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[whitespace] Legitimate Concerns: Downtown Councilwoman Cindy Chavez says cardrooms are legitimate businesses--but not in her district.

Royal Flush

It is hardly a gamble nowadays for politicians to decry cardrooms as the root of all evil, if not the cause of the common cold. New Mayor Ron Gonzales, for instance, has bravely ventured to say that he doesn't consider card clubs legitimate businesses. But new downtown City Councilwoman Cindy Chavez hasn't been so quick to deal the card clubs a four-card flush. She even described card clubs to the Mercury News as legitimate concerns. For the sake of accuracy, perhaps Ms. Cindy should have qualified her remarks to say that card clubs are legitimate as long as they don't operate in her district. ... On June 1 Chavez sent a memo to her council co-horts urging them not to let Garden City move from its Saratoga Avenue location to the FMC site by the airport. In bold letters she wrote, "I specifically oppose the move of Garden City or any other cardroom to District 3." ... District 3 is already home to a one-table "cardroom" in the back of historic Tony's Pool Hall on Taylor and Thirteenth streets. Anyone driving by recently might have noticed a big "For Sale" sign on the front of the building. Owner Tony Ciraulo explains, "It's a losing operation; we're losing money." Word of Tony's being put on the market got back to Chavez, who asked her colleagues not to tinker with the city's laws governing the transfer of cardroom licenses. The laissez-faire approach, the frosh councilorette schemed, would put Tony's out of the card business for good, once Ciraulo sold the pool hall. Not so, says city attorney Joan Gallo. Ciraulo's Lucky Palace Inc. can transfer the license to a new owner as long as he or she passes the proctology exam by state and local authorities. ... One final gambling note: Ex-convict and former Garden City president Nick Dalis is prowling around San Jose once again. Dalis was spotted dining at trendy Eight Forty North First Street last month, skimming through the newspaper.

Roller Bogeyman

Roller-skating enthusiast and perennial mayoral candidate Bill Chew had a few unwanted visitors at his home last month: the narcotics unit of the San Jose Police Department. According to Sgt. Derek Edwards, the drug cops were following up on a tip. Exactly what the cops were looking for or what they found is a mystery. Assistant district attorney Karyn Sinunu will only confirm that no charges were filed. "Everything I know," Sinunu says, "indicates that the suspect had a viable, affirmative defense." Even the normally glib Chewmeister was reticent. "Where did you hear that?" he demanded when Eye asked if the cops had served him with a warrant recently. "It's none of your business what it [the warrant] was for," he snapped. Observes one San Jose wag, "If it weren't for [Chew], we'd have a boring little town."

Temper Temper

When a meeting trudges into its fifth hour, people can start getting cranky. And that is what happened at last week's Sunnyvale City Council meeting after the clock passed midnight and Councilman Stan Kawczynski started pestering city manager Robert LaSala about his travel budget. As Kawczynski tells the story, LaSala accused him of micromanaging. This irked Kawczynski, who took LaSala's comments to mean that the Stan-man should not ask any questions of his subordinate. "He fired the first shot across the bow," Kawczynski recalls, "saying I can't ask questions, and that upset me royally." LaSala concedes that he, too, felt his blood pressure go up. At some point, LaSala interrupted Kawczynski, which agitated him even more. "I interrupted him," LaSala says, "and it was inappropriate and I apologized immediately." But Kawczynski says he doesn't remember LaSala making an apology, though a witness does recall the city manager offering a mea culpa. "It was very heated," Councilwoman Julia Miller says. "We were all squirming."

Family Affair

It seems as if Gov. Gray Davis' administration is becoming a job-placement destination for the Trounstine clan. As Eye-watchers may recall, Mercury News scribe Phil Trounstine ditched his job as a hack to be a flack for Davis. But it was another Trounstine from the governor's press office who was quoted the other day in the San Francisco Chronicle: Jessica Trounstine, the Philster's daughter. When Eye rang up the guv's press office in search of Ms. Trounstine, she wasn't too hard to find. She was the one who answered the phone. "I got hired before he [dear old dad] did," explained the poli sci grad from UC-Berkeley. "I hired him." Of course, she was being coy about that last part. Eye is well aware of Phil's qualifications for the job. He was pre-election publicity chairman.

The Waiting

Apparent congressional candidate Bill Peacock initially insisted he had no idea why, as Eye revealed last week, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported in 1992, when he ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in Missouri, that he opposed the Brady Bill, which imposed a waiting period on gun-buyers. "I took no position other than support of its previous iterations," he wrote via email. "I do not know how this material could indicate otherwise unless it is erroneous in its inception." But after a little prodding over the phone, Peacock conceded he had concerns about earlier versions of the bill. "[A]s recently voted, I am in support," he assures Eye.

Love, Raymond

While we're on the subject of the city of the sun, City Council aspirant Ray Montalvo abruptly withdrew from the race last week leaving bicycle enthusiast Tim Risch and conspiracy theorist (and former mayor) Frances Rowe in the chase for seat no. 7. The announcement came as quite a surprise because everyone seemed to love Raymond. He had lined up the endorsements of prominent Sunnyvaleans such as Assessor Larry Stone and Assemblywoman Elaine Alquist. He already had a campaign manager and had thrown a fundraiser. One donor groused, "I wrote him a check; I better get my money back." ... Montalvo's excuse for bailing out is less than convincing. In a press release, he blamed his departure on the extra workload associated with his "new" executive position at the bakery chain Le Boulanger that he "recently" accepted. The position: director of retail operations. Funny, just three months before, in his kickoff press release, Montalvo said his job was director of marketing and retail operations. Montalvo tells Eye that the job titles are similar, but his responsibility level will rise. Le Boulanger, by the by, just happens to be owned by Montalvo's in-laws.

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From the June 10-16, 1999 issue of Metro.

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