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'Awesome': Metro's Nathan Ales cracks up first daughter in Fly's blurry phone-cam shot.

The Fly

Partying With The Bush Twins

Fly spent part of last week buzzing around Chicago, and with our customary knack for getting past the velvet ropes at the hottest of hot spots thanks to our A-list connections, wound up drinking expensive vodka with the first daughters. Jenna and Barbara Bush were unwinding Thursday after a tough day of campaigning in Milwaukee where one daily quoted Barbara as saying, "Obviously, our dad is an awesome president." So what did we do when we ran into the Parliament-smoking presidential progeny at Sound-Bar, a dimly lit, smoky and very trendy Chi-town club that had a fashion show that night featuring a painted topless female model? Fly, of course, magnanimously offered to buy her and a friend a round (two Grey Goose vodkas, one with soda, one with tonic) and placed an order at the bar. The club advised us that payment wasn't necessary, since the daughters of the leader of the free world get to drink for free. (Maybe that's why they call it "free" world?) In an exclusive low-rez Fly phone-cam shot, Barb is wearing a sexy, low-cut, rose-colored, sleeveless top while being chatted up by Nathan Ales, an exec with Metro's Internet division. Ales spent what seemed like an eternity talking college football and glancing down her shirt. At one point, Ales challenged, "Prove to me you're a Bush. Say 'nuclear.'" She laughed. "I can say it. He just can't say it. You know, we sit at the dinner table and say, 'Dad, it's new-clee-ar, not nuke-ya-loor.' He just can't say it."

The 'E' Word

How steamed is East Side Union High School trustee Craig Mann over a political rival's campaign statements? So angry he not only called Lan Nguyen at work to protest the language, he also called Nguyen's boss, his campaign manager, the county administrator's office as well as head of the Santa Clara Democrats, Steve Preminger, who also chairs the Campaign Ethics Foundation of Santa Clara. The offending language? Nguyen had the nerve to say that a "crisis in accountability" undermined the district's ability to provide "the best education possible" for East Side students. Nguyen also asked voters to join him to bring back "honesty, integrity and accountability" to the board of trustees. For that bit of nastiness, Mann has threatened to file an ethics complaint against Nguyen. East Side is a district that overspent $14 million to build a high school, is searching for $1.3 million to comply with state budget-reserve requirements, refuses to pay teachers a 4 percent cost-of-living allowance—and, lest we forget, there was the well-publicized credit card fiasco, in which several board members, including Mann, made thousands of dollars in questionable purchases. (Mann acknowledges that at least 3 percent of $30,000 he spent over a six-year period was for personal use, for which he reimbursed the district.)

Dumping It Down

The manufacturing industry might be dwindling in the South Bay, especially as more people realize they can take advantage of low costs and nonenforced environmental codes in countries like India. Yet some people still believe if they can't go to India, they'll bring India over here. ARA Automated Finishing, a metal-finishing business in Sunnyvale, pleaded no contest last Thursday after being caught dumping chemical-laden water into the sewer. The chemicals detected included chromium, zinc, copper and nickel. Call it a globalization mind-set. The company was caught after a disgruntled employee ratted them out, and investigators set up testing instruments downstream in the sewer. Investigators also dismantled ARA's potty and concluded that the polluted water was being dumped down the toilet. "We have a problem with the South Bay with heavy metals, because there isn't much flushing action," says Deputy DA John Fioretta. "It just tends to sit there and goes down into the sludge at the bottom. It used to be these type of violations were more frequent. We thought it had slowed down because the industry has cleaned itself up."

Labor Council Stonewalling Continues

Los Altos resident Teddie Lavallee thought once she took the South Bay Labor Council to court, things would come easier. Almost a year later, she's learning that suing the labor council is anything but easy. Lavallee, of course, is a former accountant who alleges that she was fired because she blew the whistle on misappropriation of funds and other illegal activities by labor council leaders, including its powerful former CEO, Amy Dean ("The Six Million Dollar Woman," March 24, 2004). The labor council, in turn, contends that Lavallee was only a temporary employee who was being shown the door because her term was up. To date, according to Lavallee, she's had to submit to two depositions, while labor queen Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins has managed to dodge being deposed. Her latest reason, Lavallee says, is that she can't be spare the time until after the elections. Even worse for Lavallee, Santa Clara County Judge Patricia Lucas, a 2002 Gray Davis appointee, has not allowed Lavallee to obtain as evidence sensitive labor council documents, including records of the disputed credit card transactions, the same credit card transactions Ellis-Lamkins told a Metro reporter she would have no problem disclosing to disprove Lavallee's allegations. That offer was, of course, quickly withdrawn. "I just never realized how connected this county is," grumbles Lavallee. "You know, when I got to court, I thought we would get a fair shake, but they refused to give us any paperwork at all. I was just totally disappointed. They said you can't get any records, not any bank records, nothing. It's unbelievable."

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From the September 29-October 5, 2004 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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