Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Morning News Round-Up – 12.16.08: Animal cruelty...the issue of the week in Northern California...

Santa Clara County is looking at an animal cruelty ordinance which some say targets Mexican rodeos while other say it doesn’t go far enough in preventing animal abuse. Toby De La Torre, president of the Federation of Charros, says steer tailing allows the rodeos to carry, “on the traditions and the sport that our ancestors have taught us." This animal cruelty story is not to be confused with a slew of them in San Mateo County that Watch Dog San Mateo has followed – they include a cat stomping and a dog killing

The Board of Supervisors will hear a pitch from Probation Chief Shelia Mitchell to add beds at the juvenile ranch for boys. In her final meeting, Supervisor Alvarado is not likely to support the Probation Chief's request, noting that an expansion made a decade ago increased the number of youth in jail without rehabilitation.

Watch Dog readers will remember the fracas about how to deal with the drunk arrests in Downtown San Jose...Councilmember Liccardo wanted action over another Task Force, while Councilmember Campos and Mayor Reed wanted a Task Force over action. While the Task Force seems to be moving forward, albeit at Task Force pace...the San Jose Police Department is implementing one of Liccardo's ideas in advance of being asked to...they are going to administer a breathalyzer test to drunk arrestees. Without public announcement San Jose Police began offering breathalyzers two weeks ago. While some (like DUI attorneys) believe there is evidence that breathalyzers are not 100% accurate, it’s a safe bet they are more accurate than an Officer's hunch. The (fired) Independent Police Auditor Barbara Attard said “…it’s long overdue.”

Campbell has a new Police Chief. 21 year Campbell police veteran Captain Greg Finch will take the helm as Chief Dave Gullo retires. City Manager Dan Rich said they didn’t need to conduct an expensive national search as the “best person was already here.”

In Los Gatos the Police will be moving into the former Verizon building two years after purchasing the building and following a $4 million remodel approved last night by the City Council. The ever-eloquent Mayor Mike Wasserman celebrating with a cheer, “Yay! Congratulations!” "This is probably the most efficient act of government that I have witnessed in ten years on the council," Councilmember Joe Pirzynski observed. Really?

The Gilroy City Council voted last night to layoff 2 firefighters and a police employee while restoring on police officer in the face of ongoing gang violence. Councilmembers Dion Bracco, Perry Woodward, Craig Gartman, and Bob Dillon voted to restore the officer. Councilmember Peter Arellano dissented saying, "Some people here may think they're more in tune with the police department, but I think that's what we hired the chief to do."

Who ever thought building in a creek bed was a good idea? Apparently a lot of people. The State has ordered Willow Glen apartment owner Paul ten Doesschate to protect a creek with a new retaining wall and to repair an existing one. San Jose City Planners are waiting for state agencies to make clear the difficult project before allowing ten Doesschate to move forward – with a little luck this will happen before rains cause the building (and Lincoln Avenue) to slide into the creek.

I think the Bush Administration smelt too...the affects of the Bush administration will linger long after Obama settles into the Oval Office. The canary-in-the-coal-mine Delta Smelt is a predictor of the health of the Delta. The Bush Administration violated the Endangered Species Act with increased pumping and now Fish and Wildlife has cut back the amount of water available to the Silicon Valley. Santa Clara Water District spokeswoman Susan Siravo said, “It feels like a double whammy. We've had two dry years and we've had reduced imported water from the delta."

Before she had a chance to sit through her first board meeting, newly elected Luther Burbank School Board member Doreen Hassan resigned. Perhaps her only goal was to prevent the firing of Superintendent Richard Rodriguez? (Oops, that happened before she was seated) Or perhaps she watched the antics of Alum Rock and East Side Union and thought better of being on a school board...or maybe she forgot to check with her employer – whatever the reason, the tiny district now faces the option of an expensive special election or appointing someone. Watch Dog word of advice, don’t attempt the Shirakawa-Garcia Cuba-like appointment process.

Hello, is anyone there? Willow Glen Resident Matt Baxter wants to volunteer for the VTA, he’s called three times, apparently the VTA can’t afford to check their voicemail. Here’s a Watch Dog call to new Board President Dolly Sandoval, San Jose representatives Nora Campos, Sam Liccardo, Nancy Pyle, Mayor Reed or Forest Williams – c’mon help the guy out. All he wants is a litter stick and a bag to clean.

Cupertino City Council unanimously elected Orrin Mahoney as (rotating) Mayor with Kris Wang (Mayor in 2007) as Vice Mayor.

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