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Diablo's Week in Review March 14-21 2009

The political scramble begins to replace Ellen Tauscher, East Bay foodies get their White House garden, good sportsmanship from Monte Vista High, and Tri-Valley guys' horror website wins top awards.

Ellen Tauscher (D-Alamo) has agreed to give up her House seat to take a top post in the State Department

U.S. House of Representatives Democratic Caucus

Political jostling to replace Ellen Tauscher: With U.S. Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Alamo) agreeing to leave her House seat and take a top post in the State Department, a rare opportunity has opened for an aspiring East Bay politician to go to Washington D.C. Already, several movers and shakers have expressed interest, while others are being urged to run in a special election that would take place if and when the U.S. Senate confirms Tauscher’s appointment.

Those mentioned in news reports are these Democrats: new state Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan of Alamo; former Assemblyman Joe Canciamilla of Pittsburg; and State Senator Mark DeSaulnier of Concord. The Republicans are: Tom Del Becarro of Lafayette, vice chairman of the California Republic Party; Nicholas Gerber, a Moraga businessman who challenged Tauscher last year; Brent Jones of Danville, a former San Francisco 49er tight end; and H. Abram Wilson, moderate mayor of San Ramon who lost November’s race for state Assembly to Buchanan. (Vote in our poll on the bottom of the home page to tells us who you're early favorite is.)

East Bay foodies get their White House veggie garden: Four days after Chez Panisse founder Alice Waters was on 60 Minutes urging President Obama to plant an edible garden at the White House, First Lady Michelle Obama and 26 Washington D.C. schoolchildren were breaking ground on a 1,100-square-foot vegetable and fruit garden on the South Lawn. Perhaps, the President and First Lady had also heeded the advice of Michael Pollan, the UC Berkeley journalism professor who began campaigning for a White House "Victory Garden" in the fall.

Good sportsmanship in Monte Vista basketball players, supporters: Players and supporters for Monte Vista High’s boys’ basketball team were of course disappointed by the team’s loss in the California Interscholastic Federation NorCal Division I championship game. Still, they raised $1,100 for the team that beat them 46-43, so that team could travel to this weekend’s state championships in Sacramento. The coach for Oakland’s McClymonds High said he didn’t have the money to take his Warriors to the big game. Actually, it turned out there was a misunderstanding between the Warriors’ coach and the Oakland school district. The district is giving the team the money, and the Warriors returned the $1,100 to Monte Vista.

UC Berkeley might punish John Yoo: The Cal law professor may face academic punishment for his off-campus work in provididng the Bush administration with a memo justifying torture for accused terrorists. UC leaders are considering some form of discipline against Yoo as a federal investigation of his legal advice to Bush officials nears completion. Yoo, who has been at Cal since 1993 and tenured since 1999, has become a polarizing figure on campus for his advice on dealing with terrorists. 

East Bay home sales up; most are foreclosures:People bought more homes in the Bay Area in February than in the same month last year, but not in pricier East Bay suburban zip codes in Lamorinda, Walnut Creek, San Ramon Valley, and Pleasanton. People were mostly snapping up foreclosure homes in the East Bay. Of total home sales in Contra Costa County, 65 percent were foreclosures; in Alameda County, 46 percent were foreclosures.

East Bay population grows: Even though it can be a challenge in this tough economy to live in one of the most expensive places on Earth, people still moved here last year. U.S Census figure show that Contra Costa County saw its population grow 1.5 percent between 2007 to 2008 to 1,029,703. That’s an 8.5 percent increase since 2000. Alameda County’s population grew by 1.4 percent between 2007 and 2008, to 1,474,368 people, or 2.1 percent since 2000.

Contra Costa budget cuts hit social services: Supervisors sliced nearly $50 million from their budget, with 60 percent of cuts affecting health and social services to keep more law enforcement and prosecutors employed. Still, 56 sheriff’s deputies and 18 deputy district attorneys will lose their jobs.

At least 30 women say they were molested by Livermore plastic surgeon: Prosecutors expect to file more charges against Peter Chi, who is accused of inappropriately touching female patients on whom he was performing liposuction and other cosmetic procedures in his Tracy office. Chi is already charged with 11 counts involving sexual battery and rape by a foreign object. Since his case first came to light last month, at least 30 more women have come forward. 

Dublin doctor must stand trial on sex abuse charges: An Alameda County judge found there was enough evidence for Tony Shiu to stand trial on charges of drugging two men and sexually abusing them. The men were guests at his home in August 2006. An investigation prompted Shiu to leave the United States for Taiwan. He was deported and brought back to the United States. He is also charged with sexual battery in connection with claims that he inappropriately touched several patients.

Pelosi wants to help struggling Bay Area newspapers: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent a letter to US Attorney General Eric Holder asking his office to lighten up on its antitrust regulations so that financially beleaguered Bay Area newspapers can merge or consolidate operations to stay in business. The San Francisco Chronicle is fighting against closure, while Media News Group, the owner of the Contra Costa Times and other Bay Area newspapers, is at risk of bankruptcy.

Kaiser cuts 275 Bay Area jobs: The Oakland-based managed health care organization is restructuring its technology operations and outsourcing its data center operations. So, the company is eliminating 275 jobs, mostly in Walnut Creek and Napa, but also in Pleasanton.

Will Google come bidding? Lostzombies.com, a horror-film-related website run by three Tri-Valley residents, won two major Web awards during the interactive portion of the international South By Southwest Musical Festival. Lostzombies.com won for Best Community Site and the People’s Choice Web Award. Lostzombies.com is run by Pleasanton's Ryan Leach, Dublin's Skot Leach and Danville's Rob Oshima.