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Stammer Masters

The giddiness generated by the national media spotlight glaring on San Jose during the NHL all-star scramble last weekend left Mayor Susan Hammer looking a bit like a deer caught in the headlights. While fielding torrents of media inquiries before the game, madam mayor was doing her best to puff up the city when KTVU's sports anchor asked her how the game and all the attention would really benefit San Jose. Hammer's stammer: "It lets the world know that we have the best Sharks fans in the world," she gushed as puzzled news anchor Dennis Richmond quickly changed the subject. ... A cute report by KRON reporter Karl Sonkin discovered that even locals had trouble finding their way in San Jose during the all-star gala. A camera caught a disoriented Margie Fernandes standing in front of the Arena asking a bystander, "Is this Autumn Street?" The regular street sign was covered by a banner temporarily re-naming the drag "NHL All-Star Way." ... San Jose cops greeted scores of hockey tourists with a slapshot of their own, hawking $55 jaywalking tickets like they were game programs. So much for looking cool in the spotlight.

Club Comfort

After reading Metro's article ("Nice Tie, Sucker" Dec. 5, 1996) about a Korean nightclub in Sunnyvale, San Jose vice cop Gordy Bowen called the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. The day before, Dae Sok "Simon" Kang had applied for an entertainment permit to operate a karaoke club called Seoul, Seoul in the old Dimensions Nightclub in downtown San Jose. However, investigators grew suspicious when they found photos of Sang Ye Han, the owner of the Sunnyvale comfort club OK Yeo Bong (also called Bernardo's), plastered on the walls of the South First Street club. As it turns out, says ABC investigator Chris O'Hanlon, Han is a partner in Imax Corporation, which O'Hanlon calls a "hidden owner" of the new nightclub. Last month the ABC suspended OK Yeo Bong's liquor license for 20 days. The upscale club in Sunnyvale caters to Korean businessmen who, for a price, are accompanied by pretty girls while they drink. The ABC is investigating Seoul's liquor license for false ownership. In the meantime, San Jose police are withholding the club's entertainment permit pending the results.

Right of Way

San Jose police recently arrested government iconoclast Greg Nichols for resisting arrest and trespassing on police property while taking Polaroids of SJ cops' personal cars parked inside the police compound on Mission Street on a lawn area--an apparent violation of the city's lawn parking ordinance. Nichols says he's being framed by the cops, who are, in his words, "in heavy coverup mode." ... Nichols belongs to a group of right-wing eggheads called the Puget's Sound Agricultural Society, whose views of modern government are, to put it charitably, unconventional (see "Right-Wing Dropouts," March 14, 1996) Nichols claims he was outside the compound when he took the photos and therefore wasn't trespassing. Police spokesman Louis Quezada, however, disagrees and adds that parking enforcers do ticket illegally parked vehicles, even those owned by cops. The punch line: When they first detained Nichols, police ran a check on his drivers license and discovered it had been suspended. After Nichols was released, a cop watched as Nichols got in a car and drove away. He was promptly pulled over and cited for driving with a suspended license.

Free Agent

In the category of shrewd off-season pickups, during the winter recess county supervisor and board chairman Jim Beall welcomed longtime state legislative aide Rachel Richman as his new chief of staff. For more than a decade, Richman served as the right-hand gal to Assemblyman Tom Bates (D-Berkeley) and his chief of staff, Dion Aroner. Aroner, Bates' anointed successor, has been tapped by Speaker Cruz Bustamante to lead the Human Services Committee, which will be in charge of handling welfare reform, a hot topic for counties like Santa Clara. ... A source tells Eye that Beall and Supervisor Blanca Alvarado were all smiles and banter at the state of the county speech last week, perhaps signaling an end to their rumored feud. According to the scuttlebutt, Alvarado hit the roof a couple of months ago when Beall went against her and voted to keep Reid-Hillview Airport open. But Sylvia Gallegos, Alvarado's chief of staff, dismisses it as idle gossip. "They disagreed on the matter, but they didn't have a falling out," Gallegos assured Eye. "That was a fabrication of the press more than anything else." ... Beall made Alvarado head of the Children and Families Committee, although heading a committee isn't a unique honor. All members of the board will chair one committee. Even the vacant District 1 seat was appointed chair--no pun intended--of the Housing, Land Use, Environment and Transportation Committee.

Out of the Inn

The convention business is so good these days, says Rotary Club director John Popovich, that nobody else in the downtown wants to host the club's Wednesday meetings. Mid-week is power-convention time, and no hotels were willing to give up 50 days a year to the Rotarians. So this month, breaking 20 years of tradition, the club held its first meeting at the parking-friendly Italian Gardens Restaurant, co-owned by Murphy Sabatino, the mastermind behind San Jose's term-limits law. ... Eye notes that in all Redevelopment's giveaways, agency officials such as Rotarian Frank Taylor have never had the foresight to ask developers for a facility for community groups. The taxpayer-subsidized Hilton, Hyatt, Fairmont, Convention Center and Arena were all free to give priority to tourists and send the locals packing.

Go 'Niners

Also under Eye's gaze this week: The Merc showed its priorities with headlines screaming about the surprise resignation of 49ers coach George Seifert. A small blurb next to the Seifert story, below the fold, quietly announced, "Universe is dying." ... Just as long as it's not before the 49ers win their next Super Bowl, OK?

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From the January 23-29, 1997 issue of Metro

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