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[whitespace] Ron Gonzales Reinventing Ron--A Checklist

By Dan Pulcrano

HAVING GONE from being married in the suburbs to single guy in the city, Mayor Gonzales has begun an urban odyssey that can help him finally emerge as a great Big City Mayor. Unfortunately, he made himself a little scarce while he went about the messy business of sorting out his life, never a pleasant task for a public figure. Now that he's settled into a groove, and with re-election behind him, he's ready to step out and reconnect with his constituents.

Here are some bulletproof ideas on how Ron can broaden his horizons, develop deep insights into urban culture and forge the intellectual and social foundation to become San Jose's first truly metropolitan mayor.

  • Take a 40-minute walk through downtown at least twice a week. Vary itinerary to cover streets Second through 11th and the east-west streets in between. Take notes on broken sidewalks, cracked curbs, overgrown trees, unfriendly signage, unsynchronized lights, intrusive traffic control boxes, unsightly buildings. Review notes with city manager and appropriate department heads.

  • Start dining out after 10pm at any San Jose establishment you can find that stays open that late.

  • Stop driving to Sunnyvale and the peninsula for private dinners. San Jose needs the tax dollars and a ubiquitous mayor.

  • Park the SUV and take public transportation at least one day a week

  • Drop by the B-Hive at 1:15am on a weekend and exit with the patrons to see how San Jose Police Department welcomes money-spending customers to our downtown.

  • Conduct exit interviews with retailers who closed up shop: Casa Castillo. Fuel. Donovan's. Rhythm Records. Cactus Club. Rush Cybercafe. Mongo's.

  • Attend a meeting of Downtown Retail Advocates and a poetry event at Waves, Caffecito or MACLA.

  • Hang out with local historians, musicians or artists at least once a week.

  • Take three-day weekends and explore cool cities like Vancouver, Portland, Montreal and Memphis. When you are in Europe this summer, walk around cities instead of visiting museums, meeting big shots or taking tours.

  • Bone up on radical architects like Michael Graves, David Baker, Rem Koolhaas, Frank Gehry and Kisho Kurokawa, and visit some of their projects.

  • Champion the Sunshine Ordinance to promote good government, civic involvement and transparency.

  • Read Michael Sorkin's Variations on a Theme Park and other books about public spaces. Call up Jay Walljasper's articles on cities and urbanism on the Utne Reader's website. Pick a site for a new downtown pocket park.

  • Hang out on the periphery of the Tropicana Shopping Center or a Home Depot parking lot and practice Spanish with day laborers. Shop at the flea market.

  • Announce open office hours and invite citizens in to discuss anything on their minds.

  • Try riding a bicycle around San Jose for a day. (Be careful.) If you are really adventurous, spend a day in a wheelchair.

  • Go to breakfast again with everyone you sought out during your first campaign and ask them how you're doing. In the interest of time, skip the largest donors.

  • Go into the building department disguised as a homeowner and try to pull a permit for a home improvement.

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  • From the June 27-July 3, 2002 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

    Copyright © Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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