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Censor Trip: San Jose City Councilwoman Alice Woody is accusing the Evergreen Times of censoring a recent column she wrote.

Public Eye

Evergreen Team

IT'S NOT OFTEN that politicians are accusing newspapers of censoring information. But that's exactly what San Jose City Councilgal Alice Woody is accusing the Evergreen Times of doing. In a recent column Woody penned for the paper, she wrote at length about the importance of community involvement in getting the latest greenline ordinance passed by the City Council following a March public hearing. But when the column ran, she noticed a salient point was missing: "As important a matter as this was to our community, surprisingly, only one District 8 City Council candidate, Eddie Garcia, came out to speak in support of" the greenline, she had written. In an angry email she sent to district residents after the column ran, Woody groused, "As a community 'news' paper, protected by and supportive of the right of free speech, the emphasis of the Evergreen Times should be on reporting facts and disseminating information. The Evergreen Times did their readership and this community a disservice when they chose to censor facts and delete information." Times editor Bill Stubbee says he omitted the sentence because he felt Woody's gushing over Garcia violated his rule that the councilor not use her column to endorse candidates.Woody happens to be backing Garcia to replace her on the City Council next year, when she will be forced to step down because of term limits....The offending paragraph was also a not-so-subtle jab at Garcia's opponent, attorney Dave Cortese. The Garcia camp has painted Cortese; son of former Assemblyman Dom Cortese, as a developer stooge who will turn protected hillsides into a confederacy of strip malls and monster homes. ... Cortese tells Eye he missed the public hearing on the greenline because he was performing his duties as a board member of the East Side Union High School District (more specifically, he was attending a school bond oversight committee meeting). He also says he supports the greenline.

Reep Sneak

Gov. Gray Davis has earned a rep during his first term for moving at a glacial pace when it comes to making appointments. But this week Davis shifted into high gear to help out the depleted Santa Clara County bench by tapping three newly elected judges to start their jobs immediately instead of waiting until January. Among the three new jurists are Deputy District Attorney Paul Bernal, whom the guv's people apparently had some concern about because, well, he's a Republican. Davis, of course, is a Democrat. But Bernal happens to be chummy with some prominent local Dems including Mayor Ron Gonzales, who backed Bernal in the primary. The buzz on the street is that Gonzales put in a good word for Bernal with the governor. "[Bernal] got appointed along with two Democrats," one mayoral adviser boasts, "because we got involved." And, of course, maybe the little fact that Bernal had already been elected had something to do with the early appointment, the adviser modestly concedes.

Union Wager

For years, local politicos in need of a dim sum fix have flocked to San Jose's Ocean Harbor Restaurant. But with a massive housing and retail project set to go up soon at the Town & Country Village, Ocean Harbor is going out of business--for now at least. Restaurateur Kansen Chu says he plans to shut down the place next week. As to when he and his wife and business partner, Daisy, will re-open, Chu refuses to predict a time. "I'm not ready to jump into a new location right now," Chu says. Why? Chu is busy with other things like running for the District 4 (Berryessa) City Council seat against enviro lawyer Chuck Reed. Chu got some good news this week when the South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council's executive board picked him over the Rotarian Reed. A major reason: his support of the so-called living wage, which requires certain city contractors to pay their employees at least $9.50 an hour or $10.75 without health benefits. But Chu admits that he doesn't pay the defined living wage to his own non-union employees at Ocean Harbor. Chu says government and big corporations should be taking the lead in paying workers sufficiently. "You can't expect small-business people like me to lead for a high living wage," he argues, adding, "I don't even pay myself a living wage."

Day-Glo Green

Well, the rancheros did it. This week the Richmond family, who boast major land-holdings they want to develop on the wrong side of the greenline, have started the process to put their own greenline initiative on the ballot. It's called (in typical euphemistic initiative-speak) "The Educational and Public Facilities, Affordable Housing and Open Space Act of 2000." As the title suggests, the ranchers have thrown in a couple of sweeteners like dedicating at least 500 acres of open space and providing a modicum of cheap homes. But the obvious intent of the initiative is to tweak land-use rules to make it easier for the Richmonds and their neighbors to develop their ranches. "They feel [developing their land] should be their right," says family spokesman Dennis Martin, "but they don't want to do that without also doing something for the citizens of San Jose." Should all go according to plan, the Richmonds' initiative will compete with Mayor Ron Gonzales' greenline initiative on the November ballot. The mayor's version, of course, would make it extremely difficult for the ranchers to develop their land. Warns mayoral mouthpiece David Vossbrink, "Voters should be very leery of a Trojan Horse that wouldn't achieve the same goals of protecting open space."

Sibling Rivalry

One of the Santa Teresa homeowners who has emerged as an opposition leader to Calpine and Bechtel's proposed power plant is Issa Ajlouny. If the name sounds familiar that's because Issa is the younger brother of longtime South Bay political fixer Vic Ajlouny (who now runs his consulting biz from Omaha). While the two brothers aren't clashing over the power plant, they do find themselves with slightly conflicting allegiances. No, the Vicster hasn't joined the army of operatives hired by Calpine to give the project a boost. But he is a Calpine shareholder. In fact, Vic proved quite a shrewd investor, buying Calpine stock below $20 a few years ago. Since then, the stock has split and this week it was trading over $93. Still, Vic and Issa say that despite being in different rooting sections, the battle over the power plant hasn't caused any friction between them. Vic insists he sympathizes with his little bro's plight. Besides, he reasons, if the proposed south San Jose plant gets rejected, "I don't think it affects the stock one way or the other." Chuckles Issa, "It's no big deal. Good for [Vic]. Calpine has a good thing going--they're screwing a lot of people."

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From the May 4-10, 2000 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2000 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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