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February 7-13, 2007

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Silicon Valley News Notes

Nora vs. Cindy

Wags around town are all aflutter about whether Nora Campos or Cindy Chavez will run next year for the seat of termed-out county Supe Blanca Alvarado. Insiders say Campos will defer to her colleague if Chavez decides to run, and Campos will instead train her eyes on Joe Coto's assembly seat (assuming voters don't relax term limits before then and allow Coto to stick around longer). Chavez's entry into the race is anything but assured, since she's still licking her wounds from the whooping she took from Chuck Reed. And Alvarado may still be a little steamed at her over Chavez's involvement in the city of San Jose's lawsuit against the county, which effectively derailed Alvarado's pet project, a concert hall at the county fairgrounds. Also mentioned as a likely contender is Legal Aid Society director Tony Estramera, and we hear DA David Pandori still entertains some political ambitions after his run for San Jose mayor last year and has been sniffing around at the District 2 seat. If so, the generally talkative Pandori isn't ready to talk about it: "I don't have any comment about anything," he reveals.

Turn That Frown Upside Down

San Jose's race for District 6 has suddenly gone negative, at least on the Steve Tedesco side. Local voters fishing through their new March election booklets may notice that Tedesco's ballot statement is very much about his opponent, Pierluigi Oliverio, and it's quite the bare-knuckle work-over. "My opponent is just not ready," Tedesco writes. "As a software salesman, he claims to be a high-tech executive. I have made payrolls. He has said that experience does not matter. He is wrong." Or perhaps misquoted. "I've never said experience does not matter," responds Oliverio. "It's the type of experience that matters." Apparently the primary front-runner isn't feeling Tedesco's frowny-face vibe—Oliverio says he's actually been out slapping happy-face stickers on his lawn signs since his recent endorsement from former Councilmember Ken Yeager. He also stands behind his high-tech experience (yes, it was in sales). He's got at least one high-profile business icon convinced: Michael Mulcahy says he's excited about what Oliverio can bring to San Jose's leadership. "I like the fact that's he's an outsider and is willing to do things differently," he says. Mulcahy's turned off by Tedesco's campaign approach. "I certainly wouldn't have used my ballot statement to talk about the other candidates, no matter how I felt about them," he says. The former mayoral candidate recently threw a fundraiser party at his house for Oliverio, which was probably more than a drop in the bucket because the upstart isn't accepting money from lobbyists. What does Tedesco have to say about the tone of his campaign? Fly has a sneaking suspicion he may be lying low—the phone at his campaign headquarters went unanswered despite numerous attempts and he did not respond to email seeking comment for this story.

The 411 on 211

Let's review the digits: Everyone knows what to call to get immediate help during life threatening emergencies: 911. The number for police nonemergency information is 311. They can tell you which department to call to remove your street's abandoned cars or how to get your neighbors to shut their barking dogs up. But what do you call if you've just been evicted and need a place tonight or you need to find food or child care quick? Beginning Feb. 11, you can call 211 in Santa Clara County. 211's live-call specialists will provide referrals to health and human services free 24/7 in 150 languages. 211 began in 1997 as a United Way project, and in 2000 the FCC set aside 211 as a national dialing code. Now it serves about 65 percent of the U.S. population. San Francisco got 211 last year, and now it's made its way to the South Bay. Here it's a public utility that's funded by the county, eight cities, corporate sponsors, donors and the United Way. By May, will offer hundreds of resources to Santa Clara County residents.

Log Jam

If looks could kill, Matt Dias from Big Creek Lumber would be a goner. The forester's cheeks turned red from the tension as a crowd of nearly 500 Santa Cruz Mountain residents at last week's public hearing shot eye-daggers at the man behind the plan to raze 1,000 acres owned by the San Jose Water Company between downtown Los Gatos and the summit. More than 90 people, many of them members of Neighbors Against Irresponsible Logging, spoke in the Santa Clara County Building before California Department of Forestry officials, who will be deciding on the plan proposed by SJW and Big Creek. "As a resident and an engineer, I'm nothing short of appalled at this plan moving forward," said Morgan Kessler, echoing concern about how logging might impact water quality and fire safety for local residents. Passionate applause from the overflow crowd peaked after Google engineer Rebecca Moore alleged that SJW is ineligible for an Non-Industrial Timber Management Plan (NTMP). The long-term timber management plan is only for landowners with less than 2,500 acres of timberland. Moore's team of scientists used high-resolution aerial photographs to map out the company's property and identified at least 2,700 acres flush with redwoods and Douglas firs. Dias could not respond at the hearing but later told the media that SJW owns only 2,000 acres of timberland. It will be interesting to see how the stakeholders fend off this latest blow after the recent onslaught of criticism: four nationally renowned fire experts said the logging plan, which aims to remove the largest (and most valuable) trees, would increase fire hazard in the forest. David Ganz, the fire scientist hired by SJW, came to the opposite conclusion, and calls his peer's reviews mere "opinions." Before the public hearing, SJW held a private press conference at its office on Bascom Avenue—if the purpose was to cull sympathy from a captive media audience, it failed. Later news reports hooked on the opponents and their supporters protesting outside of the building, waving plaques that said "Save Our Watershed."

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