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Mayor May: I It isn't easy sharing green.

Public Eye

Love Is Gonzo

A year has passed since lovestruck Mayor Ron R. Gonzales and his estranged wife Mary Alvina Gonzales managed to arrive at a divorce standstill. The ashes of their two-decade matrimony, which incinerated publicly following Gonzo's dalliance with a then-aide who was just slightly older than his marriage, was slated to blow into court this month. Gonzales v. Gonzales, originally scheduled for a family settlement officer conference on June 30 to divide the marital spoils, will drag on some more. Alvina's lawyer Lynn Yates-Carter called to tell Eye the case was continued until August. At issue is how much of Ron's public employee perks package former hairdresser Alvina gets. The mayor has been paying Alvina $2,650 per month when, from her perspective, $4,040 would be more appropriate, as life's been so good to the $100,000 man. But Gonzo says he's got no more to give. For one thing, he points out in an attachment to his declaration on file with the Santa Clara County Family Court, he's got car expenses. "The Ford Motor Company, which has previously provided leased vehicles to city mayors, has announced the termination of that program in March 2003," he wrote. "I will therefore need to purchase or lease a new vehicle and will need some if not all of my remaining investment assets for that purpose." According to Gonzo's press guard David Vossbrink, Ford has resumed its sweetheart deal for big-city mayors, so Gonzales didn't have to give up his fully loaded gas-chugging Ford Expedition after all. (That detail is noticeably absent from the court file.) Regardless, the mayor's car concerns are totally unrelated to certain high-profile discussions about partial car subsidies for the mayor and council, Eye is firmly told. When asked if there was a connection between Ford's threat to withdraw its big-city mayor discount and the mayor's recent push to raise the council's car allowance, Vossbrink explained, "That has nothing to do with the mayor's own vehicle arrangement."

Down With FCC

Eyewatchers probably know that Monday, June 2, the FCC, led by Commission chair Michael "Colin's son" Powell, voted 3-2 to let media companies devour more TV stations and cross format lines into print and radio under the guise of promoting competition. The news is playing out locally in the pages of the San Jose Mercury News, although scantily. As anti-homogeneity-in-broadcasting activists across the country rally against the FCC's deregulatory move, the Merc Monday did a pre-emptive strike, quoting Knight Ridder Chief Tony Ridder in a front-page article saying, "I don't see that there would be much of a change." Incidentally, The Ridder happens to lead the country's main daily trade interest group--the Newspaper Association of America--the chubby cheerleader for the FCC's recent move. On Tuesday, the morning after the FCC ruling, The New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle ran above-fold, front-page reports about it, while the Merc ran an above-fold, front-page exposé about the warm weather, noting that "power grid managers and other experts are predicting an adequate power supply." The Merc did cover the major federal decision--in the business section. Meanwhile, the FCC's move met with a less apathetic reception from Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder, in town for a concert Sunday night at Mountain View's Shoreline Ampitheatre, who dedicated the contemptuous "Not for You" to the junior Powell-cum-FCC-lord. Vedder said the band may return for Neil Young's annual Bridge School Benefit this fall--on a bill that he hopes includes media monopoly scapegoats, The Dixie Chicks.

Free at Last

Civil rights activists are doing the we-told-you-so dance after the Justice Department admitted to detecting "significant problems" with its immigrant roundup over the last two years. Looks like the nightmare is ending for one local immigrant who was caught up in Homeland Security Mania 2001. Kouroshe Gholamshahi, an Iranian-born undocumented resident featured in these pages ("To the Wolves?" April 17), was released from the Sacramento County Jail two Thursdays ago, Eye learned after chatting with his San Jose attorney Monica Ganjoo. Ganjoo happily informed Eye that Gholamshahi, after being detained for 11 months by federal immigration officials following the post-Sept 11 crackdown on immigrants from mostly Muslim countries, was back on the Sacramento streets but not home yet. (His deportation case is still pending.) While he was imprisoned his wife, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, had to move into Section 8 housing. Ganjoo says they're considering a lawsuit against jail officials, who she alleges kept Gholamshahi in 24-hour lockdown unnecessarily, referred to him as a "sand nigger" and told him: "You're [in jail] today because you have to pay because you hate America." Gholamshahi was later sent off to a Florence, Ariz., immigration detention center to undergo a round of "consular interviews" with officials said to be representing the Islamic Republic of Iran. Luckily for Gholamshahi, the Iranian officials had no interest in giving him traveling papers "back home" and were, in fact, puzzled about why U.S. immigration officials were so anxious to get rid of him, since he was a religous asylum-seeker to begin with. ... Shahbaz Taheri, the editor of an Iranian-American newspaper in San Jose, was one of the first to get interested in Gholamshahi's case. Even though phone chats with his locked up buddy came to about $60 a month in collect call bills, Taheri still wants nothing more than to speak with his newly sprung friend. "I told him that he could call me collect," Taheri says.

Just Say Coe

A week after a Metro cover story ("Damfoolery," May 15) detailed how plans for a new reservoir by the Santa Clara Valley Water District could flood parts of Henry W. Coe State Park, the water district's board of directors voted unanimously that a solution for the district's "low-point problem" should not encroach on the state park. Eyewatchers may remember the problem occurs when water in the San Luis Reservoir, off Highway 152, reaches a certain low point during peak demand times, which decreases water quantity and quality. Environmental and park supporters, most notably the South County-based Advocates for Coe Park, protested that an expanded reservoir at Pacheco Creek could adversely affect park wildlife and point the way to a future, much larger reservoir to meet water needs in the ever-sprawling valley. As much as Eye would like to give Metro credit for saving the idyllic Coe Park, a water district employee, whom Eye shall not name, says Metro might have hastened, not decided, the board's vote, namely by lighting a fire under project manager Kurt Arends, who Eye hears was criticized internally for not heading off the possibility of encroaching on Coe Park sooner. Arends emails Eye it was "unique" for a viable option to be pulled this early in the planning process, and adds that it's not his responsibility, but the district CEO and the board's. Advocates for Coe Park, meanwhile, aren't satisfied yet. The group, recently named as a stakeholder in the low-point project, sent out a retaliatory press release six days after the board's decision, saying they wanted to see the resolution extended to all possible future water district projects concerning the Pacheco Reservoir.

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From the June 5-11, 2003 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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