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[whitespace] Gray Hound: Gov. Gray Davis' promise of big money for transportation improvements ignited a feud among Santa Clara County politicians.

Public Eye

Wish Rift

THIS WEEK Gov. Gray Davis is expected to announce a plan giving $1 billion for transportation improvements in Silicon Valley. Not a bad take in the guv' s $5 billion transpo-project free-for-fall. But local public officials are privately grousing about nearly getting screwed over by the county's reps on the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, Supervisor Jim Beall and Santa Clara City Councilman John McLemore. At last week's MTC meeting, McLemore made a motion--supported by Beall--to ask the governor for $220 million for county highway and transit projects not included in the MTC staff recommendation. What irked local politicos, though, were the pet projects Beall and McLemore didn't mention that appeared on the wish list unanimously supported by the Valley Transportation Authority board of directors the night before. Among the missing items: $150 million for light rail on the East Side, championed by Supervisor and VTA chair Blanca Alvarado; $33 million for widening Hwy. 101 in south county, a favorite of Gilroy Supervisor Don Gage; $80 million for a connection from the airport to light rail, a project deemed of great importance by San Jose Mayor Ron Gonzales. After word of what happened at the MTC meeting spread, Alvarado, Gage and Gonzales signed and sent a letter to Davis "informing" the governor of their support for VTA's unexpurgated project list. Though the letter didn't mention MTC, insiders say the trio's displeasure with the regional commission and their local reps was clearly in the subtext. "The feeling was," reveals a perturbed San Jose transporting wonk, "that the VTA board scrambled to reach consensus, only to have the people who represent this area [Beall and McLemore] decide on their own which projects to [advocate]." One county wag put it more bluntly: "VTA had one set of priorities, Jim apparently had another." In fairness, Beall and McLemore are only two of 16 votes on the regional commission. Caroline Judy, Beall's new chief of staff, points out that 37 percent of MTC's funding requests to the governor were for Santa Clara County. "That's a pretty good percentage," Judy asserts, "when you've got nine [Bay Area] counties vying for funding."

A final post-script: If news reports are accurate, the guv will announce Thursday his plan to earmark $760 million to bring BART to San Jose. The irony is that MTC and VTA asked for only $42 million and has some politicos grumbling about the process, which arguably puts politics over planning. City Hall sources say Mayor Gonzales, who had his own agenda, quietly negotiated with Davis and his staff during the whole VTA-MTC skirmish. "It's all funny money," observes McLemore, who quickly adds, "but we're happy with whatever we get."

Feeling Fined

Rosegarden resident Dr. Kenneth Hayes is still bristling about a $25 parking ticket he received and the temporary 'no parking' signs posted on the I-880 overpass on Park Avenue which conspicuously disappeared after the election. Hayes, hubby of former Mayor Janet Gray Hayes, thinks the disappearance is no more of a coincidence than the decision to place the signs there in the first place. And now he's fighting a $25 parking ticket, which he says was politically motivated. ... Eye-watchers will recall that the Hayeses were the top proponents of Measure O, the Airport Traffic Relief Act, which voters rejected. During the campaign, Hayes borrowed a truck from a friend and hung a 6-by-12 banner on it saying, "Traffic Relief--Yes on O." Hayes insists that vehicles with ads have parked there for months, if not years, without fear of being slapped with a parking ticket. But when Hayes parked his truck there with his campaign banner, the city--whose expansionist-friendly leaders opposed Measure O--suddenly decided to issue tickets. ... As it turns out, this wasn't a coincidence. Expansionista Steve Tedesco, president of the Chamber of Commerce, tells Eye that the No on O campaign manager complained to city parking police about Hayes' mobile billboard being illegally parked. Tedesco defends snitching to the cops. "If he [Ken Hayes] got a parking ticket there," Tedesco reasons, "then he was parked illegally. ... If the other campaign is doing something illegal, it's fair game for us to report them." Hayes is now fighting the ticket and asking for an impartial arbitrator or judge--instead of a city hearing officer--to hear his case.

Eclectic Co.

It's no secret that there's plenty of negative energy between Calpine Corp., which wants to build a power plant with Bechtel in Coyote Valley, and Cisco Systems. For the uninformed, Cisco, which wants to build a $1 billion research campus in Coyote Valley, recently went public with its desire to see the plug pulled on the proposed power plant. Privately, Calpine advocates grumble that Cisco is trying to suck up to Santa Teresa neighborhood activists, who adamantly oppose the plant. Sneers one Calpine hired gun, "They [Cisco officials] felt like they had to buy off the neighbors, because they knew they were going to get opposition from the environmentalists." True or not, the local chapters of the Sierra Club and the Audubon Society are opposing the Cisco proposal and are filing their written concerns with the city this week in connection with the project's environmental impact report. "It's a disaster," exclaims Craig Breon, the Audubon's environmental advocate. "It's unmitigated, leapfrog sprawl," complains Barry Boulton, chair of the Sierra Club's land ethics committee. "There's very little good that can be said about this project." Interestingly, Audubon is taking a neutral stand on the Calpine plant, while the Sierra Club hasn't taken a position.

Client Privilege

His candidate won the March primary and is all but assured of becoming the next assemblymember from San Jose's overwhelmingly Democratic 23rd District. But political consultant Larry Tramutola may not return to run Manny Diaz's victory lap in the fall. A campaign mole whispers, "There aren't too many people in the Diaz circle who are advocating for Tram's return." As Eye reported earlier, quite a few Diaz backers were less than thrilled with Tram's mail program, which started a week after opponent Tony West's propaganda hit mailboxes. Diaz and Tramutola also apparently clashed over the content of mailers, causing delays in their distribution, sources say. Diaz couldn't be reached for comment, but Councilwoman Cindy Chavez, the campaign co-chair, acknowledged that things weren't always peachy between candidate and consultant. "It's not different than in any other campaign where time is tight," Chavez argues. "I don't know when any consultant and candidate don't get frustrated with each other in the process." Chavez says it's possible that Diaz may not re-hire Tramutola, but not because he's unhappy with his work in the primary. Rather, she says, Diaz may decide he doesn't need an expensive, five-star consultant to handle the routine matter of trouncing the Republican nominee in November.

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From the April 6-12, 2000 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2000 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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