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[whitespace] B-have! Hip-hop cops stay cool at the B-Hive.

Public Eye

Bad Rap

San Jose Police have a ritual to rid South First Street of humans as 2am approaches in the nighttime youth fun zone, where, they figure, something bad is bound to happen. The concentration of cop cars with bright lights smack in front of the only hip-hop club in downtown, the B-Hive, has overtones of heavy-handedness. But refreshingly, it turns out, the blue boys down here ain't so bad, according to a local expert who is usually cop critical. "Sure, the police are there in numbers, but if you watch, they have a tendency to be more tolerant," says anti-racial-profiling activist WALTER WILSON, who's spent some evenings videotaping police behavior by the South First Street clubs. Of course, everything is relative, and Wilson is comparing the cop scene outside the San Jose club to that of another, Spanky's in Redwood City, also owned by the man behind the B-Hive, MENASSA ABINADER. Abinader is suing Redwood City officials Mayor DIANE HOWARD, City Manager ED EVERETT and Police Chief CARLOS BOLANOS for racial discrimination performed "with evil motive," or at least recklessly, according to his federal suit, the trial for which began with jury selection on Monday, Sept. 9, and launched into opening statements on Tuesday. "What I think is happening in Redwood City is that the whole civil rights movement has just passed them by," says Wilson, who's watching Abinader's back on the suit and decries the lack of color in Redwood City politics. Abinader's 11-page complaint alleges that police officers violated the Redwood City club's patrons' constitutional rights by using excessive force, unequally enforcing the law and violating their privacy. "Public officials of the city of Redwood City did not like the ethnic makeup of the crowd and did not want 'these kind of people' being brought into Redwood City," the complaint states. So, it continues, the cops beefed up their presence at Spanky's and cracked down on uncrackworthy or even imaginary offenses. This, Abinader's case contends, even though killings and cocaine slinging allegedly plagued clubs up the road and not Spanky's. In 1999 came the dance-permit requirement and permit revocation, a bureaucratic hoop no other club had to jump through and the final straw that contributed to Spanky's closure, says Abinader's lawyer, GEORGE HOLLAND. Holland says the core issue in this "landmark" case "goes back to when parents thought jungle music would make people savages." Abinader is asking Redwood City for a whopping $10 million. ... But so far, Redwood City officials concede nada. Instead, they simply deny all allegations in their standard-issue 10-page answer to the complaint and accuse Abinader of "willful and gross behavior." Interestingly, the defendants' argument is based partly on the fact that they are ignorant. "Defendants allege that they are without sufficient information or belief to enable them to answer [some of the plaintiff's allegations] and, basing their denial on that ground, deny each and every other allegation contained therein," the city responds, referring to the accusation that they purposely tried to drive out the ethnic folk.

Is Simon Gay?

Despite the San Jose Mercury's bold Sept. 5 headline declaring "Controversy dogs Simon at S.J. stop," Eye found that Republicious guv candidate BILL SIMON was surprisingly poised and well-spoken and emerged ultimately unscathed from his SJ Rotary Club engagement on Wednesday, Sept. 4, despite the public's many reasons to scathe him. In its article, the Merc referred to "a later press conference," where Silly Billy "faced a torrent of questions" because of his gay-lovin' answers (and later disowning thereof) to a Log Cabin Republicans' candidate questionnaire gauging gay-Republican friendliness. Regardless of what sort of dogging over Simon's swinging both ways on the Gay Pride Day conundrum occurred at the press playtime, local Rotarians showed no interest. The group of lunching local VIPs chuckled supportively when Simon called himself "a recovering lawyer," and clapped at regular intervals during Simon's Gov. GRAY DAVIS bashing fest. His speech centered on how badly Davis screwed up the state's education system. Simon lectured the room on his alternative plan to save Cali's "failing schools," a plan that includes axing state regulations in favor of local control, encouraging blood-thirsty competition between schools and magically compelling parents and neighbors to volunteer their support to boost schools. "Kids are very important," explained Simon, who likes them so much he even has some of his own. Rotarian attendees included the county's sociopolitical butterfly Tax Assessor LARRY STONE, action-oriented business fan and mod Republican Chamber chief JIM CUNNEEN, foiled company Exodus Communications former head ELLEN HANCOCK, and others who either like to lurk as high-profile campaigns unfold or just like to eat a fancy lunch in a roomful of lurkers. Despite all the swallowing of sausage and Simonspeak, not everyone was mesmerized by the candidate's smooth delivery. "I was concerned about the lack of specificity," County Schools Super COLLEEN WILCOX, Ph.D., told Eye. She wondered exactly what the governor-hopeful's blueprint is for how she'd actually get Alum Rock and other districts' parents involved. She noted that education improvements require money, a specific Simon neglected to explore. But this case of the-politician's-lips-are-moving-but-no-one's-home didn't make it to the daily's 3B coverage the next day. Of course, Eye empathizes with the Merc for wanting to change the subject from Simon's actual boring speech. Eye too brought a topic of interest to the event and, as a result, was severely disappointed that San Jose Rotarians do not wear funny hats with horns at their meetings.

Reefer Madness

In a move that proves the ancient grunge proverb, "Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean that they're not after you," the federal Drug Enforcement Administration descended upon Santa Cruz's model medical pot farm in a pre-Sept. 11 surprise raid that slaps the face of Cali's voter-approved 1996 ballot measure, Prop. 215 allowing for the use of medical pot. Last week's harvest-season bust decimated the annual supply of the club, affecting mostly people diagnosed with terminal, multipain and multisymptom illnesses like cancer and AIDS, who make up about 80 percent of the membership-based organization Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana (WAMM). (See MetroNews story, page 8.) Representing an alternate take, DEA agents arrested 130 huge pot plants approaching full bloom, farm executive director VALERIE CORRAL and her partner, MICHAEL. The next day, a small but critical mass of protesters took their "DEA Go Away" and other pro-pot-prescription signs to One First Street in downtown SJ to present their opinions in front of the building that houses local drug enforcement officials. The protest was thrown by the pro-medic-pot grassroots Safe Access Now campaign and organized by DENNIS UMPHRESS, a Libertarian candidate running for the San Jose congressional seat held by Dem ZOE LOFGREN. While it's hard to take a Libertarian seriously when he or she talks about tweaking laws--since the party is supposedly about getting rid of government--Umphress made an effective (though perhaps a wee bit off topic) point when he railed against the huge sentences that cause some pot possessors to stay in prison longer than some rapists and murderers. More on point were 51-year-old LOREY CAPELLI from the Santa Cruz Mountains and 59-year-old WALTER COKER from Mountain View. Both have doctor recommendations to smoke pot--Capelli for multiple sclerosis and Coker for chronic back pain, among other things. Mountain View computer security guy ALAN ROCKEFELLER, 24 (who IS a relation, but wouldn't say how), came out to the protest because, he said, "I'll go anywhere where they're fighting the drug war. What the DEA is doing is unjust and not a very good use of my tax dollars." Eye'll smoke to that.

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From the September 12-18, 2002 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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