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March 14-20, 2007

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Silicon Valley News Notes

No Can Do

This year's District 4 race got weird for a while there, with communist accusations against candidate Hon Lien (thank you, Brian Do), and a follow-up declaration via Lien's strategist, Victor Ajlouny, that one of her long-lost Vietnamese cousins was killed by a communist. Not sure what any of that has to do with issues like "Should the state build a prison in north San Jose?" but in any case, the eight-candidate electoral pool has at least been narrowed down to two thanks to last week's election. Kansen Chu, Mayor Chuck Reed's opposition in 2000, came out on top with 31 percent—hmm, maybe his flirtation with Reed's flag-tie style helped after all. Anyway, after a showing like that, the man is psyched for the June 5 runoff. "I plan to rely on my extensive background, and a hard-hitting door-to-door drive. I'll knock on every door in the district," he says. "I know how government works, and I intend to connect with as many people as possible." Second-place finisher Lien was happy enough with the results to turn her post-election party into karaoke night, breaking into "Hoa Trinh Nu" at the Grand Palace Restaurant (we were really hoping for "I Want to Take You Higher," but no such luck). Lien received only 24.74 percent of the vote, but Ajlouny says the runoff is anyone's game. "It's like the Super Bowl," he says. We hear Do is available for halftime entertainment.

A Pierluigi by Any Other Name

Pierluigi Oliverio's election-night shebang at Tomato Thyme may have been only moderately attended (it was, after all, an off-cycle election), but the schmoozing and boozing was in full effect. The candidate was still steamed after the Merc hit piece last month, but checking out his 12-point lead over District 6 opponent Steve Tedesco on his electronic device clearly took the edge off. Big names, including former mayoral candidate Michael Mulcahy and Santa Clara Councilman Keith Moore (talking to anybody who'd listen about the 49ers coming into town), floated through the crowd, and while the bar wasn't open, the cheesy bread was pretty good. The night would end with Oliverio climbing up on a chair and thanking his supporters. He said the people had elected a candidate that "wasn't labor, wasn't chamber, wasn't lobbyist." Oliverio's challenge now, however, will be to drive his ideas into policy once he's sworn in. That date is still up in the air, but he says he hopes to have one of his signature techie initiatives—what he calls a web-based solution to managing constituent issues—up and running just days after he's in office. He's got a private team working on the project and, though he won't disclose the cost except to say it'll be less than 10 grand, he plans to pay for it out of his campaign funds. As for the Merc grudge, Oliverio took pains to ignore their calls on campaign night, but says the silent treatment won't continue for long. "It's all water under the bridge," he says.

It's a Wrap

Cinequest just wrapped what organizers call its "best year ever"—"We're on track to break all of our records" said publicist Jens Michael Hussey as the festival went into its final weekend. Part of their success could be that they've learned how to hit you where you live. On Friday, their press conference featured Fremont filmmaker Shelly Prevost, who finished her documentary about the murder of transgendered teen Gwen Araujo, Trained in the Ways of Men, just two weeks before the festival began. She seemed taken aback that Trained became the cause célèbre of this year's festival, but of course everyone here remembers the shocking murder case from 2002, in which Araujo was brutally slain after four men she'd been intimate with discovered she was a biological male. Good-natured and a gentle speaker, Prevost is not necessarily someone you'd expect to become so fixated with this case that she'd film it over four years and two trials, doing the editing at all hours of the night after getting off from her day job. She got so close to the principals that Gwen's mother, Sylvia Guerrero, also in attendance, said that "for us she's family." Being a transgendered female herself, the film was obviously a very personal one for Prevost, and when Guerrero says, "I know in my heart it's going to open minds," she's undoubtedly right. Both Prevost and Araujo received standing ovations at Cinequest's screening of the film Saturday night. Local landmark trivia note: the on-the-street interviews in Prevost's film were done on Second Street next to the CAMERA 12.

SVLG Cameo

Speaking of real life smashing head-first into reel life, Fly has been meaning for weeks to catch up with Silicon Valley Leadership Group's new PR point man, Duffy Jennings. Instead, he caught up with Fly, in a way, when an actor playing him suddenly appeared onscreen during a showing of the new David Fincher film Zodiac. Jennings was a crime reporter for the S.F. Chronicle when the infamous serial killer came out of hiding (or, if one theory is correct, got out of prison) to start a new wave of taunting letters in the late '70s. The real Jennings says he's already been to see himself in the film twice—is this guy a great publicity hire or what? "It was bizarre," he says of seeing himself adapted for the screen. "It was so brief I almost missed it."

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