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[whitespace] Mind Games: Candidate Andy Diaz accuses his opponent, Councilman George Shirakawa Jr. (above), of having been 'brain dead' since 1994.

In His Own Words

According to the most recently reported estimate, ballot mainstay Andy Diaz has run 86 times for public offices and lost 86 times. This year Diaz, a homeless vet, is taking on City Councilman George Shirakawa Jr. for the District 7 seat. Could this be the perma-candidate's last campaign in the South Bay? Diaz's heart doesn't really seem to be into this race. After filing his candidacy paperwork, Diaz skipped town to try his luck in Reno. He has since returned, but Diaz says he'll leave San Jose--he can't afford it here anymore--if he loses, which is all but a given. But just in case he wins, Diaz is alerting local officials of his housing plans. In a letter to District Attorney George Kennedy, Diaz warns, "[I]f elected to the city council I will errect [sic] my tent on city property as I will be city property and being homeless I'll qualify to sleep on any public place I choose, perhaps on your office doorstep or jail doorstep." Diaz continues, "If you and the police decide to arrest me I want to be left alone, as I enjoy the new jail cells." . . . Eye will indeed miss Diaz, whose penchant for brash commentary has provided welcome relief in local elections. This year he tickled us with his cost-saving ploy of putting up old campaign signs from his previous bids for mayor and sheriff. Here are a couple of other more recent comic gems: In an unpublished letter to the San Jose Mercury News, Diaz calls Shirakawa "brain dead." "He has been brain dead since 1994," Diaz rants. "He is so dead, he can't be a pimple on a politician's ass." In another missive sent to Councilman "Frank Friskilini" (sic), Diaz writes disapprovingly of Fiscalini's support for mayoral wannabe Ron Gonzales. "Frank, he [Gonzales] needs to go on a diet. [He's] too heavy for a mayor." ... Eye wishes Diaz all the luck in the world in his campaign against Shirakawa the Hut.

Scarlett Letter

Pilot and District 1 supervisorial candidate Ted Scarlett has made fighting what he sees as corruption and mismanagement at county-owned Reid-Hillview Airport his raison d'être for the past two years. His cries for reform have earned him contempt from airport staff and other pilots. Now, Scarlett's getting downright nervous about his personal safety. Scarlett even accused an airport administrator of trying to run him off the road in his car (a charge county officials dismiss as unfounded). Last year he complained to then police Chief Lou Cobarruviaz that two San Jose cops, who happen to be pilots, harassed Scarlett and threatened to arrest him for no clear reason. But according to a county investigator's report, the Tedinator's the one doing the intimidating. Scarlett is supposedly so feared that Reid-Hillview staff hide in restricted areas when they see him coming. And County Counsel Ann Ravel says employees have complained that Scarlett has tried to run them off the road. The county is now trying to evict Scarlett from his hangar. "His complaints [about hangar misuse] have some validity," Ravel allows, "but his behavior is just not acceptable and we have to protect our employees." Scarlett blames his eviction on conspiring forces at the airport and in the county who want to shut him up because he's a whistleblower. "It's a retaliatory eviction based on my complaining about the inappropriate behavior of management at the airport," Scarlett huffs.

Junk Votes

In the campaign crossfire, Pat Dando has been getting stung by Ron Gonzales for voting against banning junk handguns twice. But Eye has discovered that Gonzo hasn't always been a clear advocate of gun control. In 1982, when he was mayor of Sunnyvale, Gonzales balked at supporting a proposed ban on handguns in the city. Instead, he bravely expressed his preference to punt the matter over to the voters to decide, cautioning that doing so didn't mean he supported gun controls. "I don't think an issue like this should be decided by seven councilmembers," he said at the time. Apparently, he thinks it's OK in a city of nearly 1 million people to let 11 councilmembers ban Saturday Night Specials. ... Eye hears that the Gonzales campaign this month conducted a poll, testing potential attacks for their resonance. One of the questions went something like, "If you knew that Pat Dando had been accused of committing ethics violations, would you be more or less likely to support her?" The question refers to a complaint filed by a Gonzales supporter accusing Dando of misusing public safety vehicles for political purposes. One of the people called: Ethics Commissioner Roy Young. The Ethics Commission, by the way, refused to investigate the complaint.

Signing Off

What would any small-town election be without one campaign accusing another of ripping down and stealing signs? Here in San Jose's quaint downtown district, City Council candidate Ray Moreno reports that 35 of his lawn signs have been either stolen or vandalized. Moreno suspects thugs in the Cindy Chavez campaign are responsible because in one case someone allegedly scribbled "Viva Chavez" on one of Moreno's signs. Moreno even had a sign on his very own lawn stolen. "These guys are dirty dogs," Moreno barks. Chavez sniffs that Moreno is jumping to conclusions. "We've all had lawn signs stolen; my own campaign has had signs taken down," she pleads. "It's never occurred to me that any other candidate would do that. I just assumed it was some mischievous kids." Fellow District 3 candidate Philip Reynolds confirms that he, too, has experienced sign attrition. "But I'm not pointing any fingers," he assures. By the by, Moreno and Chavez have gently sparred during debates. Moreno repeatedly calls Chavez "Mrs. Potter," because she is married to Mike Potter, an aide to state Sen. Byron Sher. Cindy has apparently informed Ray that she prefers the title "Ms. Chavez."

Rhymes with McDonald

When mayoral candidate Pat Dando listed herself as Patricia Dando on her ballot statement, political strategists immediately knew what she was up to: Dando wanted everyone to know who's wearing the skirts in this race. But what's up with the Dando campaign's insistence on calling her opponent Ronald Gonzales instead of Ron? Dando's campaign brochures and her first television ad make repeated references to Ronald. "It's his name," explains Dando's campaign buddy Erik Schoennauer, "just like Patricia is her name." Somehow, that explanation sounds too simple and innocuous for such a calculated political campaign. For some reason, Eye keeps imagining Ronald Gonzales dressed in a clown outfit selling Big Macs and deep frying McPublic Policy.

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From the May 28-June 3, 1998 issue of Metro.

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