[Metroactive Features]

[ Features Index | Silicon Valley | Metroactive Home | Archives ]

[whitespace] The Fly


San Jose is No. 1! CHRIS NORBY, an Orange County supervisor, made that stunning observation at a March meeting and pricked up fellow Supe JIM BEALL's ears. Of all the state's redevelopment agencies, San Jose's own RDA diverted the most property taxes away from other agencies and into its piggy bank. Um, yea? Of the $283 million Santa Clara County's redevelopment agencies intercepted from property taxes in the last fiscal year, the San Jose RDA scored $188 million. That means more cash for great projects like the convention center, the arena, the Fairmont Hotel and housing, points out HARRY MAVROGENES, interim director of the agency. Leave it to some O.C. Reep to find the negative in such a towering accomplishment and resuscitate that tired old resource allocation debate. But Beall's chief of staff brought up some problems, and school district administrators have balked. "In tough economic times when schools are scrambling, does it still make sense to have all that money going to redevelopment to assist a small number of landowners?" poses Beall's chief staffer, CAROLINE JUDY. "Now the RDA has $20 million that it wants to put into this downtown theater." The impoverished county, of course, recently handed $576k to a consultant who wants to spend millions to build a concert venue at the fairgrounds. ... ROGER BARNES, a Santa Clara Unified School District administrator, complains louder. His district, a "basic-aid" district, relies largely on property taxes for funding, unlike schools in poorer areas, which live off the state. "What's happening is we're cutting a lot of support workers," Barnes says. He adds, "Higher-paid teachers will take pay cuts to go back into the classrooms." "It's bureaucracy run amok," says Norby, whose legislative aide dubbed the San Jose RDA "a debt-accumulation machine." But RDA acting head Mavrogenes clears things up. The RDA, which he explains is "the most effective development tool a local government has available," is supposed to be in debt. Everything is OK, he says; just relax.

Good Morning, Vietnam

NAM NGUYEN has big dreams ... well, maybe not so big, but, if Nguyen has his way, San Jose could soon be on the path to having its own Vietnam Town for Santa Clara County's 146,000 strong Vietnamese community. This, to Nguyen (who collected more than 5,000 signatures supporting his proposal), is a big deal, though there are the usual obstacles blocking the way. "It's just something to make it feel like home," he says. "I miss that. The community is behind it, but somehow the City Council did not acknowledge our existence. This kind of stuff cannot be done overnight." Nguyen, who would also settle for a street to be renamed Saigon Street, maintains that San Jose's councilmembers have been mostly unresponsive to his suggestion--the only exception has been DAVID CORTESE. Cortese, meanwhile, reports he has already requested that the planning department analyze the nuts and bolts of having a Vietnam Town, which, he says, would be easier than renaming a street because people's addresses wouldn't change. The area Cortese has in mind happens to lie in his district, near Tully and King roads. "[Politically], it shouldn't be a problem," Cortese says. "But it's so hard to predict people's sensitivities when it comes to things like this. Someone may come along and say they don't want to balkanize the community."

The Dragon Lady Returneth

Last week TRISH DIXON, the Milpitas vice mayor, made the Fly's lead-off spot because she threatened to eliminate her city's DARE program. She was miffed at the police union for backing her opponent in the November election ("The Dragon of Milpitas," March 25). This week, she's back in the news because of the bizarre way in which she handled campaign materials anonymously left on her car, materials that allegedly smear opponent DEBBIE GIORDANO. Instead of discreetly returning the materials to Giordano, Dixon announced at the March 16 council meeting--at the end of a discussion on ethics--that she had the "potentially damaging information" in her possession but that she would "personally not use" it in the election. Giordano responded by sending Dixon a letter, giving the vice mayor until March 22 to return the materials. Dixon failed to do so, forcing Giordano's hand. "I still have to decide which way to go," she says. Giordano, who lives down the street from Dixon, also has to contend with statements Dixon made to the Milpitas Post saying it was Giordano--not Dixon--who wanted DARE eliminated, an allegation Giordano denies. Giordano should have seen Dixon's sheisty approach coming. A week before a Giordano fundraiser last October, Dixon broke protocol during a council meeting to announce that, contrary to rumor, she was not selling her house and moving. For better or worse--much worse, from all appearances--she'd decided to run again for Milpitas council.


This cold and flu season has sucked long and hard. But for teens, next year could be worse as local legislators are considering cracking down on minors chugging cough medicine. That's thanks to crusading cops WAYNE BENITEZ and RONALD LAWRENCE, two Palo Alto officers who won Assemblymember JOE SIMITIAN's latest law contest. The cops are on a mission to card people who buy cold medications that include dextromethorphan (referred to by its familiars as DXM). Weird college kids and '70s punk rockers knew a long time ago about the nauseating adventure of "roboing" or "robotripping," achieved by gulping down a bottle of Robitussin until the hallucinations come. The $7 or $8, perfectly legal practice is on the rise. California Poison Control says calls from drunk robotards outpaced hippies on pot by three times and ecstasy by six times. The mild heart attack and seizure that two Palo Alto kids suffered and the 12 deaths nationwide from abuse of cough meds aren't very funny. In steps the Palo Alto police. "We can't stop the people from overdosing on this," notes Officer Benitez. "But we want to stop contributing."

Send a letter to the editor about this story to letters@metronews.com.

[ Silicon Valley | Metroactive Home | Archives ]

From the March 31-April 6, 2004 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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

For more information about the San Jose/Silicon Valley area, visit sanjose.com.