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August 8-14, 2007

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Silicon Valley News Notes

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

San Jose Councilmember Pierluigi Oliverio's mother told him to "go find a wife" during his brief summer break this July, but the still-single 36-year-old District 6 rep is married to his work. He spent most of his time off indoors as a consultant for the software company Arena Solutions, although he admitted to Fly that he stepped out for one night to attend the theater in San Francisco. Whoa there, tiger! To be fair, Oliverio wasn't the only workaholic at City Hall this summer. Most councilmembers had to be pushed out by their staffers and ordered to get some air. Mayor Chuck Reed didn't even clock out until the end of July, his chief of staff Pete Furman told us. Reed was in Michigan for a family reunion when we called, where he plans to stay for less than two weeks. The rest of his vacation was spent pulling the usual 12-hour workdays. Geez! Sam Liccardo also stuck around until July 20 when he finally escaped for some R&R in Santa Cruz and Lake Tahoe. But he was still glued to his cell phone in between bike riding, swimming and hiking excursions. Meanwhile, Pete Constant outdid everyone as a "community event junkie" this summer. According to his chief of staff Jim Cogan, Constant went to neighborhood barbecues every single weekend in July—a grueling—albeit caloric—task that every elected official must perform. Oh, and he also graced the car show at Cypress Senior Center and the governor's birthday bash at the Carolands Chateau mansion in Hillsborough (the largest house west of the Mississippi). The only councilmember that truly took advantage of her precious time off was 32-year-old Madison Nguyen. After her quiet wedding in San Jose to 31-year-old Terry Tran—first reported here—she skipped off to Hawaii for the honeymoon, although she said she wasn't very impressed with the big island. "It was overcast the whole time, there were tons of tourists and everything was really expensive," she complained. Nguyen seems content to be back at City Hall with a new husband and an unexpected tan.

Wasting Time in Santa Clara, Part 2

Last week we wrote about how Santa Clara Mayor Patricia Mahan was caught on tape muttering a warning to stadium opponents that they were wasting their time. Somehow this resulted in a certain amount of anti-government cynicism among local citizens who spoke at that July 17 meeting. It must be going around over there, 'cause another vocal Santa Clara group has been getting the "You're wasting you're time" vibe as they pushed their cause for over two years without budging the mayor or other city leaders. Save BAREC activists, who have opposed a large-scale housing development on an old 17-acre research farm that's still open space, took a huge blow when the City Council finally voted to rezone the agricultural property for residential use last month. It might have meant the end for most citizen groups, but these folks never say die. They had only 30 days to collect nearly 8,000 signatures for a referendum, which will force the council to reconsider their decision or let voters weigh in on the zoning change. Activist Kirk Vartan said his group had nearly 60 volunteers helping with the effort. The registrar of voters has verified over 10,000 signatures, more than enough to put the zoning change back on the council's agenda at their next meeting on Aug. 21. Says Vartan on the idea that his public input time could have been put to better use: "I hope the City Council will see they made a mistake by not really listening to the citizens."

Edwards the Geek

Presidential candidate John Edwards knows his audience, you gotta give him that. Ripping through the Cliff Notes version of his platform in front of a several dozen Silicon Valley bigwigs at the SVB Financial Group headquarters in Santa Clara last week, Edwards geeked out immediately. "We have extraordinary problems with building of broadband," he said. "We are 24th in the world in broadband penetration." Don't try to tell us that plays in Peoria. Edwards went on to champion science, stem cells, education and the modernizing of patent laws, before getting into his high points on reducing carbon emissions, getting the hell out of Iraq, closing Guantanamo and establishing America's opposition to torture. "By the way, I find it absolutely amazing that a presidential candidate actually has to say these things," he quipped after that last one. He also pointed out he was the first candidate to outline a universal health care program (clearly he wasn't counting Hillary's aborted '90s effort) and other firsts, smartly playing the innovation card to a crowd that makes its living staying ahead of the curve. The event was part of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group's "Road to the White House" series, with Edwards sliding into a hot seat already occupied by Clinton and John McCain.


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