William Harless

With a soft drink tax on the ballot, Richmond stirs

This fall, Richmond residents will vote whether or not to place a penny-per-ounce tax on soft drinks. This past winter, the city council voted to put the measure on the November ballot, along with a proposal to use the funds the tax would raise to help pay for health programs. But the proposed soda tax has stirred debates in the city about health, poverty and race.

Waste authority, Republic Services tussle about who controls garbage

Richmond Sanitary Service is contesting an attempt by the county’s recycling authority to possibly select a new garbage company to manage the city’s collected trash, compost and recyclable waste beginning in 2014. As garbage fees rise, the West Contra Costa Integrated Waste Management Authority (RecyleMore) is scheduled to vote Jan. 5, 2012, on a way to competitively select a “post-collection services” provider for the county — a company to process trash and other waste after garbage trucks have collected it….

At the public hospital and sports centers, vending machines are healthier

Snickers bars at the county hospital? No more. Nor will you be able to find them at the city’s community centers. The city’s Recreation Department — following the lead of Contra Costa County’s health department — has replaced all the vending machines in its community centers with new, energy-efficient ones holding snacks and drinks that have lower calorie counts and no artificial trans-fats. Between this month and last, the county has done the same with healthier foods in the vending…

A concussion shortchanges the Oilers, but they still fight

The concussion left these inner-city high school football players in tears. There were curses, there was silence, there was rallying and hope, there was a bit of envy over the flashier jerseys of the opposing team. The Richmond Oilers — a short-manned team that could hardly afford to lose a player — was huddled, in anger and nervousness — to watch number 65, junior Jorge Diaz, who runs the defensive and offensive lines, on a stretcher, his shirt off, paramedics over…

City attorney Randy Riddle will step down

Richmond City Attorney Randy Riddle — who became the city’s attorney after a protracted search that ended in 2007 — will be leaving his position early next year. The city has hired an executive search firm to find a replacement. “Randy has been a great city attorney,” Richmond City Manager Bill Lindsay said on Tuesday. “He brought a lot of stability and professionalism into the City Attorney’s Office and has made that office very supportive of the City Council.” Riddle has…

Richmond offers free, discounted solar — but will residents bite?

Since July, the city has been trying to use more than $400,000 in federal stimulus funds to provide discounted and free solar panels for Richmond homeowners. The initial goal of the R3 program was to install the panels on a hundred homes, but so far only eight people have signed up. The city is beefing up its outreach program, though, and officials say they believe at least 40 low-income homeowners will choose to have free panels installed by November 2012….

A World War II preschool rings again with children’s shouts

A Mexican folk dance, an African-American gospel song, a restored World War II era school building, and a happy principal. “There are two things you can give to children, in general: roots and wings,” said Peppina Chang, the principal of the Richmond College Prep Schools. And today her preschoolers are getting their wings in a building whose roots dig deep into the heart of modern American history — although those roots had almost crumbled. After years of fundraising and planning,…

Clinton visit to Richmond canceled

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District board of directors voted Wednesday to postpone the Blueprint for Healthy Communities Summit, citing cost and conflict-of-interest concerns.

A new source of fertilizer in Richmond – koi fish

In a 5,000-gallon fish tank in a 1980s greenhouse off a side street near Fred Jackson Boulevard, about a thousand koi fish, the fish so often found in Japanese garden ponds, are busy growing lettuce. The “tank” is actually an uncovered, blue-tiled, above-ground swimming pool that local organic farmer Pilar Reber purchased at Target about nine months ago. To see the fish clearly, though, you have to walk on tip-toe to the pool’s edge because the koi are, well, coy….

In the Iron Triangle, a potluck and a melting pot

The Sixth Street block party was set, tentatively, for noon Saturday. But by 12:15, the foldaway tables and chairs were still empty. The organizers had said there would be a potluck, but by about 1 p.m., there still wasn’t much food on the tables. A few bags of chips, a bowl of fresh pears, some plastic cups. A set of speakers pumped music up and down the road, and children played some basketball, but there weren’t many potluck-goers. And then…