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10.17.07

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Silicon Valley News Notes

No End In Blight

Local homeowner and activist Diana Padilla got a shot of renewed enthusiasm after rubbing shoulders at the Conference on Redevelopment Abuse held last weekend in San Jose—home of California's largest redevelopment agency, as we all know. Padilla has been fighting for reform for the past six years, since San Jose officials tried to take over her home and business through eminent domain, the legal weapon that cities often wield to pave the way for big development. Property owners stuck in "blight" zones usually have no choice but to sell and flee, but Padilla and her husband, Brian, who live and work on the outskirts of downtown, narrowly escaped the bulldozers. "Every single customer who walks through these doors gets an earful about what happened to us," Padilla told Fly. "Reform is not going to come from the top down; it's going to have to come from the bottom up." That's why she savored every minute of Saturday's conference, where she heard Orange County Supe Chris Norby present his latest version of the evolving report that includes mind-boggling statistics on money flowing in and out of redevelopment agencies statewide. Other victims of redevelopment takeover from around the Bay Area showed up and reminded Padilla that she is not alone. Citizen groups have been urging their state and local leaders for more legal protections since the United States Supreme Court ruled in 2005 that cities could use eminent domain for private development. California's Prop. 90 failed last year, but supporters are pushing for a new ballot measure that may come before voters in 2008. Padilla said she bought extra copies of Norby's booklet to send to local councilmembers and county supervisors. "This is something that we'll probably follow for the rest of our lives," she said. "As long as we own our property we'll always have to keep a watch."

A Different Kind Of Council Race

The rumors are true: the Metro Stair Challenge Event team is in utter shambles since losing music editor Todd Inoue, who proved himself the Stair Master two years ago. Now the event, in which city officials and various misfits will run or walk up 18 flights of stairs at City Hall as part of an exercise awareness campaign on Nov. 7, is anybody's game. Councilmember Pierluigi Oliverio says it won't be his. After all, he's got pretty intense competition in the form of Councilmember and avid runner Sam Liccardo, not to mention Forrest Williams, the well-known athlete, participating in the Nov. 7 event. For his part, Oliverio admits he won't climb more than a flight or two of stairs before jumping on the elevator. "I am more of a swimmer," Oliverio says. "If I could swim up the stairs it would be easy." Guess the only competition Oliverio will have is for dead last. Councilman Kansen Chu says he's foolishly competing in the stair race. He rarely squeezes in any exercise these days, but Chu is planning to at least break in his running shoes a few days before the challenge. "I should try to start with a few flights first and then see if I can make it to the 18th floor."

Match Point

The Mercury fell to a new low last week with columnist Mike Cassidy's breathless revelation that Councilman Oliverio had posted his dating profile to, drumroll, Match.com. (Not exactly Adult Friendfinder, is it?) Somehow the daily's editors thought this was newsworthy, placing it front page local with tawdry panache. The Merc sourced the discovery to a local blog, without noting that it was an apparently well-funded political hit site that exclusively attacks political and media figures who insufficiently endorse the party line of the South Bay Labor Council. Astute readers will recall that Oliverio suggested that rose bushes at the city's tattered Rose Garden could be better maintained by clippers in private hands than the city's unionized parks employees. Metro was offered the chance to break the yawn-worthy Match.com profile and declined because editors felt that politicians deserve to have some personal privacy, provided they are not boinking their staff or otherwise engaging in activities that affect their performance as a public official. Cassidy, probably realizing it wasn't much of a story, opted for bait-and-switch journalism: offering all the "juicy" details of the supposedly salacious story, but claiming to be above it all at the same time: "Hey, leave San Jose City Councilman Pierluigi Oliverio alone. Well, unless he's your type. You know: tapas, Nina Simone, the beach, hugs. And, umm, erotica, which, well, is a lot like art." Wow. Classy stuff. Pretending to "leave him alone" and justify the story with sarcastic comments, while rolling in exactly the same mud as the labor-friendly bloggers who got the story rolling, is way lower than even we'll stoop. Let the guy have a life!


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