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[whitespace] Half-Naked Truth

EVERYONE WITH NORMAL serotonin levels in Santa Clara gives council antagonist Debbie Bress zero chance of knocking off Mayor Judy Nadler in next week's election. But Bress is determined to keep things interesting nonetheless. She did so most recently during a public meeting by dubiously accusing Nadler of covering up a striptease scandal in the Santa Clara city fire department. Here's the Reader's Digest version of what happened: About three years ago, someone anonymously complained to City Manager Jennifer Sparacino that a senior administrator in the fire department hired a singing stripper to perform at a retirement party at a city fire station. A followup inquiry, however, produced no proof. Then, in the spring of this year, an employee came forward and lodged a similar complaint. Sparacino brought in an outside investigator who determined that indeed, eight years ago, a "Singing Telegram striptease act" was performed at a city firehouse to celebrate an employee's 50th birthday. However, no one would 'fess up to hiring the working girl. As a courtesy FYI, Sparacino relayed the investigation's findings to the City Council in July during a closed-door session. Bress claims that someone anonymously sent her Sparacino's secret three-page memo to the City Council. "I tried to bring it up [at the Oct. 20 City Council meeting]," Bress reports, "and I was told to sit down and shut up." Councilman John McLemore, a Nadler ally, dismisses Bress' accusation as a desperate political stunt. "The city manager handles personnel matters, not the mayor," McLemore argues. "We [the City Council] rarely get involved in personnel things."

Casey at Bat

In 1994, fly-by-night campaign committees with names like "Residents for Responsive Government" sent several hit pieces bashing then-Los Altos Hills City Council incumbent Barbara Tryon. Exactly who sent the letters was something of a mystery, though many people suspected Tryon's nemesis, Toni Casey. The day before the election, Casey issued a carefully worded statement denying any involvement in the nastiest piece sent by Residents for Responsive Government. As for the others, she would only say, "My campaign is not responsible for any of the flyers that are not specifically identified by me." Eye has learned, however, that Casey knew more about the missives than she let on. Two years ago, the Fair Political Practices Commission concluded: "Ms Casey 'cooperated, consulted or coordinated' with two of the senders of the anonymous mailers. ... Ms. Casey reviewed the mailers and approved their content." The FPPC issued Casey a warning for failing to report an in-kind contribution. Casey tells Eye, however, that she didn't approve the content of the mailers. The extent of her input, she claims, was telling one of the senders that she supports term limits. The offending mailers, by the by, bashed Tryon as a "career politician" who had nothing better to do than seek a third consecutive term. This year Casey is running for, that's right, her third term.

For Pete's Sake

All the hubbub about Assemblyman Pete Frusetta's remarks about Adolf Hitler to junior high students last year has caught the attention of the Anti-Defamation League, which is launching its own investigation into what Frusetta actually said that day. The Capitol Cowboy is telling reporters he used Hitler as an example of an evil man who struggled to get ahead. But two teachers from Gavilan View Middle School who heard the speech have come forward--Ann Sugahara and Robin Warren--to say they don't recall Frusetta casting Hitler as evil. Quite to the contrary, they told the Monterey County Herald that Frusetta portrayed the Nazi dictator as a successful German author. Barbara Bergen, the League's regional director, was hoping she could reconcile the contradictory accounts by getting her hands on a recording of the speech. If such a tape exists, it would obviously exonerate Frusetta if what he says now is the truth. The two Gavilan teachers both remember Frusetta's staff videotaping the speech. But guess what? That tape doesn't exist anymore. Seems that the Reep Caucus taped over it. How convenient. Recording or not, Frusetta's opponent, Salinas Mayor Alan Styles, is milking the gaffe for all it's worth.

Call of the Wild

Alum Rock school board prez Tony Alexander is busy on the campaign trail these days, but he had better do something to control his bloodthirsty dogs before he gets into big trouble. In March, Alexander's Australian and German shepherds escaped from his yard and busted into a neighboring Mt. Hamilton ranch and killed two sheep. Actually, no one actually saw the dogs kill the sheep, but when animal control arrived, they found the dogs covered with blood and wool. Apparently, the dogcatcher has had to impound the two dogs at least four times before for wandering unrestrained. (This was their first recorded kill, though.) The cops eventually charged Alexander with two misdemeanor counts of "dogs running at large." Alexander later skipped his Aug. 17 court date, prompting the judge to issue a $10,000 bench warrant. To his credit, Alexander did make restitution to the sheep owners. Unfortunately, a neighbor tells Eye, the dogs got loose again two weeks ago, but were apprehended before more blood was shed. "It's an ongoing thing," the neighbor explains.

Sunny Side

Voters relying on the Mercury News to deconstruct Monday's prerecorded mayoral debate missed hearing about a new campaign pledge made by the candidates, one which promises to shed future light on some of the city's darkest bureaucratic corridors. In response to a question posed by Metro chieftain Dan Pulcrano, both Ron Gonzales and Pat Dando assured viewers in TV land (at least those awake at 10pm) that they would support establishing a task force to draft a sunshine ordinance similiar to the ones in effect in San Francisco and Contra Costa County. Sunshine laws improve access to public information and generally try to make government more user-friendly, a quality in short supply in certain city departments. ... Hopefully, the specifics of San Jose's own sunshine ordinance will be forthcoming in the next regime. Of course, that will be long after the Redevelopment Agency shredders have stopped whirring.

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From the October 29-November 4, 1998 issue of Metro.

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