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02.13.08

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Silicon Valley News Notes

Just Like Starting Over

You might chalk it up to the Vietnamese New Year—a time of reflection, unity and a fresh start. Or maybe it's the allegations of a Brown Act violation that have given Madison Nguyen and Mayor Chuck Reed a change of heart on the controversial Little Saigon debate. Once unwavering in their position to name a strip of Story Road the "Saigon Business District" instead of the popular "Little Saigon," the duo this week released a memo asking that the council rescind its Nov. 20 vote on the issue. Instead, they want voters to decide directly whether to name the district Little Saigon. "We have the allegation that there was a Brown Act violation," Reed said. "I think a lot of people would be unhappy if we just revoted and if it comes out the same way; then people are suspicious and unhappy with the process. The way to take the council out of the middle of that is to put it on the ballot." Basically, the council is caving to pressures from the Vietnamese-American community, which has huddled outside City Hall every Tuesday, demanding the council rescind its vote, as well as mounted a campaign to recall Nguyen, the first Vietnamese-American on the San Jose council. The group has accused the council of selecting the name Saigon Business District undemocratically. "This is the truest form of democracy," said Nguyen said of her proposal to take the issue to voters. "The city highly values democracy." Advocates of Little Saigon said they are ecstatic that Nguyen is pushing for a ballot measure on the issue. But that doesn't mean it's changed the community's feeling toward her, said Barry Hung Do. "Madison could have avoided all of this from day one if she had listened to the Vietnamese voice," Do said. As for the recall campaign? "The mistrust from the community with Madison is so high," Do said, "I don't think this will help. They have already lost the vote of confidence with her."

Record Holder

If you love to snoop around public records the way Fly does, Tom Norris might just be your new best friend. At the very least, you'll be happy to hear that San Jose has hired Norris as the first-ever public records manager. It's about time! City officials listened to the Sunshine Reform Task force's recommendation last year and budgeted a salary for the records manager, so there will finally be some centralized control over public document management. He's new on the job, and Norris said he's still learning the ins and outs of San Jose's sprawling bureaucracy. Although he couldn't say much about state of the current system, he did acknowledge there was a need for greater coordination. His expertise comes from decades of managing public records systems for the state of New York and overseeing historical archives at the University of Missouri. Norris told us he was lured to San Jose in order to be closer to his daughter in Sacramento. Plus, city officials are paying him $95,000 a year. He likes to mix things up with field work and human interaction, and is looking for more stimulation than he found at his last job—stuck at a desk as a records manager for the United States Tennis Association. We hereby pledge to do our part to ensure that Norris stays entertained for quite some time.

Political Dynasty

Sensational publicity was a good thing for Alan Wong's Dynasty Seafood Restaurant. The upscale joint in East San Jose serves expensive Chinese food and got famous in 2004 for its pricey "Crystal Crab" enjoyed by ousted San Jose Councilmember Terry Gregory (shown here eating quail on the cover of Metro's "Year in Scandals" issue). Even though Gregory lost his job for, among other things, placing take-out orders at Dynasty and forgetting to bring his wallet, the place seems to be thriving. It opened a second location in Cupertino, which seats 1,000 diners, just before the Gregory scandal hit the press. The San Jose Dynasty on Story Road still hosts important political functions and community events. And it's gotten a new lease on political life as a popular spot for Mayor Chuck Reed, including the lunar new year celebration. Reed's spokeswoman Michelle McGurk doesn't sweat the connection. "It's really not that big a deal," she says. "We've been there more than 12 times in the past year. I don't think people automatically think of Terry Gregory when they go there." But the fiscally tight Reed is certainly aware of the significance. He made sure to let us know that he stays far away from the Crystal Crab room whenever he goes to Dynasty.


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