Perhaps it's fitting that in a city where council meetings routinely run more than six hours, the issue of free speech has chewed up hours of additional time.

And it's further rubbed already raw tempers.

In Richmond, it's become passé to see Mayor Gayle McLaughlin order police officers to escort irate citizens from the chambers, usually because they refuse to stop yelling at the council dais after their two-minute public speaking period has elapsed.

Councilman Corky Booze, McLaughlin's rival, responded to the ejections -- often of people more politically aligned with Booze -- by directing City Attorney Bruce Goodmiller to provide the council an analysis of First Amendment protections within council chambers. Goodmiller said there are, indeed, limits to free speech.

"The First Amendment does not guarantee persons the right to communicate at all times or in any manner that may be desired," Goodmiller wrote.

Booze also pointed out that campaign fliers promoting the sugar-sweetened-beverage tax on Richmond's November ballot have been seen circulating around council chambers, a violation of state law. Booze directed Goodmiller to get him a copy of the text that specifies prohibitions against using public facilities for campaign activities.

"I want something to hold in my hand," Booze thundered during the July 17 council meeting. "You know I like to wave the paper around."

HEALTHY BIT OF CRIME: Two unusual items caught The Eye's attention this week while checking out local police logs -- both of them involving produce.

At around 8:37 p.m. on July 3, Brentwood police responded to what turned out to be a minor battery incident near downtown where the suspect allegedly pushed the victim and then hit them with a peach.

The night before, on the other side of town, police in the East Contra Costa city responded to a call that turned out to be vandalism.

The suspect allegedly threw corn at the victim's parked vehicle around 10:42 p.m., causing damage to its driver's side mirror, according to the police log.

Having produce used in crimes is unusual, police Lt. Tom Hansen said.

"It's not something we see all the time," he said.

WALK-OFF BURGER: The Eye spotted San Francisco Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford in line at The Habit burger joint in Walnut Creek on July 24, possibly ordering a Charburger.

Later that night, the graduate of Foothill High in Pleasanton delivered the game-winning, walk-off single in the Giants 3-2 win over the San Diego Padres.

The Eye, aka the Giants' good luck charm, can confirm that, based on the reactions of women nearby, that Crawford and his golden locks are just as dreamy off the diamond as on.

REDEVELOP THIS: When the El Cerrito City Council met July 17, much of the session was spent explaining the city's decision to mount a legal challenge to a demand by the state that the city turn over $1.7 million in former redevelopment funds.

Mayor Bill Jones, who called the state's action "pure and simple a money grab," also noted that the demand for payment was issued July 9 and was due a mere three days later.

The council addressed other business that evening, including an item on fire hazard abatement on properties with overgrown vegetation and/or rubbish around town.

"I notice one of the properties is like a vacant lot owned by the State of California," Jones said. "Have they complied yet? Is there any way we can give them three days?"

Robert Rogers, Paul Burgarino, Matthias Gafni and Chris Treadway contributed to this column.