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Say What

Metro's most quotable list for 2007

IT'S A MYTH that Trappist monks take a vow of silence upon joining their order. However, they do practice what they call "strict observance," which means they avoid idle chatter and practice contemplative silence whenever possible.

No one in politics will ever be mistaken for a Trappist monk. Even the most thoughtful government and community leaders here in the South Bay, for instance, have been known to let their lips slip with something outrageous. Sometimes it's a funny and clever way to drive home their point, and sometimes it's a verbal disaster of titanic proportions that's likely to dog them for years (hello, Nancy Pyle!). But the true beauty of a quotable quote is in its unexpected humanness—good or bad, it's a moment when the thick veil of savvy but bland PR-speak that hangs over public life is pulled away.

Sometimes it takes a while for the brilliance of such a quote to shine through. For instance, Councilman Sam Liccardo took some heat earlier this year after Metro quoted him saying that "a person should have the right to say Liccardo is an idiot." But looking back, his was the most important comment to arise out of the San Jose City Council free-speech debate. A witty way to affirm that no one in city politics should put themselves above public scrutiny, it got right to the heart of the issue while maximizing entertainment value. We love that, which is why Liccardo is our nominee for 2007's Most Quotable Public Figure.

Other quotables on our list didn't fare as well. But we've put them all in one place so that you can judge for yourself. In the following pages, you'll also find our picks for the overall pop-culture quotes of 2007 and more. As for the Trappists, we can only hope everyone in the public eye continues to enjoy their beers and ignore their philosophy.

'Don't look like a gangbanger if you don't want to be picked up as a gang member.'

Councilmember Nancy Pyle, at a special City Council meeting on police issues in May

'San Jose is the 10th largest city in the country by population only. You wouldn't know it otherwise.'

County Assessor Larry Stone, lamenting the loss of the Grand Prix

'The Grand Prix wasn't drawing many more people downtown than would the Iditarod. At least dog sleds are more environmentally friendly.'

San Jose Councilmember Sam Liccardo, not lamenting the loss of the Grand Prix

'A person should have the right to say Liccardo is an idiot.'

Councilmember Sam Liccardo, sounding decidedly not like an idiot in his defense of free speech during the debate over conduct rules in San Jose council meetings

'The chances of my running for mayor against Chuck Reed are between zero and the chance that Larry Craig will get a job working security at the Minneapolis Airport.'

Sam Liccardo, totally on a roll

'Some say the cats are becoming a nuisance, challenging employees for food.'

County Agriculture and Environmental Management director Greg Van Wassenhove on the threat of stray cats lingering around county buildings

'I was surprised to hear no one else realized we were auditing.'

Independent Police Auditor Barbara Attard

'I would not bet my liver or my heart.'

Councilmember Puerluigi Oliverio on whether BART will be up and running in the South Bay by its slated date of 2009

'The Godfather of Soul will not be joining us at the Projections 2008 Conference. However, Attorney General Jerry Brown will.'

Silicon Valley Leadership Group CEO Carl Guardino, after sending out an email announcement with the header 'AG James Brown'/

'We're taking a sign code that is more liberal. Yes, I said liberal.'

Lone Republican Councilmember Pete Constant

'Like we did for 10,000 years before bottled water.'

John Stufflebean, San Jose's director of environmental services, on how the Dome will cope if bottled water is banned

'Will he call the judge on the 25th and say, 'Judge, I have a trip to China planned"?'

Tropicana developer Dennis Fong, theorizing on Ron Gonzales' Plan B after the former mayor said he couldn't make a trial date because he had a last-minute trip to Europe planned

'We would rather have a non-Vietnamese-American and good ally than a Vietnamese-American that betrays us.'

Committee to Fight for Little Saigon's Barry Dung Ho on the planned effort to recall Councilmember Madison Nguyen

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