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A Real Trooper: SJ Council waters down antiwar message to rally patriots.

Public Eye

Warp and Peace

Daddy and San Jose Councilmember Chuck Reed was relieved last week after receiving word from his Air Force fighter pilot daughter Kim Campbell, who's currently abroad in Kuwait. "She said there's not much she can say now, but they're doing some good things," Reed reports, vaguely, adding that he's been getting up at 4am to listen to the war news. Reed's the only member of the San Jose City Council with a kid fighting in Iraq. But he's just one of the 11 electeds who unanimously approved an antiwar nonresolution in place of the peace message a hundred-plus other cities have sent to Washington. Mayor Ron Gonzales mentioned Reed's daughter "on active duty in Kuwait" in his introductory remarks before the council voted on the sort-of resolution. Instead of simply opposing the United States' military action against Iraq, as the city's Human Rights Commission had recommended, Gonzo wanted to "emphasize what unified us rather than what divides us," he said. Santa Clara County's supervisors (with conservative Don Gage abstaining) passed a resolution that argues "no conclusive evidence has been presented that Iraq has intentions of harming the people of this country or that Iraq presents a threat the United States." Los Angeles' resolution adds the depressing thought that "the Congressional Budget Office estimates a military action against Iraq will cost the taxpayers of the nation between $9 billion and $13 billion a month, likely resulting in further cuts in federally funded projects ..." San Jose councilmembers, on the other hand, basically offered an innocuous ode to patriotism. "Although it wasn't as strong a resolution as we had hoped for," says Julie Callahan, a member of South Bay Mobilization to Stop the War, who admits to being a bit annoyed, "we still feel it was a cry for peace and a hope to avoid war." The city leaders' message? They support the troops, are concerned about war and favor democracy.

Casing the Race

Sen. Barbara Boxer is going about her daily business--making sure her name is associated with supporting the troops and begging for more federal money so Gov. Gray Davis can plant extra terrorism-seeking CIA and FBI agents in California. Meanwhile, rumor has it, former Los Altos Mayor and three-term City Councilmember Toni Casey is telling her buds in the political arena that she wants to go up against the senator in the next election. Boxer's second term is up in 2004. Casey didn't return Eye's call to confirm this ambitious plan. But behind-the-scenesters say she's trying to find moral support from her friends. She'll need more than that to defeat a Democratic incumbent from the giant left-wing state of California. Furthermore, Boxer has consistently gotten high marks from liberal interest groups on buzz issues like abortion and civil rights. But Casey isn't one to stick with the herd. (If by herd you mean Democrats.) After all, the Virginia native who picked up two master's degrees from Stanford in 1974 switched alliances from New Dem to Republican. At one point, toward the end of former President Bill Clinton's last term, he invited Casey and other local notable Dems to the White House for dinner. (Clinton possibly didn't realize at the time that Casey was also a delegate to the Republican National Convention that year.) Subsequently, fightin' President G.W. Bush appointed the turncoat Casey to head up the U.S. Small Business Administration's Intergovernmental Affairs Office in D.C. Word has it that Friday, March 21, was her last day there. This frees her up to give her career plans a good hard think. And if it turns out that Casey can't whip up enough support to battle Boxer for her seat, Eye would like to reassure her that other opportunities exist. One tip: Boxer is looking to hire an assistant for her San Francisco office. "Working knowledge of federal public policy issues is desired but not required," according to her help-wanted ad on Craigslist.

Snark Alert

Larry Stone, who must be among the most politically jazzed tax assessors ever, is sounding off again. This time, it's a pleasure to report that Eye is somewhat responsible for the Stone incident. "I was delighted to read in the Metro that SEIU 715 has taken a position in favor of performance evaluations," Stone wrote in a snarky memo to 715 union guys Gabriel Hernandez and Brian O'Neill. Stone refers to the item last week about the Service Employees International Union Local 715 filing an unfair-practice complaint against Santa Clara County's Housing Authority ("Ready, Aim, Fire," March 20). "While performance evaluations cannot be used for promotions, discipline or transfers, I guess it is acceptable now to use them to oppose workforce reductions for senior employees!" Stone's point is that for years the union has opposed his efforts to subject county staff to evaluations. Now union organizers are using good evaluations to rally support for their cause. Hernandez says Stone is taking the performance evaluation reference out of context. The real issue is about unfair layoffs in the housing authority, he says.

Free at Last?

Eye loves to gloat and this time there's actually a good reason for it. Glen William "Buddy" Nickerson, the guy who has now spent 18 years in jail for two 1984 murders that he probably didn't commit, was freed from San Quentin last week. His release came two years after Metro ran a feature story ("Buddy and the System," Feb. 15, 2001) about the county's tangled, corrupt and expensive obsession with imprisoning Nickerson for slaying San Jose crank dealer John Evans and his half-brother Mickie King, even though there was no physical evidence linking him to the crime. The1987 conviction had plenty going against it. Alibi witnesses said Nickerson was passed out drunk at the time the victims were killed across town. Two sheriff's investigators who worked on Nickerson's case were caught lying under oath. Even would-be prosecutor Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Charles Constantinides, who begged off the case because of a conflict of interest, said Nickerson didn't do it. Also bolstering Nickerson's release was the fact that police arrested and convicted a fourth suspect named in Metro's story, William Jahn, last year. U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel overturned Nickerson's conviction, citing police misconduct, and U.S. Magistrate Judge Bernard Zimmerman followed suit and released Nickerson on a $250,000 bond. At the time Metro did his story, Nickerson viewed his release as a long shot, and told his attorneys, "Don't worry, the only way I'll die here [in prison] is if they let me out. I'll probably have a heart attack." Eye hopes this one part of the story does not turn out to be true. Ditto for rumors that prosecutors may seek to retry his case.

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From the March 27-April 2, 2003 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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