Richmond removes median in front of police headquarters to improve access


A stretch of the median on Regatta Boulevard in front of the Richmond Police Department HQ has been removed, meaning cars can make a left out of or into the facility for the first time since the department relocated there from Civic Center Plaza.
The need for the easier access is magnified by the upcoming closure on Sept. 3 of a block of Marina Way Parkway for 18 months to build an underpass under the rail line between Regatta and Meeker Avenue. The closure is in addition to train traffic on two lines that can at times limit access to and from the shoreline area.


Oakland A’s, Chevron to partner at game for youth science education tonight

Description: Description: Description: 2012 OAK AL-West ChampionsBW.epsOAKLAND ATHLETICS

Media Release


Oakland Athletics Baseball Company h 7000 Coliseum Way h Oakland, CA 94621

510-638-4900 h Public Relations Facsimile 510-562-1633 h www.oaklandathletics.com

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                                                                                                          August 27, 2013

A’s to Host Chevron’s STEM Zone Experience

Admission is Free with a Game Ticket to Aug. 31 Game vs. Tampa Bay Rays

OAKLAND, Calif. – The Oakland Athletics and Chevron will host the Chevron STEM Zone, an exhibit that explores scientific concepts behind the game of baseball, on Saturday, Aug. 31 at the O.co Coliseum. Admission to the STEM Zone, located behind Section 217 outside the Bar & Grille, is free to fans with a ticket to that night’s game vs. the Tampa Bay Rays.

The STEM Zone – STEM is an abbreviation for science, technology, engineering and math – is a component of “Science of the Game,” a unique educational program initiated by Chevron and the A’s that deepens interest and understanding of science among Bay Area youth through baseball. Through interactive experiences, students learn how the game of baseball works and the fundamental roles that gravity, acceleration and reaction time play. To see examples of these educational experiences, please visithttp://www.chevron.com/countries/usa/chevronincalifornia/newsletter/volume9/stemZone/.


“Chevron believes that STEM education and an understanding of how the world works is critical to helping students succeed and prepare for the increasing number of technical jobs in the modern economy and particularly here in the Bay Area,” said Russ Yarrow, manager of partnerships and events at Chevron. “By partnering with the Oakland A’s to develop Science of the Game, we can help bring science to life and show kids its application in the real world.”


Chevron began the concept of STEM Zones with its “Science of Golf” exhibits at Professional Golf Association tournaments. Applying similar lessons to baseball, Chevron and the A’s are collaborating with local schools to use innovative lessons to teach science and math topics – such as aerodynamics, energy transference and acceleration.


In addition to the STEM Zone, the Science of the Game program includes other efforts to reinvigorate STEM education in the Bay Area. On May 17, Oakland A’s infielder Eric Sogard and team mascot Stomper visited Stege Elementary School in Richmond to distribute Science of the Game workbooks and work through science problems with students. The A’s have distributed more than 15,000 Science of the Game workbooks to Bay Area schools that utilize science formulas to answer questions related to various aspects of baseball. The three workbooks, targeting grades 1-2, 3-5, and 6-8, are also available at www.oaklandathletics.com/science. Students who complete their workbooks and submit their answer sheets to the A’s, receive two ticket vouchers to select A’s home games.

“It’s great being around the kids and seeing the smiles on their faces,” Sogard said after his visit to Stege Elementary. “It’s great to be able to share with them. I hope the [Science of the Game] will help them now or in the future.”

In addition to Sogard’s visit to the elementary school in Richmond, students from West Contra Costa County public schools including Chavez Elementary School, Helms Middle School, Kennedy High School, Lincoln Elementary School, Making Waves Academy, Peres Elementary School and Richmond High School have been selected to attend the Aug. 31 game and experience the STEM Zone.

“Educating all youth is vital to creating a future generation of critical thinkers ready to succeed in college and career, and become leaders and innovators,” said Jennifer B. Lyle, chief of operations, Building Block for Kids Collaborative. “Opportunities like the STEM Zone experience are innovative ways to engage our Richmond youth and stimulate learning.”

Chevron is partnering with the A’s to engage kids in science education in the Bay Area as part of its California Partnership, an initiative to invest in economic development and education in its home state. Since 2009, Chevron has invested over $15 million to support STEM education programs that have reached more than 500,000 students and 6,700 teachers in California. As global energy demand increases, so too does the need to hire a technical workforce, elevating the importance of science, technology, engineering and math.

“Science of the Game,” “Mathletics” and “Home Run Readers” programs put into action the Oakland A’s commitment to supporting education in the Bay Area. The A’s organization, in conjunction with the A’s Community Fund, strives to make a positive impact in the Bay Area and Northern California. A’s players, coaches and front office employees, together with fans and sponsors, are committed to meeting the social, cultural and educational demands in the community.

