Friday, March 20, 2009

Morning News Round-Up -- 3.20.09: Is there any good news out there?

Wednesday’s Palo Alto shooting has the police trying to ease resident fears about a possible incursion of gangs. Police Agent Dan Ryan says Daniel Gil-Fernandez was a wannabe gansta’. Yep, Ryan says, Gil-Fernandez and friends wore red, talked about being Nortenos, sported gang tattoos, and had been involved in violent and drug related crime but… Ryan says “They're intimidating other kids in their mostly white junior high or high school, but if they were to go to Mountain View they could get murdered." Take that, Mountain View.

Also exhibiting ostrich-like behavior… Vandals (wannabe Nazis’?) attacked Evergreen Valley High School leaving a giant 20’ swastika etched into the lawn and chopping down 13 tiny trees. In a potentially related note, envelopes with a (harmless) white powder were mailed to the school office. Principal Cari Vaeth says she hasn’t organized discussions with the students because race relations are just fine, thank you very much. (Really?) East Side Union High School District Associate Superintendent Alan Garafolo seems to disagree and says once an arrest is made the District will push for hate-crime charges.

It wasn’t bad enough that muralist Frank Torres’ work was attacked by San Jose wannabe Surenos who tossed blue paint everywhere. Former gang member/Veteran/ex felon/ex-dealer Torres was profiled by the Merc’s Joe Rodriguez following the damage to his mural this week, the next day he was back on the job when eight wannabe’s showed up to beat the crap out of him in East San Jose. Silicon Valley De-Bug’s Raj Jayadev is collecting donations while Marcos Gutierrez with the San Jose State University Foundation has offered Torres a job teaching and is organizing a fundraiser.

Los Altans need never be far from the latest happenings in town, the Town Crier is now offering breaking news flashes to your cell phone.

If you’d had your mobile news service you’d have known the Los Altos Hills' City Council was slapping some property owners for illegal sewer hook-ups to the tune of nearly a quarter of a million dollars. Mayor Jean Mordo is trying to be nice and says there’s a sewer amnesty program – pay up in two months and you’ll get a discount.

Mobile updates no doubt included this too: Los Altos sold its sewer land for $6.5 million and Mayor Megan Satterlee wants to use it after the sewer master plan is ready for action next year while Councilmember Ron Packard urges holding off until the current financial crisis is over. Maybe Los Altos can just sneak a hook-up to the Los Altos Hills sewer system.

Former eBay Chief/Gubernatorial wannabe Meg Whitman’s Fortune magazine cover has the blogosphere buzzing about the comparisons with former Governor/President Ron Reagan. The Merc’s Tech Notebook pulls other details out of the story like… Whitman hasn’t purchased a suit in 11 years, her friends are helping her shop at Stanford, and she’s planning to drop $50 million of her own fortune to be the next Governator.

You remember this story…Somehow an unnoticed clerical screw-up left taxes for Gilroy Unified off last years property tax bill. Not bad if you’re one of those knuckleheads who pretends not to notice your bill doesn’t match the stuff in your bag, but if you’re a School District losing $6 million it’s a big problem. The School Board decided this week not to re-send the tax bill and is hoping to hold County Supervisor Don Gage to his word: "They’re going to be made whole one way or another.” Deputy Superintendent Enrique Palacios has the dubious distinction of juggling the County’s clerical screw-ups and the “… moral issue…” of MACSA’s theft from teachers

Speaking of the MACSA (Mexican American Community Services Agency)… More than 100 students, parents, teachers, and administrators crowded the Gilroy Unified School District Board meeting to ask the Board not to punish students for MACSA’s embezzlement. Tearful students spoke about grades going from F’s to A’s and B’s, seemingly overnight. Trustee Denise Apuzzo wondered how, with grades shooting up dramatically, students were still failing State tests.

Gilroy Councilmember Bob Dhillon wants to stop the bleeding and says the public is truly pissed. Gilroy’s City Administrator Tom Haglund is (apparently) begging the City Council to wallow in Gilroy’s daily operations and figure out who gets raises and who does not. Councilmembers (and residents) are pissed off that Haglund has been handing out raises to some while others lose their jobs. Councilmember Cat Tucker took a 25% pay cut in her day job and wants to see City Staff cut back as well. The Gilroy Dispatch Editorial Board gets in on the act calling it one of those “you-couldn't-make-this-stuff-up" situations.

Give a little, get a lot…City staff unions in Morgan Hill have figured out a way to keep jobs: they voluntarily reduced raises by 3% to 4% for as long as 5 years. Don’t worry about employees, the starting point was a 9.5% raise. Councilmember Larry Carr praised the leadership of the unions in meeting the challenge while offering a mild slap to other communities (Gilroy?).

What’s the loss of a little green belt if it makes the Pope happy? The Diocese of San Jose is hoping to buy up another 20 acres of agricultural land in Morgan Hill to add to the 20 acres they bought last year. The land is part of Morgan Hill’s last remaining “green belt” to be chopped up into developable portions. There’s still that pesky Environmental Impact Report, rezoning, and the obscure "LAFCO review," so don’t count on ground breaking before 2011.

San Jose Insider Eric Johnson calls the cries of impending doom for the Chronicle premature and is predicting a new paper in town, the MerChronicle. The Chronicle did that once before when they became the ExOnicle/ChronAminer following a merger with the Examiner. Lot of good that did either of those papers.

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