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Trading Places: Vice President Al Gore had a friendly chat with ex-Police Chief Lou Cobarruviaz during his visit. Is a federal appointment in the cards?

Leaving Lou's Altos?

So now that ex-San Jose Police Chief Lou Cobarruviaz isn't running for sheriff, the behind-the-scenes debate has shifted to: "What does Lou do now?" One interesting story making the rounds has it that when Vice President Al Gore visited San Jose earlier this month, he spent quite a bit of time chewing the fat with the chief over at Mayor Susan Hammer's pad. The veep, according to a couple of independent accounts, told Cobarruviaz he'd put in a good word for him to get a federal appointment. But a police source who knows Cobarruviaz predicts that the Lou-man will be content to collect his fat pension check and channel-surf in his new Los Altos Hills home with his new wife, Barbara Tryon, formerly a member of the Los Altos Hills City Council. ... In his official bye-bye statement, Cobarruviaz explained that he chose not to run because he lacked the stomach to grovel for campaign money. There are a couple of other possible but unstated reasons. City Councilman John Diquisto tells Eye that the chief was getting pretty perturbed with people who initially promised to support him, then waffled at the last minute. And if Cobarruviaz ran for sheriff, his uneasy relationship with the city's police union would have become painfully apparent. A cop source insists that Cobarruviaz had no chance of securing the Police Officers Association's endorsement. ... One person who'll be looking for work with Cobarruviaz out of the race is consultant Roger Lee. Rodge, a reformed cocaine snorter, was all set to play a role in Lou's campaign. That, of course, contradicts his earlier statements that he wouldn't participate in any local contests except for the mayor's race. ... With the unofficial frontrunner out of the race, the two immediate beneficiaries seem to be Latino candidates Ruben Diaz and José Salcido. There was speculation that Diaz may get out of the race, too, because of his wife's recent illness. His advisers, however, say he's still a contender.

You Can't Handle The Estruth

Add another name to the list of folks who have been approached by unidentified forces inside the galaxy to run for mayor of San Jose. This week Eye hears that ex-city councilman and 1995 congressional candidate Jerry Estruth has been asked if he would be so noble as to seek the sixth-floor throne. Estruth gently told his would-be backers, "Thanks, but stop bugging me." The Dean Witter stockbroker is still smarting from his lopsided defeat to Reep Tom Campbell, when the D.C. Demos decided to make Estruth the guinea pig to test the party's anti-Newt Gingrich media campaign, ultimately leaving Jerry buried under a mountain of debt. "I'm flattered that people asked me to run for mayor, but that last [congressional] campaign cost me $200,000 out of pocket. I don't think I want to do that anymore." Asked who approached him, he cagily responds, "People from across the political spectrum." But an inside-information sieve leaks that libs and union types tried to woo Estruth into running. Estruth, an occasional panelist on ex-Mayor Tom McEnery's Sunday radio show, says he's supporting Ron Gonzales in the mayoral mambo.

Tough Rowe

Last year deposed Sunnyvale Mayor Frances Rowe paid a visit to the office of District Attorney George Kennedy. The eccentric Sunnyvale senior wanted to turn herself in to the proper authorities. "I demand that you arrest, investigate and prosecute me," Rowe told the DA in a hand-delivered letter. Well, she didn't get her wish; she was politely shown the door. Rowe, you see, wants to expose the "conspiracy" that led to her being ousted as mayor by her colleagues in 1995 for allegedly harassing City Attorney Linda Armento. The best way she can do that, she argues, is by cross-examining her accusers. Now, she just might get her chance. Next week Rowe will go before the Fair Political Practices Commission to fight charges that she failed to properly identify contributors on campaign statements--sort of. Actually, Rowe doesn't deny that she broke campaign laws. Rather, she says she did so intentionally so she could expose the conspiracy and subpoena witnesses. She's even paying $51.80 to one of the alleged conspirators, Sunnyvale dweller Matthew Castrigno, to make the trip up to Oakland for her hearing. Last month at a pre-hearing conference, wearing her Rolex watch and diamond bracelet, Rowe refused the FPPC's offer to settle the whole thing for $28,000. "They tried their best to get me to settle, but I said, 'Nuh-uh, nuh-uh. I'm gonna get me my answer.' ... When I do something, I do it. I said, 'Nuh-uh, nuh-uh. No way, José.'"

Certified Latinos, Not Carpetbaggers

California cheese. Real milk. In a world of corporate pretenders, what would we do without the ubiquitous seal of approval? In a slap at Nuevo Mundo, the Merc's Spanish-language weekly, the National Association of Hispanic Publications unveiled a seal of its own at the McEnery Convention Center on Friday. The seal, developed by the Hispanic Association for Corporate Responsibility, can be displayed on the masthead of any Hispanic-owned and -operated newspaper. As Mary Andrade of La Oferta Review helpfully points out, Nuevo Mundo doesn't qualify. In his remarks, association Prez Eddie Escovedo spun the seal as a service to corporate advertisers who think they are doing business with Hispanic-owned newspapers just because they are printed in Spanish. Editors of the local Hispanic press, La Oferta Review, El Observador and Alianza Metropolitan News, are steamed that the Knight-Ridder-owned Nuevo Mundo muscled its way into the market in 1996, snatching away high-profile sponsorships at community events and, they claim, draining away corporate advertising dollars. Andrade complains that the Merc traditionally has "portrayed Hispanics in a negative way," but now they want to capitalize on the growing market. But Andrade kept her cool and didn't mention Nuevo Mundo by name once during the press conference. There are Anglo-owned poseurs sprouting up all over the country, she says, adding, "This is a broader issue than just Nuevo Mundo." Just a little aside: A story in this week's Merc low-balled La Oferta's circulation figures at 21,000; Andre says their audited figures hover at about 31,500.

Rotary Rot Mouth

The high-society types in the Rotary Club were growing weary of all his waffling, so one Rotarian called out to Councilman Frank Fiscalini at a recent meeting to get a straight answer from him. "Are you running for mayor or not?" the Frankophile queried in front of 200 spectators. Fiscalini got up and tossed out the usual blather about keeping his options open. "My old friend Peter Carter, who's supporting another candidate, once told me that the longer you wait, the greater the impact, the greater the expectation and the greater the effect." Carter interrupted, "Frank, I was talking about sex."

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From the February 12-18, 1998 issue of Metro.

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