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10.22.08

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Silicon Valley News Notes

Double Take

San Jose Councilwoman Nora Campos made a brief appearance at City Hall recently when she parachuted into the middle of a council committee hearing, asking the group to vote a second time on a plan to extend living wages to all airport workers. The vote had already gone her way, mind you, but why shouldn't city government drop everything to make her feel included? Campos, who has been out on maternity leave, was watching the council meeting at home with her newborn when she decided to call a baby sitter and drive over to City Hall. About 20 minutes after the group had closed the issue with a 2-1 vote to bring the living wage proposal to the full council later this month, Campos, who is hugely supported by labor, came marching into the meeting and requested they do it once more, with feeling. "Being able to make a decent wage in this valley is challenging and continues to be challenging," she said after taking her seat. "I thought it was important to be here for this vote." As she took her seat, Councilman Sam Liccardo, the lone dissenter on the living wage plan, left the room. While he was outside the room making a brief phone call, the committee went ahead and quickly revoted with Campos supporting proposal. The new vote was 3-0. Liccardo says he wasn't ducking the revote; in fact he was surprised to come back into the room and learn that the committee had voted while he was out. "I didn't anticipate that if there was going to be another vote it would be taken in my absence," said Liccardo who supports extending living wages to airport workers in phases. "It doesn't seem to be collaborative to wait until someone is out of the room."


If It Bleeds, It Leaves

Is the San Jose Mercury News building up for sale? Merc publisher Mac Tully didn't return phone calls, but news staffers said that they've heard the building is on the market, although it could take years for any sale to happen. City Planning Director Joe Horwedel told Fly that a broker recently contacted the city's economic development department, but he isn't sure if that was initiated by the newspaper's owners, MediaNews Group, which bought the Mercury News and Contra Costa Times two years ago. "We have not had any meetings, but I heard rumors through the building they have been discreetly talking," Horwedel said. The city wouldn't mind if the newspaper pulled up stakes, since planners have long considered that area near Interstate 880 ripe for retail development, particularly big-box stores. The city is already expecting a Lowes to go up across the street from the Merc building. "We obviously would like to keep the Mercury News headquarters in San Jose," Horwedel says. " But that location at 880 sits itself really well for retail and retail pays sales tax."


The Razor and Mr. G

Even before Measure B had been written, the opponents of the plan to bring BART to San Jose had focused their ire on Carl Guardino. On July 14, when the one-eighth percent sales tax was still a rumor, a missive appeared on the blog VTA Watch pointedly criticizing the director of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, who spearheaded the effort. Last week, in the same space, Guardino was labeled delusional. Now, he's responding to whispered allegations that he tried to squelch criticism in a Merc op-ed written by Measure B foes Rick DiNapoli, Dave Fadness and Bill Baron. The op-ed submission was emailed to Merc editorial page editor Barbara Marshman on Wednesday, Aug. 13. The following day, DiNapoli received an email from Guardino, saying he'd heard "from two mutual friends" that a column was in the works that would "attack [his] character and credibility." Guardino tells Fly that he in fact heard about the piece from friends, not Marshman, and didn't even know what publication it was supposed to run in. Marshman, who could not be reached for comment, has denied giving anyone a sneak peek at the op-ed. DiNapoli, meanwhile, points out that the published piece contains no personal attacks. Still, he says, the SVLG chief "was visibly angry" when the two ran into each other at the Courtside, where they both work out. DiNapoli insists that civility ultimately won out. "I have to say, though, 10 minutes later he offered to let me use his razor because I'd left mine home."


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