The Rape That Shocked the Nation

Up to ten young men laughed and snapped photos as they allegedly gang-raped a fifteen-year-old girl outside a Richmond High dance. And passersby did nothing to stop it.

The brutality and callousness of the Richmond High gang rape struck
a chord last week. It was bad enough that up to ten young men and boys
savagely attacked a fifteen-year-old girl on campus while the school’s
homecoming dance was going on. But authorities say the teens laughed
and snapped photos during the incident. And to make matters worse,
dozens of people walked by during the two-plus-hour ordeal and did
nothing to stop it. The whole gruesome affair seemed to perfectly
encapsulate a youth culture that honors the gang code of not snitching
while glorifying the degradation of women.

Not surprisingly, the case grabbed national headlines, and the
outrage ran so deep that Contra Costa County jailers decided to dress
three of the young suspects in bullet-proof vests during their court
appearance. Prosecutor Dara Cashman then cited the “coldness” of the
alleged attack for why her office has decided to try the three teens
— ages fifteen, sixteen, and seventeen — as adults. If
convicted, they could spend their lives in prison.

Although the case shone an unflattering light on Richmond and its
long-struggling high school, it turns out that only one of the first
four young men charged in the case actually attended the campus. Cody
Ray Smith, fifteen, of San Pablo, was the lone Richmond High student
facing felony charges. He is believed to have enticed the
fifteen-year-old girl to a secluded spot on the campus, where the young
men got her drunk, repeatedly raped her, and left her under a picnic
table.

Two other teens charged — Ari Abdallah Morales, sixteen, of
San Pablo and Marcelles James Peter, seventeen, of Pinole — had
been Richmond High students but were transferred to continuation high
schools because of academic problems, sources told the San Francisco
Chronicle
. And the fourth teen — nineteen-year-old Manuel
Ortega — was a disruptive student, before running away from home
and dropping out of school after his junior year, sources told the
paper. Two other young men were arrested.

The Week with No Bridge

It turns out that not having the San Francisco Bay Bridge isn’t that
bad after all. Sure there was nightmarish traffic on the other bridges
and the lines at BART were just plain ugly, but the Bay Area did not
grind to a halt. Instead, BART set records for ridership as CalTrans
crews worked feverishly to fix the bridge after strong winds sent 5,000
pounds of steel cascading onto the upper deck during the October 27
evening commute.

The bridge finally reopened on Monday, after the new repair work
underwent a series of stress tests. CalTrans officials declared the
bridge safe, but said they may have to close the bridge in the future
for a long-term repair.

Cal Football Isn’t the Problem

The Chronicle itself created a stir last week when it
strongly implied in a front-page article that UC Berkeley’s football
program was losing lots of money and draining the campus of essential
operating funds. But then UC Berkeley’s officials, including Athletic
Director Sandy Barbour, corrected the record, telling KNBR radio that
Cal’s football and basketball programs are actually very profitable,
but they don’t bring in enough money to make up for the school’s
lesser-known sports programs. So while it’s true that the athletic
department often requires multimillion-dollar subsidies to stay afloat,
Cal football isn’t the problem.

And Then There Was Brown

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom abruptly pulled out of the
California governor’s race last Friday, citing family reasons. But it’s
no secret that Newsom had suffered from dismal poll numbers and
disappointing fund-raising totals. It also seems apparent that his
aggressive, pro-gay-marriage stance had hurt him politically. His
decision to drop out also leaves state Attorney General and former
Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown as the only major Democratic candidate in the
2010 governor’s race.

Three-Dot Roundup

Oakland Raiders head coach Tom Cable struck his ex-wife and his
ex-girlfriend, the two women told ESPN over the weekend. Cable denied
hitting the ex-girlfriend, but admitted to striking his former wife,
although he said he slapped her with his open hand. He had been accused
of breaking the jaw of an assistant during training camp. … Former
Oakland City Manager Robert Bobb is officially out of the 2010 mayor’s
race now that he has agreed to extend his contract as financial czar of
Detroit public schools for another year. … Former Oakland mayoral
candidate and longtime Alameda County Supervisor Mary King was
appointed interim general manager of AC Transit. King takes over for
outgoing GM Rick Fernandez, even though she has no experience running a
transit agency. … Embattled Emeryville City Councilman Ken Bukowski
is being investigated by the city’s police department for accepting
nearly $100,000 in loans from local business people. Questions also are
swirling as to whether Bukowski actually lives in San Francisco. …
And the Chronicle reported that even though its circulation has
dropped more 25 percent this year (the worst decline among major
newspapers nationwide), it’s actually doing much better financially.
The paper said it expected the circulation drop after substantially
raising subscription rates earlier this year.

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