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[whitespace] Hamid Karzai and Rosemary Stasek
Feminist Critique: Rosemary Stasek urged Hamid Karzai to give Afghan women a seat at the table.

Public Eye

Home Again

ROSEMARY STASEK doesn't skip a beat when asked if there were any scary moments on her recent trip to Afghanistan. "Yeah. Ariana Airlines. I was terrified," Stasek says, referring to the Afghan airline that took her on the last leg of her three-day trip to Kabul via London and Dubai. "As you land, and you come down the runway at the Kabul airport, on both sides of the runway you see the bombed fuselages of all the Ariana planes." Eye watchers will recall that the Mountain View councilwoman spent two weeks in Afghanistan as part of a Global Exchange delegation working to help rebuild the country. The group met with interim leader HAMID KARZAI, and Stasek says she urged him to safeguard and utilize women during the rebuilding effort. "Women are just getting sidelined in the women's ministry, so it's really turning out that women aren't really being heard and aren't really at the table," Stasek says. Stasek says she found some of Karzai's comments about how women will "find their place" as the country recovers from two decades of strife to be somewhat worrisome but says that, overall, "he's the perfect guy for the job." ... Though Stasek set out to work on a microlending program for women, which would provide affordable loans to women during the reconstruction effort, she found that it's going to be a lot harder than she thought. "I initially thought that I would go and come back and start working on microlending projects. Not even close--there are so many things that have to happen before we can get to that point. There's no banking system; there's no communications system; there's no post office; there isn't anything." Members of the delegation spent most of their time in Kabul but did venture outside of the capital. "We went up to the Shamali Plain, and we went to Maripur. It was absolutely beautiful, but it was very distinct when you left Kabul, because in Kabul the international peacekeepers, which are mostly European, are very prominent. But when you left the Kabul city limits, you had to go through a Northern Alliance checkpoint. The area that we were in was Northern Alliance-controlled territory, so it really hit home that in Kabul things seem pretty normal. But outside, all the different areas are still under the control of the various warlords. Everybody's got a big gun." ... Now that she's back, Stasek says she'll be planning speaking engagements and putting together a video, plus forming a nonprofit group that can accept donations in the United States on behalf of Medica Mondiale, a German aid group. But for Stasek, who recently lost her bid for the Assembly, fundraising might be too much to ask. "I am so tired of fundraising after a year and a half of campaigning. I just could not get my mind around the idea of starting to fundraise again, so I'm just going to play it by ear."

No Big Deal

San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber President JIM CUNNEEN will be hobbling around in a cast for a couple weeks after cracking a bone in his foot last week, a day before his 41st birthday. Cunneen reports that the incident occurred across the street from his office on South First Street early Thursday morning as he was strolling to get a cup of coffee. But afterward, the heroic Cunneen went on with his day before seeking medical attention: "We had a board meeting around 7:30am, so I hobbled in and did the board meeting, and then I was the moderator of the Santa Clara Valley Water District's water summit at 9am. And at that point, my foot was really hurting, so I took it in and got it X-rayed. It was a fracture on the bottom of my foot." Interestingly, after asserting that the injury was "no big deal," something seemed to jog Cunneen's memory. "Actually, what happened was there was this guy ahead of me on the street, and he was about to get hit by a car, so I pushed him out of the way and saved his life--but the car clipped my foot."

Splitting Perks

Neither side appears to be budging in the settlement talks between lawyers for San Jose Mayor RON GONZALES and his ex-wife, ALVINA GONZALES, and despite published reports, it doesn't look like the divorce will be final anytime soon. "They are divorced and the property issues have been resolved," reports NANETTE STRINGER, Ron's attorney. "But the support issues are still in the pretrial phase." A quick glance at the court file reveals that LYNN YATES-CARTER, Alvina's lawyer, is really interested in nailing down the value of the mayor's perks, which, in this game, can count as income. In one filing, a CPA hired by Yates-Carter asserts that the mayor gets "in excess of $82,000 a year" worth of proverbial free lunches--which, of course, includes free breakfasts, dinners and other comped diversions. (Speaking of perks, the two Gonzaleses each get to keep the frequent flier miles in their own names.) Eye blushed upon discovering that a 2-year old Public Eye column had been introduced by Yates-Carter as an exhibit to show how Alvina tirelessly supported Ron's political career, and that a quote saying "She's what made him human. Without her, he's just a machine--an aggressive, heartless, politician" had been helpfully underlined in red. Meanwhile, the lawyers can't agree on where the case will go next. Stringer, Ron's attorney, says the case may be settled. "It's not necessarily going to trial, and there's no trial date set. We're still working to negotiate." But in Alvina's corner, Yates-Carter isn't as optimistic about reaching a settlement. We still have remaining the issues of attorneys fees and spousal support," she says. "There's been no change in position. Nanette's still looking at his pay stub and I'm still saying that the pay stub doesn't tell the entire story. It may well go to trial."

Friendly Fixers

Political fixers GREG SELLARS and JEFF JANSSEN ran rival campaigns during the primary, but now the two are getting ready to go into business together. Sellars ran Mountain View Councilwoman ROSEMARY STASEK's campaign for the 22nd Assembly District and Janssen worked as campaign manager for Santa Clara Councilman ROD DIRIDON Jr. But while they both lost when SALLY LIEBER walked away with the Democratic nomination, the two started talking after the election about doing a formal partnership. Sellars and Janssen met in the early '90s while working on an open-space authority campaign. Sellars worked for political consultant RICH ROBINSON before starting a new firm with HENRIETTA EPSTEIN and ROGER LEE. For the last four years, Sellars has been on his own. Janssen was a staffer for Rep. NORM MINETA (at the same time Diridon worked as an intern) before turning his back on politics and heading off into the high-tech world for five years. Sellars says the fledgling firm already has some clients lined up, including a Central Valley congressional candidate, and may also include another local political consultant. Sellars is also a Morgan Hill councilman running for a second term in the fall. ... Another behind-the-scenes political worker is also moving on: CHRISTINA URIBE. The South Bay Labor Council political director recently took off for a new job in Sacramento as campaign manager for a statewide Election Day Voter Registration ballot initiative. Uribe says the measure has bipartisan backers that include Common Cause, the League of Women Voters, L.A. County Sheriff LEE BACA and former local Congressman TOM CAMPBELL.

Police Trait

San Jose Councilwoman CINDY CHAVEZ is working with Police Chief BILL LANSDOWNE and City Manager DEL BORGSDORF to assemble a task force of downtown residents, business owners and customers to take an overall look at how police are handling downtown and what needs to change as the downtown does. Chavez acknowledges getting some complaints about the level of policing downtown but says that's not the reason she wants to form the committee. Assistant City Manager MARK LINDER, speaking for a vacationing Borgsdorf, also says, "There's no connection to complaints, it's not a response to that." Chavez says it's about taking a broader look at the role of police downtown. "As San Jose becomes a 24-hour, seven-day city, everything we do in the downtown has to evolve with that. What I really want is that we have entertainment and policing strategies that encourage people to come downtown and enjoy themselves in a safe environment."

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From the May 30-June 5, 2002 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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