Staff writers

The more letters Oakland Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan writes -- and forwards to reporters -- the more speculation swirls about whether she will run for mayor.

Last month, she wrote to George Lucas asking him to consider Oakland's vacant Kaiser Convention Center as the home of his planned museum.

Then came a letter, co-written with Councilman Larry Reid, urging Mayor Jean Quan not to defund the city's gunshot detection system and taking the mayor to task on police staffing.

And this week, Kaplan issued a letter about renewing the city's public safety tax that reads like a campaign platform: No police layoffs; an end to mandatory police overtime; an assigned officer for every beat; and special units to focus on gun crimes.

Polls have shown that Kaplan would be the person to beat if she enters the race. But after saying outright two years ago that she wouldn't run against Quan this year, Kaplan is staying mum about her intentions.

When asked what people should read into her letter-writing campaign as she sat in on Tuesday's Public Safety Committee meeting, Kaplan stuck to the soon-to-expire public safety tax.

"Whatever happens politically," she said, "if we don't find a way to come together around a successful public safety ballot measure then we face more police cuts next year."

Lawyer's guild honors Siegel and Weills

Dan Siegel, an attorney running for mayor of Oakland and his wife, Anne Weills, received lifetime achievement awards last week by the National Lawyer's Guild.

The guild focuses on human rights cases and guild attorneys have represented several Occupy Oakland protesters.

"I am proud to be associated with the (guild) and its history of support for the people's movements," Siegel said in a prepared statement.

Three Oakland shops get microloans

A city partnership with a microloan outfit has helped kick-start three Oakland small businesses.

Kiva, a nonprofit best known for aiding the neediest in poor nations, partnered with Oakland last year to help local people fund small-business ventures.

The businesses receiving microloan funding were OwlNWood, a clothing store on Grand Avenue, Pollinate Farm & Garden in the Fruitvale district and Loakal Art Gallery & Boutique near Jack London Square.

"Oakland has extraordinary momentum and energy, and one of the main reasons for that momentum is small, local entrepreneurs," said City Attorney Barbara Parker, whose office helped initiate the project. "Just a few well-placed loans can spur tremendous economic growth in Oakland neighborhoods."

Alameda County appoints fire chief

David Rocha can now take the word "interim" out of his title as the chief of the Alameda County Fire Department.

The previous chief, Demetrious Shaffer, retired in December after just a year on the job, apparently leaving to spend more time with his family and help his wife run an emerging company selling baby slings, Rocha has said.

Rocha, a county firefighter since 1995, has been leading the department since the beginning of the year. The board of supervisors this week promoted him to a permanent role.