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[whitespace] Rod Diridon Out of the Bag: Ex-Supe Rod Diridon told friends and associates this week that he and his longtime wife, Mary Ann, are calling it quits.

Diridon Station

Former county Supervisor Rod Diridon invited a dozen or so old staffers and friends for lunch at his home this Monday to make a somber announcement: He and his wife of 35 years, Mary Ann Diridon, are going their separate ways. The Diridons were among the valley's more recognized power couples. Mary Ann, the proprietor of a secretarial service, just finished her term as the San Jose Rotary Club's first female president. ... Rod arranged the get-together last week after word of the breakup had gotten out and become the topic of dinner gossip around town. On Monday, the Rodster sadly revealed that his split with Mary Ann was a while in the making. "It was as humbled as anyone ever recalls Rod being," a Diridon acquaintance observed. Diridon also disclosed that he and Commonwealth Club chief Gloria Duffy are officially an item now. Mary Ann, meanwhile, apparently plans to move to the state of Washington to live with a friend. ... If all this weren't disruptive enough, the county is pulled the brake cord on one of Rod Almighty's pet transportation projects. Last month the Fair Management Corp. board refused to give Diridon's nonprofit, the California Trolley and Railroad Corp., the go-ahead to begin construction of the long-planned Railroad & Archive Museum. The FMC board disapprovingly noted that Diridon had secured only $1.6 million for the estimated $6.18 million project. "[W]e have serious reservations about the viability of the project for the reasons stated," deputy county executive Pete Kutras wrote Diridon, "and believe we need to reassess the situation and whether we should proceed with the project." Despite Kutras' objection, Diridon managed to persuade Supervisor Pete McHugh to put Diridon's wish list on the board's final agenda--a time-certain slot at 10 a.m., no less--before summer recess. Unfortunately, the board was preoccupied with the not-yet-settled labor dispute and didn't have time for Diridon's museum and held most of his requests over until Aug. 31. Witnesses say Hot Rod left in a huff, high-tailing it out of the board chambers faster than a speeding bullet train.

Johnny and Sher

A tried-and-true method of scaring off the opposition in politics is to show the money. Later this month--when elected officials are supposed to submit campaign disclosure records--Palo Alto state Sen. Byron Sher will show donations totaling in the high six-figures, a Sher aide promises. Sher's aggressive early fundraising binge is no doubt designed to put the fear of incumbency into Assemblyman Ted Lempert, who has been toying with the idea of challenging Sher in the March primary. ... Giving Sher a helping hand is John Burton, the powerful and profane Senate prez who sits next to the soft-spoken Stanford prof on the chamber floor. Sacramento insiders say Burton is none too pleased with the specter of a Democratic showdown in the primary, especially with Republican Assemblyman Jim Cunneen eyeing the race. In the era of term limits, Burton wants to send a clear message to termed-out Assembly Democrats like Lempert not to eat from the ranks of his beloved Senate lineup. "He's protecting one of his own," a savvy Sacto spectator says. Meanwhile, Lempert insists he won't be intimidated by a strong financial showing by the Shermeister. "I've been outspent before," Lempert sniffs.

Next, Please

Without question, the most important decision Mayor Ron Gonzales will make in his rookie season is whom he chooses to replace retiring redevelopment dictator Frank Taylor. Despite the intense secrecy surrounding the selection, Eye has been able to ascertain the names of a couple of applicants who have made the short list to replace Taylor. ... From inside the agency there is deputy director Harry Mavrogenes. If Mavrogenes has a major flaw it's that he was twice hired by Taylor, whom the Gonzales gang doesn't trust. An administration-friendly source insists that the mayor will recruit someone from outside the agency. ... Short-lister Leslie Parks, office of economic development director, enjoys the unique vantage point of knowing San Jose's bureaucracy while not a Taylorista. In fact, OED and RDA have been bitter rivals for years. Parks is perhaps best known for besting former city bureau rat Steve Westly for OED's top slot. Westly's now a zillionaire at a little Internet company called eBay. From what Eye gathers, Westly did not apply for the $170,000-a-year post.

Marshall Plan

San Jose State University's business school dean, Marshall Burak, will step down next month after 18 years atop the ivory tower. Burak's career change comes after he received the six-year review required of all deans. Official word is that Burak will be on "special assignment" for the next year as assistant to provost Linda Bain. University spokeswoman Carol Menaker says that afterward, Burak will take a yearlong leave, then return to teach in the accounting and finance department. Yeah, right. "It's easing him out is what it is," says a university prof familiar with the situation. ... Burak won't comment on all that loose chatter, though. He just smiles coyly and says he's going back into industry and is talking to several firms. During his tenure, Burak built up an outside M.B.A. program that pulled in a $2 million annual profit and, along with a committee of execs, raised $15 million toward a $20 million B-school renovation, probably a state system record. ...Sounding anything but broke up about the opportunity to triple or quadruple his pay, he philosophizes, "It was just time to move on."

Us Against Us

Talk about toeing the party line. The county Democratic Central Committee has voted to amend its bylaws to discipline committee members who break ranks and endorse a Republican against a Demo in local nonpartisan races. Under the new rules, a committee member can be removed with a vote of two-thirds of his or her peers. Not everyone is thrilled with the new arrangement. One local Democratic activist, who asked not to be named, groused, "Are we really going to remove somebody who was elected by a Democratic slice of the public?" The activist added that there have been precious few instances in recent memory where committee Dems have crossed party lines. In one case, Santa Clara City Councilwoman Aldyth Parle endorsed Reep council candidate Bill Murphy over Democrat Patricia Mahan last year. In another instance from 1998, water board member Rosemary Kamei backed her Reep colleague over Dem-backed candidate Chris Stampolis. Stampolis, by the by, was one of the proponents of the bylaws change. Of course, he denies that old wounds motivated his support for the rule, which he notes echoes the state party central committee's policy.

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From the July 15-21, 1999 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 1999 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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