music in the park san jose

.Farewell Feeder

Our columnist bids a teary adieu to his readers with a trip down the memory lane of corruption, feuds, mishaps, blunders, dirty tricks, and lurid shenanigans.

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This is the last Bottom Feeder column. Ever. Go ahead, take a moment. That’s right, let it all out. There, there, now. After five and a half years writing for the Express, I have accepted a job as managing editor of the SF Weekly, our sister paper. In the coming weeks, look for the debut of reporter Robert Gammon‘s new bold-name column. Thank you, East Bay, for giving me so much to write — and complain — about. I leave you with a compilation of some of my best, and weirdest, scoops.

Dones’ Deal

The FBI’s investigation of Oakland politics spread to developer Alan Dones and the Peralta Community College District. The school district issued a carefully worded statement saying no “district employees” were targets of the investigation. The school’s general counsel later confirmed that elected trustees are not employees. (12/13/06)

What? No Snitch Here

FBI informant Don Cooper, the star witness in the Oakland City Hall corruption case, told Feeder while awaiting surgery and under the influence of morphine that he didn’t go to the feds. The feds, however, said he came to them. Cooper had told a city employee the month before that the FBI had forced him to cooperate. (12/6/06)

Playing Hardball

The Texas Rangers hired private investigators to dig up dirt on Oakland A’s fan and heckler Craig Bueno. His wife was suing the team after being hit by a chair thrown into the stands by a vengeful relief pitcher. The PI even asked Bueno’s co-workers about a rumored photo allegedly showing the Hayward firefighter with a woman in a “compromising position.” Bueno’s attorney accused the Rangers of trying to blackmail his client and ruin his marriage. (11/8/06)

Spare the Hot Air

Mileage reimbursement requests obtained by Feeder showed that public relations staffers for the Bay Area Air Quality Management District drove their cars while telling us not to drive ours during the smoggy summer months. (8/30/06)

Carlito’s Play

Carlos Plazola, chief of staff to Oakland City Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente, quietly worked to rezone an industrial area in his boss’ district where the aide owned land. Rezoning the area to allow condo development would have greatly inflated the value of Plazola’s land. Plazola resigned shortly after the story ran. He now works as a lobbyist for developers. (7/5/06)

Smut Shack

Somehow the national media covering the Susan Polk murder trial missed this gem: Polk’s son, Eli, was accused by his girlfriend of trying to make her watch a porno being filmed. That’s not all. The alleged skin flick was being shot in the pool house where Susan Polk killed Eli’s father. (3/29/06)

Rollin’ Smith

Oakland’s elected city auditor Roland Smith, a car enthusiast, bought a DeLorean (the Back to the Future car) at a bargain price at an auction held by a towing firm he had investigated for years. Smith said there was no conflict of interest and he got the okay from the city attorney beforehand. Still, the episode showed dubious judgment. Who in their right mind would buy a DeLorean? (12/21/05)

Doggy Style

A state contract employee came under scrutiny for allegedly disseminating pictures of herself having sex with dogs on her government-owned computer. “I have experience being bred with four different dogs,” she boasted in an online post. (11/30/05)

Mills v. Larry Flynt

Mills College, the Oakland school for radical feminists in training, went ballistic when Hustler magazine run a story by (gasp) a guy who crashed the campus’ annual fetish ball. (11/17/05)

Smith & Wesson

This column marked the beginning of the end for Oakland auditor Roland Smith, who lost his re-election bid a year later. A disgruntled deputy auditor went on the record to say Smith fell asleep at staff meetings, was more interested in publicity than saving the city money, and used audits to get back at his political enemies. (10/26/05)

Caged & Abused

The psychiatrist for a mentally disturbed girl who slashed an elderly woman’s throat revealed that county officials had ignored his pleas, about a month before she committed the crime, to put the girl in a locked facility. The Herrick Hospital headshrinker had treated the girl after she smeared feces and menstrual blood over herself while in custody on another matter. (9/14/05)

In preparation for a battle with its unions, Hearst executives bought domain names like,, and, a reference to publisher Frank Vega‘s nickname. (8/24/05)

KPFA Mayhem

Tempers flared as warring factions battled for the soul of the lefty public radio station. The general manager allegedly challenged the host of the hip-hop show to a fight, an engineer hurled four metal chairs during a program council meeting, and the popular Flashpoints host was accused of verbally abusing women at the station and poisoning the drink of a former co-worker. (6/1/05)

Mining for Dirt

A landlord group sneakily bought its activist rival’s old computers to show that its foe violated election rules while campaigning for an anti-eviction measure in Oakland. (5/11/05)

Town of Sand and Fog

A Lafayette cop fell in love with a woman involved in a nasty custody battle with her ex-husband. According to the ex, the cop tried to woo the woman by sending out a police bulletin accusing the ex of kidnapping their children, and helping her win custody by obtaining an emergency court order. The officer was disciplined for unbecoming conduct. (3/30/05)

The Butler Did It

My fave lead of all time: “Did Ask Jeeves cofounder David Warthen marry a call girl?” That’s the question Feeder posed to the Ask Jeeves search engine. The answer: ‘Your search is likely to return adult content.'” (12/15/04)

Bush Executed

Scenes from a class struggle in San Ramon: A woman decapitated the duck-shaped topiary of her condo association president, whom she believed was using his position to get special attention from landscapers at the development. (11/10/04)

Bury Nice Mural

A Berkeley Public Works crew accidentally used a $10,000 mural painted on wooden panels to shore up an underground trench near Tilden Park. The mural, which had been vandalized, was being stored at the city’s corporation yard waiting to be fixed by the artist when the crew walked off with it. (1/28/04)

Dental Damnation

A nearly blind dentist running an illegal practice out of his Berkeley home still managed to get referrals from the state’s biggest dental insurer. Patients claimed his wife walked around the home office naked, and neighbors complained about a homeless man without teeth camping in the backyard. (12/24/03)

Laney Smells a Rat

Laney College in Oakland was overrun by rats after budget cuts reduced the number of custodians cleaning the campus. (10/29/03)

Ear for Trouble

A talented but troubled Oakland artist allegedly threatened to use a $5,000 city grant to kill black people (he used the N-word). Several city employees, including the curator of the Oakland Museum, filed a restraining order against the artist, whom one art commissioner considered a modern-day Van Gogh. The artist denied that he threatened to hurt anyone, but didn’t deny using the N-word. “I’ve got a right to use that word,” he argued. “I’m not prejudiced against those people.” (10/1/03)


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