[Metroactive News&Issues]

[ Metro | Metroactive Central | Archives ]

Public Eye

State of the Career

Slaves to the rumor mill that we are, we decided this week to see wassup with all this persistent chatter about Mayor Susan Hammer planning to split San Jose for a job with the Clinton administration. According to the conspiracy theory, she would turn over the corner office keys to Margie Fernandes, giving the Margester's 1998 mayoral ambitions the benefit of incumbency. So what are the chances of Hammer's reappearance as an appointed official in the department of commerce or transporation? Our comprehensive survey of the mayor's kitchen cabinet leads us to believe that there may have been some casual banter (presidents sometimes do this to flatter their supporters) but that Hammer is not seriously entertaining any headhunting offers. The mayor tells us she likes her job and plans to serve out her term, unless it was something "pretty incredible." (Personally, Eye would find ambassador to Monaco pretty incredible, but Hammer might prefer to be closer to Wimbleton.) As for a mid-presidential term appointment when her eight years are up in 1998, a Washington job might hold some sparkle for the city's chief exec, who is clearly keeping her options open and is working hard to stay on the President's A-list.

Hard to Gauge

Like many wags, Eye was blown away by the first-place upset of conservative Gilroy Mayor Don Gage in this week's special election for the vacant District 1 supervisorial seat. Throughout the campaign, Gage flew under most pundits' radar sights. Nonetheless, blessed with a conservative district and a dismal turnout, Gage yanked in 2,000 more votes than his nearest competitor, Democrat Rosemary Kamei. Contrary to conventional wisdom, Keith Honda didn't cruise to victory by virtue of having a well-branded last name; Honda placed third. Now Gage and Kamei head for a March 18 runoff, with Kamei appearing to have a slight edge since she's more likely to get Honda's votes. While this go-round was a civil affair, don't expect the runoff to be a love-in. Kamei's already spent at least $1,000 for "opposition research" during the primary warm-up. ... Gage got a shot in the arm from the National Rifle Association during the campaign, which sent out post cards to its local members hailing Gage as "the pro-gun choice" in this race. "It is critical that that gun owners and sportsmen stand behind friends like Don Gage, so they can fight for us--the law-abiding citizens--in Santa Clara County," the post card urged lovers of the semi-automatic assault rifle. ... Is it possible that supporters of Steve Blanton went to the polls a day late? A Jan. 15 fundraising letter sent by fellow Republican and Assemblyman Jim Cunneen (R-Campbell) on Blanton's behalf incorrectly alerted voters of the upcoming special election on Feb. 5. (Eye trusts that all of its civic-minded readers know the election was held the previous day, on Feb. 4.) Another confusing Blanton piece, targeted at Democrats, inexplicably includes a toothy photo of U.S. Reep Tom Campbell on the bottom. Blanton finished next to last.

Golf, Anyone?

In the how-not-to-respond-to-a-phone-call-from-a-reporter department: Eye couldn't help but get suspicious after making a call to Rena Tan of Scudder, Stevens & Clark, a San Francisco investment firm, last week. Eye merely wanted to know why the company faxed an invitation to San Jose City Councilman Frank Fiscalini for a three-day golf outing at Pebble Beach. Scudder, one of 10 firms that manage the city's $800 million federated retirement fund, sponsored meals and accommodations at La Playa Hotel in Carmel for the company's invited guests. The company also apparently handed out free tickets to the first round of the AT&T Invitational. Fiscalini sits on the board that reviews and approves the contracts of investment firms like Scudder. "He never went," Tan blurted out. After Eye asked her what prompted the invitation, Tan nervously demanded to know how Eye got her number, why Eye was calling and how Eye found out about the invitation in the first place. Then she abruptly got off the phone, saying she was very busy, but promised to call back. She never did. ... Later, Joe Guerra, Fiscalini's handler, calmly assured us that he and his boss were totally surprised by the unsolicited golfing invitation. "It was completely out of our control," Guerra told Eye. "We never asked for an invitation. Our only response to Scudder was, ŒThank you, but no thanks.' It was a ridiculous offer."

In the money

City Hall flacks and legislative aides could only drool with salary envy when they saw the redevelopment agency's new proposal to hire a "communications coordinator" for $96,723 a year. "I was thinking about applying," Erik Schoennauer, Pat Dando's aide, half-jokingly admitted to Eye early this week. Schoennauer and Dando used to perform similar jobs in their past lives as redevelopment mouthpieces. The job description reads like that for most flacks: part outreach, part spin-doctor, part salesman. Eye mistakenly thought former campaign consultant and agency spokeswoman Carol Beddo was already performing those duties. Beddo explains that she's been so busy with other projects, such as helping put together Focus, the agency's periodic multicolor propaganda sheet, that she can't do it all. Agency finance whiz Mike Eshoff says the PR job's real salary is more like $83,000, with the remaining $13,726 reflecting the agency's incidental costs for Social Security taxes, life insurance and retirement benefits. ... Flush with the agency's rediscovered wealth, "communications-coordinator" isn't the only new job Redevelopment Czar Frank Taylor wants to add to the payroll. Taylor is asking the redevelopment board to hire a total of 11 new staffers at an estimated annual cost of $741,000, allocate $45,000 for recruitment and training, and earmark another $75,000 for office furniture and equipment. According to Beddo, all the money pouring into agency coffers has also boosted everyone's workloads. "There's simply not enough staff to work on all the projects and activities."

Public Eye welcomes tips. Leave messages 24 hours a day by calling 408/298-7818 and then pressing 2, followed by 412, to reach Eye's voice mailbox. Send email messages to [email protected]

[ Metro | Metroactive Central | Archives ]

From the February 6-12, 1997 issue of Metro

This page was designed and created by the Boulevards team.
Copyright © 1997 Metro Publishing and Virtual Valley, Inc.

Foreclosures - Real Estate Investing
San Jose.com Real Estate