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How well equipped are the four likely San Jose mayoral candidates to look after city assets, including the new high-tech City Hall? One indication might be how much attention they pay to one of the top assets any politician can have in this wired world: the dotcom version of their name on the Internet. Announced hopeful DAVE CORTESE has a polished and up-to-date website, complete with helpful phonetic guides to pronouncing his name, and boyhood photos. Fellow Councilmember CHUCK REED has two crude pages up at chuckreed.com—an out-of-date résumé and a home page that contains an announcement of his mayoral bid and position papers on gay marriage and boat and RV parking in city neighborhoods. But two unannounced but presumed candidates won't have intuitively named websites because their domain names have slipped away into cyberland. One local web development firm, the same one who did MAYOR GONZALES' website, was nice enough to register CINDYCHAVEZ.COM back in 1998 at its own cost and sat on it for several years, during which the councilmember expressed no interest. "At the time, they didn't even know it was an important thing to do," recalls CATHERINE GONZALES, who now owns the lovely Santana Row home furnishings boutique, Casa Adobe. "We did that for a lot of people and offered the domains to them, at no cost." Her ex-partner, ALEX MOSTAFI, confirms, "We just registered the name as a favor. We grabbed it for her. We offered to transfer it." But the cost of maintaining the registrations, as much as $30 a year in the early days, got to be too much. "We dumped a lot of domain names. It was expensive. I'm the one who did the whole thing. [Chavez] was never involved." The domain was picked up in 2004 by an identically named, Montreal-based fiery Latin songstress of Venezuelan and Syrian parentage, who now operates a brightly colored site at the web address. San Jose Cindy was too busy to return calls about her Internet presence. PAT DANDO registered patdando.com in 2000 and pointed the domain to her council office site on the city of San Jose's server for several years. In mid-2004, she neglected to pay the annual registration fees and the domain expired. It was grabbed by a search firm out of the tiny republic of Gibraltar, which monetizes traffic to the site by promoting—get this—"dental implants." Now GOV. SCHWARZENEGGER's $90,000-a-year "Director of Local Government Affairs," Dando says that when she left office, she thought a staff member was going to renew it. "We just got something in the mail, but I thought it was January to January," she says. She was surprised to hear that the domain had fallen into the hands of a cybersquatter. "Who knew that patdando.com had a commodity value?" she mused. Of course, things could be much worse. Some enterprising individuals could have produced a porn site under their monikers, which might have drawn volunteers neither Dando nor Chavez would know what to do with. "I like to control my domain name even if I don't use it, because there's always the potential for political mischief," Reed says, "as in the difference between whitehouse.com and whitehouse.gov."

Roaches, Atrocious

Every day when JOSEPHINE LIVINGSTONE arrives to remodel her south-central San Jose home, she is greeted by dozens of Oriental cockroaches, upside down from the pesticide her husband sprays, but in many cases still wriggling their sticklike legs. It's a disgusting sight and potentially dangerous. According to a report from Penn State University School of Agricultural Sciences, Oriental cockroaches can carry germs that cause illnesses like food poisoning, dysentery and diarrhea. Livingstone is not the only one with cockroach problems; her neighbors also complain about armies of roaches. The roaches began appearing about two years ago, Livingstone says, about the time the county's vector control office stopped spraying the storm-water drain on the corner of Livingstone's street. She has complained to the mayor's office and to the county but has gotten nowhere. "A lot of people don't want to talk about it because they figure 'the roaches come because we're dirty people,'" Livingstone says. In fact, Livingstone's house is mostly empty, including the cupboards, as she and her husband, STAN, paint and retile their 35-year-old home. Unfortunately for Livingstone, there appears to be no remedy in sight. The city referred us to the county, which discontinued its cockroach extermination program in order to focus on Africanized honeybees and the West Nile virus. According to county sources, San Jose cockroaches have not been found to be disease carriers. A spokeswoman for county Supervisor BLANCA ALVARADO said that a new round of program cuts this budget cycle probably means the county is out of the roach-eradication business for the foreseeable future. Livingstone is contemplating a lawsuit and questioning why the county has a vector control office if it's not controlling vectors. "Who needs them if they don't do their job," she says. "Why do they exist?"

What Comes Round

Poor DAVID YARNOLD. This close to a Pulitzer for editorial writing, which would have ended a drought at the Merc dating back to 1990. Who did him in? According to a report from the SF Weekly, it was none other than Yarnold's new employer, Environmental Defense. As the story goes, an Environmental Defense publicist, JENNIFER WITHERSPOON, working with $500,000 donated by San Francisco philanthropist GEORGE MILLER, began a huge marketing push to entice media outlets to report on restoring the Hetch Hetchy reservoir to its natural state—that is, without water. One of the papers that bit was the Sacramento Bee, which wrote 27 news and Op-Ed pieces on the Hetch, repeating the preposterous claim that it would cost little to drain the valley. The Pulitzer board agreed the Bee's "deeply researched" editorials were better than Yarnold's clean-government editorials. Yarnold, who quit the Merc April 4, the day the Pulitzers were announced, began work for Environmental Defense last week. He failed to respond to an email.

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From the April 27-May 3, 2005 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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