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[whitespace] Oh, Henry: Milpitas Mayor Henry Manayan used a city fax machine to send invitations to a $1,000-a-head fundraiser for Vice Prez Al Gore.

Public Eye

Reasonable Facsimile?

VICE PRESIDENT Al Gore just can't seem to shake free from his campaign-finance foibles. First it was bowing to Buddhists for bucks. Then it was dialing for dollars from the White House. And now comes the Milpitas fax faux pas. In truth, Gore himself had no personal controlling authority over the latest infraction. Credit for that goes to Milpitas Mayor Henry Manayan, one of the co-hosts of Gore's $1,000-a-head Friday fundraiser at the Almaden Valley home of BJS Electronics CEO Jessie Singh. Last week Manayan sent invitations for the Gore fundraiser to potential campaign donors from his City Hall fax machine, complete with an official city of Milpitas cover sheet. (The cover sheet encourages recipients to contact the city manager's secretary, Yolanda Lopez, if they have any questions. Here's a question: Is this legal?) State law, of course, prohibits using public resources for campaign-related expenses. But Manayan quibbles with the suggestion that there was any public expense. He says he faxed most of the invitations from his private line, but acknowledges sending about four via the City Hall fax. "It doesn't cost anything," he protests. "They were all local calls." Robert Sterm, president of the nonpartisan Center for Governmental Studies in Los Angeles, disagreed only slightly, saying, "It's a misuse of public funds, but it's so minor it's not prosecutable." Sterm suggests Manayan could simply reimburse the city for the faxes--that is, if they cost anything to send in the first place. Perhaps the Milpitas mayor could simply shave one dollar from the $1,000 entry fee to Gore's meet-and-greet and deposit it in the city treasury. Then again, Manayan may need every penny he can get for the Gore cause. According to a local Gore adorer, Manayan ambitiously committed to raising $100,000 at the event. "It remains to be seen," Eye's Gore mole says, "whether he [Manayan] can meet his goal." At least Manayan will have a little help from the likes of co-hosts Margaret Wozniak, mother of Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, and Republican car-queen Enide Allison.

Unplugged Cowboy

After nearly 25 years as San Jose's country-western cultural Mecca, it looks as if the Saddle Rack dancing club is heading into the sunset. That's right. No more mechanical bull rides. No more tricycle races. No more cow-hooches with big hair or booze-brave urban cowboys with big hats. City Hall and development sources tell Eye that the owners of the club are close to selling the 6.5-acre midtown property to Kaufman & Broad, who hope to build condos on the site. Apparently, several developers expressed interest in the property, including Fairfield Development and Summerhill Homes, but K & B seems to have won the bidding shootout. How much the company will pay is unclear. But an industry insider pegs the Saddle Rack property's price tag at around $15 million. For years, builders have expressed interest in developing the prime piece of real estate. Saddle Rack property owner Larry Mitchell couldn't be reached for comment. Sandra Escobar, the Saddle Rack's land-use consultant, is already waxing nostalgic about the venerable country club's glory days. "It's going to be a big loss," she sniffs. "I used to go country-western dancing and you could always count on it being there." Escobar did have some good news, though: AJ's, the adult entertainment establishment down the street from the Saddle Rack, will be open for business for at least another five years. After a year of hassling with the city, the skin club just secured a new conditional-use permit this week.

Mall Squabble

Maryland-based builder Federal Realty Investment Trust paid a reported $42 million in 1998 for San Jose's 39-acre Town & Country Village. Its ambitious mixed-use project--with 1,200 housing units, two 100-room hotels, and 475,000 square feet of retail space--will cost an estimated $250 million. But for more than a year, Federal Realty has been haggling with Westfield Corporation, owner of the neighboring Valley Fair Mall, over area traffic improvements that will cost around $1.2 million, says a source familiar with the projects. ... Two years ago, city officials directed Federal and Valley Fair--which is in the midst of a major expansion--to share the costs of adding lanes on Stevens Creek and the southbound I-880 on-ramp. But as is the city's practice in such situations, planners didn't specify how much each party should pay, leaving Federal and Westfield to work out the financial details. Negotiations moved as slowly as traffic over the Sunol grade, and a month ago Westfield's attorney appealed Town & Country's master development permit, claiming Federal officials were refusing to "pay their share of the mitigation." ... But last week Westfield withdrew its appeal, two days before it would have been scheduled for a hearing in front of the Planning Commission. Westfield development director Larry Green confirms that the two sides reached an agreement, but would not disclose the terms. "The point is that we have reached an agreement," Green argues, "and are moving forward."

One-track Pony

Failed millionaire congressional candidate Bill Peacock resurfaced last week at Gov. Gray Davis' transportation press powwow at San Jose Diridon Station. The Democratic venture capitalist, who spent more than $1.2 million of his own money in a losing cause, told Eye he's "busy making deals." Peacock was coy as to whether he will endorse his erstwhile opponent, Assemblyman Mike Honda (D-San Jose), in the general election against Republican nominee Jim Cunneen. There has been speculation that the Portola Valley biznessman may break ranks and back Cunneen, though Peacock insists he hasn't taken sides yet. Honda has yet to have a face-to-face with Peacock, even though the legislator was breathing the same train fumes during Davis' press conference. "They just didn't get an opportunity to talk then," explains Honda's campaign maestro, Jennifer Van der Heide, who quickly adds that the two have scheduled to meet in May. "We're hopeful," she says, "Peacock will support Mike as a fellow Democrat." ... Following Davis' press conference, Honda later realized that he had inadvertently left his leather Tumi briefcase behind. An aide to San Jose Mayor Ron Gonzales kindly took the briefcase back to the mayor's office so Honda could retrieve it. Despite the fact that Gonzo backed Peacock and has yet to endorse Honda, Eye hears that the Assembly member himself stopped by City Hall to claim his lost property.

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From the April 13-19, 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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