Thursday, June 25, 2015

Controversial Oakland Charter School Gets Chilly Response in Quest for Classroom Space

Doug Oakley
Staff Writer
OAKLAND -- A controversial charter school struggling to rid itself of a dubious management history is requesting classroom space from Oakland Unified School District, but it's not getting any love from parents, teachers and students who oppose it. 

A sign-waving group of teachers and students roared their approval Wednesday as the school board tabled a proposal to house 185 high school students from American Indian Model Schools in eight classrooms at Westlake Middle School on Harrison Street near Lake Merritt. 

And in late May, the school district rescinded an offer it made to the charter school for classrooms at Bella Vista Elementary School on East 28th Street after teachers and parents formed a group to oppose mingling the two groups of students. Teachers are still bitter over the fact that some of their best students were recruited away from the school to American Indian while the struggling students were rejected. 

The school district cited safety concerns related to a nearby park and the need to remove portable classrooms there in withdrawing the offer. 

"We received a written offer from them for Bella Vista, then at the last minute, they rescinded it," said American Indian school board President Steven Leung. "They offered us Westlake, but that's no good if people are protesting. It's another mess." 

Oakland school district spokesman Troy Flint said school groups oppose American Indian's request at Westlake because of the late-in-the-year decision for next school year, "opposition to charter schools on an ideological basis" and objections to sharing space. 

"We're legally obligated to find a place for them," Flint said. "They are public school students and they deserve a home that is suitable and conducive to a high-quality education." 

School board President James Harris said Wednesday night that "staff needs to do more due diligence on the relocation of American Indian Model Schools." 

Although Superintendent Antwan Wilson, who started a year ago, is an unequivocal supporter of charter schools, there is still bad blood between the two institutions. 

The school district in 2013 revoked American Indian's charter after a state audit found former director Ben Chavis siphoned off about $3.6 million from the school in contracts to companies he owned. Chavis left in early 2013. The school fought the charter removal in court and won reinstatement in 2014. 

But with a new superintendent who came from the Oakland Unified School District and new school board members, the school is trying to get out from under Chavis' influence. The school has been paying Chavis $46,000 a month to rent classroom space in three buildings on 35th Avenue but has given notice it will move out at the end of the month. 

The school also paid Chavis $7.5 million in 2014 to buy a separate building on 12th Street in downtown Oakland that it had been renting from him for years. 

Flint didn't rule out a final decision to house American Indian students at Westlake because the school can hold about 800 students and there are only about 400 there now. 

"They have some space in a section of the building that would be separate, and there are some portables in the back lot," Flint said. "There is plenty of room, and it won't be intrusive. And American Indian students are in high school, so there won't be a competition for students." 

At Wednesday night's school board meeting, middle school students and parents at Westlake talked of being "disappointed and disrespected" by the district's proposal, and they complained about possible overcrowding and "having our community ripped apart" by the move. 

"I'm not anti-charter; I'm just pro Westlake," said teacher Mary Prime-Lawrence. "These kids deserve our full attention." 

Teacher Randy Porter complained that the two groups "would be on top of each other" and that the school district wouldn't have floated the proposal if its staff "walked through and actually saw how we use this building." 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Death Threats for Teacher Who Questioned Stephen Curry's Value as Role Model

By Doug Oakley
HAYWARD -- As local media falls over itself in a worship frenzy for Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry, a high school English teacher here has received death threats for questioning his legitimacy as a youth role model in a blog post that has gotten him way more attention than he bargained for. 

Mount Eden High School English teacher Matt Amaral on Wednesday was installing a home security system after receiving death threats on his Facebook instant messenger account for an essay he posted on his Teach4Real blog titled "Dear Steph Curry, Now That You Are MVP, Please Don't Come Visit My High School." 

You can view it at

Hayward police confirmed Amaral reported the threats and that they are investigating. 

Amaral posted the provocative essay in mid May as part of a 10th-grade English lesson to show how to write an argument and grab attention online. Despite the threats, he said it's been well worth it. 

"I'm a teacher, and this is probably my greatest lesson," Amaral said. "My kids have witnessed this thing go to the front page of Yahoo! They've had television cameras in their class and heard me on the radio. It definitely started a dialogue about the role of sports in schools and about having a backup plan in terms of being a student. We know that 99 percent of the people interested in being a professional athlete are not going to realize that dream." 

