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Good to the last bite WEEKEND | P.17 OCTOBER 22, 2010 VOLUME 18, NO. 42 650.964.6300 INSIDE: MOVIES | PAGE 20 Measure T campaign raises questions FORMER COUNCILMAN SUSPECTS CITY’S INVOLVEMENT IN PHONE TAX MEASURE By Daniel DeBolt I MICHELLE LE John Rios, the store manager, has worked for Minton’s for more than 21 years. The lumber supply store is closing after a century in business. Final cut coming soon for Minton’s CITY’S OLDEST BUSINESS CLOSING TO MAKE WAY FOR HOUSING DEVELOPMENT By Daniel DeBolt M inton’s Lumber and Supply, the city’s oldest business, will soon trickle away piece by piece as lumber, tools and trucks are auctioned off on Nov. 9. If there had been enough business to keep the store open, the Minton’s name would have been 100 years old next year, said its president, Debby Shulz. “It has always been my feeling that it’s difficult for the small independent business to compete against big boxes,” Shulz said. “It just was not working out. My parents, the owners, were putting in their own money to keep things operating.” Early next year, the buildings will be demolished and construction will begin on a 200-unit apartment project on the site. The developer, Prometheus Real Estate Group, has agreed to rent the land from Shulz and her famSee MINTON’S, page 11 Prometheus draws ire from tenants, again TENANT’S ONLINE VIDEOS DOCUMENT “CONSTRUCTION SITE HELL” By Daniel DeBolt R esidents of Castro Street’s largest apartment complex are demanding compensation from their landlord, Prometheus Real Estate Group, after enduring the noise of a monthslong construction project. Park Place South resident Guy Kulman has gone as far as to post videos on his blog, parkplacesouth, INSIDE to illustrate exactly how he’s suffered from the work to repair water damage to the 120 unit apartment complex. Kulman, who works at home every day, appears tormented by noise in his videos, including the ear-piercing fire alarms that ago off after confusing construction dust with smoke. Rod Standard, vice president of property management for Prometheus, said his firm was being proactive in fixing water damage before the buildings rotted further. Construction dust set the alarms off at first, but managers later found a resident pulling the fire alarm and referred the matter to police, Standard said. “This is absolutely a horrible place to live,” Kulman says to a manager in one video with fire alarms going off. “Would you live here and not be compensated to endure this See PROMETHEUS, page 13 GOINGS ON 21 | MARKETPLACE 22 | REAL ESTATE 25 | VIEWPOINT 15 n the campaign to update the city’s phone tax, Mountain View officials are dismissing concerns about the city staff’s involvement in the campaign. A former councilman has raised questions about the appearance of taking campaign funds from housing developers and the appropriateness of using of city funds on a mailer. Measure T would extend the city’s phone tax to broadband phone services as well as international and out-of-state calls. The tax itself is expected to raise the average resident’s phone bill by about 15 cents a month. The tax is currently bringing the city’s general fund $1.9 million a year but it is declining because of increased broadband phone use. The measure may also prevent legal challenges to the existing tax, which is based on an obsolete federal law. But former council member Greg Perry says city resources were used to promote the measure in a way that is illegal, or at least has the appearance of being inappropriate. Leaders of the campaign acknowledge that city funds and resources cannot be used in the campaign. Assistant’s e-mail In an e-mail obtained by the Voice, assistant to the city manager Kevin Woodhouse makes an appeal to a resident to help organize a Yes on T campaign. While it may appear that the city manager’s office orchestrated the start of the campaign, Woodhouse says he wrote such e-mails on his personal time from his personal e-mail address in order to comply with campaign law. “We need to get as many folks there as possible” to a meeting at the Chamber of Commerce, Woodhouse writes. The e-mail lists key community leaders that City Council members are targeting to recruit for the campaign, which had yet to begin when the e-mail was written. I used “my time and my resources completely independent from city time and city resources,” Woodhouse said. Councilman Mike Kasperzak, who is the spokesman for the Yes on Measure T campaign, vouched for Woodhouse, saying the two always met away from city hall and communicated through personal e-mail addresses and phone numbers. Consultant’s advice Woodhouse’s e-mail also reveals that campaign advice came from a city-funded consultant, Larry Tremutola, who was paid by the city to study the phone tax issue before it went on the ballot. Tremutola “believes that in order to maximize the possibility of success, at least a modest campaign will be needed (a supportive steering committee, possibly one mailer or ads and $10,000-$20,000 in funding),” Woodhouse wrote. Tremutola account representative Steven Boardman said he was the Tremutola employee who helped with the campaign. “Very little time (was) given and we were happy to give it,” Boardman said. “We weren’t working with anyone from the city when we were working on the campaign.” Woodhouse “was acting as a volunteer,” he added. See MEASURE T, page 6

Mountain View Voice 10.22.2010 - Section 1

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