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Bay Bridge: Walking the eastern span in 1989


As we say farewell to the funky, almost always reliable eastern span of the Bay Bridge we reflect back to 1989 and the Loma Prieta earthquake. That was the one time the eastern span failed, and the Bay Area was ready to celebrate when repairs were made to the collapsed section on Nov. 16, 1989. Folks who had registered were given a free Caltrans pass to go to a designated parking area and hop on a bus to the toll plaza. From there, they were free to walk the eastern part of the bridge — up to a certain distance, where a platform was set up for remarks by dignitaries.
There were port-a-potties set up on the cantilever section for celebrants, and loudspeakers so they could hear the speeches and join in as special dignitary Tony Bennett sang “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.”
While there was lots of law enforcement along the sides of the bridge, there were no metal detectors and bag or background checks for those attending.





Barbara Lee issues statement on Berkeley post office closure, calls for USPS to drop sale plans

post office July 27.2 003
The post office protest encampment, seen here in a photo by Judith Scherr on July 27, continues as elected officials and advocacy groups try to find ways to prevent the sale of the landmark.

The following statement was issued today by Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) responding to the U.S. Postal Regulatory Commission decision to dismiss the appeal by Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates of the U.S. Postal Service decision to sell the downtown post office:

I am extremely disappointed by the U.S. Postal Regulatory Commission’s decision to dismiss the appeal. While U.S. Postal Regulatory Commission, rendered the appeal “premature”, I strongly urge the Commission to reconsider the appeal and abandon plans to sell the property.


Berkeley: Tilden Regional Park carousel part of a vanishing breed


It’s nice to have an authentic antique carousel right in our own back yard, available for riding and reminiscing just a short trip away in Tilden Regional Park. The classic 1911 Herschell-Spillman wood carousel at Tilden, in fact, is one of a number of working merry-go-rounds open to the public in the Bay Area and a favorite for family outings both during summer and the Christmas holidays alike.
But we may be more fortunate than we realize, according to this article on smithsonian.com, which states that “the ornate, well-made carousels of the past are in danger. They’re deteriorating and being sold off piecemeal, horse by horse, or sometimes even for parts.”
Carousels were not hard to find from the 1890s to the 1920s, with 3,000 or so in operation in locations around the United States at the height of their popularity.
Today there are about 150 antique carousels left, including the Tilden merry-go-round.

The National Carousel Association has compiled a map showing locations of antique, metal and new carousels that remain in operation across the 50 states and you can see a nice concentration in the Bay Area and Northern California.


1940: When a trip to the service station was worth dressing up for


Gas was only 18 cents a gallon in 1940 (equivalent today of about $2.40 a gallon) and competition was so fierce among oil companies that they not only gave you free road maps, they boasted about how much extra service they provided, checking the oil and tires and cleaning the windshield.
Union Oil promised “Minute Man” service with no sales pressure, leaving this couple free to converse while their roadster is tended to.
Note that the “76” logo is square, rather than the familiar round version we know today.
The longtime Union Oil refinery in West County, originally established in 1897 in what was then a company town known as Oleum, is now the Phillips 66 refinery in Rodeo.




Telegraph Ave. in Berkeley getting a new mural


Artists who began a mural on the side of Shakespeare Books at Dwight Way and Telegraph Avenue last weekend are back this weekend to finish the project.
Leading the project, which is funded by Shakespeare Books and the Telegraph Business Improvement District, are artists Tim Hon and Steve Ha of the Illuminaries art group (www.illuminaries.net). The pair also created murals last year commemorating the San Francisco Giants and 49ers in that city’s Mission District.
For the Berkeley mural the artists are working entirely with spray paint to create a mural with a positive message that inspires the imagination.
“I believe people are influenced by their environment, and their surroundings, and we aim to make a positive impact on that old building,” Hon said in an announcement.
The artists will be working through Sunday, when they will have DJs providing musical accompaniment as part of the Sundays on Telegraph Street Faire.

(Photo courtesy Tim Hon)


El Cerrito plastic bag ban vote draws quick response

El Cerrito passed its first reading tonight of a ban on plastic bags at retail stores and foam containers for leftovers at food outlets.
It took one environmental group just a few minutes to issue a media release applauding the decision:

El Cerrito Bans Single-Use Plastic Bags and Styrofoam

El Cerrito—The El Cerrito City Council voted tonight to ban single-use plastic shopping bags and Styrofoam. The plastic bag ordinance applies to all stores except restaurants and certain charities, while the Styrofoam law affects restaurants and city vendors. Both bans take effect on January 1, 2014.