In the piece, he says it's unfair to tell kids they can be the next Stephen Curry because most of what makes him a star, aside from hard-won talent, was already decided at birth. Curry's height, the luck of having a former NBA star for a dad who could coach him from day one, and money are all things beyond their control, he said. A visit to the school would only reinforce unrealistic expectations. 

"They already are very good at dreaming about being rich and famous, what we need them to do is get a little more realistic about what is in their control," Amaral wrote. "We need less of an emphasis on sports and celebrity in high school, because it is hurting these kids too much as it is." 

An NBA spokesman declined to comment on the essay, and Curry's agent did not immediately return an email seeking comment. An email to the Golden State Warriors also went unanswered. 

Since he posted his essay on May 14, Amaral and his school have been overrun with media seeking an explanation from the man who dared to question the legitimacy of their anointed hero. 

Amaral said in his essay that a visit by Curry to his school would be a huge hit with the kids, but it wouldn't be good for them. 

"What you won't see is most of these kids don't have a backup plan for their dream of being you," he wrote. "If you ask the boys on my campus what they are going to be when they get older, the answer will involve a sport. They will claim they are going to play in the NBA or NFL, and seeing you there will make them think they can actually do it." 

"You see Steph, once you leave my school, the boys here are not going to run home and finish that essay, which is one thing they could do about their future that is in their control," Amaral continued. 

Contacted at home on Wednesday as he was waiting for a technician to install his new home alarm system, Amaral said every kid on campus has read and debated his essay. 

"They're stoked, they think it's awesome and they're 100 percent behind me," Amaral said. 

But not everyone agrees including people like Jim Coplan, athletic director at Oakland Technical High School, where Seattle Seahawks star Marshawn Lynch and Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Josh Johnson went to school. Coplan said the two come to campus occasionally, and he is happy to have them as role models. 

"If Steph wants to come to our school, he's welcome," Coplan said. "I think it would be inspiring for a kid to see someone with the level of success Stephen Curry has and then say to himself 'I need to buckle down and study in order to be a success.'" 

He also said athletes as role models are the same as any other successful person who could inspire kids. 

"We had Jesse Jackson at Tech a week or so ago, and he's a role model kids could point to and say this is what I aspire to," Coplan said. "We don't turn down bank presidents to come and speak to a class because not every kid gets to be a bank president." 

Amaral said being an educator involves getting kids to think critically, consider unpopular views or go against the grain of popular sentiment. That's what he was trying to do with his essay. 

"It would be easy to craft a letter to Steph Curry and say 'come to my high school,' but can you craft a letter saying he shouldn't come?" Amaral said. "Evidently I'm the only one doing that." 

As Amaral was having his photo taken outside the school Thursday, the mother of one of his students stopped and gave him unsolicited props. 

"I support this teacher," said parent Gabriela Delhoyo. "He's very good. The students say they want to go to the NBA, but they won't get there. A lot of students don't have a Plan B, but you have to have a Plan B. Everybody needs it." 

Warriors to Host to Host Sweetie, 105-year-old Warriors Fan at NBA Finals Game 1

By Doug Oakley
HAYWARD -- Rank has its privileges. If you're nearing your 106th birthday and you're a Warriors fan, rank means a free ticket in a suite Thursday at Oracle Arena for the first game of the NBA Finals matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers. 

After word got out last week that the Warriors had a 105-year old fan named Sweetie who can talk sports just as well as any other fanatic, the team ponied up. 

"Well, they heard what I asked for," said Sweetie, whose daughter Lily Toney of Oakland asked this paper not to reveal Sweetie's real name or address because she lives alone. 

Sweetie, who was born in Ennis, Texas, and moved to the Bay Area in 1936, will turn 106 on June 12. 

Toney, 75, said a team representative called her shortly after this newspaper printed an online article Friday about Sweetie's age and decades-long love for the Warriors. 

"She's excited, and I get to be her press secretary," Toney said. "It's all fun. The Warriors are stressing it's a big thing for them too, but they want to make sure she enjoys the game and doesn't have a lot of distractions." 

