Silicon Valley News Notes
Cop vs. Cop
Downtown celebrated the opening of the Flames restaurant this week at the base of the Fourth Street Parking Garage, across from the MLK library. After nearly a half-decade of screwing around with city permits and such, the new coffee shop is welcome news to downtowners who have long complained about the scarcity of breakfast options and late-night dining. Operated by the Tsigaris family—cousins Nick and Nick and their dads/uncles Louis, Pete and Gus—Flames' opening also marks the return to downtown of an icon, veteran maitre'd Rick Fleming, who seated diners for 37 years at Original Joes. As city notables tossed back martinis and nibbled on smoked salmon, shrimp and skewered meats last Friday afternoon for a pre-opening reception, POA leader Bobby Lopez confidently predicted a successful outcome to the police contract impasse in arbitration. He turned his back on Pete Constant when the former cop and City Councilman strode in. Was Lopez just reaching for a jumbo shrimp? "They're not happy with me these days," Constant observed, though he thinks that in these economic times, the union should take the 5.5 percent raise the city offered and run to the bank.
SAN JOSE POLICE welcomed the nightclub WET to town by closing the SOFA DISTRICT, four blocks of it, from Reed to San Carlos streets between Market and Second. The well-attended opening, possibly a downtown record-setter for a new club, drew lines nearly a block long, including many clubbers who couldn't make it past the velvet rope to the sold-out venue. Wet features a live shark aquarium and falling water features in the old deco-era STUDIO movie theater, which previously housed POLLY ESTHER'S, CABANA and GLO. The large sucking sound echoing through the empty street was from precious tax dollars being spent to supervise a crowd that turned out to be well behaved, as club security handled patrons capably. Nonetheless, at least a dozen cruisers stacked up on three sides of the intersection. Clumps of police stood on two corners. Officers in commando outfits adopted aggressive, wide stances in the middle of First Street, with thumbs in their belts and hands on their service revolvers. A PD videographer filmed patrons on the sidewalk outside the club. This was all much ado about NOTHING. We repeat, nothing happened. Calls to the SJPD press office and downtown entertainment zone supervisor BRIAN KNEIS yielded no information other than a we'll-get-back-to-you.
Cover Your Glass
San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed had to remove his foot from his mouth Friday night in order to make the welcoming speech at the "Glass Ceiling" event sponsored by the Latina Coalition of Silicon Valley. The event (which honored Olga Martin Steele, CEO of the Santa Clara Valley Water District) came at the end of a week when Reed had some Latino (and Latina) leaders scratching their heads. A recent Merc article noting that San Jose has a higher rate of public intoxication arrests than other California cities pointed out that about half of those arrested were Hispanic. In the article, Reed responded to this statistic by saying it seemed to be a "socioeconomic problem." This raised eyebrows among some Hispanics who wondered what the mayor meant by that remark. "We don't want to jump to conclusions that he is stereotyping all Latinos," said Andrea Flores Shelton, president of the Latina Coalition. "We just want to hear his explanation for why he thinks socioeconomics had something to do with it." Oops, first Reed wrestled with the Vietnamese, and now he's in hot water with the Hispanic community? Shelton has contacted the mayor's office and asked to schedule a meeting next week to ask him to explain what he meant. "We wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt," she says.