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Davis: The sensitive guy's chief.

The Fly

Chief Empathy

The revelation last week that San Jose top cop Rob Davis will be joining Muslims during their month-long Ramadan fast has brought on a predictable slew of reaction on the Internet. From rightnation.us ("America's #1 Conservative Community): "Isn't that lovely!" sneers one poster. "Touching! Nauseating ..." Another chimes in: "Maybe he should just F***ing CONVERT and marry a goat!" Indeed, Davis' decision has made it all the way up to Muslim-watcher Daniel Pipes' website, but perhaps the more interesting question for Davis, who didn't return a call from Fly, is what day he started his fast. Apparently, those Muslims are at it again: Specifically, the Muslim Community Association in Santa Clara (and the largest Islamic center in the South Bay) declared, along with most national Muslim groups, that the month of fasting began Oct. 15. The South Bay Islamic Association, based in downtown San Jose, meanwhile followed the opinion that the fasting began Oct. 16. The result? One of the Muslim camps fasted on Friday, and another camp was eating away. This is the latest installment in the Moon Wars that come along every Ramadan, which is based on the lunar calendar and starts when the new moon is sighted. Last year, Metro wrote about how many Muslims were following moon sightings ("Dark Side of the Moon," March 6, 2003) originating, often under dubious conditions, in Saudi Arabia while others were arguing that local moon-sightings should be used to judge the start of the month. This year, it seems the Saudi connection has disappeared, but now the tiff is about how authentic a moon sighting was that occurred in Texas two Thursdays ago. The couple who claimed they saw the new moon, shaped like a crescent, described the moon's ends as pointing downwards. Some Muslim groups immediately protested that a valid sighting would have had the moon's ends pointing upward ... hence, the disagreement. Question to Chief Davis: Are you confused yet?

Alum Rock Bounty

Swiping the signs of rival candidates is nothing new in local San Jose politics. Two years ago, Fly's predecessor, the gone-but-not-forgotten Public Eye, documented the thievery of City Council candidate Ed Voss' campaign signs—more than 300 were pilfered ("Voss Kapital," Oct. 31, 2002). But the school trustee race at Alum Rock has perhaps even trumped Voss' woes. The number of signs taken does not compare to Voss' 300, but for perhaps the first time in San Jose's electoral history, a candidate has offered a bounty for information leading to the conviction of a sign thief. The man with the big bucks is John Leyba, an Ivy League product who was involved in a three-way race for the short seat on the Alum Rock board. "To protect the investment of my supporters and discourage sign theft, last week I announced a $300 bounty on information leading to the conviction of anyone caught stealing one of my signs," Leyba wrote in an open letter less than a week before yesterday's election. "Effective immediately, I am going to extend that offer to include the other Alum Rock candidates' signs as well." To make the money, Leyba, who had been accused of stealing signs himself, demanded that the evidence be photographic stills or video.

Stun Guns, Yes
Pepper Guns, No

Rest easy, hockey fans. If the Sharks ever win the Stanley Cup and you take to the streets in riotous exultation, San Jose police will not smack you in the eye with pepper-spray pellets like the kind that killed 21-year-old Victoria Snelgrove in Boston Oct. 21. The reason? SJ police don't carry that type of crowd-dispersal weapon, says police spokesman officer Enrique Garcia. Garcia said the department prefers not to discuss what type of equipment or tactics it uses for crowd dispersal. But if the annual Mardi Gras ruckus, in which bands of rowdies smash windows and topple cars, is any indication, SJ police resort to mounted horses, motorcycle cops and riot gear to restore order. Of course, police always have their handy, controversial Tasers strapped to their sides. But those are used mainly to subdue perps freaked out on speed, coke or some other chemical concoctions.

Power to the People

The city of Santa Clara will become the second city in the South Bay to offer residents an option to purchase electricity from renewable sources. The plan, which began Nov. 1, allows energy consumers to pay an extra penny-and-a-half per kilowatt that the city's utility company will pay for solar energy from Alameda County and wind power from Solano County. The option will not prevent Silicon Valley Power from purchasing energy from coal- and gas-powered facilities. But it will mean the company, which is owned by Santa Clara city, will purchase fewer megawatts from non-green sources, reducing pollution and conserving natural gas and coal. The city of Palo Alto Utilities, which unveiled a program called PaloAltoGreen last year, signed 2,000 commercial and residential customers to the plan, or 7 percent of its coverage area. According to Silicon Valley Power spokesman Larry Owens, two Santa Clara homeowners have already signed to the program—before the company even sent out mailers announcing the move. Owens adds the city will not make a profit from the renewable program.

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From the November 3-9, 2004 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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