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[whitespace] Robert Perez Sparring Spartans: Robert Perez is taking on San Jose State.


Public Eye

Pavement Protest

Some residents of San Jose's Spartan Keyes neighborhood are on the grassroots warpath over a grassy field. San Jose State University plans to turn Bud Winter Field, located just across from Spartan Stadium at 10th and Alma streets, into a satellite parking lot sometime this summer. Neighbors say they're fuming because the school wants to take away the field and all-weather track where they exercise and replace it with a parking lot that brings more traffic, noise and pollution to the area. ANNE PALMER, who runs Spartan Stadium, dropped the news at a Spartan Keyes Neighborhood Association meeting on Valentine's Day. Palmer mentioned the news while talking about another issue, then told neighbors that the plan they hadn't heard about was already a done deal. "We're upset in the neighborhood because we don't like the land-use decision," says ROBERT PEREZ, president of the neighborhood association, "but also because the university was so arrogant in not informing us. They're not good neighbors." When Perez and other association members started making calls to city officials, like District 3 City Councilwoman CINDY CHAVEZ, whose district includes the field, and school administrators, they didn't get much comfort. Under state law, schools and universities don't need to go through the local planning process and seek city approval to develop. In this case, CSU trustees in Long Beach OKed the paving plan weeks ago. University spokeswoman Sylvia Hutchinson put out a statement Friday about the field, which is named for a former track coach. Hutchinson says the school needs more parking because it added 1,200 students this year, bringing enrollment up to 28,000, and will add another 1,200 next year. At the same time, the school is trying to cut traffic around the downtown campus and provide parking for construction crews working on a major campus dorm project. It's not what Perez wants to hear, especially after university brass turned down a meeting with him, but he says the association plans to make noise with CSU officials and South Bay state legislators and hand out fliers at the track. "It's going to be an uphill battle," Perez says. "But we still intend to fight."

Clueless in Salt Lake

Caught up in the feel-good moment of the Winter Olympics, San Jose Mercury News sportswriter ANN KILLION gushed Friday about SARAH HUGHES' pirouette to gold in figure skating in a front-page column. Skating dangerously close to a mixed metaphor, Killion opened in a rush: "Could there really be a cool spot in these overwrought Olympics? A pristine patch of ice free of the conflagration raging outside?" Turning the volume up to 11 on her amps, Killion continued: "This is just what the doctor ordered. A stunning, endearing result that didn't inflame a new Cold War ..." Killion's prose proved better than her powers of divination; the Russians, remembering the pairs figure-skating controversy of the week before, almost immediately demanded a gold for their skater, Irina Slutskaya, as recompense for what they whined was subjective judging. Friday, under the headline "Fury of Olympic protests stirs up memories of Cold War rivalries," AP's TIM DAHLBERG wrote, "Slutskaya had barely left the ice Thursday night when the Russians began making plans to protest the decision." Maybe Ann should have called MISS CLEO before filing her story.

Ian McKellen
Ian McKellen

Maverick Knight

Cinequest head honcho HALFDAN HUSSEY sounded a bit like a Hobbit after wind sprints Monday--tired but elated by the news that Oscar nominee IAN McKELLEN had accepted, at the last minute, the film festival's invitation to visit San Jose. McKellen, a favorite to win the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his performance as the wizard Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, will accept a Maverick Spirit Award Saturday. "Cinequest is ecstatic that he is coming," said Hussey, who explained that the eclectic star of Ring, Apt Pupil, Gods and Monsters and Richard III was nominated by the festival board last summer because "he epitomizes what we're doing." According to Cinequest's MIKE RAEBEL, McKellen warned them that everything might change come Oscar time, but the festival decided to leave the nomination open, even if it meant some last-minute scrambling. McKellen's event will take place Saturday, March 2, at noon in the Imperial Ballroom of the Fairmont Hotel. Tickets are $20, and interested elves can buy them by calling 408.295.FEST.

Alternative Fuels

San Jose's hipoisie was crushed when Fuel 44--San Jose's most cosmopolitan club--closed its doors late last year after a rent hike forced the popular watering hole and music venue to run out of gas. For four years, the trendy lounge drew Silicon Valley's hipsters and shakers with an inspired mix of roots-rock, reggae, Latin jazz rockabilly and DJs, and its demise left South Bay trendsetters jonesing for that très cool San Francisco vibe a little closer to home. Good nightclubs die hard, though, and Eye's thrilled to learn that San Jose native PAUL KIELY and his business partner, JOE CIRONE, have quietly opened the doors to the new Plant Fifty One at the venerable 44 S. Almaden Avenue location. After extensive, if subtle, renovation, Kiely said the experience has been "like opening a whole new place." With a background in restaurants and television and an entrepreneurial spirit, Kiely plans to follow Fuel's model with an edgy array of local and touring bands and DJ nights. He's also been experimenting like a mad scientist with rare and exotic vodka infusions that should delight discriminating tipplers--as should the club's specialty drinks, light gourmet menu and on-the-spot sushi bar. Kiely's keeping it low-key until his permits get approved by the city, so for now it's just cocktails all around. The club, by the way, is named for the old Del Monte cannery behind the rail facility that was then known as Cahill Station, before politics intervened.

Eye of the Endorser

Eye had the pleasure of hearing its high-quality political reporting trashed on its favorite radio show last week. KQED's Forum hosted the three Democratic candidates for Assembly District 22--SALLY LIEBER, ROSEMARY STASEK and ROD DIRIDON JR.--last Friday. When one of the vigilantes out to recall Lieber from the Mountain View City Council called in to hassle Sally about four supporters who pulled endorsements, quoting a Feb. 14 Eye item about the matter, Lieber wagged her finger: "The folks that she's mentioned have not all pulled their endorsements." Lieber conceded that fellow Mountain View Councilor Ralph Faravelli did pull his, as did San Jose-Evergreen Trustee Nancy Pyle, but said State Board of Equalization member JOHAN KLEHS and Propel CEO STEVE KIRSCH hadn't pulled theirs. Well, turns out Kirsch didn't, so Eye humbly apologizes. Kirsch originally told Eye he "decided to support Rod instead." But when Eye called back for clarification, Kirsch said he is actually giving a rare dual endorsement, a first for the longtime political player. Lieber tells Eye that Klehs told her to use his name two years ago, while the two of them were walking precincts for REBECCA COHN. Klehs, however, says he hasn't endorsed in the race. "Johan has not endorsed Sally Lieber," says Klehs-for-controller political director STEPHANIE DAILY. "He has not made a public endorsement." Klehs also sent a letter admonishing Lieber for using his name. ... Before the Assembly wannabes took the mic, Forum also interviewed the candidates for mayor of San Jose. Ron Gonzales participated by phone, while four of his lesser known opponents took shots at him from the studio. PAT MARTINEZ-ROACH, DALE DETWILER, JOSE POSADAS and JOEL VAN LANDINGHAM, bashed Ron with zeal. Some of the suggestions made Gonzales look like STEPHEN HAWKING. Detwiler offered visionary solutions like tearing up light rail to revitalize downtown and building more freeways to ease gridlock. Martinez-Roach made the mistake of insinuating that Gonzo hadn't done enough to fight graffiti.

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From the February 28-March 6, 2002 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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

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