That will probably mean whisking her from her VIP parking spot up to her suite and out of the way of prying media hordes, Toney said. 

Warriors coach Steve Kerr gave a shout-out to Sweetie after last Wednesday's conference title-clinching playoff game against the Houston Rockets. After practice on Monday, Kerr had more to say about his team's eldest fan. 

"What a great story ... 105 years old, following the Warriors for all these years," Kerr said. "I loved her message: 'Don't get the swell head.' That's always our message to the guys, but Sweetie had a better way of putting it than I did. "From what I gather, we're going to have her at Game 1, which I'm really excited about." 

Interviewed Friday, Sweetie said she enjoyed the final game of the Western Conference finals, and like many fans she was filled with angst. 

"Oh, I did like that last game," Sweetie said. "I loved it, but it made me kind of angry because I wanted to slap them boys for playing so sloppy in the first half," Sweetie said. "I enjoyed every bit of it." 

105-Year-Old Warriors Fan on the Edge of Her Seat

By Doug Oakley
Age and experience are one thing, but youthful energy is the real stuff. 

Just ask Sweetie, a 105-year-old Golden State Warriors fan who believes the team has the key ingredients needed to beat LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers for the NBA championship starting Thursday in Oakland. 

"It's going to be a tight fight because Cleveland is older and they know a lot of tricks these Warriors don't know because they haven't gotten to that stage yet," said Sweetie, whose daughter Lily Toney of Oakland asked this paper not to reveal her full name or city because she lives alone. "But the Warriors are going to win because they have more energy than those older guys. I can't hardly wait to see it." 

A young team like the Warriors probably doesn't get paid as much as an older, more experienced bunch, but that will be a part of the Cavaliers' downfall too, she predicted. 

"Money is the root of all evil and it gives you the swell head," Sweetie said. "They think nobody can do nothing to them because they have all this money. The Warriors are just starting to get the money, so they are a bit more eager to please the public than they would be later on." 

Sweetie has been a fan a long time. When the Warriors won their last championship in 1975, she was a young woman of 65 and still had her husband. He died in 1999 at age 89. 

Sweetie played forward on her high school team in Ennis, Texas, in the mid-1920s and she's been a basketball fan ever since. She's also been a teacher, raised a family with three children and now has four grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren and four great-great-grandchildren. 

Ask Sweetie for her perspective on living such a long time and she's happy to oblige. Exercise was never her thing, and she believes longevity is due to luck. 

But it's basketball she really wants to talk about. 

Wednesday night's final game for the Western Conference title against the Houston Rockets had her on the edge of her seat. 

"Ooooooh, that first half was touchy," Sweetie said. "You didn't know which way they were going. However, I have been watching the Warriors long enough. They play hard in the last half and they played some ball (Wednesday) night. When they won, I was so happy to know my dream was coming through. I was just dumb with it." 

In the postgame news conference, Warriors coach Steve Kerr gave a shout out to Sweetie, saying "she's been following the Warriors forever and loves the Warriors. I'm happy for all the fans and especially Sweetie, so congrats." 

Asked if she would go to one of the championship games if someone -- say a head coach -- could get her a ticket, Sweetie didn't waste any time in answering. 

"I would love to see that game in person," she said. 

Supreme Court: Big Pharma Must Pay for Prescription Drug Disposal

By Doug Oakley
OAKLAND -- A groundbreaking law that forces the pharmaceutical industry to pay for collection and disposal of unused drugs passed its final court test Tuesday, and the Alameda County officials who originated the concept predicted it will now spread across the country. 

Without comment, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to consider the industry's challenge of Alameda County's law, which is intended to keep drugs out of the bay, the groundwater basin and the hands of abusers. A federal appeals court had earlier upheld the ordinance. 

"This was the pharmaceutical industry really trying to put the genie back in the bottle," said Art Shartsis, an outside attorney who defended a lawsuit filed by the pharmaceutical industry against Alameda County. "This is an innovative ordinance where a county required a particular industry to take responsibility of a post-consumer use that is dangerous to dispose of. I don't think there was another program like this in the country." 

Shartsis and Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley, who authored the law, said similar programs are expected soon in Santa Clara, San Mateo and San Francisco counties and in King County in Washington state. 

