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[whitespace] Gun Shy: Sen. John Vasconcellos is instructing county officials to solve their internal disputes about the jail guards' gun rights.

Under the Gun

County officials trekked up to Sacramento last week by caravan to meet with esteemed state Sen. John Vasconcellos. The reason for the journey: to discuss the latest proposal to resolve the "jail issue," as it is known around 70 W. Hedding. Among those in attendance were chairman of the board Pete McHugh, personnel chief Pete Kutras, Sheriff Laurie Smith, Dept. of Corrections honcho Tim Ryan and a slew of law enforcement and labor reps. Wisely, the jail guards' union prez Richard Abbate, who once referred to Vasco as a "spineless politician," was a no-show. A few weeks ago, Vasconcellos had the state legislative counsel draw up language for a bill sponsored by the Deputy Sheriffs' Association that would make jail guards "public officers," but not full-fledged cops. The jail guards, however, want full peace-officer status, which would let them carry guns off duty. At the conclusion of the meeting, Vasco told the parties he preferred that they work it out by themselves. ... A new face at the table was that of semi-retired political consultant Rich Robinson, who was hired by the jail guards to carry their water. Robinson, Eye-watchers are well aware, ran Laurie Smith's and Pete McHugh's campaigns and also used to be a policy aide to Vasconcellos. "I know why the corrections officers hired me," Robinson professes. "I'm not stupid." ... Another interesting sidelight was the presence of cross-country operative Vic Ajlouny. Ajlouny ran McHugh's supe campaign in the '96 primary (Robinson handled the general election duties) and then suddenly decided to move to Omaha. But Ajlouny has been reasserting his presence in the South Bay. Recently he has been talking to prospective San Jose City Council candidates David Cortese and Chuck Reed about handling their campaigns. And what about McHugh, who is up for re-election next year? Well, the Vicster reveals that he is organizing an April fundraiser for Primo. But at this point, Ajlouny says, McHugh hasn't decided who will run his campaign next year.

Mainstream Money

Democratic Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren represents, to use the political vernacular, a safe district. Lofgren was so assured of her own victory this fall that she didn't spend one cent on her re-election. She did, however, spend about $90,000 (her estimate) to help other Democrats fend off Republican opponents. This experience gave her the idea (the impeachment hearings later gave her the motivation) to launch a political action committee designed to combat the forces of evil in the future. ... In other words, she plans to use her "Mainstream PAC" to give a financial shot in the arm to Dems going up against vulnerable GOP pachyderms. "I'm doing it," Lofgren declares, "to allow people who want to contribute to take the House back from extremists." ... With the impeachment hearings finally over, Eye has noticed Madame Zoe missing from the TV talk show circuit, where the Judiciary Committee matriarch had became something of a quotable darling. "My 15 minutes of fame are over," she reflects, "and that's fine with me."

Hardy Supe

Inside the county building over at 70 W. Hedding, there has been a consistent buzz that 67-year-old Supervisor Blanca Alvarado wouldn't seek re-election, possibly due to poor health. But a local Democratic Party official tells Eye that Alvarado will be making an announcement soon that she is indeed running again next year. As for her health, several observers have recently commented on how fit she's looking these days. Indeed, Eye has not spotted her nodding off at meetings for quite some time. ... Meanwhile, former District 3 council candidate Tony West, who doesn't rule out a future run for public office, says he wouldn't take on Alvarado. That leaves the McEnery machine--which pushed West--with a talent vacuum. Last go-round the Macster and his minions dug up a total nobody, unemployed househusband Scott Mathieson, to challenge Alvarado--and it was a close race. ... A quick update on Mathieson: Sources tell Eye he has found work as a schoolteacher, presumably not teaching political science.

Jean Pool

San Jose's fearless elected leaders--donning every shade of denim--congregated outside the council chambers before their meeting Tuesday for a quickie press conference to prove that no one's wearing Levi's anymore. (Evidently, there was also something about protesting an Italian judge's opinion that a woman in jeans can't be raped.) Almaden Valley's effete council-lady, Pat Dando, awed the crowd in her snug-fitting Calvin Klein's with black pump sandals. Charlotte Powers donned a pair of weathered Lee jeans that had clearly been in the family for years. "They're my only pair," she confided. Linda LeZotte wore Eddie Bauer's. Alice Woody made the fashion faux pas of wearing brown slacks. Eye couldn't make out the tag on Mayor Ron Gonzales' rear, but his staff assures us he was not wearing Levi's. As far as Eye could tell, only two council folks sported the recently fallen jean wear: Cindy Chavez and John Diquisto. Diquisto's perfectly creased 501s looked as if he'd pit-stopped at Miller's Outpost for lunch. ... Speaking of the council, knowing sources tell Eye that two-time mayoral loser Kathy Napoli is "seriously considering" a run for Powers' District 2 seat in 2000. No word on the jeans in her closet.

Eastside Extra

In anticipation of the April 1 launch of East: The Neighborhood Voice, neophyte newspaper publisher Jason Rodriguez, 22, has assembled a powerful cadre of supporters. The paper will cover east San Jose and is being backed financially by beer pusher Mike Fox, Mexican Heritage Corporation heavy Fernando Zazueta and big enchilada Genaro Guizar, owner of Tacos Al Cabron, er, Carbón. And Rodriguez has some A-list political connections, including his mentor, mayoral chief of staff Jude Barry, and Assemblyman Mike Honda. (Rodriguez once worked as an intern in Honda's office and worked for Barry as a volunteer on Mayor Gonzales' campaign.) The boy-publisher is shooting for a print run of 22,000. Pete Pepper, former CNN and KNTV co-anchor, will serve as editor. "I don't pretend to be a great writer or editorial genius," concedes Rodriguez, who was a marketing major at Santa Clara University. "As far as setting editorial direction, I'll leave that to Pete." Rodriguez did divulge that the new mayor may grace the cover of the first issue but says, "We haven't made a definite decision." Asked if East would ever publish a story critical of the mayor, Rodriguez claims, "I'm willing to do it." One feature that is definitely going to run: Why east San Jose should secede from San Jose.

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From the February 25-March 3, 1999 issue of Metro.

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