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Tom McEnery's Trunk

The actors rehearsing an early version of Sketch 10 thought they'd nailed the piece pretty well last Saturday afternoon. "It read better than I thought it would," JIM REESE, the actor playing former Mayor TOM McENERY, said to the group of 14. "Funny stuff," someone responded. Reese's Irish brogue, a nod to McEnery's well-publicized heritage, wasn't dead-on but that wasn't the point. McEnery's inflated sense of self was: By the middle of the skit, McEnery claimed ownership, in one way or another, to most of the city, including next month's Grand Prix Champ Car race. McEnery, who writes his own weekly spoofs on sanjoseinsidecom, might appreciate the skit, which will be performed June 27 at the San Jose Stage Company's annual Monday Night Live!, a satire of South Bay politicians that raises money for the 200-seat theater. Then again, in the skit, McEnery can't spell knowledge correctly, a brutal reminder that not everyone is mesmerized by his Renaissance Man self-portrayal. FORREST WILLIAMS, the District 2 councilman who had one of the best lines from last year ("There's something in PAULA ABDUL's trunk and it goes, k-thunk, k-thunk, k-thunk"), returns to host this year. In his opening monologue, Williams riffs on the small number of blacks in the city and reminds culturally deficient audience members that he's not former Councilman TERRY GREGORY. Williams also takes a whack at McEnery for rewriting history in a Pulp Fiction ripoff that should test Williams' ability as front man. Cast against type as the street-wise JULES character, Williams waxes philosophical about Oakland pot laws, NORA CAMPOS foot massages and GEORGE SHIRAKAWA's portly body. How do writers CATHLEEN KING and RICK SINGLETON know they've gone too far? If they hear groans in the audience instead of laughs. "We try to push the envelope," says Singleton, who has worked with King on each of the 12 Monday Night Lives!. "But the show is about satire. It's not about crucifixion." This year's production will focus on lobbyists much as last year did. Mayor RON GONZALES' garbage contract mess won't escape a few punch lines, probably in the Weekend Update-like segment toward the end of the show. King and Singleton began writing the show three months ago with help from political insiders, honing their shots for what is expected to be a highly partisan crowd. "We sort of know who we're playing to," says King, who is also the show's executive producer. Can the producers promise any surreal moments like last year's Terry Gregory cameo, when he appeared as a black Elvis impersonator, singing "Don't believe the news" weeks after being outed in the daily paper as a first-rate hustler? "The show's always pretty surreal," says Singleton, MNL's director. "I'm always amazed at what the politicians are up for." Tickets are $60-$100 and still available at the Stage Company's theater box office at 490 S. First St.

Voss' Loss

If ED VOSS was supposed to be bitter and resentful after his latest run at the District 7 council seat, he didn't look it last week. Under a cloudless sky at the Los Lagos golf course, where Voss had teed off at 5:30am, the 52-year-old real estate agent was his normal coffee-infused self, holding court on a range of issues, from underprivileged school kids to JOE MONTANA to his feeling that organized labor has corrupted city politics. Before the June 7 special election, several pundits speculated which of the other eight candidates would grab second place. In their minds, Voss was No. 1, based on the election he ran in 2002, where he earned 4,100 votes in a runoff with TERRY GREGORY, who didn't finish a full term. In that race, two Voss supporters were fined for mailing campaign brochures without reporting the mail-outs within the proper time period. Voss was exonerated, more or less, but still feels his enemies were able to smear him for taking "bribes." Even though he spent only $12,000 this time around, compared with $165,000 in 2002, he was still considered formidable because he'd been president of the McLaughlin Corridor Neighborhood Association, one of the largest neighborhood associations in the city. Voss was told he'd gather at least 3,200 votes, or 80 percent of his 2002 total. Instead, he managed 700 votes, good enough for fourth place. So what happened? Voss doesn't know. "The bottom line is that it happened. You can analyze it to death, but it doesn't matter. You can say what about this and what about that, but I've got to move on." Voss entered the race later than other candidates, and he didn't hire a campaign staff. He says a lot of his time was devoted to two mail-outs he designed himself. One of them said he wouldn't bombard voters with telephone calls like the candidates of "powerful special-interest groups." "Apparently that didn't have the juice I thought it would," Voss says. "Maybe people like to be bugged on the phone." The fact that he was the McLaughlin neighborhood president also didn't work in his favor. Fifty percent of McLaughlin residents are Vietnamese-American, which happens to be the nationality of the top two finishers in the District 7 race, MADISON and LINDA NGUYEN, ensuring the city will have its first Vietnamese-American on the City Council. Voss, meanwhile, says he won't run for office again. "I felt cheated last time, like something was dangling. This time there's nothing dangling. It was a clean and clear result."

Money Don't Talk

He's rich, all right. That's what S.J. planning commissioner BOB DHILLON proved once again in the District 7 special election two weeks ago. Dhillon, a real estate tycoon, spent the second-most money in the race, $67,000, as of the end of May, most of which Dhillon himself donated to his campaign. What did he receive for his hard-earned cash? Slightly more than 300 votes, good enough for sixth place in the nine-candidate field. LINDA NGUYEN, a real estate attorney, outspent Dhillon by $25,000 but at least her money bought a spot in the September run-off. Dhillon said he had no regrets and might run again even though he spent nearly $100,000 in a failed 2002 bid for the District 7 seat. He wondered why we equated votes with dollars spent. "What is the right amount of money per vote in your opinion?" he asked us. The answer: Just enough to avoid embarrassment, which in Dhillon's case would have been about $50.

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From the June 22-28, 2005 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2005 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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