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[whitespace] Fayette Bivings Mama's Family: St. James Park activists gathered in front of the Hall of Justice recently to protest a trumped-up theft charge against Fayette Bivings, better known as Mama Faye. One problem--she hasn't been charged with theft.

Mama Faye

Demonstrators showed up in front of the Hall of Justice a couple of weeks ago to "draw attention to the extremity" of a felony theft charge against beloved shopping-cart queen Fayette Bivings, better known around St. James Park as "Mama Faye." Fliers distributed days before the protest by park activists claimed that San Jose police were charging the 55-year-old homeless woman with stealing a $400 luggage cart from the airport. According to the fliers, when police seized the cart they warned Mama Faye, "This time we're going to put you away for good. We'll put you in a felony prison for a year and shoot your mind full of drugs." Bivings, acquaintances say, believes police are harassing her for speaking out on behalf of the poor in the media (see "The Eviction of Mama Faye," Feb. 5, 1998). It all sounded quite serious, even newsworthy. By the end of the day, though, it didn't seem worth all the fuss. ... First, there was a timing mix-up. Protest organizers told everyone to show up at 9am. But it turned out that Mama Faye wasn't due to see the judge until the afternoon. ... Then it surfaced that her court date had nothing to do with the supposed stealing of a luggage cart (a charge which, if it was ever really filed, Mama Faye denies), but rather a Nov. 9 infraction for trespassing. ... Food Not Bombs activist Lennox Sweeney seemed puzzled by the contradictory information. "I don't think she's inclined to lie" about something like this, Sweeney said. "She doesn't always explain things in a linear fashion," he conceded. ... Later, a police spokesman was unable to find any record of Bivings' being arrested for theft within the past few months. Court records also did not indicate any theft charges pending against her. Eye tried to track down Mama Faye in St. James Park this week for an explanation, but couldn't find her. A park regular says she hasn't seen Mama around for a while, with or without a $400 luggage cart.

Dam With Praise

Officials for the Santa Clara Valley Water District know they are paddling upstream when it comes to passing a flood-control bond measure to replace a previous assessment set to expire next year. County taxpayers aren't always the most generous--a bare majority approved the transportation sales tax in 1996, even though valley-dwellers cite traffic congestion as their biggest headache. In an effort to persuade voters to voluntarily thin their wallets, the Water District has tapped the San Francisco consulting firm Terris & Jaye--the folks who re-elected Mayor Susan Hammer in 1994--and former mayoral numbers-cruncher Bob Brownstein. ... San Jose's revolving-door law prohibits Brownstein from lobbying the city for another 10 months, and Water District officials assure Eye that Brownstein will be paid up to $20,000 for his budgetary expertise, not his political connections. Brownstein will be responsible for putting a price tag on the bond, which doesn't have a scheduled election date yet.

Old Town & Country

A little more than a year ago, the Maryland-based Federal Realty Investment Trust swept into San Jose with its fancy miniature models and promises of millions of dollars in new tax revenue. With the help of local dealmaker Stan Berliner, the City Council gave Federal practically everything it had asked for in its proposed massive expansion at Town & Country Village across from Valley Fair mall. ... If current events at Los Gatos' Old Town Shopping Center are an indicator of things to come, planners may want to keep a close eye on the project to ensure that it lives up to its billing. Federal Realty bought a majority stake in Old Town and the parking lot across the street last October, but as construction progressed, town officials noticed that the developers were doing something very different from their town-approved plans. LG planners wanted a pedestrian-friendly project, without a blank wall to the rear parking lot. According to the planning department, clear windows on the back wall were changed to frosted glass and glass doors were converted to solid metal doors, causing some folks in the town of the cats to draw their claws. ... A Federal spokesman says the changes are minor and were done to appease tenants like The Gap and Banana Republic. Nonetheless, neighbor Stacy Stewart is appealing to the Town Council to reject the changes on March 15.

Sordid Waste

Now that Palo Alto supe Joe Simitian has publicly acknowledged his intention to run for Ted Lempert's spot in the Assembly, his line of would-be successors keeps growing. Aside from already mentioned notables like Assessor Larry Stone and Cupertino City Councilwoman Sandy James, a couple of new names are making the cocktail circuit--like Cupertino Councilman Michael Chang, a formidable fundraiser who spent more than $50,000 in 1995 to get elected, a city record at the time. Lawyer Terry Trumbull, the chair of the county Planning Commission, also wants to make a go for Simitian's seat, snoops say. Trumbull's political career has been going sideways ever since Gov. Jerry Brown appointed him to the state's waste management board many moonbeams ago. "He's always mentioned as someone who might run for something like this," observes one county wag, "but ultimately decides not to do it." Generally considered a greenliner, the enigmatic attorney has done legal work for the Bumb family, the clan behind Bay 101 and the Cerro Plata residential and golf course development that ticked off some environmentalists. ... Speaking of the Bumbs, they have brought political fixer Ed McGovern back into the fold at Bay 101. McGovern was cut loose in a cost-cutting measure not too long ago, but the Bumbs want his poker face back for upcoming negotiations with city and state officials.

Duke Commute

The unibrow. The 5 o'clock shadow at 1 o'clock. Even without the army helmet, who else could it have been but one-time presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis patrolling the hallways of 801 N. First St. last Friday? The Duke, now working on the other side of the tracks as vice chairman for Amtrak, was here to talk to Mayor Ron Gonzales and his staff about making San Jose a destination for a high-speed train from Los Angeles to the Bay Area. When Dukakis entered the conference room he cheekily asked, "So, where's the Greek?" Gonzo's newly appointed education expert, Betsy Doss, immediately raised her hand and reported that she was originally a Chavalas. With the requisite banter out of the way, the mayor and Dukakis chitchatted about choo-choos for the next hour. Dukakis casually proselytized, "I hope all you are all train riders," prompting one cynic in the room to mumble, "I bet he didn't take the train all the way here from Massachusetts."

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From the XXXXXXXXXXXXX, 1998 issue of Metro.

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