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[whitespace] Ron Gonzales
Good Vibes: Ron Gonzales' new campaign office has a paranormal past.

Public Eye

The Plot Thickens

Eye has discovered another benefit to the Silicon slowdown . . . Valley wonks with free time on their hands are turning to the Eye's favorite pastime: Trivia! As a consequence, light-rail riders can now statistically pinpoint their free-floating anxiety about bottlenecks in the South Bay's urban rail system. . . . San Jose software engineer IAN KLUFT spent four hours riding the light rails with his GPS receiver, stored the data, then uploaded it to his computer. Using an open-source program he customized, Kluft plotted the entire light-rail line on a map that shows travel speeds in different colors. For light-rail riders who've always wondered how fast they're not going, the map is a revelation: an artfully straightforward depiction of where trains work and where they don't. . . . Predictably, the fastest tracks, shown in green, are south of downtown San Jose, where trains move freely on dedicated right-of-ways on the medians of highways 87 and 85, hitting 50 mph and faster. Downtown, where trains dodge cars as they weave through streets, is the reddest stretch. North First Street and the east-west line from Milpitas to Mountain View are a mixed bag, alternating between dark orange, bright yellow, and lime green. . . . Kluft developed a tracking system last year when he bought his GPS receiver and started plotting his bike rides. This year, JIM MIDDLEFIELD, webmaster for lightrail.com who knows Kluft through the sbay.transportation newsgroup, asked him to plot the light-rail system. Kluft and pal GARY HAUSSMANN went to work, spending about four hours to cover the entire system (a friendly VTA staffer gave them special passes to ride in the cab). "We had it store the data for the entire route and then took it home, downloaded it to the computer as a text file, and I wrote a script in PERL that turned it into what you see," Kluft explains. Kluft also posted the program, RidePlot, to his webpage a couple weeks ago. The map and the RidePlot program are available at rideplot.sourceforge.net.

Terry Gregory Terry Gregory

Pennies from Prison

R. B. JONES, the former East Palo Alto city councilman who in May pleaded guilty to felony charges of influence peddling, tax evasion and mail fraud, is scheduled to begin his 27-month prison sentence Jan. 7. But the fact that he'll be behind bars for a while doesn't mean Jones can't share the wealth with candidates like, say, San Jose City Council District 7 hopeful TERRY GREGORY, who lists a $250 contribution from Jones on his latest disclosure form. What's the deal? Hard to say. Gregory didn't return calls, and Eye couldn't reach a very-unlisted Jones before deadline.

Dig Those Digs

The re-election campaign for San Jose Mayor RON GONZALES recently leased an office on Lincoln Avenue in Willow Glen, going back to the same building where the Gonzo camp was housed last time around. Except this time, it's in a different suite. "The old tenant was a psychic palm reader place, where they read your aura, so we're feeling some good vibes from it," reveals campaign manager DUSTIN DEROLLO, who is the sole occupant of the place so far. . . . Meanwhile, Morgan Hill Mayor DENNIS KENNEDY is also leasing a new place for his supervisorial campaign office: on Tennant Avenue in Morgan Hill, above Friendly Fred's Doggie Diner. "Just about everybody knows where it is, so it's an easy point of reference," says campaign manager MARIA SMITH.

Ad Game

For years, ever since the Peninsula Times Tribune closed in 1993, the San Jose Mercury News and the San Francisco Chronicle have been battling one another for readers in the midpeninsula area. But these days, Merc promoters have some folks scratching their heads over their latest strategy: taking out ads in another paper. The Merc bought four ads this month, each two-page spread boasting about how much better it covers the peninsula than the Chron. Thing is, the ads ran in the Palo Alto Daily News, whose staffers were a little flummoxed by the claim. But while Daily brass were confused by the gesture, they couldn't think of a reason not to take the Merc's $7,000. "Everybody's mouths fell open," says Daily Editor and Publisher DAVE PRICE. "One thing that we got out of this is that when our sales people go out and talk to advertisers, they'll tell them to take the advice of the Mercury News when you want to reach Palo Altans, and do it through the Palo Alto Daily News." Price says he's taken some calls from readers who are astonished and surprised, but says he's not worried about getting hurt by promoting the competition. "We hope they'll be a regular customer," confides Price. "We'd also be happy if the Chronicle would like to advertise, or if Metro took out an ad." Eye'll get back to you, Dave. ...

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From the November 29-December 5, 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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