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The Fly

Constant: He'll Tumble 4 Ya

As a San Jose undercover cop, PETE CONSTANT once tumbled down an embankment of the Guadalupe River during a drug arrest, injuring his spine so badly the incident effectively ended his career. The episode apparently hasn't halted Constant's desire for government service. He has quietly announced he will run for the District 1 council seat LINDA LEZOTTE will vacate when her term expires next year. Cops and robbers aside, Constant is best known, perhaps, as the photographer who snapped the risqué photos of Assemblywoman REBECCA COHN published in San Jose Magazine last year. In the last year, he put together Silicon Valley Magazine, a competitor to San Jose Magazine, only to see it fail after three issues. (The mag is currently on hiatus, in fundraising mode, Constant says.) Even so, Constant will sell himself to District 1 voters as a Renaissance man, one who has done it all—public service, police union rep, businessman, nonprofit board man. He also sits on the Appeals Hearing Board, the only committee in the S.J. city government that doesn't answer directly to the City Council. In District 1, Constant says he'll try to tackle traffic issues. "I don't know what the solution is, to be frank," he says. "But it's prominent in the minds of residents. It's something that needs to be addressed." Constant, 41, has one large advantage over opponents: He's lived in the district since 1977, attending high school and patrolling in his police cruiser during his tenure as an officer. "I plan to personally visit every household in my district at least once," he says. That's about 30,000 households. "It will be quite a task," he says. Especially with a bad back!

From the City of Brotherly Love

At least one member of the Sunnyvale community felt outraged enough over the hiring of the city's deputy director of public safety that he called Fly to say things "stink" in the suburban enclave west of San Jose.

The reason for the odor? TIM JOHNSON, the new deputy director of special operations, is the brother of DON JOHNSON, the director of special operations (a position equal to police chief). In effect, Don Johnson is the boss of Tim Johnson, which, according to a strict reading of Webster's, looks a lot like nepotism. "We're sick of it here," the caller said to Fly. A lot of Sunnyvale types are coming out in defense of the hiring, though. "From all indications, the hiring process was fair and equitable," says DAVE PITTS, head of Sunnyvale's police union. Usually Don Johnson would have his choice to fill any of the four deputy director spots in Sunnyvale. But the city set up a five-member committee consisting of an outside police chief, a fire chief, a community member, an assistant city manager and an assistant director of public works. They made a recommendation to Don Johnson, who made the decision to hire his brother with the blessing of City Manager AMY CHAN. Tim Johnson had been acting as acting deputy director for months and was one of only two applicants for the position. "If he wasn't qualified, he wouldn't have been hired," said Sunnyvale spokesman JOHN PILGER.

Greenbacks For Black

How desperate were Milpitas school officials to give their superintendent, KARL BLACK, a $32,000 raise? They were willing to consider increasing his salary last year, but a school parcel tax was voted down. Here's the tricky part, though: School officials told voters during the parcel tax debate that none of the funds would pay for administrator salaries. Two weeks ago, board president MICHAEL MENDIZABAL told the Milpitas Post that Black would have received the raise had the tax in fact passed. Why the discrepancy? Mendizabal says his statement to the Post was supposed to imply that parcel tax money would pay for Black's salary. "All I said was, when it failed, we didn't think it was a good time to pursue a raise for Karl," Mendizabal says. The board president said school officials wanted to increase Black's salary because he was among the lowest paid in the South Bay and it would cost the Milpitas board about $30,000 to pay a hiring firm to locate qualified candidates. "There will be people who think he isn't worth it," Mendizabal says. "But there are also people who will be happy that we were proactive and that he stayed here."

Flood Control

The San Jose Silicon Valley branch of the NAACP, following the national office, is taking a harsh view of the response to Hurricane Katrina. Local president RICK CALLENDER distributed an email last week, written by national chairman JULIAN BOND, decrying the government's response as well as media reporting painting black people as looters and white people as victims of circumstances. Callender says the Silicon Valley branch, the 10th largest in America, has already collected $6,000 for flood relief and is expecting to contribute in more personal ways. Callender's mother, NORMA, is preparing to accept some of the flood victims into her home. "The government knew [many] people in New Orleans didn't have cars. But these folks, many of whom were black and poor, were ignored." Callender says. "It's outrageous—the failure of government at every level."

The George Report

When last we saw our hero, MATT GEORGE was up to his ankles in a guerrilla tsunami relief effort in Sumatra. Now the Bay Area jack-of-all-trades—he's been a pro surfer as well as filmmaker, actor and writer—has set his sights on the catastrophe in New Orleans. When his Surfzone Relief Operations arrived in the city Sept. 3, they were the only civilian rescue effort operating in the southern coastal part of the city, where they immediately began delivering people from their rooftops to the Coast Guard. As usual, George himself can explain the situation best: "It is desperate here. Thank your lucky stars for the roof over your head tonight. It's a big effort here on everyone's part. ... We wake up before dawn, a quick power bar, and then we all fan out. Spirits high in the camps, spirits and behavior deplorable in the city. Anything you see on TV? It's much worse. Hard to believe this is America." You can can donate to Surfzone Relief Operations at www.neworleans-louisiana.com, or through a direct bank transfer to Surfzone Relief Operations, Newport Beach Branch, 3475 Via Lido. Their nonprofit tax-free ID number is 20-2597808.

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From the September 14-20, 2005 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2005 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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