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September 5-11, 2007

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Silicon Valley News Notes

Chued Up

In case you care about what keeps San Jose City Councilman Kansen Chu up late at night, it's parks, schools and retail projects in North San Jose. That's why the political novice is sticking to his campaign promise and recently created a task force to help guide the future north San Jose vision, a long-term plan for new neighborhoods and businesses in north San Jose. And who can blame Chu if he's been sweating it a little? Just a couple of weeks ago, the council put the heat on him, delaying its vote on a 1,900-unit development so Chu could have more time to quarterback the plan with his constituents. Still, many of his John Q. Publics weren't happy when he came back to the next meeting and led the council in approving the project last week, which notched the temperature up even further. Before he gets baked by those who can't be convinced that north San Jose is ready for sizable housing developments like this one, Chu's hoping for some cool-headed discussion of how the area can meet the need for schools, fire stations and parks as it's redeveloped. The task force has already approved the city's master plan for parks in north San Jose. Cary Chien, public policy director for Chu's office, says the group will next tackle the ongoing concern over whether there will be enough schools to accommodate the anticipated 32,000 residential units by 2030. "Kansen is very concerned about schools in north San Jose going forward," Chien said. "When all of this is said and done, are we going to have enough schools?"

Area 51, Meet Table 36

It's no surprise that the Bay Area UFO Expo, which took place in San Jose the weekend before last, revels in taboo topics, but the Mystery of Table 36 was starting to be too much even for us. In between time spent handling the "Starchild" skull (relax, it was a replica), browsing the merch (a veritable DVD and book library of the weird) and getting our aura pictures taken, Fly managed to catch a couple of interesting lectures, the most fascinating of which was the tail end of Ralph Ring's talk on teleportation. When Fly arrived, Ring was giving a vague description of Otis T. Carr's X1 aircraft, which he says is propelled by an electromagnetic field created by shooting a laser (of an indeterminate variety) at a 30-pound crystal. Ring said that the craft, which was originally built in the '50s, can travel anywhere in the universe, although his nebulous description of the nature of the travel made it sound like only the human mind actually makes the journey. So far it was better than an X-Files rerun, but Ring ran out of time. He mentioned that more information was available at "Table 36" in the merch room, but to Fly's surprise, no such table seemed to exist. None of the other vendors could work out where it might be, and none of the tables displayed anything about the X1 spacecraft or teleportation. Wandering aimlessly around the halls, Fly spotted Ring walking toward the merch room with an entourage, which we giddily joined. And right there in the middle of the room, where it hadn't been less than two minutes ago, was Table 36. It was as if it just ... nah, couldn't be.

Pit Stop

It seems pit bulls are always picked on, often put at the center of bad press exposing them for one attack or another. But Santa Clara County officials swear they aren't targeting pit bulls with their new program that's meant to curb the pit bull population. Pit bull owners can now have their pups fixed for free; the county says it will now cover the cost to spay and neuter pit bulls at select veterinarian locations. Greg Van Wassenhove, county agriculture and environmental management director, tells The Fly that the program is needed to reduce the number of pit bulls that are being put to sleep at the county-run San Martin Animal Shelter. Pit bulls are by far the most prevalent pups found at the shelter, accounting for 20 percent of all dogs that are housed there. They are also the type of breed most often put to sleep at San Martin, where roughly 35 percent of dogs euthanized are pit bulls. "It is a popular breed out there and needs focused attention," Van Wassenhove said. Those statistics were enough to convince the county Board of Supervisors to allocate $10,000 this year for the program, which is enough money to cover the cost of about 200 surgeries. The county says it will pay the full cost of neutering male pit bulls of any age, and spaying female pit bulls under 6 months old. The county will only pay $100 of the cost to spay female pit bulls over the age of 6 months, because "it's a more expensive surgery for females," Van Wassenhove said.

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