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Nothing New: After Councilman Frank Fiscalini's lunch meeting with Pat Dando, insiders speculated that Fiscalini will enter the mayor's race.

Let's Do Lunch

Last Thursday mayoral candidate Pat Dando lunched with City Councilman Frank Fiscalini at the Goosetown Caffe in Willow Glen and talked politics. Dando told Fiscalini, who ran for mayor in 1990 and barely lost, that she'd like his endorsement. The Frankster, after all, supported Dando when she ran for City Council. Fiscalini, however, told Dando that he couldn't endorse her. According to Dando, Fiscalini related that he planned to pull candidate papers "to keep his options open." The next day, the political grapevine buzzed with speculation that Fiscalini was going to run for mayor after all. Fiscalini has yet to publicly announce his career plans for 1998, but insiders have long assumed that the elder statesman doesn't have enough tread on his wingtips to run for mayor again. Yet, on his Sunday night radio show, ex-Mayor Tom McEnery (a close ally of Dando's) heavily hinted that Fiscalini would soon be a candidate. Fiscalini's resident propagandist, Joe Guerra, insists that nothing has changed and that his boss is still straddling the fence.... Meanwhile, robo-campaigner Ron Gonzales reveals that he raised $116,000 in December, traditionally one of the toughest times of the year to raise cash. The word on the street is that Dando's first contribution report, to be released at the end of the month, will show her with much less in the kitty. Dando, of course, smartly lowered expectations by telling reporters she didn't plan to start shaking the money tree in earnest until after the new year. But this week she raised suspicions that her campaign was having trouble raising ducats when she challenged Gonzales to a $350,000 spending cap in the primary. Both candidates have already agreed to the city's voluntary $586,686 cap. Dando, who got off to a late start in the money dash, conveniently argues that the two should "spend less time raising money and more time talking to the voters." She also challenged Gonzales to 10 debates. As of press time, Gonzales had not responded.

Labor's Love

When the name of liberal ex-Supervisor Dan McCorquodale was recently floated as someone who had been approached to run for mayor, inside trackers insisted that union heavies must have done the approaching. The current lineup in the mayor's race can hardly be described as labor-friendly. Dando's a Republican who wants to deflate the bureaucracy and open up more public services to private contractors. That leaves Gonzales, a business-friendly Democrat who many think will get labor's begrudging support. But Amy Dean, a political operative for the South Bay Labor Council, insists that labor officials aren't trying to recruit anyone else to run. Labor types are saving their energy to get Cindy Chavez, a colleague of Dean's, elected to the downtown council seat. Also helping Chavez out will be Mayor Susan Hammer, who announced her support for Chavez at a fundraiser, along with Supervisor Blanca Alvarado. Chavez's chief opponent, Assistant U.S. Attorney Tony West, has the support of outgoing downtown Councilman David Pandori. A City Hall watcher says Margaret Tamisea from Pandori's office is educating West about district issues. ... In another increasingly interesting race, Eye hears that Assistant Sheriff Laurie Smith is quietly making inquiries about running to be the county's top cop. Smith is the only woman being mentioned as a possible candidate in the ever-growing field of men seeking the post. A Smith fan observes that if she runs, she'd be the most physically fit of the bunch. "This is a sheriff who hasn't seen a donut for a while."

Back in Business

Politicians and campaign bankrollers cheered last week when a federal court judge struck down key provisions of Prop. 208 dealing with campaign contribution and voluntary spending limits. One person not cheering was Ash Pirayou. Formerly an aide to ex-Supe Ron Gonzales, Pirayou chose to forgo a chance for a job as a prosecutor in the district attorney's office to open up his own law practice last month. His specialty: helping candidates and contributors negotiate their way through the regulatory maze created by Prop. 208. But just as Pirayou saw his cash cow being gored, there came at least a temporary reprieve in the form of a legal opinion by Chief Deputy City Attorney Norm Sato. In a two-page memo, Sato wrote that the decision didn't immediately impact the city's own campaign-finance law. The rub is that the city's law relies on state law and regulations in certain sections, such as the definition of permissible business donations. In those instances, Sato opined, the city would have to interpret and enforce state law because the judge is prohibiting the Fair Political Practices Commission from touching anything related to Prop. 208. That means a few more months of confusion pending the outcome of the appeal. "I'm back in business," Pirayou cheered.

Naked City

"What kind of a city are you people running?" That was the cheeky fax sent to Cupertino City Councilwoman Sandy James regarding a recent half-page ad published in the back pages of Yours Truly, promising topless female oil wrestling at P.J. Mulligan's. Aghast, James immediately called the sheriff's office and City Attorney Chuck Kilian. No, they told her, the city doesn't allow "adult entertainment" within 1,000 feet of a residential neighborhood. (There are homes right around the corner from the bar.) Cops then descended on P.J. Mulligan's, making sure no one would view breasts doused with Wesson. As it turned out, the ad was mistaken. The owners of the bar say that they never intended to host a topless show, and that the company presenting the wrestlers, California Hardbodies Inc., had placed the ad--not P.J. Mulligan's. One owner, Ed Kato, reports that all future wrestling shows have been canceled. However, voyeurs may take solace in the fact that P.J. Mulligan's will continue to present its all-male review, which is permissible under city rules as long as they keep their thongs on.

New Tricks

With her term set to expire this year, City Councilwoman Trixie Johnson has been overheard saying that she's interested in serving on the state's Integrated Waste Management Board, which is in charge of regulating landfills. The appointed post pays $103,000 a year--$45,000 more than she makes working for San Jose as an elected official. (Locally, Johnson has served on the county's solid-waste commission.) An appointed post may be Johnson's best career hope, at least in the near future. Her name hasn't been floated for any elected office since her devastating loss to Elaine Alquist for Assembly in the 1996 primary. A spot on the state waste commission recently opened up, but that seat will likely be taken by a Republican since Gov. Pete Wilson will be the one making the appointment. Another spot may open up later this year if current board member Wesley Chesbro wins his bid for the Santa Rosa state Senate seat. Chesbro, a Democrat, was appointed to the commission by Senate prez Bill Lockyer.

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From the January 15-21, 1998 issue of Metro.

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