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May 9-15, 2007

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Silicon Valley News Notes

Taking the Fifth

San Jose celebrated Mexico's victory over the French this weekend with sirens, helicopters and parking lots full of police cars keeping an eye on white T-shirted young men with crimson fashion accessories. Predictably, 99.9 percent of the mainstream media coverage of Cinco De Mayo fawned over the massive police showing, with barely a sentence buried in the preposterously one-sided Merc coverage about the Copwatch effort that brought a little balance to the equation. Despite the fact that this year's celebration included 18 felony and 48 misdemeanor arrests, in addition to 167 tickets and 158 minors detained for violating curfew, Copwatch organizer Jake Gelender says this year's initiative was relatively successful. "Compared to last year, I was really pleased," he says. "No Copwatchers got arrested, and we definitely had the feeling that [the SJPD] knew we were coming—that they should be on their best behavior." Gelender explains that Copwatch organized teams that spread out through east side and downtown. "Even though we did see some profiling, illegal searches and some aggressive stuff, overall I would say we were successful in our goals of de-escalating the force," he said. "I never like to see a huge police presence, but this year was definitely an improvement." Though maybe not for those who have any urban ambitions for San Jose; they went up this Fifth of May in the huge push to make certain that, as the Merc put it, "Cinco de Mayo, once marred by violence in San Jose, is a family holiday again." Note to self, Silicon Valley: Is the nanny state really the best we can do?

May Day! May Day!

Everyone seemed surprised that there were fewer pro-immigrant supporters at the May 1 march; everyone except Fly. First of all, don't believe everything you read about the turnout. For San Jose, the estimated number of marchers was roughly 12,000, which is a joke. It's safe to say that at least twice as many people were out on the streets last week, if not more. Second, think about it for a minute: last year was all about the anti-immigrant bill H.R. 4437. You could feel the anger in the streets. This year was more like a party, or maybe even a memorial of last year's march. The rally was marked by an appearance from San Jose City Councilmember Dave Cortese. Who knew he spoke Spanish? He might have been pushing it promising "People of San Jose, you are safe" to a crowd worried about immigration raids, but the guy knows how to make an exit at these things. Ah, "Si se puede"—when only the best will do.

Decision 2008: We'll Definitely Have Another Beer

Republicans, and especially young Republicans, don't get enough attention for their chivalry in Silicon Valley. And since any public display of conservativism in the Bay Area is practically an event in itself, Fly made an appearance at a purported Young Republican gathering at Old Pro bar in Palo Alto to watch the GOP presidential debates. The event was to include a mechanical bull-riding competition and an intimate tryst with a rock star celebrity guest. But that didn't happen. First, the event seemed more like a sympathetically Young At Heart gathering than an actually young Republican rally. We're obliged to note that "young" is more "anyone under 27 with bad tattoos and an asymmetrical haircut," and less "some dude in his mid-50s wearing a bola tie and 'United We Stand' cufflinks.' Faced with this reality, Santa Clara County GOP chairman Keen Butcher said, "Hey, this is who showed up. What do you want me to do?" The night quickly devolved into a drinking game. Fly, along with our favorite Silicon Valley young Republican, Joe Sanchis, did our best to liven the night with some festive funnery, slurring our way through Thursday's debates with such mechanical instructions as "Take one drink if John McCain starts a sentence with 'My friends,'" and two drinks if anyone says "I agree with the president" or if Mitt Romney's hair moves." There's no better way to experience a Republican get-together in Palo Alto than through thick, thick sarcasm and even thicker whiskey goggles. At least that's what our notes say.

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