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[whitespace] Rick Callender Changing Tune: NAACP President Rick Callender has criticized San Jose police, but now he's singing their praises.

Public Eye

Stalking Heads

LAST TIME SOUTH BAY NAACP PREZ Rick Callendermade headlines, he was slamming San Jose police for racial profiling. Callender filed a complaint that officers searching for a thief were rude when they questioned him in May (an internal probe cleared the officers). Callender had another run in with the cops last week, but this time he was happy to see them--and, he jokes, help them do their job. ... At first, it looked like Callender's girlfriend was getting some unwanted attention from a man who lived in the neighborhood, but then it got creepy. "It started with him leaving love letters and notes and lingerie on the car, then standing up on top of the car looking in my bedroom window," says Callender, who flew back early from an NAACP convention in New Orleans when he heard what was happening. Police came out but couldn't find the alleged stalker, who Callender says had also keyed his Jetta. Then, thinking the man might come back, Callender left his window open Thursday night. At around 1:30am, Callender says he heard a loud thumping sound and looked out to see the same guy trying to smash the window of his car with a six-pack of beer. Callender ran out dressed only in his boxers and confronted the frustrated paramour while his girlfriend called the cops. Uniformed officers were on the scene within a couple minutes and arrested the suspect. A department spokesperson confirms that police arrested Zeff Avalos, 36, on felony vandalism charges. Stalking charges may also be filed. "It's interesting, me on the side of police," Callender muses. "You generally don't have the NAACP and the police department working together so well." ... A grateful Callender says he's going to send a letter to Police Chief Bill Lansdowne praising Lt. Richard Calderon and Capt. Randy Cooper and other officers for their help. ... Callender, who is toying with a run for San Jose's District 7 council seat next year, says he's also gearing up to work with Lansdowne to lobby state lawmakers for funding in the next budget cycle that would give the SJPD money for additional police training funds.

Cast Types

While the political world is in its midsummer hibernation, things are revving up in Cupertino, where three of five council seats are up for grabs this fall. Filing opened Monday, and from the looks of it, the five candidates will fall into two groups: political climbers and community cornbread. In the pol category, Dolly Sandoval--the Foothill-De Anza trustee who came within a hair of edging out Liz Kniss for a supe seat--says she's in. Then there's Geoff Patnoe, who was appointed to the Cupe planning commission in January and told Eye in May that he'd run. At 28, Patnoe is the youngest in the field, but he's experienced as a political operative. The Monta Vista High grad worked for former Gov. Pete Wilson and ran ex-Assemblyman Jim Cunneen's successful re-election bid in 1996. The community types don't have many political credentials, and it doesn't seem like they're looking beyond City Hall. Sandy James will be the lone incumbent (Councilman John Statton moved to Marin in January, and Don Burnett is termed out). Planning Commissioner Patrick Kwok will be taking his first shot at elected office. Rounding out the field is Orrin Mahoney, a former planning commissioner who made a failed council bid in 1999, when he was edged out by incumbent Michael Chang and newcomer Rich Lowenthal.

Close to Quorum

"Everyone was there." That's how one party-goer sums up the Silicon Valley Manufacturing Group bash that former Ebay exec and state controller candidate Steve Westly hosted at his Atherton home July 12. Mangroup man Carl Guardino says this year's was the best attended, with 80 chief execs mingling with almost 60 (out of 120) state lawmakers who made the trek from Sacto by chartered bus. Gov. Gray Davis was on hand, too, along with Secretary of State Bill Jones. The half-dozen attendees queried by Eye couldn't recall catching the two chatting over the salmon, chicken and lamb served there, but Guardino did volunteer that Davis wasn't too busy to spend 10 minutes chatting up three manufacturing group interns. Although the barbecues are a no-speech zone, Davis made a few remarks, thanking everyone for conserving electricity, but wrapped it up "in a minute and a half," one observer reports. "People joked that we should have just closed the doors," recounts Westly, "and not let them out until they'd finished the budget and solved the energy crisis."

Drawn Out

Eye has learned that Mercury News political cartoonist Mark Fiore will leave the paper Aug. 3, just six months after landing his op-ed page gig. Fiore confirms that newsroom brass informed him last month that he wouldn't be making it past his probationary period. Fiore says there weren't any big blowups involved, but hints that his left-leaning style may not have been a good fit for a paper that looks like it's getting more conservative. "But it was never as blatant as 'you're too liberal,'" he adds. Fiore also points out that he was hired under Editor Rob Elder, who will retire soon, and Publisher Jay Harris, who stomped out earlier this year. Whatever the reason, Fiore says the fifth W, the why, wasn't really spelled out for him. Now, the cartoonist--who's grateful he didn't give up his digs in San Francisco to move to SJ--says he'll get back to what he was doing before: freelancing.


In coming clean to a Merc reporter about his love life, Ron Gonzales seems to have threaded the media needle by skirting bad publicity--or any publicity. After Eye broke news of Gonzo's affair with staffer Guisselle Nuñez last year, the mayor insisted the two were heading to splitsville. Nuñez later left the mayor's office for a post at BFI, the trash hauler with a city contract. Last Friday, Gonzales was able to time the announcement so it ran Saturday, when nobody's paying attention to the news. Better yet, the admission comes in July, when the council isn't meeting and many folks are on vacation. Gonzales was out all week himself and conveniently unavailable to take calls from nosy reporters. "We're giving him some time off so he can recharge his batteries and come back refreshed," offers Deputy Chief of Staff Dustin DeRollo, filling in for a vacationing mayoral spokesman David Vossbrink. DeRollo said Eye was the first media query on the topic, although some TV news operations picked up the story this weekend. DeRollo says the admission came during "just a general check-in meeting" with a Merc reporter. One wag calls the move shrewd and well-timed because few people catch print, TV or radio news on weekends, and Gonzales was able to get the issue out before his re-election campaign heats up. "There's no way Gonzales wants this to come out during a mayor's race."

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From the July 19-25, 2001 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2001 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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