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Spoiled Bat? Contractors who helped build Giants slugger Barry Bonds' Los Altos Hills mansion are taking him to court to get their money.

Public Eye

A Giant Dispute

IN MAY 1997, the Los Altos Hills Planning Commission gave San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds the go-ahead to build a 10,500-square-foot mansion on his two-acre estate. The main contractor estimated it would cost $3.2 million to build the house, which included plans for a two-story fish tank, home theater, solarium, spa, pool, mud room and guest suite. But construction of the project didn't conclude until last fall and at least two sources involved believe it went significantly overbudget. Now, a bench-clearing financial brawl has erupted between Bonds and contractors who helped build his new home. ... County records show that four subcontractors have filed nearly $304,000 worth of mechanic's liens against Bonds' property over the past four months--one was filed as recently as one week ago-- for unpaid services. Two of those subcontractors--Palo Alto-based Aero Drywall and Anaheim-based Nicholas Lane Contractors--have also filed lawsuits in Superior Court demanding payment from the $11-million-a-year baseball star and general contractor Michael R. Taylor. When Eye called Bonds' property representative, Charles Gardner, asking for comment, he refused to discuss any pending litigation. "You'll have to retrieve your information elsewhere," Gardner sniffed. Then he hung up. Apparently, that was the kind of special treatment some people working on the Bonds home came to expect from Gardner and the baseball all-star, whose perceived arrogance has never endeared him to his Giants teammates or sports writers. One contractor who worked on the project tells Eye that Bonds would yell at crewmembers, bark orders and once left a rambling four-minute complaint on a company answering machine. "I liken him to a six-year-old child," the disenchanted contractor says. "If he doesn't get his way, he throws a tantrum." As for how other hard-hats viewed Bonds, the same source says, "Let's just say a lot of people are Dodgers fans now."


As the Democratic frontrunner in the 15th Congressional District primary, Assemblyman Mike Honda (D-San Jose) is an obvious target for opponents wanting to gain some ground on the purported Honda juggernaut. The first sign of mortality came 10 days ago when the Honda campaign--despite having the backing of labor and party leadership in D.C.--released a report showing that the candidate had raised only $29,650 in the month of December. (In fairness, the holidays are a notoriously difficult time to raise dough.) Now comes word that Honda campaign manager Andrew Acosta has quit his job with one month to go until election day. Acosta has since returned to the capital to work for state Sen. Patrick Johnston (D-Stockton). Supporters of Democratic venture capitalist Bill Peacock--who has deposited $500,000 of his own money into his campaign account--are whispering that Acosta's untimely departure shows that Honda's campaign is in disarray. And even Honda-friendly sources tell Eye that they think Acosta quit because of Honda's lackadaisical fundraising. Keith Honda, Mike's cousin and chief of staff, would only say that Acosta left for "personal reasons." Acosta assures Eye that he indeed left for personal reasons and not because of a quarrel over anemic money-grubbing efforts. "It was just a tough commitment for me," Acosta says. "I have a girlfriend in Sacramento and we're looking to buy a house together." Jennifer Van der Heide from Honda's capital office will replace Acosta. ... Meanwhile, Peacock hasn't exactly been awakening the interest of sleepy voters. The campaign has yet to hit the airwaves and introduce the relatively unknown candidate to voters, though one Peacock backer says the broadcast-blitz will come soon. Peacock has also added Washington-based consultant Roger Lee to his crack campaign team, which includes media manipulator Joe Trippi. Lee will lend his expertise to designing the campaign mail.

Noise Solution

Eye-watchers know that former Sunnyvale Mayor Ron Gonzales is taking an active role in helping defeat Measure O, the ballot initiative that opponents fear would derail the planned expansion of the San Jose International Airport. The key proponent of the measure is retired San Jose Mayor Janet Gray Hayes, who lives just 10 minutes away from the airport. Both Gonzales, who is now the mayor of San Jose, and Hayes are backing District 6 (Willow Glen) City Council candidate Ken Yeager, obviously putting Yeager in an awkward situation. For a long time, Yeager remained neutral. But he has finally taken a position--sort of. According to Yeager's consultant, Ed McGovern, the candidate will vote for Measure O, but is not officially endorsing it. That means Yeager's name won't appear on any campaign literature, McGovern says. (By the by, McGovern's business partner, Muffie Meier, is working as a fundraiser for the business interests trying to defeat the measure.) Not exactly a brave stance, but a smart one politically, says a South Bay consultant not affiliated with any of the District 6 campaigns. "This way," the consultant observes, "his opponents can't say this guy is controlled by Gonzales." Advisors for candidate Kris Cunningham suggest that Yeager is perhaps trying to deflect any potential criticism for not being sensitive to neighborhood concerns. Cunningham, of course, is the past president of the Willow Glen Neighborhood Association. As it turns out, though, she is opposing Measure O--just like the mayor.

Capital Punishment

City propagandists regularly affix the questionable moniker "capital of Silicon Valley" to San Jose. But a new survey published by Governing magazine only gives the capital of Silicon Valley's information technology department a "C" grade. "San Jose's information technology is relatively weak," the magazine concludes, "especially in the financial area. Budgeting and accounting aren't integrated, so manual intervention is required to make the two systems" But sources say what really upset image-conscious bureaucrats was a quote attributed to Jon Walton, the IT deputy director, suggesting political meddling in the way things get done. When an IT investment benefits a council member's district, Governing quoted Walton as sneering, "[W]e get stuff shoved down our throat." Walton couldn't be reached so he could explain exactly what the politicians shove down his throat. ... Overall, city government earned a "B-minus" grade from the magazine, and spinmeisters are doing their best to downplay the results. City spokesman Tom Manheim points out that Governing's survey didn't take into account the city's bold plans to improve its systems and operations. "We suspect that when they come back," Manheim predicts, "we'll show great improvement."

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From the February 10-16, 2000 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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

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