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Silicon Valley News Notes

No Porno For Pyros

A fire engineer with the San Jose Fire Department, Julie La Blanc, is receiving a $200,000 settlement from the city of San Jose for emotional distress after her 9-year-old son found a pornographic magazine at the fire station where she works. Here's how it went down: On Aug. 11, 2007, La Blanc was on duty at San Jose's Station Six when her nanny brought her two children over for a visit. Unbeknownst to La Blanc, when her 9-year-old son went upstairs to use the station's bathroom, he found a porno mag. Being a 9-year-old boy, he proceeded to hide it under his clothing, take it home and stash it under his pillow. A few days later, while getting her son ready for school, La Blanc found the magazine and, Fly imagines, flipped out. Probing the matter further, she discovered a vault of sexually explicit magazines in an unassigned locker in Station Six's men's locker room. La Blanc reported both incidents to her captain, who conducted an investigation to find the person responsible for the porno hoard. According to the settlement agreement that will be brought before the City Council next Tuesday, the results of this investigation were "inconclusive." However, La Blanc says that after she complained to the captain, her fellow firefighters "shunned" her, and that one of her other co-workers "refused to transmit important information to her at the change of shift." After she found even more porno lying around (this time on a night stand), La Blanc felt compelled to quit her job and sue the city for "substantial emotional distress and disruption of her life." Under the mediation of retired Judge Alfred Chiantelli, the city decided to settle with La Blanc and her lawyers for $200,000, citing the "risks and costs inherent in litigation." A few months later, City Councilmember Pete Constant brought a bill to the council calling for porn to be banned from the city's firehouses.

Phil Bump Returns

A familiar name showed up out of the blue today, in a New York Times article looking back at the trial of the 85-year-old Anthony Marshall, who was found guilty this week of defrauding his mother, the late Brooke Astor. The article, which tells the story of the trial through the eyes of the jury, quotes one Philip Bump—the man Fly and many others believe was the poison-pen author of the now-defunct anonymous attack blog, San Jose Revealed. The Times piece recounts the deliberations that led to the conviction of Mr. Marshall in a trial that stretched out for six months. It reports that the most contentious topic was a charge that Marshall had committed grand larceny by giving himself a retroactive $1 million raise. According to the Times, it was Bump who swayed the jury toward conviction on that count: "One juror, Philip Bump, a freelance consultant for labor unions, was good at math, and helped the panel sort out the ramifications of the raise, pointing out that it was an increase of more than 200 percent at once." The article created some chatter at last Thursday's meeting of the Downtown Association. Tom McEnery, a frequent target of Bump/Revealed's nastiness, compared Bump's sudden reappearance to a game of "Where's Waldo." "It's like suddenly discovering that Rod Blogojavich is running a deli in Cupertino," he said, adding that Mr. Marshall's attorneys might be interested to learn that this key juror was "ethically challenged." San Jose Inside published a piece in late July naming Bump as the author of San Jose Revealed. A few days later, Merc columnist Scott Herhold published a painstakingly detailed piece comparing Bump's writing from his own blog with the posts on San Jose Revealed. Herhold, too, concluded that Bump was the writer. One week later, Metro published an investigative piece showing the suspiciously cozy financial relationship between Bump's employer, Working Partnerships USA and the South Bay Labor Council. The piece quoted from documents proving that the vast majority of SBLC's revenue comes directly from Working Partnerships, a tax-exempt 501(c)(3). It also quoted from an IRS code stating that "no organization may qualify for section 501(c)(3) status if a substantial part of its activities is attempting to influence legislation." The Metro piece also noted that WPUSA "receives funding from foundations such as the Packard Foundation ($50,000 in 2008), the Hewlett Foundation ($125,000 in 2005) and the Irvine Foundation, which on March 9, 2009, announced a $450,000 grant to enable WPUSA 'to facilitate participation of diverse residents in decision making on local and state budget issues and governance reform topics.'" San Jose Revealed responded to the series of articles with a snarky denial. But it went dark the following day, apparently for good. Perhaps the mathematically astute Mr. Bump didn't like the way the numbers added up.


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