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[whitespace] Dubious Distinction: Asst. Sheriff Laurie Smith is one of two women invited to an outing of the Pescadores, an all-male club. She didn't go.

Christopher Gardner

Smells Fishy

A recent article in The Recorder and a follow-up story by Metro on an all-male social club apparently has the legal community buzzing. Municipal Court Judge Ray Cunningham informs Eye that someone is asking for an official opinion from the California Judges Association about the propriety of belonging to the 70-year-old fishing and golf club known as Los Pescadores de San Jose (or the Pescadores).

As reported in last week's Metro, at least eight local judges belong to the Pescadores, including Robert Ahern, John Ball, Daniel Creed, Leon Fox, Thomas Hastings, Hugh Mullin and Ed Pearce. Other law-enforcement types belong, too, such as Sheriff Chuck Gillingham and District Attorney George Kennedy. But there's a rub for judges in the club: Judicial canons prohibit them from belonging to an organization that discriminates, and Los Pescadores has no mujeres. ... Club defenders like Judge Ball argue that the Pescadores don't discriminate because there are no written rules preventing women from joining. It's just a coincidence that there are no members of the female persuasion, they say. Besides, dames don't go for that fishing and golfing stuff; they're too busy cooking dinner and having babies. ... Meanwhile, Judge Cunningham, a member of the Pescadores himself, reveals that he won't participate in any club activities until the judges' association issues its opinion and settles the matter. Not that Cunningham necessarily believes the Pescadores discriminate. (On two separate occasions, he casually invited Muni Court Judge Jamie Jacobs-May and sheriff candidate Laurie Smith to attend club events.) But he acknowledges that there's a perception among his peers that the Pescadores is an elite good old boys' club. And for judges, who must follow strict ethical rules, appearances count just as much as the real thing.

Part-Time Resident

The Tahoe Daily Tribune ran a flattering puff piece last month about a local woman running for sheriff--in Santa Clara County. The headline read: "Part-time South Tahoe resident running for Santa Clara Sheriff." Below was a toothy portrait of Laurie Smith, who faces Ruben Diaz in the November runoff to become this county's top cop. Smith owns a home in the Tahoe Keys with her husband, Brannan. On paper, it looks like more than just a vacation pad. According to the article, Brannan "lives in Tahoe full time" and holds down jobs at a traffic school and Century 21. He also owns a boat that happens to be registered in South Lake Tahoe. And property records indicate that the couple claim homeowner exemptions--tax breaks for owners who live on their property--in both Palo Alto and Tahoe. "[Smith] knows that if she is elected to the new position," the June 18 Daily Tribune story observes, "it will most likely cut into the amount of time she will be able to spend at Tahoe. Despite the setback, she said, becoming sheriff will be worth it." Diaz squawk-box Ed Vasquez chortles, "She'll have plenty of time to vacation and resume her life in Lake Tahoe after the election." ... Smith owns a home in Palo Alto, and her 15-year-old daughter goes to Paly High. The Palo Alto Weekly has run a couple of local-gal-makes-good stories, reporting after the primary that Smith "lives in the Downtown North neighborhood with her husband and daughter." At press time, Smith wasn't available for comment, at either address.

One-term Wonder

Behind the scenes, a high-ranking city official says that Santa Clara City Councilman Jim Arno was telling people that he planned to run again despite his legal troubles. But on Monday Arno's lawyer, Ron Rose, told the court a different story: Jimbo wouldn't be running for public office after all. Arno pleaded no contest for failing to properly disclose nearly $14,000 in campaign contributions from convicted felons in the trash-hauling business. Arno-agitators still want the judge to formally disqualify him from running for re-election or any other elected office. . ... Afterward, a supporter hustled Arno out of the courtroom, thereby allowing him to dodge reporters. Rose stepped forward and explained to the media that "Jim never intended to serve more than one term." Someone apparently forgot to tell ex-Mayor Eddie Souza this. Souza was wearing a makeshift sticker that read, "Elect Jim Arno." Jacob van Heeckeren, another Arno apologist, fumed after the hearing (and out of Rose's radar), "Jim would have defended himself if he didn't see a $50,000 legal bill in front of his eyes."

That's Gotta Hurt

If referendistas succeed in putting the Town & Country project on the ballot this week, the ensuing campaign promises to be lively. Already, both sides have written letters to District Attorney George Kennedy asking him to investigate the other side's tactics. Signature-gatherers are accusing the developer's goons of intimidation and rudeness. The developer's hired guns, meanwhile, are accusing petition-peddlers of fudging rules requiring them to be registered voters in San Jose. ... And mayoral candidate Pat Dando, who opposes the project, appears to be gearing up to make this a big campaign issue. Dando held a press conference in front of a Target store last week, hyperbolically blasting the developer's "terrorist tactics." She then dodged questions from reporters asking who was financing the referendum drive, which is paying up to $1.50 for each signature collected. But Eye suspects Dando knows more than she lets on. The day after the press conference, a new campaign committee filed papers with the city clerk called "San Jose VOTE--Voters Opposed to Traffic Escalation, the committee for public review of the Town & Country project." It just so happens that the committee is being controlled by Dando herself. Among its leaders are Dando backers John Redding and Dave Fadness.

Son of a Birch

Dick Lane butt-kisser Sterling Harwood recently passed this tidbit along to Eye about Lane's opponent, U.S. Rep. Tom Campbell. It seems as if our moderate Reep congressman's voting record earned him a higher rating from the John Birch Society this year than conservative Frank Riggs. The Birchers gave Riggs a score of 50 out of 100, while the Campster got 55 points for taking courageous stands against Puerto Rican statehood and affirmative action. House Speaker Newt Gingrich received a 57 rating. The average score for House members was 38. Here are how some local Dems from the Northern Cali delegation fared in the Birch ratings: Anna Eshoo, 11; Zoe Lofgren, 6; Tom Lantos, 17; Pete Stark, 24. Congratulations, Tom, and keep up the good work.

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From the July 30-August 5, 1998 issue of Metro.

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