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I'm a Tease: Now you see John Dutra's endorsement. Now you don't.

Public Eye

Endorsing Is Overrated

On Saturday, April 19, former three-term Milpitas Mayor Henry Manayan was reveling in a pal's endorsement of him in his bid for the 20th District state Assembly seat. The current officeholder, Assemblyman John Dutra, who is termed out in 2005, was quoted singing Manayan's praises in the online pages of Fremont's newspaper, The Argus. But, no. Cut to the sound of a jukebox being unplugged. Even though Dutra lent his support to Manayan about two months ago, causing Manayan to tell The Argus that he feels "very blessed to have his endorsement," things took a turn for the worse even before the story hit the Internet. "I am not endorsing Mr. Manayan," a barely contrite Dutra told Eye on Monday, April 21, .saying he withdrew his endorsement for the veteran Milpitas mayor after checking around to see how much support Manayan was likely to garner among business and labor interest groups. "The reality was when I tried to work on his behalf with labor and other constituency groups," says Dutra, "it was hard to get any traction," which is a nice way of saying Manayan has not laid enough of his own groundwork with key constituent groups. Dutra says he's joined an informal coalition of Democrats working to find a "consensus candidate" to support in the race. So far, the potential list of competitors includes San Francisco Public Utilities Commissioner Ashok Kumar Bhatt, Sacramento transplant Dennis Hayashi and Newark City Councilman Alberto Torrico, with whom Dutra recently lunched. Dutra says he considers Torrico a potentially "formidable" candidate. He promises Eye he'll settle on an endorsement at some point, but right now he's still waiting to see who else jumps into the race. "Henry Manayan has not been excluded. He's still under serious consideration," said the noncommittal assemblyman. Manayan says he's taking Dutra's retraction in stride. "It's not that he's endorsed anybody else," Manayan reasons, also noting that he's still got the backing of U.S. Congressman Mike Honda (D-San Jose) and County Supe Pete McHugh. In response to Dutra's concern that Manayan lacks widespread power play support, he concedes, "Most of my labor contacts are in the South Bay. With this [Assembly] district, it also involves Alameda County."

Inspecting War Gadgets

Eye caught up with the participants in a civil disobedience demonstration at Lockheed Martin's Weapons and Space facilities in Sunnyvale Tuesday, who applauded the behavior of both Lockheed leadership and police, a turnabout for organizers Direct Action to Stop War, the group responsible for orchestrating the shutdown of San Francisco when the Iraq bombing began, and the action at the Oakland docks and protests at the Chevron/Texaco headquarters. Dave Meddle, a member of the group (which boasts no central steering committee, no spokesperson and no hierarchy) says the organization seeks to connect the links between United States foreign policy and corporations sitting in America's backyard, in this case Silicon Valley's backyard. Protestors also hoped to have a conversation with Lockheed employees about changing careers. Said Barbara Dawson, an "orienter" helping protestors navigate the light rail and other entry points for Lockheed commuters, "Those people who work there are very smart, and could be doing any number of things, creating hydrogen cells, working on solar technology or making plastics out of hemp. We wanted to reach out them, and to help them think of other ways that they could earn a living other than being in the business of death." What ended up happening however, was that most employees, rerouted by police, ended up angrily driving around and around the plant's access roads, trying to find an open entrance. Anticipating the situation, Dawson's own placard read: "R U Inconvenienced? Think Iraqi Families" (Eye hears there weren't a lot of supporting honkers among employees). ... Among the activists in attendance and arrested was free speech celebrity Henry Norr, the reporter suspended by the SF Chronicle for participating in a peace march several weeks back, who was officially fired on Monday despite a grievance filed by the Northern California Media Guild. ... For Palo Alto's Harold Williams, a veteran who served as an infantryman in Vietnam during the late 1960s, Tuesday's event (Williams came as a weapons inspector who demanded to be allowed inside to search for weapons of mass destruction) was his first act of civil disobedience in his own community. He expressed empathy for the employees at Lockheed. "I don't think they're evil people at all. They're mortgage-paying people living in the Valley of Heart's Delight. You go to your air-conditioned office and the next thing you know, you're building weapons of mass destruction." Peaceniks described "excellent interaction" with Lockheed leaders, who called them ahead of time to chat, with Sunnyvale's public safety department, which arrested 35 people at the end but did not impede the protests, and VTA, which sent an extra train to shuttle protestors back to Mountain View in time for lunch.