“This important step forward for El Cerrito shows yet again that we can achieve lasting victories for the ocean and our environment,” said Nathan Weaver with Environment California. “Banning plastic bags is the right choice to protect our rivers, beaches, and the Pacific Ocean. I applaud the City Council members for their leadership on this issue.”

Single-use plastic bags and food packaging, including Styrofoam, are two of the most common garbage items removed from California’s beaches by Ocean Conservancy volunteers. Plastic bags are a direct threat to ocean wildlife, like the sea turtles that mistake them for edible jellyfish. One in three leatherback sea turtles studied had plastic in their stomachs, most often a plastic bag, according to an analysis of over 370 autopsies. A study by the Bay Area Stormwater Management Agencies Association found that plastic shopping bags alone make up as much as 8 percent of the garbage that reaches the San Francisco Bay.

“Nothing we use for a few minutes should pollute the ocean for hundreds of years,” commented Weaver.

Plastic bag bans have enjoyed tremendous success across California. El Cerrito is the 81st California local government to ban single-use plastic bags, joining San Francisco, San Jose, Richmond, Oakland, and others. Together, these local governments represent nearly 1 in 3 Californians. Over 70 California cities and counties have banned Styrofoam food containers.


Richmond downtown festival set for weekend


Contact: Christina Zirker
Email: christina@christinazirker.com            
Phone: (510) 912-0212


Free Event Features Live Music, Outdoor Marketplace, Local Food and more in Celebration and Support of Historic Downtown Richmond

(RICHMOND, CA, August 19, 2013)—The Richmond Main Street Initiative (RMSI) has announced the return of one of Richmond’s most beloved annual events, its Spirit & Soul Festival and fundraiser on Saturday, September 21st from 1 pm to 5 pm. The outdoor festival is held on Macdonald Avenue between 13th Street and Harbour Way, Richmond, 94801. Admission to Spirit & Soul is free, with artisan crafts, food, wine and beverages for sale. Proceeds from wine, beverage and raffle sales will benefit Richmond Main Street’s mission to support the revitalization of historic downtown Richmond.

Musical headliners for the fifth annual Spirit & Soul festival are internationally-acclaimed Zydeco performer and Richmond-native Andre Thierry & Zydeco Magic, pop and R&B sensation Dahrio Wonder, and hit-making R&B pop band Club Nouveau, founded by producer-performer Jay King. Club Nouveau will perform songs from its upcoming greatest hits project, which highlights a lauded musical career launched in the the mid-eighties, including chart-toppers “Jealousy” and Bill Withers’ “Lean on Me,” as well as soon-to-be released new material. 

In addition to great music, Spirit & Soul’s outdoor marketplace will feature handmade jewelry, home goods, accessories, clothing, and more crafted by local artisans and entrepreneurs. Local food vendors will dish up healthy and delicious cuisine and a wine and beverage pavilion will offer refreshments for purchase. Attendees can also enter a raffle of exciting prizes that highlight Richmond’s diverse products and services, donated by local businesses. 

For the second year in a row, the festival’s format will be a street fair in the heart of historic downtown Richmond on Macdonald Avenue. This move provides increased public access to the event and highlights Macdonald Avenue’s beautifully updated streetscape. New street banners by local artist Richard Muro Salazar will also be on display on Macdonald from Harbour Way to Marina Way.

“Spirit & Soul is an amazing celebration of our community and the strides we’re making in the revitalization of downtown historic Richmond,” said Amanda Elliott, Executive Director of the RMSI. “It’s also an important fundraiser for our programs and initiatives. We invite everyone to join us for a fantastic day of music and fun that directly supports our mission to cultivate a culturally and economically vibrant district.”

The Spirit & Soul Festival is sponsored by ChevronMechanics BankCity of RichmondState FarmLocal Initiatives Support CorporationRichmond Convention & Visitors BureauKaiser Permanente, and Community Housing Development Center.

Other ongoing events include the Richmond Main Street Farmers’ Market, sponsored by RMSI and produced by the Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association at Nevin Plaza in Downtown Richmond every Wednesday until October 30th (10 am to 2 pm), and free weekly Zumba and belly-dancing fitness classes (schedule available at: www.richmondmainstreet.org/news-events/fitness-classes).

The RMSI will be a participating beneficiary of the first annual We Give – 2013! online giving event, beginning at 6 am on Wednesday, September 18th and running for a 36 hour fundraising period. We Give – 2013! provides an opportunity for people who care about Richmond and West Contra Costa County to come together and raise as much money as possible for local nonprofits. It coincides with the “Week of Caring”partnership between United Way of the Bay Area and Volunteer Centers of the East Bay. All gifts are tax deductible and will be processed throughwww.WeGive2Richmond.org, an online resource and community wide giving program administered by the Richmond Community Foundation. Please visit the RMSI’s facebook page at www.facebook.com/richmondmainstreet for updates on We Give – 2013!

