Bay Bridge caper: Will the Willie Brown name stick?
The public woke up late to the Brown name ploy, editorial pages railed against it, lawmakers approved it, there’s a legal challenge and, now, speculation that the governor won’t let Caltrans put up signs. 

With negotiations stalled, BART board tempers expectations. Twitter’s IPO filing. Oakland’s police reform setback stunner. How they voted on the Willie Brown Bridge question. Plea deal for divorce attorney? Minimum wage hike clears the Legislature. Target shooting blamed for Mount Diablo fire. Go to it.
Mark Fiore
image Ron Russell Editor’s blog


Let’s call it a hiatus

Friday, September 13, 2013

Dear readers,

I’m taking a sabbatical from Bay Area Observer for awhile. Other projects are calling out and there simply isn’t enough time for everything. Those who know me know how I feel about goodbyes and I don’t intend to turn this into one. Still, it’s as good a time as any to thank you for coming here these past few years. To those of you who’ve shared encouragement, news tips and even criticism, a special thanks. It’s a source of great satisfaction that my efforts here have been well-received by those of you who take news seriously.

The site will remain up, in an archival state, and that means you can use the search box to refresh your memory on an array of Bay Area people, places and news events since we went live in July, 2010. I’ll continue to be reachable by means of the website’s email link.

Sincere best wishes and heartfelt thanks until we meet again.

-- Ron Russell


Court rules Barry Bonds’ felony conviction from steroid scandal stands

And it’s a swing and a miss. Barry Bonds’ appeal of his felony obstruction of justice conviction in perhaps baseball’s highest-profile steroid era trial was rejected by a federal panel this morning. In a 3-0 ruling by the Ninth U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the justices ruled there was sufficient evidence to convict the home run king (pictured during his 2011 trial) of obstructing justice for his role in the BALCO scandal. Chronicle


Raiders sell out Sunday’s home opener; here’s why

The Raiders announced that Sunday’s home opener at the Coliseum is a sellout. Did the team get a big enthusiasm boost from their unexpectedly close 21-17 loss at Indianapolis over the weekend? Sure. But the sellout (which clears the blackout rule to make Sunday’s game with Jacksonville viewable on local TV) more likely relates to something else. It’s the first football game to be played at the Coliseum since the Raiders decided to tarp off the upper section affectionately known as Mount Davis. Downsized capacity: 52,286.


Report: $4 million settlement for Ralph Barbieri versus Cumulus

Longtime sports broadcaster Ralph Barbieri, the “Razor” in the former “The Razor and Mr. T” duo (with Tom Tolbert), who was let go by KNBR radio last year, has reportedly settled his wrongful termination lawsuit against the station. Blogger Rich Lieberman, citing sources close to Barbieri’s attorney, Angela Alioto, says that radio colossus Cumulus, which owns the sports talk station, offered $4 million and that Barbieri accepted. Barbieri, you may recall, revealed that he had been diagnosed with early stage Parkinson’s disease not long before his contract was up and before the station let him go. Maybe not a winning place to be, if you’re a corporate giant seen as hammering an ill, well-known sports voice in front of a local jury.

Image: ABC 7


Ray Dolby, pioneering audio master was 80

The sound pioneer and inventor whose name—Dolby—became  synonymous with his breakthrough engineering to enhance the quality of sound and dialogue recordings and whose Dolby Laboratories remains an industry force, died last night at his home in San Francisco. He was 80. Dolby suffered from Alzheimer’s disease that in recent months was complicated by a diagnosis of acute leukemia. Oscar-winning film and sound editor Walter Murch said of him last year: “You could divide film sound in half: there is BD, before Dolby, and there is AD, after Dolby.” Obits: LA Times; Chronicle


Morning Wrap: 9/13/13

Oakland’s federal police overseer rejects City Council’s reform measure, target shooting blamed for Mount Diablo fire, Twitter quietly files for an IPO, more.


