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05.07.08

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Silicon Valley News Notes

Pulling Muscle

It wasn't too long ago that Santa Clara political consultant James Rowen was campaigning against Dominic Caserta in his bid for re-election on the Santa Clara City Council. But Rowen has apparently had a change of heart—he's now doing some consulting work on Caserta's campaign for the 22nd Assembly District. "Santa Clara is the city where we oppose each other on one thing, and we support each other the next day," Rowen said. He admits that a year ago, he wasn't exactly fond of Caserta, who voted against putting him on the Planning Commission several times. But Rowen says he felt like Caserta had been making some good decisions as a councilmember, including asking him for his opinion when the important Korea Town issue (a Little Saigon forerunner in which Korean businesses wanted their own designated district) came before the council. Rowen said it was the first time Caserta had asked for his opinion, and well, he was flattered, so he accepted Caserta's job offer: "Sometimes Dominic really ticks me off, but he gave me respect, so I decided to do some work for him." Santa Clara insiders tell Fly that Rowen is notorious for "digging up dirt" on candidates during election season. His response: "It depends on how you classify dirt." Rowen said his job as a political consultant, a title he has held since 1984, is to research public records of candidates and their opponents. Caserta's campaign has paid Rowen about $1,800 to pull such records, including newspaper articles, contribution reports and public meeting minutes. Nonetheless, Caserta insisted that Rowen is not his campaign consultant, nor does he hold any title on his campaign. "I didn't hire him to find any dirt on anyone. I hired him to get public records," Caserta said. In fact, Caserta noted that he recently signed an ethics pledge to run a clean campaign. "I plan on running a positive campaign about my vision for this district," Caserta said.


Google Eyed

With the "distraction" (Jerry Yang's words, not ours) of the Microsoft-Yahoo dance behind us, Silicon Valley can get back to normal. And normal, for us, is wondering what the Next Big Deal will be. Some tea leaves can be read in a study of Google Inc.'s domain name portfolio, recently posted to the web by the fine folks at Pingdom.com. A few potential acquisition targets can be plucked from the list: googletimewarner.com, ebay-google.com, googlewarnerbros.com and googlephilipmorris.com. Anyone with too much time on their hands can download and scroll the list for a window into the search giant's web strategies. In addition to typosquatting various versions of their own names—glugli.com, gaggolo.com, geggle.com or the ultrasexy gmale.com— there are a few headscratchers (mariolovespasta.com, thesecretofburritos.com, essentialmommy.com) and some suggestions of larger ambitions: bankgoogle.com, googlereligion.com, googlefaith.com, davincicodegoogle.com, googlemoon.com, googlesaturn.com. In some cases, like googlemercury.com, it's hard to tell whether Google's webmasters entertained designs on the newspaper or the planet, though it could be both. And there are some early days registrations that the company was probably a little embarrassed about, like besteurotits.com, that it moved out of its public portfolio.


March Madness

Exactly which May 1 march in support of immigrant rights did Merc reporters supposedly go to? The daily reported that the annual march wound "from East San Jose to City Hall," which is downright bizarre since the biggest behind-the-scenes drama of the day came when the SJPD blocked off City Hall's plaza. Volunteers had to hustle to tote equipment in pieces to First Christian Church in time for the rally.  "We knew we couldn't hold the rally in City Hall's Plaza, but we asked to march through like we did in past years and they blocked us off," said Carlos Padilla, a member of the Black Berets for Justice of San Jose. Marchers weren't too happy with the heavy police presence throughout, as officers on bikes, in cars, on foot and in at least one helicopter surrounded the all-ages crowd of 2,000 or so. With all the talk lately about support for the Latino community, you might have thought the May 1 rally would rate with local politicos, but notable no-shows included Nora Campos and as far as Fly could tell, the entire City Council.


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