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Going Batty

Baseball boosters are going public with their campaign to bring a major league baseball team to town. There will be a lunchtime rally in downtown's Plaza de Cesar Chavez on Friday that stadium supporters hope will generate enthusiasm to lure the Oakland A's to San Jose. The group is breaking out every cliché it can, including peanuts and Cracker Jacks. It's a good bet the A's will be looking to Sacramento or Portland for accommodations if the city of Oakland doesn't, as they say, step up to the plate with $150 million or so, which is unlikely given that attention deficit-challenged Oakland mayor Jerry Brown has been flying around Croatia and England and planning a run for attorney general. Meantime, some of Brown's old financial supporters, the powerful DiNapoli family, are scheming to steal his city's baseball team. The family's 17-acre Sun Garden Packing site on Monterey Highway has been floated as a possible stadium location. Michael Mulcahy, who manages the DiNapoli-Mulcahy real estate portfolio, confirms that the site is no longer needed for tomato canning operations. Another defunct cannery, Del Monte, is favored by the downtown crowd, because it would spread a little ka-ching to businesses in Willow Glen and downtown. There are still a few minor details, like a vote of the people and Major League Baseball overturning a territorial rights clause that protects a team called the Giants in a smaller city to the north. But we'd have to say that Baseballsanjose.com has the nicest website of any nonexistent team we've ever seen.

Teachers Strike Back

They gathered in a Target parking lot a half mile from East Side Union High School District headquarters, high-fiving each other, taking pictures in blue "Union First" T-shirts and handing out handmade signs denouncing layoffs of 65 librarians, career technicians, psychologists and other nonteaching positions. The target of the approximately 100 protestors, about half of whom were East Side students, was the five-member East Side board of trustees and the superintendent they hired in August, Esperanza Zendejas. East Side is no different than scores of other school districts in the Bay Area facing massive budget deficits, except that the district continues to throw itself against the wall of financial irresponsibility. Protesters, for example, were angry that district trustees gave Zendejas a $225,000 annual salary--$50,000 more than Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's salary. They also gave her a $400,000 home loan (at 2 percent interest) when many teachers can barely afford to rent a travel trailer. The crowd of protesters was so large that both wings of the trustee chambers were standing-room-only. They had to sit idle while Zendejas handed out awards to East Side teachers and staff, some of whom had been outside chanting, "Hey, hey, ho, ho, where did all the money go?" only minutes before. About a dozen speakers lashed out against the district, providing heartfelt testimony about how much the job-threatened employees meant to their success. Some of the speakers vowed to get nasty. Christopher Jones, an Andrew Hill career tech facing job extinction, suggested many district employees would begin campaigning against two trustees up for re-election in November. "My days are numbered," Jones said, "and so are yours."

This Supe Ain't Super

Alum Rock Union School District Supe Alfonso Anaya was none too pleased with Fly last week. According to Fly's well-placed sources, Anaya threw a hissy fit about details, however scant, of his performance evaluation being divulged to Fly by an unnamed board member. Fly, as loyal readers will remember, reported that Anaya received a "fair" grade but that board members would not comment about the specifics ("The Traveling Man," May 12). That apparently was enough for the superintendent to blow his top. Anaya, say Fly's sources, has already threatened to file a Brown Act violation against reporter-friendly board members. Though Fly, who has had the good fortune of speaking with more than one member of the Alum Rock board, wonders how exactly Anaya will discover who described his evaluation as "fair." Anaya's move only affirms those in the district who describe the supe as "retaliatory and vindictive"--indeed, in this district, more than one story has been told about Anaya putting the kibosh on employees by waving pink slips in their faces.

Grossout.com: Next up: Public hangings

A Taste for The Macabre

The grotesque is indeed a niche market. Ogrish.com, a website devoted to graphic images and videos (from gory suicides and murders to victims of traffic accidents), has had stunning success ever since a video of the slain American, Nick Berg, was posted on the site earlier this May. According to Alexa, an Amazon.com company that computes web traffic rankings, Ogrish.com, after hovering near 4,000 for the last six months, shot up to the 904 slot after the Berg execution video was posted. Ogrish.com, which solicits images from its users with a "Can you handle life?" slogan, claims First Amendment protection because all its images, even "free fuck cams" and "shocking shit eating," are described as "newsworthy." The site prides itself for baring all (users are required to electronically affirm they are of viewing age before they log on), and the unedited Berg video is all that and more, if you enjoy watching a hapless, screaming man as a knife is sawed through his neck. In fact, it's jarring enough for the site to post a warning: "Be forewarned: the scene is graphic, bloody and disturbing as he is executed." In fact, it's the kind of thing Ogrish was designed for.

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From the May 19-25, 2004 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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