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Deaf, Dumb, Blind: The governator hears students about as well as the dummy with the tie.

The Fly

Gonzo's Lost Speech

Eons from now, when archaeologists are pouring over relics of San Jose city government, they'll wonder what happened to the second half of Mayor Ron Gonzales' Jan. 28 State of the City speech. Gonzales, of course, was unable to finish after suffering a stroke onstage. Mayoral spokesman David Vossbrink says it's unlikely Gonzales will try to finish his speech when he leaves the hospital. So, with all due respect to our bedridden leader, here's a quick rundown of what the public and future tomb raiders missed: The city has helped 400 teachers relocate to San Jose. The city has opened 13 preschool centers. San Jose is still a safe city, but too many workers waste time in traffic. The economy is improving, but local governments are still broke. The government will not give up; it will help your children succeed. A bioscience incubator is under construction in San Jose. It will help patients recover from illness and bring jobs to San Jose. The mayor wants to lure 14 more bioscience companies to the city over the next two years. The mayor intends to double the size of the Convention Center by building a 150,000-square-foot "temporary" structure. He also wants to build 3,000 more homes downtown, adding to the 5,000 constructed over the past eight years. He'll help expand the San Jose Museum of Art by moving it into the old main library. He'll expand the "vehicle spotter" program, which removed abandoned cars from roadways. He will work with high schools to improve drop-out rates. There are still many serious challenges, which Gonzales was prepared to face. Together, everyone can work for the next generation. The state of the city is bright. Thank you and good night.

Mayor May Not

San Jose residents fretting over the well being of their top leader post-stroke can settle down. According to the mayor's own staff members, no one is apparently relying on his blood supply to the brain. Gonzales was never in charge of his faculties or the city to begin with. Which probably explains why his top aide didn't freak when the stroke occurred. The San Francisco Chronicle paraphrased Gonzales' chief staffer, Rebecca Dishotski, responding, "she had noticed the mayor sweating and stumbling over his words during his speech--but she did not believe that was unusual." In another article, Dishotski comforted concerned citizens, noting that everything will be fine while Gonzo is fixed up. "The city manager runs the city," she informed the Chronicle, "so nothing has changed in that regard."

Gas Fumes

This month's issue of Harper's Magazine undoubtedly triggered more than one exasperated sigh from readers with a preference for clean air. In the issue, the magazine reprinted a short advertisement by an Alaskan Hummer dealership that ecstatically informed customers that they, too, could take advantage of a loophole in tax law that would allow the purchase of a brand-new Hummer and write off the gas guzzler. The law was ostensibly put in place to ease the tax burden on small businesses in need of large equipment. Farmers, for instance. Hummers slide through the loophole because they weigh more than the 6,000-pound "luxury car limit," a limit initially put in place to ward off such loopholes. The only problem is, the SUV market has exploded, and there are now no fewer than 60 luxury SUVs that weigh more than the 6,000-pound threshold and, by definition, qualify for the deduction. (The Bush administration actually wants to accelerate the tax break over one year as opposed to the current three-year policy.) The Fly learned, however, that if a California assemblymember from Marin County gets his way, the tax break for Hummer enthusiasts could be reversed. In a bill on the Assembly floor slated for debate week, Assemblymember Joe Nation proposed that California opt out of the federal pro-exhaust discount and, instead, give the tax break to businesses purchasing fuel-efficient vehicles. A bold move, though apparently not a party line issue. Indeed, New York and Oregon Republicans have supported similar bills. But was it embraced? The first time around, Nation says, the bill was tabled in committee because Republicans viewed it as a tax increase. Nation then reworked the bill so the tax benefit would be applied to fuel-efficient vehicles. Before the vote, he was confident he would get enough votes this year. "Motorcar dealers have to fight against the bill," Nation tells the Fly when asked to size up the opposition. "They say we shouldn't be setting policies that steer people toward buying certain vehicles. But isn't that exactly what the current law does?" The motor dealers, though, apparently got their way in the end. The anti-Hummer bill didn't have the horsepower to pass.

Students Protest, Nothing Changes

They banged on an oversized water bottle. They chanted "Educate don't terminate." They held up traffic at Third and San Carlos streets for about three minutes. They performed a skit featuring students who brushed away an odd-looking replica of the governator. "Nothing is stronger than the word of the people," one of the protesters opined at the end of the Jan. 29 protest. Nothing, that is, except our muscleman-in-chief's willpower. His $150 million midyear education cuts are still in effect, including a $15.7 million slash in college-prep counseling targeted toward minorities. A majority of last week's protesters were Latino, black or Asian. We asked for comment, but Arnie's staff blew us off. Protest organizers also haven't heard from him. "We didn't really expect a response," says Lisa Castellanos, a member of Californians for Justice.

Courts Stay Clear

Rumors that Santa Clara Superior Courts will have to shut down one day a week have proved to be just that: rumors. According to court spokeswoman Debra Faraone Hodges, Superior Court has indeed taken a massive budget hit. Instead of closing early once a week, as San Francisco Superior Court had, the courts have canceled travel for staff and instituted a wage and hiring freeze. Judges have voluntarily curtailed travel. San Francisco courts closed early Wednesdays until Ronald George, chief justice of California, issued guidelines in November frowning upon early closures.

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From the February 5-11, 2004 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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

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