The pharmaceutical industry estimated it will have to pay $1.2 million a year in Alameda County alone to follow the law. The county estimated the cost at about $330,000 a year. 

"But the cost is really insignificant," Shartsis said. "It will cost one penny for every $10 in drugs they sell in the county. It's about as minimal as you can get." 

The plaintiffs in the case, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the Generic Pharmaceutical Association and the Biotechnology Industry Organization, argued that the law interfered with the free flow of goods guaranteed in the Constitution's Interstate Commerce Clause. 

But they weren't able to find a court to go along. "We won at every stage," said Alameda County Counsel Donna Ziegler, who added that legal fees were over $500,000. "We're ecstatic, and we are looking forward as additional jurisdictions follow the lead of Alameda County." 

Ziegler said two plans already have been submitted by pharmaceutical industry groups to collect and destroy the drugs. Those plans are being reviewed by the county department of environmental health, which will oversee the program. 

The program run by the pharmaceutical industry in Alameda County will be rolled out over three years, and officials estimate there will be 110 sites for drug collection at police stations, pharmacies and hospitals, funded by the pharmaceutical industry. There are currently 30 drug take-back sites run by the county. For a list of the existing sites, go to http:// . 

Miley said he wrote the law at the urging of a now defunct organization that focused on drug abuse. The law also is designed to prevent contamination of the environment when pills and elixirs are flushed down the drain or thrown into garbage cans whose contents end up in landfills. It was modeled on legislation governing the safe disposal of tires, batteries and other potentially harmful goods. It prohibits drug companies from charging fees to pass the costs to local consumers. 

"People hold on to drugs and they don't know what to do with them," Miley said. The responsibility to dispose of them should be on business, he said. "Taxpayers should not have to pay for this." 

Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley said the need in the county is great. In September, her office participated in a drug take-back event and collected 799 pounds of pills in one day. 

"I have talked to mothers and fathers of children who have become addicted to prescription drugs," O'Malley said, "and when they run out, they turn to street drugs, and many of those children have died." 

The plaintiffs in the case issued a joint statement Tuesday that said the industry would "continue to actively work to educate consumers on the appropriate use of medicines, including providing information about safeguarding medicines in the home and promoting safe, secure and effective methods for disposal." 

Fresh Food: Urban Farms Growing in West Oakland

By Doug Oakley
OAKLAND -- In most places in West Oakland, it's easier to get a 40-ounce bottle of beer and a candy bar than a fresh tomato. 

But urban gardens and small farms are experiencing a growth spurt on vacant lots and backyards, the product of a slow but persistent effort to bring in more fruits and vegetables and teach people much needed business skills and healthy eating. 

"It's no secret that West Oakland is one of the premier food deserts in the city," said Bennie Patterson, community programs manager at Alternative in Action's McClymonds Youth and Family Center, which reopened a school garden at McClymonds High School this month. "It's difficult for students to go to one of these corner stores and have access to quality produce. They should have as much access as anyone else." 

The relaunched school garden, which started in 2009 and died out after a key staff member left the school, now grows pumpkins, herbs, scallions, tomatoes, kale, bell peppers and zucchini. 

Patterson said students work in the garden and learn concepts like "tomatoes don't just come from Safeway." The food it produces is distributed free to students, parents and staff whenever there is a harvest, he said. 

Probably the largest growing concern in West Oakland is City Slicker Farms, which is breaking ground next month on a $5 million public park and farm at Helen and Peralta streets, courtesy of a grant from the state of California. 

The organization has been growing food at a variety of borrowed locations and selling it on a sliding scale for 14 years now and building backyard gardens -- 250 free of charge so far -- for area residents. 

After years of moving from one plot to the next as arrangements changed, the organization will have a permanent grow space it will call the West Oakland Urban Farm and Park on a 1.4 acre lot. 

Funded with a $4 million grant and donations, the site will include a kids play area, a grass field, a picnic area, farm stand and a community garden that will allow it to double its current harvest to about 20,000 pounds of food a year. 

"The park is going to be a part of everyone's lives here," said Ariel Dekovic, interim executive director of City Slicker Farms. "You'll be a kid going to the park and there will be a food forest there. That's what excites me about that site." 

Dekovic said the park is slated for completion at the end of this year. Organizers still need to raise another $500,000, but will begin construction with the money they already have. 

