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[whitespace] Linda LeZotte Snub-a-dub-dub: San Jose Mayor Ron Gonzales didn't reappoint Councilwoman Linda LeZotte to the Valley Transportation Authority board, as she had hoped.

Public Eye

Spanky's Gang

When Ron Gonzales narrowly defeated Pat Dando for San Jose's top elected position in 1998, insiders figured the Almaden Valley councilwoman would be the new mayor's Excedrin headache No. 1. But Dando, who made it a habit to irritate former Mayor Susan Hammer, has surprisingly tried to remain in Gonzo's good graces. First-term Councilwoman Linda LeZotte, however, has not. She defied the mayor's original tobacco settlement spending plan. She waited until the last minute to oppose Calpine's proposed power plant, which the mayor vigorously opposes. And as a board member of the Valley Transportation Authority, LeZotte recently backed a plan to switch buses over to natural gas, while the mayor wanted to stick with diesel. ... As mayor, the Gonz does have the power to spank his enemies when it comes to making assignments to policy committees. Well, this week the mayor revealed that he wouldn't be reappointing LeZotte to the powerful VTA board, which she served on for the past few months as a replacement for Margie Matthews, who resigned last year. Thanks to the recent passage of Measure A, the $6 billion transit sales tax, the VTA will oversee dozens of projects such as bringing BART to San Jose. That spending power makes VTA the most coveted committee assignment on the council. One good indicator of its popularity: Gonzales reappointed himself for a second term to the VTA board. He also tapped downtown Councilwoman Cindy Chavez for another term, and gave newcomers Forrest Williams, David Cortese and, yes, even Dando, the nod over LeZotte. Gonzales conveniently bypassed LeZotte for the alternate slot, which he bestowed upon council newcomer Ken Yeager. ... Mayoral mouthpiece David Vossbrink acknowledges that LeZotte asked for a VTA spot, but he downplayed the snub. Vossbrink says geographic considerations influenced the mayor's selections. In LeZotte's case, her West San Jose district won't be affected by future Measure A transit projects as much as East Side and southern districts, Vossbrink explains. ... LeZotte, meanwhile, didn't return calls seeking comment. But Eye can't imagine she's doing cartwheels over her role. After all, she ran on a traffic-relief platform in 1998 and vowed to make serving on the VTA board one of her top goals during the campaign.

Bury the Hatchet

Our fave local foreskin-friendly crusader, Rio Cruz, tells us there's fresh hope in the fight against circumcision. Cruz, founder of the Santa Cruz-based International Coalition for Genital Integrity, hopes a new lawsuit will open a legal floodgate for prepuce protection. For years William G. Stowell felt that there was something missing from his childhood--his foreskin. Now, in addition to busting out a cake and balloons, he is celebrating his 18th birthday by suing the doctor who circumcised him. Stowell, a lifetime New Yorker, says that he will never forget painful memories of summer camp, like being exposed to uncircumcised, or "intact" young men and realizing they had something he didn't. "Shortly afterward I formed the opinion that the whole procedure and idea of circumcision were wrong," Stowell recalls. "I came to believe I deserve compensation from the person who scarred and damaged me permanently, and from the hospital where this damage was allowed to occur." With this case Stowell joins the foreskin preservation frontlines with Rio Cruz and J. Steven Svoboda, executive director of Attorneys for the Rights of the Child, both of whom were profiled last year in Metro ("Willy Nilly," Jan. 27, 2000). All hope a court victory will prove that physicians cannot cut healthy tissue from newborns' bodies, and that parents shouldn't be allowed to order a procedure that even the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says has no medical justification. "This is the first case of an adult male who came back and said you didn't have a right to do that to me," Marilyn Milos, founder and director of NoCirc, an organization devoted to foreskin preservation. "Ten out of ten babies oppose circumcision," Milos snips. "Wouldn't you?"

Screen Door

One well-known wag chuckles that San Jose's revolving door ordinance is more like a revolving screen door: Ex-city government officials can't get inside City Hall to lobby decision-makers on behalf of a client for one year after they leave the city's employ, but they can still advise clients doing business with the city how to get what they want. Either way, the wag muses, exiled city officials are still cashing in. Eye recently reported that outgoing Vice Mayor Frank Fiscalini, forced into unemployment by term limits, is going to work for Silicon Valley Advisers, a local lobbying firm with a variety of clients who want stuff from the city. Now, departing councilmember Charlotte Powers is going to work for another local lobbying partnership. Powers is joining peninsula-based Public Affairs Associates, which boasts clients like AT&T Broadband, currently negotiating a new cable franchise with the city and Bay 101, the controversial card club trying to thwart the mayor's efforts to shut it down. In a press release, Public Affairs co-chief Ed McGovern gushed, "We are pleased to have Charlotte join our team. She brings a wealth of experience and contacts to our firm." Contacts, Ed? Wouldn't that create a conflict with the revolving door ordinance for a former councilmember to use her city contacts to make a deal work? No, McGovern assures Eye. Powers has contacts in other government realms not affected by the ordinance. For instance, during her council tenure she served on the Valley Transportation Authority. VTA, you see, doesn't have to deal with such nuisances like a revolving door policy. Still, Eye feels it's important to point out that if Powers had never been elected to the San Jose City Council--which is subject to the ordinance--she never could have been appointed to the VTA.

Vice of Life

It's a truism in San Jose politics--if not all big city politics--that most issues are decided long before the final votes are cast by the City Council. The naming of the city's new vice mayor is the latest example of just such a premature celebration. This Tuesday the San Jose City Council formally approved Councilman George Shirakawa Jr.'s promotion to vice mayor. Nevermind that Mayor Ron Gonzales "officially" announced his selection of Shirakawa late Friday afternoon. But Shirakawa's office was apparently quite confident that Boy George would be getting a fancier job title before all the formalities took place. Five days before the council approved his nomination, a Shirakawa aide sent out a memo regarding surplus materials on the sixth floor of City Hall. The bottom of the memo read: "Office of Vice Mayor George Shirakawa."

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From the January 11-17, 2001 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2001 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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