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September 20-26, 2006

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Silicon Valley News Notes

Rah! Rah! Whatever!

One minute they're at each other's throats in one of San Jose's most competitive mayoral races; the next they're loitering in the shade together on a sunny afternoon. That's San Jose politics for you. On Monday, former Mayor Tom McEnery and his protégé David Pandori announced their endorsements of Chuck Reed for mayor. They graciously lent their names, but Fly noticed their support seemed lukewarm. Pandori concluded, "Chuck is the better choice for mayor." Whoa there, David, let's not go nuts! McEnery was slightly more generous: "Chuck Reed is a decent and honorable man who will lead San Jose into a bright future." Lackluster cheerleading aside, Reed said it was "nice to have solid people like Pandori and McEnery" backing him. A handful of other influential folks also dedicated their lunch breaks to Reed's outdoor powwow, held in front of the old City Hall as a symbolic gesture. Former mayoral candidate Michael Mulcahy was there chatting amiably with former Councilmembers Shirley Lewis, Lu Ryden, and Judy Stabile—all new recruits for Captain America's campaign. Mulcahy and Reed had competed heavily for the Chamber of Commerce's endorsement during the primary election, but now they join forces as business leaders have been lining up against labor leaders. Pandori also patched things up with Reed, his former employer during his only stint in the private sector, after criticizing him during the primary for being vague about his standing on Coyote Valley development. Reed admitted he hadn't been clear on the issue because he "didn't know what the answer was." But after spending some quiet time in July studying general plan documents that he helped write in 1992, he firmly decided in favor of keeping the triggers that delay residential development. That answer, it seems, was good enough for Pandori.

Mars and Venus to Human Resources

Amid the piles of press releases we receive hawking stuff you wouldn't wish on a prison-bound pedophile was one pimping a book about how to play winning corporate politics. In good ol' let's-give-the-nerds-a-pingpong-table Silicon Valley, do we really need a book on how to gossip, brown nose and back-stab? But Fly hereby affirms that anyone aspiring to Corporate Kahuna should read John McKee's 21 Ways That Women in Management Shoot Themselves in The Foot. Why? If you're female, such are the unfair but prevalent behavioral clichés for your gender. The bonus for channeling those traits is a 6-inch-thick glass ceiling teetering on the pedestals of next quarter's financials. Corporate animals hosting nut sacks can also benefit reading McKee's book. Take the Fly's pal Steve-o: a top salesman with a marked preference for strong women. Born to a physician mother, he grew up wondering why his friends' families didn't also possess powerful, talented mothers who made more money than dad. It never occurred to him there was anything controversial—or even interesting—about females in leadership positions. But after being accused of "gender harassment" by his third female boss for admonishing a female customer service manager after she lost him a big customer, Steve-o now views women execs with a jaundiced eye. "Women promote women, so if you're a guy you're basically screwed if you get one for a boss," Steve grouses. "They're doing just what men used to—hiring and promoting people like themselves rather than the most qualified candidates." One woman who agrees with Steve-o is Dr. Laura Graves of Clark University. This Dr. Laura says some research indeed finds female job interviewers increasingly prefer hiring women. But the more important thing Graves discovered underscores the main lesson of McKee's book and a host of others on business success: Being liked is the single most important factor in most workers' ascent up the corporate ladder. Better to have charm than brains, talent, an MBA or a "dress for success" wardrobe.

Sunnyvale Needs Phone Booths

The recruiting ad for Sunnyvale's cops and firefighters looks pretty ordinary—until you read the line about salaries. The starting pay for officers-in-training made Fly's eyeballs bulge. Before they even get out of the academy, they're making $72,990 a year. That's the kind of money a first-year Santa Clara University MBA grad would be happy to earn. In fact, the Sunnyvale PD's pay scale beats out most other cities on the peninsula. Palo Alto only pays its police officers-in-training $62,358 a year. What's the deal? Fly asked. Spokesman Adam Levermore-Rich told us that Sunnyvale, along with Kalamazoo, Mich., is the only moderate-sized city that combines its police and fire departments, forming the Department of Public Safety. The 230-plus officers are trained to fight crime and fires. While Sunnyvale patrol cars are clearly labeled "Sunnyvale Police," officers have firefighting suits stashed in their trunks. In the event of a fire, they can dash into a phone booth to change costumes—er, uniforms. Superman does indeed deserve higher pay.

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