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[whitespace] Ron Gonzales OK, Jose: San Jose Mayor Ron Gonzales wants to preserve the historic Jose Theatre, but MACLA cries foul.

Moving On

As long as Susan Hammer was mayor, the Mexican American Center for Latino Arts (MACLA) could count on someone in City Hall watching--and scratching--its back. The group's director, Maribel Alvarez, used to be Hammer's press secretary. And the chair of MACLA's board of directors is none other than Eva Terrazas, Hammer's longtime adviser who now pulls a paycheck from the Redevelopment Agency. Just as Hammer was about to turn the gavel over to Ron Gonzales last year, the outgoing mayor came through for her old associates. The Redevelopment Agency promised to contribute $800,000 toward transforming the Jose Theatre, which then had a date with the wrecking ball, into office space for MACLA. ... Now, six months later, everything has changed: Gonzales is determined to preserve the historic Jose as a theater, meaning that unless MACLA becomes a stage act it will lose out on the promised land. Downtown Councilgal Cindy Chavez tried to come to the rescue last week, submitting a budget memo asking to give MACLA 800 Gs for a non-Jose Theatre office. An aide to Chavez explains that MACLA "still needs money to relocate or fix up that spot" it's in now, which is two doors up from Metro on South First Street. But the Gonzo squad apparently disagreed with the subsidy. The mayor's latest budget proposal doesn't include any cash for MACLA to move or remodel Alvarez's working quarters with lots of new Herman Miller furniture.... MACLA isn't the only Latino group that San Jose's first Latino mayor since statehood won't be accommodating. As the Mercury News reported Sunday, the American GI Forum, a Mexican American vets organization, owes the city $625,000 for police services at its annual festivals. An adviser to the mayor says Gonzales is "seriously considering" suing the nonprofit group to get the city's money back, an option previously rejected by ex-city manager Regina Williams. It wouldn't be the first time Gonzo has crossed swords with the GI Forum. As a county supervisor in 1995, he opposed renewing the contract for the Forum's controversial alcohol rehab program.

Faeces, CA 95113

There are times when City Hall gadfly William "Speaking on Behalf of the Public" Garbett sounds positively brilliant, dissecting redevelopment proposals with the kind of institutional memory not even ginkgo-consuming bureaucrats can boast. And then there are times when ol' Bill seems to raise objections to boring consent calendar items for the sake of annoying the city's opinion leaders. Eye will leave it up to readers to decide whether Garbett's latest call-to-arms is inspired by genius or mischief. ... Last week Garbett asked city attorney Joan Gallo for a legal opinion on a referendum he wants to put on the ballot in November 2000 to change the city's name from San Jose to "Faeces," a British variation on the word "feces." Needless to say, pencil-pushers in the city think Garbett's idea reeks. Still, if Garbett collects approximately 25,000 valid signatures, San Jose voters can decide for themselves whether they would like to be known as Faecesians. "So, if he doesn't get enough signatures to put it on the ballot," one wag muses, "will it be because he did a shitty job?"

Plugging Along

William Garbett may not be a household name, but he did earn the honor a few years ago of being parodied by the San Jose Stage Co. in its annual Monday Night Live show as fictional serial killer Hannibal Lecter. As far as Eye knows, Garbett won't be making a cameo in this year's show, despite Hannibal the Cannibal's return to the bestseller list. But plenty of other City Hall regulars will be there. Former Sunnyvale Mayor Ron Gonzales will be hosting, and Eye understands that Gonzo propagandists Jude Barry and Joe Guerra are crafting the bilingually challenged mayor's monologue. Retiring redevelopment czar Frank Taylor will be roasted in a skit where he is portrayed as the delusional Col. Kurtz from Apocalypse Now, suffering from a loose grip on reality and an inability to color-coordinate. Supes Jim Beall and Pete McHugh (played by actors) will do a transportation-related riff on the Honeymooners, with Beall as Ralph and McHugh as Norton. Reserved seats are $50; general admission is $25. Proceeds go to support San Jose Stage.

Grilli Vanilli

For a while now, a few disgruntled parents belonging to the National Coalition for Family Justice have been wearing "Stop Judicial Abuse in Dept. 75" buttons to court. The button-wearers share a disdain for the jurist in family court, Judge James Stewart, who is retiring this year. A woman from the Family Justice group wearing a "Citizen Watch" button was stopped by security at the court and informed that she would have to remove her button if she didn't want a ride in the paddywagon. The cops told her they were under order from Judge Mary Ann Grilli, the family court's supervising jurist, to prohibit anyone from wearing buttons of any sort inside the court. Divorce lawyer Robin Yeamans, a vocal Stewart critic, overheard what was going on, pinned a button on her chest and declared she was ready to go to jail. After receiving word of the commotion, Judge Grilli declared the "Citizen Watch" buttons were not a punishable fashion faux pas, though the bailiff reportedly told Yeamans that no other buttons were allowed. ... Grilli tells Eye that she issued no order to bar all message-bearing buttons in court. However, she did instruct security to check with judges first as to whether they think buttons or T-shirts are inappropriate for the courtroom. Grilli herself says she allowed the "Stop Judicial Abuse" buttons in her courtroom on Monday. "We understand if Grilli wants to backpedal now," sniffs Kathleen Justi, a founding member of the Coalition for Family Justice. "Her order was unconstitutional."

Dollar Bill

Presidential hopeful Bill Bradley, in the middle of a 10-day campaign swing through California, will be in Silicon Valley wooing the locals this Saturday. One local who apparently needs no more wooing is ex-San Jose Mayor Tom McEnery. Sources tell Eye that McEnery has been raising dough for Bradley's uphill campaign against Vice President Al Gore for the Democratic nomination. It's not clear why the Macster is so enamored with the former Knicks small forward, but in the past he has shown a soft spot for underdogs. Eye-watchers will recall that McEnery lent his mighty imprimatur to Reform Party prez aspirant Richard Lamm in 1996, propelling the ex-Colorado governor from obscurity into oblivion. ... In other national politics news, Santa Clara County tax assessor and political junkie Larry Stone travels to Tennessee this week for Vice President Al Gore's presidential kickoff. Is Stone hoping for a cushy appointment? Nah, he assures Eye, he just couldn't stay away.

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From the June 17-23, 1999 issue of Metro.

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