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Public Eye

Some Antics

It's not often that the landlord is the last to know, but that's apparently what happened to Vicki Herl, manager of San Jose's Pavilion shopping and entertainment center this week. On Monday she sent Vince Guasch, owner of the Louisiana Territory restaurant, a 48-hour pay-up-or-leave notice. The next day she expressed surprise he was moving out. "Where did you get that information? It's really blowing me away," she informed Eye over the phone. "He hasn't told me that." Herl swears the letter she signed and addressed to Guasch's attorney wasn't an eviction notice, and she educated Eye on the fine points of pay-or-quit. "It may sound like that to you but it's not an eviction notice. It's a request for rent." But according to Guasch's attorney, James Dawson, Herl is splitting hairs. "It's not an eviction notice, it's much worse," Dawson asserts. "If an eviction notice is a slap on the wrist, this is a death penalty." ... According to an agreement Guasch signed with his landlord, Melvin Simon & Associates, the development company can lock Guasch and his employees out of the building with 48-hour notice if the restaurateur neglects to pay his rent on time. That's precisely what happened. Guasch says he called his landlord last week to warn them he was having a hard time scraping together June's rent. Until recently, Guasch's lush, funky New Orleans-style restaurant had been reeling in the patrons, but business has been slow for the last two months. Other mall tenants have been evicted during that time and the Pavilion's new cinema, the longtime restaurateur alleges, is attracting only a fraction of the tens of thousands of customers a week predicted by the city's Redevelopment Agency. ... Guasch says he asked his landlord if he could pay his rent in installments--part on Monday and the rest on Thursday--but was refused. Herl called Guasch's version of the events "not accurate" When asked to elaborate, though, she said, "I don't care to." ... On Tuesday, Guasch was busy calling other area restaurants to find jobs for his 52 employees. "The moving vans are coming tomorrow," he said. "They'll lock us out on Thursday." Although Guasch's plight is more serious, the restaurant isn't the only one to be recently evicted from the mall. After Metro's May 23 article on the Pavilion, Simon kicked Metro out of the mall as well.

Green Chalk Shoot

The next time you're in the neighborhood of Fourth and St. John streets in downtown San Jose, look for green chalk marks on the sidewalk near the "No Parking" sign. David Callahan put them there to mark the "possible bullet impact points" that he hopes will break open the case of Carl Sciabarra, shot to death by police two years ago. ... Sciabarra was killed after allegedly threatening cops and bystanders with a pair of scissors. Callahan believes that extra lead residues and a spent shell noted on the original police report as "possible" impacts were ignored in subsequent investigations that cleared the cops. Callahan's theory: if those residues came from bullets, they indicate that Sciabarra was first shot from behind while fleeing from the officers. ... A federal hearing on the case is tentatively scheduled for June 10 in San Francisco. Callahan and the Committeee for Human Rights have set up a police abuse hotline at 408/ 551-2830. They hope both civilians and cops will call, anonymously if necessary.

Doctor is Out

It looks as if the poster boy for San Jose Unified infighting, Barry Schimmel, has been given his final walking papers, and accepted a new job with the Pacific Grove Unified School District. During his tenure as associate superintendent of San Jose Unified, Schimmel drew fire from the Rose Garden neighborhood and parents for his plan to sell the historic Old Hoover School property, as well as liquidating other campuses throughout the district. Karen Vierra, who led neighbors in a fight against Schimmel, suggested he had been let go "because he conducted business dishonorably," but it seems likely he was squeezed out after a failed attempt--shared by loyalists Victor Freitas and Matt Hurley--to oust superintendent Linda Murray this past January. A community-led recall of Hurley is under way, led by Almaden parents hoping eventually to secede from the megadistrict. ... Schimmel had been pulling down a $94,200 salary to oversee the district's fiscal, technological and human resources departments. When asked for comment on the departure, both Schimmel and Hurley cited the Brown Act, which provides for secrecy surrounding personnel matters should public officials feel the need. Board member Carol Myers drew a smiley face on recent events: "I'm happy for Dr. Schimmel," she says. "It's a wonderful career opportunity for him."

Mission Improbable

Eye watchers may recall the strange case of Anthony Feipel, the 51-year-old panhandler who drew headlines in March when he accosted Palo Alto City Councilmember Micki Schneider outside a Starbucks on University Avenue. At the time, Schneider and other city officials were looking into charges that street people were abusing the downtown area's yuppie shoppers. Feipel was arrested when he grabbed her arm and twisted it after one of her colleagues messed with his matching set of designer trash bags. ... Well, he distinguished himself again last week--this time in San Jose. According to SJPD media massager Louis Quezada, the domestically challenged Feipel busted into the county government building and stole some items from a worker's cubbie. The take? A golf ball, a business card, and some erasers. Police booked him on a felony burglary charge after he bragged about the caper to staffers over at San Jose City Hall.

The 1996 Honda

Back at 70 West Hedding, there's serious talk that the county may hold an advisory election to help pick a replacement for Supe Mike Honda, who likely will move to the state Assembly in January. Although not binding, an advisory election would provide the public with an opportunity to have its say about who should be appointed--a fact which may have motivated two homeowner groups in Almaden Valley hellbent on electing John Redding. Until Keith Honda (Mike's 41-year-old cousin and chief of staff in Honda's office) entered the picture, Meri Maben had been considered the leading contender for Honda's seat. She had the backing of the entire board when she ran against Pat Dando for the San Jose City Council. But the board may have been more interested in torpedoing Dando than it was in helping Maben. The advisory election would go on the November ballot to save the costs of a special election.

Dick Flips

No, pigs didn't fly, and hell didn't freeze over. But there it was: a vote in favor of the domestic partners registry by Richard Calderon at last Tuesday night's packed meeting of the county Human Relations Commission. ... Calderon--who will be losing his seat on the commission at the end of June after the controversy over his remarks on gays--now says, "The previous concerns that caused me to oppose the domestic partners registry as it was previously written have been resolved." What concerns? Among them, the allegation that registered partners could have been committing some type of tax or insurance fraud--a mean feat, given the purely symbolic nature of the registry. ... But now, with language specifically saying that no "substantive legal rights or obligations" are conferred to registered partners, Calderon saw fit to vote in favor of the registry. But his vote was made by proxy, allowing the SJPD lieutenant a break from the controversy that's been swirling around him. ...

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From the June 6-12, 1996 issue of Metro

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