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[whitespace] To Promote and Serve: The jail guards' union is accusing sheriff candidate Diaz of holding correctional officers captive while he told them what a great guy he is.

Public Politicking?

It may be the political equivalent of the All-Star break for the general election, but there's still lots of game-playing going on in the sheriff's race. The county employment services agency is investigating a grievance filed by Correctional Peace Officers' Association prez Richard Abbate accusing Asst. Sheriff Ruben Diaz of politicking at the jails. Personnel chief Pete Kutras sent a memo out at the end of June reminding players in the sheriff's office to avoid campaigning on public premises. ... Abbate, who is backing Asst. Sheriff Laurie Smith in the fall runoff, is accusing Diaz of informing a captive group of jail guards during the June 12 day-shift briefing of what a great guy he is. Specifically, Abbate alleges that Diaz's "address to the employees included a brief biographical description of his education, employment and experience which qualifies him to hold the office of sheriff." King Richard wants the county to forward his complaint to the state Fair Political Practices Commission. CPOA legal beagle Doug Allen went so far as to suggest that Smith--also a client--should be given equal time. ... For his part, Diaz says that he was politely honoring an invite to speak to the troops about the sheriff's takeover of jail operations. He insists he neither mentioned being a candidate for sheriff nor solicited donations. "Any suggestion that I did not conduct myself in a professional and legal manner is miselading and irrational," Diaz sniffs. One thing Diaz does admit telling the correctional officers that day is that he opposes giving jail guards full peace officer status, which no doubt ticks off a cop-wannabe like Abbate. One officious county wag observes that if this grievance process drags on long enough, the matter could land on the desk of none other than the newly elected sheriff. ... One last note: In a surprise move, the board of the Deputy Sheriffs' Association--the CPOA's arch rival--is recommending endorsing Smith over Diaz.

Backfill Man

The South Bay is by and large a Democratic stronghold. Therefore, most state lawmakers from these parts are Democrats who oppose Gov. Pete Wilson's proposed slashing of the vehicle-license tax, which provides billions of dollars to city and county governments. The odd man out is Reep Assemblyman Jim Cunneen. He backs the governor on this one, with this condition: The state, via a constitutional amendment, must ensure that local government not lose any revenue by "backfilling" money from the general fund. But the locals don't trust the state to come through with the dough and are pressuring Cunneen to back off the car-tax slash, which they consider an election-year ploy. South Bay labor lady Amy Dean speculates that Jimbo wants to appear loyal to his party's leadership and position himself for a state Senate run in 2000, when he'll be termed out of the Assembly. "He's worked hard to be seen as a moderate in this area ... but this time he's showing his true colors," Dean pouts. Not so, insists Cunneen flak-catcher Bob Hines. "Jim supports it [the car-tax cut and the backfill amendment] because it's good policy." So there.

Agua Caliente

The South Bay's peculiar penchant for naming edifices after public officials who haven't croaked yet continues. This time the culprit is the Santa Clara Valley Water District, which is in the process of rebuilding its $18 million mothership off the Almaden Expressway. Upon direction from the board of directors, district staff came up with a few names of living legends like ex-general manager John O'Halloran, former general counsel Albert Henley and retired director James Lenihan. Never mind that the district already got the Lexington Dam renamed the Lenihan Dam. ... In a memo to district propagandist Teddy Morse, board member Bob Gross confides that he feels a little uncomfortable naming the new building after the living. "I would think it more appropriate," he writes, "to keep it somewhat generic to the industry in which we serve." His less-than-serious suggestions: "House of Water," or the more culturally diverse "Casa de Agua." Apparently, Gross' needling had an effect on his colleagues. By the time the water board met this week, three of the top naming options listed were Building A, Building B, and Builidng C.

Musical Chairs

With Mayor Susan Hammer out of a job at the end of the year, some of her underlings have been busy figuring out their next career moves, and some already have a foot out the door. Mayoral spokesman Kevin Pursglove, the former host of KQED radio's Forum program, has been toying with the idea of returning to journalism, though he's got nothing solid lined up. Policy wonk Maura Keaney is headed for the CORO Foundation in San Francisco. Budget dissector Ken Johnson landed a graduate gig at Harvard. No one is sure what's to become of Johnson's boss, Bob Brownstein, who has kept quiet about his plans. There was speculation over at 70 W. Hedding that a $94,000 post as the county's affordable-housing coordinator proposed by Supe Jim Beall--Brownstein's fishing buddy--was tailor-made for the mayor's departing budget chief. But the board refused to fund the post, thus snuffing out that job opportunity. ... Speaking of Beall, his political operative Sequoia Hall is leaving the county to return to school and get his college degree.

His exit leaves Amy Moore as the last remaining policy aide Beall hired during his first year in office in 1995. By all accounts, Hall's departure is an amicable one. ... And an FYI for those who haven't been able to reach Vice Mayor Margie Fernandes' strategist, Ben Tripousis: He's taken a job with the city's public works department as a transportation policy specialist.

Making Amends

Milpitas Vice Mayor Bob Livengood and Mayor Henry Manayan have tangled from the day Manayan was sworn in nearly two years ago. With two reliable allies on the five-member City Council, Livengood has been able to block Manayan's commission appointments and appoint his own sycophants. So Milpitans are trying to figure out why the Bob-cat is supporting Manayan's re-election this November. Most had pegged him as Manayan's chief threat in the fall election. A couple of Milpitas-savvy sources say that Livengood--who in the past two years has gone through a divorce, seen his pizza business go under and been accused by a former city employee of sexual harassment (falsely, he says)--has other priorities in his life now. Those sources report that Livengood is undergoing something of a spiritual revival.

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From the July 9-15, 1998 issue of Metro.

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