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The San Jose Vietnamese community is a lot like the Hulk: don't make them angry—you wouldn't like them when they're angry. Nobody knows this better than Madison Nguyen, who failed to take Bruce Banner's famous advice and has now come around to realizing that their recall campaign against her (currently punctuated by the signs lining McLaughlin at the Grand Century Mall) can't be taken lightly. Although the Viet community has been talking for months about recalling Nguyen over the Little Saigon naming debate, Nguyen has downplayed their chances in the past. Recently however, she kicked off her No Recall campaign, using social networking sites including MySpace, Facebook and YouTube to ask for $500 or even $1,000 donations to stop the recall. She launched it all quietly at first, with no publicity, but now Nguyen claims she's running this campaign even more aggressively than her successful bid to be San Jose's first Vietnamese-American on the council. Nguyen still says it's not really that she's afraid of losing this time around, but that she wants to "nip this in the bud." That would mean getting enough support to keep the recall supporters from gathering the more than 3,200 signatures they need to actually get the measure on the November ballot. "I will be extremely surprised or impressed if they are able to collect 3,200 signatures," Nguyen said. "But that doesn't mean we aren't taking it seriously. I'm taking it more seriously than I did my 2005 campaign." Nguyen held a kick off party this month, inviting only 60 of her closest supporters, but she was pleasantly surprised when 200 people showed up, writing checks for the District 7 councilwoman's campaign. Nguyen wouldn't say how much money she has collected to date. But let's put it this way, Nguyen says she's not too worried about getting the financial backing she will need to keep her seat on the council. When asked how much money was pouring in, Nguyen wouldn't give an exact figure, but said "You will be amazed. Everyone will be shocked."
Even San Jose Councilwoman Nora Campos admits she's playing politics with the mayor when it comes to public safety. She took another shot at Mayor Chuck Reed on the eve of the city's budget vote, denouncing his plan to hire 25 more police officers. Campos is demanding the council hire 15 more officers on top of that this year. "It's fair to say that I am playing politics," Campos told a group of reporters at a press conference Monday. "Once you step into this role, it's about politics and making sure my voice is heard." Campos decided unless the city hires 40 officers this year, well, then the mayor is just not making public safety a priority in a city where the homicide count hit 36 last year (he's asking for 100 new officers by 2012). "I'm concerned the people of city of San Jose may lose faith in our great city if we continue to wait," Campos said. Councilman Pete Constant, a former police officer, came to the mayor's defense saying that Campos is proposing to add another 15 officers yet only has identified funding for 10 of those. He said that the city wouldn't have to add these new officers if the council, including Campos, had not voted to eliminate roughly 30 police positions back in 2004 (Campos claims it was only to freeze positions, not eliminate). "It's inappropriate grandstanding by one councilmember. It's not fair to the mayor and it's not fair to the rest of the council," he said.
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Speaking of Constant, a recent item in the San Jose Mercury News claimed his absence at the rainbow-flag-raising Pride ceremony at City Hall Tuesday would be "noticeable." Uh, really? Wouldn't the conservative councilman's presence at the event be far more notable? Members of the gay community think so—they said they weren't the least bit surprised that Constant, the lone Republican councilman who doesn't believe in gay marriage, wasn't planning to attend. "It would not shock us that he did not show up," said Aejaie Sellers, executive director of the Billy DeFrank LGBT Community Center. But Constant said he's misunderstood on the issue. He's not attending this year (he didn't go last year either) because he had a scheduling conflict, and it has nothing to do with how he feels about the gay community or gay marriage, Constant says. He noted that he did sign the proclamation recognizing June as Gay Pride month. "If I had advance notice, I would have been there," Constant says of the Pride ceremony. See you next year!
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