Cash Flash

As Eye dished last week, Palo Alto school officials and legislators aren't going for the governor's slash and burn approach to funding schools. Palo Alto Unified Super Mary Frances Callan stone cold refused to join the pink-slip revolution (the way her counterpart in Santa Clara Unified Paul Perotti did when he sent off more than 150 layoff notices and then rescinded more than 100). And on Tuesday, April 22, pro-school-funding Assemblyman Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) acted on the community dissatisfaction with the governor's brainfart to rob schools of "excess" local funds. Simitian convinced the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education Finance, which he heads, to reject Gov. Gray Davis' proposal to seize $126 million in property tax revenues from basic-aid school districts. Basic aid districts are those in areas like Palo Alto that generate enough property tax revenues to fully fund their education budgets which are determined by the state. Those districts are set apart because they get the least per-student cash from the state that the California Constitution allows--$120 per student--hence the term basic aid. "One irony of the governor's proposal is that, if implemented, more than half the basic-aid districts around the state would become 'low-wealth' districts, and thus be eligible for state-funded equalization aid to raise per-pupil funding," Simitian imparts in a press release dashed off on Tuesday. The Assembly subcommittee's move officially nixes Davis' basic aid tax grab from the Assembly's version of the budget. But Davis may or may not pay any attention to the Assembly's dicing of his budget line items when he releases his updated version in mid-May. Of course, there's also no news yet from the Assembly as to where its members think the state can find $160 million (never mind the $30 billion or so to fill the entire deficit ditch), if not by robbing schools.

As Davis spokesflak Hilary McLean retorts, "The cold hard truth is we continue to have a record-setting budget shortfall. We would welcome a proposal from the assemblyman as to how we would replace in our list of cuts the funds that he wants to protect."... "This isn't a budget cut, this is a taking of local tax revenues," hisses a clearly irritated Simitian. "I think the administration walked into a swamp, they don't know how to get out of the swamp and they're going to hand us a May revised that says, 'You figure it out.'"

Union Wants In

Once again, local union officials are pushing for some changes at the Housing Authority of Santa Clara County. The Service Employees International Union Local 715, which filed an unfair practice charge last month against the Housing Authority for improperly dishing out pink slips without required notice, is now trying to get its foot on the board. Local 715 spokesperson Andrew Hagelshaw tells Eye he knows a guy who'd be much better on the Housing Authority board than the Silicon Valley Manufacturing Group's Carl Guardino, one of the two board members whose terms end on April 30. Hagelshaw recommends longtime San Jose resident and director of the local Justice for Janitors branch, Salvador "Chava" Bustamante. Hagelshaw argues that Bustamante better reflects the needs of the poorest members of the community who are served by the Housing Authority, whereas Guardino, he sugarcoats, is more of a "bureaucratic type." Bustamante seconds that. "I think it's an issue of really understanding the needs of the community that the Housing Authority is supposed to serve. And I think I'm better qualified than Mr. Guardino in that regard," he tells Eye. The County Board of Supervisors appoints Housing Authority board members, and Guardino was Supe Jim Beall's recruit. Beall, who could choose to reappoint Guardino, defends his choice. "I appointed Carl originally because of his strong support for affordable housing. Carl is active on the housing trust. ... We've raised, like, $22 million for affordable housing." Beall knows all about the union's complaints and says he's trying to fix relations. He has a meeting scheduled with Local 715 top cheese Kristina Sermersheim and Guardino on April 29 to talk about last month's layoffs.

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From the April 24-30, 2003 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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

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