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Say a Prayer: One of Supervisor Blanca Alvarado's first acts as board chair was to start meetings with a spiritual invocation.

My County, 'Tis of Thee

Agnostics and atheists may not want to get to meetings of the county Board of Supervisors too early these days. Among the overlooked changes made this month by the new board chairwoman, Blanca Alvarado, is starting each meeting with an invocation, an innocuous-sounding four-syllable synonym for "prayer." Wouldn't want to get people thinking about that little "separation of church and state" thing. Besides, this is the county. ... Alvarado's aide-de-camp, Sylvia Gallegos, says that her boss was nostalgic for her days on the San Jose City Council, which also opens its meetings with a prayer. "She wanted to add a spiritual element to the board meetings," Gallegos explains. Eye suspects she wasn't the only one. Supe Don Gage is a Christian who got elected with the help of South County evangelicals. And Pete McHugh, who had a priest say a prayer at his swearing-in ceremony, is married to a woman who considered becoming a nun. Invocation-invoker Alvarado was baptized a Catholic. Given the board's religious slant, Eye hopes that no single faith will be disproportionately represented. Gallegos assures Eye that people with diverse religious beliefs will be represented over the next year as invocation-readers. This week the invocation was read by representatives of the Avatamsaka Buddhist Lotus Society from Milpitas. ... In other news at 70 W. Hedding, there's a new face on the 10th floor. This week Mike McInerney started as McHugh's acting chief of staff, filling in for a very ill Gordon Reynolds. If his name sounds familiar, it might be because he spent the last six years working for the city manager in San Jose City Hall and previously served on the Milpitas school board. Even though the job could just be temporary, McInerney quit his city job to go work for McHugh. "I closed that door. It was time for me to move and try something else."

Crazy Like a Fox

Insiders have long questioned the depth of beer baron Mike Fox Sr.'s support for mayoral contestant Ron Gonzales. A McEneryite at heart, Fox agreed to back Gonzales shortly after the Macster lost his bid for Congress. Stories immediately began circulating that Fox gave Gonzales his endorsement in exchange for Gonzales' endorsement of McEnery in the 1994 congressional race. Though both Gonzales and Fox deny the quid pro quo, the damage had been done: People doubted Fox's commitment. Now comes news that Fox's wife, Mary Ellen Fox, is actively supporting Gonzales' opponent, Pat Dando. A little bit of familial bet-hedging, perhaps? Not a chance, Fox asserts. "There's no reason for us to hedge our bets," he argues, noting that he's "not a landowner" or developer doing business with the city. The senior Fox says that his wife has known Dando since the late '70s and wanted to give her friend some help. For the curious, Mike Fox Lite, i.e. Mike Fox Jr., is backing Gonzales, just like his dad. ... Another person who'll be planting Dando lawn signs is term-limit champion Murphy Sabatino, which casts more doubt over whether Frank Fiscalini is really going to run for mayor. Murph and the Frankster are old-time buds, and Sabatino backed his friend in the 1990 mayor's race. "Times change," Sabatino explains. "I just feel Pat would make a good mayor. I'm very comfortable with her." Joining Sabatino on the Dando bandwagon is Chamber of Commerce heavyweight Tommy Fulcher, who previously endorsed Margie Fernandes before she chickened out. Fernandes, by the way, is getting behind Gonzales, an indication that Mayor Susan Hammer, Fernandes' mentor and skiing partner, may soon follow. "The last thing Susan wants to see," muses one City Hall wag, "is Mayor Dando."

It's Pat!

First it was the revamped hairdo and makeover. Now let us introduce you to Patricia Dando. Not Pat. Patricia. Got that? In what is obviously a move to remind voters who's wearing the skirts in the mayoral race, Dando's campaign advisers apparently have decided to use her unabbreviated, gender-specific first name. While Gonzales has the Latino vote, Dando hopes to win big among female voters. The name-tweaking strategy is nothing new. A couple of years ago, East Bay assembly candidate Dion Aroner transformed into Dion Louise Aroner on the ballot, lest anyone think she had a Y chromosome.

Fight the Power

Even Arafat and Rabin met and shook hands for the camera. But don't expect such a detente between Human Rights Commission chairman Craig Mann and his nemesis, Commissioner Rick Callender, when the HRC meets for the first time in 1998 this week. The brouhaha erupted in the fall when Callender began insisting that Mann couldn't serve another year as chair because he had already served the maximum two years. Mann and his allies, however, argued that he should be able to serve another year. Callender saw this as ironic since the HRC, in charge of monitoring the city's affirmative action programs, is supposed to help empower the little guy and not those who historically have held power. Undeterred, Callender asked for an opinion from City Attorney Joan Gallo, which annoyed Mann no end. The chairman sent his pesky foe sarcastic emails in which he calls Callender immature, suggests he take a "time-out" and repeatedly cites scripture. (In response, Callender cheekily invited Mann to attend church with him.) To Callender's chagrin, Mann and his allies simply changed the commission's bylaws so he could be chair again this year. Things have become so contentious between Mann and Callender that a recent peace powwow arranged by Councilman Manny Diaz was aborted. "I was just trying to get a meeting of the minds," Diaz says. "It's really unfortunate, because here we are with two commissioners [who can't get along]." Mann's pals suggest that Callender is jealous because he wants to be chair, which Callender denies. "I'm just looking out for the building and transitioning of new leadership on the commissioner," he insists.

Go, Gary

Hold your hats, everybody, Mr. Gary Schwartzkopf of San Jose is still not sure if he's going to run for governor. No doubt wannabes like Gray Davis, Leon Panetta, Dan Lungren, John Vasconcellos and Alfred E. Checkbook are all keeping a close eye on Schwartzkopf's every move. Who is Gary Schwartzkopf? Just a local jokester, apparently tired of all the "Will she or won't she?" news stories about Dianne Feinstein, not to mention the Hamlet act performed by San Jose's own master thespian Tom McEnery. Schwartzkopf sent Eye a handwritten "news release" on a 20-cent postcard declaring his ambivalence: "Mr. Gary Schawartzkopf of San Jose announced today that he is unsure whether he will be a candidate for governor of California." Schwartzkopf signs off with the sobriquet, "Possible Gov. Candidate 1998." Keep us posted, Gary.

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From the January 29-February 4, 1998 issue of Metro.

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