California dreamin’: Guess who may not be running for mayor of Oakland after all? Would you believe Don Perata, the fifty-foot gorilla of East Bay politics and the man to beat in 2006? According to a source close to the Perata organization, the state senator held one of his “bullpen” breakfasts with supporters last Friday, where he dropped the news that he was researching a loophole in the term-limits law that could allow him to run for reelection. Because Perata filled outgoing Senator Barbara Lee‘s seat in midterm, he may be able to squeeze one more term out of the law and stay in Sacramento for a few more years.
If true — and Perata spokeswoman Amy Pierce was unavailable for comment — this news would radically reconfigure the list of mayoral candidates. School Board members Dan Siegel and Greg Hodge are both rumored to be running — although neither would say for sure when we asked them — and City Councilwoman Nancy Nadel says she’s definitely considering a run for the top office. That rounds out the progressive contenders, but with Perata gone, some centrist business candidate will be sure to step up and run. Can anyone say Ignacio De La Fuente? — Chris Thompson
The facade is cracking: Attorneys for three women allegedly beaten and raped by Yusuf Bey, the Black Muslim patriarch and owner of Your Black Muslim Bakery, have sued Alameda County for failing to protect them while they were under Bey’s foster care. The $10 million suit, filed last week by Oakland attorney David Washington, claims that the Child Protective Services received complaints that Bey was raping his foster kids, but social workers disregarded the stories and sent the girls back to live under his roof. It all had to do with Bey’s political influence, Washington claims. “He openly flaunts his power and his visible contacts with county officials, including several county supervisors,” states the filing. “The county embraced Mr. Bey and never questioned his alternative lifestyle, even while his forty-plus children were receiving welfare and he was receiving grants for his nonprofit organizations.”
As reported in these pages (“Blood and Money,” November 13 and 20), Tarika Lewis, the stepmother of two girls who allegedly bore Bey’s children when they were underage, claimed she went to great lengths during the ’80s to have county social workers do something about the alleged abuse, but to no avail. The suit details the stories of Lewis’ two stepdaughters — referred to as Jane Does 1 and 2. In 1980, it contends, the girls’ natural father was suspicious that Bey was sexually abusing them, so he took his daughters from the Bey home to South Lake Tahoe, Nevada. But welfare officials there contacted Alameda County Social Services, the suit claims, since the Beys were receiving county foster-care money for the children. Social Services then came to Tahoe and took the children back to the Bey family.
The suit also states that county social worker Cathy Samuels visited one of the girls after the girl gave birth to Bey’s child at age thirteen; Samuels allegedly left after a cursory interview in which the girl was too terrified to identify Bey as the father. When the girl later told a social worker of Bey’s alleged physical abuse, the suit claims, “her new social worker, county employee Muriel Boykin, told her that she had foster children herself, and if they complained like she does she would beat them as well.”
According to the filing, a third plaintiff — who took a job at Bey’s bakery in 1994 and was allegedly raped by Bey within a week — also complained. “At that time, she told her social worker, Sharri M. Unitiman, she had been raped by Yusuf Bey,” Washington wrote in the suit. “Unitiman told Jane Doe 3 that Yusuf Bey was too powerful and dangerous to go after.”
Neither of Bey’s attorneys, Lorna Brown and Andrew Dosa, would comment on the lawsuit, and county counsel Richard Winnie could not be reached. Washington also is preparing a civil suit against Bey, who awaits criminal trial on 27 felony charges that he raped and beat the girls for several years. — Chris Thompson
Ho no: When fourth- and fifth-graders at Peralta Year-Round School in Oakland designed half a dozen festive banners to adorn utility poles along Telegraph Avenue, they certainly didn’t mean to be provocative. Yet after the city’s Community and Economic Development Agency spent some $60,000 on the Telegraph banner project and a similar one for San Pablo Avenue, it’s all but inevitable that one of the banners will have to come down. The dubious adornment depicts flags from various nations as a way of representing Oakland’s diversity. But one of those flags managed to offend the very ethnic group it was meant to honor.
Bang Vu Nguyen, a Vietnamese-American grad student at Cal, wants the city to remove the Vietnamese flag from the banners. The problem is that the red one with a yellow star is the communist flag adopted by Ho Chi Minh after the fall of Saigon, not the old flag recognized by most Vietnamese Americans. “This flag represents the ideals and values of the Communist regime that has led us to leave our homelands and become refugees in America,” Nguyen wrote to the city. “It is the flag that has tortured and raped and killed our families in Viet Nam, and we escaped Viet Nam to avoid what the flag represents.”
For the moment, the city is at a loss. “This is the official flag of Vietnam, is it not?” asks Stephanie Floyd Johnson, manager of the Oakland’s Neighborhood Commercial Revitalization Unit.
Vietnamese Americans prefer their old flag — yellow with three red stripes. In the past, public displays of the communist flag and depictions of Ho Chi Minh have enraged the Vietnamese-American community. In March 2000, thousands of angry protesters took to West Oakland streets to protest an exhibit of Ho Chi Minh lithographs. And, according to Lai Van Luu, director of the East Bay Vietnamese Association, Oakland once ran into trouble when the communist flags were put on display at public schools and Alameda College.
“If nothing changes within a month, I’m going to start something,” Nguyen says.
Luu agrees that the banner needs to come down. “We have a lot of Vietnamese of various groups,” Luu says. “But regarding the flag, we speak with one voice.” — Helene Blatter
The little magazine that didn’t: In the hours after the Super Bowl some dejected Raiders fans made big news by lighting bonfires in the streets and looting, yes, a paint store. But one fan of the more literate and contemplative sort, Vallejo’s T. Del Rosario, had to remain cool in the wake of disappointment, and decide whether to make his own news.
Del Rosario is the editor and publisher of Raider Fan magazine — “For True Raider Fans by Raider Fans” — an every-month-or-so publication that faithfully chronicles all things Silver and Black. Even though the editor and his team (Raider Rob, StonerDude, and Black Hole Stefani) work in the long shadow of big-time media hounds who know Jerry Rice‘s cell number by heart, the small publication still provides an impressive package of scoops and unconventional angles, even if it does come wrapped in rah-rah colored ribbons. The post-Super Bowl issue was sizing up as Raider Fan‘s biggest in its five-year existence.
“But they didn’t even show up,” a dejected Del Rosario says of the Raiders. “They embarrassed themselves out there.” His magazine’s crew had trekked to San Diego and gathered up wads of photos and player interviews, guerrilla-style. And he already had his lead story ready to go: an interview with Barret Robbins, the team’s All-Pro center who, at the time, was hardly known outside Raider Nation. But Robbins, the world now knows, allegedly went out drinking two nights before the big game, stopped taking meds prescribed for his bipolar condition, and wound up hospitalized with depression. In a classic case of on-the-scene reportage, Raider Rob and Black Hole Stefani spotted Robbins knocking back a few at a club at 4 a.m. Saturday morning — just hours before the player was listed MIA. “At that time, he had all his faculties and was totally coherent,” reports Del Rosario.
Considering his audience, the game’s tragic ending, and the swift change in the Robbins story, Del Rosario decided to nix the issue altogether. What’s the point in publishing 32 pages of heartbreak? All reporting efforts will now get funneled into the Web version at Raiderfanmagazine.com.
“Our next issue will probably come out in March,” says the editor, sounding much like a man who’s busy burying the past so he can hurry up and get to the future. “When the draft comes around, that’s when people start getting excited again.” — Justin Berton