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[whitespace] Byron Sher Snubbed Again: Smarty-guy state Sen. Byron Sher got passed over again for the California Journal's award for Intelligence.

Public Eye

Minnie Me, Not

CALL HIM the Susan Lucci of the Minnies. It seems like every other year, wonkish state Sen. Byron Sher (D-Palo Alto) gets snubbed by the hacks at the California Journal,who invariably give their semiannual Minnie Award for "Intelligence" to higher-profile lawmakers, who don't possess Sher's academic prowess, but do possess a personality. (One obvious exception happened in 1996 when Tom Campbell, a constitutional law professor and another dull guy, won the award.) This year, Sher, a graduate of Harvard Law School and professor emeritus at Stanford Law School, lost out to the guy who made the cult movie Attack of the Killer Tomatoes--combustible El Cajon Sen. Steve Peace. Sher insists he doesn't mind not getting top billing--again. He also notes that he was listed as a legislator with "serious wattage." "I'm pleased for them to say I have 'high wattage,' " Sher says, adding, "[Steve Peace] is a formidable guy." A Sher apologist says the senator's low-key style doesn't help him with the judges. "In order to win one of those you need to be a self-promoter," the Sher partisan argues. "Byron isn't a guy who goes out of the way to get publicity." ... Sher shouldn't feel too bad. No one from Silicon Valley's legislative delegation came in first in any of the eight Minnie categories. Capitol Cowboy Pete Frusetta, whose Assembly district includes Gilroy and south San Jose, did get listed under the "Influence" category--as opposed to the "Under the Influence" category--as one of "the great ignored." Ouch, pahtnah! Eye reckons that ain't no compliment. ... Meanwhile, esteemed state Sen. John Vasconcellos (D-Santa Clara) was a runner-up to his colleague DeDe Alpert (D-Coronado) in the Integrity category. But he also got knocked as one of the Senate's top obstructionists, which would make Vasco an ethical pain in the ass. "It's not my preferred behavior," he tells Eye, "But I can't stay silent in the face of some of this stuff."

Old School

Twice this year, House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt has come to Silicon Valley to stump at schools for Assemblyman Mike Honda, the Democratic nominee in the 15th Congressional District race. Each time, something screwed up the handlers' predigested script. A couple of months ago, Gephardt joined Honda at Leland High School to tout a public-private partnership to buy computers. But in the middle of Honda's speech, unwisely scheduled near the end of the school day, the bell rang and dozens of students filed out of the room before Honda could finish. ... Gephardt was in town again last week, this time for an appearance with Honda at Santa Clara High School. But Honda wound up missing his own event because he chose to stay in the capital to vote on a pending gun-control bill. ... Honda campaign manager Jennifer Van der Heide says that despite past snafus, her boss won't rule out future school appearances. "I wouldn't say it was bad luck," she argues. "It was a great event [at Santa Clara High School]. We're just sorry we didn't have Mike there."

Peacock on the Fence

The same day Gephardt was in town for Honda, Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) flew in to guest star at a town hall meeting being held by Assemblyman Jim Cunneen (R-Campbell), the Republican nominee in the 15th Congressional District. What had some local Dems buzzing wasn't McCain's presence at the event, but the presence of Bill Peacock, the Democratic millionaire businessman who lost to Honda in the primary. Peacock has yet to officially endorse either candidate, yet some pols privately wondered whether his appearance at the event meant he was leaning toward ditching the Dems and backing Cunneen. ... Peacock, however, clucks that he still hasn't decided whom to endorse in the race. "I showed up [at the Cunneen event] to see my old friend John McCain," explains Peacock, who says he first met McCain 25 years ago in Washington, D.C., when the Billmeister was assistant secretary of the army and Big John was a little congressional liaison for the Navy. Peacock says they became good pals and he even helped McCain move into a new apartment back in the day.

Deputy Dogged

Former councilzealot David Pandori shows no signs of mellowing with age now that he's pursuing a public-service career as a deputy DA. Pandori happens to be handling the resisting-arrest case of Aaron Rivera, the teenager featured in a Metro story last year ("Night Clubbing," June 17, 1999) who accused a San Jose cop of throwing him through a glass window, beating him repeatedly with a baton and landing him in the hospital for 21 days. Recently, Mr. Congeniality issued recently departed staff writer Jim Rendon a subpoena ordering him to appear as a trial witness. Because Rendon now works for Verde Media in San Francisco, Metro attorney Duffy Carolan asked Pandori if Jimbo could sign a form promising to appear on 24-hour notice. Instead of faxing the form Pandori told Carolan, "I want him IN COURT to sign the form." So Rendon and Metro's lawyer dutifully showed up at the Hall of Justice Monday at 8:30am. Pandori, however, didn't arrive until 9:15, Rendon says, with the excuse that he "couldn't find" the needed form. Not only that, court clerks claimed they were all out of the forms in question. And furthermore, the trial apparently doesn't even start until next month. Eventually, Pandori agreed to accept Carolan and Rendon's promise to appear in court with 24-hour notice. Looks like it's time for DA George Kennedy to take that boy out to the woodshed and teach him some prosecutorial protocol.

Om Boy

When earthbound politicians leave politics, they invariably attribute their decisions to dutiful but dull things like wanting to spend more time with their family. But not the ever-cosmic Jan Hutchins, who says he won't seek a second term on the Los Gatos Town Council. Eye-watchers may recall Jan from such classics as "The Pledge of Allegiance Flap," where he caused a stir by not saluting the flag at a Rotary Club meeting during his 1996 campaign. Once elected, Hutchins compromised by reciting his own version of the Pledge that replaced the word "flag" with "ideals" and "republic" with "disciplines." "I've come to believe our advancement as a people depends more on the 'inner politics' of individual human transformation," the New Age Nin-Jan (who happens to be a licensed massage therapist) explains in a letter to the Los Gatos Weekly-Times this week regarding his decision not to run for council again. "So I'll be investing more energy 'following my bliss,' using yoga and body work to cultivate awareness, compassion and inner peace."

Om, dude.

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From the June 8-14, 2000 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2000 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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