Monday, February 9, 2009

Morning News Round-Up -- 2.9.09: A quarter, a dime, and four pennies...

San Jose is gearing up for a contentious battle with downtown nightclub owners. The City wants club owners to help pay for Police services in downtown, at roughly 39 cents/patron. Club owners, unsurprisingly, are complaining the request is “nonsensical” in the words of Dave Powell, owner of three downtown establishments. Councilmember Sam Liccardo believes a compromise is achievable and says, "We'd like to see a model which is more consistent with community Policing as it's understood: an officer walking the street engaging people in a friendly manner."

The Merc’s Editorial Board also weighs in and lets us know that part of the problem is a stubborn Police Chief Rob Davis and says the current proposal doesn’t address the problem – pointing to Austin, Texas as a good model and calling for smaller clubs. You can see the proposed charges to your favorite drinking hole on page 17 here.

Watch Dog will get back to this story, but the City of San Jose is considering a ban on plastic bags. That is mildly interesting. Plastic's lobbyist is wildly interesting. It seems Manny Diaz (finally) saw The Graduate:

The Merc's Internal Affairs has been prowling through local Legislator compliance and fundraising filings… Among the news:
  • New Assemblymember Paul Fong has started to campaign for re-election – less than 3 months in office. (Is he scared this guy is going to run against him again?)
  • Assemblymember Ira Ruskin is running to replace termed out Senator Joe Simitian. (Watch Dog San Mateo has some insights into who wants to replace Ruskin...)
  • Assemblymember Joe Coto wants termed out Senator Elaine Alquist's seat. (Perhaps this guy can give Coto some (bad) advice...)
Alum Rock Board of Trustees is back in the news…They yanked the golden parachute away from resigned/fired Superintendent Norma Martinez, with an entertaining side effect – the former Super is now Super again. Board President Gustavo Gonzalez said the golden parachute was worth more than a half-million dollars, but facing pissed off teachers and community members the Board decided to reverse themselves. Is this the most disfunctional School District in the City, the State, or the World? Your call...

The Merc’s Editorial Board echoes support for the preservation of regional open space – adding that the smartest green initiative is open land. In a report from the Bay Area Open Space Council, Association of Bay Area Governments, and The Greenbelt Alliance, the recommendation is for parks to be available within 10 minutes of every home in the Valley of Heart’s Delight.

Calling it a “win-win-win” San Jose’s Department of Transportation head Jim Helmer, is excited San Jose is getting rid of the yellow streetlights and replacing them with LED lights that cut energy costs, are easily programmed, and won’t alter colors or confuse drivers. If the Mayor gets the Federal dollars he hopes for the project, it will be completed sooner – if not, look for 2022 as the date when the last of the lights are converted.

Bruce Davis, head of Arts Council Silicon Valley, is happy with the new President and says, "The President is a smart guy. He gets it. …he sees [the arts] as part of the whole economy and the whole cultural aspect of the United States' identity in the world. It's important to him." Although the proposed arts funding is less than one-tenth of 1% of the stimulus package, Lisa Mallette with San Jose’s City Lights Company says “There’s no way to go but up.” With an estimated 700% return for every dollar invested in the arts it sounds like everyone should be buying their own puppies playing poker painting.

On tap around the Valley this week…
  • The Board of Supervisors will hear from Acting County Executive Gary Graves on the budget (looks grim) and year-end projections for the general fund (looks grimmer).
  • In addition to having someone else pay for Police, the San Jose City Council will look at changing funding to the arts and letting parking scofflaws pay more for the privilege of breaking the rules.
  • In Sunnyvale they’re talking about signs.
  • Mountain View’s City Council reviews a youth program.
  • The Santa Clara Water District will hear from staff about the water supply (looks grim) and what to do if the drought continues (looks grimmer).
  • Alum Rock is back in session still talking lawyers – will they hire Trustee Esau Herrera’s old firm?
  • The Los Altos School District will review proposed reductions and hear about a parent survey.
  • Campbell is talking employee contracts.
  • Cupertino’s School District will consider a parcel tax, good luck with that. During the Great Recession?
Apple’s Other Steve (Wozniak) will show off his twinkle toes in this season’s Dancing with the Stars.

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