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11.14.07

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Silicon Valley News Notes

Gilroy Uprising

For an election that got little attention, there was a pretty big statement from voters in Gilroy. Newcomer Perry Woodward got elected to the Gilroy City Council last week without help from developers, thank you very much. The 39-year-old lawyer has never held a public office before and managed to snag a council seat with less than $4,000 (most of which he says he lent to himself). Typical Gilroy campaigns pull in two to four times that amount, but Woodward turned the big bucks away when he pledged not to accept anything from contributors with an interest in the south county's sweet but limited development opportunities. "It's been my sense for years that money comes with strings," the councilmember-elect told Fly. "I don't want anybody feeling like their money gives them special access." Developers flocking to Gilroy City Hall must compete for the right to build residential units that are capped under the city's growth policy. Woodward said he just didn't want to be a part of a situation ripe for conflict of interest. After reading Metro's recent news story on the abundance of anonymous campaign contributions in Gilroy, he said he'd be in favor of tightening the city's campaign finance rules. Mayor Al Pinhiero, who barely won his re-election campaign by 448 votes over challenger Craig Gartman, also told us he'd be willing to reconsider Gilroy's policy on reporting campaign contributions under $99 after he read about the unusually high percentage of donors that aren't named on public records. But Councilmember-elect Bob Dillon refused to answer our questions on the subject. Another new face who beat incumbents running for City Council, Cat Tucker, will be the only woman representing Gilroy. She took pride in being the lone Democrat on the council and says she owes "no allegiance to anyone."

Grand Premio

If anyone wonders why Mexico City still has a Grand Prix and San Jose doesn't, we can look at last Sunday night's after-parties for clues. For starters, the clubs stayed open till 6am and police did not camp out front. Fly's spies spotted San Jose restaurateur Jorge Sanchez and hometown Grand Prix beauty queen Jennifer Field in the south-of-the-border capital, making the rounds of the Champ Car party circuit. (Yes, Fly has spies everywhere.) The post-race drivers' party took place on the poolside rooftop patio of the super-hip Habita hotel, which projects movies on nearby buildings. When neighbors complained around 2am, the festivities moved crosstown to the ultra trendy Bar Bar, where a thin, smiling blonde in black fingertip-less gloves engaged in hyphy air karate to the music alongside Mexican racing superstar Mario Dominguez. A colleague in a white suit with an oversized skull and pirate hat pendant dangling from his neck explained that she was the "Paris Hilton of Mexico City." Was she an actress or model, our correspondent asked. "No, Just a socialite, " pirate guy responded. Poor San Jose did its best this year, but we just can't offer those kinds of scenes. The drivers' party was at Smoke Tiki, a place we love, but it doesn't exactly force its patrons to check their digital cameras at the door to prevent its A-list patrons from being embarrassed in the tabloids. San Jose is not the only city to get punked off by Champ Car this year, if it's any comfort. Las Vegas and Phoenix were yanked from the schedule, and a planned debut in Zhuhai, China, was rescheduled for next year, making Mexico City the final event of the season. Sebastian Bourdais took top honors again, and bade a tearful farewell to Champ Car. He's moving up to Formula One now.

Council's New Naysayer

You can usually count on Pete Constant to be the hardline contrarian on City Council issues, but Pierluigi Oliverio? That's a different story. Oliverio took us by surprise when he partnered up with Constant to try to water down the city's green-building policy at a recent San Jose council committee meeting. Four councilmembers voiced their support for mandating private developers to use green building standards on city projects. Seems like good timing for a progressive proposal that would complement Mayor Chuck Reed's recently approved green vision plan for San Jose, right? But leave it to Constant to come out with a memo of his own, asking the council to consider a less restrictive approach. Instead of mandates, Constant wants to give private developers incentives to build green. "I think if you really want to encourage people to change their behavior, I think using a carrot is much better than using a stick," Constant said. City staffers raised an eyebrow when Oliverio signed off on Constant's memo, but he wasn't trying to stir the pot. He just felt that Constant's memo offered more flexibility for green building standards. "I support green building, and extending it to residential even, but I don't want to box us into one standard," Oliverio said.


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