A story incorrectly reported the cost to taxpayers for a trip to China taken by two Richmond councilmen, Nat Bates and Corky Booze and three city staff members. The cost for each was $6,020, according to city officials, not $5,760. The story, an editorial and Eye on the East Bay column overstated the amount of money Booze charged to his city credit card for additional expenses on the trip. Those expenses were $340, not $1,169. That included $94 for laundry service, not $530, and $80 for excess baggage fees, not $473.
SPEAK-EASY IN LIVERMORE?: Taking a page out of the Prohibition Era, brand-new Livermore bar The Last Word opened quietly Dec. 13, giving out passwords through Facebook and Twitter to some lucky patrons over the establishment's first few weekends in business. Co-owners Rick and Theresa Dobbs (Rick is a cocktail consultant, and Theresa's a chef) modeled the bar after the old-school speak-easies, and passwords seemed like a perfect fit for the image.
"We wanted to use them to build a buzz, make it fun and be able to manage the amount of customers," Rick Dobbs said. The tactic appears to be working; The Last Word's Facebook page already has more than 1,600 "likes," weeks before its official (no password required) grand opening Jan. 3.
Committed to authentic, pre-Prohibition drink recipes and quality small plates, the Dobbs hope their first foray, located on First Street between the Bankhead Theater and Paxti's Pizza, becomes Livermore's go-to destination for cocktails.
FLUFF 'N FOLD: When it reopens next year for the summer concert season, Concord's 38-year-old amphitheater will be known once again as the Concord Pavilion. As part of the 10-year management contract the city signed recently with Live Nation, the venue -- which has seen better days -- will get a makeover and be rebranded under its original name.
But after so many years as the Sleep Train Pavilion and, before that, the Chronicle Pavilion, Live Nation executive Matt Prieshoff said the company no longer knew what the original logo looked like. He asked whether anyone had a picture so they could recreate it.
Councilman Dan Helix, delighted that the Pavilion is returning to its roots, stood and pulled a faded green sweatshirt featuring the old logo from a bag and gleefully offered it to Prieshoff.
"Just bring it back laundered," Helix said.
From China with love: Last week, Richmond City Councilman Corky Boozé made his first appearance at a council meeting since details emerged from a taxpayer-funded trip he took to China last month with other public officials as part of Richmond's Sister City program.
A procession of Boozé critics, mostly Richmond Progressive Alliance members who helped him get elected but have come to loathe his governing style, took turns landing digs about his extravagant spending.
Boozé racked up more than $300 in extra charges on top of his $6,020 travel bill, including $94 for laundry service and $80 for excess baggage. Boozé asserts that the numbers were originally inflated because of confusion over the exchange rate.
Critics blasted Boozé for "taking his dirty laundry to China" and hanging with "communists" during his trip.
Boozé fired back with customary bluster and was defiant about his laundry bills. "I will never go away from the city and look like you bums when I represent the city!"
REPORT FROM D.C.: The Eye tends to spend time in gritty settings, such as the Iron Triangle and Richmond City Council meetings, but occasionally it gets gussied up for a white linen lunch with the area's caviar crowd. That was the case Wednesday during a Council of Industries lunch with U.S. Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, and about 30 movers and shakers in one of the Hotel Mac's august banquet halls.
While diners savored salmon and prime rib, Miller expounded on the state of the economy and Washington politics, a generally sour mix of acid and honey.
"Going to Washington for work is like going to one of the moons of Saturn," Miller said, in an evocative segue from earlier remarks about how sanguine his view is of West Contra Costa County schools. Congress today is "troublesome," said the longtime congressman, peppering in other adjectives such as "shortsighted" and "punishing."
But the news wasn't all bad. Miller said he "brags about this community all the time" to his colleagues in Congress; the "energy" in our local schools is "unbelievable;" and hanging out with former Richmond gangbangers sent to Washington through the city's Office of Neighborhood Safety has given him hope that criminal youths can be reformed with the right encouragement.
Staff writers Jeremy Thomas, Lisa P. White and Robert Rogers contributed to this report. An earlier version of this column on Richmond Councilman Corky Booze has been corrected.