"SHUT 'EM DOWN!": Election year is upon us in Richmond, which means The Eye must endure dysfunction beyond the usual circus at City Council meetings, mixed with a heaping dose of grouchiness.

Last Tuesday was another nadir.

The council bickered for more than two hours over how to address the shocking revelations in recent media reports documenting a Richmond Housing Authority rife with problems.

Councilman Corky Boozé was in rare form, relishing his chance to heap blame on colleagues and city staff for botching housing authority management duties while some of those same colleagues rolled their eyes and sighed.

Boozé and Mayor Gayle McLaughlin clashed countless times, and the mayor recessed the meeting on several occasions when the disorder overwhelmed any coherent discussion.

Finally, Councilman Tom Butt snapped.

"Can you just shut this guy up?" Butt spat, urging the mayor to call another recess to halt Boozé's harangue. "Shut ' em down ... shut this guy up!" Butt barked in his Arkansas drawl.

Moments later, the 70-year-old Boozé bolted from the dais to plead his case to anyone who would listen. "Tom can just tell me to shut up?" Boozé said, part question and part statement, suppressing the beginnings of a smile.

The meeting clocked in at about six hours, and several agendized items of public business were left unheard. As for the beleaguered housing authority, the council decided 6-1 to hire an independent investigator to probe the agency. Boozé voted no.

Partner-in-crime: Bonnie and Clyde. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Man and ... bearded dragon?

A Moraga police officer making a traffic stop March 4 probably never expected to find such an exotic partner-in-crime chillin' alongside his buddy in the black 1993 Mercedes-Benz with the nonfunctioning taillight. But that's exactly what the officer found upon contacting the 28-year-old male driver, who in addition to his pet Bearded Dragon, was also ferrying nearly 13 ounces of suspected marijuana, several grams of suspected hashish, 14 Clonazapem tabs and a digital scale.

Needless to say, the officer arrested the driver on suspicion of selling and transporting a controlled substance and shuttled both him and his reptile to the Moraga Police Department. The driver was later taken to the Martinez jail, while his scaly accomplice was picked up by county animal services for "safekeeping."

PRETTY, TASTY NAMES: Great taste. Great bargains. Free samples. Vendors at the Walnut Creek Farmers Market on Saturday morning shout out a variety of incentives to get attention.

And some use strange names.

One regular vendor proudly advertises tasty "Zombies" for breakfast or lunch. No magic involved. The zombies are a bun filled with meat, vegetables, potatoes or other items. We at The Eye can only assume the food is prepared by live people.

A few booths down the aisle, Dirtbag Gardens sells a variety of succulents, plants and gifts.

And if you're in the market for wedding flowers, the Martinez-based Dirtbag Gardens boasts it will meet all your needs from corsages to bouquets. Hey guys, you can tell your bride that you made the wedding special with decor by dirt bags.

SHIP HAS COME IN: There were two rare ship-related occurrences on the high seas of the San Joaquin River in Antioch last week.

The tall ships Lady Washington, used in "Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl," and Hawaiian Chieftain made their way to Antioch in a rare joint appearance on the weekend of March 1, even recreating a naval battle skirmish.

Then on the morning of March 6, the Google Barge made its way past the Antioch marina on its way from Treasure Island to Stockton.

The Eye couldn't help but wish the barge had made its trek a few days earlier, crossing paths with the Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain during their 18th century naval skirmish. Talk about the past meeting the future.

NO RAINOUT: A little bit of rain March 1 did not stop Antioch's monthly cleanup program. About 60 bundled-up residents gathered at City Hall to pick up litter around the Rivertown area. The cleanup marked the 50th event for Antioch -- almost all of them under much clearer skies.

Assemblyman Jim Frazier, D-Oakley, who brought doughnuts for the volunteers, and police Chief Allan Cantando both said they were pleasantly surprised by the turnout.

Staff writers Robert Rogers, Jennifer Modenessi and Paul Burgarino contributed to this column.