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[whitespace] The Best We Can Do? A national search turned up three finalists, including unpopular insider Walt Adkins.

Then There Were Two

The city of San Jose paid headhunting firm David M. Griffith & Associates $15,000 earlier this year to conduct a nationwide search for a new police chief to replace Lou Cobarruviaz. Several months later, the applicant pool has now shrunk to two finalists, both from the Bay Area. (So much for the nationwide search.) The lucky contestants, sources reveal, are acting San Jose Police Chief Walt Adkins and Richmond's leading lawman, William Lansdowne. (Santa Monica Chief James Butts recently got scratched off the short list.) ... The city won't release any information on the job applicants, not even their astrological sign. In fact, the city's designated obstructionist, ex-reporter Tom Manheim, refused to even provide a list of the panelists who interviewed the prospective chieftains, perhaps fearing Eye would get someone to blab. (Memo to Tom: We found blabbermouths anyway.) ... City Hall oddsmakers are giving Lansdowne a slight edge over Adkins. Rank-and-file apparently have been keen on the idea of recruiting a chief from outside the department, but union-connected sources say the troops hold Lansdowne in high esteem even though he isn't exactly an outsider. He was a San Jose cop for more than a quarter of a century before he left to become Richmond's chief four years ago. ... City Manager Regina Williams will make her final recommendation next month--two months behind schedule. Her detractors on the sixth floor already consider her a foot-dragging pencil pusher, and this latest missed deadline only confirms their jaundiced view. The city manager blames the delay on missing advertising deadlines in cop trade publications, which won't do much to appease her critics. "We thought that at the very least," snickers a City Hall spinmeister, "San Jose would get a new police chief before Major League Baseball hired a commissioner."


Courting the Boys

For those curious why the board of the Deputy Sheriffs' Association this week recommended endorsing Laurie Smith for sheriff instead of Ruben Diaz, herein follow a few choice reasons. ... First, Smith doesn't rule out the possibility of promoting a sergeant to the position of undersheriff. Diaz, on the other hand, told the union board he would not go below lieutenant to anoint a second-in-command. The potential significance of Smith's more populist response is this: Jose Salcido, former DSA veep and unsuccessful candidate in the primary, is a sergeant. ... Secondly, Smith performed a resounding flip-flop on the issue of granting jail guards peace officer status, something the DSA vanguard rabidly opposes. During the primary campaign, Smith was the only candidate to voice support for state legislation sponsored by the jail guards' union that would do the deed. But Smith now says she can't support such legislation in the current political climate--the jail guards' bill failed miserably, by the way--and hinted that she might back the DSA's alternative. ... A DSA spokesman also adds that Smith took more time courting the union's support: She turned in a 25-page response to the DSA's questionnaire, while Diaz turned in a minimalist five-page tree-saver. And from a political standpoint she has good reason to woo the deputies. A knowledgeable informant says polling data indicates that a female sheriff candidate might have trouble proving to voters she's tough enough for the job. The endorsement of the department's rank-and-file could go a long way to diminish the gender-sensitive electorate's reservations.


Coming to a Head

Following an announcement Monday of a "breakthrough" in the Headwaters forest deal, capital pundits are predicting victory for the $130 million giveaway Gov. Pete Wilson brokered two months ago. But Eye's Sacto sources insist that the momentum has in fact shifted toward Sen. Byron Sher, the Jowly Green Giant of Palo Alto. ... Sher authored a trailer bill making sure certain conditions are met before the state's share of the $380 million total Headwaters money can be cut loose. Wilson had wanted to include the cash in the general budget--minus Sher's environment-friendly stipulations--a clever ploy to prevent a separate vote on the Headwaters deal. Sher prevailed in round one of that fight. The Guv says he wants it back in the budget, but bigger fiscal matters have dragged him away from the issue. ... Here's a clue to Sher's success: Powerful state Sen. Mike Thompson was one of the few lawmakers to sit through four-and-a-half hours of emotional testimony given during a Headwaters task force hearing (perhaps because he's masochistic, but more likely because he's running for Congress in the Humboldt area). Three days later, Thompson--chairman of the powerful Senate budget committee--signed on as co-author of Sher's bill and screwed up Wilson's plans.


Paid Activism

An inconspicuous ad running in the Merc's classified section this weekend sought "activists" interested in making some extra pocket change by collecting petition signatures at $1.50 a pop. The cause: A referendum to overturn the San Jose City Council's blessing of a massive mixed-use project at the Town & Country. Because referendums don't require public notification of the city clerk, the puppeteers behind the curtain remain something of a mystery. ... Downtown Association boss Scott Knies confirms that a couple of businesses have been hit up for money to fund the referendum, but he didn't say who did the groveling. Another source close to the project whispers that downtown property owner Tom McEnery has made a few fundraising calls on the referendum's behalf. Another name that's popped up is Steve Borkenhagen, the owner of Eulipia restaurant and a McEnery tenant who previously co-financed a poll testing public opinion of the project. ... This weekend Eye bumped into a petition-peddler in front of Lucky's at the Main Street shopping center. The signature-shlepper informed us that the petition would just "put the project on the ballot" and added that the mayor was supporting the initiative. Hmmmmm. Would that be Mayor McEnery or Mayor Susan Hammer, who greased the T&C deal in the first place? Just sign on the dotted line, please.


Budgetary Mutilation

With an extra $22.9 million to lavish on worthy pet causes, the Board of Supes had to think of some clever ways to use the taxpayers' petty cash. The most creative spending proposal this year comes from Supe Pete "Primo" McHugh, who asked for, and got, $25,000 earmarked for a public awareness and education program about female genital mutilation. Not that the female genital mutilation done in some Muslim countries (or FGM, as it's known by health bureaucrats) isn't a ghastly thing. But even Primo concedes that "it is difficult to estimate how many women and girls in Santa Clara County have had this procedure performed or are at risk." Assemblywoman Liz Figueroa (D-Fremont) wrote a law two years back outlawing the procedure after hearing of five cases of FGM in the county. According to McHugh's office, the public health department will be educating local immigrant communities as to the danger of the practice. If all else fails, health hacks might do well to educate multi-pierced deadbeats in cafes.


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From the July 16-22, 1998 issue of Metro.

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