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California Dreamin'? Bush ventures into tepid territory.

Public Eye

Go West Tax Plan

President George W. Bush made an uncharacteristic sweep through town last Friday, May 2, and sent tongues wagging. What's he doing showboating around the heartland of the California Democratic party? "I think he came here because Republicans have been asking him to," theorizes Jude Barry, local political consultant and now senior adviser to Democratic presidential candidate Vermont Gov. Howard Dean. "If Bush can win California, he completely disrupts the Democratic election strategy." Reep political consultant Vic Ajlouny (who, incidentally, is masterminding campaigns for two local Dems--County Supe Pete McHugh's and City Council loner Chuck Reed's upcoming '04 re-election bids) thinks the Bush camp plans to eliminate any pockets of resistance in Californistan. "I think there's an assessment in the White House that they can make gains in California the next go around, and possibly even win the state," Ajlouny tells Eye. "Every so many years, you get an anti-incumbent swing," he says. "And right now the incumbent [increasingly despised governor] is a Democrat in California. If you had a very popular Democrat right now, it would be harder for Bush to show well." That, says Ajlouny, plus the uncertainty about who's going to be the Democratic [presidential]nominee and the fact that "people like Bush's style, even if they don't like his politics," puts Bush in a nice spot. ... But that's not what observers across the aisle think, not for one Texas minute. "It's absolutely laughable that the president thinks he can win California," scoffs Steve Adamske, communications flak for U.S. Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, pointing out that Bush is "an arch conservative," and Lofgren's constituents "don't vote for arch conservatives." Meanwhile, he reminds Eye that Bush was too scared to set foot in SoCal and stayed on an aircraft carrier. Barry adds that a win doesn't look likely at the moment. In a field poll published on April 16, Bush won over only 45 percent of the state's voters. "He's a commander-in-chief coming off a war victory and he's still polling under 50 percent," Barry notes. ... When he came to Santa Clara, all that separated him from his minions was a line of police horses (one of whom got knocked in the rump by an uppity protester wielding an umbrella, who was arrested for it) and a military defense plant--United Defense Industries.

Battle of the Budge

San Jo officials are digging into the multi-inch budget proposal released on Friday, May 2, looking for high- and low-lights. The early verdict from Councilmember Chuck Reed: "It's not surprising. It's just depressing." Reed says he's particularly concerned about the hits community and arts groups will take. He forwarded letters from a constituent group, Asian American Recovery Services (AARS), which failed to make it into the budget version at all. AARS is the only group in the Bay Area that provides tobacco education and intervention to Asian/Pacific Islanders. Representatives from the group's substance intervention program worry that their youth intervention service center might have to shut its doors without the roughly $300,000 they requested from the city. Mona Shah, AARS youth service manager, says Asian/Pacific Islanders make up nearly 260,000, or 29 percent, of San Jose's population. And it's a group that's hurting. "There's this myth that we're the model minority," she says. But the substantial community has problems stemming from cultural and language barriers, poverty, lack of education and other stress factors. The agency's Healthy Neighborhood Venture Fund, the program for which AARS applied for the city funds, serves more than 1,000 kids a year who are grappling with tobacco and other unhealthy substances. The $300 per child per year covers the cost of staffing the youth center with crisis interveners who, in Vietnamese, Cambodian and Tagalog, teach teens at schools, including Independence High and Piedmont Hills High, how not to smoke.

Why UDI?

Eyewatchers may know that UDI, the site of the president's recent visit, is owned by the Carlyle Group, the world's largest private equity manager, which boasts such bigwig investors as George H.W. Bush as an advisor, former British Prime Minister John Major as a European branch staffer, former Secretary of State James Baker as a counselor, former White House Budget Chief Richard Darman as a partner and former Security and Exchange Commission Chairman Arthur Levitt as a senior adviser. And if that isn't enough, the Washington Post reported in March that a D.C.-based Carlyle Group event drew an interesting attendee: a brother of Osama bin Laden, reportedly in town to attend the Carlyle Group's business conference held at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel on Sept.11, 2001, while the World Trade Center went down.

Duck Season

On a lighter note, the County Board of Supes was poised to approve a cash bounty for a certain segment of its population. Ducks. At the behest of the county's supes-appointed Fish and Game Commission, the board voted on Tuesday, May 6, on whether or not to chip in $5,000 from the bad-guy-catching part of the county budget to help subsidize Ducks Unlimited's "Tenth Annual Green Wing Outdoor Extravaganza." This is an event aimed at creating a new generation of wildlife conservation freaks by introducing kids to waterfowl. (One meeting usually does it.) The board voted unanimously to support the fowlfest. "Ducks unlimited," explains Rachael Gibson, land-use policy aide for Chief Supe Don Gage, "certainly their focus is ducks, obviously. Don feels very good about their work." Incidentally, Gibson notes the unique and interesting tidbit. "There's a perception that hunters aren't conservation-minded," Gibson says, pointing out that, on the contrary, "most hunters are outdoors people."

Blockbuster Story

It's a time of much change for Knight Ridder's daily. The San Jose Mercury News has been proudly reporting on some of it. For instance, regarding recent shakeups in its staff box, columnists Joe Rodriguez and Peter Delevett each wrote a final column announcing his own move within the company, Rodriguez to Op-Ed and Delevett back to the newsroom. These shifts left open a couple of prime column slots, one of which veteran Scott Herhold has moved to fill. Herhold, who wasn't really sure which spot he's technically filling, assures Eye, "I'll just be myself." The Merc has not, however, gone public with any recent changes in its reporting policies. But the Palo Alto Weekly noticed what may be a new Merc technique. The Weekly's April 23 issue hinted at plagiarism by the South Bay daily, claiming "striking similarities between Weekly [and] Merc stories" about a local Elks lodge on the verge of insolvency. The Weekly's Bill D'Agostino reported on April 15 that the formerly endangered Elks successfully reworked their hurting finances and would now be OK. "Palo Alto Elks drafted a new, balanced budget, which the grand lodge approved, paving the way for the reopen," D'Agostino wrote. The very next day the Merc ran a nonbylined blurb that ended with almost the exact same sentence. The Weekly cited several other borrowed phrases that suggest cut-and-paste reporting by an anonymous daily scribe. ... Coincidentally, the Merc did mention the Weekly in its Sunday paper, in discussing a lawsuit the two papers filed against Palo Alto officials. But rather than naming its comrade in arms, the Merc referred to the Weekly as "another publication."

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From the May 8-14, 2003 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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

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