READERS STEP UP: The Eye was heartened to learn last week of the response from two readers to our story about the rape of an 80-year-old disabled woman.
At the sentencing for Anthony Square on Monday, Contra Costa County prosecutor Devon Bell read a heartbreaking letter written by Square's victim. She wrote that one of the hardest parts of her recovery is that she could not afford to replace the armchair that she was sitting in when the attack began, and using it every day is a constant reminder of her ordeal.
A married couple from Lafayette, who asked that their last names not be published, read the story in Tuesday's newspaper and leapt into action. After making arrangements with Shannon Mahoney, a victim's advocate with the Contra Costa District Attorney's Office, the couple, Dawn and Stig, along with a friend, on Thursday traveled to the Richmond woman's home, hauled away the unwanted chair, and replaced it with a brand-new, high-end armchair with a remote-control lift.
Mahoney said the Richmond woman was touched that people from the community would show such generosity to her. The wife talked to the woman before she dropped off the new chair and said she was impressed by her positive attitude.
"She sounds like such a lovely woman," Dawn said. "We are just grateful to help."
not in our town: In an attempt to demonstrate the need for attention to a hazardous Lafayette crosswalk on Mount Diablo Boulevard near Golden Gate Way, Engineering Services Manager Tony Coe showed a brief video clip at Monday's City Council meeting.
"This person is wanting to cross the street," he said, narrating the scene, "and you see he's standing there waiting but cars are not stopping for him. ... Another person is running across the street because he's trying to beat this SUV coming down the road."
Then later, from a different angle: "There is lady here who's waiting to cross, but vehicles again are not stopping for her."
About that time, a black-and-white police car whipped through the intersection as fast as any of the other cars, equally oblivious to the pedestrian crosswalk.
"Let me just clarify for the record, that was not Lafayette police," Coe said. "Lafayette police would never do such a thing."
SLICK VIDEO: Last week, the Eye went web surfing for video of the Aug. 6 fire at the Chevron refinery in Richmond, and found exactly what it was looking for on cbsnews.com. But before the Eye could eye the video, it had to sit through a 30-second commercial in which BP Oil explained what a wonderful job it has done cleaning up the Gulf Coast.
There's a word for that: Eye-rony.
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT: With the recent string of industrial accidents in Contra Costa County, a few eyebrows may have been raised Wednesday morning when emergency crews headed to the PG&E Gateway Generating Station near Antioch.
Don't worry. This was a test. It was only a test.
PG&E and the Contra Costa Fire District held an unannounced drill to practice for potential emergency scenarios. In this case, first responders had to rescue an "injured person" 95 feet up on one of the station's stacks, PG&E spokeswoman Tamar Sarkissian said.
A team of 13 employees and 40 responders devised a strategy, then strapped the dummy into a stretcher and used an apparatus to lower it to the ground, she said.
The yearly drill was set up months before the refinery fire in Richmond, so the timing was purely a coincidence, Sarkissian said.
As of Friday, the station has gone 1206 days without a recordable injury.
sugar and hospitals: Before he was a city councilman and the major-domo of Richmond's nationally known effort to tax sugar-sweetened beverages, Jeff Ritterman was a cardiologist at Kaiser Permanente's hospital in Richmond for three decades.
Today, Ritterman pushes a tireless schedule drumming support for the November ballot measure. Much to his chagrin, his former employer keeps its cafeteria coolers stocked with soda pop and other sugary drinks.
"I have no control over that," Ritterman said of Kaiser's beverage choices. "But there's no doubt that that is an area of health where they can do better, and they should."
While it's an interesting paradox -- products that Dr. Ritterman has said are unsafe are readily available in a facility that promotes public health -- it should have little effect on the November ballot.
What's more important is the hundreds of thousands in advertising, mostly from the American Beverage Association in opposition to the 1-cent-per-ounce tax, and the dozens of community groups that have come out for or against the controversial measure.
Ritterman said that while he is disappointed that his old stomping grounds continues to peddle pop, he was quick to note that Kaiser has been a force for good health in Richmond.
"Overall, they have done a lot to improve health and nutrition in our community," Ritterman said.
Staff writers Malaika Fraley, Tom Barnidge, Gary Peterson, Paul Burgarino and Robert Rogers contributed to this report.