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[whitespace] David Maund Can You Measure Up? David Maund is playing in D minor--the saddest of all keys, according to Spinal Tap--since the passage of the new downtown ordinances


Tape Measures R Us

This week's investment tip? Buy stock in tape measures.

That is the word from performer David Maund, who thinks we are going to need lots of them to keep up downtown's newly passed ordinances, which say performers, political tablers and panhandlers must keep 14 feet away from building entrances, drinking fountains, kiosks, telephones, midblock crosswalks and fences.

"What is this 14 feet-schmeet, anyway, please? As a very patriotic person, I'm worried about my right to express myself in public places. Stores and offices downtown are free to solicit people from their windows, so why can't those of us who are performing?" said Maund, who likes to plays cello outside Logos and the Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting Co., but prefers the exterior of the Cooper House for works involving flute or recorder.

And Maund isn't buying this stuff about the all-volunteer Downtown Commission hoping to exempt "traditional performance places" from the ordinances, either.

"My traditional place may not be another performer's traditional place," he says. "Places vary in their desirability, and if they limit performing to just a few spots, the situation will become intense. Plus, it's hard to imagine that any of these ordinances will hold up in court."

Meanwhile, Bubble Man Tom Noddy is "disappointed that the council was in such a hurry. They didn't take the time to do it right. Fifteen years ago, the city had a similar panic attack, but instead of taking drastic measures, they went with the street performers' voluntary guidelines."

The 14-feet rule reduces to a 2-foot strip the area where performers can play and people can do political tabling, which, as Noddy explains it, will create messy feng shui.

"Forcing a really good act to the edge of the road means the crowd will block the street. Forcing a really bad act to the edge means the act will be singing into your shop. Often playing against the store is the best space, because passersby not only notice your act, but the stuff in the store window behind it. And it's no fun playing up against the traffic or in close quarters with fellow performers."

Noddy recalled that "prior to passing the ordinances Councilmember Scott Kennedy said, 'This doesn't do it; it's blunt, but it sends a message.' But what if the message is the wrong one?" Noddy said. "What if the city, in trying to look tough, attracts a lot of badasses ready for a fight? And what about the cops stuck dealing with this mess? There's an assumption that if you stand up to a bully, they'll back down, but you could get your butt kicked."

Which leaves Nüz wondering why, if it's just a matter of unblocking flow, the city didn't hire a feng shui expert rather than rush to pass ordinances that don't address drugs, gangs, violence and harassment--the real problems downtown.

The Downtown Commission discusses exemptions Aug. 30, 8:30-10:30am, City Council chambers.

Rotkin Watch 2

If name recognition is key to getting elected, then Aldo Giacchino has a flying start. A former city planner, Giacchino is but one of a dozen candidates vying for three City Council seats. But the political newcomer created a major buzz last week, when along with filing his papers, he claimed Mike Rotkin and Cynthia Mathews don't qualify to run.

Giacchino's argument is based on the city charter, which states that candidates are ineligible to run for re-election within two years of the second consecutive term they served. And since Rotkin and Mathews last served on the council on Nov. 28, 2000, it follows that they don't qualify until three weeks after the election, Giacchino says.

"There are rumblings that the two-year clause was meant to be generic, rather than two times 365 days. But that kind of arrogance is exactly what has made me determined to run, though I'm not a Republican or a law-and-order kind of guy," says Giacchino. "I think it's a gross abuse by the city of their duty to enforce the election laws, which need to be closely adhered to, otherwise you'll get a Florida-type situation."

Meanwhile, political consultant Jennifer Bragar, who widely emailed Giacchino's arguments last week, denied being his campaign manager.

"Aldo and I don't have anything official set up, and I'm not opposing anyone's candidacy. I have a good relationship with Mike and I've worked on women's issues with Cynthia. My point is that elections are such an important part of the democratic process that the rules and language should be clear. How many people were discouraged from running because they thought Mike and Cynthia were eligible?"

Indeed, aside from Councilmember Tim Fitzmaurice, Rotkin and Mathews are the only candidates with political experience, and--you guessed it--name recognition.

City Attorney John Barisone says it's clear to him that the charter was intended to make sure people don't run three consecutive terms in a row.

"If you applied Giacchino principles of interpretation, then Congressmember Sam Farr would also be ineligible for re-election on Nov. 5," Barisone said.

Giacchino's legal adviser, Barney Elders, disagrees. "In 1985, when former Councilmember Joe Ghio was challenged for the same reasons, the then-city attorney only issued an opinion, so there was no legal precedent," says Elders, who dismisses as "irrelevant" the 1914 Hops vs. Poe case of alcohol licensing in Calaveras County, which focuses, he says, on "a different calendar arrangement."

More pertinent, Elders argues, is that by taking 365 days to be a year, you disqualify a candidate for an entire four-year term, which, he believes, is the charter's intent.

"It raises the need for new people. All the problems we currently have are the result of decisions made by people who've already been in office," says Elders, who will hand the case to an election specialist in the event of a lawsuit.

According to Joe Ghio, former City Attorney Neil Anderson did not clarify the charter after 1985, "because he believed it wasn't a big deal, and we were doing work on desexing the charter's language, and he didn't want to confuse the issue. Then he died at age 39, and there was an institutional memory lapse."

It's 2002 and time is of essence, says elections officer Gail Pellerin, who is moving ahead with what's been certified by the city clerk's office. "If someone has raised a legal question, then that's to be debated. But this isn't Florida; this is human political nature, the beast at its best. It's what politics is all about."

Nüz just loves juicy tips: Drop a line to 115 Cooper St, Santa Cruz, 95060, email us at , or call our hotline at 457.9000, ext 214.

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From the August 21-28, 2002 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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