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[whitespace] Blood Money

Maybe it's a good thing Keith Honda lost his bid for county supervisor last year. If he had won, he'd be making less moolah right now--$10,400 less, to be exact. As chief of staff for his cousin, Assemblyman Mike Honda, Keith makes $88,800 a year plus benefits. That's more than older cousin Mike makes. Keith's paychecks are also a lot fatter than any of his local counterparts' in the Assembly. Bob Hines, Assemblyman Jim Cunneen's top gatekeeper, earns $70,008. Liz Fenton, chief staffer for Assemblywoman Liz Figueroa, draws $65,004 annually. Paul Smith gets $54,600 a year to be Ted Lempert's staff lieutenant. Devin Brown grosses $50,604 as cowboy Pete Frusetta's deputy. Honda's salary even tops that of Rand Martin, state Sen. John Vasconcellos' trusty sidekick and eight-year Capitol veteran, who makes a comparatively paltry $68,064. ... Hondito tells Eye he feels justified making the money he does. For one thing, he's a lawyer and could be making hella cash if he were chasing emergency vehicles. Moreover, having run for elected office gives him a political perspective that most staffers don't have, he deduces. "I like the pressure. You can make me the No. 1 guy, and I'll get up and go to work and prove I'm worth it. ... I'd say I'm one of the top 10 people [working for the Legislature]." Pay-wise, among the approximately 1,100 Assembly employees, he's in the top 25. ... Being the best-paid dude among his peers is nothing new to the younger Honda. When he was Supervisor Honda's chief of staff, he pulled in more dough than any aide on the 10th floor of the county building. Speaking of county aides, here are the annual salaries for the supervisors' five chiefs of staff: Rachel Richman, $70,000 (Supervisor Jim Beall); Mike McInerney, $65,000 (Supe Pete McHugh); Sylvia Gallegos, $63,650 (Chair Blanca Alvarado); John Gibbs, $62,000 (Supe Don Gage); Michelle Poche, $60,000 (Supe Joe Simitian).

Debt Lag

Local sheriff's elections don't attract big money from campaign donors. There's just not enough influence to buy. The sheriff doesn't have any direct say over land-use decisions, so developers--the biggest political bankrollers in the South Bay--don't routinely give campaigning cops any cash. Departing Sheriff Chuck Gillingham knows all about such fundraising woes. He spent money out of pocket and took out loans for his 1994 re-election bid. In order to deal with the lingering debt from the 1994 campaign, Gillingham held a big fundraiser at Spring Valley Golf Course in the fall. The result: He barely raised enough to cover the cost of hosting the event, and the campaign still reports a debt of $82,613. (The event coordinator was Assistant Sheriff Tom Sing, who hopefully will demonstrate better fundraising skills in his current quest for Gillingham's job.) But Gillingham's hard-luck days might be over now that he's running for San Jose City Council and can hit up developers for money. After a bit of prodding, Gillingham acknowledged that he would probably ask developers, among others, to help retire the old campaign debt from his lawman days. "I'm sure I probably will. I'll take money from anybody," he jokes. At least Eye hopes he's joking.

Friend of Bill

Santa Clara County Assessor Larry Stone had been a booster of Bill Clinton long before the country had ever heard of Monica Lewinsky, or Gennifer Flowers, for that matter. Stone's office walls are adorned with pictures of him shaking hands with the president. This week Stone and other Bay Area Democrats including Willie Brown organized a special $500-a-head reception for the Man From Hope at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco. The occasion: a fundraiser to help elect California Democrats to Congress. "I'd like to think they invited me because I was an early supporter of Clinton's," Stone muses, "but it's really because I can raise money." ... Stone wasn't so warmly greeted by his fellow Democrats earlier in the week at the annual Jefferson-Jackson dinner at the San Jose Hyatt. When the MC announced Stone's name the crowd booed. Stone says it's an old tradition to boo the tax assessor. "I don't feel comfortable unless I'm booed. I used to boo [former Assessor] Al Carlson unmercifully." ... Sitting next to Stone at the Hyatt that night was ex-Supervisor Rod Diridon. According to Stone, despite numerous opportunities, Almighty Rod stoically refused to clap one time for his arch rival and onetime colleague, mayoral wannabe Ron Gonzales.

Turnaround? Not

Did ex-Sunnyvale Mayor Frances Rowe do a 180 after the last time we talked to her? Eye-watchers may recall that Rowe vowed not to settle a complaint against her for violating state campaign laws without having a chance to cross-examine her accusers. Since we last spoke, Frannie agreed to pay the Fair Political Practices Commission a $28,000 fine. But Rowe insists that doesn't mean she has settled. It's all part of her new strategy. Apparently, lawyers for the city quashed Rowe's subpoenas of assistant city manager Amy Chan and deputy city clerk Carol Butler, ruining Rowe's hope to get them on the stand. Now Fran hopes the five-member commission will come to her rescue at an upcoming meeting when it's supposed to ratify the settlement agreement. "I'm hoping that they turn down my $28,000 and demand more information. This way, they will be initiating the hearing, and I will then be able to question witnesses without the city being able to step in and quash subpoenas." It's a long shot, but Eye wishes her the best of luck. One piece of good news: Fran was able to get the FPPC to release an uncensored version of its investigation log for her case. "It's all a conspiracy," she assures us.

Wake Me For The Suspense

The interesting news isn't necessarily whom the Police Officers Association is endorsing in the mayor's race--as expected, they gave the nod to Pat Dando--but that they didn't even bother to interview or wait for Frank Fiscalini. The cops aren't the only ones not waiting around for Fiscalini to make up his mind. The firefighters also decided to get on with their endorsement proceedings. Even Frank's old friend Murphy Sabatino is backing Dando. The implicit message: Few really believe Fiscalini will run for mayor again. One adroit insider suspects that Fiscalini's propagandist, Joe Guerra, is trying to capture a couple of headlines for his boss and build up suspense about whom he'll endorse. We'll know for sure on March 7, the day after the filing deadline. Oh, yes--as for Fiscalini's endorsement, the inside skinny is that it probably won't be going to Dando.

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From the February 26-March 4, 1998 issue of Metro.

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