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Badge of Honor: San Jose police Chief Bill Lansdowne has warned cop and council candidate Jim Spence not to use photos of himself in uniform for campaign brochures, even if the photos were taken before Spence envisioned himself in a seat at City Hall.

Public Eye

A Man in Uniform

NEARLY 20 YEARS AGO, San Jose police officer Jim Spence received an award from the city for helping rescue a woman trapped in her capsized car. Now, Spence is a candidate for San Jose City Council in District 6 (Willow Glen) and he wants to use a photo taken of him in uniform at the award ceremony and other "historical" pictures for campaign literature. But police Chief Bill Lansdowne has told Spence, currently a sergeant on the force, in writing, "The law is pretty clear that you cannot participate in political activities of any kind while in uniform. I believe that this would include pamphlets and fliers." This week Spence's attorney, Peter Ajlouny, filed papers in court asking for a temporary restraining order preventing Lansdowne from taking any disciplinary measures against Spence until a judge can rule on what campaign law really prohibits. Ajlouny argues that such "historical" photos--depicting events well before Spence ever became a candidate--are not affected by state laws prohibiting candidates from campaigning while in uniform (like walking precincts with a badge on). "[The photos] give a visual story of my 30 years as a police officer in San Jose," Spence explains. But on Tuesday, Judge William Martin denied the TRO request and set a hearing for Feb. 15. ... Meanwhile, one of Spence's opponents, Kris Cunningham, got a big break last week when District 6 incumbent Frank Fiscalini endorsed the neighborhood activist to succeed him to the Willow Glen council seat next year. Fiscalini, the ultimate old-school Glenite, should provide Cunningham a needed boost. According to newly released financial reports, Cunningham has deposited $33,114 into her campaign coffers, much of it from residents of the willowy burb where Cunningham has raised her family and served as president of the neighborhood association. In contrast, her opponent, Ron Gonzales-endorsed Ken Yeager, took in nearly $70,000 through the end of 1999, peppered with donations from organized labor and the building trades. Yeager, who made a failed bid for the 23rd Assembly District seat in 1996, has also drawn contributions from residents of the Rosegarden and his own Shasta-Hanchett neighborhood.

She's Baaaack

For the most part, it was a classy farewell for venerable San Jose City Attorney Joan Gallo last week. At her final council meeting, the mayor and city council presented the retiring legal eagle a dozen long stem roses. Each councilor also said a few kind words about Gallo's esteemed tenure. Then the council stood up and gave her a standing ovation. Just as the bittersweet curtain was about to fall on the ceremony, a woman from the back of the council chamber shouted at Gallo, "Murderer!" Yes, folks, slanderous gadfly Cathy Brandhost has returned to San Jose from her six-month engagement in Reno and Sparks, where she bashed Nevada public officials for a while. Welcome back, Cathy. Council meetings just weren't the same without you.

Metro East

On Monday, Knight-Ridder--the Mercury News' corporate parent--will face a new competitor with a familiar name. Metro Philadelphia, a new free daily paper, is scheduled to hit the streets in direct competition with both of Knight-Ridder's Philadelphia papers, the Inquirer and the Daily News. Rather than taking on the upstart, the San Jose-based media colossus has decided to go to court to protect its fiefdom in the City of Brotherly Love. The new Metro (no relation to this Metro), is owned by a Swedish company that has made a lot of krona by putting a new twist on an old idea: capitalizing on a captive audience. The company, Modern Times Group, partners with transit agencies, giving the agency some level of editorial control and a monthly payout in exchange for exclusive rights to distribute on-board the transit system. The papers are mostly filled with summaries of wire stories, virtually guaranteed to be more interesting than the blank view through a subway window. And they must be. Since it started its first free daily in 1995, Modern Times has launched these transit papers in more than a dozen European cities. But Knight-Ridder, along with Gannett and The New York Times Company, wants the Swedes stopped. In their suit, the media giants argue that the exclusive distribution agreement is unfair, and the transit agency's editorial control is problematic. But perhaps no more problematic than, say, one out-of-town corporation owning both of Philadelphia's daily papers.

Willow Wallow

Assembly candidate Manny Diaz may be banking on support from Latino-heavy east San Jose, but he has opened his campaign headquarters in voter-rich Willow Glen near the corner of Willow and Bird. Diaz, who represents the East Side on the City Council, appears to be taking a cue from Ron Gonzales, who also set up shop in Willow Glen during his successful mayoral campaign. One operative familiar with the district's demographics says that locating in Willow Glen makes sense for Diaz. "Manny must win the East Side and finish at least a close second on the West Side," the operative explains. "That's how you win that seat. It's a classic railroad district, where the affluent white community decides who wins." There must be some truth to that observation: Tony West, Diaz's most formidable Democratic foe, has also opened up his campaign HQ in Willow Glen. By the by, West appears to be taking his own cues from the Gonzales campaign model. He has hired Staton & Hughes to run his campaign, the same consulting firm that guided Gonzales to victory in 1998. Diaz has tapped East Bay-based consultant Larry Tramutola, reputed to be one of the best--and most expensive--ground campaign strategists in the business.

Slick and Slide

Eye-watchers will recall that Democrat Mike Honda reluctantly agreed last month to give up his San Jose Assembly seat to run for Congress because President Bill Clinton promised to host a fundraiser for him in Silicon Valley. But Honda didn't nail down Slick Willie on a date. It now appears as if Clinton won't be heading out west for Honda before the March primary, as some Hondistas had hoped. "We are not operating under [the assumption] that Clinton will be here before March 7," says Honda campaign manager Andrew Acosta, noting that the president is kind of busy these days helping out Al Gore. Honda faces, among others, millionaire venture capitalist Bill Peacock, a Democrat who boasts having more than $500,000 in his campaign account. ... Honda, meanwhile, flew to snowy Washington, D.C., this week with local labor boss Amy Dean to meet with national union leaders. Sources say Dean and other labor apparatchiks are pressuring Honda to endorse Manny Diaz to replace him in the Assembly. Honda remains officially neutral, but a confidant tells Eye that he is leaning toward backing Diaz.

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From the January 27-February 2, 2000 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 1999 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

For more information about the San Jose/Silicon Valley area, visit sanjose.com.




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