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[whitespace] David Cortese Come Back: David Cortese just bought a new house in Evergreen, enabling him to run for the District 8 City Council seat.

Exhibition Season

Blame the early March primary. Blame term limits. Blame the Y2K bug. Whatever the reasons, one thing is for sure: There's a whole lotta premature campaign preparation going on. Just three months after the general election, prospective City Council candidates all over San Jose are already choreographing their March 2000 primary end-zone dance. ... In District 4, Berryessa barrister Chuck Reed recently sought a legal opinion from city attorney Joan Gallo about getting a head start on his council campaign. The city's campaign finance law prohibits candidates from raising money until six months before the election. Reed wanted to know whether he could spend his own personal dough during the so-called blackout period. This month a Gallo deputy ruled that Reed and other candidates can do what they want with their own money. "I would like to spend a few dollars on pencils, papers and maybe postage," Reed explains, "and send a few letters to my friends." One of his pen pals is incumbent Margie Matthews, who has anointed Reed as her successor, thus helping him clear the field. Reed boasts that two players once thought to be contenders, Bob Dhillon and Bill Hughes, are now pledging to jump on the Chuck wagon. ... Meanwhile, prodigal son David Cortese is returning to his boyhood stomping grounds near Evergreen, where he just bought a new home in District 8, qualifying him to compete for the council seat now occupied by Alice Woody. Cortese, Eye-watchers may recall, tried unsuccessfully in 1996 to succeed his father, Dominic, in the Assembly and financed a hit-piece portraying gay opponent Ken Yeager as anti-family. Cortese has since apologized to Yeager and promises to play nice this year. "That was a big mistake," Cortese concedes. "It's something that never should have been done." ... Speaking of the Yeagermeister, he seems too busy with his own council candidacy in District 6 (Willow Glen) to hold a grudge against Cortese. This week Yeager was more concerned about rumblings that Terry Poche, the longtime district aide to Congressman Don Edwards (who happens to be Yeager's old boss, too), might run. Yeager tells Eye he is hoping to meet with Ms. Poche to have a cordial discussion about her plans. Translation: He's gonna ask her not to run.

Warner Watch

Of the dozens of appointments Mayor Ron Gonzales has made so far, none stands to be as controversial as his selection of European American Dale Warner to serve on the city's Project Diversity Screening Committee. For a decade, Warner has waged an unpopular battle against what he perceives as the reverse racism of political correctness. His critics call him "divisive," but they have never produced the smoking-cross exposing Warner as the racist they think he is. One naysayer says that Warner is too smart to use explicitly racist language; nevertheless, the rhetoric he and his European American brothers use sometimes finds a sympathetic ear in right-wing hate groups. For instance, a missive authored a Warner colleague at the European/American Issues Forum, Lou Calabro, has found its way onto the "Jew Watch" website (which tracks "Jewish media lies," "Jewish mind control mechanisms" and "Jewish world conspiracies" among other things). In the letter, Calabro blasts the Anti-Defamation League and organizers of the 1998 Santa Clara County Community Forum on Hate Crimes for not letting the EAIF pass out its literature. Warner, an immigration lawyer who supported Gonzales' election, tells Eye that he knows nothing about "Jew Watch." "The European American movement is very diverse," Warner explains, "and it's got extremists like every other movement." He modestly adds, "I belong to the thoughtful, moderate part of the movement."

Saddle Envy

In keeping with the theme of premature politicking, plenty of folks are weighing the pros and cons of taking over the Assembly saddle to be vacated by Republican rancher Pete Frusetta. The Dems think that with Frusetta out of the way in 2000 they have a good chance to win back the seat, which, as voter registration numbers would suggest, is "rightly" theirs. Some of the names making the rounds include past candidate Alan Styles, one-time Norm Mineta confidant Larry Carr, Morgan Hill Mayor Dennis Kennedy and Salinas Mayor Anna Caballero. Should she choose to run, the Salinas mayor might have one up on her rivals to become the district's new Capitol Caballero because some party leaders consider it a Latino seat. ... The Reeps are also looking for their Mr. Goodbar to replace the straight-talking Frusetta. Moderates would like to see Santa Clara County Supe Don Gage give it a try. Even if he were to lose, Gage would keep his supervisorial seat because that term doesn't expire for another two years. But his chief of staff, John Gibbs, suggests that a change of venue is unlikely for his boss. "He's pretty happy here," Gibbs says. "But he has been approached [to run for Assembly]." ... Gibbs, by the by, hasn't ruled himself out as a candidate either--for City Council District 6 in San Jose.

Supervisor Stone?

Believe it or not, Assessor Larry Stone likes his job. It may not sound glamorous, but at least he is at the top of the food chain inside his department. That's why in the past Stone has turned down the pleas of local Dems cajoling him to run for Congress, where he'd just be one loudmouth among many loudmouths. In 1996 Stone declined the chance to run for supervisor and instead passed the torch to Joe Simitian. With Supervisor Simitian now scoping out a campaign for the Assembly next year, Stone is once again being named as a potential candidate for supervisor. This time, however, Stone isn't dismissing the notion as implausible. "I wouldn't categorically rule it out," Stone reveals. So why the change of heart? Well, consider this: If Stone were a supervisor, he would get to vote on who gets the contract for independent auditor. Loyal readers of this column know that Stone has been on a mission to discredit current financial watchdog Roger Mialocq ever since the assessor's office was audited.

She's the Sheriff

It should come as no surprise that new Sheriff Laurie Smith has started the paperwork to restore the position of undersheriff while eliminating the assistant sheriff posts (now occupied by her election opponents Tom Sing and Ruben Diaz). The county's first female sheriff indicated she would do just that during the campaign. The real question is, Who will she make her second-in-command? The inside money is on Capt. Bob Wilson, who appeared in one of Smith's television commercials during the campaign. But another name has surfaced in recent weeks: Brannan Smith, the sheriff's husband. In a previous life, Brannan was a cop for the San Jose Police Department. But Smith assures Eye that she won't be giving Brannan the No. 2 post, though the idea of bossing her husband around does appeal to her. "I won't go outside the department [to select an undersheriff]," she maintains.

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From the February 11-17, 1999 issue of Metro.

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