A columnist of heart and mind

A columnist of heart and mind
Interviewing the animals at Children's Fairyland in Oakland. L-R: Bobo the sheep, Gideon the miniature donkey, me, Tumbleweed Tommy the miniature donkey, Juan the alpaca, Coco the pony

Monday, August 23, 2010

Two Good Guys

(Above: Mac. Below: Cliff)

First, a pair of sad farewells to two old friends and colleagues - Cliff Pletschet, who died August 8 at age 80, and Dave McElhatton, who died on Monday at age 81.
Cliff, who was born in Saskatchewan, was the longtime business editor and financial columnist for the Oakland Tribune, and a finer gentleman never lived. He was very, very good at what he did, and he never had an unkind word for anyone.
Mac, who was born and raised in Oakland, was the morning drive anchor at KCBC, in tandem with his good friend, Al Hart. Together, they made the show the most popular one in the Bay Area for 25 years.
Then he moved to KPIX, where he worked with Wendy Tokuda and Kate Kelly. And together, they made that show the most popular one in the Bay Area for the next 25 years.
The secret of Mac's success was that he was a great storyteller. It was like listening to the guy sitting next to you at a bar telling you what went down that day.
And the secret of Cliff's success was that he didn't tell his readers how to invest their money; he educated them so they could make wise investment decisions on their own.
They were successful both as journalists and as human beings, and I miss them both already.
On a happier note, here's wishing a happy retirement to Monica Clark, who will step down at the end of the year as editor of the Catholic Voice, the official publication of the Diocese of Oakland (which includes both Alameda and Contra Costa counties).
Under her guidance, the paper has been catholic as well as Catholic, which is no easy task in a diocese that ranges from ultra-liberals in Berkeley and Oakland to ultra-conservatives in Concord and Danville.
No matter how contentious the issue - whether it's abortion or priestly sexual abuse - she always manages to include all sides. As a result, the Catholic Voice, especially its letters-to-the-editor page, has been one of the liveliest reads around.
Anyway, good luck, Monica. You have fought the good fight, you have finished the race, you have kept the faith.
Meanwhile, Poulet, the upscale Berkeley deli specializing in (what else?) chickens, is coping with the recession by luring customers with a new gimmick: membership in the "Frequent Fryers Club." The deal: Buy 10 chickens, get one free. And the first winner is Poulet's most loyal customer, Ivan Skolnikoff., who always orders lemon-garlic.
Finally, my apologies to Berkeley Animal Services (aka the city shelter) especially its director, Kate O'Connor.
When I wrote about the disastrous fire that gutted the Berkeley Humane Society's shelter last spring, I said the city shelter doesn't have the time to be a full-time adoption agency. But I didn't mean to imply that O'Connor and her staff don't try their best to find new homes for their animals.
But with all their other responsibilities - including rounding up strays, busting dog-fighting rings, etc. - they need help.
That's where the Humane Society comes in. The two agencies - one private, one public - work hand-in-hand.
And the partnership works both ways. After the fire, the city shelter offered its time and space to house the Humane Society's animals who were evicted by the fire.
Hope I cleared that up.