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May 10-16, 2006

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Silicon Valley News Notes

Lane Violation

Mayoral candidate Cindy Chavez schmoozed Merc columnist Scott Herhold at downtown San Jose's Fourth Street Bowl earlier this month for a predictably breezy profile. When Herhold complimented her on the location, she agreed the bowling alley was a perfect "combination of old San Jose and new San Jose all mixed in." Fly could just imagine the owners slapping high-fives when they got this particular endorsement. But here's a dose of political irony for the week: Fourth Street Bowl is part of an industrial area that's been zoned for redevelopment. A spokesman from the San Jose Planning Department said a permit for a housing complex has been approved for the property. A Fourth Street Bowl manager named Kathy, however, says no one is going to be changing lanes over there anytime soon. "No! We're not closing. That's a rumor that's been flying around for 15 years."

Hot Seats

As Shoreline Amphitheatre's summer concert season launches this weekend, executives at the venue's parent company Live Nation are scrambling to defend their bottom line in state court. The city of Mountain View is suing Shoreline for allegedly hiding concert revenues and underpaying $15.6 million in rent between 1998 and 2004. But ever since Mountain View signed a lease with Shoreline managers in 1986, city officials have been enjoying a sweet annual perk: 20 premium box seat tickets for the entire season (in total valued up to $100,000) and 300 single show tickets sprinkled throughout the season (an additional $15,000 to $30,000). Fly wondered if Mountain View would be including this bonus—worth approximately $2.6 million over the past 20 years—in their calculations for alleged back-rent. The Merc left this hefty detail out when they reported on Shoreline rent payments last month, and no one seemed to want to talk to Fly about it. Live Nation spokesman Aaron Siuda declined to comment while the trial is under way. Mountain View City Attorney Michael Martello did not return our phone calls, although he has been quoted in local papers saying the tickets don't present a conflict of interest because they have no cash value. Critics like Mountain View gadfly Don Letcher aren't buying it—they point out that the high-end Shoreline passes have replaced rent money that might have otherwise gone to taxpayers all these years.

Campaign Throwdown

The assessor's race is going to get downright brutal, that's for sure. Oh wait, it already is! That's what Fly was thinking when it received a nine-page fax from Larry Stone's campaign documenting how his opponent Pete McHugh was fined $8,000 in 1997 by state officials for his failure to record campaign contribution donors accurately. At the time, McHugh's campaign consultant Victor Ajlouny dismissed McHugh's violations to the Merc as mere "bookkeeping" errors. But Stone's campaign says the fine is relevant for that very reason—McHugh touts his experience as an accountant and owner of a bookkeeping service in the assessor's race, but the fines were a result of bookkeeping errors. (Interestingly enough, city ethics posterboy Chuck Reed was McHugh's attorney of record for the campaign violations.) Meanwhile, McHugh is fuming over Stone's hardball tactics. "It is the sort of comment I would expect from Mr. Stone," he tells Fly. "I would say people who live in glass houses should not throw stones. I think it's typical of the way that Larry tries to intimidate people. I think that's his basic approach." Something makes Fly suspect that part about "throwing stones" was a Freudian slip, but the incumbent doesn't see any reason he should get tossed. "It didn't come from me," he says of the fax, pointing out it technically came from his assistant, Dave Ginsborg. "I'm aware of it," says Stone, "but what I want to do is stay focused and be positive. I'm just surprised. I did not send that fax."

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