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Pigs: Horny, greedy.

The Fly

Death to Pigs

Year after year, Henry Coe Park officials try to defend Northern California's largest state park from the thousands of unwanted squatters hogging the land. But it's a constant struggle. "I don't think we'll ever be able to eradicate the pigs from the park," says Ranger Cameron Bowers. To compound the pain, some coldhearted animal-rights activist is running around San Jose leafleting newspaper racks with fliers that kick park authorities when they're down. In all capital letters, an unnamed author calls for a boycott of the park. "Wild pigs are now a part of the park and the food chain, just like all of the other animals that inhabit this beautiful and safe area," Anonymous declares. Swine enthusiast William Randolph Hearst and the Spanish brought pigs to the area for hunting purposes. Now that hunting feral animals is less popular in state parks like southeast San Jose's 87,000-acre Coe, so are the pigs. But the pigs won't leave. Ranger Bowers says wild porcine numbers are a pig's biggest advantage. They create their armies much quicker than people do. The average mother pig begins producing piglets at 9 months old. She can deliver three litters of between five and 10 piglets a year. The piglets then eat and otherwise mess up foliage, "rut up" the trails and "wallow" in the roads and ponds. Park authorities oppose this assault by rounding up the vandals and killing them. Ultimately they get processed into dog food, a strategy that's much cheaper and more practical than relocating or trying to reason with the horny, greedy beasts.

Civic Center: Pre-washed.

Civic Center Cents

Construction of the new Civic Center has created a cottage industry of observers interested in how much the city is spending or, depending on one's view, overspending on the $343 million architectural marvel at Santa Clara and Fifth streets. Part of that curiosity is no doubt fueled by the January revelation that some board members were unaware the city was spending an extra $45 million on office equipment and technology infrastructure for the new building. Last week, a call arrived in the Fly's trap requesting information on the "million-dollar window-washing apparatus" the city had bought to clean the Civic Center's domed rotunda. "Joe," the caller, was a bit p.o.'d the city had given no thought to good old paper towels and Windex. He wasn't much happier to report that city officials were planning to spend upward of $900 per day to prevent fogging in the 110-foot glass rotunda, which looks (in renderings) similar to a space observatory. No worries, Joe. Fly happens to know the city is, in fact, spending about $1 million for window-cleaning equipment--$325,000 on a lift truck with an articulated arm to sweep up and over the dome, another $525,000 for two pieces of equipment to clean the 18-story, 288-foot tower, which is the nonflashy office-building part of the center. City spokesperson Tom Manheim, who provided the Fly with the figures, estimated the cost to operate the tower equipment at $29 per day, and $59 to operate the domed equipment. Manheim was less certain how the $900 figure was arrived at but said the center was built with environmental concerns in mind, like lots of windows, to scale back on electricity costs. Manheim says San Jose residents will likely be less curious about the center's price tag once the building opens, exposing all the public benefits. Unfortunately for Manheim, the center's soft opening isn't until next spring, more than enough time to heckle city officials for their long list of purchases, valid and otherwise.

Bluejean Queen

It all started five years ago when the Italian Supreme Court of Appeal allowed a lecherous drivers-ed instructor named Carmine Cristiano to walk from the rape conviction of one of his students. In the opinion of the Italian high court, the 18-year-old student, who went by the name Rosa, couldn't possibly have been raped because she was wearing blue jeans, which couldn't have been removed from around Rosa's hips without her consent. This Wednesday, April 21, San Jose employees will wear jeans in opposition to the ruling, not because it's the anniversary of the ruling, which was Feb. 11, but because April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. On April 27 at 12:30pm, Councilmember Cindy Chavez will host a self-defense class at the Circle of Palms in downtown San Jose. Ladies, put up your dukes. Last year alone, there were 433 reported rapes in San Jose.

County Owes Women Money

A spunky Mills College master's degree candidate from San Jose is putting one more nail in the coffin of the computer science industry's tired boy's-club ancestry. Erica Rios is--surprise!-- a female who's good with computers. Just when you thought you'd heard everything. The 28-year-old recently wowed wage-equality fans with her interactive www.equivalent.bz website. The site, her interdisciplinary master's thesis project she will defend before a school committee this week, consists of an invoicing program for women who haven't been paid what they're worth. Even in this century, women make a fraction of the male dollar in the work world. On top of that insult, women continue not to get reimbursed for child care and other unprofessional responsibilities. To monitor that divide, Rios programmed her equivalent site so women can invoice their husbands, kids and anyone else whose stinky socks they wash. On Monday, April 19, Rios and other equal-pay activists and electeds rallied at Cesar Chavez Park to remind San Jose that women are worth as much as, if not more than, men. "It didn't get much press coverage," female Councilmember Cindy Chavez laments. Chavez hopes people use the website to inform the locals about continuing the wage gap and undervalued work. The day before the rally, Rios created an invoice to Santa Clara County on behalf of the outstanding debt it owes to its female citizens. That bill comes to nearly $5 billion. Given current economics, the bill probably won't get paid right away.

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From the April 21-27, 2004 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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