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Sunshine Boy

Bob Hines, press aide to local Republican poster boy Jim Cunneen, was busy blasting the Democrats for killing the assemblyman's online campaign-filing bill this month when another phone call came in. "Can you hold on for a minute?" Hines asked Eye, only to return a couple of minutes later with a changed partisan tune. "That was Jim," Hines reported, and actually, Statesman Cunneen is now looking forward to working with the Demos. Turns out Cunneen had just signed on as a co-author of a similar bill sponsored by a Democrat that had just passed the Senate, now headed for the Assembly. Republican support is crucial because the bill needs a two-thirds majority to pass. The question now is whether Reeps can let bygones be bygones. A Sacramento veteran watching the debate fears that Assembly Reeps scarred by ex-Speaker Willie Brown's reign of terror might kill the bill out of partisan spite. "Cunneen's part of a rabid caucus made up of people who aren't very reasonable," one observer notes. "These are [ex-Orange County Rep. "B-1"] Bob Dornan's ugly stepbrothers." ...Reeps are frothing at the mouth over a couple of things: One, they object to software price controls in the Demo bill, which the GOP stepbrothers say renders the legislation meaningless while allowing Demos to say they voted for campaign-finance disclosure. Two, Reeps want to protect contributors' privacy by omitting not only street address info--an understandable step to foil crafty junk mailers--but also the city where a campaign donor lives, which would make it hard to figure out how much money is coming from inside or outside a district. Cunneen promises he's going to try and work out a compromise with his esteemed colleagues in the coming weeks.

Calculated Gift

In the interest of accuracy in reporting, not to mention community service, Eye recently mailed the campaign committee for state Insurance Commissioner Chuck Quackenbush a $3.99 calculator from Walgreen's. Quack's lawyer, Chuck Bell, told Business Insurance in April that the commish's campaign treasurer inadvertently underreported contributions (including more than $100,000 from insurance companies) because he had added dollar figures manually instead of using a calculator, a mistake for which the Fair Political Practices Commission fined Quackenbush. When Eye called the Quackster's committee to see if the high-tech mathematical device had made it safely, a befuddled staffer revealed that it had indeed arrived but no one quite knew what to make of the unsolicited gift. "We were confused," the staffer admitted, not specifying whether this was before or after the gift. ... Reached at his Sacramento office, attorney Bell kindly clarified his earlier explanation to Business Insurance magazine. The multimillion-dollar campaign, he explained, didn't have software that added cumulative contribution totals from donors who gave more than once. Though Bell didn't know for sure, he suggested the treasurer may have used a calculator to add up the numbers, but didn't manually enter all the contributions. "I think he just missed a few," Bell says, adding that the campaign has since bought better software, thereby sparing Eye the expense of having to do so.

God Squads

They came to settle which team was really on a mission from God. "SJ Councilman George Shirakawa Jr. to slam dunk on priests for charity," the press release promised. On one side of the basketball court at St. John Vianney Church stood the team of Shirakawa and Assistant Sheriff Ruben Diaz. On the other, clergymen Joseph Delgado and Jon Pedigo. The two teams played an abbreviated version of the game "HORSE," only using the letters "GOD." This is how the game works: One team performs a trick shot that, if successful, must be replicated by the other team. If the other team fails, they get stuck with a letter. Whoever spells "GOD" first loses. ... Realizing they lacked athleticism, the two priests relied on ingenuity, reports spectator Jason Rodriguez, who organized a basketball tournament at the church last weekend to raise money for neighborhood youth groups. The resourceful reverends outwitted their opponents when one priest climbed atop the other's shoulders and dunked the ball. The portly Shirakawa and the stocky Diaz decided not to even try that shot. Ultimately, raw talent prevailed. Shirakawa nailed a shot from his knees (fittingly executed after he crossed himself), and Diaz iced the contest when he sank a free-throw--backwards.

Monday Night Live

Despite a few patrons being forced to sit in the aisles because promoters sold too many tickets, the San Jose Stage Co.'s fourth annual "Monday Night Live" political-sketch show went smoothly this year. For the privilege of hosting the show, Supervisor Jim Beall was asked to raise $10,000 for the Stage Co., but, Eye is told, fell short of his goal. (Overall, says promoter Jerry Strangis, the theater group raised around $20,000--its best showing yet for MNL.) Show writers fretted over whether Beall could pull off the opening monologue. With the help of two spastic cheerleaders behind him, Beall did a fine straight man. ... In one skit called "Cannabis Talk," councilmembers George Shirakawa Jr., Frank Fiscalini and Charlotte Powers, playing themselves, consumed fake pot brownies, ate munchies and burst into uncontrollable laughter while the co-host smoked from a bong. Councilwoman Trixie Johnson proved a good sport, turning up at the White House for a stay in the Lincoln Bedroom with suitcases in hand, a cheeky reference to her penchant for traveling. "Politicians seem to leave their egos at the door," Strangis observes, "and are willing to poke fun at themselves." ... Not so with antisocial politician David Pandori, who refused to participate in the festivities but served as the butt of many jokes, including a skit where no one would take him seriously as a mayoral contender.

Night Shift

A six-month undercover investigation led by Foothill College Police Chief Tom Conom apparently found that evening janitors were boozing, sleeping on the job and collecting paychecks for their lack of hard work. According to Trustee Dolores Sandoval, 12 custodians were fired and another 15 resigned or retired rather than go through a formal hearing process. A hearing officer reinstated one janitor who appealed his firing. Sandoval explains that there was little supervision of the evening crew and, besides, supervisors were also implicated in the scandal. "They'd have barbecues or they'd go off-campus for dinner at a pizza joint and then come back and try to work," Sandoval reports.

Los Mundos

Judging by the circulation numbers Eye received in the mail last week, Nuevo Mundo, the Spanish-language weekly bankrolled by the San Jose Mercury News, may want to consider doing its advertisers a favor: fold $5 bills into the next few issues. The latest numbers show that the 13-month-old paper's circulation has hovered at about 39,000 for the past six months. That means just 62 percent of the 62,000 copies put on the street are actually picked up. This falls short of the prediction of Nuevo Mundo's first editor, Angelo Figueroa, who said in a Mercury story that production would be increased to 80,000 within a year. But then, the Merc also reported last November that Nuevo Mundo "claims an audited circulation of 62,000." Perhaps "claims an audited press run" would be a little closer to the truth. Every week 23,000 of those "circulating" copies are pitched into the recycling bin.

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From the June 26-July 2, 1997 issue of Metro.

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