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Back to Basics: Assemblymember Joe Simitian rejects governor's 'basic-aid' cuts.

Public Eye

Taxing Schools

Although the Palo Alto and Santa Clara unified school districts are funded the same way, district officials responded to Gov. Gray Davis' January budget hack-job with two different approaches. Santa Clara's schools chief Paul Perotti promptly sent out more than 150 layoff notices. Palo Alto Superintendent Mary Frances Callan didn't. In a March 18 written response to the guvster, Callan called the property-tax grab from the state's 60 basic-aid school districts "bad public policy" and urged her district to "dig in for the long run," even if Davis doesn't immediately back down. This stance obviously pleases employees. "I think our district responded in a very logical way," says Palo Alto Educators Association president and phys-ed teacher Roland (no relation) Davis. Meanwhile, Santa Clara Superintendent Perotti got hauled into a hearing before administrative law Judge Victor Ryerson on Tuesday, April 15, by counselors and nurses who argued that they were wrongly fired. Perotti issued layoff notices to teachers, school nurses and guidance counselors in March to comply with the governor's initial budget estimate and the March 15 layoff-notice deadline. This month, Perotti rescinded about 100 notices (mostly those sent to teachers, who, interestingly, are the school employees with the union representation most visible in campaign financing). The layoff notices he didn't take back went mostly to the support staff, including some psychologists, all but two nurses and all counselors who work in the roughly 14,000-student district and handle services ranging from teen suicide intervention to college guidance. "Clearly, we don't believe this is a fair proposal by the governor," Perotti said in his own defense at the hearing. "But we are taking it seriously." California Teachers Association rep Cindy Heller, who was one of about 15 people who attended Tuesday's hearing at Santa Clara School District headquarters, says that Santa Clara's Perotti ousted too many people too quickly. "It meant he didn't have to make any tough decisions," she says. But, she notes, it's up to the Legislature to counter the governor's budget proposal with something better. Some electeds have spoken out against gutting extra funds for basic-aid districts. Sixteen pols signed onto a letter on March 4, including state Senators John Vasconcellos (D-San Jose) and Byron Sher (D-Stanford), asking that Gov. Davis withdraw his proposal. In a separate press release, Sher called the cut "disastrous" and boasted that he had talked a Senate budget subcommittee into rejecting it. State Assemblymember Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) plans to take up the issue on Tuesday, April 22, in the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education Finance, which he chairs. He says he'll ask his colleagues to reject the cut to basic-aid districts. Gov. Davis spokesperson Hilary McLean claims there's nothing special about this budget-cut uproar. "You could find 16 legislators to sign onto a letter opposing just about any cut to the budget," she sniffs. Davis is expected to release his revised budget next month. Judge Ryerson said during the hearing that he'll turn in his decision to the Santa Clara School District to do with it what it wants. His decision is due May 7.

Ail House

Irish pub Katie Bloom's, the oldest living establishment in San Jose's rotating-door-policy Pavilion property, has gotten the boot. Owner James Keogh tells Eye he's trying not to cry in his beer, but it's tough. Keogh, an Irishman with an enviable accent, opened his pub about 14 years ago (when the Pavilion was begging for tenants, Eye notes) and handed the management reigns to son Jason and daughter-in-law Avril after a stroke damaged his vision. James says he'd expected one day to lose the gentrification game to a national chain, but not to another local pub piloted by two former employees. But that's the story. The bloomin' trouble started when Keogh's lease ran out on July 31, and Keogh missed the deadline to renew. Four days later, he heard from Los Angeles-based landlord Forest City Enterprises that a national restaurant chain would take his space. Not good news, but the agreement was that if the new deal fell through, Katie Bloom's could stay, Keogh says, but the pub would need to give itself a makeover to fit in with the more-food, less-drink direction in which the Pavilion powers want to head. The food chain bailed, so Keogh started flying its executives to L.A. to talk with Forest City about how it would like the pub to be. Keogh says he's spent thousands on airfare. He and other Katie Bloom's employees have spent time and energy trying to plan improvements to the pub. For example, they successfully applied to the Redevelopment Agency for outdoor seating to support the more food-oriented future that Forest City requested. They learned after meeting with the landlord several times, getting cost estimates from contractors and presenting rough drafts of renovation plans to Forest City that not only was another local bar competing for the South First Street space but also that the other bar had won. "We had no clue that they were negotiating with anybody else. And especially Mission Ale House," says Keogh, explaining that he has a good relationship with Mission Ale House owners and former employees Hugo Gamboa and Dan Doherty. Keogh says Avril and Jason are meeting with a lawyer in the next week or so to determine whether they have a case against Forest City. "If we had been told that this was an open competition for our space, we might have handled things differently." Forest City didn't return Eye's calls. Neither did anyone from the Mission Ale House.

