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Whose Street?: The city doesn't really know how many locals want to rename King Road after the civil rights leader.

Public Eye

Road Rage

Eye employed a loose definition of "legible" to count the signatures on the petition that former San Jose, now Las Vegas residents Ken and Fredella Stewart floated asking the city to rename King Road after Martin Luther King Jr. Even so, Eye came up with only 526 signatures. Technically speaking, this number is lower than the official 600 count given out by the city and repeated by the local daily. Being conservative, of course, we ignored the entry that read "speaks Chinese" and bore no signature, the one listing "Prusch Park, City of San Jose" and the signatures that looked like someone had squashed mosquitoes on the page while lacking an accompanying printed name for deciphering purposes. Eye also didn't count all dozen or so times the petition gatherers listed Dennis Fong's name. (The city does count those because they represent all the businesses he owns on the street, which would be affected by the name change.) "I remember signing it. But I don't remember signing it so many times," Fong says. (He tells Eye he supported the proposal when the idea was to rename cross street Story Road after Cesar Chavez, a brainstorm that apparently fell through the cracks.) The petition's ragged nature hasn't escaped its critics' notice. About 25 of the community members against the name change met with Councilmember Terry Gregory on Sunday at the Pink Elephant Bakery on King seeking support from their representative. The verdict is that Gregory, the leader of the district that claims much of King Road, remains bravely undecided about his constituents' dilemma.

Let Them Off

While commuters learned earlier this month that the BART extension to San Jose may have derailed or, at best, experienced a very long delay (oh, maybe a dozen years), BART-to-San Jose advocates, testing the waters to discover if voters would support another tax for BART, aren't giving up hope--and neither are those who would just as well drop the entire project. This is where Eugene Bradley, the ever-prickly thorn in the side of the VTA and founder of the so-called VTA Riders Union, comes in. Bradley, who's anti-BART, has been conducting an informal poll online about the matter. To date, he's received about 50 replies from Internet voters, the majority (52 percent) of whom would not support an additional 1/2 cent sales tax to stabilize the teetering BART project. "Most people want the project scrapped," says Bradley, who advertises his poll in Yahoo chatrooms and hopes for at least 200 replies. Bradley's poll, though, rubs SVMG CEO Carl Guardino the wrong way. Guardino's own group had helped fund two polls already this fall and plans to conduct a final survey next spring. While both the polls that Guardino's group helped fund matched Bradley's poll in practical result (the independent polls found that another BART sales tax measure wouldn't garner the state-mandated two-thirds vote), Guardino sneers at being compared to Bradley. The SVMG polls are professional polls with a sample size of 600, Guardino says in effect, while Bradley's poll is something of a joke. Guardino, in fact, didn't have much nice to say about Bradley, who has ambitions to be on VTA's board, at all. "He's vitriolic toward people in elected office," Guardino offered before going on to label Bradley's style as not only "unproductive" but also "counterproductive."

The Award on Drugs

One of San Jose's liberal legislators will likely turn down the luncheon invite he received recently from L.A.'s gun-toting, ballistic-missile-loving, three-strikes-law-lauding Claremont Institute. But, Rush Limbaugh will be there. Drug rehabber Limbaugh, called "a big fat idiot" by at least one detractor and other times referred to as the "Great One," is slated to received the Claremont Institute's "statesmanship award" during the Nov. 21 Churchill Dinner at the Westin Bonaventure in L.A. Limbaugh turned over a new leaf last month when he announced he would check himself into a 30-day rehab program to defeat his addiction to painkillers. The National Enquirer, which outed him as a druggie, interviewed his former maid Wilma Cline, who professed to be his drug connection. The Florida state attorney's office also reportedly started an investigation. Following these revelations, the popular radio big mouth was roundly criticized as being a hypocrite because of comments he made in the mid-'90s attacking people who like to get high. It's unclear how recognizing Limbaugh fits into the Claremont Institute's mission "to restore the principles of the American Founding to their rightful, preeminent authority in our national life." The institute's president, currently in D.C., plans to issue a statement on the war on drugs after he returns. Claremont Institute marketing director Melanie Marlowe tells Eye that Limbaugh gets out of rehab 10 or 11 days before the dinner. Limbaugh joins such previous statesmanship honorees as Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Clarence Thomas and Bill Buckley.

The End

Eye had to scratch its eyes and blow its nose a few times upon revisiting the soon-to-be-gone Woodruff & Thush Twice Read Books on San Fernando Street. Yes, another longtime downtown institution is biting the dust. And there's a lot of dust to bite inside Twice Read Books--as anyone who's perused its ancient interior knows. Craig Thush, proprietor of the bookstore for the last 44 years, decided to retire. The last used bookstore in downtown San Jose is dying a natural death. Last spring, a local real estate agency bought the old Lawrence Hotel building, which includes Inca Gardens, Mandrake Shoe Repair, the bookstore and that revered institution of higher drinking: Cinebar. The agency decided to call itself the Lawrence Company after the old hotel. When Thush decided to retire, they bought the entire collection of books and are currently selling off everything. "We think the areas needs a coffee shop, a restaurant or a bar with all the other things going on in the neighborhood," says Jeremy Kilpatrick, a member of the Lawrence Company. "We understand the sentimental value [of downtown's last used bookstore going away], that's why we're going to keep some of the books around in our next projects." Kilpatrick says that Mandrake Shoe Repair will be turned into a deli-slash-coffee shop in the next 30 to 40 days. No plans have been drawn up for the Cinebar yet.

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From the October 30-November 5, 2003 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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