GOING OUT WITH A BANG: The Eye recently witnessed the final hours and minutes of the ContraCostaTimes.com website Forums page, which shut down last Sunday. The website includes a disclaimer that reads "we are no longer able to support these boards;" also, individual stories host comments now, and many former forum discussions have migrated there.

The Forums' most popular pages include the "War on Terror," "Nation and World," "Election" and "Antioch."

Yes. Antioch.

For several years now, the Antioch page has been a digital version of the coffee shop or town square. Users of the page were familiar with each other -- not afraid to share opinions but in a respectful way. Some users became friends outside of cyberspace.

Those who frequented the Antioch Forums pages had one last hurrah when the site didn't shut down right away. Well, almost.

"ITS STILL WORKING!!!!!!!" read the topic thread.

The thread's author, named BazookaJoe, wrote: "The TIMES screwed up, the discussion boards are still working!!!!!!!!!!!"

The conversation continued from there. A user named 001 asked, "Will it just cease to exist exactly at midnight, or will it die a slow death?

Others on the thread joked about Y2K, the ball dropping at midnight in Times Square and warning others to brace themselves.

When the site still worked Monday morning, the posts started if it was an April Fools Day prank.

Eventually access was denied late Monday morning.


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One of the last posts seemed fitting.

"Good night all. We'll see if this thing is still kicking in the morning," 001 wrote on 12:18 a.m. Monday morning. "If not, it's been a fun ride."

A Richmond official's public apology: Amid the scathing accusations and incessant banter that dominates Richmond politics, something unusual happened on March 25. A politician apologized for her role in the maelstrom.

Jovanka Beckles, a progressive elected to the city council in 2010, issued a public apology via her email lists and social media accounts "to those who may have taken offense with a comment I made at a recent Richmond City Council meeting."

The apology stemmed from an exchange earlier that week. Beckles, speaking on an item calling for city support of a conference on homelessness, repeatedly bungled the old proverb "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." Several of her harshest critics in the front rows chuckled in delight and called out as Beckles lost her train of thought under the bright lights and television cameras.

Beckles then lost her cool, lashing out at her tormentors as "ignorant."

Councilman Nat Bates, no ally of Beckles, apologized to the crowd that night and scolded Beckles for hectoring the public.

After a few days of hindsight, Beckles issued her mea culpa. Beckles, who is black, opened with a straightforward apology and expressed remorse for using the word "ignorant."

" ... There is a historical hurt attached to this word that has been used to oppress and misrepresent the intelligence of black and other people of color." She then went on to note that, "I endure homophobic remarks, outright lies and hateful words," and that "our children are dying in the streets," and seemed to suggest that rough talk in city politics has a link to street violence.

"It grieves me that certain adults are setting a negative, violent and hurtful example that young viewers are watching," she wrote.

Beckles' critics were unmoved.

"I don't feel it's from her heart," resident Jackie Thompson wrote of the apology in an email. " ... If only (Beckles) knew how many who view the council meetings felt about her, she'd stop having her pity party and realize that change begins with her."

It may be a bit premature to declare an end to hostilities.

Staff writers Paul Burgarino and Robert Rogers contributed to this column.