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[whitespace] Pete Denevi
PayDay: Pete Denevi (pictured) had his day in court with Barry Swenson--and won.

Public Eye

Donkey Kong

Eye had to squint to figure out some of the county's redrawn assembly districts, so it wasn't surprising to learn that the new boundaries are causing confusion among candidates scrambling to file valid signatures with the registrar of voters by Friday to make the March ballot. ... Among the confused: hopefuls for the county's Democratic Central Committee, the influential grooming corral for local donkeys. It seems some of the newly drawn districts are swelling with candidates for the two-year terms, while others are starving. By DCC rules, all districts--no matter how strangely shaped or unevenly populated--each get six representatives on the committee. This gives a huge representations to newly drawn districts such as the 20th Assembly District that used to cover San Jose, Berryessa and Milpitas, and now rests solely in Milpitas and the 27th Assembly District, which will draw six reps from tiny Morgan Hill. Meanwhile there's a giant district like the 23rd, home to Assemblyman MANNY DIAZ, which contains most of the city of San Jose, and the 24th, where many people are clamoring for spots. ... "There's obviously equity issues here," notes local Democratic Party chair STEVE PREMINGER. "In the future we may look at weighting the committee to the population of the district. The previous ones were more balanced." ... The DCC has played kingmaker in local demo politics with a ribbon of successful endorsements that include Mayor RON GONZALES, Councilmembers CINDY CHAVEZ (a former DCC member), KEN YEAGER, DAVE CORTESE, FORREST WILLIAMS and NORA CAMPOS. In fact the only defeated DCC endorsee in recent memory was KANSEN CHU, who lost his council bid to Councilman CHUCK REED. The DCC electees will not serve until January 2003.

Left Out

Members of the famously outspoken lefty faculty at UC-Santa Cruz are outraged that they didn't made it onto Second Lady LYNNE CHENEY's blacklist of academics who made unpatriotic statements heard on college campuses in the wake of Sept. 11. "It was an insult to be omitted and we're still writhing in embarrassment," said UCSC's Middle Eastern Studies Professor TERRY BURKE of the list, published this November in a report by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, a self-described "educational nonprofit dedicated to academic freedom, quality and accountability." Cheney is a founding member. In its report, ACTA accused academe of invoking "tolerance and diversity as antidotes to evil." The list names 116 professors, and included their positions and what they said to get Lynne's goat. Rev. Jesse Jackson made the cut with his unpatriotic suggestion that we "build bridges and relationships, not simply bombs and walls." Numberswise, faculty at East Coast universities came under heaviest attack, a statistic that Burke says only serves to show "the committee's bias." "I find it rather unseemly for the vice president's wife to be involved," observed Burke. "Would this have happened if this had been Mrs. TONY BENN or Mrs. NATAN SHARANSKI?" Burke, who has been teaching Middle Eastern studies for 32 years, says this semester he's seen the longest period of sustained increase in his field. "Every time something happens in the Middle East, people get interested, but this is way more than usual," says Burke, noting that since Sept. 11 talks and teach-ins on campus have packed 500-seat classrooms to overflow capacity with Banana Slugs and Cruzian townfolk.

True Luminary

Eye blinked a little when county employee DAVID GINSBORG mentioned that he'd won an Energy Luminary Award for energy conservation ideas. Not that Ginsborg, a top aide to county Assessor LARRY STONE, doesn't deserve an award--especially one that comes with a check for $100--but Ginsborg is the first to admit that his entry for said award wasn't exactly genius. How did he win? By proposing that, on holidays, the county turn the office lights off in its huge office building at 70 W. Hedding St. It seems that the county's lights-on-lights-off schedule is controlled by a central computer, which was not programmed to recognize when employees would not be coming in due to, say, a three-day weekend. Ginsborg's proposal that the computer be reprogrammed was one of hundreds of ideas submitted by country employees, seven of which were deemed worthy of an award. But, Eye had to ask, hadn't anyone thought of reprogramming the county HAL 9000 before? "Apparently, no," said Ginsborg. "But you have to give credit to supervisors PETE MCHUGH and LIZ KNISS [who started the program]--at least they're open to getting new ideas and making a change where they recognized it was needed."

Teen Spirit

The Cupertino City Council earned a bit of criticism recently for its effort to establish its first-ever, 12-member youth commission. Since unanimously selecting the dozen members at their meeting Oct. 15, the council has had to defend their selection and application process to parents whose children were not selected. Convinced that the Asian American applicants from the pool of 34 were not treated fairly, parents complained to the World Journal, a Chinese language daily newspaper. Of the 34 student applicants from Cupertino middle schools and high schools, 16 were Asian Americans, including eight males and 16 females. According to the World Journal, six Chinese-Americans were chosen (one male, five females) to fill the commission seats. Of the 10 white students that applied, six were appointed to the commission. In Cupertino, 44 percent of the population is Asian, which includes East Indian, Korean, Japanese and Chinese. Councilmember MICHAEL CHANG then joined the critical chorus and called attention to the racial disparity by drafting an open letter to his council colleagues, calling the selection process "flawed"--thereby causing a rift among the supposedly unified councilmembers. But in the end, nothing changed. ... Asked if race was a consideration in the application process, Cupertino city spokesman RICK KITSON said, "No, and actually that would be illegal. [The council] was looking for as diverse a group as possible."


For years, retired Los Gatos High School football coach PETE DENEVI wanted to build a golf course up by Lexington Reservoir. For years, he didn't have the money, until he got hooked up with the valley's biggest name in building: BARRY SWENSON. With a few other investors, Denevi and Swenson planned to buy the land from JOHN MUSUMECI, a sleazy Oregon developer, and partner on plans for a country club. But at the last minute, Swenson failed to make a $750,000 payment to Musumeci on Denevi's option, and the deal fell apart, clearing the way for Musumeci to make millions by selling the land to the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District for preservation. ... That was three years ago. Since then, Denevi has been suing the white-hatted local developer for screwing him out of his dream. Well, Denevi prevailed in court Friday, when a judge ordered Swenson to pay him $10 million for his heartache, plus interest and attorney's fees. This week, the attorneys are still fighting in court over the resolution, says Denevi attorney MIKE DANKO, and Swenson is still haggling over the terms of the $15 million bond he must post in order to start the appeal process. Swenson and his attorney didn't return calls. But the fun isn't over yet: This first suit was on behalf of the partnership, Danko says, and Denevi has another related suit pending against Swenson for his personal troubles.

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From the December 6-12, 2001 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2001 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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