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Spin City

FEAR NOT, FRANKOPHILES: News that congressman-turned-Lockheed-exec Norm Mineta has signed on to co-chair the mayoral campaign of Margie Fernandes--a.k.a. "Susan Hammer: The Sequel"--doesn't mean Frank Fiscalini has shelved his mayoral aspirations. Mineta, savvy readers may recall, backed Fiscalini in 1990 against Hammer. Spins one political sniper, Mineta's defection must indicate that the ageless Fiscalini, who has publicly vacillated over his career plans, isn't running for mayor after all. A Fernandes booster theorizes that perhaps Mineta wants to put his bets on a different horse this time. Bah, sneers Joe Guerra, Fiscalini's resident propagandist. Mineta has spoken neither to him nor to his boss, he says. "What it does mean is that Margie's willing to have a lobbyist as her campaign co-chair who doesn't live in San Jose," Guerra elaborates, adding, "I guess if you're a candidate who has no name recognition, you've got to go out and find supporters who do." For the forgetful, Mineta quit his government job mid-term to join Lockheed-Martin's payroll--setting a brave example for all congressional millionaires-in-waiting. And, for the record, Mineta ain't no lobbyist. Rather, he boasts some convoluted executive title in Lockheed's transportation division in Washington, D.C. Mineta was recently spotted at a San Jose fundraiser for his local transportation think tank (run by ex-Supe Rod Diridon), where the Lockheed exec dined with influential U.S. Rep. James Oberstar. Eye is certain no untoward lobbying went on between bites of rubbery chicken.

Hey Jude

A somewhat flip private email authored by political savant Jude Barry got forwarded around Santa Clara University, upsetting a few touchy readers. Barry, the right-hand man to mayoral aspirant Ron Gonzales, is now working in the provost's office and, as part of his new job, he recently asked to meet with ethnic student groups. Luzviminda Sanchez, director of the campus Multicultural Center (MCC), sent an email to Barry saying students and faculty were suspicious, with one teacher commenting, "When an administrator asks to meet with you to talk, you might as well bend over because you know you're going to get screwed." Before agreeing to meet, Sanchez demanded her electronic pen pal first reveal why Dr. Alma Garcia, head of the ethnic studies program, resigned. "Well," Barry cheekily retorted, "I guess I'll have to tell you then: BECAUSE SHE WANTED TO. If you want more details, go ask her." To the bent professor's comment, Barry responded: "[F]or every faculty member who is suspicious of the administration, there are probably 10 faculty and staff who have told me the MCC is narrow-minded and insular." Hardly a scandalous gaffe, but enough to upset those already nervous about the provost's reorganization plans. The next day, about 10 Latino students took over a retreat arranged by the administration and passed around Barry's email with the offending remarks. "I personally don't think Jude Barry should be working there anymore," declares student Adriene Raleigh, a departing MCC board member. For his part, Barry, an Asian American, says his comments were taken out of context and insists he never meant to offend anyone. The seasoned pol notes that he merely pointed out a common perception on campus about the MCC--a perception that Sanchez concedes exists. "The tone of the letter to some people was offensive," Sanchez observes, "but not to me. ... Jude and I have an open and frank relationship, so we're not totally politically correct when we talk to each other."

School Bondage

San Jose penny pincher Jerry Norve is at it again, this time crusading against the $165 million bond issue sponsored by the San Jose Unified School District to rebuild and repair aging schools. Norve, once a candidate for City Council who exposed illegal contributions to Pat Dando's campaign, thinks the Friends of San Jose Schools committee should return thousands of dollars in donations from school contractors and firms who may have an interest in getting construction-related work if the bond passes. "In my opinion, I believe there appears to be a conflict of interest," twitches Norve, a professional bean-counter married to a schoolteacher. District spokeswoman Maureen Munroe explains that all the money for the campaign is privately raised, i.e., the district isn't shaking down its contractors for campaign cash. Among the altruistic and generous donors are United Administrative Services, the district's insurance claims processor, $10,000; Laidlaw, the busing company, $5,000; Ruiz & Shapiro, the district's desegregation lawyers, $7,500. ... Also throwing down coin are TECH 5 ($5,000), a Mountain View construction management company, and BFGC Architect Planners ($5,000), the firm the district paid to do the rebuilding cost estimates for the bond. Steve Wallace of TECH 5 and David Cartnal of BFGC also double as members of the bond campaign's finance committee, which handles fundraising. Cartnal replies that there's no quid pro quo expected. "There's no guarantee that anybody's going to get work for contributing to this bond campaign," Cartnal insists. "We just believe in having good facilities for kids." Translation: The committee's keeping the dough, Jerry.

Pump You Up

Taxpayers should rejoice in the fact that San Jose cops are going to get a new air-conditioned exercise room and expanded locker area costing about $295,000, a police spokesman says. Explains Officer John Carrillo, a pumped-up cop is a happy cop. "All the research indicates," Carrillo shares, "that people who stay in shape are better employees and suffer fewer injuries." Ultimately, San Jose citizens get a buffer cop with a more positive attitude, Carrillo promises. The police department is adding 180 more officers over the next three years, so the city is making room by converting the cops' old workout space into a new men's locker room and constructing a new 2,400-square-foot exercise facility--to be fitted with mirrors--on the second floor of the parking garage. The police officers' union previously donated all the exercise equipment. Concedes one knowing policy wonk who supports the cops' new workout room, "Is it a good deal in the long run? Yeah. Is it probably going to be a little more fancy than it needs to be? Yeah."

Two for one

Term limits may have cut short his career as an elected official, but retired Sen. Al Alquist still works in the state Capitol--for wife Elaine White Alquist. Lady Alquist aide Jason Kinney confirms that the goodly senator now toils as an unpaid consultant for his much younger wife. In fact, the elder Alquist has his own space in Elaine's Assembly office adorned with his personal nameplate: "Senator Al Alquist." "It's sort of a ceremonial thing," Kinney explains. "It's not an official office." During the campaign, critics grilled Lady Alquist, a relative political novice, for riding her octogenarian husband's coattails and famous last name into state office. It looks like the Al-man, pushing 90 and practically deaf in one ear, didn't come away empty-handed, though. "There's more than one way around term limits," snorts one Sacramento insider.

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From the May 22-28, 1997 issue of Metro

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