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Weekly news: Trash Collection, Budget Proposals, Doorbell Lickers and Two Oracles?

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We can talk about the creepy news out of Arizona, Super Bowl (cough, stupid, cough), and the awesome benefits from the new police record transparency laws another another day. We’re focusing this week on three very strange but very real headlines involving doorbells, dead robots and jacket munchers; two horrible vehicle-pedestrian accidents; a dumb name change at the Giants’ stadium, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s budget proposal and another reason Rep. Jackie Speier is el jefe.

Let’s go…

Two horrible vehicle-pedestrian crashes; three people in critical condition

A 14-year-old boy was hit and dragged by a vehicle four blocks in Oakland’s Fruitvale district Jan. 2. The driver and passenger both fled the scene and abandoned the vehicle, which was later located by authorities. Although the child is still reported to be in critical condition, NBC Bay Area reported Wednesday that authorities have one person of interest in custody. Oakland police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick visited the boy at UCSF Benioff Childrens Hospital Wednesday and told reporters she was impressed with how smart and how much of a fighter he is. “He is one tough guy,” Kirkpatrick said.

Note: Kirkpatrick was very recently at the same hospital visiting another child following the New Year’s Eve “celebratory” gunfire incident.

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Berkeley School Board president Judy Appel and her wife Allison Bernstein were out for a walk in South Berkeley at Martin Luther King, Jr. Way and Stuart Street after midnight Friday when they were struck by a vehicle and left in critical condition. Both women are being treated at Highland ICU and are said to be showing “amazing signs of improvement,” according to updates from Berkeleyside. The cause of the crash has not been determined; however, the 81-year-old Berkeley man who was the driving the vehicle is cooperating with authorities.

Judy Appel and wife Alison Bernstein. Photo courtesy of Bay Area Reporter

The public outpour of support for Appel and Bernstein has been palpable. Appel has served on school board since 2012 and has been a longtime mental awareness and LGBTQ rights activist in the area.

A park by any other name

…is still the goddamn Giants’ stadium! Can we just stop with all the corporate ballpark naming? No?

The park opened in 2000 as Pac Bell Park, or as our own Joe Kukura pointed out in his write up on the topic here, it was locally known as Pack Bowl Park, because…pack bowls, duh! Thursday’s renaming to Oracle Park, which for the time being will be salt in the wound for Warriors fans, is the fourth lame corporate sponsor name change since the place jutted from the waterfront ground, creating an identity crisis for the park-goers and two rather inconvenienced seagulls (see Joe’s story for more on the avian confusion). Apparently, powers that be (i.e., the purse holders) care not what fans think of renaming their beloved ballpark and so I suggest that the black and orange, bat and ball-loving folks make up their own name and stick with it; we’ll all play along with whatever you choose if you just promise we’ll never have to refer to it as Google Ad Choices Park. Anyone miss Candlestick yet?

AT&T Park becomes Oracle Park Jan. 10, 2019. It’s rumored the Giants will continue to play there regardless of whatever highest bidder gets the neon sign.

Pack Bowl Park has my vote.

Gov. Gavin Newsom makes his move

San Francisco’s former mayor and now California’s Gov. Gavin Newsom held a press conference in Placer County Tuesday to announce a hefty budget proposal with a focus on combating the state’s wildfire epidemic. He announced massive investments, two executive orders and a letter cosigned with Oregon and sent to the White House offering cooperation to address state and federal land risks. Here’s the boiled-down version of where the investments are headed if approved: forest management, C-130s, 13 new engines, physical and mental health resources for first responders and families, 911 services (which will, yes, eventually mean a “fee”), infrared cameras, a three-year property tax backlog for Butte and Lake counties to make up for loss of local revenue and a final investment in the earthquake warning system.

The 2019 proposal adds another $8 billion to last year’s budget total but does seem to focus on the state’s most pressing need: not burning down. Gov. Newsom has a $14.8 billion surplus to work with and hopefully, he spends it in the right places. Read up here on the full budget proposal shared with the public Thursday.

Beyond bizarre

ABC7 News reported Tuesday that Salinas authorities were searching for a man who was caught on a front door camera…licking the door bell for three hours. That’s right, you read that. Not much else was known about the tongue assailant and the owners of the very wet door bell had no idea who the man was or why he was moved to show so much love to guest notification system.

But that happened.

In Las Vegas, it was reported that a robot was struck and “killed” by a self-driving Tesla. I’m going to leave that there.

Out in Pennsylvania, we have 47-year-old Jana Moschgat who swears she was “nibbling” on her coat just before she was pulled over and given a breath test, to which she blew a 0.151 percent blood-alcohol level, nearly twice the state’s legal limit for drivers. Associated Press reports that Moschgat also failed her field sobriety test, suggesting maybe she soaks her coat in a tub of bourbon prior to any important outing. The judge in her case agreed there was enough evidence to go to trial and so Moschgat, the coat chewer, will get the chance to demonstrate how in the hell you can extract that much booze from outerwear.

National nausea

There is so much to say about the mess that is our national politics and federal government, but we’ll start with a video gem that Trevor Noah and The Daily Show team dug up Wednesday. I’m sure the president is already devising a “fake news” smear campaign to discredit the footage, so watch, share, re-watch, save and backup before…the president declares a national emergency, takes control of the internet and conveniently makes this go away.

What was that Mr. President?

Where is the emergency?

I wrote quite a bit Wednesday about the current government shutdown and threats of a state of emergency declaration – not much has changed since then. You can peep my take on all that here. We’ll get a little further into details about the border fight and Mueller movement next week, but for now…one fun, new fact somewhat related to all that drama popped up and warrants some attention (and a smile).

California’s 14th District U.S. Representative Jackie Speier and her buddy Rep. Jared Huffman did some cleaning up last weekend in their districts’ national parks to help out with the growing garbage piles that have been accumulating since the government shutdown furloughed federal park employees. But Speier and Huffman didn’t just throw the garbage away at some landfill – they paid to have the trash delivered to the White House.

Add this to the long list of reasons that Rep. Jackie Speier (and Jonestown survivor) is a boss!

Weird shit to do on your day off

Head out to your nearest national park and help clean up. I’m not being sarcastic – they are super nasty right now and once (if ever) the employees are allowed to return, they will have way too much shit to take care of (and I mean that quite literally). Grab some gloves and bags and haul out some nasty for the good of our parks. Gracias.

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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.