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Diablo's Week in Review February 28-March 7

Man, 73, stabbed to death in Clayton post office, Oakland Raiders struggle with teammate's disappearance in boating tragedy, East Bay unemployment hits nearly 20-year high, Alamo says "no" to cityhood, Orinda says "yes" to school parcel tax increase, and rats confirmed at Walnut Creek's Century 14 movie theater.

Man, 73, stabbed to death in Clayton post office: The normally tranquil, low-crime town of Clayton is reeling from the fatal stabbing Saturday of a 73-year-old man, Raymond Casso, in its main post office. Shortly after the killing, the first in Clayton since 1995, police arrested Shannon Bradley Moore, 37, of Concord. Investigators are trying to make sense of what happened, so are residents of Clayton, including one local blogger, Mister Writer, who knew Casso through the local Rotary Club as a jovial, easy-going man.

Oakland Raiders hit hard by player’s boating tragedy: The team is struggling with the news that linebacker Marquis Cooper and two friends went missing in a boating accident off the west coast of Florida last weekend. Cooper and three friends, including Detroit Lions defensive end Corey Smith, were boating in Cooper’s 21-foot boat when it capsized in waves up to 14 feet. So far, only one survivor, Nick Schuyler, has been found.

East Bay unemployment at highest level in nearly 20 years: The state's unemployment rate rose to 10.1 percent this week, with unemployment in Alameda and Contra Costa counties at 9.2 percent, way up from about 5 percent a year ago. In all, close to 120,000 people in the East Bay were jobless in January--72,000 in Alameda and 48,000 in Contra Costa. A state Employment Development Department spokesman said the East Bay's current unemployment rate is the highest since 1990.

Voters reject Alamo cityhood: Sixty-six percent of voters said “no” to incorporating this Contra Costa County-controlled enclave of 16,000 people. The overwhelming “no” vote stunned residents on both sides of the decades-long struggle over whether to form a city.

That wasn’t Ratatouille’s Remy at Walnut Creek’s Century last week: Contra Costa Health Services inspectors found evidence—er, droppings—that rats had visited the Century 14 movie theater. Inspectors were following up on 10 complaints from patrons about seeing “cat-sized” rats near a screen and in the aisles. No evidence of rodents were found in the food services area, a discovery which would have forced the theater to close until the infestation was resolved.

PostSecret fans swarm Walnut Creek’s Bedford Gallery: More than 800 people from all over California turned up at the city's Lesher Center gallery Wednesday for the opening of an exhibition of PostSecret, an internationally renowned postcard project, in which people anonymously reveal their deepest secrets. The opening also featured a talk by Frank Warren, PostSecret's founder whose website has turned into an Internet phenomenon.

DA declines to file rape charges against Saint Mary’s College student: The Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office wants more investigation into allegations that a Saint Mary’s sophomore raped a female student in an on-campus residence on January 24. Prosecutors sent the case back to police. The suspect posted $100,000 bail shortly after his arrest last week.

Luxury Orinda development in jeopardy: A developer has defaulted on a $180 million loan being used to finance a high-profile community of homes, sports fields, and an art and garden center in Gateway Valley. The developer, OG Property Owner LLC, is looking for new investors and trying to negotiate with the lender, Merrill Lynch, but Merrill Lynch lost so many billions in the subprime mortage meltdown that it was bought by Bank of America.

In other Orinda news, voters approved a school tax increase: More than 70 percent of Orinda property owners said yes to a $124 increase to their $385 parcel tax to help their town’s school district. The increase will help offset a $1 million the Orinda School District faces due to budget cuts. The district provides K-8 education to 2,200 students.

Speaking of parcel taxes, Pleasanton’s school board seeks $233 on June ballot: Facing a loss of $8.7 million in the 2009-10 school year, Pleasanton school board members agreed to ask voters to approve a parcel tax that would expire after four years. 

Other public school district budget woes: The San Ramon Valley school board will send layoff notices to 137 teachers and to some librarians and counselors. … The Mount Diablo school district cut $8.1 million from its 2009-10 budget and will eliminate the positions of about 10 vice principals, six music teachers, and 100 certified staff members. ... The Walnut Creek school district will lay off 15 temporary and about seven probationary teachers at the end of this school year unless more money comes available.

Antioch's Recovery Express leaves for Washington D.C.: After their chartered bus received a blessing of holy water, 45 people from Antioch, one of the Bay Area cities hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis, began their journey to the nation’s capital. The so-called Recovery Riders will pick up community activists in other cities before arriving in Washington where they will plea for government intervention.

Concord chamber lays off its CEO: Tough economic times and declining membership forced the Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce, which promotes business relations in the city, to lay off its chief executive. The chamber’s board laid off Keith McMahon two weeks ago and hopes to replace his position once the economy picks up and businesses are able to rejoin and pay membership dues.

Danville woman honored in Congress for giving kidney to book club friend: In a statement on the House floor, U.S. Rep. Jerry McNerney honored Tanya Lombardi for donating a kidney to a member of her book club in December. Lombardi joined the book club four years ago and learned that fellow member Maxine Moir needed a kidney but couldn’t find a donor, so she gave Moir one of her own.

Golden Gate Fields owners in bankruptcy: The Albany horse racing track will go up for sale, after its Canada-based owners filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Despite the owners’ troubles, Golden Gate managers say they plan to keep up the schedule of racing on 181 dates in 2009.