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Name Game

Councilmember Terry Gregory sits poised to field another ethnic naming controversy resembling the short-lived King Road craze of 2003. This time it's not a drag race between Martin Luther King Jr. and Cesar Chavez, but rather, Vietnam's place in the rest of the world. Gregory is considering a proposal to name the new Tully Road library after Saigon to honor the large number of Vietnamese San Josesters in District 7. Gregory says he's planning to hold some community meetings for his district in the next two weeks to hear what folks think. "So far the community has said to me that they want to name the library Tully Library," Gregory says. He doesn't yet know the significance of the name Tully: "We're researching that now." United Asian activist Nam Nguyen notes in an email dispatch that Vietnam deserves some respect since more than 146,000 Vietnamese immigrants live in Santa Clara County, half of those in San Jose. Nguyen wrote to the City Council that he wants part of east San Jose to be called Vietnam Town. The NAACP's Rick Callender, who lives about a quarter-mile from the new library, concurs. He sent a letter to the city's library commission supporting the library-naming proposal. He also likes the idea of a Little Saigon or a Little Vietnam. But at this point, Gregory is considering only the library name, and even that much seems like a stretch. "I think it's a potentially controversial issue," Gregory understates. He professes a fondness for the name Tully, noting, "It's a very neutral name and it's where the library is located."

Going Up

Incidentally, Gregory took a swat at the Fly for evesdropping in the City Hall elevator last week. Staffer-talk in the lift said Gregory received two résumés from people clamoring to fill his gaping chief of staff position ("City Hole," Feb. 19). The councilmember begs to differ: He received "at least a dozen" résumés.

Water Wars

Alan Snitow and Deborah Kaufman are at it again. The two Berkeley-based filmmakers, whose last project, Secrets of Silicon Valley, won national acclaim for measuring the inequities hiding in the background of our very own high-tech bubble, are set to release another film this summer. The new project, entitled Thirst, examines the disturbing global trend of water privatization and the emerging resistance against it. Like Secrets, their newest venture includes no narration. Rather, Snitow and Kaufman characterize the project as a "character-driven documentary," in which subjects are allowed to tell their own story. The film was shot in Bolivia, India, Japan and Stockton, Calif. PBS has picked up the film for its POV series, and a broadcast is planned for July or August. In addition to Secrets, Snitow and Kaufman also co-produced Blacks and Jews in 1997.

Copped Out

Things are still not right in the world because, for starters, Tony Nunez is moaning and groaning again. The owner of Sugars Coffee Cafe, a college hang-out a quarter-mile east on Santa Clara Street from the new City Hall, was known more for his scantily clad waitresses than for his coffee. The former casino employee has been quiet since last summer when he made national news ("Gimme Some Sugar," June 12) when the morality police wouldn't let him alone because of his cafe's risqué style. Now, Nunez claims the cops and code enforcement are harassing him because his joint offers live music, mostly local hip-hop acts. They don't like the size of Sugars' coffee pot--too small to be featured in a coffee shop--and they don't like Sugars' televisions and loud music. Nunez says other coffee shops in the same area remain unharassed because they offer Caucasian-style music. He vows to find the city officials responsible and oust them.

That's My Door

First the workers were denied entrance to the ninth floor of the downtown Santa Clara Street office building of Roger Burch, the notorious logger often at odds with Santa Cruz environmental groups. Then the workers, totaling maybe 30 people, were forced to wave red flags in protest on the sidewalk under the gaze of two San Jose police officers. Burch, president of Redwood Empire, refused to meet with the employees, who work at his Cloverdale sawmill. Workers voted more than a year ago to unionize but say Burch refuses to negotiate in good faith. Many are Hispanic, working hazardous $8-an-hour jobs that require them to pay their own $400-per-month health insurance. "They've frozen salaries and aren't offering benefits," says Sergio Guzman of United Farm Workers. The protest was peaceful, with many blue-collar drivers hitting their car horns in support of the flag waving. Joe Burch, Roger's son, was involved in a heated exchange with Jodi Frediani, executive director of Citizens for Responsible Management, who has her own issues with Burch's company. When Frediani went alone to peek at the lobby, Joe Burch hissed at her to get out. "He told me not to touch his door," Frediani shrugged.

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From the March 3-10, 2004 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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