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[whitespace] By George: DA George Kennedy doesn't need any stinkin' parties.

Party Pooper

It's not his party, but he can cry foul if he wants to. District Attorney George Kennedy insists he never wanted to have an "office appreciation party" on his behalf where the party-goers had to pay $75 a head--$135 for couples--to his re-election committee. Nonetheless, a flier advertising the party--hosted by Deputy District Attorney Ed Ajlouny and his wife, Nellie--landed on desks and in mailboxes of 150 DA employees last month. That sent Kennedy's opponent, prosecutor Mel Anderson, into a self-righteous lather, alleging that the DA broke the law and asking the attorney general to investigate. A section of the state's election law prohibits officials in a public agency from soliciting employees for campaign contributions, in order to prevent shakedowns and loyalty tests. This week, Anderson got a letter from the attorney general's office, saying they weren't going to do anything because the event "has been canceled and and ... funds collected will be returned." "By canceling this party and returning the money," Anderson fumes, "Kennedy has tacitly admitted wrongdoing. ... Only when caught did he agree to cancel the event." To this Kennedy curtly replies: Poppycock. "I didn't throw any party; I didn't cancel a party. My involvement in a party was that somebody asked me to show up; I put it on my calendar and gave them a copy of the [election] law. ... I asked that they not put on a party. The fact of the matter is these were contributors twisting my arm." Anderson, meanwhile, still thinks that somebody ought to be punished. But Kennedy's story holds water because he doesn't need to throw a party to raise cash. By all accounts, his opponent, Anderson, doesn't have a prayer. Lucky for Mel that in Santa Clara County prosecutors are civil servants; otherwise, he might have to pray to keep his job after the election.

Tom and Country

The campaign against the expansion of the Town and Country shopping center early on found an impassioned advocate in ex-Mayor Tom McEnery, who has been leading the charge at Downtown Association meetings, Mercury editorial board sessions and service club debates. But has the former San Jose leader done his homework? Arguing before the powerful San Jose Rotary Club against mayoral budget director Bob Brownstein last month, McEnery alleged that the project was going to displace Courtesy Chevrolet to another city and that the city coffers would take a seven-figure hit. "Courtesy Chevrolet [is] one of the largest sales-tax producers in the city--they're going to go down the road to Santa Clara. Is anybody considering that?" he asked, quoting a figure of $3 million. Budget wonks all know that auto dealerships are sales-tax cows. But bean-counters thought the figure sounded wildly inflated. As it turns out, a car dealership the size of Courtesy Chevrolet annually generates $500,000 in tax revenues for the city, according to Brownstein. True, Brownstein acknowledges, another $2.5 million might go to the state and county, but that deflates McEnery's argument. Even if Courtesy moved to Santa Clara--and that is by no means certain--the county and the state would still get their tax revenue. "Clearly, the implication [during the debate] was that all that revenue was coming to the city," Brownstein observes. Meanwhile, former McEnery aide Pat Dando has also invoked the $3 million figure during recent mayoral debates. Dando's campaign propagandist, Erik Schoennauer, concedes, "The actual amount that goes to the city is about that half-million-dollar figure."

Don't Call Us

Could it be that ex-Mayor Janet Gray Hayes withdrew her endorsement of Ron Gonzales because of bad manners? Everyone knows they disagreed about the airport expansion: Hayes, who has the poor fortune of living in the flight path, is opposed; Gonzales, in a major suck-up to the Chamber of Commerce, is all for it. But Hayes knew that when she signed on as one of Gonzo's co-chairs a couple months ago. Apparently, the real falling out started when Hayes read a story in which Gonzales said he opposed the new airport-traffic-relief initiative championed by Councilman David Pandori. She then phoned Gonzales to verify his position. According to Hayes, before giving her an answer, Gonzales abruptly said he had to go and promised to call back. Two weeks or so passed without a word from the mayoral candidate. Feeling dissed, Hayes got fed up and issued her own release, saying that she was calling off the engagement. Gonzales blamed a hectic schedule for his tardy response. ... Hayes has donated $100 to Kathy Chavez Napoli. "She wrote me a very nice letter," Napoli reveals, "saying she was very supportive of what I have to say."

Rubber Soul

Eye was most impressed by the right Rev. Vaughn Beckman's showmanship at a press conference last week announcing Project Action's installment of 18 condom-vending machines in local businesses. Beckman, executive director of the Council of Churches of Santa Clara County, heads one of the most progressive religious coalitions in town and says he's the first such officer in the U.S. who's "openly gay." ... When it came his turn to speak, Beckman urged churches to "continue to encourage abstinence and responsible sexual behavior, but not ignore that approximately one out of two high school seniors is sexually active." Then, as if on cue, the collared minister held up a condom and graciously maintained the pose while bulbs flashed and the TV cameras rolled. If only his old mentor Jerry Falwell could have seen him then. But wait! What brand of condom is in the Reverend's hand? That's not the neatly boxed Protocol condom that comes with the press kit! What gives? "Oh," said Beckman offhandedly, "I've been carrying this around in my wallet. Someone gave it to me a thousand years ago." We applaud his forthrightness and wish Falwell were around to hear this, too.

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From the May 7-13, 1998 issue of Metro.

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