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Public Eye

The Odd Couple

It seemed too weird to be true: state lawmakers Quentin Kopp (I-San Francisco) and Lou Papan (D-San Mateo), previously mortal enemies, listed as co-authors and collaborators on a piece of legislation. Ten years ago, the pair ran against each other for state Senate in a nasty race in which Papan sent out a hit piece with the caption "No Jews Allowed" after Kopp attended a club that only had a few token Jews as members. Kopp, in turn, had an aide dress in a chicken costume and taunt Papan for refusing to debate. ... As it turns out, Kopp mistakenly listed Papan as a co-author--at least that's what Papan's people say. According to Papan aide Ed Randolph, his boss bumped into Kopp in a Capitol hallway and traded a few friendly words about an insurance bill; then, for unclear reasons, Kopp mistook Papan's kindness as meaning he wanted to be a co-author. The surly San Francisco senator has since removed Papan's name from the bill. ... By the way, Randolph insists that the two men have put their past battles behind them. "Now they're very good friends," Randolph tells Eye. Another Capitol regular describes their "friendship" a little more mildly: "I don't think they hate each other anymore." ... The bill in question dealt with switching the state insurance commissioner from an elected to an appointed post, which raised the dander of insurance industry foe Harvey Rosenfeld. Rosenfeld and his crew faxed press releases attacking Papan, the bill's "mistakenly" identified co-author, reminding reporters of Sweet Lou's other life as an insurance agent and a bully who once punched out a colleague. This succeeded in pissing everyone off, including the ever-volatile Kopp, once a Rosenfeld ally. Kopp fired back with a nasty missive with plenty of CCs to fellow lawmakers. "I'm not intimidated by you. ... I do, however, now appreciate fully the reason you are detested by most legislators," Kopp ranted. He concluded by sarcastically advising Rosenfeld: "Be of good cheer."


Promises, Promises

Shortly after employees at the Odd Fellow-Rebekah Children's Home in Gilroy chose to unionize last month, the home's executive director, Don Limburg, wrote the Gilroy Dispatch: "The home's board and administrative staff have been consistent in their position that this confidential election was the right of the employees and we will honor their decision. As in most elections of this type, some degree of division and disagreement has occurred and we will now need to work toward a healing of those wounds." ... One week later, Eye has learned, Limburg had lawyers file a legal objection to the election with the National Labor Relations Board. So much for healing wounds. One of the home's primary objections has to do with the fact that supervisors participated in the vote, which they say poses a conflict of interest. However, the home's top administrators knew that supervisors were going to vote in the election beforehand, concedes their attorney, Richard Falcone. ... This is just the latest tactic the home has used to discourage its workers from unionizing. Before the election, Limburg brought in consultants who blitzed employees with propaganda practically likening joining a union to joining a mind-control cult. "Once you get in you may never get out," one flier warned. Loretta Johnson, a spokeswoman for the Service Employees International Union Local 715, reports that the NLRB regional director has already tossed out the home's latest objections, though that decision can be appealed. Ultimately, Johnson says, the ordeal could delay contract talks for up to six months if Limburg chooses to heal wounds with the same salt.


Model Citizens

San Jose's elected and appointed vanguards in City Hall just can't keep their minds out of the garbage these days. Officials have been grumbling ever since the "recycle at work" trash reduction program was launched a few weeks ago and custodians confiscated their wastebaskets. Regular trash cans were replaced with a plastic cup the size of a Super Big Gulp for all nonrecyclable garbage (e.g., banana peels, and copies of The New City-State, ex-Mayor Tom McEnery's book). "Do you give out a straw with that?" one office skeptic snickered during an executive staff meeting where the new 3.5-quart trash cups were introduced. ... "We knew we'd have some initial complaints," says Lindsey Wolf, a spokeswoman for the environmental services department, which oversees the city's residential recycling program. "Part of it is an education process and part of it is that it takes a little time to make changes in our daily behaviors." These new inconvenient behaviors include regularly emptying trash cups into one of the centralized garbage cans in City Hall. City Manager Regina Williams believes the new program not only will increase recycling but will also give custodians more time to dust furniture and shampoo rugs. Nevertheless, Councilman John Diquisto couldn't help but gripe about the petite size of the new trash cups: "At least with the old trash cans I could sit on them; these things just collapse."


Mayor Moonbeam

The dozen or so listeners to Tom McEnery's Sunday night radio talk show probably noticed the Macster's absence this week. McEnery is getting in touch with his ancestral roots in Ireland, leaving his radio gig in the hands of his old aide, Councilman David Pandori. The ex-mayor's summertime excursion has some insiders privately questioning McEnery's seriousness about running for mayor again next year. "Maybe he is serious about running for mayor," one wag allows, adding, "running for the mayor of Dublin, that is." ... Some South Bay pols are certain that McEnery's not insubstantial ego won't allow him to sit on the sidelines next year. Another school of thought, however, argues that his ego actually won't allow him to run because, as his 1994 congressional defeat to Zoe Lofgren suggests, he might very well lose. His public ambivalence has even spurred comparisons between McEnery and a fellow radio talk show host, former Gov. Jerry Brown: Both have reinvented themselves as anti-politicians who constantly toy with the idea of returning to politics. "What's the difference between Tom McEnery and Jerry Brown?" asks a local pundit. "One of them has a sister who ran for governor."


Blast off

Following the Cinco de Mayo fiasco, this year's Fourth of July celebration downtown passed almost without incident. Festival producer Bruce Labadie confides that airport officials did force the fireworks show to start 15 minutes late. Fortunately, Tahitian hula dancers were around to keep the audience entertained. Apparently, one guy found the belly dancers a little too entertaining: Police arrested a man masturbating while watching the show. ... No, the cannons didn't sound this year at the event, though Labadie insists that lawsuits filed by two musicians against the city of San Jose and other festival organizers had nothing to do with their absence. For the uninformed, oboist Robert Hubbard and violist David Gilbert claim that cannons fired while they were performing the 1812 Overture last year damaged their hearing. That's not all: Gilbert's wife is also named as a plaintiff for suffering the loss of her husband's love, companionship and sexual relations since the blast.


Public Eye welcomes tips. Leave messages 24 hours a day by calling 408/298-7818 and then pressing 2, followed by 412, to reach Eye's voice mailbox. Send email messages to eye@sjmetro.com.

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From the July 10-16, 1997 issue of Metro.

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