rasp prefer to slip into something a little less comfortable.

Well, OK. Really they don’t.

“It is extra weight,” said Richmond Police Officer Aaron Mandell, who handles police dog Rasp on the job. “You can tell that it affects his balance a little bit. It’s going to take some getting used to.”

But, thanks to local donations and the work of K-9 Armor, a Novato-based state charity, more Richmond police dogs will feel bullet-proof when charging into scary situations.

The group, which provides Kevlar armor to police dogs around the state, provided vests to two Richmond police dogs and one from San Pablo on Thursday.

“They can stop a .44 Magnum,” K-9 armor co-founder Suzanne Saunders said. “It’s the same material they use for (human) officers.”

Officer Joe Avila’s dog, Bosco, also suited up, as did Ivan, a police dog from San Pablo handled by Officer Danielle Bowler. Former City Council candidate Chris Tallerico ponied up for Bosco’s vest, a donation made in memory of Officer Bradley Moody, a dog handler who died in a car crash in 2008.

Four of Richmond’s six dogs now have armor, said Sgt. Mitch Peixoto, who manages the departments’ K-9 program. The dogs don’t wear the vests every day, suiting up only when there’s a need.


Richmond: Former City Council member MacDiarmid passes

David MacDiarmid died on Feb. 15, at the age of 68, at Kaiser hospital in Elk Grove. He suffered from a longtime heart problem, recently complicated by a lung condition.

MacDiarmid was elected to the Richmond City Council in 1983 and served two terms on the council until 1991.

In 1994, MacDiarmid was elected to the Contra Costa College District Board, where he served until 2006.

MacDiarmid, and his wife of 48 years, Carol MacDiarmid, who was a member of Assemblyman Bob Campbell’s staff for 16 years, were retired.

They moved to Elk Grove in 2009 to be near their daughter, Karolyn MacDiarmid, and granddaughter, Katrina MacDiarmid.

Services, to be held in Elk Grove, are pending. The family also plans to hold a memorial service in West County in the near future.

Here is a 2008 video of the MacDiarmids endorsing former Richmond councilmember Harpreet Sandhu.


An ode to Richmond’s own Fred Jackson

Fred Jackson is surrounded by family members and Mayor Gayle McLaughline after a city proclamation is made in his honor by the Richmond council Feb. 15, 2011. Photo by Ellen Gailing

Fred Jackson is surrounded by family members and Mayor Gayle McLaughlin after a city proclamation is made in his honor by the Richmond council Feb. 15, 2011. Photo by Ellen Gailing

FOR THOSE WHO have met Fred Jackson — as I’m sure many of you have — you know what I’m talking about.

He is a violence prevention activist, a peacemaker, an inspiring orator with the power to pack a room.

He did just that Tuesday night. Family, friends, fellow activists and colleagues crowded into the Richmond City Council Chambers to offer a standing ovation when city leaders honored Jackson with a proclamation.

Humble as always, Jackson said he hasn’t always done the right thing all the time. But he said he is driven by the “hounds of conscience,” as he calls it, and he hopes those hounds will keep on him.

“We can change things,” Jackson said. “Richmond can become that one Richmond we talk about. It can happen, but it takes human beings full of vitality, full of love and full of determination to make it happen.”

Barbara Becnel, executive director of the nonprofit Neighborhood House of North Richmond who has worked with Jackson for years, dubbed him “a living saint” and said she couldn’t remember anything he has done wrong.

“I want to be like Fred when I grow up because he is absolutely my hero,” Becnel said.

My colleague Chris Treadway will be writing more about Jackson in his Sunday column so stay tuned.

As Treadway reported last month, Jackson was recently diagnosed with cancer and started chemotherapy last week. He has vowed not to let it stop his work.


Richmond: Your West County vintage image of the week

Aerial view of Richmond, circa 1953. Natural Color by Mike Roberts, Berkeley, 2, Calif.

Aerial view of Richmond, circa 1953. "Natural Color" by Mike Roberts, Berkeley, 2, Calif.

We admit we didn’t specify a “vintage image of the week” last week — unless you count the 1943 caricature of Henry J. Kaiser. Which we are. So we’re moving forward with this week’s image.

Aero Photographers took this postcard shot of Richmond, circa 1953, with the still new Civic Center in the center. The postcard was published by “E.F. Clements, 1120 Mission, San Francisco, 3, Calif.”

The description on the flipside: “This fast growing city of good homes and heavy industry is ideally located on the east shore of San Francisco Bay on U.S. Highway 40. Center of picture features the Richmond Civic Center.”

Do you have a vintage view of West County you’d like to share here? Send an e-mail to ctreadway@bayareanewsgroup.com.


Richmond: Council will honor Fred Jackson

The Richmond City Council on Tuesday will mark Black History Month with a proclamation “honoring Fred Davis Jackson for his exemplary service to the community.”

The proclamation cites Jackson’s longtime role as a community peacemaker and calls him “an inspiration to all who are seeking to overcome challenges.”

Jackson, as noted last month, is overcoming his own challenges since being diagnosed with liver cancer. He continues to fight the good fight as he undergoes treatment.

Well-wishers who want to send Jackson a note can address it in care of Elaine and Paul Foster, his sister and brother-in-law, at 2831 Shane Drive, Richmond CA 94806.

The proclamation will be presented at the meeting at 6:30 p.m. in the council chamber at 440 Civic Center Plaza.

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El Cerrito: “Big River” is inviting

Jim, the runaway slave (LaMont Ridgell) and Huck Finn (Michael Scott Wells) take a rest from their journey alongside the Mighty Mississippi in the Contra Costa Civic Theatre production of Big River.

Jim, the runaway slave (LaMont Ridgell) and Huck Finn (Michael Scott Wells) take a rest from their journey alongside the Mighty Mississippi in Contra Costa Civic Theatre's production of "Big River."

I had the pleasure of seeing “Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” which opened last weekend at Contra Costa Civic Theatre in El Cerrito.

A talented cast does justice to the Tony Award-winning score by the late great singer/songwriter Roger Miller. Performances continue on Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons through March 13 at CCCT, 951 Pomona Ave.

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