Posted by: Lisa Pampuch | August 15, 2003

Eavesdropping at South County’s water coolers

Recent events provide plenty of conversation fodder, and South Valley residents are talking – in beauty salons, gyms, coffee shops, grocery stores and the like. Here’s some of what I’ve heard about local and state issues this week.

• I’ve heard only positive reactions to the news of the renovations planned for Cinema Six at Tennant Station in Morgan Hill.

People have told me they avoid the Morgan Hill theater and instead drive to Gilroy’s Platinum Theaters or San Jose’s multiplexes. The most frequent complaint I’ve heard about the current state of Cinema Six is the lack of stadium-style seating.

It seems a safe bet that CineLux’s planned overhaul of the Tennant Station cinema complex is a wise investment.

• I spoke with one man early this week about how the slate of gubernatorial wannabes was shaping up – and specifically the withdrawal of Rep. Darrell Issa, the conservative Republican congressman who spent a reported $1.7 million to fund the Davis recall effort. He found the tears Issa shed when he announced he was no longer a gubernatorial candidate to be curious.

“I wonder if he was crying because he spent $1.7 million and won’t be governor, or if it’s because we’re going to have a moderate Republican governor to boot,” he wondered rhetorically.

Some have speculated that Gov. Gray Davis, a Democrat, is experiencing political karma for meddling in Republican primary politics. I wonder if Arnold Schwarzenegger’s entry into the gubernatorial race, likely the cause of Issa’s withdrawal, is political karma for Issa’s attempt to thwart the will of the voters as expressed in an election less than one year ago.

• With the return of the Laci Peterson case to the news, talk at many water coolers centered on Scott Peterson again. One conversation to which I was party had a gentleman claim, “I know Scott Peterson.”

“Wow,” I thought, “What are the odds that an acquaintance of Scott Peterson’s would be here in South Valley and that I’d be talking to him?” My wonder quickly deflated, though, when he explained that he “knows” Scott Peterson because he watches all-news channels all the time. From this, he also “knows” Scott Peterson is guilty.

No one “knows” Scott Peterson from television news coverage. They know what the talking heads say about him, they know a few facts and lots of guesses about the case, they have some impressions about Peterson from the images flickering on their TV screens, but that’s about it.

At this point, no one outside of the case – no one but the defendant, police, prosecution and defense – can make an educated judgment if Scott Peterson is guilty.

Sometime in the next year, a jury of Peterson’s peers will be given the unenviable task of judging his guilt or innocence. Until his trial is complete, no amount of time spent watching any of the cable television news pundits yammering about this case can let those of us in TV land “know” Scott Peterson or come to a reasonable conclusion about his guilt or innocence.

I don’t know Scott Peterson. I don’t know if he killed Laci or not. And neither do you.

• As I left the Gilroy Starbucks Tuesday afternoon, I was behind two women headed to a puke-green Ford Expedition that had been poorly parked – the right rear wheel was hanging over the line, the mammoth gas-guzzler was nowhere near parallel to the parking space lines – and I happened to have parked in the adjacent space. As she prepared to climb into her Expedition, the driver commented about my vehicle, “Gee they’re awfully close, couldn’t they have parked somewhere else?”

The chutzpah of blaming the inconvenience of her lousy SUV parking job on my minivan, centered and parallel in its space, was supremely irritating. It reminds me of the unmitigated gall of Santa Cruz County officials who are trying to pass the blame – and the cost – of maintaining their inadequate Pajaro River levee system along to Santa Clara and San Benito county residents.

If you haven’t been following this issue, catch up on it. It’s easy to do at The Dispatch Web site. I’ll bet you’ll be irritated – maybe even outraged – enough to write to your state representatives.

And that’s a way to turn water cooler conversations into something that just might make a difference.



  1. […] 12, 2009 I reminded my readers of the importance of the presumption of innocence during the Scott and Lacey Peterson saga. I didn’t make me particularly […]

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