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[whitespace] Pat Sausedo Back at the Ranch: Landowners who hired councilgal-turned-lobbyist Pat Sausedo (pictured) are scheming to put a measure on the ballot to compete with the mayor's greenline initiative.

Public Eye

The Thin Greenline

THE FIRST TWO TIMES the San Jose City Council passed the so-called greenline initiative, owners of the Richmond and Young ranches near Silver Creek--who want to build monster homes on their 4,000-acre property on the wrong side of the line--got the rules thrown out in court. Mayor Ron Gonzales is betting the third time's the charm, hoping to get the city's newest hillside-protection ordinance approved by voters in November. Unsurprisingly, attorneys for the ranch owners are once again contemplating filing a lawsuit to block the land-use rules from taking effect. But operatives hired by the Richmond-Young crew--including councilwoman-turned-development promoter Pat Sausedo, sources say--are also hatching another scheme. ... This one involves putting a competing initiative on the November ballot more to the rancheros' liking. SJ barrister Bill Gates, a rep for the ranchers unrelated to the bespectacled billionaire software tycoon, tells Eye that the particulars haven't been worked out. In fact, Gates says his clients haven't even decided if they want to do a ballot initiative. But one thing is clear: If the mayor's initiative passes, the ranchers almost definitely won't be able to develop their property as they want to. "So either we can't let it pass," Gates explains, "or we have to pass a competing one." Such an initiative, Gates muses, wouldn't try and gerrymander the greenline to exempt the Richmond and Young ranches. Rather, he says, it would probably tweak the rules to make them more flexible, wink, wink. ... Should Gates and friends pursue an initiative, they'll need to collect around 17,000 valid voter signatures to qualify for the November ballot. One indication that the ranchers are serious about taking their case to voters: They've retained the services of Beltway-based initiative guru Les Francis. ... Joe Guerra, the mayor's lord of land-use, suggests the ranchers' strategy might be to confuse voters with competing initiatives so they kill Gonzales' greenline plan. "When voters are confused," Guerra opines, "they tend to vote no."

Jobs for Humans?

Those non-corporate types at Odwalla, the "juice for humans" company started in Santa Cruz 20 years ago, have long benefited from a socially conscious image. Now Santa Cruz unionistas are trying to debunk that positive spin. ... Claiming the company has repeatedly cut back workers' compensation packages in recent years, 14 of the Half Moon Bay company's 16 Santa Cruz-area workers have signed a statement requesting representation by Teamsters Local 912 of Watsonville. Labor law permits companies to accept signed union cards as proof of worker sentiment to enter into negotiations. Often, unions ask for a "card-check neutrality" agreement in advance from a company in order to avoid a National Labor Relations Board-sanctioned election, which companies have a right to request. Last March 7, Assemblyman Fred Keeley (D-Santa Cruz) and other elected officios wrote Odwalla CEO Stephen Williamson asking him to sign such an agreement with Odwalla workers, with the signatures to be guaranteed by a neutral third party. Williamson declined. "[T]he only reliable way to determine whether an uncoerced majority of Odwalla employees wish union representation," Williamson wrote back, "is through an NLRB secret ballot election." ... In an interview with Eye, Williamson said he did not mean to suggest that the union would coerce workers into signing union cards. But when Eye asked Williamson whether Odwalla would recognize the union based on signed union cards, or even whether he would guarantee that the result of an NLRB-sanctioned election would be honored, he pleaded ignorance of the law, saying he would follow the advice of the company's lawyers. "Since I have never been through this before, my inclination is to play this straight up and do what is in the best interests of all the stakeholders," Williamson says. ... Odwalla driver Bill Farrington says compensation packages have declined four times in four years, forcing workers to seek protection in collective bargaining. "I've never been down this road before," Farrington says, "and I never thought I would with Odwalla."


Los Gatos Mayor Steve Blanton threw a grand ol' shindig at the always-hip California Cafe last week. The main sponsor of the fiesta? Surprise--the Silicon Valley Association of Realtors, for whom Blanton works as designated government relater. Present were half the valley's real estate population, local business leaders, two council members, the town manager and several old-timers who repeatedly commented on the attention-grabbing attire of certain real estate agents. Conspicuously absent: Monte Sereno Mayor Suzanne Jackson, who beat Blanton handily in the recent Republican primary for Jim Cunneen's 24th Assembly District seat. According to someone in the know, Blanton invited every elected official in the west valley except for his Monte Sereno counterpart. Sources say Blanton is still sore over hit pieces Jackson mailed during the campaign attacking him as a developer lobbyist and promise-breaker. Nervous Blantonistas whispered that Jackson might crash the party. In fact, party-crashing rumors were so persistent that Blanton's mom--apparently still very cross at Sassy Sue for hurting her Stevie--refused to attend because she didn't want to risk bumping into Jackson. Meanwhile, Jackson tells Eye that she did receive an invite from the Chamber of Commerce, but didn't go because of scheduling conflicts. "I wasn't planning to go anyway," she swears.

Twice and Again

For a decade, the city of San Jose has had a policy on the books limiting appointed commissioners to no more than two full four-year terms. But with his final term ending in June, Planning Commissioner Brian Grayson has been trying to find a way to extend his commissioner lifespan. After consulting with the city attorney's office, Grayson says that there is no law preventing him from seeking a third term on the Planning Commission. "My intent is to reapply," Grayson reveals. ... City Attorney Rick Doyle acknowledges that Grayson can indeed reapply, but the City Council would have to decide whether to bend the rules, which it theoretically could do. The real question is whether the mayor and council would want to make an exception for Grayson, who raised eyebrows in City Hall recently by making a motion to reject the environmental impact report for sacred bovine Cisco Systems' proposed 2.3 million-square-foot office project in Alviso. Grayson and the commission ultimately backed off and asked planning staff to come back with more info next month. One mayoral naysayer says, "He can go ahead and apply, but the council isn't going to ignore its [term limit] policy for him."

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From the April 27-May 3, 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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