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Silicon Valley News Notes

Political Hack

Even though he's facing a three-year jail term if he's convicted of hacking into email accounts at City Hall, political whiz kid Eric Hernandez was out of jail within hours, in time for the sunny weekend. Law enforcement officials offered few details over the holiday weekend, leading to furious speculation over whether the 19-year-old Hernandez acted on his own to embarrass Mayor Chuck Reed and Councilman Sam Liccardo, or whether he was part of a larger political initiative. What is known is that material from his alleged hacking expeditions appeared on a website politically aligned with the South Bay Labor Council. The blog site immediately went into damage control, suggesting but not specifically stating that its anonymous editors had no knowledge of any criminal acts that may have produced the leak and empathizing, "Our thoughts are with Mr. Hernandez tonight as he sits in jail." Hernandez appears to have been politically active in the unsuccessful mayoral campaign of Cindy Chavez, in addition to working on her staff as an intern. On the night Chavez lost her bid to become mayor, Hernandez was quoted in the Spartan Daily saying, "I'm optimistic and confident that she is going to win." More recently, Hernandez has been leading an initiative for the Barack Obama campaign, according to an article in Mother Jones magazine. After working for Chavez, Hernandez stuck around the District 3 council office as an intern, helpfully assisting Chavez's successor Liccardo to set up email accounts for his staff. Police say that, armed with passwords, Hernandez went on to read private emails in search of dirt about Liccardo's relationship with his girlfriend, in addition to passing a memo from the hacked email box of the mayor's chief of staff, Pete Furman.

Mr. Saigon

Councilman Kansen Chu cast a lucky vote when he joined colleagues Pete Constant and Pierluigi Oliverio and voted against a compromise to name an East San Jose retail area "Saigon Business District." Maybe his vote wasn't calculated at the time, but it certainly has helped elevate his status among the Vietnamese voters, who have put San Jose's politicians in "good" and "bad" camps depending on how they voted on the naming of the business district. Chu has every reason to need to be the fair-haired boy among Vietnamese. Not only is he running for re-election, but also his wife, Daisy, has plans to run for the District 3 seat on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, which is heavily populated with Vietnamese voters. Chu's influence among the Vietnamese was crystallized at a recent council committee hearing when Mayor Chuck Reed and Councilwoman Madison Nguyen had proposed rescinding the council's Nov. 20 vote to name the retail area "Saigon Business District" and instead ask voters to decide on the name. There were competing proposals to follow that, including Chu's suggestion to rescind the vote and just name the district Little Saigon, based on the results of a Redevelopment Agency survey, instead of taking it voters. It was at that meeting that many Vietnamese-Americans stepped up to the microphone to endorse Chu's proposal—which was co-authored by Councilman Pete Constant. It gave Constant a funny feeling inside. "I got the feeling he went out and drummed up people to come forth," Constant said. "You might speculate ... not only is Daisy running, but he is running." Doubters can snipe, but Chu has indeed been behind naming the Vietnamese retail area "Little Saigon" from the start. And his intentions are genuine, not political, he says. "There are all kinds of rumors," Chu says. "I feel the obligation to speak out and it had nothing to do with Daisy's campaign and my re-election."

Sen. Lieber?

Did anybody else get whiplash from Assemblywoman Sally Lieber's decision not to run for Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors? Fly was never totally clear on why she woud run in the first place, but we had just gotten used to the idea when she announced she's not running after all. Lieber tells us the whole idea of a supe run was really just a way to draw attention to her pet issues that she felt were being neglected back home. So when she decided this week to not run for a seat on the board, it was her way of saying to county supervisors "You are doing a better job." "I had announced with the goal of raising the issues that were impacting the county," said Lieber, a Mountain View Democrat who will be termed out of the Assembly this year. "I think things are moving in a more proactive direction now." In particular, the ultraliberal Lieber wasn't too happy about how the county was handling its financial crisis. She was concerned about any plans to sever services to the needy and most vulnerable populations of Santa Clara County. That's when Lieber announced her intention to run against Supervisor Liz Kniss. Her decision to run for the board hinged on whether state voters passed Proposition 93, which would extend term limits for lawmakers (it failed at the polls Feb.5). But not only has she backed off her plans to run, she went ahead and pledged her support for Kniss. Why? "I have a strong desire to work with her in a very positive way," Lieber said. "Endorsing her candidacy is a tangible sign of that." Certainly it must all be connected to the even bigger news: Lieber plans to be back on scene again in four years, running for state Senate.

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