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Dumped: Winslow.

The Fly

Loose Cannon Fodder

Nostrils flaring, our governor's legislative director marched over to Assemblymember Sally Lieber's Sacramento office two months ago to demand that Lieber serve him the head of her district director, Doug Winslow. The governor's operative apparently wasn't a fan of Winslow's assertion at a November peace rally that America's commander in chief is "the real terrorist." Well, it's party time for Schwarzenegger's camp. Winslow abruptly quit on Jan. 12. Winslow's exit raises eyebrows, since he has worked as Lieber's district director for just a couple of months. But, the way Lieber tells it, "the best campaign manager/professional" around just left to manage Kathy Chavez Napoli's Assembly bid. Lieber says she needs him in that critical position so that Napoli can win the race for Latinas everywhere. She denies that Winslow's loose talk about GWB influenced his exit, explaining that he simply wants to branch out professionally. Winslow, for his part, says he abandoned the $73k-a-year staff position after Lieber called him into a meeting with her chief and deputy chief of staff and chewed him out for things like failing to provide her with a map to City College and talking points for the recent poverty hearing Winslow put together. "Basically, we had a falling out," Winslow elucidates, adding that they're no longer on speaking terms. After working 80-hour weeks leading up to last week's kickoff of Lieber's ambitious poverty-evisceration scheme, he was in a mood to hear his boss say one thing--"Thank you." Instead, she let loose with a bunch of "trivial" complaints about how he was running the office. So, dubbing Lieber's office atmosphere "dysfunctional," Winslow announced he knew how to solve her problem and quit. Now, he's floating his résumé around hoping to score a job with another legislator, perhaps Mike Honda, Anna Eshoo or Zoe Lofgren--someone more appreciative of his progressive intellect and communication skills.

Mavericks: Young Dems sort ballots.

A Kinder, Gentler Kathy

Speaking of Chavez Napoli, don't look for the former San Jose mayoral candidate to take issue with Joe Coto's fiscal management when the two begin sparring later this year in a bid for the open Assembly District 23 seat, which encompasses downtown San Jose and points south along Highway 101. Coto is the former East Side superintendent whose management capabilities came under scrutiny last summer when it was revealed that school board members had engaged in irresponsible spending habits using district credit cards. Coto also didn't fare too well in an audit released in August alleging that the district might have engaged in improper bidding techniques, costing the district millions of dollars. Napoli, whose logo is a pair of boxing gloves dangling from her name, says she intends to keep the race clean. "I plan to run a positive campaign on the issues," she said in a message left on the Fly's answering machine. Has she talked to Doug Winslow yet?

Straw Poll Rebellion

The Democratic Party hates straw polls so much it banned the practice 17 years ago, saying they are meaningless, made-for-TV events. The National Committee browbeat Wisconsin and Florida activists who wanted to conduct unauthorized polls last year. And the California Dems even included an article in their January newsletter repeating that straw polls are not permitted under party law--a law that includes the party's committees, boards and caucuses. Apparently not everybody got the message. Last Saturday evening, the California Young Democrats conducted a straw poll, saying it was mainly for entertainment and not an official recommendation of the Young Democratic Caucus. The big news was that, of 200 votes cast, Dennis Kucinich, the liberal former congressman who is supposedly popular in this area, received one vote. Richard Gephardt received two and Al Sharpton scored seven, as did John Edwards. John Kerry, winner of the Iowa Caucus, received 16 votes, good for fourth. The big winner? Wesley Clark, with 69 votes, much to the chagrin of Howard Dean supporters, who yelled, "Recount," after their candidate was announced a distant second with 53 votes. "This is a fun straw poll," Alex De Ocampo, president of the young Dems, told caucus members. "Do not get angry. It will be all right."

Runner-Up: Kucinich managed one vote.

North Is West

Gaffe of the week goes to attorney Bart Hechtman, who declared during a contentious San Jose City Council hearing last week that the wind in neighborhoods near the San Jose airport blows east to west 85 percent of the time. That's a fortuitous amount in a fortuitous direction because it presumably made Hechtman's client, construction supply company Graniterock, look less soiled in the eyes of councilmembers. A westerly direction meant dust from a Graniterock asphalt-crushing machine would blow mostly away from residents of California Colony, an ill-considered neighborhood built in 1987 within earshot of Graniterock's Berryessa Road complex. Eighty-five percent of anything seems like a lot to us. So we decided to check with airport spokesman Rich Dressler, who said that in the area near the airport the wind does indeed blow in one direction 85 percent of the time. Only it doesn't blow east to west as Hechtman said. The wind blows north to south. That's why airplanes departing from SJI take off northward, into the wind. This bit of information would not likely have helped California Colony residents, whom councilmembers voted down 10-0, allowing Graniterock to expand its noisy, dusty operation. The neighborhood sits northeast of Graniterock, meaning the dust still supposedly drifts away from the community. But don't tell that to members of the mostly Asian neighborhood, whose cars are covered in soot whenever they sit in the driveway for more than a week.

Legal Circus

Just last Friday, Santa Cruz attorney Aaron Lodge dutifully trooped into San Jose's Hall of Justice hoping to have trespassing charges against him dismissed. On Sept. 3, Lodge and three others--peninsula residents Pat Cuviello, Deniz Bolbol and Alfredo Kuba--were targets of citizen's arrests requested by HP Pavilion security during the first day of the annual Ringling Brothers show at the arena. While animal rights activists have protested the circus every year for the 10 years it has come to San Jose, this was the first time, Fly learned, that protesters had been arrested. Pavilion security had contended that the parking lot was private property and that the four protesters had refused repeated requests to leave. So, Lodge, who made Metro's cover in 1996 as a lanky young pool shark, and the others found themselves facing fines and six months' jail time for waving signs and videotaping the events at the Pavilion's back parking lot. Not surprisingly, criminal charges against the four protesters were dismissed. But the more interesting fallout from the September arrests was that Lodge, his girlfriend, Tracy DeMartini, and his three co-arrestees have decided to take the city, Ringling Brothers and HP Pavilion to court on grounds their First Amendment rights were violated. The lawsuit, filed last Monday in federal court, promises to raise interesting free-speech arguments regarding where demonstrations can lawfully take place.

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From the January 22-28, 2004 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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