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[whitespace] Parking Official Giving Ticket
Minimal Effort: In November the city of San Jose established parking ticket quotas, though officials don't call them quotas.

Public Eye

Quotidian Dilemma

DRIVERS PLANNING A TRIP to San Jose--beware. Eye has learned that in November--just in time for the holidays--Department of Streets and Traffic officials imposed daily ticket quotas on the city's parking control officers. The daily quotas for the city's 11 primary weekday routes range from 25 (Civic Center area) to 65 (San Pedro Square/Arena area), according to documents obtained by Eye. In those documents, city officials don't refer to the new performance standards as quotas, but rather as "minimum issuance levels." "I consider them to be a quota," opines Don Dietrich, the business rep for Operating Engineers Union Local No. 3, which represents the city's parking enforcers. "We're trying to resolve that issue with the department." Dietrich says there's a serious question as to whether the quotas, or "minimum issuance levels," are legal. The state vehicle code prohibits public agencies from imposing ticket quotas on peace officers. San Jose might enjoy a possible loophole in the quota prohibition, Dietrich says, because parking control officers aren't peace officers. ... Meanwhile, city bureaucrats deny that the ticketing standards qualify as quotas. Jim Ortbal, deputy director of streets and traffic, insists that no parking patrollers would be disciplined solely because they didn't regularly meet their minimum issuance levels. They'd just need to have a reasonable explanation for coming up short, he says. Union rep Dietrich acknowledges that none of his members have been disciplined under the new policy--yet. "We don't view this as an absolute requirement," Ortbal says. "This is [the number of tickets] we anticipate they would issue." See, the quotas are just, uh, performance guidelines, not quotas. Yeah, that's the ticket. ... In a roundabout way, car owners have Mayor Ron Gonzales to thank for the new parking ticket policy. Gonzo came into office telling department heads to develop and implement performance standards.

Speech Less

With the mayor's policy plate full of BART, insiders expect Gonzo will spend most of his annual big speech Wednesday patting himself on the back and unveiling few, if any, new programs. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the evening will be the prominent role of one-time Gonzales antagonist, newly elected Congressman Mike Honda (D-San Jose). Honda will serve as master of ceremonies at this year's event. ... Eye-watchers are well aware of Gonzo and Honda's tumultuous history going back to their days together on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors. When Gonzales ran for mayor in 1998, Honda stayed neutral even though the future HizRonner was going up against a Republican. More recently, Gonzales dragged his feet in endorsing Honda for Congress, waiting until two weeks before the election. Practically every other prominent valley Democrat had endorsed Honda months earlier. ... According to a Honda aide, the mayor asked Mike if he'd be emcee. Explains mayoral mouthpiece David Vossbrink: "It seemed like the right thing to do. He'll be our representative in Washington. And he's a good guy." Yeah, yeah, whatever. So what's the real reason? A Honda adviser suggests the mayor is already looking at his re-election campaign in 2002 and wants to show "a unified front," bringing lefties like Honda into the fold. Speaking of which, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, another old Gonzales nemesis from his supe days, will also have a prominent role at the state of the city affair, though she won't actually be there due to a scheduling conflict. She'll be announcing community service award winners on videotape.

Lucky Seven

How does this sound as a perk for serving on San Jose's newly appointed redistricting committee: Help draw the city council district lines to your liking, then run for council the next election. For a couple of months now, gossip hounds have been saying that Franklin McKinley School Board trustee George Sanchez has been eyeing the District 7 seat, which will open up in 2002 when incumbent George Shirakawa Jr. will be termed out of office. This week, Shirakawa, who is friendly with his namesake, appointed Sanchez to the redistricting committee, which will redraw the council district boundaries in the coming year. ... Eye contacted Sanchez Tuesday morning and he acknowledged giving the idea of running for the seat some thought, but said he would need to make a decision pretty soon. When Eye asked if it would be a conflict of interest to serve on the redistricting committee, then run for council, Sanchez replied, "That's why a decision has to be made." He phoned back 20 minutes later, saying he now recalled--how convenient--having had a talk with Shirakawa to the effect that if Junior appointed him to the committee, Sanchez wouldn't run for council. Bottom line: Sanchez ain't running. ... So far, four of the five Franklin McKinley trustees--Sanchez, Terry Gregory, Beverly Moreno and Phil Renteria--have all had their names floated as possible successors to Shirakawa. Others people rumored to be in the candidate lineup include usual suspects like Planning Commish Bob Dhillon and NAACP Prez Rick Callendar, who just bought a home in the district.

Office Depot

Thanks to the peninsula's hyperinflated commercial rental market, state Sen. Byron Sher (D-Palo Alto) doesn't have a district office actually in his district anymore. Facing a 400 percent rent hike at his previous Redwood City digs, Sher instructed his minions to look for something a little more reasonable. After weeks of searching, though, it seems as if Sher and his crew might have been better off staying in their old office. Mike Potter, Sher's district dude, grumbles that it has been tough to find anything--particulary something compliant with the American Disabilities Act--for under $10 a square foot. At the old Redwood City office, the landlord want Sher to pay around $6 a square foot (up from $1.40 a square foot). "We put an offer on a place in Palo Alto," Potter reveals, "but we don't know if we're going to get it." So, for now Sher is consolidating his district operations, cramming everything into his remaining office, located in the state-owned Alfred E. Alquist building in downtown San Jose. Unfortunately, Sher's district doesn't include downtown San Jose, though Potter notes that Sher does represent about a third of the city. In the meantime, while Sher searches for a new place up north, peninsula constituents phoning the old office number are being forwarded to the San Jose office at no extra charge should they want to complain about their PG&E bills.

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From the February 1-7, 2001 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2000 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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