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Public Eye

Alluring People

As Eye watchers know, former San Jose mayor Tom McEnery is officially in show biz these days, having co-written the indie picture Still Waters Burn, which is not a rural drama about moonshiners and revenuers. It's actually a romantic thriller about "two alluring people" (the press release): a battered wife (Claudia Wells, Michael J. Fox's girlfriend in Back to the Future) who snuffs her husband and lams it with Ian Hart. Most recently, Hart starred in the workers' epic Land and Freedom. Also playing a small but key part is Darren McGavin. Unfortunately, both the not-available Hart and the there-in-spirit McGavin were nowhere to be found as the cameras set up in Ryland Park on First Street for the last few days of a shoot in which McGavin and Hart were supposed to play basketball. The Macster, along with director, co-writer and Cinequest cofounder Halfdan Hussie, met the press anyway, along with backers Marty Collins (of Starlite Studios), Kathleen Powell and attorney J. Michael Bewley. All five seized the moment to promote San Jose Motion Pictures, Inc. which plans to produce other movies starring San Jose as San Jose and not as "a backlot," says McEnery, who plans to pen other screenplays set here, including a potential drama about Captain Thomas Fallon (Braveheart Goes Bolo?) ... Hussie and McEnery's movie should be ready for the public perhaps as early as October and definitely by next spring, where hopes are it will make it to the Sundance Film Festival.

Free Show 2

Last week Eye reported that the Arena Authority was being neighborly to its neighbors in the Autumn Montgomery Neighborhood Association by giving them liberal amounts of free tickets. First up: phone calls from neighbors saying, and we're paraphrasing here, what tickets? When Eye tried to locate the aforementioned business association, we met with a brick wall. Staffers from council districts 6 and 3, which share the area, had no idea what we were talking about. When Eye asked Chris Morrisey, the Arena's acting executive director, who composed this group of beneficiaries, he said that, actually, there was no such animal. "We personally walk a lot of tickets over to the area businesses," Morrisey explained. "They have put up with a lot from the Arena and this is our appreciation." Uh-huh. So why use a fake name? Morrisey said the name was a mistake by Arena staff. He assured Eye that the names of individual businesses would be used from here on out, to avoid any confusion. As for the chopped-liver contingent living in houses near the silver tank? They say that since the Eye report and ensuing mini-flap, they've suddenly gotten on the list.

Smarter Than Los Gatos

Despite being named after a once-mighty (but now withering) giant redwood tree, Palo Alto city officials last week elected not to explore going beyond protecting just two species of threatened oak trees as part of the city's forthcoming "heritage tree" ordinance. The ordinance, long sought by north county tree-huggers, is designed to prevent developers from killing Palo Alto's older trees without city permission. However, several environmentalists, including well-known council watchers Bob Moss and Herb Borock, objected to this particular measure and urged the council instead to copy the approach used in other nearby tree-happy cities, such as Los Gatos, either by adding all trees over a certain diameter or by including more species, including redwoods, on the protected list. But Palo Alto's town fathers (and mothers) were not about to use Los Gatos as an example, it appears. During the debate, former Mayor Liz Kniss asked whether any of her colleagues would join her in expanding the ordinance along the Los Gatos-y lines suggested by the environmentalists only to be met by rampant indifference. ("I'm sympathetic," offered unenthusiastic Councilmember Gary Fazzino, "but it is impractical," he claimed.) "I'll just be happy if we get this passed," Kniss said, quickly backing off, referring to the limited oak preservation effort. Her comment came after colleague Dick Rosenbaum pointed out that the same issue was considered in Palo Alto back in the 1970s, leading to a firestorm of protest from residents who managed to kill the proposal on a 5-4 vote. "The advantage of a mature tree to a homeowner is so obvious," Rosenbaum said, "I have the feeling that we can rely on the intelligence of the average Palo Alto resident to look after their trees," he said.

Calling Zoe

SF Mayor Willie Brown Jr. got all the attention last week by opening up his office on a first-come, first-served basis to all residents who wanted to drop in for a chat. Imagine that, getting to talk to the big cheese without first having to cough up $250 for a plate of dried-out chicken and lumpy spuds. But closer to home, San Jose Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren was doing him one better by opening up her phone lines for an hourlong marathon session with anyone who wanted to dial in. Lofgren, who advertised her Larry King act in a small ad in the Mercury News and on radio station KLIV, invited her constituents to contact her from the comfort of their own homes between 2 and 3pm last Friday. "It was great, I'm definitely going to do it again," she told Eye after the telethon: "We had about 10 people call, they waited on hold and I talked with them one at a time." Lofgren says all of the callers were new names to her and that the most popular topics were pension security and education. It only became slightly contentious at one point, Lofgren says, when a caller asked her to vote to overturn President Clinton's veto of the so-called partial-birth abortion prohibition, but the two agreed to talk again after the caller looks over an analysis of the procedure that Lofgren relied on in making her decision on the issue. Lofgren, who tells Eye she personally reads every single letter penned by her constituents, has made voter contact a high priority in her first term and continues to spend time on most weekends loitering at local shopping centers (yes, that was her wandering around the parking lot at the Lucky's on Aborn last weekend). Faced with only token GOP opposition in November, Lofgren tells Eye she has been raising money in hopes of helping the Dems win back some congressional seats from the GOP. "We could pick up four seats in California," she calculated before an aide interrupted her with news that another caller was on the line. "Hey, can I call you back?" Lofgren asked.

Urge Overkill

It would seem that some folks in the South County have their knickers in a twist again, this time over a Gilroy High School newspaper ad aimed at gay and "questioning" youth. Responding to the ad placed in the local high school's aptly named Free Press, Patty Rink of Gilroy and Pastor Eric Smith of South Valley Community Church are discussing plans to address the Gilroy Unified School District and demand that the 5-inch-by-4-inch ad be banned from future issues. ... The ad, placed by the Billy DeFrank Lesbian and Gay Community Center, lists support groups and phone numbers for teenagers facing a rough go at puberty. Ralph Serpe of the DeFrank Center says the ads are an attempt to reach out to gay teenagers, an alienated and suicide-prone group. According to Gilroy High's journalism adviser Greg Guerin, he and student editors at the Free Press wanted to run the ad last year, but were turned down by school administration. This year, however, principal Ernest Zermeno consulted with school health officials and teachers and gave the Free Press the go-ahead. ... Rink, who pulled her daughter out of the high school earlier this year because of what she describes as an undue focus on "intolerance" issues, says the ad promotes an unhealthy lifestyle. "Drugs are involved and alcoholism is involved," she surmises to Eye. "Just because people have an urge doesn't mean they should live it out."

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From the May 30-June 5, 1996 issue of Metro

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