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Zach St. George

Infighting a challenge for City Council

Councilmember Tom Butt left the April 24 city council meeting around 9 pm, too frustrated to continue, followed a while later by Councilmember Jovanka Beckles, who had to work early the next morning. Down to five remaining members, the council debated and argued into the night, past 11 pm, midnight, 1 am. By the time Mayor Gayle McLaughlin declared the end of the meeting, around 1:30 am, it had gone on for more than seven hours. The long meeting wasn’t…

Birds on the Bay Bridge

Of all the birds that nest on or around the Bay Bridge—gulls, terns, pelicans, pigeons, falcons, hummingbirds—Lauren Bingham is most concerned with the cormorants. It’s not that they’re worse, bird by bird, more onerous or unruly than the other birds; it’s just that there’s so many of them. Standing on the unopened new span of the Bay Bridge, halfway to Yerba Buena Island, she points at the steel latticework right below the road deck on the old bridge, then gestures…

At council meeting, protesters call for tougher treatment of assistant city manager

Before Tuesday night’s city council meeting, more than 20 people gathered on the chamber steps holding signs—“Richmond needs accountability,” “Investigate little luxuries in Richmond,” and “Richmond United Against Corruption”—in reference to assistant city manager Leslie Knight, who heads the human resources department. The results of a city-funded investigation released last week showed that she had violated city policy by accepting a monthly car allowance while driving a city vehicle, and by using city equipment, space, and employees’ time for things…

Portrait of an empty house

A yellow cat runs up the steps of the house on 127 Chanslor Avenue, hopping over the weeds sprouting from the charred wood. It stops in the entryway and turns, shutting its eyes against the sun streaming down through the hole where the roof used to be. The house, on the corner of 2nd Street and Chanslor, in Richmond’s Iron Triangle neighborhood, is abandoned. It’s caught fire—twice. The entire roof is gone. The siding above the windows and doors is…

Chevron asks for new tax appeal judges

Chevron is worried that James Giacoma, Art Walenta and Clark Wallace might be holding a grudge. That’s one argument the oil company made in legal documents  filed in January asking that the three be removed from the county tax appeals board–the most recent maneuver in Chevron’s nearly decade-long battle with Contra Costa County over the property taxes it pays on its Richmond refinery. The three men are civilians appointed by the county Board of Supervisors to handle property tax disputes….

Getting to four votes: The political math behind the appointment of Jael Myrick

After a month of arguing over how best to fill the seat left empty by Gary Bell’s illness, the Richmond City Council met on February 4 for a one-item agenda. The council could either choose to wait for a special election in June, or it could appoint one of the 12 people who applied for the position. Two factions had emerged—councilmembers Corky Booze and Nat Bates were publicly in favor of a special election, while Mayor Gayle McLaughlin and councilmembers Jovanka Beckles…

Giving North Richmond’s kids a safer place to play

With frantic little-kid energy, the Panthers under-10 boys basketball team races around the pavement lot next to the Shields-Reid Park in North Richmond. The kids are fresh from a 42-0 victory over the El Cerrito team, their third straight victory in their youth league. Some of the kids play a pick-up game against their coaches—older boys, brothers, cousins, neighbors—who shout directions and jokes. Around the edges of the court, kids drift in and out of the game, jousting with each…

Jael Myrick appointed to City Council

The City Council appointed Jael Myrick to fill Gary Bell’s empty seat in a 4 – 1 vote with one abstention Monday, avoiding a special election. Myrick will be sworn in during Tuesday night’s council meeting. His appointment came at the end of a single-item meeting the council called to vet the 12 candidates who had stepped forward to fill Bell’s seat. It followed weeks of speculation and arguing over the empty seat. In their arguments before the decision, city…

Council names Booze vice mayor

Tuesday night’s Richmond City Council meeting was short on substance but long on drama. Despite an agenda that included few controversial items, councilmembers and the public traded barbs and accusations deep into the night. In the nearly six-hour meeting, the council’s only decision was to choose a vice-mayor. Councilmember Corky Booze and Mayor Gayle McLaughlin sat on either side of an empty seat, left open by councilmember-elect Gary Bell, who remains in a coma. Last week the council held a…

It’s official: Richmond City Council seeks new member

During Richmond City Council’s special meeting on Thursday, Mayor Gayle McLaughlin formally announced councilmember-elect Gary Bell’s seat as vacant—despite the opposition of absent Councilmembers Corky Booze and Nat Bates—and the council set a quick timetable for filling it, either by appointment in early February or by a special election in June. The meeting was in many ways both a return to November’s contentious election and a preview of the fight to come. Even the timing of the meeting was controversial….

Richmond upholsterer will save you a seat

Patrick McStravick runs his fingers over the bare bones of an old chair. “Look at the thickness of the wood,” he says reverently in heavy brogue. “Honduran mahogany.” Jute webbing, tacked and stretched from the bottoms of the outer wooden slats, forms the base of the seat. A half-dozen metal springs sit on top of the jute. “These are all hand-tied,” he says, pushing down lightly on the springs. Like a cooper her barrels or a tinker his cans, McStravick,…

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