Welcome to Wally World: When the Daily Californian slunk back to the UC Berkeley campus in 1995, many people figured the student newspaper’s 25-year era of independent journalism was history. But the Daily Cal must be doing something right lately, ’cause its university landlord wants the paper evicted. Wally Adeyemo, outgoing president of the Associated Students of the University of California, has proposed booting the paper from its digs at Eshleman Hall and replacing it with a consortium of student services. Sounds lovely — until you remember the Daily Cal‘s repeated criticism of Adeyemo’s administration over the last two semesters.
Adeyemo ran for office on his so-called “One Campus Campaign,” a quixotic attempt at fostering “communication” among students, faculty, and staff. But as the months wore on, his vaguely defined and ill-conceived project withered on the vine, and the ASUC Senate yanked its funding in April. The Daily Cal hammered on the program in the last few months of its life, as well as covering a silly controversy about Adeyemo’s party posting campaign fliers over those of other student groups, and the lame-duck prez apparently couldn’t handle the criticism. Last month, he threatened to have two Daily Cal reporters arrested for trying to cover a meeting he organized at Doe Library, prompting a scolding by David Moers, an assistant vice chancellor. Adeyemo also threatened to file charges against one Daily Cal staffer with the Office of Student Conduct. “As we leave office, we can only hope the next crop of Daily Cal writers takes time to learn and research the issues, rather than make baseless claims,” he wrote in a Daily Cal opinion piece two weeks ago.
Apparently, Adeyemo thinks the paper can best learn this lesson through homelessness. This small-minded parting shot comes at a bad time for the Daily Cal, which has been struggling ever since national college advertising dried up in November 2000. The paper’s balance sheet looks so dire, in fact, that its representatives recently pleaded with the ASUC to knock $1,700 off its monthly rent. If it gets that eviction notice, the Daily Cal will be hard-pressed to find affordable office space near campus. General manager Hubert Brucker was diplomatic; after all, it’s not a done deal yet. “If you take the present situation, maybe this is something precipitated by somebody being pissed off,” he says. “But we print what we print.”
You won’t see it on TV: Three years ago, the NAACP took a close look at prime-time TV and declared that the lack of nonwhite actors on the six major networks’ most popular shows had resulted in a “virtual whitewash.” The networks promised to do better, but this year, Oakland-based advocacy group Children Now has stats proving that, in fact, they’re doing worse.
According to a study released last week by the organization’s Children and the Media program, diversity on prime-time sitcoms actually decreased during the fall season. (The group chalks up modest improvements in the drama category to addition of minor characters, not leads, or to nonwhite actors playing criminals or unskilled laborers.) You might have guessed that, for every hundred actors in last fall’s lineup, 74 were white, while sixteen were African American. But more surprising was the dearth of Latinos (four percent) and Asians (three percent), and the fact that, of the female actors (36 percent), half portrayed women under thirty. Perhaps the most interesting tidbit from the study was that gays and lesbians (one percent) were about as likely to appear during prime time as members of a nebulous category described as: “somewhat unidentifiable, possibly Native American, multiracial, an apparent ethnic minority, or perhaps an extraterrestrial.” And get this: The most racially integrated casts showed up on (what else?) reality shows and, um, pro wrestling — both perfect role models for America’s youth.
Children Now also noted that the most segregated shows, generally sitcoms with all-white or all-black casts, air during the kid-friendly eight o’clock slot. And since kids in the United States watch an average of three hours a day, mostly during the early prime-time slots, well, you do the math. “Children and youth end up seeing a much more homogenous world than adults do,” says Patti Miller, the organization’s program director.
The horse race is on, though: More bad news for Berkeley incumbent Shirley Dean, as the Tom Bates-for-mayor train picks up speed among city centrists. Not only has Cal deputy chancellor Russ Ellis agreed to serve as Bates’ campaign chair, but word is that former chancellor Ira Michael Heyman will also back the former state Assemblyman. Bates’ recent entry into the race has election handicappers busy drafting lists of influential centrists who would have unequivocally supported Dean against Councilman Kriss Worthington but are now rethinking their positions. They include Cody’s Books proprietor Andy Ross, realtors Don Yost and Laurie Capitelli, and Denny Abrams, the architect who created the Fourth Street phenomenon. Abrams refused to say which horse he’ll back. “I ain’t sayin’ nothin’ — this is the politics of retribution,” he rumbles cryptically.
