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Another Jackson Scandal: Nebraska rejects colonialist.

Public Eye

Wonky Donkey

Eye discovered that local Dems are pack animals. Not like Nebraska Dems. Those crazy monkeys are no one's copycats. Due to a political hypercorrectness that welled up from within the party, Nebraska Dems dropped the name of their sector's version of the big, high-profile donkey party, the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner. Party activists there were offended by the name because it pays homage to Thomas Jefferson, who owned slaves, and Andrew Jackson, who slaughtered Native Americans. "Oh, how anal," tax assessor and local dinner regular Larry Stone delicately responded when Eye informed him of Nebraska's action. "Lighten up. George Washington had slaves, but are we going to take his picture off the dollar bill?" Nebraska Dem Party Deputy Dog Heath Mellow explains the name-change prompt. "One of our prominent Native American activists [Frank Lamere] brought it up," he says, adding that the concern stirred up clashing emotions within the ranks. It was "one of the bigger inner-party issues that we've dealt with in the last couple of years," he says. (Eye could think of a few other issues the party may want to think about, if it's wanting for some--such as how to scrape its pride off the Florida voting-booth floor and run a candidate that's got a clear and representative vision for the country who doesn't speak in monotone or co-opt Republican values to fit in.) Meanwhile, the Santa Clara County Democratic Central Committee, which threw its dinner in March, had no idea anyone was thinking about the oppressive symbolism of the schmoozefest's name. Says County Dem Party chair Steve Preminger, "We called it that because ... it was just what we heard they were called." The Nebraska Dems held their first party under the new name--the Morrison-Exon Dinner--last month. The name references non-slave-owning and non-Indian-slaughtering former Nebraska governors Frank Morrison and Jim Exon. It's not too late for the locals to follow in Nebraska's neurotic footsteps. Preminger considers for a moment and offers, "If there is a problem with that reference, we would certainly take it into consideration. We obviously don't want to offend any of our constituents." If party people want a new name, Preminger suggests, "Maybe we ought to name it the Madge Overhouse-Keith Garvey Annual Democratic Party Dinner." Overhouse is the kind of left-wing institution any serious Dem consults before running for political office, and Garvey is the beloved Democratic and labor activist whose death on June 1 from a heart problem spread a ripple of grief from San Jose to the Beltway.

Coffee, Tea, or...: Neighborhood outrage.

Gimme Some Sugar

Sexy lingerie is utterly legal. Ditto for hot coffee. But mix the two in San Jose and watch out for the sexy police. The owners of the recently opened Sugars Coffee Cafe, where scantily clad ladies serve up java to jaw-dropping patrons, don't see any real reason for why they're getting so much flack from city and county officials. Co-owners Tony Nunez and John Nebres tell Eye that since opening Sugars on East Santa Clara and 22nd streets in late February they've been hammered by anti-lingerie hostilities, for instance, in the form of surprise police visits (including by the gang unit). "They've profiled and harassed us from the beginning," says Nunez. "We feel threatened. We really have to watch our backs." The alleged harassment has gotten bad enough that Nunez started a petition drive to rally support for his hot coffee shop, and he scheduled a meeting with Councilmember Cindy Chavez for a June 19 power meeting. Of course, Juanita Baca, a city code enforcement inspector, begs to differ with the Sugars crew about their innocence, citing permit violations and complaints from the 'hood. "I've no issues with them as long as they're within city code as far as zoning, health and safety issues," Baca says. "I know they feel they're being picked on, but we're only doing our job." She says the city found nine code violations after responding to complaints about Sugars. "There are a number of folks complaining; they don't consider it a family-type business," Baca says. Indeed, one guy named Allen emailed in disgust after reading about Sugars in Metro. "[Sugars] promotes the degradation of women and our declining social values," he observes. "This establishment also lures characters from outside our neighborhood which don't belong. ... It doesn't serve the local community in any manner, shape or form, unless you call serving the [local] Norteño's gang. ... My neighbors and I won't patronize this place and wish it would just go away." Nunez, on the other hand, takes the position that Sugars is actually good for the community. "We're a small business trying to create commerce in a neighborhood that doesn't have much of it," he says. Officials like Ben Gale, director of the county's Department of Environmental Health, offer the take that they were nice enough to permit Sugars in the first place. But Nunez and Nebres claim the sexy police backed them into a corner, and that city and county employees point out problems but refuse to help them get up to code. "We want to be the Hooters of coffee shops," says Nunez.

Geek on Trial

Eye's favorite "terrorist" showed up in downtown San Jose's federal court on First Street last week. This terrorist was of neither the guerrilla-warfare nor the state-sponsored variety, but rather Cameron Moore, the 44-year-old, Ph.D.-holding, Denver-based engineer who was caught emailing weird threats to (and thus labeled a terrorist by) Internet gadflies Mary Day and Michelangelo Delfino ("InterNot Free Speech," March 27). Moore, loyal Metro fans will remember, according to a affidavit signed by an FBI agent, admitted that he composed emails threatening Day and Delfino (one of the messages in question, allegedly read in part, "You can look forward to all your fingers getting broken, several kicks to the ribs and mouth, break some teeth, and a cracked head") and last made an appearance in San Jose's federal court on March 13. Moore's confession was, at the time, yet another chapter in a bizarre, four-year-long free speech struggle between the Los Altos couple and their former employer Varian Associates (now Varian Medical Systems and Varian Semiconductor). The former employees of Varian had lost a jury verdict for posting disparaging, irreverent and sometimes ridiculous (but according to them, all legitimately based in truth and/or opinions) remarks on Internet websites about their former employer and some of the corporation's top executives. But when Day, Delfino and Eisenberg arrived in federal court last Thursday hoping for some sort of explanation about why a Denver-based engineer would risk his reputation threatening the Bay Area couple, they witnessed a plea bargain that had Moore pleading guilty to a lesser charge (from an interstate commerce felony to an intentional harassment misdemeanor), possibly avoiding prison time and, more importantly, Eisenberg says, avoiding having to explain his actions in criminal court. (Eisenberg alleges Moore's connection to the case is not random and insists he has video stills showing Moore at the wedding of one of the Varian execs.) For those with an interest in fashion, Moore arrived to court lumberjack-style this time, complete with a beard and thick suspenders; in March, he was clean-shaven and sporting an ivory sports jacket with matching pants. Eisenberg, meanwhile, was displeased with U.S. prosecutor Jeff Nedrow for accepting the lesser charge. "Nedrow wants to get rid of the case," Eisenberg sniffed before he left San Jose. "He's a very busy prosecutor." Eisenberg's clients, however, did walk away with a minor coup, an ironic twist that will undoubtedly be the fodder of many a stinging Internet posting from Day and Delfino: The court scheduled the sentencing hearing for Moore--the man the couple calls a "terrorist"--for Sept. 11, 2003.

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From the June 12-18, 2003 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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