Heroes and Malcontents

A Danville pilot avoids disaster, chief and sheriff go at it, and anarchists want their stuff back.

What with all these things called foreclosures and layoffs, the
country’s clearly in need of a little good news. How else to explain
the ecstatic reception Chesley Sullenberger got last week? As you know
by now, the Danville resident and US Airways pilot successfully ditched
his plane in the Hudson River after a few Canadian geese took out his
engines with some kamikaze action, saving the lives of everyone on
board. He became the first pilot of a major airline to make an
emergency water landing without any casualties in 45 years. Hey, that’s
pretty impressive. But the tributes laid at his feet exceeded even the
New York tabloids’ purple standards, with television appearances,
Obama’s staff inviting him to the inauguration, and a hero’s welcome
being prepared for him in Danville. Sullenberger may well be the only
bright spot for a nation afflicted with insecurity, fear, and dread.
He’s the Lindbergh of our times, which means our times ain’t the best
we’ve ever seen.

BART Cop Fallout

Case in point: the ongoing BART cop shooting scandal. Last week,
District Attorney Tom Orloff filed murder charges against Johannes
Mehserle, the officer who fatally shot Oscar Grant at the Fruitvale
BART station on New Year’s Day. Orloff said he was confident in
bringing these charges, especially after seeing some “very helpful”
video footage that other witnesses provided him, but which the public
has yet to see. Mehserle surrendered to authorities in Nevada, where he
was hiding out after his family started getting death threats. Speaking
of which, members of Mehserle’s family discovered two suspicious
packages outside their Napa home and immediately thought: bomb. Police
officials promptly blew them up, only to discover that they contained
no explosive or hazardous material. Everybody’s feeling a little
jumpy.

As well they should, after the downtown Oakland disturbances of two
weeks ago. Last week, hundreds of angry people arrived for a new City
Hall protest, but the emotions were somewhat dissipated once word
spread of Mehserle’s bust earlier that morning. The demo largely went
off without a hitch, with protesters calling out the names of people
killed by police, marching to Orloff’s office, and ultimately
dispersing with just a few people itching to throw more rocks.
Activists with the Coalition Against Police Executions still want
Orloff to resign, claiming that he didn’t move on the indictment fast
enough, didn’t declare Mehserle a flight risk (FYI: Orloff can’t
actually do this until the suspect is actually indicted), and closed
the courtroom to the public. Meanwhile, friends of downtown Oakland’s
merchants threw them a party over the weekend, hoping to drum up some
business to offset the damage incurred during the initial riot.

Oakland Cop Follies

And BART’s not the only agency with cop problems. Reeling under
revelations that Oakland police fabricated evidence to obtain search
warrants, department leaders have decided to fire eleven officers and
sergeants who, they claim, are at the center of the scandal. The names
of the alleged offenders have not been released, but they have a
lawyer, one Mary Sansen, who claims that the cops are being scapegoated
by a department that never offered adequate courses on how to write
requests for search warrants.

This is just the latest shadow to fall over the OPD, which is still
being rocked by fallout from the botched Chauncey Bailey investigation
and a claim that Chief Wayne Tucker essentially bribed the head of the
cop union to sabotage a vote of no-confidence by the rank and file.
Tucker is so embattled that his old pal, former Alameda County Sheriff
Charles Plummer, went so far as to write an opinion piece in the
Oakland Tribune. Plummer excoriated the Trib for printing
the “self-serving, whining, meaningless comments of a few
malcontent[s]” and “sniveling cowards.”

Make That the 99,925K Plan

The economy is still drawing plenty of blood from the East Bay.
Citing a lack of funds, the California Transportation Commission has
indefinitely postponed drilling the fourth bore of the Caldecott
Tunnel. The University of California’s regents voted to cut statewide
undergraduate enrollment by 2,300 students, again because of money
problems. In order to maintain student diversity, the regents agreed to
increase transfers from community colleges around the state by 500
students. And the developers of 901 Jefferson, a downtown Oakland condo
project that was a substantial piece of Jerry Brown’s 10K Plan, have
defaulted on a $26 million construction loan. The lenders may
ultimately foreclose on the property, which contains 75 units. Brother,
can you amortize a dime?

Three-Dot Roundup

Activists at the Long Haul, a South Berkeley anarchist organizing
space, have filed suit against the FBI and UC Berkeley, seeking to
regain control of any information seized in a raid last year. On August
27, the feds and the college cops raided the space, looking for
computers that might contain information as to the identity of a person
who sent threatening e-mails to university animal researchers. …
Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums announced the recommendations of Robert
Bobb’s report on dysfunction in city government; Bobb’s report includes
a suggestion that Dellums actually show up for work at 9 a.m. on Monday
morning. Said a skeptical Jane Brunner, “It will only make a difference
if they implement it.”

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