Thursday, November 13, 2008

Morning News Round-up -– 11.13.08: Low Tech at the Tech and Gang War in Gilroy?

Apparently BART may not know the way to San Jose. While the election won’t be officially over until December, Measure B won’t arrive in a timely fashion. With only 66.52% of the vote, Measure B falls a heartbreaking 0.25% short. VTA General Manager Michael Burns says that while, “Clearly the message from voters is that BART is the priority, we have to look at how we can do that, but clearly we'll have a project that is different from what we had been talking about.” By stopping 9 miles short of completion, not going to the airport, and not tunneling under downtown San Jose, the project saves an estimated $2 billion. Cast your vote on an abbreviated BART on the Merc's website. Please, go vote or risk getting dozens of emails from Carl Guardino...

In an event you would be able to take BART to if it ran downtown, the eighth annual Tech Museum Awards was last night. It honored 25 "tech laureates" out of more than 650 nominees from nearly 70 nations. Five will be returning to their labors with cash prizes of $50,000. This wasn’t a celebration of the Valley’s normal gee-whiz inventions, it was a focus on low-tech that converts rice husks into energy, ensures clean needles in hospitals, and “Netflix for poor children” said Randolph Wang, who studied computer science at the University of California-Berkeley and abandoned teaching at Princeton University to launch Digital StudyHall in India. Nobel winner Muhammad Yunus, a pioneer of "microcredit,'' received the James C. Morgan Global Humanitarian Award. Mark Walker, managing director of Community Affairs at Applied Materials, made it clear why this event is a natural for Silicon Valley, "There is always someone who can build another mousetrap. That's the culture of Silicon Valley. And these people are doing the same thing." If you weren’t able to attend the black tie affair you can watch it, using one of the valley’s high tech inventions

With the economy souring all around the Valley, it should be a packed house at Stanford on Friday when Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus speaks about “Microfinance and Sustainable Health care.” Yunus pioneered the world of microfinance when he founded the Grameen Bank in 1976 with only $27.

Maybe the housing meltdown will succeed where Friends of the Hillsides failed. “Friends” withdrew its lawsuit against the town of Los Gatos to stop software entrepreneur Rob DeSantis' development of an estate on a 13.7-acre parcel on Kennedy Road, near Forrester Road, in the hills above town. The pain for “Friends” may not be over as their withdrawal lays the foundation for DeSantis to request reimbursement for out of pocket expenses for the lawsuit. The “Friends” have often clashed with former Council candidate and frequent Los Gatos Observer contributor Peggy Dallas with their interest in stopping DeSantis.

Silicon Valley communities are feeling the pain as the financial meltdown hits. Watch Dog reported on the local affects of the mortgage meltdown yesterday. Trying to prevent depletion of the city’s financial reserves, Gilroy’s City Council voted last week to fire 1/6 of its employees. Mayor Al Pinheiro said that while Gilroy is ahead of the curve “…lots of other cities will be in the same boat.'' Gilroy City Administrator Tom Haglund was poetic when he added, "Anyone who doesn't believe that is whistling past the graveyard — and they shouldn't be doing that.''

The loss of 6 from the Gilroy police department, including 2 police officers, is especially painful for a community that saw its second gang-related murder in 6 weeks when teenager Larry Martinez was shot mid-day Tuesday just a block from the Police Department. Last night a tearful candle-lit vigil ended when a fight broke out and attendees predicted retaliation. Police Chief Denise Turner, "I'm very concerned that we're in the face of a gang war." Seems like it.

Perhaps it’s the police station that is the problem. In Palo Alto last night a woman was hit by a Prius in front of the police station at Emerson and Forest. The headline is funny in this story: Pedestrian hit by a Prius in downtown Palo Alto. It is as if it was the Priuses fault...

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