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[whitespace] The Fly

Voss, The Sequel

It's been a long, circuitous road, but ED VOSS is back on the campaign trail.

After a campaign finance scandal involving one of his campaign volunteers, Voss lost the District 7 race to TERRY GREGORY by 20 points in 2002. Gregory proved to be as unskilled at handling his office as he was his personal finances, finally resigning in January under an avalanche of criticism over gifts he'd accepted. Every time Gregory made headlines with another setback while in office—a DUI conviction, failing to pay a charity auction for a golf bag—Voss's phone would ring from supporters hoping he'd run again for the south-central district. Voss didn't think it was a good idea. The election had taken too much out of him, he says. Even when he appeared on KLIV-AM about the time Gregory resigned, Voss sounded like a candidate whose time had passed. But his friends persisted, causing Voss to cave several weeks ago. This week, he officially became a candidate, joining a crowded field of a dozen others. Is he worried about the indiscretions associated with his 2002 campaign? No, he says. He was never implicated or found guilty of orchestrating the four primary-season mail-outs directed by his campaign handler DAVID GARRETSON JR., GEORGE SHIRAKAWA's former chief of staff. Garretson and Emami each received $5,000 fines for the ads, which amounted to a $20,000 illegal expenditure. Voss likely won't receive an endorsement from the Chamber of Commerce as he did in 2002. He says he doesn't want it anyway. "This is a grassroots campaign," he declared. "We're trying to put the process back in the hands of the community."

Closed Door Policy

It was with an anxious heart that Fly traveled to what it considered would be a watershed moment in the history of the East Side Union High School District. Board trustee MANUEL HERRERA had agreed to meet with teachers of Andrew Hill High School, ostensibly to discuss the reasons the school wanted to bail out of East Side Union and become their own charter school. Teachers agreed not to ambush Herrera by hiding a reporter in the back of the room. Against Fly's better judgment, Herrera was told a member of the media was present. The news did not sit well with the 15-year board member. He announced he'd had bad experiences with the media, experiences that would prevent him from being fully candid at the meeting. In that case, one of the teachers said, maybe the reporter should leave. At which point, this columnist departed Andrew Hill's cafeteria, notebook empty. But that's not the end of the story. Two days after Fly's humiliation, we received an email detailing what Herrera was too wary to discuss in our presence. First, Herrera displayed his own fascination with transparent government by whipping out a tape recorder. He read from a prepared statement for 20 minutes, then read letters of praise for Superintendent ESPERANZA ZENDEJAS, whom some Andrew Hill teachers openly detest. Efforts to cut off Herrera failed. He rambled on for about 45 minutes. Then he defended the board's decision to give Zendejas a $400,000 loan to buy a house and a $225,000 annual salary as "market realities." Herrera did agree to support Andrew Hill's decision to go charter if "a genuine proposal is developed." "That's just what we're going to do," says one teacher. "The Andrew Hill pirate flag still waves." And so does the spirit of the First Amendment.

The Lieber Factor

Word is circulating that District 7 candidate BUU THAI might have trouble convincing voters to back her election in the June special primary. The reason? Her boss, Assemblywoman SALLY LIEBER, endorsed KATHY CHAVEZ NAPOLI in the District 23 Assembly race against JOE COTO, the former high school superintendent who is supposedly popular with East Side voters and organized labor leaders. Thai, a legislative aide specializing in housing growth and women's issues, says she hasn't received negative feedback for her employment with Lieber, and doesn't expect any since she only began working in the District 22 office in October. Thai says she's already picked up the endorsement of the Vietnamese-American Leadership Council after a four-hour community forum March 6 at the MLK Library. Two other Vietnamese candidates, MADISON NGUYEN and LINDA NGUYEN (who aren't related to each other) did not attend the forum, however.

Dorm Duty

It's too soon to call San Jose State's massive dorm project a success, but signs are pointing to the three buildings coming in on time and on budget. Workers are expected to move furniture into the seven-story freshman dorm next week with the 15-story upperclassman dorm and the faculty and staff dorm not far behind. University officials seem to have thought of everything in constructing the three buildings, known as the Campus Village. Cable, Internet and phone are included with the rent, though a $75 per month parking fee seems cruel and unusual. There are garbage rooms on every floor, and areas have been set aside for foosball and vending machines. Freshmen rents are only $674 per month but students must buy a $400 meal plan. Rooms are a little small, but the windows are large; most rooms facing west have an excellent view of downtown. The question now becomes whether the dorms will be full next semester or whether the $244 million San Jose State spent—one of CSU's largest projects in years—will have paid for a boondoggle. More than 400 students have already inquired about living in the Campus Village even though the official sign-in period isn't until April 1. If the dorms fill up with students, there's still a question of whether faculty and staff will want to live in dorms 200 feet from a building full of freshmen.


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From the March 9-15, 2005 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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

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