Patricia Johnson, executive director of Game Theory Academy which launched in 2009, said her two plots of land in West Oakland produce flowers and vegetables that students sell to restaurants and florists. 

The idea of running the two farms -- one at 7th and Peralta streets and one at Wood and 16th streets -- is not so much to get fresh produce to the people of West Oakland, but to educate youth on how to become business people. Along the way, students learn the importance of access to fresh produce. 

"We call our farms a laboratory for job skills," said Johnson, who works with about 30 high school kids a year. "They learn the importance of showing up to work on time, filling out a time sheet, communicating professionally with adults, reading marketing plans and filling out invoices. It's also about financial and economic literacy, money management and strategic thinking." 

Another garden that sprouted last fall at 7th and Campbell streets is the Oakland & The World Enterprises project run by Elaine Brown, a former Black Panther Party leader who works for Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson. 

Brown is renting a three-quarter-acre lot from the city of Oakland for $1,100 a month, she said. 

That project currently employs formerly incarcerated area residents at $20 an hour to grow vegetables and flowers that they sell to restaurants and florists. She has been selling beats, kale, lettuce and onions to Pic├ín restaurant and selling the flowers to Everett and Jones barbecue. 

"While we figure out what to do with the rest of the property we have a deal with the Oakland Food Pantry to distribute free food," Brown said. 

Carson has funded the project to the tune of $350,000, he said. But that is just a "drop in the bucket," for the bigger plans Brown has for the site. 

She wants to build affordable housing for people coming out of prison and open a grocery store, a shoe and clothing manufacturing business and maybe a juice bar; a place where former prisoners can live and work. 

"There is no real pathway for people coming out of the joint," Brown said. "You come out, get $200 and good luck. If you are black and have a sixth-grade education and you come out of prison, you can kiss your life goodbye. You are not going to get a job." 

High Drama as Oakland Charter School Cuts Ties with Unsavory Past

By Doug Oakley
OAKLAND -- In the 2½ years since American Indian Model Schools leader Ben Chavis left after a state audit showed he directed at least $3.8 million from the school to companies he owned, the school has paid him an additional $8.6 million to use his buildings. 

Now, new leaders at the high-performing charter school are attempting to get out from under Chavis' shadow by moving out of two classroom buildings and an office he rents to the school on 35th Avenue for $46,000 a month and by orchestrating the removal of three board members. 

But the impending changes have caused turmoil at the school, including student walkouts over school board politics, a restraining order against a former board member, police intervention at a school board meeting, and teacher and staff turnover. 

"We are trying to separate the school from Chavis," school board President Steven Leung said. "The school district would like to see us not be associated with him. I think we're in good hands." 

Founded in 1996 and currently serving about 1,000 students, the American Indian Model Schools have established a strong record of academic success with a strict, test-oriented approach but have struggled in recent years with allegations of mismanagement and fraud. 

Last year, the school paid Chavis $7.5 million to buy a building that houses a K-8 campus on 12th Street in downtown Oakland. Leung said the school had no choice but to buy because it didn't have anywhere else to go at the time. 

An investigation and finding by the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights that the 35th Avenue campus does not meet disability access requirements, coupled with a stalemate over who would make repairs, prompted plans to move from that facility. 

Saving money 

New Superintendent Maya Woods-Cadiz, a former Oakland school district principal and administrator, and Leung hope that by moving 300 high school students to the 12th Street building and by moving 150 middle school students to Oakland's Bella Vista Elementary school for rent of just $38,000 a year, they can save money and fix their disability access problem without having to continue hounding Chavis to make repairs. 

"Mr. Chavis has known about the conditions at that school for quite some time, but he doesn't want to fix it," Leung said. "The Office for Civil Rights has asked us to either fix it or move. We've sent multiple notices to Mr. Chavis." 

But Chavis, who is the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation by the IRS and FBI relating to his financial dealings with the school, called Leung's comments about his refusal to make repairs at the school a "damn lie" and referred to Woods-Cadiz as a "(expletive) loser." 

Chavis, who lives in North Carolina, said he never received any notice from the school's lawyers asking him to make disability access repairs. He also acknowledged the rent at the 35th Avenue campus is high. 

