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January 23, 2007 > City council reverses decision

City council reverses decision

By Steve Warga

Milpitas City Council reversed course Tuesday, January 16 and approved a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for Jerry's Market and Deli located at 1491 South Main Street. After some 41 individuals spoke, mostly in support of owner, Aslam Ali, council granted the CUP with the addition of a six-month review and installation of outside audio pick-ups. The vote was 3 - 1 with Vice Mayor Bob Livengood opposed. Councilmember Debbie Giordano recused herself citing a conflict of interest.

In his remarks, Mayor Jose Estevez mildly chastised staff for relying on suppositions and possibilities instead of hard evidence in support of their recommendation to deny Ali's request to add liquor sales. A small, but vocal group of residents had used the occasion of public comment periods before the council and earlier, the Planning Commission, to paint a picture of filth and danger surrounding Jerry's Market. At its January 2 meeting council seemed inclined to accept these defamatory representations without question. A requested continuance was granted, however, and several councilmembers apparently visited the store and with Ali before the January 16 hearing. After witnessing his operation, they reconsidered their earlier opposition.

Well into their fourth hour of business, council finally approved a Memorandum of Understanding with the Mid-Management and Confidential Unit employees. Mayor Estevez and Councilmember Althea Polanski opposed the approval. The MOU grants wage increases over the next three years that will average about six percent. Finance Director Emma Karlen estimated total costs of about $3 million over the life of the contract. Council had stale-mated, 2-2, on this matter at their January 2 meeting. With Vice Mayor Livengood in attendance on the 16th, his "yea" vote carried the majority.

Karlen came in for some praise at the meeting's opening when Estevez announced the city's receipt of a Distinguished Budget Presentation Award from the Government Finance Officers Association. In singling out Karlen and her Finance Office staff, the mayor noted, "This is the highest form of recognition in governmental budgeting and represents a significant achievement by our city." The latest award is the city's second in a row.

Council will meet again, February 6 at 7 p.m.

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