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I Can't Recall: Green Party guru Peter Camejo says he'll support Gray Davis, at least until May.

Public Eye

Gray Area

It almost seems as if the Davis Recall Committee has a legitimate campaign now that Secretary of State Kevin Shelley has certified the group's petition to fire newly re-elected Gov. Gray Davis. But the key word here is almost. Legitimacy comes hard, it seems, for a campaign that has no historical precedence of success. Indeed, no effort to recall an elected California governor has ever made it to the state's ballot. While proponents of a Davis-recall campaign now have 160 days to collect close to 1 million signatures, they already admit the any effort will come primarily from grassroots levels--conservative talk radio, perhaps some direct mail and what proponents term an "intensive anti-Davis fervor." (Davis, the San Francisco Chronicle divulges, dismisses the effort as "sour grapes.") However, not only does the campaign lack support from big-shot California Republicans and the resources of any professional signature collectors, but Green Party frontman Peter Camejo has also pulled his support for a signature campaign--at least until May-- although recall organizers say they never spoke with the Greens in the first place. Early in March, Camejo was reportedly considering organizing disillusioned Democrats and independents to attack Davis from the other side. The Greens, onlookers noted, would have been a valuable ally for the conservatives: not only would they have brought their traditional grassroots know-how, but according to a GOP strategist, Davis, faced with battle cries from the right and the left, would have had a tougher time demonizing the recall as conservative grousing. Meanwhile, Ted Costa, head of the recall-organizing, anti-tax group People's Advocate, was happy to report that the campaign may be close to being upgraded from grassroots to professional. Citing the pending involvement of a professional signature collector whom he would not name, he says: "I could say it's grassroots right now. Every signature that comes in is grassroots, but once the pros hit the streets ... we have a professional operator who knows the area coordinators--then I figure 7,000 to 10,000 signatures a day." And finally, the cost of a recall election to the taxpayers? Here, both Democrats and Republicans agree that the effort will probably be somewhere in the $25 million range. "But the states goes in debt $29 million a day," Costa contends. "He [Davis] does nothing about that."

SARS & Stripes

Having to compete with the war in Iraq for media/public attention, the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization are stepping up efforts to freak people out on the health front. They've got just the thing in SARS, the mysterious and contagious Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome that manifests itself in a high fever and other fluish symptoms and ends up killing 3.5 percent of the people who get it. Why just Tuesday, April Fool's Day, right here in San Jo' the pilot of American Airlines Flight 128 from Tokyo had the air traffic equivalent of a cow because a handful of first-class people were rumored to be developing signs of SARS during the 10-hour ride from Japan. The pilot got permission to land the 125-passenger craft in a "remote" part of Norm Mineta San Jose Airport, says airport spokesperson Jaclin Cordes (which Eye takes to mean Long Term Parking). The 14-member crew trapped unhappy passengers on board for about two hours while frantic newshounds clogged the airport PR phone lines and health officials boarded wearing surgical masks. American Airlines spokesperson Todd Burke said three passengers were taken to Valley Medical Center but no cases of SARS have been confirmed and all other passengers were released from aircraft confinement. Meanwhile, the above mentioned health agencies are joining others in sending out scary alerts about the dangers of catching SARS from international travelers. The state guv patted everyone on the back for their SARS crisis intervention, and admonished those afflicted to wear surgical masks and the rest of us to wash our hands more. Be afraid.


The Santa Clara County Democratic Central Committee's annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner successfully lured nearly all of the Silicon Valley top donkeys last week, including U.S. Reps Mike Honda (D-San Jose), Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose) and Anna Eshoo (D-Palo Alto), by guest starring longtime legislator Don Edwards and honoring respected party legend and godmom Madge Overhouse (who was recently diagnosed with cancer). "It was our best year ever," DCC main man and dinner organizer Steve Preminger tells Eye. "We honored two beloved Democrats--people [about whom] I think there was an absolute consensus [they] deserved the recognition." Eye's spies noticed that a side effect of such an exuberant turnout of politicians was some serious grabbiness over the microphone.

The trying-too-hard award, though, went to neighboring Congressman Sam Farr (D-Monterey), who jested that he showed up at the dinner not quite sure who Edwards was but well aware of Overhouse. The only problem was that Farr called her "Madge Overstreet," who Eye thinks might have been the woman on the Palmolive dishwashing liquid commercial ("You're soaking in it."). Anyhoo, the moment passed quickly as State Controller Steve Westly rose to the podium to bestow the title of "second mom" on the beaming and clearly much loved "Overstreet." It was, of course, no surprise to seasoned political scenesters that the nine Dems on the San Jose City Council showed up and that token Republican Councilmember Pat Dando didn't. However, the fact that Mayor and supposed Democrat Ron Gonzales flaked inspired murmurs. Spokesguy David Vossbrink said the mayor had "other commitments." Another shocker to some: Deputy District Attorney Jim Shore, who's rumored to favor elephants over donkeys at the political party zoo, crashed. Perhaps Dando will partake of the festivities next year, too, and the parties can just go ahead and merge once and for all and stop this ridiculous charade of partisanship. Eye's spies swore they heard San Jose Councilmembers Terry Gregory and Cindy Chavez chanting "one of us, one of us."

Got Balls?

Woohoo! It's spring ball-game season again, and this year marks the debut of the Savoy Women's Softball League for lesbians, courtesy of Santa Clara's Club Savoy. The league's very long mission statement begins, "To provide a safe, fun, social atmosphere for lesbians and their friends to play organized slow-pitch softball," according to an email sent by league commissioner Tori Eakes. Gay folks have been playing softball for years. The North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance held its 26th world series game last year. But homophobia still rules mainstream professional sports. For instance, professional baseball players would have Americans believe that not only is there no crying in baseball, there's no homosexuality in it either ... hmmmm. But Eye figures anytime a ball game brings the fun home for people who are traditionally last (or not) picked for a team, an angel gets its wings. All women are invited to play in the league, even nonlesbians. The league kicks off its spring season on Monday, April 7, at 6pm in San Jose's Mise Park. For more info, go to www.hometown.aol.com/gotourgameon.

Polling Dum Dums

Eye would like to survey readers with this question: If an opinion poll targets confused people, should anyone pay attention to its results? Some think that, yes, stupid polls need the most attention. For example, on Sunday, March 30, the San Jose Mercury News reported that 78 percent of the country supports the war (while only 48 percent of Silicon Valley respondents are for it). That's a gigantic majority of people in the country backing the war in Iraq. But who are these folks? And should we really trust them? Oddly, the Merc failed to mention a bit of knowledge gained only a few months back. A mid-January opinion poll done by the Princeton Survey Research Associates, as reported by Salon.com in February, suggested that "whatever support there is for a war against Iraq, it owes much to the erroneous belief of at least half of the American people that it was Saddam Hussein's operatives who flew the planes into the World Trade Center and Pentagon." It seems relevant to note here that Knight Ridder, the chain that owns San Jose's own Mercury News, actually commissioned the Princeton survey.

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From the April 3-9, 2003 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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