"I did charge them high rent, but when I was there I gave it all back so I could send the illegals to college," Chavis said. "I did work the system, but then I took my salary and donated it back to the school. If I'm a crook, we need more crooks, it sounds like to me." 

The former AIMS leader said moving the 35th Avenue high school students to the school's 12th Street building and putting the middle school students at Bella Vista is "a stupid idea" because they will lose a gymnasium in his building and there won't be enough room for the high school students at the 12th Street building. 

Leung and Woods said moving out of the campus will help the school move on from Chavis. 

There is "no more Mr. Chavis, and we have a really strong board now," Woods-Cadiz said. 


The school originally was primarily oriented toward American Indians. Chavis was hired in 2001, and soon after the student demographic started to change to a broader community. 

For the next 10 years, the school's academic performance soared and it attracted more mostly low-income students of other ethnicities, but by 2012, things started to go wrong. An investigation by the state Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team reported finding evidence of fraud, misappropriation of funds and conflicts of interest. The investigation found that from 2007 to 2011, Chavis had directed $3.8 million from the school to companies he owned for contracts not approved by the school board. 

In 2013, the Oakland Unified School District yanked the school's charter and Chavis stepped down. After Chavis left, the school fought back in court and won reinstatement of its charter last year. 

Under Woods-Cadiz, the charter school has seen many changes, including the planned move of the 35th Avenue campus, the removal of one school board member, the resignation of two others and the firing of a beloved physical education teacher -- all of which has led to increased tensions at the school. Students have walked out of classes four times since March 24, when the school board ousted one of its members, Nedir Bey. Bey became a board member in 2012 after Chavis left the school, Chavis said. 

Bey, who does not have any children at the school, came on campus April 20 and started yelling at staff, according to legal documents related to a restraining order against him. He returned on April 21 to a school board meeting and incited the crowd against Woods-Cadiz and board members in a way that "created the potential of physical harm and actual emotional harm," an initial petition for the restraining order said. 

"We had to call the police because the meeting got very disruptive and unsafe," Woods-Cadiz said. 

On advice of the school's lawyer, she declined to talk about the events leading to the restraining order. The school's attorney did not return a phone call seeking comment. 

The restraining order protects Woods-Cadiz and 11 administrators and school board members from Bey. He is ordered not to harass, make violent threats, stalk, contact, come on campus or have any personal contact with those listed on the order. 

"The reason we got the restraining order is for Ms. Woods-Cadiz's safety and her family's safety," Leung said. "He also got involved with the operation of the school, meaning he was trying to go to the office and wanting to see files and not going through proper channels. There were other incidents where staff did not feel comfortable with him." 

The school also has hired a private security firm to make sure Bey does not come on campus. 

Bey's attorney, Chris Dobbins, a former Oakland Unified School Board member, said Bey denies the allegations in the restraining order. A hearing over the allegations to make the order permanent, throw it out or modify it could come in a couple of months, Dobbins said. 

"There were no threats or harassment," Dobbins said. "They also listed all the board members as being protected and there is no verification that Mr. Bey made any threats to them." 

Bey, a former associate of Your Black Muslim Bakery, was charged in 1994 with abducting and torturing a man who ran afoul of the bakery. He pleaded no contest to felony false imprisonment and served a home detention sentence. In 1996, Bey launched a failed health care company with more than $1.5 million of city money that he never repaid. 


Recent interviews with teachers and staff at the 35th Avenue campus reveal resentment and distrust over Woods-Cadiz's changes and support for Bey. Woods-Cadiz blames Bey for the student walkouts. 

Teacher Daniel Eng, who has worked at the school for nine years, is quitting at the end of the year. This year, he said, has been the worst, with the planned move of the campus, the changes on the board and the student walkouts. 

"Leaving without a job to go to, this speaks volumes for me if I lasted through all the other stuff the last few years," Eng said. 

First-year teacher Cris Bautista, who teaches eighth-grade math, science, English and history at the school, replaced another teacher who quit in November, shortly after Woods-Cadiz arrived. 

"It's been hard to teach in this atmosphere, with the student walkouts and the administrative turnover," Bautista said. "There are a lot of problems with the board and the administration, and it trickles down and it's harmful to the students. Every day something crazy happens."