About the Richmond Main Street Initiative:

Richmond Main Street Initiative is a community based non-profit dedicated to revitalizing historic downtown Richmond. RMSI partners with the City of Richmond, merchants, and residents to develop and improve downtown Richmond as a pedestrian-friendly urban village that offers products, services, arts and entertainment that reflect the community’s rich and diverse heritage. 

In July 2012, local property owners and the Richmond City Council approved the Downtown Richmond Property-based Business Improvement District (DRPBID). This is the first district of its kind in Contra Costa County and is managed by the RMSI. The DRPBID focuses on creating and promoting a safe, clean and vibrant downtown, fostering economic development, supporting local business with training programs, and attracting new businesses to meet the community’s needs. It is funded through a self-imposed and self-governed property tax assessment that underwrites new economic and marketing initiatives for the district. Other successful Bay Area examples include Oakland’s Temescal and Fruitvale Districts and Downtown Berkeley.

The DRPBID district encompasses the core of the Historic Downtown area along the Macdonald Avenue corridor bounded approximately by 6th Street, Barrett Avenue, Harbour Way, and 19th Street. For more information and to read about the RMSI’s business assistance programs, please visit www.richmondmainstreet.org andwww.facebook.com/richmondmainstreet.


Richmond councilman denounces eminent domain plan, urges special meeting

From Councilman Nat Bates in an email sent to supporters:

April 2, 2013 City Council minutes of action taken.

The matter to approve an Advisory Services Agreement with Mortgage Resolution Partners, LLC to assist the City of Richmond in reducing the impact of the mortgage crisis, by advising on the acquisition of mortgage loans through the use of eminent domain, in order to restructure or refinance the loans and thereby preserving home ownership, restoring homeowner equity and stabilizing the communities’ housing market and economy by allowing many homeowners to remain in their homes was presented by City Manager Bill Lindsay. (At 11:00 p.m. on motion of Councilmember Myrick, seconded by Mayor McLaughlin extended the meeting to finish the current item with Councilmember Butt voting Noe). Councilmember Butt left the meeting at ll:15 p.m. Leland Chan and Melvin Willis gave comments.

A motion was made by Councilmember Beckles, seconded by Councilmember Myrick to approve an Advisory Services Agreement with Mortgage Resolution Partners, LLC. Councilmember Myrick requested a report back from staff regarding loan criteria and specifics. A substitute motion was made by Vice Mayor Booze, seconded by Councilmember Bates to hold the item over for 30 days to gather more information. Following discussion, Councilmember Bates withdrew his second. The original motion to approve an Advisory Services Agreement with Mortgage Resolution Partners, LLC passed by the following vote: Ayes: Councilmembers Bates, Beckles, Myrick, Rogers, Vice Mayor Booze, and Mayor McLaughlin. Noes: None. Abstentions: None. Absent: Councilmember Butt.


As noted above, this action was to approve an Advisory Service Agreement with a follow-up of the criteria and specifics. How the mayor interpreted this as a mandate to go after the lending institutions is beyond me. The mayor has been misrepresenting the city council action by parading around  San Francisco and threatening Wells Fargo without the city council approval. In addition, this council has no idea the capacity of Mortgage Resolutions Partners LLC financial ability to pay damages should the court order such against the city. Also, there has not been any staff report regarding loan criteria and specifics as directed in the motion of April 2, 2013,some 4 months ago which suggest not one councilmember including the mayor understand the criteria and specifics.


In addition, this action has caused serious financial risk to the city, and each and every homeowner or potential home owners who wish to refinance, purchase or sell a home in this city. My recent communication with the Finance Director, Mr. Jim Goins indicate the city was circulating some 30 millions of dollars in revenue bonds. Although the city has a strong A bond rating, not one financial institution was willing to come forward to purchase these bonds because of the Eminent Domain issue and Wall Street’s reaction to the City of Richmond. Kindly take a look at the reactions from several news articles, etc listed below.


While most of us are sympathetic to the many citizen who are undergoing financial risk of losing their homes through the mortgage crisis and etc, as responsible elected officials, we must not comprise the integrity and financial ability of this city to operate efficiently.


It is important this council take leadership and do our job in representing our citizenry. Therefore, I am requesting my council members join me in calling for a special city council meeting within the next seven days to clarify and make the necessary corrections to offset this potential financial liability and embarrassment to this city. Should my fellow colleagues concur, kindly email your support to the city clerk as soon as possible.




Councilmember Nat Bates