GONE TO THE DOGS: Walnut Creek police Chief Tom Chaplin introduced the City Council and audience to the department's three K-9 units at a meeting earlier this month.

Standing with their human counterparts, the three dogs -- Dany, Rex and veteran K-9 Unit pooch Sheyna -- excitedly barked and panted in the council chamber March 18. Chaplin described all that the dogs do and said they helped apprehend 77 suspects in the past year. In only once case did force -- commonly known as a dog bite -- occur.

While the four-legged officers sniffed and danced around, Chaplin let those in attendance know that the dogs were off the clock.

"We have them in a mode right now so that they are not trying to detect anything," he said, drawing laughs from the audience.

Imagine if they had been allowed to search, what might they have found?

clamps on clapping: The Richmond City Council, that bastion of eight-hour meetings and nauseating harangues by city officials and members of the public, will consider putting the clamps on clapping.

Councilman Tom Butt has put an item on the agenda for the April 1 meeting calling on the city to adopt new rules that prohibit applause except for: during or following presentations or commendations; during or following the mayor's annual State of the City presentation; or following a vote on an agenda item.


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No clapping for any other reason, or residents risk being thrown out.

In his agenda memo, Butt assures the public that "applause is not a protected First Amendment right" and "routine applause is a slippery slope that often devolves into verbal expressions that feed on each other as well as contests between rival factions."

The issue stems from a testy March 18 meeting, during which Butt lashed out at audience members who lustily applauded people who spoke in favor of a $1 billion modernization project at the Chevron Richmond refinery.

Butt's anger at the applause, which he said needlessly prolonged the meeting, was met with a cacophony of boos and hisses, which then prompted Mayor Gayle McLaughlin to order police to clear the entire chamber of more than 200 members of the public. Her decision was then overturned by the council, allowing the public back in for the meeting.

Butt, sticking to his anti-clap platform, said his agenda item is a "compromise," and noted that he conducted a poll that supports his position.

"In my informal poll, the anti-clappers outvoted the pro-clappers by a margin of 14-3," Butt wrote in an email. "Later results were 8-1 against clapping. On the other hand, applause supporters are obsessed with the proposition that it is both harmless and essential."

PL8SGON: The Eye is always on the lookout for an eye-catching personalized license plate, but we've never been offered up to $100 to find the right one.

That's the possible reward for anyone who may stumble upon one of the five personalized plates stolen from Walnut Creek resident Dan Otoshi on Monday morning. He found the plates missing from two cars and a boat parked in or near the driveway of his Kelobra Court home late Sunday night or early Monday morning.

A stolen license plate isn't unusual -- many a teen or young adult's room has been decorated with the occasional plate lifted from a car -- but five from the same address? And all of them personalized?

"I can't remember ever being called on something like that," a Walnut Creek police officer said. "To say it's unusual is an understatement."

The Eye is guessing that Otoshi digs dogs, but we're wondering whether he digs the plates more. The license plates that are missing read: MUTTLMO (Mutt Limo); DK9LIMO (The Canine Limo); K94YACHT (Canine for Yacht); FIDOMBL (Fido Mobile); and DOGGYRV. Otoshi said he will pay as much as $100 for anyone to bring the plates back, no questions asked. He said he can best be reached at 925-360-0440.

It might be his only hope. Police said it is rare for stolen license plates ever to be recovered.

Staff writers Elisabeth Nardi, Robert Rogers and Rick Hurd contributed to this column.