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The Fly

Fuming Over Monitors

Looks like estimates to install two air monitors in a neighborhood close to the Metcalf Energy Center were off base, much to the anger of residents who live in the Santa Teresa area. Officials promised the monitors would be in place a year prior to the 600-megawatt, natural-gas power plant going online. But the city never obtained leases from the Morgan Hill school district to install the monitors. City officials blamed the Santa Teresa Action Group for filing a civil rights lawsuit against the plant and city, supposedly putting an agreement the two sides signed in limbo. The agreement said Calpine, which will operate Metcalf when it comes online next summer, must pay for the air-monitoring equipment. A hostile crowd of 50 residents confronted Councilman FORREST WILLIAMS for failing to ensure the monitors were in place. Williams had indicated that Oct. 1 would be the new target date to install temporary monitors, but he admitted to neighbors that date was now impossible. To show the monitors were a priority, SJ Planning Director STEPHEN HAASE said he will lead the effort to lease property and have the monitors installed. Despite repeated requests to name a new target date, Haase refused, saying he faced too many intangibles. "I'm not in control of everything," he said. Calpine officials admitted it would take 90 days to order and install the equipment, causing renewed criticism of the company. "We're groveling for crumbs," one participant said. "Why do we have to beg you?" Expect the controversy to continue over whether the monitors will test for PM10, shorthand for particulate matter under 10 micrometers. Though the EPA doesn't consider Metcalf a major source of PM10, Calpine agreed to monitor the carcinogen at the request of neighbors. Residents, however, claim the energy company is stalling in a manner similar, they say, to the delay over the air monitors.

He Said, She Said

In August, UPI published a story about MAXWELL BOYKOFF, a doctoral candidate at UC-Santa Cruz, and his brother, JULES BOYKOFF. The story profiled the Boykofffs' critique of the way the "prestige" press handled stories involving global warming. The study, published in the July issue of the peer-reviewed journal Global Environmental Change, concluded that the media's insistence on "balance" actually leads to imbalanced coverage on global warming. The reason? Reporters balance quotes and insights from the scientific community with quotes from skeptics of climate change—skeptics funded or supported by the energy industry. "This he-said, she-said, quoting top scientists and then looking for another opinion from the climate skeptics, is the pattern we found," Maxwell Boykoff told Fly. "Then the voices of these climate skeptics get amplified in the media." The irony is, however, that the UPI reporter followed the same pattern the Boykoffs delineated. Immediately after Maxwell Boykoff was given some space to discuss his findings, FRANK MAISANO, a spokesman for an energy-industry-backed law firm, was allowed to chime in. The reporter, of course, used the usual journalist segue to introduce a contrarian opinion: "Not everyone agrees ..." The final result was exactly what the Boykoffs' study warned against: emphasizing skeptic opinions to the level of drowning out scientific consensus. "It was funny," Boykoff said about the UPI story. "That's just one ironic case. Otherwise, we've had a good experience with the media."

The (Sikh) Ridah

The liner notes to Spice 1's new album, The Ridah, are sparse. But one point immediately catches the eye: Among the guest artists credited is a certain BARINDER JUDGE. Who, exactly, is Barinder Judge? And what's she doing on an album that also includes guest artists with names like GOLDIE LOC, MISTA FREE and DOITALLl? Judge, it turns out, is a Punjabi-American, a Sikh, a grandmother and a lady who probably tries to avoid inner-city living at all costs. She supplies the background vocals on "Work It Tonite," the first track of gangsta rapper Spice 1's new album. It turns out Judge's cameo is the latest in the increasing trend of mixing American popular culture with Indian culture, a trend that includes not only music but also film, food and fashion. Judge's son, MANESH JUDGE (profiled in Metro almost two years ago), and his friend NOOR LODHI make up the production company Cold Fusion. The two collaborated with Spice 1 on the track, and Manesh Judge talked the rap artist into using his mother's classical vocals. The final result: Barinder Judge's appearance on a CD that depicts Spice 1 with an eye patch and a stogie on the cover. "Go figure," Manesh Judge grins to Fly. "Who would have thought that my mother would appear on the same credit line as 2Pac?"

Ford Phase-Out

The Global Exchange and the Rainforest Action Network, two environmental nonprofits based in San Francisco, have called on governments and corporations across America to cease buying Ford cars because they posted the worst fuel economy among all autos for five years running. The two groups are hoping to force Ford into making autos that average 50 mpg. Though thousands of letters went out, only three organizations replied, including the states of Florida and Colorado and a pharmaceutical company. Noticeably absent was Stanford University and the city of San Jose, two South Bay groups that also received letters. At least San Jose has a good excuse. Because of budget restrictions, the city placed a moratorium on buying new cars. To save costs, police cars are purchased through a state of California group bid. But Ford has cornered the market on police cars because the Crown Victoria is the only car on the market designed for continuous operation. The city is, however, changing specifications on nonpatrol cars to include lifetime operating costs, which would likely make alternative-fuel vehicles (such as the Honda Civic Hybrid) attractive during the bidding process. They have lower operating costs than traditional gasoline-powered cars.

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From the September 22-28, 2004 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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