Friday, March 13, 2009

Morning News Rond-Up – 3.13.09: It's another (Pink Slip) Friday the 13th...

San Jose’s Elections Commission had some fun this week. First, dealing with their irritation over an anonymous complaint against former Mayor/lobbyist Tom McEnery. Next, deciding the fine to be levied against the political arm of the San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce, COMPAC, for a violation of the city’s limit on independent campaign contributions. The COMPAC challenge has the added wrinkle that once a fine is decided the city will land in court, according the COMPAC chair/Lawyer/former Planning Commissioner Jay Ross who calls the rules unconstitutional.

And so it begins slowly, the grim economy offers residents a painful choice – convenience being green or saving money. South county wanted to make it easier to be green, right up to the point where it would cost more. Green Waste Recovery, apparently unable to accommodate new customers at a lower rate may lose South county to their less green competitor. Morgan Hill Times’ editorial board suggests you let Supervisor Don Gage know how you feel. Watch Dog loves garbage, especially when the story is the same

With the help of congressman Jerry McNerney, Morgan Hill’s Llagas Creek will receive $287,000 to protect homes, businesses and native habitat. Mayor Steve Tate applauded McNerny’s help in footing the $130 million bill, with help from the Santa Clara Valley Water District, Army Corps of Engineers and the city.

Speaking of the water district…

Apparently reversing themselves the Santa Clara Valley Water District directors say they are now open to letting the voters decide whether or not to impose term limits on them. The latest tactic is to remind voters that putting the question on the ballot will cost from $1 to $4 million dollars. District directors were taken to task by the Merc’s Scott Herhold in 2007 for their liberal definition of “meeting,” one which allows Director Richard Santos to attend softball games and travel extensively. Sig “Methusala” Sanchez has no objection to voter imposed term limits – of course, he thinks people still vote by chiseling on rock.

It’s good to be one of the top dogs in city government, even in bad times. Gilroy’s Human Resources Director LeeAnn McPhillips got a pay bump to over $171,000 – while she was in the process of dishing out pink slips to 40 city employees. City Manager Tom Haglund handed out nearly $100,000 in special raises to 23 employees, including 5 who were laid off. Sounds like the city manager’s actions could lead to heavier scrutiny by the council – never a welcome addition to a bureaucrat’s day.

Gilroy’s economy czar, otherwise known as Larry Cope CEO for the Economic Development Corp, heads to Washington, D.C. next week to channel the Presidents stimulus dollars towards Gilroy before leaving for his new gig as Tuolumne County’s economy czar. The Visitor’s Bureau chief/Count Board of Education Trustee Jane Howard, is hosting a lunch with partners to talk it over while Mayor Al Pinheiro, councilmember Bob Dhillon and South Valley National Bank VP Kurt Michielssen will meet with EDC’s board in April to discuss its future.

Santa Clara County teachers will receive pink slips at a record pace this week. Decimated retirement accounts keep possible retirees from leaving, and has some retirees asking to return to work. Because the economy and drastic funding cuts by the state require slashing budgets, more than 1,000 Silicon Valley teachers will lose their jobs – most of them young teachers. East Side Union High School District and Oak Grove School District both report a record drop in retirees.

The Merc’s Editorial Board calls on school districts to make their Teach for America fellows feel welcome and supported. TFA has 100 teachers in the Alum Rock and San Jose Unified school districts, including Silicon Valley Educational Foundation’s Teacher of the Year, Scott Wolf. Alum Rock is called out for not making these young idealists feel welcome.

The San Jose Catholic Diocese hopes to build a new school on land they purchased in Morgan Hill, the land is currently zoned for agricultural use so there’s this little challenge of rezoning but with the Catholic Church asking to ditch the zoning…

(As predicted, Revealeds reaction ...) SanJoseRevealed offers to take over the task of writing the Merc’s headlines saying the Merc’s current headlines don’t reflect story content, they need new staff and, best of all, swearing is funny. Tell that to the thousands of parents chasing their children with bars of soap…

SanJoseInside looks at the post-election challenges facing the California High-Speed Rail Authority as they begin the public meetings required for rollout. With visions of the Berlin Wall jumping to mind neighborhoods are freaking out over the thought of a rail system merging with the existing Cal Train line, some are suing others are demanding tunnels. Our sister blog, Watch Dog San Mateo, reports the High-Speed Rail Authority is strapped for on cash

And, just to prove Silicon Valley does have a lighter side even in the worst of times…
The Merc’s Joe Rodriguez took time out to visit one of San Jose’s artists – body painter Celeste Oda who won last years masters face-painting award at the annual Face and Body Art International Convention. Rodriguez channeled his inner animal in allowing Oda to turn him into a Jaguar for a day.

He may not be a world class ballroom dancer but the Woz has YouTube fans flocking to see his impression of a “Teletubby going mad in a gay pride parade.”

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