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August 1-7, 2007

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Silicon Valley News Notes

Grand Feed

Sure, there were fast cars, hot babes and dashing drivers with European accents. But one thing that makes the street closures really worth it is all the free food that gets trucked into downtown for the Grand Prix. Those nice folks over at Bridge Bank served croissants, fresh melon slices and healthy yogurt to clients for breakfast in their fourth floor executive offices strategically overlooking the Almaden Avenue hairpin turn. Across the street at 10 Almaden, Sonoma Chicken Coop restaurateur Bob Ray fired up a meaty barbecue feast on Sunday for clients of the Berliner Cohen, who washed it down with four different types of microbrews. Upstairs, Comcast clients chowed down in the cable company's fancy digs. Over at Liquid Agency, our favorite race spot, we took in some afternoon sun with pizza, Cohibas, Coronas and Red Bull beneath a black-and-white pirate flag. And who could forget Smoke Tiki's fabulous spread over at the City Hall Rotunda. As usual, some of the best cuisine was catered by the city's own Office of Economic Development over at the California Theatre on South First. Sure, it was hard to get into unless you own a garbage company or have a councilmember's cell phone on speed-dial. But if you could wangle a wristband, there were free Heinekens and California wine, not to mention sunscreen, ear plugs, chapstick and Redevelopment's beautiful, full-color brochures about each of San Jose's neighborhood business districts, handed out by young ladies in spiffy green logo-embroidered uniforms. We crashed OED's event on Friday and Saturday afternoons, and, tragically, there was almost no one there enjoying the city's generosity and educational displays on green electric vehicles. So we returned to Liquid, where the views were not obscured by those annoying sycamore trees (wink), where we could guiltlessly cheer on screeching, rubber-burning drifters sending clouds of politically incorrect white smoke skyward as graphic artist extraordinaire Jeff Gardner worked the turntables beneath the skull and crossbones, spinning forgotten gems by Toto.

How to Waste Time In Santa Clara

We all know politicians think it, they're just not supposed to say it. But Santa Clara Mayor <>Patricia Mahan got caught on tape doing just that. A video of the July 17 city council meeting shows her—well, "inviting" is not exactly the right word—public comment on the city's big two-year "Principles and Priorities" report, which included a section on its controversial feasibility study for the 49ers stadium project: "So if you want to address this, please come forward ... come on," says the mayor impatiently. Then, under her breath: "You're wasting your time." You can almost see her thinking, "Did I just say that out loud?" Yup. And now for a refresher course in why she's not supposed to, courtesy of Santa Clara resident Mary Emerson, who had hoped she wasn't wasting her time showing up to oppose spending taxpayer money (potentially $287 million) on a sports complex that could lure the NFL team south. Emerson said she didn't hear the mayor's slip while in the chambers but was shocked to later see it captured on camera. "It was slap in the face," she said. "I didn't feel like [Mahan] was listening to me, but man ... that's pretty demoralizing." Emerson's group immortalized the moment with a clip on YouTube, and quickly set to ranting about it on their blog, stadiumfacts.org. Mahan didn't return Fly's calls about the video (go to metroactive.com to see it for yourself). "Wow, what rhymes with witch," said Byron Fleck, co-founder of the anti-stadium movement. "I was a planning commissioner for eight years and there were moments when I felt that way, but I never would have said it."

BANG! You're Busted

Just as the dust starts to settle over the layoffs at the San Jose Mercury News, Dean Singleton strikes again. This time, the media mogul is merging the Contra Costa/Hills Newspapers and Alameda Newspaper Group to create BANG-EB, or Bay Area Group-East Bay. In a memo sent to employees last week, MediaNews executives said the consolidation, effective Aug. 13, would maximize news-gathering capabilities, streamline management and eliminate "wasteful redundancies." But it's more like BUST-EB—as in union. Right now, the newspaper union only represents the ANG editorial staff; the Contra Costa Times is a nonunion paper. And it turns out the company might not have to legally recognize the union if the guild doesn't represent a majority of the editorial staff within the entire BANG group. "It's a matter of numbers," said Marshall Anstandig, senior vice president for general counsel of MediaNews' California Newspaper Partnership. "We have not confirmed it; we want to go in to carefully." Right now, the company is tallying up those employee-union numbers, and union leaders aren't hopeful. Members of the Northern California Media Guild told The Fly they are researching options, including legal action. "This is a crucial fight," said Paul Rosynski, unit chair for the union. "Singleton's history at newspaper is cut and slash, cut and slash. Without a union there is no guarantee he will continue to pay reporters the way they are being paid now or they will ever see a raise."


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