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[whitespace] Sally Lieber Push Comes to Push: Was Mountain View Councilwoman Sally Lieber improperly putting the squeeze on the firefighter's union prez?


Public Eye

Playing With Fire

LOOKS LIKE Assembly candidate and Mountain View Councilgal Sally Lieber's attempt to make headlines isn't going as planned. Lieber called the head of her city's firefighter's union, Capt. Dale Kuersten, recently to ask him for the group's endorsement. But Lieber didn't get what she wanted out of the call. The way she tells it, Dale said the union wouldn't back her because she wanted more women to join the ranks. That didn't sit well with Lieber, and she shot back with a letter. "I find it unacceptable to be told that my efforts to see that women are recruited into the department is a 'problem' when it comes to endorsing my candidacy," Lieber wrote. "Have I ever told you that I spent 10 years as a construction worker? I know about the difficulties women face when breaking down gender barriers in the workplace." Lieber also faxed the letter to local media, and before Kuersten ever saw a copy, he was getting calls from reporters. But Kuersten says Lieber's take on their talk is way off base, and the proud papa boasts that his daughter took and passed the firefighters' physical test. "Sally called and used the conversation for political purposes; then she stretched the truth," Kuersten grumbles. "I felt like I was coerced into supporting her campaign--she kept me on the phone for over an hour." Kuersten says he never said anything about opposing women firefighters, which isn't a union issue anyway, and he also told Lieber the union won't make any decisions until the redistricting process ends and they've had a sit down with all the candidates. Shrugs Leiber: "It was the number he asked me to call him back at." Speaking of prized endorsements of the firefighter unions, Lieber's opponent, Santa Clara Councilboy Rod Diridon Jr., claims he's already got three big ones in the bag: San Jose, Santa Clara and the county fire departments. And if Lieber wants the backing of her own fire department, she's going to have to fight two other Democrats: Mountain View council colleague Rosemary Stasek and Sunnyvale Councilman Jack Walker have also declared in the race for the 22nd Assembly seat.

Signs of Live

One thing that always warms Eye's cold heart is seeing button-down pols and bigwigs guffawing and knee-slapping outside of their usual dreary habitat. Case in point: This week's Monday Night Live, the annual fundraiser for the San Jose Stage Company. Modeled on the original Saturday night incarnation seen on TV, the local version (now in its eighth year) features political types mocking themselves on-stage along with company actors. The bawdy and occasionally lewd event packed in about 260 insiders, and if you didn't know about it you're obviously not a player in the valley. The gags, of course, skewer mostly San Jose's electeds, and a few from the county, plus the governor, the president and Larry Ellison. For workaday types who couldn't swing the $30-$100 tix to the sold-out event, Eye will provide some amusing crumbs to nibble on. Downtown Councilwoman Cindy Chavez served as host, and the object of HAL's artificial affections. The talking computer from 2001: A Space Odyssey couldn't stop asking about her, after apparently having read San Jose Magazine's mushy cover story on S.J.'s four female councilors. "I like strong women," HAL said. "I really like Cindy. She perks up my Pentium." One sketch, based on Survivor, mocked the mayor's staff-retention troubles, with current and former staffers all voting budget man Joe Guerra off the island--until an unseen figure clandestinely told the producer to leave Joe and boot everyone else. Sheriff Laurie Smith got one of the biggest laughs--with a line that was reportedly ad-libbed. After the shotgun-toting, poncho-wearing sheriff broke up the hanging of Ellison (an actor dressed in a diaper, of course) for his curfew violations, the arrogant billionaire baby challenges the law lady to "Take me to your jail! It can't hold me anyway." Smith, who by day is pushing for reforms in the escape-plagued county corrections system, shoots back: "That jail can't hold anybody." As is usually the case, the best gags wound up on the cutting room floor. In the Survivor/ Guerra sketch, Gonzales was reportedly supposed to play the behind-the-scenes fixer. Eye also heard that a dig at Metro cartoonist DeCinzo was deleted along the way. Another jab at Ron was dropped from the Weeknight Update segment. Eye's sources say the gag had the news anchor reporting that "the mayor, his mistress and his acrimonious divorce continue to make news. How it will affect his political career remains unknown." After a pause, the anchor says, "Of course, we're talking about New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani."

Construction Boom

Nobody likes waking at the crack of dawn feeling like the world is about to end. Especially downtown resident Terence Curtis, who lives in the old Medico-Dental apartment high-rise across the street from the City Hall construction site. Curtis fired off a letter to city officials last week after construction crews roused him at 6:30am. "For the second day in a row, [these] inconsiderate bastards are dragging truck-size metal containers across the asphalt and dropping sofa-size chunks of concrete into them." Curtis wrote. "Please imagine the sound and realize I am startled awake by it. My heart racing [sic] before I even open my eyes." Curtis said he wasn't upset about the noise, just that it was so loud so early, and asked the city to put a stop to it. Curtis apparently got what he wanted. Redevelopment Agency mouthpiece Peggy Flynn emailed Curtis back to say that the agency had talked to the contractors and got them to start at 7am and to put off the heavy-duty banging and clanging until 8am. "Please accept our apologies for the disturbance," Flynn wrote. Anyone else who wants to experience the demolition derby on East Santa Clara Street can check out the webcam Curtis has trained on the site, at www.spilledink.com/webcam.

Toyota for Honda

Was it the high gas prices, or did that appointment to the House Science Committee go to his head? Whatever it was, Rep. Mike Honda is now tooling around D.C. in a new hybrid car that runs on both gas and electricity. After sitting on a waiting list for several months, Honda took delivery of the high-tech toy in May. The same day, Honda spinmeister Ernest Baynard says, he promptly used it to zip across town to an event promoting a fusion R&D bill sponsored by Rep. Zoe Lofgren--where the presumably jealous Zoe checked out the new ride. The car, which lists for about $20,000, gets up to 52 mpg and uses braking energy to recharge the batteries, so Honda won't have to find a place to plug it in. Spins Baynard of his green-friendly boss: "Mike wants to walk the walk."

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From the June 28-July 4, 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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