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[whitespace] Rosemary Stasek Rosie Scenario: Rosemary Stasek heads to Kabul next week.

Public Eye

An American In Kabul

Last month, ROSEMARY STASEK took some time off after her failed primary bid for the 22nd Assembly District, unwinding in Arizona with some Cactus League games. Next week, the Mountain View councilwoman is taking another trip, but not to relax. Stasek is part of a delegation of 20 headed to Afghanistan to work on redevelopment projects involving health care, education and government. Stasek, who has an economics degree and has worked as a commercial lender, will focus on microlending. Often, Stasek says, that means small loans of as little as $5 that borrowers can use to buy something like an oven or a loom. ... It's part of a larger effort to give women basic business training and form local support groups where they can help one another get back to work. "So many of these women were forcibly removed from the workforce by the Taliban," Stasek says. "Getting economic opportunities to women is one of the best ways to improve the economic status of families," she adds. "We have to focus on the economic status of women in Afghanistan because there are so many widows after 20 years of war. There are widows trying to feed their children who for a decade have not been able to hold a job." Women, Stasek believes, will be the most important key to the country's long-term stability. Global Exchange, the San Francisco-based activist group, is organizing the trip. But as an elected official, Stasek must pay her own way because she can't accept money for out of state travel. ... Stasek says she had to do "some really serious soul-searching" before packing her bags for a part of the world where Americans have a bounty on their heads, but in the end she decided that two weeks in Kabul "is still not a reckless thing to do." Kabul, the capital, is the only part of the country protected by U.N. peacekeepers, but it's still scary, Stasek says. "I'm watching developments every day and trying to rebalance my decision."

New Name

Joint Venture: Silicon Valley, the local organization that does, well, many different things, named a new CEO last week, but not the big name that board members had been hoping for. Over a year ago, after CEO RUBEN BARRALES jumped ship to join the Bush administration as deputy assistant to the president and director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, Joint Venture brass went shopping for big names who could rescue their drifting mission. But after ex-Assemblyman JIM CUNNEEN turned down Joint Venture to run the San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce, the search dragged on for another year. Last week, board members announced that the $140,000-a-year job was going to MARGUERITE WILBUR, who had been running the show since Barrales left. "We were looking for high-profile candidates at first," says board chair KEITH KENNEDY. "It was an outside search, but when we came down to the candidates we had we kept coming back to Marguerite." Though most of the press release announcing her ascent was devoted to detailing Wilbur's many and varied qualifications, Big Name Networker wasn't among them. Eye hears Cupertino Councilwoman Sandy James, a perpetual networker and Medium Size Name, came in runner-up. Wilbur, however, hasn't always been cozy with Manufacturing Group rival CARL GUARDINO. Guardino held a seat on the Joint Venture board until shortly after Barrales left, but wasn't asked back when his time was up. These days, however, things are back to nice. Guardino downplayed questions about a feud. "I don't really know her," he told Eye. Kennedy says everything's cool: "I think they're back on good terms now."

Get Offa My Cloud

JOHN MCLEMORE kicked off the Santa Clara mayoral race last week, taking shots at someone who isn't even running--yet. The election process begins May 1, when candidates can start begging for contributions, but the filing deadline isn't until August. McLemore fired off an email bashing council colleague ROD DIRIDON Jr., who remains a political and professional free agent after his Assembly campaign crumbled. Junior won't say whether or not he's also interested in replacing termed-out Mayor JUDY NADLER. McLemore's e-missive said Rep. MIKE HONDA called him to say ROD DIRIDON Sr. was bending his ear about supporting Rod Jr. for mayor. Honda, the email said, politely told longtime pal Rod Sr. that he'd already backed McLemore. McLemore saved his prettiest prose for the Diridon duo: "I do not have a large political machine behind me nor do I have strong connected political family members who have access throughout the political valley ... I am running for Mayor of Santa Clara based on my individual merits." ... Junior scratched his head. "It seemed kind of strange to me that he took offense to something like that, especially because I haven't said that I'm running," Diridon says. "He could have just said something to me, I sit next to the guy on council." McLemore says the message went to about 60 supporters, which makes Eye wonder if it was really a message telling Junior to steer clear. Insiders say it may be part of a simmering feud between the two over McLemore's behavior during the Assembly race. McLemore endorsed Diridon, but Eye hears Rod got steamed after McLemore's wife, a Sally supporter, hosted a fundraiser for her and insinuated in a mailer that John supported Sally, too. Of course, Diridon the Younger may have other things up his sleeve. ... Diridon the Elder's career plans have also been a recent topic of speculation. The Mineta Transportation Institute director and state High Speed Rail Authority chairman had been rumored as a candidate for president of Amtrak. President GEORGE WARRINGTON resigned from the beleaguered national railroad in March to run New Jersey's transit agency. Diridon says a few officials from Amtrak called him about the job in D.C. Diridon was flattered but ultimately unwilling to move away from his family and give up his two roles as a transit leader. "I indicated I wasn't interested," Diridon says.

Mario's Comeback Bid?

MARIO AMBRA took the you-can't-fire-me-because-I-quit approach to losing his Mountain View City Council seat last week. Found guilty of misconduct charges by a jury, Ambra faxed his resignation letter to City Hall on Wednesday--fewer than 24 hours before a judge signed an order booting him from office. A fiendishly clever plan if ever there was one, but resigning doesn't make a conviction go away. Having remained silent throughout his ordeal, Ambra shrewdly used his resignation letter to insinuate that he was acting on the citizenry's behalf when he took matters straight to city staff. Ambra added that the real losers in the whole episode are the Mountain View voters who elected him and whose rights were trampled by his removal. Ambra also revealed that he spent more than $125,000 on legal fees and gave Eye hope for the future: "I have been asked to run for election in November 2002 by my supporters. I will give the request serious consideration." But one reliable city insider says not only is Ambra thinking about a comeback but his wife Liz might be on the ballot, too. "He was overheard at City Hall saying, 'Won't they be surprised when both our names are on the ballot." Neither Ambra returned Eye's calls.

Grounded for Life

When an abandoned grocery store erupted in flames Monday, some Bay Area TV stations sent news helicopters out to hover over the blaze and get some aerial footage. Four of the five Bay Area news stations--KRON, KPIX, KGO and, now, KNTV--all have choppers ready to go for such assignments. The exception is Oakland-based KTVU (Ch. 2), which still manages to be the best news team in the Bay Area--and one of the very top in the nation, too. So Eye couldn't help but be a little amused at how KTVU reporter DIANE GUERRAZZI handled this week's inferno in east San Jose sans aircraft. Guerrazzi and cameraman ERIC MEACHAM talked their way onto the roof of a neighbor, who was up on top of his house watering down the shingles with a garden hose as a precaution. Not only did Guerrazzi get a good interview and a better vantage point out of the rooftop perch, she also showed up in one of the other channel's helicopter shots, unmistakable as one of the tiny figures on a rooftop far below. "It would be nice to have a helicopter, definitely, but a helicopter wouldn't have helped you with this," Guerrazzi says. "We climbed up there and it was a pitched roof, so it was a little scary. The flames were right next to us. Luckily I had really flat shoes on."

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From the April 25-May 1, 2002 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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

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