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[whitespace] Jay T. Harris Electric T: Powerful publisher Jay T. Harris is a boardmember of the Silicon Valley Manufacturing Group. But you wouldn't know it from a recent 'Merc' story.


Public Eye

Manufacturing News

REPORTERS at the local journal of fairness and accuracy who broke that big story about the Silicon Valley Manufacturing Group's endorsement of the Calpine power plant didn't have to walk far to get the news. ("Big Industry Backs Big Power"--now that's a story!) The meeting breathlessly reported in last Friday's San Jose Mercury News went down just steps away from the newsroom at 750 Ridder Park Drive. Only our journalistic colleagues, in what was undoubtedly an unfortunate oversight, omitted mention of that little factoid. . . . Maybe that got dropped off with the line noting that the Merc is a member of the man-group, or that Publisher Jay T. Harris sits on the board of directors for SVMG, dubbed as "the region's most powerful industry group" by enthusiastic scribe Noam Levey in his report. Maybe the local Woodward, famous for breathlessly reporting every intimate detail of the mayor's love emails to his sweetie, just didn't have room to disclose that orgy of interconnection amid his poetic prose about power plays between Calpine and its cheering section and its opponents. Does the public have a legitimate interest in knowing about Jay T.'s "power" plays? After all, the Merc's own millennium study called him one of the valley's most powerful dudes. An SVMG spokesmouth, who declined to say whether, and how, the Merc's head honcho voted, apparently doesn't think such details are for public consumption. . . . According to Merc city editor Bert Robinson, omitting the location was not some kind of conspiracy or anything. He says he didn't remove that information from the original story. "I'm not sure that the reporter was aware that it took place here," the baffled editor swears. "It was not a conscious decision to leave it out, and it probably would have been a good thing to include." After asking whether the article mentioned paycheck signer Harris' board position, Robinson added, "That would have been a good thing to include, too."

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Final Words: Mercury News publisher Jay T. Harris' last email to his staff, and the response from Knight Ridder CEO Tony Ridder.

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Duck 'N' Cover

A new voter-approved campaign finance law recently forced state Sen. Bruce McPherson (R-Gilroy) to cancel his annual check-collecting party during the star-studded Pebble Beach pro golf tourney. McPherson had reportedly sent out invites and all before realizing new rules under Prop. 34 prohibited lame ducks like himself (and other local final-term lawmakers like John Vasconcellos and Byron Sher) from gathering wallet cabbage. But McPherson didn't give up his pursuit for justice and cash--he introduced SB 34, a bill that would have eliminated Prop. 34's provision banning fundraising by termed-out lawmakers. And it appears as if pressure from campaign-finance reformers has inspired McPherson--who many insiders believe has aspirations for statewide political office--to drop the bill. Among those clucking at McPherson's bill was Democratic political consultant Richie Ross, who suggested that McP might be looking ahead to a race with his current client, Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante. McPherson's reaction? Hurt. Very, very hurt. "To get set up like this is an under-the-table kind of thing and is pretty outrageous and disappointing to me." he told the Santa Cruz Sentinel, the paper his family once owned, and the same paper that characterized him in an editorial as a "Republican with clout." So what was McPherson's rationale for SB 34? "There are office expenses of some types that can't be covered in state budgets."

Zoe, It Ain't So

As reported first in this space last week, Zoe Lofgren's name was being bandied about as a possible challenger to San Jose Mayor Ron Gonzales in 2002. Zoe conveniently managed to avoid returning phone calls to Eye, and then, later, to Roll Call and also the Mercury News before each journal's deadlines. Conclusion: Lofgren let the wags party on until she decided to deflate the trial balloon. Which she did in a letter to Roll Call--not the fine journalistic product you presently hold in your paws--in spite of the fact this non-Beltway rag reported the rumor first. "I do not intend to run for Mayor of San Jose. I am wholly committed to my service in Congress," she wrote. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Despite her protests, the judicious judiciary committee member had plenty of time to snuff the story. Instead, Lofgren kept quiet. At some point she had to put a stop to all that irresponsible chatter lest it harm her House committee assignments and the Nightline time that comes with them. . . . Postscript: Labor leaders say that in spite of the story floated in the Chronicle this weekend, union boss Amy Dean won't run for mayor either. South Bay Labor flak Christina Uribe swears, "We don't know where that came from. No one has even talked to her [Dean] about it."

Junior League

Talk about good planning. Santa Clara City Councilboy Rod Diridon Jr., a longtime 3Com government affairs handler, announced his plan to leave the ailing networking equipment company one week before it announced it would lay off 1,200 employees. Roddy insists he was not a pink-slip victim. In fact, he claims he'd been plotting to start his own "community relations" consulting company, creatively called The Diridon Group. Junior won't name his new clients so Eye can make fun of them. He promises he won't be lobbying government agencies including his own city council colleagues. By the by, Roddy--who confesses he's thinking about running for the Assembly seat now occupied by lame duck incumbent Elaine Alquist--says he's confident the district will still exist after the lines are redrawn next year. "That's the word I get from Sacramento," Junior whispers.

Line Drawing

This past week, the city of San Jose's council redistricting committee met for the first time. There were plenty of familiar faces to be seen: Former councilmembers Trixie Johnson, Charlotte Powers and Susanne Wilson, and Frank Fiscalini, the committee chairman, were among the brood. By the by, both Powers and Fiscalini are now working as "consultants," a euphemism for lobbyists. Also on the committee: Soon-to-be-official-lobbyist Tony Arreola, a one-time senior mayoral staffer who resigned last year to become a "land-use consultant." Arreola, who was appointed by Mayor Ron Gonzales, just has one hitch in his appointment: He doesn't actually live in San Jose. Arreola and his family occupy a home in an unincorporated county pocket of the East Side. According to Chief Deputy City Attorney Norm Sato, appointees to the commission don't need to live within the city of San Jose, but only need to "live within the district." Geographically speaking, Arreola does live within the district, even if he can't vote in city elections. "If you're a good lobbyist," one wag theorizes, "it doesn't matter where you live."

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From the March 15-21, 2001 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2001 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

For more information about the San Jose/Silicon Valley area, visit sanjose.com.




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