Silicon Valley News Notes
A Little Change Of Heart
What's behind San Jose Vice Mayor Dave Cortese's "listening campaign" with the Vietnamese community which has been protesting outside City Hall every Tuesday for more than a month? Remember, Cortese emphatically supported Councilmember Madison Nguyen's recommendation to name a strip of Story Road "Saigon Business District" rather than going with the popular name "Little Saigon." Even if the councilmembers called it a compromise you can't really ignore the vociferous campaign huddled outside City Hall, with hundreds of Vietnamese unwavering in their attempt to get City Hall to change its mind and name the district Little Saigon. The group, now known as San Jose Voters for Democracy, has even gone as far as to bring in Vietnamese residents from around the county to join their efforts in a campaign to recall Nguyen. Funny that they've suddenly struck a chord with Cortese, who is seeking a seat on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors in November. He happens to be running for District 3, which is heavily populated with Vietnamese voters (17.8 percent to be exact). That's the second largest group of voters in that district. Cortese, who was once a favorite among the Vietnamese voters, didn't return phone calls seeking comment. But Little Saigon supporters said that if he is pandering to the Vietnamese vote before Election Day, well, that's just fine with them. As long as it gets them closer to what they want: Little Saigon in San Jose, said Barry Hung Do, a member of the San Jose Voters for Democracy. "It's a win if we get Little Saigon and a win for him because he will gain back the trust and confidence among the Vietnamese and the support for him for his political future endeavors," Do said.
How confusing is the SJPD's new citizen complaint process? Even City Council members seemed confounded at Tuesday's hearing when Police Chief Rob Davis presented a reworked system that was supposed to improve the handling of complaints. Such reforms were long overdue, but somehow they got tangled in semantics along the way. For starters, under the new system, "inquiries" will now be classified as "non-misconduct concerns." That essentially means it's a matter that the Police Department doesn't have to spend resources investigating, nor does it end up in a police officer's permanent file. Councilmember Judy Chirco hit it on the head. "Non-misconduct sounds like a double negative to me," Chirco said. "If we are having trouble understanding, that's a poor statement on the clarity of the documentation." However, the council did approve the changes, with plans to come back to the issue in a year and judge the results. Independent Police Auditor Barbara Attard was less than satisfied with the new and system, which at least allows her to continue challenging how those complaints against police officers are classified. Still, Attard said she doesn't feel like the council approved a clear-cut path for citizen complaints to be properly handled. "The details need to be worked out still," Attard said. "I don't think what was passed gave much clarity."
Escape From Mountain View
Mountain View politics hasn't been the same since two of its best-known gadflies, Don Letcher and Jim Lohse, dropped off the radar. They rocked the city's establishment in 2006, but what happened to them? Well, Letcher is still in business, and we got a rather paranoid phone call from him last week. He's still angry that he can't register to vote as a resident of Mountain View and missed out on the recent local election (to recap: city officials say he doesn't actually reside in Mountain View, although his mailing address is on Rengstorff Avenue). Now Letcher is convinced the city is sending police officers to keep an eye on him at public meetings, where he's famous for stirring up public comment sessions with his gruff contrarianism. However, these officers haven't actually approached Letcher or stopped him from speaking. Letcher also believes city officials are after Lohse for federal election fraud. Lohse had planned on running for Mountain View City Council by citing City Hall and the local hospital as his voting addresses. But he never made it onto the ballot and shortly after the 2006 election moved out of town. Fly didn't even know how to reach him until recently, when he called us from somewhere in Nevada—we're not supposed to say exactly where. However, Lohse says he's not running from anyone and that Mountain View officials haven't threatened him with any kind of persecution. He is, however, happy to be away from the "crowded" Silicon Valley that was starting to get under his skin. Lohse also lost contact with Letcher and says he has no intention of reuniting with his former partner-in-mischief.