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End of regulation: San Jose Live! employees came to work Monday and found they were out of a job.

Another One Bites the Dust

Employees of San Jose Live! went to work Monday only to discover that they were out of a job. A press release taped to the front entrance informed them: "San Jose Live! closes doors." According to a waitress from Waves Smokehouse down the street, the club/sports bar hired some guy off the street to hand out the final paychecks to the 163 newly unemployed. "It was definitely ugly," concedes Jim Dawson, attorney for the club's owner, Dallas-based Harborage International. The company apparently handled this closure with the same grace it displayed when it chained the doors to its Sacramento club--America Live!--two years ago, owing $1.7 million in back rent and fees at the time. ... Seven years ago, San Jose Live! was hailed as the Pavilion's savior, rising from the ashes of the downtown mall's failed retail experiment. But city officials had cooled toward the entertainment messiah. One cop calls it a continual "policing problem in the area of drunks, assaults and crowd management." When the club's conditional-use permit came up for renewal two years ago, the Redevelopment Agency tried to get the owners to reduce its crowd capacity and massive weekend lines in front of the Second Street entrance. Harborage prez Charles Greener balked, saying he needed the business. ... It turns out Greener tried to unload San Jose Live! and four other clubs in Minneapolis and Phoenix last year, but the buyer--Jillian Entertainment Corp.--refused to acquire the San Jose club until a use permit had been secured. But Greener and his lawyers insist that they couldn't negotiate a deal because the agency wanted San Jose Live! out. Some say the club's weekend crowd didn't fit Redevelopment czar Frank Taylor's vision of a climate-controlled downtown mall populated by the master race. Dawson points to the obvious culture clash on Second Street between the fur-clad glitterati exiting the recently opened Repertory Theatre strolling past the hair-sprayed hoochie-mamas waiting to get into San Jose Live! ... So with its largest tenant gone, what now for the half-empty Pavilion? Downtown vets are speculating that the Pavilion's new owner, Forest City Enterprises, will be converting the empty retail space into lucrative office space.


Fudging Facts

Investigators say Morgan Hill City Councilman Bev Freeman called his council colleague Hedy Chang a ver-ry nasty name a few months back, and the D.A.'s office this week sadly reports that they can't really figure out a way to punish him for it. Caring readers would have been hard pressed to figure out what the slur was, however, using the Mercury News' description: "The blunt council maverick's alleged sexual slur was a derogatory term to describe a woman, while the racial slur was a denigration of Chinese. He also used a vulgar curse that refers to a sexual act." ... This week the mainstream media continued to fudge the unspeakable this week when Assistant District Attorney Karyn Sinunu released the findings of her investigation into the Freeman-Chang incident. The Morgan Hill City Council had previously asked the D.A. to, one, determine whether Freeman had committed a hate crime and, two, if he committed perjury. From the start, Sinunu says, it was clear Freeman didn't commit a hate crime because he didn't threaten violence. As for the perjury issue, that was more complicated. ... Earlier this year, Freeman signed a pseudo-legal document drafted by his lawyer "under the penalty of perjury" in which he "categorically and unequivocally" denied ever calling Chang "those words." But DA investigators say they found a witness to whom Freeman admitted calling Chang "those words" but promised, "I'm never going to admit it." ... For those who haven't yet figured it out, what Freeman allegedly said was, "Fucking Chinaman bitch."...The rub from the DA's standpoint is that the homemade document drafted by Freeman's lawyer didn't have any legal authority so he didn't commit perjury. That doesn't mean, however, that voters can't throw him out on his fat honky ass.


Pure Speculation

Last Tuesday's eight-point defeat of mayoral hopeful Pat Dando didn't bode well for her chances in the November general election, where higher turnout should favor her Democratic counterpart, Ron Gonzales. Her limp performance already has insiders speculating what she'll do next. One plausible theory has Dando positioning herself to make a run for Jim Cunneen's Assembly seat in the year 2000. Cunneen will be forced out of a job that year because of term limits. At the same time, Dando's council term will expire, leaving her free to adjust her sights on Sacramento. Cunneen is backing Dando for mayor, and it's reasonable that he'll support her to succeed him if she should lose her mayoral bid and choose to go to the capital. Running for mayor of the country's 11th-largest city can only help her name ID, even if she does get skunked. Of course, Dando's folks, the last to let go, won't talk about her running for anything but mayor of San Jose. ... Pundits are watching with great interest how Dando runs her general election campaign. At the end of the primary, her message danced around more than Ginger Spice (something about protecting the police from porno on the Internet in Sunnyvale libraries). Possible Assembly aspirants like Supe Jim Beall can only hope she blasts Gonzales as the candidate of big business--as some of her supporters tried to do before the June 2 vote--thereby biting the virtual hand that feeds the electorate in Silicon Valley.


