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[whitespace] Joe Simitian
Public Eye

Gimme an F

IS YOUR FAVE RESTAURANT also a popular hangout for rodents or, perhaps, sous chefs who can't get the hang of handwashing? If 5th District Supervisor Joe Simitian has his way, eateries will be publicly posting a letter grade given to them by environmental health inspectors and inspection info would be made available online. On June 15, the "placard in the window" proposal cleared the Housing, Land Use, Environment and Transportation committee, and will now go to the Board of Supes for a vote. Although John Q. Public may think that knowing whether a place specializes in salmon or salmonella is a great idea, John Q's enthusiasm does not appear to be shared by certain restaurateurs like Asian political godfather Gordon Chan. Chan, who owns the Mayflower Restaurant in Milpitas, and the Asian Business Coalition have leaned on certain supes to shoot down the grading plan, including Pete McHugh, the proposal's most vocal opponent on the board. (Chan has hosted McHugh campaign fundraisers in the past.) ... What's not entirely clear to Simitian is why Chan and the Asian Business Coalition are so opposed to his idea. After all, the latest version is so watered down--grade posting would be optional not mandatory--that even the Silicon Valley chapter of the California Restaurant Association isn't actively opposing it. "I'm really at a loss as to why they [the Asian Business Coalition] are against this," says Simitian, who notes that many Asian-themed restaurants have scored well on their inspections. In the past, Asian restaurateurs have complained that county inspectors have unfairly targeted them. Asian Business Coalition spokesman Ken Kamei says his group has other concerns besides ethnic bias: "The county of Santa Clara is not experiencing an outbreak of food-borne illness. So, we're wondering: Is this time well spent?"

Storm of Norman

Even though he lost the coveted federal transportation secretary job to Federico Pena and was forced to take a job at Lockheed Corp., former valley congressman Norman Mineta has been viewed as "cabinet material." So say insiders at the Capitol, anyway, who report a new job for Norm could be coming out of the woodwork very soon. Attendees of the Norman Y. Mineta Institute dinner last weekend honoring San Jose State University students studying transportation were among the first to publicly learn that Norman Y-Not Me Mineta is up for Secretary of Commerce. It was, by all accounts, a "very valley" experience, when John Vasconcellos got up before all the students and dignitaries in attendance and breathlessly announced he'd just gotten an email with the stunning news that Norman, sitting in the audience, was being considered for the cabinet post. Rod Diridon, who heads the Mineta Institute, said he would be writing a letter urging the selection of the former congressman as a solid rep for the new economy, the least Almighty Rod could do considering Norm had a central role in getting Diridon his current job.

Take Quetzy, Too

If the Urban Land Institute has its way, the city's Redevelopment Agency will take a cue from Timothy McVeigh and blow up the Federal Building at the corner of South First Street and San Carlos in downtown San Jose. ...In the recent ULI San Jose Retail Plan, the helpful city-retained consultants tossed out "relocation of Federal Buildings to enhance retail flow between historic district and SOFA" as a way to get business moving in the South of First gateway area. Apparently they noticed the bevy of boarded-up windows and lack of foot traffic in the beloved SoFA 'hood, and realized the Robert F. Peckham Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse destroys continuity between the two districts. ... The consulting crew fails to mention the major bucks that feds laid down in the post-Oklahoma City bombing era to install iron gates and video cameras to guard our boring buildings. But the fun-loving folks at the Redevelopment Agency aren't intimidated by the petty costs of relocating the monoliths. "They've scrapped a lot of things in the past," Redevelopment Communications Officer Peggy Flynn chirps ambitiously, citing "this one huge concrete fountain" that was built back in the '70s and leveled to make room for the San Jose Repertory Theater. "The plan only makes suggestions," Flynn, however, cautions.

Double Ds

Well, one thing Eye has to say about multilevel marketing guru Bill Gouldd: he still makes for good news. Gouldd, founder of Equinox International, a multilevel marketing company profiled in a 1996 Metro cover story, "The Glass Pyramid," got himself taken to court by the Federal Trade Commission, eight separate states and also had a class-action lawsuit leveled against him. After a two-week trial attended by a slew of lawyers--roughly 28, according to FTC attorney Frank Gorman--the case was settled April 20 and will become final in September. Gouldd is now permanently barred from participating in any pyramid schemes, either as a member or a promotional speaker, and his assets, a hefty $40 million, have gone into liquidation. These high-end specialty items include two yachts, a private jet, a collection of cars and three multimillion dollar homes--including a 400-acre ranch in Durango, Colorado. Evidently, Gouldd who added the extra "d" to his name for "dollars"--walked away from the settlement with a mere $8 million in cash, a Range Rover and a Rolex watch worth $13,000.

L.A. Story

This week, as most Eye-watchers are aware, San Jose Councilwoman Margie Matthews announced she is resigning July 31 to take a job in Los Angeles. Matthews will be the number two person at the Los Angles Department of Recreation and Parks. Before Eye watchers start scratching their heads too hard, guess who is number one in parkland there--Ellie Oppenheim, who most San Joseans remember as the city's longtime head of the Convention and Visitors Bureau. A few minutes before her final council meeting, Matthews revealed to Eye that Oppenheim (whom Margie describes as a friend) encouraged her to apply for the L.A. job. "In this case, I was sought out," Matthews said. Matthews wouldn't say how much she'll make in her new job, but did confirm that she'll earn more than her current $70,000 council salary. But apparently she isn't planning on blowing her dough on a fancy new home in La La Land. Matthews says she plans to live with her actor brother in North Hollywood for a while.

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From the June 29-July 5, 2000 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2000 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

For more information about the San Jose/Silicon Valley area, visit sanjose.com.

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