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[whitespace] Ron Gonzales
What's for Lunch?: Mayor Ron Gonzales is rumored to be the main course at a not-so-funny Rotary Club roast led by ex-Mayor Tom McEnery.

Public Eye

The Tom Tom Beat

JUST ABOUT everyone in town already knows that former S.J. Mayor Tom McEnery is planning to flick the ears of current officeholder Ron Gonzales in a heavily hyped June 13 speech to the San Jose Rotary Club. But for those readers not planning to attend the straight-faced roast (such as the mayor himself) Eye is happy to provide the skinny on some of the McNuggets the speech will contain. According to one of our impeccable sources, McEnery plans to ease into things with a tension builder, by saying he's been silent too long on the current mayor's three-year stewardship of the city. McEnery will then enumerate Gonzo's alleged personality defects, namely arrogance and callousness in dealing with the many sensitive personalities downtown. He'll then slam the handling of mayoral matters both large and small, from the city's blind support of Cisco's Coyote campus to Casa Castillo, a family-owned Mexican restaurant that the Redevelopment Agency wants to evict from its space downtown, a story first reported here. Mac will also paint Gonzales as a Dilbertian manager who stifles talented staff and uses the budget as a hammer to punish councilmembers who don't fall in line--an ironic jab coming from the man who gave the office increased powers in the freewheeling '80s and didn't exactly enjoy a reputation for mayoral benevolence. And while McEnery doesn't fault Ron's successful push for BART, he does belittle the achievement as something that's a whole decade from fruition. The lunch bunch can also expect McEnery to use the mayor's upbeat State of the City speech this year against him, saying that Ron can't meet the city's big challenges by simply turning on the boosterish rhetoric. ... Tom will also invoke major names from the city's past as examples of what current leaders should strive for in the future if they want to create a great city that's more than the sum of its parts--instead of grasping for quick fixes and creating an L.A. clone. ... But even with all the posturing, there still isn't any indication from the Macster about what the speech is supposed to mean, and what everybody still wants to know: Is the speech McEnery's attempt to stick his big digit into the downtown voting pool to test the waters? In one of the stranger bits of script, Timeless Tom says he's not obsessed with the upcoming election, which is somewhat hard to accept coming from someone who hasn't stopped talking about the mayor's office almost from the moment he left.

Family Friends

As the Assembly gears up to vote on what has become a mildly controversial gay rights bill this week, a few local members are get- ting slammed on TV with "anti-family" slurs by a conservative lobbying group. Local Assembly newbies Simón Salinas and Rebecca Cohn, both Democrats, are among a handful of state lawmakers targeted by the Sacramento-based Campaign for California Families for their unwillingness to come out against AB 25. That bill, scheduled for a floor vote this week, would let domestic partners have some of the same rights as married couples, including health benefits, pensions and disability coverage. CCF has been hitting Salinas with ads on TV, radio and print, while Cohn is getting hers from ads on grown-up cable stations like CNN and on printed mailers. Cohn says that, strangely enough, she hasn't even made up her mind on the bill (which is scheduled to come up for a floor vote sometime this week) but says groups like the CCF would be the last batch of folks to convince her how to vote. "It's slime tactics, and I don't respond to that," Cohn grumbles. "If they gave good arguments it would be one thing, but to do these hit pieces just doesn't work." Then she reminds, somewhat more pointedly: "And it can backfire." Cohn says she's reserving judgement on the bill, but notes that its provisions apply to all domestic partnerships, not just same-sex ones. The group's director, Randy Thomasson, says CCF is targeting fence-sitting assemblymembers from districts that voted strongly in favor of last year's Prop. 22, the Knight initiative, better known as the gay marriage ban. Elephant Party operatives, meanwhile, are staring at the ground. "We wish those folks would concentrate more on winning elections instead of doing that stuff," grunts Monterey County Republican Party Executive Director Paul Fickas. "They're a faction and we respect them, but we think they should focus on issues. ... Thomasson wouldn't tell Eye how much green CCF's spending on the effort, but would only say that the campaign, which includes radio, TV and print ads plus direct mail, is costing "a lot of money." He informs that CCF picked its pols by comparing how well they did in their districts vs. how well Prop. 22 did. Sniffs Thomasson: "Marriage is more popular than Rebecca Cohn."

Offstage

If there was a stage around downtown during the past decade, chances are Ron Cook of Stages Unlimited helped put it up. Eye was saddened to learn of his death following a motorcycle accident May 24. Cook's company, Stages Unlimited, built the stages, hung the lights and wired for sound hundreds of events, including Music in the Park, the downtown ice rink, the SoFA festival and Cinco de Mayo celebrations. Downtown association director Scott Knies, who started working with Cook more than 10 years ago, remembers Cook as someone who worked hard, putting in as many hours as it took to get something done. Villa Montalvo director Bruce Labadie, who used to run the America Festival, San Pedro Square Brew-Ha-Ha and the San Jose Jazz Festival, also got to know Cook 10 years ago, when he was organizing those events. "He was critical to the success of our events," Labadie says. The funeral for Cook, 39, was held May 31 in Morgan Hill. CHP investigators are still trying to determine the cause of the solo crash on I-280. Cook's ex-wife, Katie Cook, who co-owned the company after the couple's divorce, will continue the business, says her mom and employee Dottie Malley. "Some of the employees have been here nine, 10 years, and they're taking it as hard as anyone would, but there are commitments and there's work to be done, so life goes on, which is what Ron would want."

One Crow

Well, last week while Eye was poking fun at fellow Mercury News scribe Peter Delevett for lifting an item. Today, Eye is not having nearly as much fun. ... Eyewatchers may recall that yours truly accused Delevett of trying to take credit for breaking the story of mayoral grump-boy Joe Guerra's flagging popularity around city hall, but Delevett says he was not laying claim to that rumor, but to another one: that the G-man might bail to the Redevelopment Agency. Upon rereading the column in question, Eye acknowledges its mistake and offers a sincere eye-pology to Delevett. Eye also embarrassingly learned that its original scoop was predated by an SJ Business Journal item in which columnist Tim Roberts revealed that Guerra might need a trip to charm school. ... In spite of all the speculation and arguments over who got it first, Guerra says the redevelopment affair is an old, baseless rumor and he's "not planning on getting any new business cards" anytime soon. He adds that the supposedly empty post at RDA is getting closer to being filled, with redevelopment brass already interviewing the finalists. So it's not true, and you didn't hear it here first, or here at all for that matter.

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From the June 7-13, 2001 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2001 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

For more information about the San Jose/Silicon Valley area, visit sanjose.com.




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