Top Billing

Apparently, Santa Clara amps don't go to 11. On April 8, the much-anticipated MTV2/CMJ Advance Warning Tour with the Raveonettes, Mooney Suzuki, White Light Motorcade and Longwave was scheduled to play its final date at the Benson Center at Santa Clara University, but three of the bands, including the two main acts, wouldn't hit a note. According to the Advance Warning tour manager Matt Malley, the problems began when the Raveonettes arrived in Santa Clara from L.A. on Sunday afternoon, took one look at the stage and the lighting and sound systems and deemed the place inadequate. "Some things were disorganized," Malley says. "The Raveonettes made a snap decision, a knee-jerk reaction. The Mooney Suzuki didn't show up at all. I believe the Raveonettes called them and told them they weren't playing the show." According to Benson Center stage manager Tyler Kogura, he sent the lighting and stage specs to tour organizers two weeks earlier and the sound specs four days earlier--enough time, Kogura says, to make adjustments. He was sent to Guitar Showcase with a list of extra equipment to rent. Meanwhile, the Raveonettes went on KSCU and said the show was canceled. Longwave also canceled because of car problems. But the show must go on. One of the Advance Warning touring bands, White Light Motorcade, agreed to rock on without the rest of the bands. Two other locals, Shinobu and Jupiter Sun's Matt Murdock, filled in at the last minute and saved the night from being a total wash. According to Kogura, organizers lost $700. "We didn't think the sound was so bad they needed to cancel," Kogura says. "It sucks because we had to lose so much money for sound, security, food, drink. This is the first show that ever canceled on us and a bunch of people saw rock-star attitude firsthand."

Quake Stop

While the world remains enamored with San Jose's soccer boy wonder Landon Donovan, Public Eye privately digs San Jose Earthquakes forward Dwayne De Rosario. The Canadian national team member scored the Quakes' most important goal--the overtime giant killer that sent the despised L.A. Galaxy to the showers and the Earthquakes to the winner's podium to hoist the 2001 MLS Champion trophy above their sweaty skulls. Plus he's a strict vegetarian, reggae DJ and peacenik (after scoring the goal, he stripped off his jersey and revealed the words "One Love" hand scribbled on his undershirt). Translation: he's an Eye kinda guy. So Eye was crushed to learn last week that De Rosario, during what should have been his breakout year, won't be ripping nets this season. After scoring a tying goal during a preseason match against the San Jose State University men's team on April 3, the West Indian Canadian player turned up at the Cabana nightclub, sitting through most of the Earthquakes' jersey-unveiling party and talking about a sore knee. While luscious Ujena swimsuit girls dressed down in Earthquakes kits escorted players like Jon Conway, Donovan, Ian Russell and Jeff Agoos through the middle of the crowd, Eye chatted up De Rosario in one of Cabana's gauzy tents about beats, roots, culture and Ital cuisine. We parted with promises of extended convo, exchanging tofu recipes and beat-digging trips. The next day, De Rosario got an MRI that revealed a tear in the lateral collateral ligament in his knee. Last Monday, he went under the knife and is out for the season. "This is devastating news for Dwayne and the club," said Earthquakes head coach Frank Yallop in a press statement. The Quakes open their 2003 season on Saturday against the Kansas City Wizards.

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From the April 17-23, 2003 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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