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Mad Residents

Tuesday's slobber story in the San Jose Mercabout the filming of "Mad City" in San Jose ignored downtown residents who are quite peeved with the city. Residents of the St. James Place condo complex on Third and St. James told Eye they had been given only a few days' notice that streets around them would close for a month and the square in front would become a tent-and-trailer zoo, and that they would have to show ID to get into their own building. ... The movie, which stars John Travolta and Dustin Hoffman, is about a hostage held in a museum, the exterior of which is played by the San Jose Athletic Club. The club, which sits just across from the condos, renamed for the film the "Taylor County Museum of Natural History," is surrounded by prop police cars and news vans. A square block of St. James Park is closed to the public. Some St. James Place residents trying to get to their homes complained of being hassled by off-duty cops hired as security by Warner Bros. On Friday WB addressed the problem by issuing them badges. ... Resident Dennis Hickey called city movie marketer Joe O'Kane at 5am after being awakened by an electric boom and spotlights on the Athletic Club. "It's only gonna get worse," says Hickey, noting four more days of scheduled shooting until 4:30am. Another resident, Bob Bergschneider, said the city should hold hearings for big shoots like this. ... O'Kane says hearings would slow down the process enough to keep out big productions. O'Kane estimated the movie would funnel $4 million to the city, as Warner Bros. feeds and shelters its crew, hires hundreds of extras and pays location fees to the Athletic Club, the First Unitarian Church and other local sites. ... Some St. James Place residents took the filming as just another part of living in the city. "You live downtown, it's an urban area," says John Lusardi, a former Redevelopment Agency staffer, who says the police and film crew have treated him courteously. "You take it in stride.


Scenes From A Car Chase

While we're on the subject of Hollywood, car chases are exciting on film, but ever wonder what happens in real-life chases? For one bystander, the thrill of the chase devolved into the drudgery of bureaucratic bungling and hostility. On Aug. 15, 1995, San Jose State student Stephen Risdon's Celica got sideswiped on Seventh Street by a city cop in hot pursuit of fugitives from the law. ... In real life, cops have to stop to complete paperwork when they clip somebody, and Risdon was instructed to take his car in for bodywork by Dan Tong, city claims investigator. Risdon did, and rented an "equivalent" car in the meantime, maxing out his credit card, then borrowing from his folks when, two weeks later, his car was diagnosed with further problems relating to the accident. ... Risdon tells Eye that when he tried to get his money back, he was shuffled between the city and his insurance company, State Farm, and told by both he had "dropped the ball" on paperwork and would not be refunded for all he'd spent. While dealing with city attorney James Silvers and State Farm, he says, "I was taking 18 units, had a job and was in an opera, plus all that crap. It was really stressful." One year later, after exhausting various attempts at compensation, Risdon still owes $500 plus interest to credit cards and $700 to his parents. Relief, however, may be in sight. Recently, SJPD Sgt. Art Munoz was able to squeeze $1,250 out of city coffers for Risdon, which still leaves Risdon down $325 in costs and interest--but, hey, it's all in the line of innocent bystander duty.


Economics 101

There were no reporters in attendance, at least not officially, so you haven't heard anything about that interesting little gathering, called a "working group," that convened at Hewlett-Packard's Palo Alto headquarters last week. The briefing and strategy session, put together by state Senate President Bill Lockyer, included local high-tech business leaders, think-tank founders Steve Levy and Bob Arnold, San Jose Assemblyman John Vasconcellos and about 30 economic development mucky-mucks from around the state. But it was San Jose's own Tommy Fulcher, the new president of the San Jose Chamber of Commerce, who stopped the show with a single question: "What, exactly, do you mean by economic development?" ... It took nearly two hours to answer his question. The assembled fiscal types conceded that many of their traditional measures of economic health, such as increased productivity, were not always socially desirable, especially if the increases led to significant job losses. In the end, the money crowd finally agreed that the state's primary economic development goal should be "prosperity that is widely shared." Fulcher, who listened intently to the long discussion, but said not one word after launching his guided missile, looked pleased.


Moore Milpitas News

Last week, Metro broke the story of Milpitas City Manager Larry Moore's alleged interference with a criminal investigation of city employee phone abuse. On Tuesday, the City Council announced that the Department of Justice was investigating the matter. City employees confirmed that federal investigators were sniffing around city offices earlier this month...What the council didn't decide to do during its two-hour closed session Tuesday, however, was discipline Moore or place him under administrative leave while the investigation was underway. This angered the Police Officers Association, which stormed out of the meeting as soon as Mayor Pete McHugh announced the results of the closed session. POA president Sgt. Tom Borck said the cops would meet Thursday to consider a vote of no confidence in the city council and city manager, and pulling election endorsements for city councilmembers Henry Manayan, Bob Livengood, and McHugh, who's running for county supervisor. ..."When a city employee faces criminal charges, the standard procedure is to put them on adminstrative leave until the investigation is over," said Borck in the hallway. "We're concerned that the council is creating a double standard for city employees."


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From the September 19-25, 1996 issue of Metro

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