SODA DEBATE HEATS UP: Richmond's ninth annual Juneteenth parade drew a massive turnout June 16, but one councilman with a little wagon managed to cause quite a stir.
Councilman Jeff Ritterman, who is spearheading a controversial ballot measure that aims to impose taxes on local businesses that sell sugar-sweetened beverages, marched in the Juneteenth parade. Ritterman pulled a wagon down Cutting Boulevard carrying one of his favorite props: a water jug filled with 40 pounds of sugar, the amount he says the average child consumes from sugar-sweetened beverages each year.
No one questions that sugar-sweetened beverages aren't the healthiest choice, but there is staunch opposition in some business circles and among some local leaders against Ritterman's quest to tax the drinks into disfavor in Richmond. Opponents say the 1-cent-per-ounce tax will harm the poorest residents, stifle business and dissuade grocers and restaurants from opening new locations in Richmond.
Ritterman said afterward he got a frosty reception at the Juneteenth festival at Nicholl Park, which included heckling by at least two political opponents. As he walked around with his wagon, there was at least one information stand devoted to anti-soda tax outreach and literature.
The tax will be decided by Richmond voters in November. If approved, Richmond could be the first city in the nation to tax sugar-sweetened beverages as
WELCOME HOME: It's 10:15 p.m. at the Oakland Airport when Hawaiian Airlines Flight 48 from Honolulu arrives 30 minutes late, and the restlessly waiting friends and relatives stand up to see who's coming down the walkway.
As the trickle of passengers becomes a stream, a TSA agent on the other side of the walkway begins a slow clap, clap, clap. Others join in, the applause picking up and spreading to the 35 to 40 people crowding forward to greet passengers.
Applause in the airport lounge? A celebrity? "What's going on?" "What's happening?" people ask.
Two soldiers in well-laundered, light gray-green-tan camouflage uniforms are coming through. The young man turns into the arms of his family. The applause picks up as the waiting folks engulf four more soldiers, three in camo and one in a blue dress coat with red piping.
Hugs, kisses, huge smiles, cameras flashing.
We're thanking soldiers home from the war.
pitching George Lucas: Could Richmond's Marina Bay district be the next home for filmmaker George Lucas' proposed mega-film studio complex?
Richard Poe hopes so. Owner of Virtual Development, one of the largest commercial property owners in Marina Bay, Poe took out an ad last month in the Marin Independent Journal touting his properties as the prime spot for the Star Wars director's film studios, which Lucas initially envisioned for Marin.
The ad, titled "Open Invitation to George Lucas and Friends," touts his Marina Bay waterfront properties as having 225,000 square feet of space, a nearby helicopter pad and sites approved for ferry service.
"I'm reaching out to George Lucas, yes," Poe said by telephone on Wednesday. "The plans I've seen for his proposed film studios are beautiful, and we have a great environment for his vision right here. It's a great fit."
Competition should be tight. Many other cities and landowners are trying to appeal to Lucas as well.
RIO VISTA'S RUN: The Eye noticed recently that an AT&T commercial brought some notoriety to one small Delta town north of Antioch.
A runner in San Francisco is so entranced by the music on his HTC One X phone that he doesn't realize he's jogged way out into the countryside. Finding himself on a dirt road and amid sheep, green rolling hills and wind turbines, he uses the device to find out where he is.
He exclaims: "Rio Vista?!?!" In real life, the run from San Francisco to the city of 8,000 on the Sacramento River is about 62 miles.
City leaders say the commercial has been a pleasant surprise.
"It's something we get a lot when we go places. People ask: 'Where's Rio Vista?' The hope is people will want to find out," Mayor Jan Vick said. "Windmills are not our only attraction."
Staff writers Robert Rogers, Andrew McGall and Paul Burgarino contributed to this report.