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[whitespace] Marcelino Castillo
Money Talks: Casa Castillo owner Marcelino Castillo is closing his downtown restaurant after 18 years.

Public Eye

Financial Blues

READERS OF THIS extra-fine journalistic product may remember its story on the House of Blues ("Betting on Blues," June 28), which detailed the Hollywood-based club and concert concern's deal with the San Jose Redevelopment Agency, and cast doubt on the financial future of the company (HOB is getting $5.7 million in assistance from the SJRA to open a nightclub on South First Street). Last week, parent company HOB Entertainment Inc. faxed out a release trumpeting "a strategic reorganization to focus its resources on core club venue and concert business growth." Translation: Thanks to the sour capital markets, money is tight, so the downtown San Jose project and another planned HOB concert venue at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds are on hold indefinitely. In addition to San Jose, HOB is also putting the brakes on a third planned club in San Diego and laying off 39 employees ... Development VP Liam Thornton says the news means that construction on the downtown club is on hold, but HOB is still going forward with the design work and permitting process. "We're still going to do those projects," Thornton says. "We're working with local investors right now." Bottom line, he adds, is that HOB needs to get the money in place before they start major commitments ... Speaking of the Redevelopment Agency, Casa Castillo will be hosting a good-bye party on Friday, from 5 to 8:30pm. Eye-watchers will recall that, although the restaurant at 200 S. First St. was a downtown fixture for 18 years, redevelopment officials want the space for something else. Owner Marcelino Castillo says he has mixed emotions about the whole thing after his lengthy negotiations with the agency. "We got what we were looking for," he says of the $1.35 million check he's getting from the city for the settlement and relocation costs. Castillo says Friday's party is for the friends and families who have supported the place over the years, and will feature hors d'oeuvres, drinks and a mariachi band. Also, the restaurant will be opening again elsewhere, though when and where haven't been decided yet. "Our eyes have been on Evergreen," Castillo says.

Neece: No Way

"I ain't running," potential San Jose mayoral contender John Neece said last week. "I sobered up." The now-retired construction union leader's decision is good news for Mayor Ron Gonzales, who might resemble challenger Bill Chew if he skates to an expected re-election next year. As the clock ticks, it seems less and less likely that a serious contender will emerge to challenge Ron.... Neece, who is still helping his successors make the transition, says it's time to slow down for once. "I kinda feel like I've been in a dead run for 23 years. It's time I take a little time for myself and get a little breather going. I've got five grandkids, so it's time to put my career on the back burner. I just want to spend some time with them for while. I also got my mom with me right now. She's 89."... Neece says he was honored that some people wanted him to make the bid, but he doesn't think the incumbent is going to get off that easy: "I think someone'll jump out and run," he predicts. "I just don't think that Gonzales is gonna walk."

Streit Smarts

Eye heard a whisper recently that Saratoga Councilman Nick Streit might be making an assembly bid against Assemblywoman Rebecca Cohn, a fellow Saratogan. But the Republican says that although he has been approached, Sacramento isn't on his radar. "A couple people have asked me to run for Assembly," Streit confesses. "I told them that I was not going to do that. I wouldn't give up my job, which you're required to do, nor would I leave my family, so it's not an option for me." Given the way Democrats drew new district lines, it may not be an option for any Republicans in the district, which some observers say is unwinnable now for a GOP challenger.... Streit, a CPA by day, was approached by Saratoga busybody Don Whetstone, among others. Streit says he isn't thinking about making a move for any other elected offices, and still isn't sure if he'll run for another four years on council. "My term is up next November, and I might consider rerunning for council because at least I can keep my job and stay with my family, but I would not consider anything else," says Streit, who is currently vice mayor and is in line to become mayor next year. "I haven't decided either way yet. I do enjoy it, I think I'm making a difference, but I just haven't made the final call. It's a family issue more than anything else."

Karaoke Man

An Eye operative reports that Rep. Mike Honda was spotted belting out some karaoke at Bamboo 7 in Japantown late Saturday night. "He sang 'I Left My Heart in San Francisco' to a standing ovation, then he got another standing ovation when he left," our source informs. "And he's actually a pretty good singer."

Sitting Out

Donald Perino told Eye last week that he's giving up his quest to unseat county supervisor and fellow Gilroy Republican Don Gage, who already has a pretty good challenger on his hands in Morgan Hill Mayor Dennis Kennedy. "It's for health reasons, and other things that have come up, so I've decided not to run," Perino says. "And the other two candidates already have large amounts of money that they've collected." Perino also confesses that "legal reasons"--meaning his arrest this summer for making harassing phone calls to officials at St. Louise Regional Hospital--also played a part in his decision-making process. Perino is scheduled to make an appearance in Santa Clara County Superior Court on the charges next month.

Health Hazard

Are meetings hazardous to your health? Consider the evidence: County Supervisor Blanca Alvarado was hospitalized last Thursday after she fell ill during the Public Safety and Justice Committee meeting. Chief of Staff Sylvia Gallegos says supervisor Liz Kniss, a former nurse, and Sheriff Laurie Smith tended to Alvarado while the EMTs were summoned. "They called a halt to the meeting," Gallegos says. "And they called for the paramedics, so she of course was uncooperative ... She was putting up a brave front, but as a precaution we decided to have her sent over to Valley Medical Center to be evaluated." Test results showed that the supervisor had what's called a transient ischemic attack, which is something like a mild stroke that happens when the brain's blood supply is interrupted. Doctors kept Alvarado at the hospital overnight for observation and told her she wouldn't have any long-term side effects, Gallegos says. Alvarado returned to work Monday.

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From the September 27-October 3, 2001 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2001 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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