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Barrio Defense on the Defensive

At first they were called SAVE OUR SONS, five mothers from east San Jose protesting the legal justice system that put 21-year-old JOSE LUIS ALVINA in prison for what they claimed was a murder committed in self-defense. Alvina's mother, QUETZAOCELOACIUA (Nahualtl for jaguar woman), is still fighting the justice system, as well as government officials who have contributed to treating the Hispanic community like second-class citizens by turning their backs on poverty and racism. Today, the battle has taken a more personal toll: the Barrio Defense Committee, the organization that Quetzaoceloaciua formed after Save Our Sons, is in danger of losing its headquarters on Second Street. The problem is old. The Barrio Defense Committee, which has a membership of about 30, is routinely short on its rent. Quetzaoceloaciua says the Barrio's landlord became more aggressive about collection because she'd complained the one-story hall's walls and floor were in need of repair. Quetzaoceloaciua has asked the city for grant money; in addition to protesting police brutality, the committee reaches out to the community by doing things like teaching English and Spanish. City leaders may be inclined to dismiss the Barrio's requests since the city's employees—namely police officers—are often held accountable for killing or injuring San Jose residents. "We put in as many proposals as possible but they never accept them," Quetzaoceloaciua says. On Aug. 28, comedian BEER RUN BOBBY will host the first of monthly gigs at Mexico Lindo (11 Race St.) to help the Barrio pay its rent. Quetzaoceloaciua says the donation is not unusual. The committee has many donors, she says. It's difficult to say whether Beer Run's efforts will help, but Quetzaoceloaciua hopes so since the committee has no options at the moment. "We're hoping to stay here," she says. "We have no Plan B yet."

Take a Grand Stand

Good news for all of you at the Grand Prix who were stranded somewhere near Market Street, waiting an ungodly amount of time to cross the pedestrian bridge: city officials have scheduled two meetings next week to ask for feedback about the race from a community perspective. The first meeting, billed as "resident focused," will be held at the MACLA building, 510 S. First St., Aug. 16, at 6:30pm. The following evening, at 5:30pm, a "business-focused" meeting will be held at the Tech Museum, 201 S. Market St. Sure to be on the list of desires from a fan's perspective: A wider course for next year so drivers can actually pass each other. $3 beer wouldn't hurt either.

Dem Bones of Contention

The poll police have outed Sunnyvale council candidate NANCY SMITH for switching political parties weeks before announcing she would run against incumbent JOHN HOWE. In 1994, Smith registered as a "decline to state" upon moving to the South Bay from Texas. In late June, she changed her affiliation to Democrat, prompting at least one critic to say she was deceiving voters by pretending to be a Dem when her heart was elsewhere. Not true, say Smith, a 41-year-old technical writer originally from Illinois. She says she has always leaned left, contributing to JOHN KERRY's campaign and even traveling to the 1984 Democratic Convention on behalf of none other than that leftist-leaning Dem, GEORGE McGOVERN. Smith says she didn't register Democrat when she first moved here out of privacy concerns. She updated her registration, she says, to be fair to voters. "I wanted to let them know what my leanings were," says Smith, whose husband is a longtime Democrat. Smith says Howe's party affiliation came under question in these very pages, when he was quoted encouraging ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER to hold a special election, which in theory would help incumbents like Howe get re-elected ("Gov. Rainmaker," June 1). "I think John's Democratic status is up for question," Smith says, not entirely joking.

From Pot to Potholes

That about sums up the SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE's interest in Silicon Valley. Ever notice they treat the South Bay about the same way THE NEW YORK TIMES treats anything west of the Rockies? "Oh, California, isn't that where marijuana comes from?" is what you might imagine the oh-so-locals-only Times editorial board saying about the state they find considerably less than golden, when they can find it at all. The Chronicle treats the South Bay with the same snooty disdain: if we don't have a sensational crime story or wacky body-part-in-the-fast-food bit to offer, we're not likely to make the front page. This dynamic played itself out in living Technicolor last weekend, when the pot bust in the Santa Cruz Mountains made the front page on Saturday. Then Sunday, we also got a front-page, above-the-fold mention—wow, two days in a row, right? Except that Sunday's front-page story was about the GOV. SCHWARZENEGGER pothole brouhaha from May. Back then, the Fly exposed how the Chron's political writer CARLA MARINUCCI had thoroughly misreported the story, writing erroneously that the governor "filled a pothole dug by city crews just a few hours before" and quoting neighbors who said Laguna Seca Way "didn't even have a hole to pave over until Thursday morning." Actually, the Laguna Seca Way project the article referred to was a legit city project, and the "pothole" was actually a 10-by-15-foot stretch of road that was being worked on. But apparently the Chron felt the truth shouldn't get in the way of a good story—especially if it's at our expense—so they let Marinucci write several hundred more words on the story. Clearly having read our critique, she chose her words more carefully, but it was still nothing more than a warmed-over rehash of a two-month-old bump in our political landscape. The fact that the Chron's political editors think it's S.J.'s biggest story just reinforces that they've let their South Bay coverage go to pot.

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From the August 10-16, 2005 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2005 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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