This week's new articles from the alternative weeklies...
- Will Ed Lee Run for Mayor? (SF Weekly)
...While Lee pledged to be a caretaker mayor and nothing more — "He has no plans to run," mayoral spokeswoman Christine Falvey said last week — there are hints that may change. A petition to draft him is circulating at City Hall, and polling company EMC is calling voters with questions, "seven or eight of which" deal with Lee, including asking voters if they'd favorably view him reversing his pledge. (That's according to voter researcher David Lee, who received one of the calls.) Such measures are expensive — a 10-minute poll like EMC's could run as much as $40,000, consultants say — meaning that powerful, moneyed interests are testing the waters for Ed Lee, and are spending handsomely to do so.
- Baseball's Robin Hood (East Bay Express)
Roscoe Bryant founded the Oakland Royals, a kids' baseball team in West Oakland's Ghost Town neighborhood, after a fifteen-year-old boy was killed by gunfire in his front yard. Bent on getting neighborhood kids off the street, Bryant quickly rounded up enough boys to field a team, but then ran into a logistical problem: Baseball is expensive. Unlike other sports that require nothing more than a ball and a buddy to play, baseball teams need a laundry list of pricey gear — hats, bats, cleats, helmets, gloves, and catchers' equipment. Bryant scraped together what he could by scouring local Salvation Army and Goodwill stores; the team played its first games with only six gloves. "We just hoped it didn't get hit to the outfield," Bryant said.
But now, seven years later, the Royals are fielding five teams with 75 kids, ranging from five-year-old tee-ballers to 15-year-old budding stars. The program's growth is a reflection of Bryant's commitment, but he insists that it would be nearly impossible if he weren't receiving hundreds of dollars of used equipment from a Robin Hood-type figure in the East Bay baseball community — Jeff Humphrey. "Eighty to ninety percent of the equipment we have comes through Jeff," Bryant said. "Without him, we don't play ball; I might be able to field one team."
- Fear the beard: Can an employer get away with firing someone for having facial hair? (SF Bay Guardian)
Christopher Hanson, a 38-year-old single father who lives in Albany, doesn't have one of those scraggly, runaway beards that one might associate with jam bands or train hopping. He keeps his goatee neat and trimmed, sometimes using scissors to clip back the mustache. Yet Hanson says he got fired last month because his facial hair was deemed a violation of his company's employee appearance policy. Now, he's fighting back.