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03.26.08

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Silicon Valley News Notes

Who You Calling A Promoter?

San Jose's beleaguered entertainment community, already reeling from a multiagency crackdown on downtown clubs, now faces a new threat in the form of a well-intentioned ordinance to bring promoters under the umbrella of the city's regulatory apparatus. Currently, promoters escape many of the requirements that club operators face in bringing entertainment to the public, so not everyone thinks it's a bad idea to have these pied pipers show some accountability. However, the 15-page ordinance drafted by the city's legal department would have them carrying city-issued photo identification cards, meeting two-year record-keeping requirements and indemnifying the city for any liabilities incurred by the city through its own actions. The licenses would be issued by the chief of police, expanding further the powers of that office, which the council already granted powers to shut clubs without due process. Some club owners, promoters and musicians also think the ordinance inadvertently targets performers. Though the draft ordinance specifically excludes performers, it also defines a promoter as someone engaging in "advertising or otherwise holding out the event to members of the general public" and "inviting participants to the event." San Jose Downtown Association's Blage Zelalich says the definition is problematic because "the nature of the entertainment business in San Jose necessitates an entertainer or performer promote the fact that he/she is performing at a certain venue on a certain date in order for an audience to show up." Zelalich says that requiring performers to jump through the hoops of getting licensed, paying annual business license taxes along with the biannual promoter licensing fee, which could be as high as $500, and getting fingerprinted at the sheriff's office (another $50–$75) "is sure to prevent any entertainers from performing at venues that fall under this ordinance." And downtown's actual promoters don't have anything good to say about it, either. "The proposal on the table now would virtually eliminate live music in downtown San Jose," says Bruce Labadie. There's still plenty of time to clean up the wording, but just in case, stakeholders are holding meetings and considering the possibility of lawyering up to fight the ordinance. Downtown Councilmember Sam Liccardo says he won't endorse the initiative until the wording's right. "I will not support an ordinance that incorporates within the definition of a regular promoter, a musician or band playing in any of our downtown venues," says Liccardo. "I've made that position very clear to various folks within City Hall, and so they can either produce a draft that reflects our need to keep the tentacles of government away from imposing these restrictions on live music—or else I won't support it." A copy of the draft ordinance can be found in The Fly section of SanJoseInside.com.


Rail Against The Machine

Instead of spending spring break Cancun or Key West this week, a group of college kids from across the Bay Area will be going wild in the streets of California, traveling the state to campaign for high-speed rail. They even claimed to be excited about it. Think of them as Rod Diridon Sr.'s transportation nerd army. They started Monday morning in San Francisco, swinging through San Jose, a future bullet train stop. At City Hall—where they sported T-shirts and stickers reading "I'd rather be riding light rail"—they joined with Mayor Chuck Reed and other elected officials to tout the need for the proposed California High Speed Rail project, which is proposed to run from San Francisco to Los Angeles. They plan to carry on with this PR campaign through the week, traversing the proposed route for the bullet train, through Sacramento, the Central Valley and all the way down to San Diego. Some students brought their bikes along, but mostly they are driving cars, just to make their point, which is-—oh yeah, that they would rather be riding light rail. "It happened organically," said Emily Rusch, transportation advocate with CALPIRG, a public interest group with student chapters. "The students showed show much interest for the idea of this project so we tapped into it and did the spring break tour." Not to break the hearts of well-meaning transportation nerds, but planning for the bullet train has been downright glacial as potential funding sources have come and gone over the years. State leaders are now counting on voters to pass a roughly $10 billion bond in November, money that will go toward the start of the high speed rail construction. Support is looking good for high speed rail, as a recent poll shows that more than 58 percent of California voters would support the bond, with 35 percent saying they wouldn't, said Diridon, one of the biggest champions of high speed rail (he also sits on the California High Speed Rail Authority Board). "It's almost 2-1 in favor, that's a very strong position," Diridon said.

Block Heads

Do-gooder deadline alert: Neighborhood groups who want to represent on the city of San Jose's new Neighborhoods Commission have to register by April 4. If most register, this experiment in participatory democracy will give San Jose's 260 neighborhood groups a stronger say by electing the NC's commissioners, who will review proposed polices and programs affecting neighborhoods and make recommendations to the City Council and the Redevelopment Agency. In 2006, then Councilman Chuck Reed proposed that the Strong Neighborhoods Initiative Project Advisory Committee morph into a Neighborhoods Commission so that all residents could participate in city government. Beginning in May, each district will hold a caucus where neighborhood groups will elect three commissioners. To participate, groups and candidates have to register by 5pm on April 4. The 30 new commissioners will be seated this fall for a two-year pilot period. What's surprising is that after months of organizing and outreach, Neighborhood Development Center's Ernest Guzman told Fly that less than 25 percent of the 260 neighborhood groups have registered. If you want to join up, call Ernest at 408.723.4114 or go to http://www.sanjoseca.gov/Clerk/commissionboard/NC/NC.asp


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