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Chew on This

Political gadfly BILL CHEW thought he had the scoop of the new year. Chew called Fly 10 days ago to say that former San Jose Councilwoman PAT DANDO had announced her run for mayor on Chew's weekly political talk show, which tapes on Friday afternoon but runs on public-access television Monday evenings. What's more, Chew informed us with glee, Dando had made her announcement unsolicited. She simply couldn't find a better avenue than his show to say she wanted to be SJ's mayor. So it was a rather restless half-hour as Fly watched for Dando to break the news. Sure enough, after speaking at length on Chew's show, Neighbornet, about a number of issues, Dando turned her attention to the mayor's race. But instead of announcing, Dando said the mayor's race was "one of the options" she was considering. What gives? Chew, who is best known for the white cowboy suit and roller skates he dons during council meetings, says he goofed. He thought he heard Dando say she was in, then watched in disbelief when she said she might run. "I guess I got a little ahead of myself," the sheepish Chew says. He vows to take the old-fashioned approach to Neighbornet guests in the future by actually listening to what they have to say.

Showstopper

Ever heard of a comedy permit? Neither did JUDY HACKETT, owner of Espresso Garden Cafe in San Jose, when she received a call in the middle of the night from a man saying he was from the city's code enforcement department. That night, Jan. 11, the cafe held a live comedy show with theatrical performer TOM ROPER as the headliner. The caller seemed to be aware of this when he informed Hackett that live comedy required a $135 permit. "You've got to be kidding me!' Hackett replied. As ridiculous as it sounded, she feared a run-in with the city and decided to cancel the show. Unfortunately, Roper didn't receive Hackett's message in time and arrived at the venue to do his show, only to find a sign on the locked door that his gig was canceled. The artist waited in the parking lot to share the news with 25 unsuspecting guests. The next day, Roper made a few calls to the city and confirmed his suspicions with the real code enforcement department—there is no such thing as a comedy permit. "I don't think the city ever thought of anything like that," says inspector GARRY McLEOD. "I've seen a lot of strange things, but this sounds wacko to me." Mcleod thinks the call may have been a personal attack on the artist. Roper, who performs at the cafe about once a month, wonders if he has enemies in the comedy industry willing to stoop to this level. When asked if he saw any humor in the incident, Roper replied with a stern, "No."

Gonzales II

Add BETH GONZALES to the growing list of candidates running for the council seat vacated by TERRY GREGORY, who resigned Jan. 18 after a well-publicized wrestling match with the city and state's ethics codes. An East Side high school teacher for two decades, Gonzales has never run for political office but arrives with the blessings of former Mayor SUSAN HAMMER and District 9 Councilwoman JUDY CHIRCO, with whom she's worked on children's issues. Gonzales is expected to campaign on a clean government platform in light of Gregory's transgressions. What about voters who might see an English teacher as naive and unprepared for nasty political battles? Her No. 1 ally at the moment, political strategist BARRY BARNES, who ran Chirco and Councilwoman LINDA LEZOTTE's campaigns, says Gonzales earned her battle scars in the classroom. "That's not a place where timid people survive," Barnes says. Gonzales' saving grace is that she's unrelated to SJ's current sitting mayor, who has overseen an administration mired in fingerpointing and ethical conundrums. Says Gonzales, "I'm excited."

The Counter-Counter Inauguration

Last Thursday, at noon, about 150 students gathered expectantly at Stanford University's White Plaza. The gathering was billed as a "sweeping collaboration" and was designated as a counter-inauguration rally. (On the other side of the continent, of course, President Bush was busy being sworn in for a second term). "There's hope because there is all of us standing here," proclaimed a speaker, trying to pep up the polite crowd. "We have more anger than they do ... because we are pissed off." Those somewhat less angry were sitting about 100 feet away, past a grassy patch of green space, contentedly eating their lunch on the patio of the university's student union. And what were their politics? Why, exactly, weren't they raising the banner of resistance with their fellow students at the White Plaza? "I agree with them ideologically," admitted KEVIN SCOTT, an undergraduate economic and history major. "I'm glad they're doing it, but I don't feel I need to be a part of it. Expressing outrage doesn't affect change." Meanwhile, MOULAYE DIARRA, a 51-year-old visiting scholar from Mali, focused on a plastic plate loaded with chicken and broccoli. He didn't even know what the rally was about. "I don't like politics," he said. "If they're against killing, then I agree." A staffer at the university's School of Medicine also concurred with the rally's motivations. "I think it's great," he offered. He proudly showed off his shirt. "I'm wearing black today, as a matter of fact." He compared today's political crisis to the French Revolution, but when asked his name, he clammed up. "I want my privacy," he insisted. "I don't know you." GERALD COMMISSIONG, a management science major from Canada, wasn't as shy. "I personally don't think it makes much sense to protest an inauguration," he said. "Protesting this is pointless. What they should be doing is regrouping." Like Commissiong, 24-year-old KENNETH KOO also hailed from Canada. A graduate religious studies student who's exploring strands of Buddhist thought for his thesis, Koo could only shrug his shoulders at U.S. politics. "The rally is important," Koo said. "Whether I like it or not, the United States is on top of the world. But, in the end, all I'm hoping for is to graduate and go back to my country where things are better."


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From the January 26-February 1, 2005 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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