Hello Willie Brown Bridge; hello lawsuit

Thursday, September 12, 2013

No sooner than the state Senate gave its blessing—26 to 7—this morning to rename the historic west span of the Bay Bridge the “Willie L. Brown, Jr. Bridge,” two things happened in quick and predictable succession.

a) Willie Brown, via the Matier & Ross blog at the Chronicle, issued a victory statement saying: “I didn’t push for it, and I can’t say I enjoyed the pounding it got, but I am honored.”* (Cue laugh track.)

b) Longtime former San Francisco Sunshine Ordinance Task Force member Bob Planthold became the first person to file a lawsuit in Superior Court “on behalf of the citizens of the state of California” challenging the lawmakers’ action as illegal and seeking to enjoin the state from attaching Brown’s name to the bridge. (Press release from attorney Whitney Leigh follows after the jump.)


Bay Bridge: Media sky suddenly darkens over Willie Brown caper

Now that maybe any minute the state Senate will add its blessing to name the historic west span of the Bay Bridge for Willie Brown, alarm bell decibel levels are rising. Latest example: a Mercury News editorial that calls the idea “insulting” for the reasons that . . . well, you can read them here. The Merc intimates that Gov. Jerry Brown, who’s opposed to the name and who does, after all, have authority over Caltrans, should refuse to comply with the Legislature’s wishes, if it comes to that.

The governor can’t simply veto the measure, since Willie Brown’s cronies in the Legislature cleverly (good job, Willie) constructed the naming scheme as a non-binding resolution. Best bet: you’ll see a lawsuit if the Senate actually does the deed.

From a media standpoint maybe the strangest response to the Willie Brown Bridge caper is the Chronicle’s editorial from the day after Labor Day. Not strange for anything it says. But as unintended testimony to the Chronicle’s deep-seated schizophrenia over Brown, its star columnist. The editorial: “Willie Brown Bridge? Wrong man, wrong time.” Read it here. This is the same newspaper responsible for perpetuating Brown as a local ornament, promoting him as a kind of Herb Caen knock-off, subjecting him to no known ethics policy, and providing its pages and pixels as the podium to advance his astonishing, unchecked career after-life as a self-absorbed dandy. And they don’t want to name the bridge after him?


Big shakeup in a little campaign—will anyone notice Abel Maldonado?

imageIt’s got to be pretty lonely out there on the 2014 gubernatorial campaign trail for the former Lite Guv under Arnold Schwarzenegger whom Gavin Newsom easily dispatched in the last election. Not only is Maldonado a Republican in a state controlled by Democrats, he’s a self-styled moderate Republican, which makes him unpalatable to the far right in his own party. And now comes news via the Chronicle’s Carla Marinucci that his chief strategist, John Weaver, has left the campaign along with the rest of Weaver’s D.C.-based political team. (Too many lonely nights in Bakersfield?).

The 2010 photo (from the LA Times) captures the weirdly memorable occasion of Maldonado having coffee at a Los Angeles café while Newsom held a meet-and-greet with Latino leaders there.


New documents show how Caltrans also botched the Bay Bridge bike path

The new Alexander Zuckermann bike path at the Bay Bridge opened to the public Tuesday. Photo by Jake NicolIt’s difficult to calculate the wastage associated with the Bay Bridge eastern span when you’re talking about a $6.4 billion price tag on a project years late and five times over budget. But let’s throw another bad shrimp on the barbie, courtesy of the Chronicle’s Jaxon Van Derbeken. He notes that the bicycle path, which won’t be completed (that is, connected to Yerba Buena Island) until 2016, when the old bridge is supposed to be out of the way, was riddled with cost overruns, including $3.8 million for bad handrails alone. Source: new documents obtained from Caltrans.

Image: Jake Nicol/ Oakland North


Morning Wrap: 9/12/13

Richmond approves first of its kind mortgage help using eminent domain, at last hoteliers say they’re seeing an uptick in America’s Cup bookings, Mark Zuckerberg says feds botched NSA explanation, more.

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