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[whitespace] Liz Figueroa Love Line: Do state Sen. Liz Figueroa and Attorney General Bill Lockyer have more than a platonic, professional relationship?

Public Eye

Capital Love Shocker?

YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston to inspire cocktail-hour gossip in the state capital. For quite some time now, Bill and Liz--not Brad and Jennifer--have been the topic du jour among tattletales. Bill and Liz, of course, are Attorney General Bill Lockyer and state Sen. Liz Figueroa (D-Fremont), who are rumored to be romantically involved, though no one seems to have ever seen them do more than eat dinner together. In fact, a Republican operative swears he spotted the two dining at the California Pizza Kitchen in Sacramento last Thursday night around 6:30 pm. (Then again, the lawyer may be parading about with the newly single legislator to put more scurrilous rumors to rest.) Figueroa and Lockyer are old political allies: She won Lockyer's old senate seat with the AG's support. ... The latest rumor about the Democratic Duo comes courtesy of a local pal of disgraced ex-Insurance Commish Chuck Quackenbush, who has been pestered by the attorney general for his role in forming "sham" nonprofits that helped promote his political career. According to the pal--a well-known Democratic activist from the west valley whom Eye bumped into at the recent Monday Night Live show at the San Jose Stage Company--she and her husband recently visited with the Quakester to chat and lend emotional support. During their chat, the conversation turned to the subject of the attorney general and Figueroa (whose husband, Robert L. Bloom, filed for divorce in February, court records indicate). Quackenbush, a Reep who used to represent Silicon Valley in the Assembly, told his Demo friend that, according to capital scuttlebutt, Lockyer proposed marriage to Ms. Liz--and she rejected his offer. ... Neither Quackenbush nor Figueroa could be reached for comment. Nathan Barankin, a spokesman for the attorney general, flatly refused to answer any of Eye's hard-nosed journalistic queries, explaining, "We don't respond to questions about Lockyer's personal life."

Rowe Your Boat

Earlier this year, former Sunnyvale mayor and town gadfly Frances Rowe adamantly denied rumors that she was moving out of the city, proclaiming, "I'm going to be like the proverbial cockroach. I'll just keep coming back." The other day, however, Eye called Fran's phone number only to find out it had been disconnected. Eye then called a few bureaucrats in City Hall, one of Fran's favorite haunts, to ask if they had seen the mercurial ex-mayor. "I haven't seen her in months," reports City Councildude Jack "Don't-Call Me Johnny" Walker. Walker volunteered that a real estate agent told him that Rowe had sold her Sunnyvale house in the past couple of months and moved up to "a city on the Peninsula." County records show that the Alabama native and her hubby, Clive, sold their Sunnyvale pad for a ho-hum amount of $620,000, just enough dough to buy them an unfurnished woodshed or the equivalent in the hyper-inflated Peninsula housing market. Eye will, of course, miss Sunnyvale's proverbial cockroach, though city officials are privately celebrating having eliminated their pest problem.

Pining Away

The mayor is against it. So is the council member who represents the south San Jose district where the proposed 600-megawatt power plant would operate. So are nearby residents and Cisco Systems, which plans to build a massive research campus just down the road. In other words, Calpine and Bechtel have little or no hope of getting the San Jose City Council to approve their planned Metcalf Energy Center. Their only hope at this point may be intervention from above--in this case the California Energy Commission. The commission has the power to override the City Council's anticipated opposition and give the project the go-ahead. However, as far as anyone can remember, the commission has never overruled a local recommendation on a proposed power plant. "We believe there's a legitimate reason for the CEC to override," opines Calpine spokesman Bill Highlander. "Whether they will or not, I don't know." Calpine at least has an influential ally in the Legislature, Sen. Steve Peace (D-El Cajon), one of the architects of energy deregulation. This week Dow Jones newswire reported that Peace "said he will fight to get Calpine Corp.'s ... power plant built in Silicon Valley." Project opponents like Santa Teresa homeowner Issa Ajlouny were skeptical as to why Peace would get involved. "It makes one curious," Ajlouny sniffs, "why a senator from San Diego is so concerned about a power plant in San Jose."

Charging Ahead

Seven months after he got busted for allegedly hitting and stiffing a cab driver while drunk, Sunnyvale City Councilman Jim Roberts is going to have his day in court. This week the district attorney belatedly filed one misdemeanor charge for public drunkenness against Roberts. The councilor, however, avoided being charged with battery and defrauding the cab driver, which police cited him for when he was arrested in December. Prosecutor David Howe refused to say why he dropped the last two charges or why it took so long to take any action against the elected official. Howe told the Sunnyvale Sun around the time of the arrest that he hoped to decide whether to file any charges by the end of January. As for Roberts, he appears to be backing off from his original vow to plead not guilty. When asked how he would plead at his upcoming July 24 arraignment, Roberts replied, "I don't have any comment on it right now." Should he be convicted, Jimbo could face a maximum penalty of six months in jail.

Pussy Politics

It should come as no surprise that Sheriff Laurie Smith is coming to the rescue for a group of feral cats at the Elmwood Correctional Facility. She is not only a serious cat lover, her own kitty, Crystal, was born at Elmwood 13 years ago. Smith says she picked Crystal, a white longhair, because "she was just the cute one" in the litter being watched over by jail inmates. "She's the best cat in the entire world," the she-riff brags. But shortly after making her boast, the sheriff paused and said, "I don't want you to portray me as a cat nut. I like animals." Which is no doubt why she is in law enforcement. ... In May, the burgeoning feral cat population got the dander up of a few jail officials, who ordered that they be euthanized. Then Smith and Supervisor Pete McHugh--another cat lover who has a pride of kitties running around his Milpitas home--got wind of the death order and helped engineer a moratorium on the killings. The Board of Supervisors is scheduled to reconsider the issue in August, but Smith is confident that the killings will stop and that county officials will opt to neuter or spay the cats to control the population.

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From the July 13-19, 2000 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2000 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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