Thursday, September 17, 2009
TRUMP, HE’S NOT… Squid thought this cephalopod was having a flashback to 2001 when fast-talking, slow walking businessman Gerry Kehoe turned up on a daily’s front page for planning yet another Oldtown Salinas hotel. Kehoe bought the former Dick Bruhn building on the corner of Main and Alisal streets and said he wants to build a boutique hotel: “Water will cascade down a lighted wall of rain-forest marble behind the reception counter.” Kehoe’s imagery doesn’t hypnotize Squid anymore. The Florida-based landowner bought the property for cheap (under $1 million) because Bruhn’s bankruptcy trustee couldn’t find any buyers. For years, Kehoe promised city officials that he would build a Hilton in a parking lot in front of the Steinbeck Center but it turned out Hilton had shot down Kehoe’s pipe dream long ago. From his old website, Kehoe’s company Berkley Inc. also claimed to run hotels in Europe, but once again they proved to be just claims. Nearly a year after the council gave him an extension on his nightclub/bistro project, construction still hasn’t started on the former Wells Fargo building in downtown. And whenever the Weekly tries to track down the ole chap, he is always in the “Far East” or Europe. Squid is not naïve enough to believe Kehoe’s marketing guy Rick Phinney that the new hotel project is “an automatic winner.” If Kehoe couldn’t build a hotel or nightclub when the market was hot and banks were giving money away, how does he plan pull it off in the middle of a recession?
ARITHMETIC LESSONS… Squid’s no calculus major, but this college math class ain’t making much sense. Due to state cuts, CSU Monterey Bay staffers are being asked to subtract two work days a month from their schedules and 10 percent a year from their salaries – but zero of the instruction. That’s breeding situations as ugly as a packed keg-party running dry at 8pm. Some profs are becoming less responsive to fellow teachers or students because they’re overloaded and wary of going the extra mile on a shrunken gas tank. Teachers want to preserve lecture time but fear the other work – meeting with students, prepping, conducting research, grading, committeeing – will be overlooked (“The Legislature’ll get the idea that we can provide the same education for less money,” says one prof. “So some feel, ‘Not on my back.’”). The union strategy is a “solidarity day” in which professors synchronize their off-days so the effect is most clearly felt; the next one is Thursday, Sept. 24. The algebra’s even yuckier for students. Though resources and instruction time are being divided, fees have multiplied, up $672/year for 2009-10 and increasing next fall. In other words, furloughs ain’t fun days off – and the nastiest F-word on campus is no longer four letters.