STIRRING twitter hornet's nest: Richmond police Chief Chris Magnus is known as an adroit cross-platform communicator, and he has made a habit of posting punchy, wry reports about local issues on his Twitter and Facebook feeds.
But earlier this month, he learned just how fast a controversial tweet can spark outrage on the Twitter-sphere. In a since-deleted tweet, Magnus named two suspected prostitutes when announcing the arrest of four people accused of soliciting a prostitute, and three others on suspicion of prostitution.
The post triggered a fusillade of angry responses by Twitter followers who thought his post unfairly mocked the women.
@waitinggirl13 tweeted, "I want to know why he found their names amusing #racism." @flyingparchment tweeted sardonically, "yes I'm sure no one could identify them with only their occupation, place of business and name," and followed with "they're only sex workers though so hey who cares right."
Magnus tried to stem the tide, but to no avail. "Actually, neighbors nearby and their kids care. My guess is you don't live in the area. Not fun having kids walk by," which spurred dozens more comments, most of them critical. Magnus refrained from further explanation.
RichmondStandard.com, the local news site funded by Chevron Corp., jumped on the developing Twitter tussle, reporting that "RPD spokeswoman Sgt. Nicole Abetkov said Magnus is not commenting further on the Twitter exchange. However, to avoid such a reaction in the future, the chief has reportedly decided to be more selective about what he tweets from now on -- meaning he won't attempt to joke about certain crimes."
On the brighter side, Magnus' Twitter feed jumped to more than 500 followers, an increase probably fueled in part by the sudden controversy.
PET HOME MAKEOVER: Tony La Russa's Animal Rescue Foundation in Walnut Creek has a well-deserved reputation for its plush pet accommodations. However, that doesn't mean every animal awaiting adoption is content with her or her temporary home.
ARF posted a photo on its Facebook page last week detailing what happened when one of its adoptables "tried his paws at 'redecorating' his condo."
Let's just say the size of the hole in the wall next to the unnamed pet's crate made The Eye wonder whether someone had taken a baseball bat from ARF's memorabilia display to the place. The floor was covered in plaster.
"Do you think he was hoping for more natural light?" ARF's post read.
Good luck to the rambunctious pet's new owner.
STARTING YOUNG: The Eye has found over the years that by the time an item comes before city council members for a fourth time, there are seldom new angles to discuss.
But The Eye spotted a new wrinkle during a recent Antioch City Council hearing on a revised animal ordinance that prohibits feeding cats in public places: When in doubt, bring a kitten.
The first two speakers during the April 8 hearing were children Michelle Coren and Daniel Wallis. The two are volunteers and foster caregivers at Homeless Animals Response Program.
As she spoke in favor of a trap-neuter-release program and adoption to stop overpopulation, Michelle held in her arms a black rescue kitten named Martin who was found with three litter mates downtown by the San Joaquin River.
"These cats, they didn't mean to be dumped, they're just helpless creatures and they can't defend themselves against us," she said. "They deserve to have a right to live."
Daniel said the "Rivertown Cats" get excited when his family heads down to see them, even if they don't have food.
"How would you feel if you were sitting, waiting for someone you trusted to come and feed you, but quit coming to take care of you? They were no longer wanted. They can't help it, but we can help them," he said.
Mayor Wade Harper complimented the kids for their passion.
"When you get to school, tell your teacher to watch this on TV. Tell them the mayor says that you should get an A," he said. "Those parents should be really proud of those two."
Staff writers Robert Rogers, Craig Lazzeretti and Paul Burgarino contributed to this column.