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Foot-in-Mouth Award

Blushing big shots in the County Clerk's office are tripping over themselves to apologize for an unfortunate case of athlete's mouth that erupted during a service-award ceremony last month. Accounts of what was said differ slightly, but the gist is that a higher-up in the Clerk's criminal section made what some people in the audience considered racist and sexist remarks. For example, the man in question apparently theorized that a female employee, whom he reportedly described as "not difficult on the eyes," probably couldn't attend to pick up her service award because she was too busy applying makeup. He also allegedly introduced an African American staffer as a "minority" receiving a service award. "It was a truly offensive thing. All of us took offense," County Clerk Stephen Love recalls, adding, "I'm sure he didn't intend for it to be racist or sexist." Sensitive ears also took offense at another speaker's mentioning an employee's time off on maternity leave. Love described the scene as bizarre and told Eye that several letters of apology have already been sent out by the offenders. Love says he himself has written a letter of apology to his staff, even though he didn't make the offending comments. As a follow-up to the episode, Love's recommending that all County Clerk staffers attend group sessions on sexual harassment and cultural awareness.


Ethics Shmethics

Grumpy San Jose City Councilman David Pandori has all but said he won't run for mayor next year, but pals Tom McEnery and Pat Dando still exhibit symptoms of mayoral ambitions. With that background, an insider looked askance at Pandori's recent complaint to the county ethics commission against the campaign arm of the local Democratic Party. "This is more about trying to chill the Democratic Party than it is about ethics," sniffed the insider, who's not a party to the complaint. "They don't want [the Democrats] to attack McEnery or Dando if they run for mayor." Dando's a prayer breakfast Republican, while McEnery, ostensibly a Democrat, dabbled with Ross Perot's Reform Party during the last presidential campaign. With Demos Margie Fernandes and Ron Gonzales in the race, McEnery most likely wouldn't be the Demos' first choice for mayor. ... The complaint alleges that the local donkey delegation failed to properly report more than $40,000 of late expenditures made on behalf of north county supe candidate Joe Simitian and, more seriously, suggests that the party colluded with Simitian and Supe Blanca Alvarado (the party's campaign is supposed to work independently). ... Good government guy and major campaign donor Mike Fox Sr. and Boulder Ridge warrior Dennis Mulvihill also signed onto the complaint, though Eye is less skeptical about their motives. Fox did support fallen GOP supe candidate Barbara Koppel, who got stung by a last-minute hit piece paid for by the Demos. Still unclear is whether the county's ethics ordinance covers the alleged violations, which appear to fall under the domain of state campaign law. Filing the complaint with the county, however, could be a stroke of PR savvy. While the state Fair Political Practices Commission keeps its investigations secret, the county ethics commission's complaint process is totally public.


Curb Your Lieutenant

Upon returning from a recent trip to a sister city in Japan, politically hobbled mayor Henry Manayan was once again reminded who's running the show in Mallpitas these days. While Manayan played emissary in sister city Kukizaki, Vice Mayor Bob Livengood seized the levers of power and pulled a Mike Curb. (Remember him, the Republican lieutenant governor who made appointments while Jerry Brown campaigned for president? He now lives in Nashville.) The Liveman appointed school board member Althea Polanski to a vacant slot on the city's Community Advisory Commission, shafting Manayan's man, former campaign manager Pete Galde. City Council members were only too happy to endorse Polanski and leave the mayor's old campaign hand on the sidelines. Manayan's council foes previously questioned whether the mayor wants to pad Galde's résumé for a future council run. (Galde even considered running for office in the upcoming June special election, but thought better of it.) Manayan desperately needs an ally on the hostile Mallpitas council. A couple of weeks ago, he asked insurrectionists to reconsider Polanski's appointment. For all intents and purposes, they told the mayor to pound clay. Latest scuttlebutt: There's a plot afoot to strip the mayor of his modest authority to recommend commission appointments.


This Place Sucks

Window-browsing through the hallowed halls of the Alfred E. Alquist State Building the other day, Eye was tickled to find the office for the 22nd Assembly District vacant. This struck Eye as humorous because Elaine White Alquist, Al's nubile wife, is the elected rep for the district. It turns out that Al's better half set up shop in Santa Clara, leaving the first-floor office in the downtown building unattended ever since John Vasconcellos, Alquist's predecessor, got elected to the state Senate. Now, Eye wouldn't blame Elaine for not wanting to have an office in her husband's drab building--a horrid monument to modern architectural banality. But Eye discovered she had good reason not to locate in the Alquist Building. According to Alquist aide Karna Carlson, the state building is not actually in her boss's district, which lies mostly outside San Jose but within Santa Clara County. "She wanted a central location within Assembly District 22," Carlson explains.


Clique Power

Eye phoned over to new supe Don Gage's office and learned that The Don has tapped John Gibbs, ex-Supe Dianne McKenna's old right-handman, to be his chief of staff. Eye finds Gibbs' recruitment a surprise for a couple of reasons. One, he's a Democrat (albeit a conservative one) who worked for another Democrat before. Two, he supported supe candidate John Redding in the recent special election in which Gage prevailed. Nevertheless, it's a shrewd hire on Gage's part: He gets a chief of staff who knows the system and can hit the ground running and by hiring a Democrat shows that he's not a right-wing ideologue. Asked how he likes working with a former political foe, Gibbs gushed, "I am loving it. We clicked from minute one."


Public Eye welcomes tips. Leave messages 24 hours a day by calling 408/298-7818 and then pressing 2, followed by 412, to reach Eye's voice mailbox. Send email messages to eye@sjmetro.com.

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From the May 1-7, 1997 issue of Metro

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