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Bay News: Protecting Homeless, Saving a Legacy, Losing Paradise and Trump’s Mental Health

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This week’s wrap casts a fairly broad geographical net, because let’s be honest here…when the state is battling the deadliest fire ever and our president is showing obvious and prolonged signs of actual insanity, that shit matters here at home and we need to talk about it. But before we get there, we have couple feel-good local stories to share.

Courts Step in to Protect Homeless in Oakland

U.S. District Judge Haywood Gilliam threw a restraining order down on the city of Oakland to prevent them from shutting down a homeless encampment until at least Nov. 26. The assertion is that the city is violating the camp residents’ 8th and 14th Amendment rights against cruel and unusual punishment and denying them due process and equal protection. This is one of several cases being heard in courts since the Martin v. Boise ruling set precedent when it was decided that criminal prosecution of people sleeping outside is a violation of the 8th Amendment. If cases continue to be processed with adherence to the new precedent, it will definitely change the game in how city officials address homeless populations.    

La Taqueria, Por Vida!

As we reported Wednesday, Miguel Jara Sr. won the battle to save his own restaurant on Mission Street. La Taqueria has been around since 1972 and has been an important part of the community, filling bellies with yum and maintaining a presence that harkens an age of pre-gentrification. The situation for La Taqueria became dicey after Jara’s parents died and the building was forced onto the market by courts who determined that Jara and his eight siblings would be entitled to equal amounts of the sale. The real problem with that arrangement was that Jara has been consistently running the restaurant and paying taxes on the property his parents helped him buy 46 years ago. When they died and there was no will, the building ownership was in limbo, until just recently when Jara and his two sons managed to survive the sibling battle and outbid third-party investors. Jara’s offer of $1.7 million was accepted, securing La Taqueria’s rightful place in the Mission.

La Taqueria in San Francisco, Calif. Photo courtesy of Eater SF

Feel free to stop by and celebrate with a burrito!

California’s Deadliest Fire Still Burns

Winter-like weather seemed to arrive suddenly – with people wearing jackets and temperatures hitting frigid overnight lows. In other words, it seems like the wrong time of year to worry about fire danger, but then again this is the new normal in California, where drought conditions and the fire season lasts year-round, year after year.

PARADISE, CA – NOVEMBER 08: A sign is posted on the Paradise Skilled Nursing center as it is consumed by flames from the Camp Fire on November 8, 2018 in Paradise, California. Fueled by high winds and low humidity, the rapidly spreading wildfire has ripped through the town of Paradise, charring 18,000 acres and destroying dozens of homes in a matter of hours. The fire is currently at zero containment. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Multiple fires are raging throughout the state, with the deadliest in California’s recorded history still less than 40 percent contained. The Camp Fire in Butte County has already destroyed 138,000 acres and over 9,000 actual homes, not just structures, but homes where people once lived. Of the 59 confirmed fatalities resulting from active blazes, 56 of them have been from Butte County, and dozens of people are still reported  missing. Cal Fire resources have been stretched thin as they simultaneously battle the Woolsey Fire in Southern California, which has burned nearly another 100,000 acres and claimed three lives to date.

The devastation and ongoing danger in California is severe and relentless – fatigued firefighters face their own losses as they tirelessly work to save others. But the people of this beautiful state have joined in overwhelming appreciation for our first responders and support for those affected, and that’s a good thing, considering our president is spending more time demonizing than empathizing with us as families continue to flee walls of fire. We may be on our own to some degree, but we have and will continue to rise to the occasion as fellow Californians, regardless of political and petty bullshit and despite the health hazards of smoke-filled air…maybe Trump can learn something from us for once.

The Camp Fire in Butte County continues to burn past 138,000 acres and has claimed 56 lives to date. Photo courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle

If you can or want to help those affected by fires, check out this article for resources and ideas to help you do so.

Trump Temper Tantrums Cause for Serious Evaluation

The president having a temper tantrum on its own is not news. We bear witness to his “executive time” mood swings on the daily; however, when the Commander in Chief goes unhinged for an extended period, it is something to take note of. Things began to get more testy than usual when Trump visited France last week to celebrate the end of WWI, honor the fallen soldiers and affirm the United States’ dedication to the alliances forged as a result of that war.

Aside from his pre-canned tweets and speeches written to make him appear presidential, his actions on that trip did little to achieve those goals. He chose not to join other world leaders as they walked together in a symbolic gesture of unity and opted out of a scheduled trip to a cemetery where U.S. soldiers were buried…because it was raining. I suppose if we are to take him at his word, he doesn’t have respect for soldiers who get “captured” and that appears to extend to those who die. But hey, nobody in the history of the world, ever, has done more for or has more respect for our military and veterans. Right? Yeah…okay.

Can you spot the missing link? Trump absent from symbolic walk to honor alliances in France. Photo courtesy of The New Yorker

He did however muster up the zeal to play buddy-buddy with Vladimir Putin and express his disdain for Californians as fires were literally threatening lives. He then decided to come home while other leaders stayed in France to attend the Paris Peace Forum, because I guess peace is overrated.

He has since overextended his authority in calling for candidates to concede races that have yet to be legally called and accusing Democrats of voter fraud in an effort to “steal the vote” – when pressed to provide sources for his claim that people change clothes in parking lots and hop around to different polling places to illegally vote numerous times, he walked away.

Also in the course of this past week, he ordered that CNN reporter Jim Acosta’s White House hard pass be revoked because he asks too many questions, is currently on a Robert Mueller and his team of “angry Democrats” tear – accusing the Special Counsel of corruption – and continues to claim that his handpicked Attorney General replacement, Matthew Whitaker is a “very respected man,” despite the fact that Whitaker is being investigated for strong arming former clients of a fraudulent company he was involved with.

Individually, these situations could be viewed as the president having difficult moments or just a hard day, which would be understandable for someone with the weight of the world on their shoulders. But collectively…when you step back and look at the totality of his behavior and public comments in recent days and weeks, it seems obvious that Trump is unraveling at a rapid pace. The country is sitting on pins and needles awaiting a report from Mueller’s team, but before that comes to its natural conclusion (if indeed it is permitted to do so), our elected representatives may need to face an uncomfortable reality: that our sitting president is mentally unstable and invoking the 25th Amendment may be long past due.

Weird shit to do on your day off

What do you, the Simpsons and peyote have in common? If you actually have an answer for that, and if you don’t, you should head down to Cafe du Nord Sunday night for the Classic Simpsons Trivia – Space Coyote Special Edition. You can show off all your stoner knowledge and win some pretty awesome prizes while gluttonously indulging on a customized menu of Simpsons-inspired food and booze. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Festivities pop off at 6 p.m. with a $5 ticket price that you can buy online or at the door.

Head out for a date night in the East Bay for $15 or less per person. Our own Katy Atchison provides all sorts of nutty and “hella romantic” ideas for the budget-weary, and at least two of her adventures end in ice cream – if ice cream doesn’t get you excited, you might just be a lost cause. Just sayin’.

Whatever you do, if you choose to go outside, please be careful and protect yourself from the super smokey air as the quality doesn’t seem to be improving anytime soon.

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Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Journalist, editor, student, single mom to a pack of wolves, foodie, music lover, resident smart ass, and champion of vulgarity and human kindness.