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The Fly

Lawyering Up

NOLAN, ARMSTRONG & BARTON's website says the law firm "is devoted exclusively to the defense of individuals and corporations accused of criminal activities." So why the heck did the County of Santa Clara last week set aside $500,000 for the services of criminal attorney THOMAS NOLAN? County Counsel ANN RAVEL said in her Sept. 13 memo that Nolan would be helping her out with "special litigation." Which is pretty odd, considering that Nolan & Co. advertises defense services for white collar criminals, sex offenders, spouse beaters and murderers, but never talks about its competency as civil litigators. We called Tommy to find out why, in these budget-challenged times, the county would be spending our hard-earned tax dollars to pay his $350-an-hour fees, but the expert in "highly complex criminal cases" was far too busy to chat with us about his half-million-dollar gig. "I cannot talk to you right now. I am in a trial," he declared. Since it was 5:30pm, long after most trial judges are on the golf greens, we begged for 60 seconds of his time, but he continued to insist that he was still "in a trial." (Memo to Tom: bill for media call.) And since Ravel didn't get back to us either, we can only speculate as to why the county suddenly needs the services of the heavy-hitting barrister to rapists and wife killers. We'll bet our next paycheck that it has something to do with the offer by county officials like County Exec PETE KUTRAS and his recently promoted HR guy LUKE LEUNG to give raises to members of the sheriff's union if they stayed out of the Measure C election and that a subsequent sworn deposition by union head JOSE SALCIDO that included statements a veteran DA investigator recommended prosecuting as criminal perjury. Although District Attorney GEORGE KENNEDY declined to prosecute the case after meeting with union political consultant VICTOR AJLUNY, a revelation first reported in Metro, we hear the state attorney general's office has been sniffing around the periphery of the mushrooming scandal. Salcido took a lie detector test to show that he told the truth and nothing but, and now plaintiffs in a suit against the county have filed a request, saying they'd like to see the actual polygraph results, among other documents. Meanwhile, in a strange twist, county officials have reopened negotiations with Salcido's union. They now want to give more money to the sheriffs, which is viewed in some quarters as a way to shore up rank-and-file support for Salcido after the raises he negotiated subsequently evaporated. County bosses may also try to buy their way out of the jam by tossing some cash at those pesky attorneys over at the DA's office, who have been up in arms about what they see as illegal behavior by county officials. The county hopes that if it pacifies the attorney's union, a lawsuit challenging its behavior by former San Jose Councilmember JOHN DIQUISTO will go away.

Back on Black

Last week, Fly buzzed about Milpitas Superintendent KARL BLACK getting a $32,000 raise even though the school district's bond measure failed last year. The hefty chunk brought him up to a whopping $192,000 annual salary, which board president MICHAEL MENDIZABAL said compared to other superintendents in the county. But wait a second—this 20 percent pay increase comes as $1.7 million was just slashed from the district's budget, eliminating 27 positions. When school bells marked the end of summer vacation a couple of weeks ago and kids returned to more crowded classrooms, Black ingeniously pointed out that "budget cuts were rearing their ugly head." He didn't mention that he was pocketing more than twice as much as the highest-paid teacher in the district. (Educators' salaries range from $40 to $75,000.) ROGER SHAW, another infuriated resident, congratulated CARMEN MONTANO, the only board member that voted against Black's raise, for hitting the nail on the head: "Superintendents are grossly overcompensated in the valley," she said.

A FARSE of One

Fly first spotted JEFF BROOKS at a MEDEA BENJAMIN gathering in San Jose, where the high-profile activist was pushing CODE PINK T-shirts to CINDY SHEEHAN supporters and giving a pep talk to Birkenstock-clad peaceniks. Brooks, to the say the least, blended in. He sauntered up to the podium, bicycle helmet in hand, to announce his new group, Fast Anti-Bush Responders to Satirical Empowerment (FARSE). The group, Brooks explained later, is actually a mailing list of test-readers for his self-authored satire at www.thankyoumichaelmoore.com. The 29-year-old recently gave up his software engineering job to pursue a career in fake news, which he believes is key for the American public to loosen up. His pilot piece is a predictable spoof on PRESIDENT BUSH's brainpower, including a fictional (yet believable) rant, "I'm the war president because Jesus said, so there!" Strangely, Brooks ridicules the commander-in-chief's assumed divine backing, yet claims his own inspiration comes from above. The words that make their way to FARSE emails originate in silent periods of meditation in which Brooks patiently waits for God to speak to him. A practicing Quaker, Brooks sits like this for one-hour with a small congregation in San Jose every Sunday. During the informal meetings, participants will occasionally stand up and share what realizations they have just channeled. And to Brooks, who also frequents Quaker shindigs around the Bay Area, God speaks about politics. Atheists and other skeptics may question whether this is a message from on high or down low in his inner ego, but Brooks says promoting peace through mass email campaigns is the most profound divine instruction he has received so far. "Quakers are all about politics," he says. "I don't know where else you'll so dependably find a room that is wall-to-wall dove."


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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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