GOP expands Democrat ranks: Democratic Party volunteers boasted in this newspaper last weekend that they registered 151 first-time Bay Area voters from the crowd of new citizens streaming out of the July 25 naturalization ceremony at Oakland's Paramount Theatre. They registered 95 new Democrats, three Republicans and 54 "no party" voters.

A smaller group of East Bay Republican activists outside the Art Deco theater didn't say by press time how many people they registered but have since revealed that, well, they registered more Democrats than Republicans. Of 16 people who registered at the GOP table, six were Democrats, three Republicans and seven voters who chose no party affiliation.

"I believe we all know messaging can be better," says Kris Urdahl, president of Piedmont Area Republican Women, pointing out how many people are showing no interest in either party.

Her local chapter gets $5 from the state GOP for every new Republican they register, which at the July 25 ceremony added up to a paltry $15. No word on whether they'll ask the Democrats for a refund.

RICHMOND RANCOR: Richmond is a tough town with a long history of bare-knuckle politics. But the newest council -- call it Richmond 2.0 -- has taken things a step further in this election year, with a blend of televised meeting theatrics and sustained cyberwarfare, with flurries of emails, blogs and e-newsletters vying for the hearts and minds of city voters.


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The latest episode started at the July 17 council meeting. The rancorous talkfest was abruptly recessed around midnight when Councilwoman Jovanka Beckles launched into a tirade against her bete noire, Corky Booze.

The next day, Mayor Gayle McLaughlin sprung into action, circulating a letter through Richmond's email lists and blogospheres. The letter laid blame for the council's "dysfunction" squarely on Booze.

"(Booze) forces us to deal with chaos, disruptions, and vitriolic speech that bring harm to the entire city of Richmond," McLaughlin wrote.

Booze responded in typical fashion, taking his case to residents in his tireless retail style, chatting them up at Casper's Hot Dogs, his unofficial office. On July 24, he hit back in his second favorite way, addressing the television cameras during the council meeting. Booze called the mayor's letter "politics" and referred to the Richmond Progressive Alliance, which backs McLaughlin and Beckles, a "cult."

Elections are set for November.

WALK-OFF BURGER: The Eye spotted San Francisco Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford in line at The Habit burger joint in Walnut Creek on July 24, possibly ordering a Charburger.

Later that night, the graduate of Foothill High in Pleasanton delivered the game-winning, walk-off single in the Giants' 3-2 win over the San Diego Padres.

The Eye, aka the Giants' good luck charm, can confirm that, based on the reactions of women nearby, that Crawford and his long locks are just as dreamy off the diamond as on.

Political risk taker?: Congresswoman Barbara Lee, an Oakland Democrat, sent out a news release last week with the title: "Congresswoman Barbara Lee Calls for the End of AIDS."

The Eye found it commendable to want to rid the world of such a horrible disease but maybe slightly outside the control of Lee and/or politicians.

The Eye wonders what worldwide epidemic the congresswoman will tackle next. Maybe cancer? World hunger?

In the end, let's all hope Lee's proclamation is heeded.

A GEM OF A SCHOOL NAME: The name Black Diamond is synonymous with the East Contra Costa region. At one time in the early 1900s, Pittsburg was named Black Diamond for the coal mined from the hills and brought to the river by railroad. Today, a regional park commemorating those exploits sits south of Antioch.

So, it kind of makes sense that local school districts would use that name. In fact, The Eye found recently that both Pittsburg and Antioch have named schools after the region's historical fuel.

Pittsburg changed the name of its continuation high school recently from Riverside High to Black Diamond High, with its new campus opening later this month.

Almost two decades ago, Antioch named its new middle school Black Diamond.

Coincidentally, both schools have "Miners" as the nickname.

The Eye is guessing that having two schools with the same name won't create the same kind of rivalry as the annual Pittsburg vs. Antioch high school football "Big Little" game did in years past.

Staff writers Matt O'Brien, Robert Rogers, Matthias Gafni and Paul Burgarino contributed to this report.