LOST IN TRANSLATION: In June 2011, a French-American carpet cleaner sporting an MBA -- or its equivalent -- on his resume ran in a special Hercules City Council election, seeking to replace one of two council members who faced a recall. In addition to the academic laurels, Gerard Boulanger boasted of a stint in the 1980s and 1990s on "the municipal council of a conglomerate of two cities" outside Paris with a combined population that dwarfed Hercules' by more than 4-to-1.

After the man Boulanger would eventually replace on the council questioned the claims, Boulanger, citing the pitfalls of translation, said he actually had served on the board of a French local government entity roughly equivalent to an American joint powers agency, dealing with urban planning and wastewater treatment

And the MBA was just an Anglophonic approximation of his academic achievements in France, he said.

The story unraveled further in the ensuing days. Boulanger had no degree. And he never served on a government panel -- until he swept onto the Hercules City Council on the crest of public backlash against financial shenanigans of the former city manager that happened under the noses of the previous council.

This time around, as he seeks re-election Nov. 6, Boulanger handled questions about his background more deftly. In a brief bio he submitted to this newspaper, under "Political experience," Boulanger entered "Current Hercules City Councilman," which requires no translation. Under "Education," Boulanger responded, simply: "Received in Europe; not transposable in the USA."


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FIT FOR the OFFICE: Oakley's chief building official is button-down at the office, but once Brent Smith takes off his dress shirt and tie he gets down to another kind of business altogether.

The Eye turned its gaze on Smith recently after the 39-year-old Brentwood resident muscled out the competition to walk away with the top title at the 2012 NPC San Francisco Bodybuilding, Figure, Physique, and Bikini Championships.

One of 323 amateur bodybuilders at the Oct. 6 event, the 196-pound Smith first flexed his pecs to win in the light heavyweight class. Then, for the first time since he began competing four years ago, Smith clinched first-place scores from all seven judges to become the overall champion, said Steve O'Brien, one of the event's promoters and vice president of the organization that sanctioned it.

"He's got a great combination of symmetry, muscularity and a high degree of conditioning," he said.

"He's got the look," O'Brien said. "I don't want to call him a pretty boy, but that helps."

Reached while vacationing on Maui (although Mr. Six Pack doesn't define "vacation" the way mere mortals do -- he still was making time for workouts), Smith said that when the long hoped-for announcement came, his immediate reaction was understated.

"I was so drained, honestly, I had no emotion," he said, adding that the experience has given him indelible memories to enjoy.

To check out Smith's ripped physique, click on http://on.fb.me/Rewi3E

Budget shopping equals roads: A recent Moraga town council candidate forum shed some light on just who exactly is going to help fund road repairs should residents approve Measure K, a 1-cent sales tax increase on the Nov. 6 ballot.

According to incumbent Karen Mendonca, it's shoppers -- and not just any shoppers -- who are going to help pay for infrastructure.

The former mayor told a large crowd watching the debate at the Holy Trinity Serbian Church on Oct. 4 that the sales tax provides the opportunity for "those people from Danville and Alamo who shop The Runway at TJ Maxx or in other stores at the shopping center" to help pay for roads they use to get there. And she explained that the council thought the sales tax was the "most attractive" measure to place on the ballot because "it's a tax we share."

So listen up Alamo and Danville Maxxinistas: You now know where your sales tax dollars are going.

PRESIDENTIAL COATTAILS: California hasn't been in play for a presidential race for a long time, and President Barack Obama should win the nation's biggest state by a wide margin.

Yet the Eye sees Obama political signs are all over town in Richmond.

No, Obama is not pursuing an aggressive campaign here, but Nat Bates, an 81-year-old City Councilman whose first term in office started right around the time Obama was getting out of diapers, is charging hard for re-election.

Bates has signs on front yards all over town featuring his picture alongside the president, with the words "Let's Do It Again."

Staff writers Tom Lochner, Rowena Coetsee, Robert Rogers and Jennifer Modenessi contributed to this column.