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[whitespace] Nora Campos
No Mas: San Jose City Council candidate Nora Campos will have to compete for Latino votes with someone who isn't even campaigning in the March special election for the East Side seat.

Public Eye

Nowhere Man

LUIS WHO? That's what political insiders were asking when they heard that East Side San Jose resident Luis Mendez had pulled papers to run for the District 5 seat being vacated by councillor-cum-assemblyman Manny Diaz. But just as soon as the 34-year-old transportation planner--who has never served on a city commission or run for public office before--appeared from nowhere, he tried to cancel his 15 Minutes and withdraw from the March 6 special election. Too late, City Clerk Pat O'Hearn reckons. Mendez turned in all his required paperwork before the filing deadline and O'Hearn promises, "He will go on the ballot." However, O'Hearn will allow Mendez to spike his ballot statement, meaning his name will appear without any supporting rhetoric. ... Mendez confesses that he started suffering from buyers' remorse after consulting with more politically adroit pals who told him about all the money he'd need to raise to be competitive. "It became evident I really wasn't ready to run for elected office at this time," Mendez explains. Three better-known hacks will also be on the ballot: longtime Diaz aide Nora Campos, Alum Rock businessman Bud LoMonaco and San Jose-Evergreen Community College trustee Richard Tanaka. ... Even though Mendez won't be an active candidate, he could still have an impact in the race with his Latino surname remaining on the ballot. A member of Campos' steering committee points out, "Latino males tend to vote for other Latino males." And Mendez's presence on the ballot could conceivably divide the vote enough to force an April runoff. ... Campos's consultant Ed McGovern was bragging this week that Mendez had agreed to endorse his candidate after having a friendly lunch meeting. Not true, Mendez tells Eye. "I'm not endorsing anyone at this time," he asserts. "I really need to know more about what [Campos] and the others plan [for the district]." ... Meanwhile, Tanaka has just rented an apartment inside the district so he can run. Even though he has lived on the East Side for 40 years, his dwelling rested in a county pocket just one block away from the incorporated mainland. "It's not as though he came from Oakland," Sellers rationalizes, "to run for office here."

Sensor Clip

Is San Jose Mayor Ron Gonzales censoring Eye? That's what some City Hall regulars are wondering when last week's Public Eye column wasn't among the material included in the batch of city-related news clippings provided by the mayor's office daily via email to councilmembers, policy aides and bureaucrats. According to a knowledgeable source, the mayor and his top aides took offense to the opening line in an item about staff chieftain Jude Barry's resignation. Eye quoted a biting inside joke that made the rounds earlier this year: "When Ron's father died, he lost his soul; when he left his wife, Alvina, he lost his heart; and when Jude Barry quits, he'll lose his mind." Mayoral mouthpiece David Vossbrink concedes that he found the joke "a little harsh," but insists the column's absence was an unintentional oversight. "There was no conscious point not to put it in there," Vossbrink assures Eye, promising to include it in the next bundle of clips. ... By now, both Gonzales and Barry have publicly admitted that the mayor's longtime strategist made his intention to quit known in the spring. Mysteriously, Gonzales didn't name a successor when Barry "officially" resigned last week. This week, Gonzales named acting Chief of Staff Rebecca Dishotsky his permanent office leader, but the mayor's delayed hiring decision struck some observers as suspicious. During the one-week limbo period, Eye received an anonymous tip: Gonzales was trying to woo recently departed senior mayoral aide Tony Arreola to ditch his new consulting biz and return to take over Barry's old job. (Arreola didn't return phone calls.) Mayoral hatchet man Joe Guerra shrugs off the loose talk. "She (Dishotsky) was the only person the mayor had any discussions with for the position," Guerra says. ... A final postmortem on Barry: His departure was considered such a fait accompli that after he returned from running the Measure A campaign last month he didn't even bother to reclaim his old office from Dishotsky. Instead, he worked in an unoccupied cubicle--ironically the same cubicle that used to belong to Guisselle Nunez, the 25-year-old aide with whom Gonzales had a scandalous affair--the event which drove a wedge between Barry and his old boss.

You Read It Here

Far be it from this column to express false modesty, so let us make with the boasts: Eye told you so! This past week both the Wall Street Journal and the Business Journal--the latter of which questionably claimed its story an "exclusive"--reported that eBay executive Steve Westly is going to quit his job later this month to run for either state controller or secretary of state in 2002. Eye-watchers read about Westly's aspirations for statewide office one month earlier. ... Westly, a longtime Democratic Party player, definitely won't go unchallenged in the primary in spite of his intimidating nine-figure personal war chest. Equalizer Johan Klehs is already gathering endorsements for his planned 2002 bid for controller. Meanwhile, state Sen. Steve Peace (D-El Cajon), the man credited and blamed as the architect of energy deregulation, is reportedly mulling over a run for secretary of state. And Eye hears that former state Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi wants to make a political comeback and campaign for controller as well. Garamendi quit his job as No. 2 man at the U.S. Department of Interior in 1998 to go work as an investment banker. At the time he told reporters, "It's just the right time. I've been in government for 27 years, and I expect I'll be in government again, but right now I want to step into the private sector." ... Speaking of people looking for a new line of work, a Republican Party know-it-all says newly unemployed Jim Cunneen, who lost his Assembly seat due to term limits, is rumored to be up for the top post at TechNet, the tech sector's political lobbying organization. During his tenure in the Legislature, Cunneen peddled plenty of R&D tax breaks and earlier this year the American Electronics Association honored him with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his shameless pandering to techies.

Party Tardy

The Silicon Valley Manufacturing Group invited Supervisor Blanca Alvarado to its Measure A victory celebration at Agilent in Palo Alto out of courtesy last week, but few expected her to actually show up. But Alvarado, who led the campaign against the traffic-relief measure that will bring BART to San Jose among other things, did indeed come to the party. Late. So why was she tardy? Traffic, of course. Sylvia Gallegos, Alvarado's defiant chief of staff, acknowledged the obvious irony, but quickly added, "This Measure A isn't going to do a damn thing to solve that [traffic] problem."

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From the December 14-20, 2000 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2000 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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