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Silicon Valley News Notes

The White Russians Are Coming

The Caravan Lounge has poured strong drinks on South Almaden Avenue in downtown San Jose for at least 45 years, but ever since current property owners Jan Chargin and Lynn M. Bohnen asked the Redevelopment Agency in 2007 to buy the building, rumors have run rampant about what would finally happen to the classic dive bar. At press time, the San Jose City Council was preparing to vote on whether the RDA should fork over $1,120,000 for the property, plus an extra $187,000 in "relocation" costs to current Caravan operator, George Rich.

The Merc's Internal Affairs team of Denis Theriault and John Woolfolk attempted some snarky commentary on the situation last Sunday, referring to the place as, "dingy, punky, (puky?)," and lamenting the news for "fans of head-splitting music and watered-down White Russians." That last zinger irked every Caravan employee, since the place prides itself on pouring honest drinks. None of them seemed to be the least bit concerned about the pending sale and subsequent demolition of the place. Instead, tempers exploded and feelings were hurt over the Merc's reportage from the White Russian front. Bartenders and barflies alike scribbled down letters and fired them off to the paper, demanding apologies and retractions over the watered-down comment. As Fly send this to the impatient editor, the Redevelopment Agency agenda for Aug. 25 seems to have been mysteriously amended sometime over the weekend, with the RDA recommending that its original plan to buy the building be dropped.

Figment of an Obscene Imagination?

It appears that San Jose's longtime political-religious leader Larry Pegram is now recruiting residents to police the city's libraries for people viewing porn on computers. In an email sent out Aug. 11, Pegram asks for volunteers to join a group he calls "Library Watch," whose mission is described thusly: "observe and report adults and children watching obscene and pornographic content on the screens in the branches." Fly isn't exactly sure whom they are reporting to, since Pegram didn't return phone calls. But it doesn't end there. Pegram's Values Advocacy Group also notes that it has teamed up with local LDS churches to try and get an initiative on the 2010 ballot, asking voters to do what councilmembers wouldn't—install porn filters at the city's libraries. The council in April shot down an anti-porn proposal brought forward by Councilmember Pete Constant. The plan was to secure city libraries with Internet porn filtering. Pegram's group offered $40,000 to help the city pay for the installation at the time. The issue resurfaced again this month when the VAC asked people to donate their time and money to help get an initiative to qualify for the ballot. They have already started drafting the ballot language, and they are planning to commission a poll to determine how best to sell this concept to the voters. That poll will cost about $40 grand. Apparently ignoring the fact that budget troubles are forcing children's' services to be decimated, Pegram's group claims to believe that this is money well spent. "The Initiative would protect children from pornographic and obscene images on the computers in the San Jose Public Libraries," the email reads. Local librarians insist it's a problem that doesn't exist.


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