Sugar and Spice

In the age of contribution limits, it's no surprise that unrestricted "independent expenditures" paid for by special interest PACs played a role in San Jose political races last week. What is surprising is that none of that money went to finance a hit piece, as independent expenditure committees are wont to do. (One notorious indie hit from two years ago falsely accused tree-hugging state Sen. Byron Sher of being a toxic polluter.) Police and firefighters' organizations kicked in about $22,142 to finance a mailer extolling the law-and-order virtues of mayoral candidate Pat Dando, without even mentioning her most formidable opponent, Ron Gonzales. Meanwhile, the local Democratic Party kicked in $15,000 to finance warm-and-fuzzy brochures for Gonzales and City Council wannabes Cindy Chavez and Linda LeZotte. And the Home Builders Association, Tri-County Apartment Association and Chamber of Commerce each coughed up $5,000 to push the agenda of favorite son Tony West in District 3. Home Builders lobbyist Michael Van Every explains that his group didn't want to go negative because doing so often backfires "and hurts the candidate you're trying to support." But don't expect the political sportsmanship to last into the general election when one-on-one runoffs make it clear exactly who benefits from a hit piece, unlike a primary race, where there's a bunch of candidates.


Toll House Kookies

South Bay public relations rivals Peter Carter and Brenna Bolger don't agree on much. As competitors, they usually find themselves on opposite sides of the proverbial fence. This time, however, the fence is more than a metaphor. Wayne Levenfeld, owner of Los Gatos' Toll House, has hired Bolger to orchestrate community support for his proposed expansion of the hotel. A major opponent of the expansion is Toll House neighbor Peter Carter. The proposed three-story addition not only threatens the views of Carter and his wealthy neighbors in the historic Broadway district, it would also give hotel guests a Peeping Tom's peek into the back yard of Carter's exquisite Victorian home. But the two competing spinmeisters at least agree on one thing: Both Carter and Bolger don't want their rivalry to be the story; they'd prefer to have the matter decided on the merits of their arguments. ... The Broadway neighborhood never liked the Toll House and the annoyance of a 3am car alarm, noisy trash-emptying during quiet hours or the odd bottle chucked over the wall into their lovingly tended backyard gardens. To them, the expansion will make the barely tolerable unequivocally intolerable. "It went from gargantuan to monstrous to huge monstrous," Carter huffs. "The problem is the visual blight. It's huge." ... Bolger and her compadres in town government aren't impressed with the NIMBY arguments of the hotel's neighbors and their pre-Prop. 13 acquired homes. They covet the hotel's increased transient occupancy tax, which could finance important town services like paying for more parking enforcers to hand out more tickets. The outcome will show which of these two politically connected propagandists wields more power in kitty city. The Planning Commission is expected to decide the project's fate a few hours after Eye goes to press this week.


Ticket To Ride

The Chamber of Commerce's campaign committee (COMPAC) may have kicked in five Gs on behalf of Tony West, but the business boosters also did a little favor for unionista Cindy Chavez, albeit involuntarily. Chavez and hubby Mike Potter were the lucky raffle winners at COMPAC's barbecue last month. The prize: two free airplane tickets. It being election season and all, Chavez figured she could use a couple of extra volunteers, so she flew her mama, Carmen, and auntie out from New Mexico. The tickets were worth an estimated $700, candidate Chavez reports. Meantime, Mama Chavez did her bit by rustling up some scrambled eggs, sausage and tortillas for the precinct walkers, who likely were strolling a little slower after their artery-clogging breakfast. "We got a lot of people to come back the next day to volunteer so they could eat my mom's food," the young Chavez boasts.


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From the June 11-17, 1998 issue of Metro.

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