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May 23-29, 2007

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Silicon Valley News Notes

Marco! Polo!

With summer in sight, are you starting to wonder whatever happened to the Master Aquatics Plan? According to the city of San Jose's Park, Recreation and Neighborhood Services Department's pool boy Jeremy Shoffner, it's in review, but there's no firm date for it to go before the City Council this summer. One thing's for sure, we're not getting the Alviso, Biebrach and Ryland pools back until summer of 2008, per the City Council's February directions to the PRNS, but even that may be touch and go considering the rocky start Ryland Pool's latest meeting got off to last week. You'd think by now PRNS would have it down as to setting meetings when people can attend, sending email notices and posting descriptive meeting agendas on their website, but no go for this swim meet. Twelve people showed up at the Northside Community Center and half of them were PRNS staff. Don Gagliardi, president of the 13th Street NAC, went ballistic when PRNS director Albert Balagso didn't seem to know that community input at umpteen meetings had already clearly called for historic Ryland Pool to either be repaired or rebuilt as an exact replica if it can't be repaired. Job one is to get an estimate of the cost of these two scenarios. All along, Ryland Pool supporters have questioned city estimates as being too high. They say they can do some of the work themselves and if they know the cost they can find angels to fund what the city can't. Tina Morrill, Vendome Neighborhood Association president, arranged for contractors to visit Ryland, but Shoffner says none of them came back with estimates. PRNS promised to provide cost estimates by their next meeting on May 31, but the natives are officially restless. "We want something concrete, not 'We're going to go back and study it,' Morrill says. "We want a project leader, with milestones and deliverables and that is what we've started." The PRNS is organizing meetings for Alviso and Biebrach pools over the next month.  Hey guys, how 'bout posting notice of these on your website?

Meet Your New Manager

Chuck Reed had his biggest moment as mayor yet when he selected now-former Los Gatos Town Manager Debra Figone as his new city manager last week. Figone's selection was a bit rushed and caught everyone off-guard, but a Reed staffer assures us that she sailed through with a unanimous vote in closed session. Figone, who has served Los Gatos for the last seven years, has 38 years of public service and is a native of San Jose. She tells Fly that she sees the city's structural budget challenges, vacancies in the senior staff and infrastructure issues as her three most pressing challenges as she comes in. "But," she adds, "there's no shortage of issues." And where does she stand of the strong vs. weak city manager debate that followed the mayor into office? "Clearly, the mayor's philosophy about his desire to have a professional city manager and his value of a professional city manager was an important part of my decision," she says.

Lean Machines

Last week's Bike to Work Day got more than 25,000 Silicon Valley commuters out of their cars and on their bikes. Corinne Winter, Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition executive director, says this is almost twice as many participants as last year, not counting 500 volunteers, 40 rest stations and a big blow out Bike Away from Work Bash at Gordon Biersch. "The Silicon Valley Leadership Group's participation really helped," says Winter. "They challenged their members to participate. We had 50 elected officials and business leaders encouraging their employees to bike to work, distributing information at their workplaces and hosting energizer stations. That really brought in more people." More importantly, how did San Jose City Councilmen Sam Liccardo and Pete Constant manage to ride a tandem bike to their City Hall workplace? "It was a challenge," Liccardo says, "but we were able to pull it off because Pete leans to the right and I lean to the left."

Tension Mounts

It wasn't so much the 30 to 40 protesters gathered in front of the San Jose Hall of Justice last Tuesday afternoon to protest one more account of police misconduct. It's more that the SJPD brass has not come up with any sort of compelling response to these incidents involving claims of rough police conduct that seem to be popping up all over in San Jose lately. This time the issue was an incident two months ago involving 18–year–old Marlo Custodio, an Evergreen High School student. He claims that he was asked by an officer to step out of his parked truck, and when he didn't comply fast enough, the officer dragged him out of the vehicle, choked him and kneed him in the face. When Custodio's family members, his mother, 50–year-old Marilou, and his brother, 25–year–old Romel, arrived at the scene, they say they received similar treatment: Marilou Custodio's head was allegedly slammed against a police car three times; Romel Custodio was tackled and tasered for more than 40 seconds. The department says there's no indication that the officers did anything wrong. All three family members now face criminal charges. The Custodio family's allegations are unnervingly similar to those of Armando Castro, an Independence High School student who faces a felony after being arrested for sitting on a golf cart, and the allegations of 65-year-old Concepcion Calderon, who says his head was bashed into a squad car after he questioned the detention of his son. Rob Davis, is there something going on we should know about?

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