Silicon Valley News Notes
Look at Me, I'm Tough!
San Jose City Councilwoman Nora Campos wants to be seen as the councilmember who's tough on gangs, and lately she's kicked her posturing into overdrive. In her most recent vote last week, she decided to pick gang prevention over PR for the city. Campos was the lone dissenter on a vote to spend 50 grand to pay for the GlobalFluency communications firm to help the city get a little more media attention. The District 5 council rep made a point to say that the city shouldn't be spending money on PR campaigns when there is a fast-growing gang problem in San Jose. "A few years ago, we were the safest big city, and that was free media and free marketing material that helped us tremendously," Campos told her colleagues at a recent council hearing. "So once I again I will not support the $50,000 because I think this money should be invested in making sure our kids are not in gangs." It's not the first time Campos has tried to make her colleagues seem soft on the gang problem. She publicly took digs at the council and the mayor's task force by insinuating she was taking the lead to combat the gang problem in San Jose at a recent community meeting. At that time, she called on the mayor's gang prevention task force to tap $200,000 in the gang task reserves to immediately tackle the hot-spot areas where gangs are a problem, especially in her district. Campos has only become this outspoken about gang problems in the last few months, after she was removed from the mayor's gang prevention task force earlier this year, mostly because the mayor said she was not showing up at enough meetings.
Look at Me, I'm Singing!
Or maybe what San Jose needs is a feel-good theme song to help put the city on the map. That's what San Jose City Councilman Forrest Williams thinks, anyway. At last week's council discussion, where the group was considering ways to promote the city's best features to help draw business and visitors, Williams suggested the city write a song that will make San Jose well known across the globe, and even said he would consider taking it to the arts commission as a proposal. "When you say 'Take Me Out to the Ballgame,' it's a song that people know is about baseball," Williams said. "We want something that's on the lips of everyone when they get up in the morning and when they get home ... when they want to feel good they sing about San Jose." He suggested that local bands and artists write the tune on behalf of San Jose; maybe even make it into a contest. But his fellow councilmembers clearly thought he was whistling Dixie. "Please, Forrest, tell me that's not the part of the resolution here," said Councilwoman Nancy Pyle. What the council did do was sign off on the $150,000 pay raise for GlobalFluency to help San Jose get a little more media attention. The city hired the communications firm last year to help the city get more recognition in the media. The council extended the firm's contract, with the intention to get more media coverage and have the firm work to help make San Jose's airport an international gateway. "We are competing with every large city in the United States and we don't have the uniforms on yet," Pyle said.
Development on the former BAREC property may be a done deal, but the crusade to save it is still giving Dominic Caserta fits. Two Santa Clara residents who pushed to save BAREC are still bitter about the way the Santa Clara City Council member flip-flopped on the issue and are determined to shake up his run for assembly. Last month, they launched the website notcaserta.org, asking voters to "elect anyone but Caserta." He earned their ire by promising to support open space on BAREC when he was running for re-election, then voting in favor of the development after he received over $13,000 from Summerhill Homes. Caserta says the money had nothing to do with his decision, and the plan to develop BAREC has since survived a special local election. Caserta says the guys behind the website, Kirk Vartan and John Joseph , violated state law by not registering with the Fair Political Practices Commission, and that they must report their funding sources. The candidate also ordered his campaign consultant James Rowen to find out who was behind the anonymous site (Vartan and Joseph say they registered the domain anonymously to protect their privacy). In a few heated emails to the U.K.-based website company that rents the domain, Rowen claimed the site was a "federal crime" and said they should "get a lawyer." The threats worked, and the U.K. company shut down the domain. Shortly after, Caserta and Joseph popped up with even more ferocity at notcaserta.org, calling the candidate a fraud and alleging that he's against freedom of speech. "This Rowen guy is a loose cannon," they told Fly. Legally, the anti-Caserta ranters can rant as much as they want without filing anything as long as they don't spend or receive more than $1,000. Vartan says he paid $6 for the website domain and has spent a maximum of $60 on other supplies.