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Diablo's Week in Review August 1-8, 2009

Jason Giambi's return to the A's ends prematurely, Tasering of A's fan ignites national debate, and Walnut Creek's Neiman Marcus controversy heading toward ballot.

A's release Giambi: The Oakland A's, which nurtured first baseman Jason Giambi into one of major league baseball's premier run producers and helped the franchise , on Friday released him from his second stint with the team. Giambi, 38, had been struggling through the season, hitting .193 and on the disabled since July 20. During his first stint with the A's from 1995 to 2001, Giambi was a five-time American League All-Star and 2000 league MVPand became one of the team's all-time leaders in home runs. He left Oakland in 2001 to star for the Yankees but was hobbled by injuries and the federal and baseball investigations into players' use of performance-enhancing drugs. His much-anticipated return to the A's in January, which came with a one-year $5.25 million contract, didn't allow him or the team, which is also struggling, to return to their former glory. 

More A's-related news with national debate brewing about police using Taser to subdue disruptive fan: A video of three Oakland zapping a 62-year-old fan three times in the stands Tuesday has gone viral over the Internet. Oakland police defend their actions by saying that the fan, Thomas Bruso, had been asked to leave the A's ballpark for a long list of violations, including being belligerent and using profanity. The fan, Thomas Bruso, refused, and stadium security asked Oakland police officers to intervene. When Bruso became agitated and resisted being handcuffed, an officer employed his Taser, designed to incapacitate a suspect by shooting 50,000 volts of electrical currents into his body. But the first shot had no effect, and the officer fired again, horrifying onlookers. 


State budget cuts hit East Bay battered women's services: As Bay Area shelters report an increase in spousal abuse cases, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has cut $16.3 million from California's domestic violence programs, forcing these shelters to drastically reduce their operating budgets. Locally, the Concord-based STAND Against Domestic Violence advocacy group has slashed 25 percent from its budget, just as Contra Costa County is in the midst of a series of deadly domestic violence incidents. Sixteen people have died in the past year in domestic-violence cases, including a murder in Antioch and a murder-suicide in Pinole. It's unclear from news reports, though, whether this number also includes the murder-suicide of a Walnut Creek woman who shot and killed her 16-year-old son near the top of Mount Diablo before turning the gun on herself.  Meanwhile, Tri-Valley Haven in Livermore, which works with women and children, and Oakland's A Safe Place have also cut budgets of up to 50 percent.

Walnut Creek's Neiman Marcus battle heads to the ballot: The Walnut Creek City Council voted this week to let voters decide whether they want a new  92,000-square-foot luxury department store in Broadway Plaza. Specifically, the council decided to put on the November 3 ballot an initiative that has been proposed by community group that favors the Neiman Marcus proposal and whose successful petition drive was funded by Macerich, the company that owns Broadway Plaza.  The initiative asks Walnut Creek voters to say yes or no to the project that the City Council approved in May. 

Dublin church youth counselor drowns while scuba diving in Shasta Lake: A 20-year-old youth counselor, on a houseboating outing with youth from Crosswinds Church, died Tuesday while diving in the lake. Jeremiah Murray of Dublin vanished in the lake about 70 minutes after he had gone scuba diving alone with about 60 minutes of air left in the tank.

Kane Sushi restaurants in Lafayette and Danville accused of state labor violations: The state labor commissioner has filed suit against the owners of the Japanese restaurant chain, alleging, among other things that they illegally took tips from their employees and failed to pay overtime wages.   The owners could face $425,000 in penalties  and damages.