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What's the Frequency, Tom?

Forgoing a brand-new episode of The X-Files, Eye tuned in to mayor-turned-radio-host Tom McEnery's Sunday night broadcast and caught the Macster during one of his many tirades against north county supe Joe Simitian. McEnery, a supporter of Simitian's defeated Reep campaign opponent, Barbara Koppel, has verbally flogged the local Democratic Party for spending big bucks--so-called independent expenditures--to slime Koppel and help elect Simitian to the ostensibly nonpartisan post. In McEnery's thinking, Simitian either knew about the Demos' plans beforehand or did nothing to discourage them. "The guy [Simitian] doesn't have the guts to call up and defend himself," the Macster taunted the Palo Alto pol over the airwaves. In a follow-up phone interview with Eye, the Macster reasoned, "You'd think if I were incorrect on my information, he'd want to correct it." In the interest of fanning the flames, Eye contacted Simitian to see if he was going to let McEnery get away with talking all that smack about him on the radio. Simitian promptly denied any wrongdoing. "If Mr. McEnery has a complaint, he ought to take it up with [the local Democratic Party]," Simitian replied, "because it's their conduct he's complaining about. He's not identified any conduct of mine that I feel I need to defend." ... Eye is told that Barb Koppel, meanwhile, is toying with the idea of writing an "about town" column for the Cupertino Courier, a Metro-owned paper. Nothing is official yet, cautions Courier editor Mike de Give. The unpaid writing post wouldn't help the ex-Cupertino mayor pay her bills. After the election, Koppel and her husband filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection. Among other things, the couple reported nearly $75,000 in credit card debts.


You'll Shoot Your Eye Out

State Sen. John Vasconcellos and the county correctional officers' union are dueling over a recent deal cut by the Board of Supervisors that would reclassify jail guards as limited peace officers who could carry guns off-duty. Vasco, the esteemed chair of the criminal procedures committee, won't carry legislation ratifying the deal as it stands. Rand Martin, an aide to Vasco, says his boss made it clear from the start that he didn't want off-duty jail guards to be able to pack heat. "It's certainly essential for that to be fixed for the senator to carry the bill," Martin reveals. Horsefeathers, fumes Ed Meyers, VP of the local correctional officers' union. "The senator and his staff told us all along that if we came up with a local solution [that was legal and had no fiscal impact], he'd carry the bill." Furthermore, Meyers tells Eye, Vasco's voted four times within the last year to give Los Angeles County correctional officers similar gun-toting rights. Martin reiterated that Vasco told county officials--not necessarily the correctional officers' union--up front that he didn't want off-duty guards to carry guns. As for Los Angeles jail guards, Martin couldn't recall how Vasco voted but insists the comparison doesn't work because L.A.'s guards were already classified as peace officers. Vasco will try to change the bill to his liking before it's debated in committee next week.


Stinko de Mayo

By land or by air, San Jose politicians braved the elements to view the aftermath of the Cinco de Mayo riot along Santa Clara Street. Councilman David Pandori hitched a ride in a police patrol car, getting a ground-level perspective on all the broken windows left by rioters. While Pandori studied the damage from the ground, four-wheelin' Councilmember Manny Diaz was getting a bird's-eye view of the wreckage, riding shotgun in a police helicopter. Readers may recall that it was Diaz who rented an Isuzu four-wheel drive to tour commercial developments in Southern California last year. Fortunately for taxpayers, Hertz doesn't rent helicopters. ... One merchant noted that the vandals in the much-publicized 20-minute uprising seemed pretty sober. Last week the San Jose City Council narrowly rejected a proposal by Councilman Frank Fiscalini to ban alcohol sales at festivals in Discovery Meadow Park near the Children's Discovery Museum. During the debate, moralists argued that the expanse of grass had always been intended for kids, which, careful readers will note, isn't quite correct. The park was originally supposed to be the site of the Tech Museum, which later went elsewhere. Mayoral aspirant Pat Dando reportedly cited the careful placement of bronze animal statues in the park as proof of its intended kiddie theme. Actually, that's another revisionist historical view. The Redevelopment Agency, where Dando used to work, moved the bronze statues from the sunny east side into a shaded area after several children suffered serious burns from climbing on them.


Weller Feller

Milpitas gadfly Joe McGadden, a former vice chair of the Telecommunications Commission, tells Eye there's a growing movement to recall first-term councilmember Patricia Dixon. McGadden and other loose lips whisper that disenchanted Milpitians have consulted a political adviser about organizing a recall campaign. And, he says, they have the money to make it happen. "I'm ticked off at her because she's an arrogant woman who doesn't look out for the voters," McGadden gripes. "She looks out for herself and her own little clique." McGadden and other property-rights types living in Weller Ranch blame Dixon for stubbornly refusing to rezone their flatlands residential community so it's not subject to the city's restrictive 1992 hillside ordinance. On Tuesday night, however, Dixon proved politically astute and reluctantly agreed to rezone Weller Ranch.


Busted Vocabulary

Andy Faber, an attorney for Monte Sereno Councilman Joel Gambord, took exception to Eye's use of the slang term "busted" in a recent column, fearing that unsuspecting readers would imagine his client landing in county lockup, instead of merely having his construction project red-tagged. For the forgetful, Eye wrote that Gambord got "busted two years ago for altering John Steinbeck's former residence without necessary approvals." Faber asked Eye, "Why didn't you talk to him [Gambord] and check your facts?" Eye did. For those unaccustomed to Eye's distinctive writing style, here's what actually happened: Though Faber insists his client obtained all the necessary permits, Gambord had to crawl back to the CityCouncil and ask them to bless some questionable changes he'd already made to historic parts of the house. So much for the best-laid plans.


Què Honda

Mariachis at his side, bilingual assemblyman and singing sensation Mike Honda crooned Mexican folk tunes for the Cinco de Mayo celebration. Honda sang to a packed house at Parkside Hall--not too bad, considering he had to compete with a former member of Menudo who was appearing elsewhere at the festival. While Honda probably shouldn't quit his day job, it nevertheless impressed a few observers that the old high school principal had the cojones to belt out a few canciones. Asked whether his boss has any aspirations to be a professional songster, Honda aide Ruben Pulido said, "If he gets offered a contract, he'll consider it."


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 8-14, 1997 issue of Metro

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