Eric Johnson

Eric Johnson

Posts by Eric Johnson

Gates Gets Political at TED

The annual TED conference is often the most interesting of the big national nerdfests, thanks to its bridging of the worlds of high-tech and the arts (the acronym stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design). Generally, the confab’s biggest buzz comes from some new wonder-device (Jeff Han’s touch-screen demonstration from TED 2006 is still a big hit on YouTube). This year, the Big Story is not one gizmo, but two ideas.

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State of Emergency

Schwarzenegger skips State of the State address.

Citing a “state of emergency” resulting from the state’s dire economic situation and the legislature’s failure to produce a solution, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger delivered a truncated State of the State address this morning. While he clearly put responsibility for the crisis on the legislators he was addressing—even suggesting that pay should be withheld from Assembly members, state Senators and the himself until a solution is found—his tone was mostly upbeat and conciliatory. He congratulated lawmakers for working toward a compromise, and said he is optimistic that they will succeed.

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McEnery’s Market

Every serious baseball fan who has traveled a bit has seen the benefit that can come from economic development projects like the San Jose Public Market. During the 1980s and ‘90s, many American cities invested public money to build baseball stadiums in the hope that they would stimulate economic activity. There are now vibrant neighborhoods surrounding ballparks from Washington D.C. to Denver. Often controversial when proposed, these neighborhoods now stand as testament to the wisdom of public-private partnerships in pursuit of urban development. The only downside seems to be the preponderance of newspaper headlines saying (you guessed it): “If You Build It, They Will Come.”

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The Victory Speech

The volunteers who gave us our country back.

Guests started to arrive in force at the Silicon Valley for Obama victory party at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View at around 7:30 pm. The election had already been called. He had won.  And everyone was ecstatic. They walked in looking more stunned than happy. Who could believe it?

The shindig attracted some high-tech politicos and local elected officials, but mostly it was about the campaign volunteers. Silicon Valley for Obama, chaired by former State Controller Steve Westley, had been enormously successful.

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Disrupt the Vote

Nancy Pelosi talks tech in Mountain View

At Google headquarters, as elsewhere in Silicon Valley, the term “disrupter” is commonly used to describe technological innovations or companies that force evolution. Nancy Pelosi found a novel way to repurpose the word during a visit to the search-engine giant’s Mountain View campus Monday.

“Our founders were disrupters,” Pelosi said. “They disrupted the status quo.”

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Eric Hernandez Arrested for Assault

San Jose Police have confirmed that Eric Hernandez, the former Cindy Chavez intern convicted in March of hacking city government emails, was arrested Tuesday for assault and battery. According to police spokesman Sgt. Mike Sullivan, Hernandez allegedly attacked and beat a man at the Alma Community Center.

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Square Pegs

Back when he was mayor, spearheading the renovation of a then-decrepit downtown, Tom McEnery had to fend off charges that his vision of a thriving retail-and-entertainment district was rooted in a desire to enrich himself and his family, which owns a significant chunk of downtown real estate. Twenty years later, those charges have re-emerged, following a 9-1 City Council decision last week to consider a request for $6 million in redevelopment money for the San Pedro Square neighborhood where the McEnerys do business.

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Fair Question

The plan to develop the County Fairgrounds has disappeared around a blind curve in recent months, but that’s about to change. The 150-acre parcel, where 4-H members have showed off their prize pigs while hopeful housewives displayed their pies, is now hosting a more serious competition, and the prize could be a quarter-billion-dollar development project.

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Fighting Words

Last weekend, the Merc’s Internal Affairs blog pretended to call for compromise in the Little Saigon battle, while in fact bashing both sides of the debate. The piece began by reporting that “hunger-striker Ly Tong flashed the crowd to reveal his bare chest as security guards hustled him away from the speaker’s podium”—a word choice that shows a touch of disdain for the former war hero and internationally respected human rights activist.

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