Capitelli, who has served on several city commissions and has a reputation as a thoughtful, influential citizen, says that while he would never have backed Worthington, the Bates candidacy has given him pause. “Both sides have asked me, but I’ve deferred, at least for a couple of weeks,” he says. “I may sit it out, I don’t know. I want a mayor who is going to end the abusive treatment that council members lay on one another.”
Remarks like these are an ill portent for Dean, who bears her share of responsibility for the tone set at council meetings. While the city’s partisanship dates back to the rent control wars of the 1970s, its latest manifestation has been “The Kriss and Shirley Show.” Dean and Worthington nurse a deep mutual hatred, and most observers agree this animosity has poisoned the political discourse. But Worthington’s reelection is a lock, and that means the only way to remove the hostile dynamic is to remove the current mayor. Dean’s optimism is admirable. “I assumed that chancellor Heyman would support Bates, because he’s very close to Loni [Hancock, Bates’ wife],” she says. “I wouldn’t be surprised if Tom Bates walked away with everyone up to Bill Clinton. I can only do the job I’ve done as mayor.”
And goats are on every channel: A recent A-1 article about goats in Contra Costa Times triggered in 7 Days an acute sense of “What, again?” It was quickly validated by a breeze through local media archives: These Capricorns are everywhere. Goats R Us, an Orinda-based ruminant-rental company, first made local papers just after the Oakland Hills inferno, when the bearded creatures were deployed to munch dry brush. It was a feel-good feature, and several TV reports followed with the same scoop: Goats in the hills! Wow!
By 1997, the hollow-horned mammals were back in the headlines, after a grazing job near Mills College led union reps to complain the animals were chewing up valuable union jobs, too (Examiner headline: “Goat Labor at Mills College”). “Don’t expect them to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, without being paid the appropriate overtime,” clucked Teamsters Local 70 rep Chuck Mack.
Two years later, ace Chronicle reporter Kevin Fagan penned a lengthy feature on the goat saga (headline: “A Taste for Their Work”). Soon after, the goats’ employers enjoyed another media hit when The Los Angeles Times hailed them as saviors for rounding up wandering goat herds on Catalina Island, thus sparing the little g’s from the slaughterhouse. Then last year, on April 5, the Chron burbled with glee after their city hired goats to clear space near the airport (“Weeds for Dinner”). Fifteen days later, columnist Sam McManis approved of the new airport employees (“Next, They’ll Be Traffic Controllers”). And just when 7 Days thought it was out of the weeds, the Daily Cal penned its ode to the company (“Unlike Controlled Fires, Goats Never Get ‘Out of Hand.’ “).
But that’s when the good PR all but dried up. Last July, the Chron‘s Suzanne Herel looked beyond the goatee and found that the herders who sheepishly tended their “four-legged weed-whackers” were indeed working 24-7. Since the state’s sheepherders shared a similar fate, legislation was drafted to protect all herders and their working conditions. Suddenly, the copy editors didn’t feel so cute about the goats (“Lives of Herders Growing Labor Issue”).
In October, the goats turned highbrow when The New York Times published a witty ditty on the lawn-munchers. “The tasting menu in Jacquelynne Farber‘s backyard consisted of poison oak, yellow star thistle, and wild blackberries …” the story began.
All was quiet on the hillside this year until March 2 when the Chronicle Magazine struck again with a cozy feature. (Headline, and we don’t write this stuff, we just report it: “Who Let the Goats Out?”) And then the CoCo Times weighed in with the piece that inspired this one, playing the herders-are-exploited angle. (A quick recap: goats eat grass, and herders work like dogs.) If we see one more goat story, 7 Days may need to check ourselves into the loony barn, er, bin. Meh-heh-heh-heh.