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December 21-27, 2005

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Silicon Valley News Notes

Walker: The Aftermath

The day Michael Walker was declared not guilty in the shooting death of Rudy Cardenas, Cardenas' daughter Regina received more of the same emails she had been getting throughout the trial. Here's a sample: "rudy is nothing more than another piece of drug dealing piece of shit gangster who got shot running from the law. He got what he had coming." Signed "justice," with a P.S. that read "so long rudy may u rot in hell!!!!" Nasty stuff, but for Regina and her family, nothing was more shocking then the verdict itself. The moment the "not guilty" was delivered, Regina stormed out of the sixth floor courtroom; family members and supporters followed, some almost doubled over as if they'd been punched in the gut. The court clerk's words had taken the air out of the room. In the tightly packed elevator, as the shock started to form into fire, it was only the mantra of Rudy's nephew Jesse Villarreal that was repeatedly heard: "Let's not stoop to their level, we're better than them." Once outside the courtroom, as family members and supporters consoled each other, Walker's attorney, Craig Brown, came out to give his post-game interviews to the media. Protesters surrounded Brown in an attempt to drown out his words. At one point, over a dozen bailiffs were brought out of the courtroom to push back the angry crowd. Tuesday evening, over 60 people came to a candlelight vigil at the site of Cardenas' killing at the corner of Fourth and St. James. People said they were there to mourn not only the death of Rudy but also the year-and-a-half legal battle that ended as unexpectedly as the shooting itself. Despite what you may have read, take it from Fly that no one in the Cardenas clan saw this verdict coming. And for the revolutionary-chic skeptics who said that of course an officer would never get convicted despite overwhelming evidence, you weren't in the courtroom for eight weeks.

Fault Lines

Thought the Earthquakes debacle couldn't get any worse? Well, it can still get weirder, that's for sure. Last Friday, the Oakland A's said they are interested in purchasing a Major League Soccer franchise if and when MLS decides to grant an expansion franchise to the city of San Jose in the near future. Folks are already grumbling about how that affects the Baseball San Jose effort. Here's the $64,000 question: does this whole wretched saga of how we lost the Quakes to Houston have any winners at all? It's certainly not Ron Gonzales, whose administration chased his baseball pipe dream while letting a major-league team they already had slip away. It's not the team itself, which is moving to a city that is no more ready for it than San Jose was. And it's not Major League Soccer, which is trying to spin this into a Prodigal Son story where the Earthquakes will rise again here as an expansion team in 2007. During a conference call last week, MLS commissioner Don Garber pulled out the Cleveland Browns, of all things, as an example of how this could work: "This is similar to the NFL situation when the Cleveland Browns moved to Baltimore and subsequently returned to the city a number of years later into a new football stadium," he said. He also said the fact that "the Earthquakes' name, the colors, the competitive records, and all other things related to the team have been retained by MLS for this future expansion team" was proof of their commitment to San Jose.

Fly Redux

David Ginsborg felt he hadn't gotten a fair shake in Fly's piece about the county assessor race last week, so he and Larry Stone came by the Metro office last week to buzz about our buzz. Ginsborg felt "couple of hours" should have been more like "couple of minutes" regarding our characterization of how long he's willing to let his role as Stone's campaign assistant mingle with his work as deputy assessor. Ginsborg says he's vigilant about not abusing county time, and Stone was there to confirm that he signs vacation slips for any time Ginsborg uses for politics during business hours. The deputy assessor says he gives taxpayers 50-to-60-hour workweeks and double-dipping is just not like him. "That's not my ethic," he says. "That's not who I am."

The Holiday Winner Is ...

On Fly's quest for the coolest holiday 'hoods, we came across lots of lights and chubby Santa figures that made us turn our heads and go, "Aw, that's nice." But we were really hoping to be more surprised. That's when we slammed our brakes in front of an awesome sight on Glen Eyrie, a windy dark way in Willow Glen. Four massive reindeer made of 7,500 white lights stood almost as tall as the houses behind them and stretched across half a block. They were anchored to an equally large aluminum sleigh with a string of colorful bulbs. So we gathered our composure and pulled over (luckily there was no traffic behind us; neighbors say they've heard at least one rear-ender), and paid a visit to the first house. Stephen Anderson and John Montgomery (the guy from next door) welcomed us in. They said they got courageous this year and decided to build something huge, even though neither of them had any kind of construction experience. They formed the reindeer with wooden 4-by-4s, chicken wire and weed fabric. Now people in town talk about the "30-feet-tall" reindeer, even though they're actually 16 feet tall, Stephen and John point out, chuckling. The joint effort has gotten more attention than they expected, and it's a good thing the whole neighborhood seems to be involved (remember the Monte Sereno Grinch that got national media coverage). As it turns out, Glen Eyrie and the streets connected to it make up what some claim to be the original Christmas Tree Lane. Every year, since at least the 1950s, residents decorate each of their front lawns with a small fir tree. The coordinated system involves appointing block captains and ordering truckloads of trees to create an effect that is almost as breathtaking as the reindeer. We felt like we were driving through a luminescent maze. Aw.

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