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11.26.08

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Silicon Valley News Notes

LG Lovefest

The Brown Act says that elected officials must discuss and decide in public, so Fly was amused as the Los Gatos Town Council met to elect one of their own as the mayor for the upcoming year. Outgoing Mayor Barbara Spector wasn't challenged when she gave herself the right to speak first. She nominated her political ally, Mike Wasserman, to succeed her. It was immediately seconded. No one looked at all surprised. There were no other nominations. Discussion? Just five smiling councilmembers, deadpanning the audience. The public deliberation of the matter consisted of "I like Mike." "Second." "All those in favor?" "Passes unanimously." Our state budget should be decided so smoothly. By tradition, the new mayor is decided by the outgoing council—new Councilmember Steve Rice doesn't get sworn in until Dec. 15. If the voters ever turn out all the incumbents, it's the lame ducks who'll still get to decide who'll be mayor. The largely ceremonial position is rotated around annually.


Street Party

Every time the economy tanks, police departments warn people to be on guard against the inevitable uptick in crime. The logic is simple: the more desperate people get for work and money, the more they turn to lives of crime to bring in some extra cash. Fly got a firsthand view of the phenomenon last Wednesday when we found ourselves right in the middle of a bust. The day started with a bad omen—we woke up to voices outside a Campbell apartment and soon learned that a neighbor's car had been broken into, pushed around the block and stripped of its valuables. Later that day, a group of strangers gathered outside for an apparent cigarette break in a small common area that is usually empty. Primed for suspicious activity, Fly crept from window to window to get a better look, and saw a huddle of peeps rifling through a purse, pulling out and inspecting item after item and laughing about a large bag full of prescription medications inside. A fake trip to the mailbox yielded an even closer look, but also prompted the foursome to ditch the purse and drugs in a trash bin and walk away—immediately after which a Campbell police cruiser pulled up. Witnesses streamed out of the surrounding apartments shouting out helpful tips, and the suspects were quickly apprehended. A debriefing after the fact revealed that the purse was stolen from an elderly woman at a supermarket almost a mile away. Turns out it was the second purse-snatching of the day in Campbell. The whole experience convinced Fly that an ad hoc neighborhood watch—a simple exchange of phone numbers among neighbors—is not only an adorable idea, but a useful one.


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