[Metroactive Features]

[ Features Index | San Jose | Metroactive Central | Archives ]

[whitespace] Kathy Napoli
Trash Talk: San Jose City Council candidate Kathy Chavez Napoli says that a poll done by proponents of a proposed power plant asked loaded questions that made her look bad.

Public Eye

Power Polling

WITH GRASSROOTS OPPOSITION seemingly growing against Calpine and Bechtel Corp.'s proposed power plant in Coyote Valley, the companies commissioned a 20-minute poll last month of 800 San Jose residents to get some hard data on public opinion. "We were very pleased with the results," professes power-plant lobbyist Jerry Strangis, who was briefed on the mid-October poll's findings, "and especially surprised about how well we did in District 2 [the City Council district where the plant would go]. I thought it would be more of a negative response, but it turned out to be pretty even." While Calpine and Bechtel heavies are rejoicing over the polling results, District 2 council candidate Kathy Chavez Napoli is crying foul over some of the questions in the survey about her. Napoli, an opponent of the project, says that people polled have told her that at least one question put the two-time mayoral candidate in an unflattering light. "It was trying to insinuate that I didn't care about my neighborhood," Napoli tells Eye. ... Scott Scholz, an opponent of the project who was surveyed on a Friday night, says that the offending question came at the end of the poll. According to Scholz, the gist of the loaded query went like this: "It has been stated that Kathy Napoli has no interest in her own district, that she has aspirations for higher office. Does that make you want to support her council candidacy?" "I was offended," Scholz declares. "They were trying to influence people with these statements." In the business, such questions are called "push questions." They're not intended to obtain objective data, but rather to sway the opinion of people being polled. Lisa Poelle, a community relations specialist for Calpine, denies that the poll tried to make Napoli look bad. "I don't think that's a fair characterization," Poelle says. "All I can say is that we had questions about various people and agencies testing how credible of a source they are [on the project]."

Dueling Dual

West Valley Republicans were looking to state lawmaker Jim Cunneen (R-Los Altos) to provide some direction as to whom they should support to replace him in the Assembly. And for a brief moment last week it looked as if Jimbo had taken sides in the March 2000 primary. First, Eye received a faxed press release from Assembly candidate Steve Blanton boasting Cunneen's support. Cunneen's endorsement, the press release exclaimed, "shows that [Blanton] is quickly becoming the choice of Silicon Valley Republicans." Shortly thereafter, Blanton's rival, Sue Jackson, sent out her own press release bragging that she has Cunneen's endorsement. So what gives? Well, that sound of a chicken clucking loudly is Cunneen, who decided to endorse both Jackson and Blanton, rather than risk ruffling feathers, which means local Reeps will have to use their own judgment in deciding who's the best candidate. "They have both been friends and supporters in the past," rehearses Kevin Spillane, Cunneen's political consultant. "They're both credible candidates." In earlier statements, Cunneen told reporters he would bravely wait for the moderate Lincoln Club to back someone and then get behind that person, too. But the Lincoln Club, Jackson says, is remaining neutral. That put Cunneen in the untenable position of having to choose among friends without being able to blame a third party.... Eye found it amusing that neither Blanton nor Jackson bothered to mention in their press releases that Cunneen had made a dual endorsement. Jackson correctly points out that her press release is accurate even if it didn't include all the facts. "I'm not going to help his [Blanton's] campaign," she crows.

In the Cards

Not too long ago, San Jose City Council candidate David Cortese and his consultant Ed McGovern parted ways. McGovern resigned because his firm had accepted a lobbying-contract offer from AT&T's cable division and would be working with the company's government affairs specialist, Eddie Garcia, who happens to be running against Cortese. Now another one of McGovern's lobbying gigs appears to have created a conflict with his political-consulting practice. This time District 10 (Almaden Valley) candidate Nancy Pyle has split with McGovern over his representation of Bay 101. Pyle supported Mayor Ron Gonzales' proposal to restrict card club hours and lower betting limits, things McGovern lobbied against. "Because Ed represents Bay 101," Pyle tells Eye, "we felt it was not a good idea for him to represent me." Mister Ed, however, says he was just too busy to run Pyle's campaign. "Bay 101 might have come up," he recalls, "but it was not the determining factor. From our standpoint, we just had too many things going on." Meanwhile, McGovern's other former client, the aformentioned David Cortese, has tapped East Bay consultant Larry Tramutola to run his council campaign. By the by, Tramutola has his own ties to a Bay Area card club: He has a small financial interst in Casino San Pablo, the card club he helped get voter approval for in 1994.

Step Rivals

To be frank, Eye is growing tired of the weekly floating of possible Democratic contenders for the 15th Congressional District. But the newest person making the rounds is too irresistible to let pass without comment. She is Gloria Duffy, the CEO of the Commonwealth Club of California. Duffy, no doubt, would bring with her unique foreign policy qualifications to the job. She's a former Pentagon official who persuaded post-Soviet Union republics to trade their nuclear warheads for economic aid. But that's not why Eye can't resist mentioning Duffy's name as a congressional could-be. ... Duffy is the main squeeze of former Santa Clara County Supervisor Rod Diridon Sr., who recently separated from his wife of 35 years, Mary Ann. Eye-watchers will undoubtedly recall that Rod Diridon Jr.'s name surfaced earlier this month as possible congressional material. That, of course, means that Rod Jr. could end up in direct competition with his future stepmother. "We laughed about it," Junior says. "Really, it's flattering all around. ... She's such a great person. She's one of the few people I know who I can actually say helped save the world." Alas, the stepson-versus-stepmother matchup is not to be.

Junior tells Eye he has decided to forgo a run for Congress and plans to seek re-election to his Santa Clara City Council seat.

Public Eye welcomes tips. Leave messages 24 hours a day by calling 408/298-7818 and then pressing 2, followed by 412, to reach Eye's voice mailbox. Send email messages to [email protected]

[ San Jose | Metroactive Central | Archives ]

From the November 18-24, 1999 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 1999 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

For more information about the San Jose/Silicon Valley area, visit sanjose.com.