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[whitespace] Ship Shape? Mayoral Skipper Pat Dando christened her campaign this week with the help of Little Buddy Erik Schoennauer.

S.S. Dando

It was a three-hour tour, but because of the unexpected absence of El Niño, the weather didn't get rough and the tiny bus didn't get tossed. We speak not of Gilligan's Island, but of Pat Dando's campaign kickoff this Monday, where the mayoral aspirant took a handful of reporters on a guided tour of San Jose, featuring a few of her pet causes. ... San Jose cops certainly turned out to be helpful members of Dando's fearless crew. San Jose Police Officers' Association prez Jim Tomaino and POA chief financial officer Jeff Ricketts drove in a marked city cop car to make the first stop of the tour at the Family Violence Law Center. Tomaino says that Ricketts, who was on duty at the time, was simply his ride, "so no big deal." Though Ricketts didn't utter a partisan peep, he did get introduced to reporters and stood dutifully by Tomaino while the POA boss sang Dando's praises for the cameras. Tomaino wasn't the only cop hailing candidate Dando that day. Later on the tour, at a school truancy center, uniformed S.J. cop K. Duncan made a surprise appearance and credited Dando for "waking up" her council colleagues about the program's need for a computer system. After inquiries by Eye, police spokesman Chris Moore said that the department plans to remind officers of its policy "not to involve themselves in political campaigns while they're on duty." ... Meanwhile, Dando's campaign manager, Erik Schoennauer, came sporting a new moustache, the first in his young life. Explains Schoennauer, "It's my game beard, but since I can't grow a beard, I grew a moustache. I don't plan to shave it until we win the election." Eye surmises this will be good for several thousand votes. ... Asked if there will be a spot in the Dando administration reserved for second shipmate David Pandori, the Patster predicted that her lawyerly bud would be leaving public life at the end of this year looking for a better-paying job in the private sector.


Gonzo's Island

While Dando was conducting her three-hour tour, mayoral opponent Ron Gonzales invited 500 of his closest friends to his campaign kickoff at Lincoln High School this week. Gonzo's campaign got a shot in the arm the day before his balloon-and-tie affair when Mayor Susan Hammer conveniently announced her support for him, something Eye predicted long ago. Interestingly, Hammer didn't wait for Frank Fiscalini, her council ally who has been waffling for two years and has until Friday to make up his mind. ...Power attorney and arts maven Phil Hammer, Susan's hubby, took time off from his law practice last week to honor his civic obligations for jury duty and to expand his legal horizons. "It was fascinating," said SJ's First Spouse, who served on a jury in an assault case several years ago. "Even though they estimated it to be a two-week case, I was interested in participating." He almost made the team, but was cut by week's end.


Agnews Split

Is there a plot to to destabilize the campaign to save Agnews from the clutches of Sun Microsystems? That's what former Santa Clara mayor and Agnews Preservation & Open Space Committee chief Eddie Souza is wondering aloud these days. Months ago Eye reported that there were personality clashes within the Agnews committee, which has since split into different camps--Souza on one side, and community activists Deborah Bress and Shirley Odou on the other. Souza accuses Bress of being a subcontractor for Sun, which she emphatically denies; and in the past, Souza recalls, Odou has supported his political opponents. Fast Eddie also suspects that two unannounced Santa Clara City Council candidates are trying to screw with him because they think he's going to run again (he says he's not). ... Conspiracy or no, the split among preservationists doesn't help in the battle to save Agnews. But at least Bress and Souza agree (even if they can't stand each other): As long as the other is saying "save Agnews," it doesn't matter who the messenger is.


No, Niño, No!

One would think that a week of sunshine would bring a respite from months of the Merc and the mainstream media's interminable El Niño coverage. Not so. Just as the rain ended and the sun came out last week the Merc began flexing its creative muscles to fill the news hole. Frank Sweeney kicked it off with 30 inches of storm post-mortem padded with rainfall statistics. His conclusion? Nope, no rain today and none expected until at least next week! ... But lest we forget that we are indeed in the middle of a bona fide natural disaster, the Merc picked up a story from the New York Times for our daily dose of weather drama. Tornadoes took out a trailer park in Kissimmee, Fla., killing 38. Sure, Florida's far away, but we can all relate, since that storm was "El Niño-driven" too. ... To be fair, the weather phenomenon known as "El Niño" only happens once every 12 years. Merc editors should be commended for exhausting every possible angle on the story. Merc reporter Jack Fischer enterprised with a feature on San Luis Obispo County resident Alfonso "Al" Niño. On Thursday we learned that surfers love El Niño's big waves. Uh-oh, wrote John Woolfolk, El Niño is making the beaches smaller. ... Panicked that the skies might clear up before he could eke out his last scrap of El Niño material, columnist Murry Frymer gave us a salty interview with Noah, trying to fool us into believing he actually called someone for a story. ... The Merc did miss one angle that the Chronicle dredged up from the story gutter: Rainstorm veterans in Washington state think weather-wimp Californians are all wet, the Chron informed readers. One also wonders what KNTV and other Bay Area affiliates will do when they can't send their spot reporters out in slickers to do their best Dan Rather-in-the-tornado impression.


Also-Rans

First came the phone call from dark-horse downtown City Council candidate Philip Reynolds. While he liked a recent item about District 3 candidates Tony West and Cindy Chavez, Reynolds reminded Eye that he is also in the race. Then came another "spontaneous" call from "Steve," who was confused by the same item because he thought there was another candidate in the downtown competition. Then came another call. And another. OK, people. One unsolicited call, maybe. Four to five of them, that's the work of campaign shills. Aside from Reynolds, the other suspects behind the calls are candidates Ray Moreno, whose signs are starting to pop up around town, and David S. Wall, a guy who's very cranky about the city raising garbage fees. If Eye left anybody else out, please call the Mercury News.


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From the March 5-11, 1998 issue of Metro.

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