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[whitespace] Premature Erection: City building officials have ordered the new dance-club tenant of the historic Studio Theater to stop the hammers from pounding until permits are obtained.

Slipped Disco

San Jose's permit police have struck again. This time, chief code inspector Mark Hannon slapped a stop-work order on the historic Studio Theater, where a group of ambitious yet slightly naive entrepreneurs were preparing to install a three-level dance floor. The Studio, the valley's last intact postwar deco/moderne moviehouse, is slated to become the next Polly Esther's, a nightclub chain specializing in the dance music from the '70s and '80s. Eye started to suspect the mirror ball spinners might have jumped the gun when, during a short tour of the work-in-progress, a worker from the all-knowing Redevelopment Agency--which controls development in the SoFA district--stopped by the job site and asked, "So, can anyone tell me what's going on here?" A quick check of the permits on file revealed that none existed that would allow a crowbar--or even a paintbrush--to be raised in a theater that was built in 1949. Sought for comment, Studio landlord Richard Berg was vacationing out of the country. "While the cat's away, the mice will play," one insider clucked. ... Meanwhile, redevelopment's own champion of open government, Carol Beddo, confirms the renovations of the historic South First venue caught the agency unaware. "There is no development application filed at the agency," she reports. Needless to say, downtown preservationists will be watching the work carefully. The Studio does not appear on the city's historic inventory, but no matter, says Preservation Action Coalition member Tom Simon. That list is woefully dated, he says, and omits many buildings covered by local and state preservation laws. "Whether or not the building is on the inventory is irrelevant," squawks Simon. "When you go for the planning permit, there's supposed to be an initial study to determine if there's a significant impact to a historic resource." All these permits may seem like a hassle to the Polly Esther's partners, but in time they may see it as a blessing. The last developer-duo to flout historic regs, Ed Storm and Derek Hunter, agreed to pay the city $90,000 for illegally razing the historic Fredkin's Market building on East Santa Clara Street.

Race Matters

A week ago, San Jose City Councilman Manny Diaz hosted a $100-a-head fundraiser for state Sen. Richard Polanco, the chairman of the Latino caucus. The invitation to the event read, "Let's make history together! Councilman Manny Diaz invites you join leaders in our community at an event to elect more hispanic leadership into our office." But it seems that Diaz's professed desire to elect more Latinos has its limits. City Council candidate David Cortese--whose Italian family owns lots of land in Diaz's eastside district--tells Eye that Manny has pledged to support him in the District 8 race. At the moment, there are two Latinos seriously looking at running for the seat: Maria Fuentes and Eddie Garcia, formerly an aide to Supervisor Blanca Alvarado, Diaz's benefactor who anointed him to replace her on the City Council. "Manny was Blanca's candidate for her seat," one wag observes. "I don't think she's going to be happy if he goes against her guy." In fact, insiders speculate that Diaz might fudge his position and give a dual endorsement to Cortese and Garcia. (Diaz couldn't be reached before press time.) Either way, Cortese says he'll gladly advertise Diaz's endorsement. Cortese brags that he still has photos of him and Manny together from when Diaz backed his failed bid for Assembly in 1996. "Believe me," Cortese sniffs, "I won't be putting an asterisk by his name saying 'dual endorsement.'"

Changing Guards

Irascible state Sen. John Vasconcellos was none too pleased when he had to waste 30 minutes of his precious time waiting for a recent closed-door meeting at the county government center to get started. Apparently, someone told him the wrong starting time. Sheriff Laurie Smith, who was already in the building for an earlier meeting, happened to catch the senator mid thumb-twiddle. "I spent a half-hour talking to him all by myself," she boasts. ... Vasco was in town to discuss the never-ending dispute over who controls the county's jail system. Eye-watchers will recall that a few months ago Vasconcellos ordered the various players to come up with a local solution and then report back to him. But the only solution county luminaries could come up with was to keep the confused status quo for another year, which Vasco didn't consider a real solution. "He was not happy," Smith says. ... The perturbed senator has decided to take matters into his own hands. Vasco will present a bill next week that would and classify jail guards as "custodial officers" instead of "peace officers." Unlike peace officers, custodial officers don't automatically get the right to carry guns off duty.

Still Thinking

Will she or won't she? The latest word is that Santa Clara Mayor Judy Nadler won't be running for Congress next year. Supporters of Democratic venture capitalist Bill Peacock have apparently been working to persuade Nadler to sit this one out and let Peacock take on incumbent Reep Tom Campbell. A Peacock partisan informs Eye that Nadler has indicated she won't run. There are also rumblings in Santa Clara political circles that she will stay put because she doesn't want to uproot her family--especially her two school-age daughters--and relocate to Washington, D.C. Eye caught Nadler off guard at her home Monday night (even supporters have had a hard time reaching her lately), where she refused to declare herself out of the running. But she clearly was nervous and unable to give a simple yes or no answer to questions. "I'd say it's more yes than no," she replied, when asked if she can be accurately described as "undecided."

Letter Head

Earlier this year, San Jose City Council candidate Kris Cunningham decided not to serve another year as an officer of the Willow Glen Neighborhood Association. The reason: "Every time I made a move," explains the past association president, "somebody would suggest it had to do with my running for office." Indeed, that's exactly what happened when Cunningham's would-be opponent, Ken Yeager, authored a letter appearing in the Willow Glen Resident last week, ostensibly as the vice president of the Rose Garden Neighborhood Preservation Association. Yeager--not the association's president--wrote to urge the city to keep a hose wagon and three firefighters at Willow Glen fire station no. 6 (which the city ultimately decided to do). "I'm sure Ken is looking for some way to get his name out in the community," Cunningham shrugs. By the by, station no. 6 doesn't even serve the Rose Garden neighborhood. ... As it turns out, Yeager didn't craft the missive as a letter to the editor, but merely included the Resident on the cc list in a letter to his pal Mayor Ron Gonzales.

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From the July 1-7, 1999 issue of Metro.

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