Blog Beat: Oscar Grant Rally, Boxer’s IPO “Spinning,” Google PAC Goes GOP

  • Oakland Local has video from Saturday’s Justice for Oscar Grant Rally in front of Oakland’s City Hall. A jury convicted former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle of involuntary manslaughter for the shooting death of Grant last year. The Chronicle has reported that Mehserle can receive from five to 14 years in prison.

  • California Watch unearths a 2002 Wall Street Journal report that shows Barbara Boxer twice profiting from exclusive IPOs in a process similar to “spinning.” This dotcom-era practice by investment firms gave tech CEOs preferential access to initial public offerings, allowing for the quick flipping of shares at an instant profit. The executives then theoretically channeled more business to the firms. Meg Whitman was notoriously caught spinning IPO shares with Goldman Sachs and later settled a civil case on the matter. There is no evidence of any quid pro quo in the Boxer transactions, which a spokesman says were handled through a blind trust. From California Watch:

    In one case, Boxer bought between $15,000 and $50,000 worth of shares in Palm Inc., the handheld computer company, at $38 apiece on March 1, 2000 – the day before the company was made public. On the first day of trading, shares soared to $140 before closing at $95. Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley managed the offering.

    Days earlier, she bought between $1,000 and $15,000 in stock from an online advertising and marketing company called Avenue A at its opening price of $24. Boxer sold it the next day when the share price tripled to $72.

    In an interview, Boxer spokesman Matt Kagan said the senator received no special treatment and had no knowledge of the trades, which were handled by a financial adviser. Boxer’s family investment adviser at the time, Gail Seneca, told the Wall Street Journal that her firm distributed IPOs equitably among its clients and that she gave Boxer no special treatment.

    Kagan emphasized that the senator has kept her assets in a blind trust since 2001, meaning she has not had knowledge of how her portfolio was composed or traded for nearly a decade.

  • The Democrat-heavy Bay Area will likely not consider this “not being evil“: From July to October of this year, Google’s PAC funneled 55% of its political contributions to Republicans, reports Valleywag, linking to The Hill.
  • The San Jose Blog reports that the real estate site Zillow has designated Winchester House in San Jose the No. 1 haunted house in America. What they mean by No. 1, I don’t know. Most people to run from the grounds screaming “I saw a ghost”? Zillow values the home, officially known as the Winchester Mystery House, at $2,198,000, or $2,500,000 with exorcist. (Not really.) Click ahead for accounts of spirit sightings by visitors to the tourist attraction.
  • Speaking of spooky stuff, from Haighteration, this post: What’s Hot for Halloween 2010, From the Experts at Costumes on Haight. Some tidbits:

    Alice in Wonderland is a huge hit this year. The industry seems to have gone really heavy on Avatar, Jersey Shore, and Lady Gaga, but our store has shied away from that trend, because the market will be saturated with those products. If you can find a costume at Target or Walgreens, you are unlikely to find it here.

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    For years, pirates were dominating classic character costumes because of the Pirates of the Carribean movies. This year, we can expect vampires and werewolves, due to the success of True Blood, Twilight, the Vampire Chronicles, and so on.

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    We have a suit of armor that rents for $250. Darth Vader, Boba Fett, and the Minotaur all rent for $200.

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Jon Brooks

Jon Brooks writes mostly on film for KQED Arts. He is also an online editor and writer for KQED's daily news blog, News Fix. Jon is a playwright whose work has been produced in San Francisco, New York, Italy, and around the U.S.

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