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Risch: Crimestopper.

The Fly

No Cheers in Sunnyvale

It began with police shutting down a section of Murphy Avenue around midnight last Sept. 1 because of fighting and vandalism outside the Forum Nightclub. This routine scenario escalated to the highest levels of Sunnyvale government when Vice Mayor Tim Risch's stepdaughter, an employee of the nightclub, called him to complain that the Forum was being shut down illegally. Risch, in turn, called former City Manager Robert Lasala, which led to a number of phone calls to reveal whether police were overstepping their authority. A month later, police complained about Risch during a council meeting, saying his interference on this and at least one previous incident undermined the authority of police and was bad for morale. The resulting investigation was somewhat of a fiasco. Councilmember Fred Fowler quit the three-member investigation committee because of what he describes as insults from the two other committee members, former Councilmen Jack Walker and Manuel Valerio. Walker and Valerio, two of Risch's buddies on the council, nonetheless concluded Risch had shown poor judgment and suggested a number of changes to the city's Code of Conduct. End of story? Nope. Last month, a grand jury concluded that former Mayor Julia Miller should have never formed the investigative committee. According to the grand jury report, Miller should have referred the matter to LaSala or City Attorney Valerie Armento, who were supposed to investigate the incident and report to the mayor, who then could have formed an investigative committee. By forming the committee on her own, Miller technically violated the state's open-meetings law, known as the Brown Act. Was Risch contrite for causing such a mess? Not exactly. He got his council pals to dip into city funds to reimburse him for the attorney he brought during committee questioning. Those services cost the city $8,000. Voters, however, booted Risch out of office last November, so there is a happy ending after all.

Sanders: A medal would be nice.

The Rhythmics Are Coming

Since its inception as an Olympic sport 20 years ago, no U.S. citizen has ever qualified to compete in rhythmics, a gymnastic-type sport in which young women dance and make merry with objects such as a ball, ribbon or hoop in routines lasting between 75 and 90 seconds (no more, no less, without penalty). The one exception is the 1996 Olympics, when Team USA qualified only because it was host nation, a lame reason if ever one existed. America's dearth is about to end, however, because Mary Sanders qualified last year at a competition in Budapest. South Bay residents will have a chance to check out Sanders and seven other gymnasts at the Olympic trials held at the San Jose State University Event Center, along with trampoline trials, June 19 from 6 to 9pm. Sanders, who has never been to San Jose, says she is excited about the next stop on the competition trail. She says Eastern Bloc countries have dominated rhythmics because the sport, which originated in Sweden, is ingrained in their culture. "Every girl wants to do it," she says from her home in Toronto. Toronto? It seems Sanders has dual citizenship—her father was a Michigan trampoline artist. She wanted to compete for the United States to honor Fred Sanders after spending five years in the Canadian program. For those of you worried about cross-border disputes, Sanders says any acrimony has long since dissipated. "I started competing for the U.S. three years ago," she says.

Sacked: The Rodin statue abuse scandal.

Playing Detective

Mary Day and Michelangelo Delfino, the Los Altos couple who have been involved in a lengthy and bitter Internet speech struggle with their former employers, are still grinding away. Both sides are ready for battle, having tendered all the paperwork to the Supreme Court. (To refresh: Delfino and Day called their former bosses nasty names on the Internet; their bosses sued them; and now the fight has been brought to the state's highest court.) However, with the briefs prepared, Delfino and Day are focusing on a certain Cameron Moore, better known in cyberspace as crack smoking_jesus ("Speech Rap," Sept. 18). Moore received a federal sentence last year for threatening Delfino and Day and is now the target of a civil lawsuit by the couple. So far, Varian, Delfino and Day's opponent in their free-speech case, has denied any collusion with the slimy Moore (whose image apparently appears in a wedding video of a Varian executive), but the intrepid couple is determined to discover if there is indeed a connection. "We have some information that shows [Varian's attorneys] had communications with Moore," Day reports to Fly. "So we're going to subpoena them. We want to discover their relationship with Cameron Moore."

A Bust for All Occasions

Stanford University's venerable Cantor Arts Center was prey to some creative—dare Fly even say "artistic"—protesting last week. Its collection of sculptures, which features 20 nude bronzes by the brilliant French sculptor Auguste Rodin, was "augmented' by strategically placed hoods placed over the heads to protest the treatment of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib. Scrawled with chalk on the ground were the words "Rumsfeld was here." After the hoods were taken down by museum operators Thursday, the person returned to put them back again Friday. Museum caretakers say they determined no damage has been done. "It was pretty benign," says museum manager Susan Roberts-Manganelli. Fly, meanwhile, did some more snooping and tracked down Steve Bishop, a graduate product-design student who took pictures of the hooded sculptures. Bishop says he knows who did it but, naturally, won't divulge the name. "It was one individual, a student," Bishop tells Fly. "There's a chance it might happen again. What I hear is that the [museum's] biggest concern was that they were worried if those statues had been damaged. To me, that's kind of ironic, to worry about the statues and not the people at Abu Ghraib."

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From the June 2-8, 2004 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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