NEW PEN PAL: One little line in a front-page story about quirky Richmond police Chief Chris Magnus did not go unnoticed.

In the story, we noted that Magnus is an energetic user of social media, where he engages in debates on political and social issues and is fond of "reposting articles by liberal columnist Maureen Dowd."

Days later, Magnus received a letter from the Washington bureau of The New York Times.

"Chief Magnus," the handwritten letter read. "As the daughter of a cop, I commend your taste in columnists!"

Magnus admitted later that he was elated.

Himself known as an able communicator, Magnus routinely shares and comments on Dowd's columns on Facebook and gushes over her style.

"She is such a smart writer with a razor-sharp wit," Magnus said. "I couldn't be more pleased to discover she knows I'm a fan and to learn her dad was a police officer."

Dowd ended her note with a cliffhanger.

"If you're ever in D.C, let me know!" she wrote. The Eye will report back on the meeting.

TOMATO BATTLE outrage: The second annual Tomato Battle, Sept. 29 at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton, drew the ire of at least one Times reader (who might not have read the part about the 50,000 pounds of tomatoes used in battle were overripe fruits past their shelf-life).

She left the following anonymous telephone message:


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"For Americans to do something like this, for them to destroy food, that just adds to the impression that the rest of the world has about the U.S. You know, the bad impression.

"I think it is horrifying. I am going to cross Pleasanton off my list of places to take seriously. Well, that is the United States."

GOING FOR THE GOLD: Two women in workout clothes were seen hauling large, heavy tires roped to them as they exercised one warm day on Green Valley Road in Danville not long after the Summer Olympics in London.

Why not? American swimming sensation Ryan Lochte was shown on television dragging tires behind him to build up his strength and conditioning in preparation for winning five Olympic medals in London.

Go girls. Maybe we will see you in 2016 at the Olympics in Rio.

Cleanliness was next to drunkenness: Public drunkenness can sometimes end up a messy situation, but Walnut Creek police arrested a 48-year-old woman at a North Main Street hotel Aug. 19 for piloting a vacuum cleaner while intoxicated.

As stated in the police report, "Unknown female is vacuuming the lobby, and doesn't work for the hotel. Also, she is not a guest there."

The seemingly tidy woman was taken to County Jail in Martinez. There was no word on whether paid custodial staff had to go over some of those sections of the carpet again.

There's also this: Potentially messier could have been the Sept. 28 arrest by Orinda police officers of a 21-year-old woman at Fish Ranch Road and the westbound Highway 24 offramp. She was arrested on an outstanding warrant from Long Beach but told police she also had marijuana -- hidden in an unspecified body cavity. Officers waited for her to retrieve the marijuana, and it was handed over in a civil fashion.

At long last: Antioch Mayor Jim Davis may have summed up years of frustration from East Contra Costa residents and politicians about the region's transportation challenges during a groundbreaking ceremony Friday for BART's extension into Antioch.

"Last week, the council and I decided that the name should be the Antioch-Hillcrest station. I should have spoken up, but I think the name should be Alleluia Station," Davis said. "It's like finally. Finally, it's coming."

Staff writers Robert Rogers, Katie Nelson, Denis Cuff, Jennifer Modenessi, Paul Burgarino and correspondent Danielle McNamara contributed to this column.