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The Taxman Cometh

For years, critics of the Milpitas Foundation for Education have criticized the organization as being a front for Milpitas Councilmembers ALTHEA POLANSKI and TRISH DIXON. It seemed that the foundation became more active each time Dixon or Polanski faced re-election. The purpose of the foundation was to funnel small amounts of cash to schoolteachers faced with fewer dollars to spend on classroom necessities. Such philanthropy has been well documented in photo ops posted on the Milpitas Unified website or in Dixon and Polanski's literature. Supporters of the foundation, like Milpitas Unified board member BARBARA SANTOS, brush off criticism of Dixon and Polanski by saying it's "just political." In October, the politics reached a new level when the IRS, apparently reacting to someone who finked on the foundation, moved to audit the organization. The IRS requested documents all the way back to the 2001 tax year and also wanted to see things like minutes of the foundation's meetings, press releases, grant applications, contracts and a statement of officers from 2002 to 2004. In short, it appears the IRS had been forewarned that the foundation was nothing more than a front for Polanski's and Dixon's political campaigns, which is against the law. Nonprofits filing for 501(c)3 tax exemptions cannot endorse political candidates. Fly couldn't get Polanski, the foundation's treasurer, to return phone calls and Dixon, voted out of office in November, has reportedly resigned as president. Such unresponsiveness is nothing new to the foundation, which has a reputation for dodging inquisitors. Santos, the Milpitas board member, says the audit turned out successfully. The point is it would have never occurred at all if Dixon and Polanski had the political instincts to follow in the path of someone like San Jose Councilman CHUCK REED. Reed might have his faults. But shilling himself in photos ops with little kids isn't one of them. When he decided to run for District 4 in 2000, he resigned as founder of the Berryessa Education Foundation, a nonprofit similar to the Milpitas Foundation. Asked why he felt it necessary to resign his position, Reed responded, "I didn't want anyone to think I was somehow using the foundation for political gain." Trish Dixon, Althea Polanski, are you listening?

Pretty in Pink

What's up with the gushy feelings between San Jose District 3 Councilmember CINDY CHAVEZ and Mayor RON GONZALES lately? At the State of the City address last week, Chavez, the city's newly appointed vice mayor, couldn't contain her effusive words for Gonzo, calling him a mentor, a boss (she worked for him when Gonzo was a county supe), a friend and so on. Both of them giggled about their wardrobes for the evening, Gonzo in a pink shirt and tie that shaded his face a little orange, Chavez in a pink jacket bright enough to be seen from San Francisco. (Pink has apparently been chosen by the fashionistas to be the color of 2005, back after a 15-year absence.) At the end of the speech, Chavez was the only councilmember to hug the mayor. Of course, she is expected soon to announce her candidacy as Gonzo's replacement, joining Councilmembers CHUCK REED and DAVID CORTESE. Wouldn't it be great if she could schmooze an endorsement from the mayor, who might lean philosophically toward former Councilwoman PAT DANDO, who is also expected to run? Gone for now are the days, circa 2000, when Chavez and Gonzales didn't speak. The future for the two is as bright as it's ever been.

Promises, Promises

At the State of the City address, Mayor Gonzales didn't appear to be a politician with a limited public service future, as some pundits have lately speculated. He sounded like a pol with something to live for. Consider: He promised a renewed effort to bring BART to the city. He promised to bring more affordable housing. Safer neighborhoods. Less graffiti. Fewer abandoned cars. More preschool programs. A funner downtown. He wants a state-sponsored stem cell headquarters located here. And of course, the mayor had to give a shoutout for major-league baseball, which seemed to create the most excitement among the mayor's list of projects. It's easy to see how the mayor might get carried away. He was in possession of the two things pols like the most, an audience and a microphone. Veteran State of City speech watchers know, however, that not everything the mayor speechifies about comes to pass. Gonzo has used previous speeches to announce a Starbucks and a Krispy Kreme at the Convention Center, a Palladium group retail project, a House of Blues in the old Woolworth Building on First Street. Four years later, the closest HoB is still on the Sunset Strip and Lou's Donut Museum is the nearest place to buy a creme bar in the vicinity of the convention palace. Then, of course, we all heard how fast BART was going to make it here, and that a new city hall building would save us money. As the mayor points out, though, it doesn't hurt to dream.

Eulogy for a Friend

A small gathering of friends and family gathered outside the old Rainbow Smoke Shop on a chilly night last week, ready to announce a renewed attempt to find the killer of DAVID CRUZ, who worked at the Rainbow for nearly a decade (MetroNews, "Murder in a Head Shop," Feb. 2). The Cruz family is offering a $50,000 reward and has created two websites, www.mothersagainstgangs.org and www.davidcruz.org to help police locate the triggerman. Most of the evening was spent standing around balloons, flowers and candles waiting for news organizations to arrive. Family members joked and reminisced about Cruz's past, like the 6-foot bong Cruz once tried to smoke with Rainbow owner SUZIE ANDREWS on the sidewalk outside the shop. The conversation was bittersweet, since Cruz's killer is still on the loose and there's been no rationale, not even simple robbery, as a motive for the crime. "Somebody out there knows what happened," says TERESA CRUZ, David's mother. "And I want to know why."


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From the February 16-22, 2005 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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

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