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April 19-25, 2006

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Silicon Valley News Notes

Sub Mission Impossible

Subway's 25,485th sandwich shop will not be in downtown Saratoga. The Saratoga City Council rejected city resident Miya Glasauer's application to open a sandwich store in a shopping complex near the entrance to the city's quaint but sleepy downtown "village." Glasauer's application for a conditional-use permit had previously been rejected by the city's Planning Commission and she was appealing her project to the City Council. Citing the traffic the business could create and its lack of benefits to the downtown at large, the council voted down the project by a 3-2 vote. The debate that surrounded the proposal pitted Glasauer against city residents who said the global franchise didn't fit in with downtown's mom-and-pop character. Glasauer, a 15-year Saratoga resident who owns Subway franchises in Los Gatos and Santa Clara, said the downtown needs to embrace change and the sandwich shop could have injected some life into the struggling downtown. "Subway was a good match," she told Fly. "They're just afraid of change and that's why [the downtown] is dying." While downtown Saratoga boasts several good restaurants and cafes, merchants note the area has little foot traffic and can be a ghost town, especially after dark. Glasauer's store wouldn't have been the first national franchise along Big Basin Way. In addition to the B.P. gas station, the city recently approved a Starbucks in the same complex where Glasauer wanted her Subway shop. Starbucks ignited a similar controversy over economic revitalization and preservation of downtown's character, but the coffeehouse ultimately opened in November. Glasauer said she's relieved her ordeal is over. Meanwhile, she's planning on opening another Subway on Saratoga and Williams avenues in San Jose, far away from downtown Saratoga. "I don't go there anymore," she says. "There's nothing there for me."

With Eggroll You Get Two

King Eggroll, the San Jose restaurant that fed former councilmember Terry Gregory for free and landed him in hot water two years ago, blipped on Fly's radar once again. We noticed their name on mayoral candidate Cindy Chavez' campaign contribution reports—not once, but twice. Each gave the maximum $500 allowed for businesses and individuals. So Fly looked into it and found the business filed with the California Secretary of State under two names: California King Eggroll I and California King Eggroll II. Both locations are owned by members of the Tran family. We hate when people double-dip with eggrolls, so we called San Jose City Clerk Lee Price, the expert on local campaign finance laws, and asked about the situation in general terms, without using any names. "Imagine this: family-owned business opens another location down the street, same type of service, same name. Contributes twice." After a 30-second pause, Price said, "That would certainly look suspicious from my point of view." She added that she would want to know how the company's accounts were set up, and when we told her the specifics (Chavez and King Eggroll), she deferred us to Chief Deputy City Attorney Norm Sato. Although he didn't want to speculate on this particular situation, he did say that if Business 1 and Business 2 are controlled by the same people, "you've got an issue."

Flier Away

Here's a strange little postscript to Metro's cover story on the D.A.'s office last week: an ethics commission under the Santa Clara County Bar Association has released a statement condemning an anonymous flier that has been circulating about Karyn Sinunu. Fly took notice, of course, because that flier found its way into our inbox as Metro was wrapping up its cover story, and hit a few of the same points our reporters had been following for several months. The anonymous attack got under people's skin big time, as evidenced by the statement, wherein "the Commission finds that the offensive content, manner of distribution, and anonymity of the fliers each constitute a flagrant violation of several rules governing professional and ethical behavior by attorneys." It also said that the four district attorney candidates "urge an end" to its continued publication (two expanded versions have been floating around). "Anonymous, hateful fliers are hard on the soul," Sinunu wrote to us. We wondered if those Sinunu opponents were really being so big as to turn down what among certain political animals would be considered raw meat, so we called them for confirmation. Deputy District Attorney Jim Shore declined to comment. Superior Court Judge Dolores Carr said she was more concerned about the anonymity of the fliers than their content. While some of it was "inappropriate and off limits," she said, it included important issues that "reflected upon Sinunu's professional qualifications." Assistant District Attorney Marc Buller said he stood by the Bar Association's statement—but thought the topics Metro reported on extremely non-anonymously were fair. Speaking of Metro's story, one correction from the examination of hirings and promotions: the District Attorney's office didn't hire Andrew Vu, board member for the Silicon Valley Asian Pacific American Democratic Club (which recently endorsed Sinunu). Vu works for Sony Computer Entertainment in Foster City, but his partner, Thanh Ngo, recently joined the District Attorney's office. Metro apologizes for the mistake, but Fly couldn't help but notice that Ngo and Vu are leaders of the Silicon Valley Asian Pacific Bar Association, another group that's endorsed Sinunu.


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