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July 4-10, 2007

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Silicon Valley News Notes

Now That's Entertainment

"Chuck Reed Won--Bitches." The slide wasn't just one more naughty prop at last week's Monday Night Live, it was also the unofficial theme of the evening. San Jose Stage Company has turned this event into the alpha and omega of Silicon Valley political theater over the last 14 years--hell, getting roasted there was the best thing that happened to Cindy Chavez's career all year--but the backstage story has always been the theater group's sheer brilliance in using it to promote themselves with the local politigencia. This year, it was center stage. The troupe, which writes and performs the bulk of the material with a lot of help from insiders and frustrated City Hall thespians, centered the entire opening monologue around its Reed love fest, which apparently runs so deep it requires Kevin Blackton in a thong to express. Later, during the "Weeknight Update" sketch, Lisa Recker laid all the cards on the table with a shout-out to Reed's support for the new building that tops San Jose Stage's want list. Subtle? No. Effective? Probably, especially when the sketches were killing, like the "Update" bits at the expense of failed District Six candidate Hon Lien, who Reed endorsed, it was theorized, because a carbo-loading haze during late-night Bonanza reruns led him to believe he was endorsing Hop Sing. Or the Sopranos parody portraying Pat Dando as a would-be stripper at the Bada Bing and featuring a freshly shorn Pete Constant as Uncle Junior, stumbling around in a bathrobe holding a banana. In other news, may we suggest to Chief Rob Davis that he seriously consider the idea that downtown entertainment-zone enforcement be renamed Operation You Kids Get Off My Lawn.

I Shall Be Press Released

Monday Night Live milked some material out of Vice Mayor Dave Cortese's Constant Publicity Blitz Tour 2007. We think it's funny that everyone seems to have forgotten it's merely a sequel to Constant Publicity Blitz 2006. Seriously, the guy's been campaigning almost continuously for the past four years, and certain people just noticed that he sends out a lot of press releases? "David's trying to get all the ink he can get," pointed out one source, who says that if Cortese hopes to land Pete McHugh's county supe seat (which won't be empty until 2009), he needs to drastically up his profile in Milpitas and Sunnyvale. But not everyone is calling it grandstanding. Political hound Jay Rosenthal says Cortese has just been flourishing under the new Reed administration. "Ron Gonzales didn't like to share the spotlight," Rosenthal told Fly. "I think you see Dave bringing things forward that have been important to him for a long time ... the environment in City Hall is more conducive now."

Green for Green

Despite failing to even attempt to compete with the oversized checkbook of everyone else there, Fly found itself at an intimate presidential fundraiser for John Edwards hosted by Steve and Michele Kirsch. Bill Clinton's courting of Silicon Valley's elite having gone down as a key factor in both of his successful runs, the Kirsch's support of former Sen. Edwards looms large. Why? Steve Kirsch has been years ahead of other Silicon Valley kingmakers on the environment, and light years ahead on global warming. Prior to Edwards' arrival at his Los Altos home, Kirsch, the successful serial entrepreneur currently behind antispam software firm Abaca, gave the assembled two dozen or so a passionate "everything you need to know about global warming in 15 minutes" talk, replete with book recommendations. When Edwards spoke, more than half the questions targeted the environment. The depth of the candidate's answers clearly impressed the room, as attendees coughed up tens of thousands.

More Sanctuary Semantics

Metro wrote last week about how cities are co-opting the word "sanctuary" for nefarious political purposes, but they're not the only ones. A congregation of Bay Area religious leaders concerned about immigration reform has launched a campaign called the "New Sanctuary Movement," which holds that "in the end, God does not care about right documentation." It may sound like churches and temples will be opening their doors to fugitive immigrants--after all, would the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) really risk the political fallout of intruding on a holy place? But things aren't likely to get that far, because the new "movement" is really just a public relations crusade to highlight a few stories of immigrant families being torn apart by deportation. For a handful of individuals who pass the sympathy test and are willing to become poster people, the program could mean financial aid, shelter, legal assistance and moral support to help deal with (and fight) the whole scary deportation process. However, anyone with a blemish on his or her record need not apply. "We're not going to work with every immigrant family," San Jose Rev. John Freesemann admits. "Frankly, there are some [criminals] that should be deported." So far, 26 religious and secular organizations in the South Bay have joined the "New Sanctuary" bandwagon, each committing to openly support immigration reform. No local families have come forward yet. Richard Hobbs, director of the Santa Clara County Human Relations Commission, is volunteering his legal expertise to help the new group. He says the requirement that undocumented immigrants make their cases and names public "could definitely be a deterrent. They have to be relatively bold and courageous to do that." Freesemann argues that the point of the sanctuary movement is to shed light on the negative impacts of current immigration law. "The movement is not primarily about that family," he says. "It's about the system. These stories are proof of the broken system."

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