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Pre-Flight Check: Political consultant Gene Lokey examines the
propeller on his Piper Archer airplane during a trip to Mendocino
two years ago.

R. EuGene Lokey, 1944-1997

It was a crystal clear Sunday in Canada's Kootenay Lake region that claimed the life of one of San Jose's most colorful political figures this week. Piloting his Piper single-engine craft in the steep Rocky Mountain terrain near Nelson, British Columbia, Gene Lokey was a cautious, experienced pilot well aware that mountains and heavy loads present the greatest hazards. But Royal Canadian Mounties theorize that he misjudged the horsepower needed to gain altitude amid the sharp and windy 5000-foot peaks and clipped a tree. The plane flipped and landed on its roof, instantly killing Lokey and his three passengers. "It's a common type of accident up here," the mountie tells Eye. ... Lokey was anything but common. A beekeeper, thespian, world traveler, vintner, gourmand, cigar afficianado and consummate conversationalist, Lokey was passionate about life and loved to fly. But his first love was politics. He had been a fixture on the local scene for three-and-a-half decades since beginning his studies at San Jose State University in the 1962. "I can't imagine politics without him," comments longtime friend and colleague Beverly Ellenberg. A similarly shellshocked longtime friend, county supe chair Jim Beall, praises Lokey (a former Beall aide and veteran of 75 political campaigns) as "an astute political mind" and "brilliant strategist." ... Lokey had been executive director of an East Side health clinic in the 1970s, and a longtime advocate for the Family Health Foundation of Alviso. The 52-year-old Georgia-born consultant could have easily collected riches lobbying for the rich and powerful. Instead, he championed family wineries, silicon breast implant victims and community nonprofits, often pro-bono or for reduced fees. He authored and obtained passage of emergency legislation in 1991 to correct a sales tax levied on free newspapers that would have put many small student and community-based newspapers out of business. "Lokey pulled off a miracle after the big newspapers and trade groups abandoned small publishers," recalls METRO editor Dan Pulcrano, a close friend who first encountered Lokey while writing a column in this space in the late 1980s. ... Services are pending.


Read Her Lips

Eye has learned that anti­domestic partners crusader Pat Shrum is exporting her taxpayer revolt. Shrum, the executive director of the Santa Clara County Taxpayers' Association, announced this week that she's taking a one-year sabbatical so she can assist other communities threatened by the scourge of same-sex partners receiving government benefits. Eye-watchers may recall that with the assistance of the religious right, Shrum gathered 60,000 signatures to force a referendum on Santa Clara County's proposed domestic partners registry, which could appear on next year's ballot. Most recently, Shrum persuaded decision-makers in Humboldt County to indefinitely table a proposed domestic partners ordinance up there and tells Eye that she plans to help tax-haters in Santa Barbara and West Hollywood, a gay stronghold, put together referendums to overturn their domestic partners laws as well. Shrum, of course, insists that she doesn't concern herself with the morality side of the issue, rather, she just don't like taxes. Touchy-feely liberals rejoicing Shrum's departure should be made aware that she'll be back in time to run the campaign to defeat Santa Clara's registry next year.


She Said, He Denied

Rowena Smith, a board member of the California School Employees Association, is in a dither this week after getting royally snubbed by Assemblyman Pete Frusetta when she recently visited the Capitol. Smith claims that while in Sacramento meeting with other legislators last month, she decided to pop her head into Frusetta's office and thank the Capitol Cowboy for his vote on a bill being backed by the public employees' union. Besides being a union rep, she's also a constituent living in one of the pockets of San Jose that Frusetta represents. As Smith tells the tale, when she said hello to Frusetta, he put on his Stetson, turned away and rode off into the sunset without so much as a "Howdy." "While we have not always agreed on issues, after traveling over 100 miles to meet with our elected representative, we believe we are at least entitled to be treated civilly," Smith grouses. "I thought the way he treated me was extremely rude." Devin Brown, a spokesman for Frusetta, was incredulous. "This is so outrageous. We have no idea who this woman is," Brown pouts, adding that no one in the office had ever heard from Ms. Smith by phone or in person. Some quick background: There's definitely bad blood between the CSEA and Frusetta; the union bitterly opposed the Republican's re-election, Brown tells Eye. Brown theorizes that Smith's complaints are simply the product of sour grapes inside the union because Frusetta won.


Slightly Profane

Normally, San Jose Assemblyman Mike Honda is known as a mellow and good-natured fellow who might spontaneously burst into song in the office or recite bad haiku behind the dais. But Honda blew a gasket recently when U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kansas) slurred in a mock Asian accent during the Congressional hearings examining laundered foreign donations to the Democratic National Committee, "No raise money, no get bonus." Brownback's verbal transgression, along with other revelations like Reep officials naming their softball team "Chinese Laundry," motivated Honda to issue a one-page tirade to the press and enlist 26 other state lawmakers to sign onto a polemic sent to Sen. Fred Thompson, chair of the investigating committee. "Senator Brownback proved what's been said all along," Honda seethed. "This investigation is nothing but a racist and partisan hatchet job on the Asian American community. ... I hope the public can now see the total lack of credibility by which these hearings are proceeding and the epidemic of racism that now afflicts the Republican Party." Reminded that Brownback quickly apologized for his comment, Honda aide Bill Wong corrected that the senator merely said he meant no slight. "It would be like if I said, 'Fuck you,' and then told you that I meant no slight."


Copy Cats

Call us cheap, but the law's the law. Under the California Public Records Act, most public agencies can only charge for the actual cost of duplication. Months back, Eye asked officials to justify the county's high copying fees. The county charges $1.70 for the first copy and five cents for every copy thereafter. (The city of San Jose, by contrast, charges a flat rate of 10 cents per copy.) Eye eventually received an answer with a cover letter signed by Deputy County Counsel Kathy Kretchmer confidently stating, "I agree that the costs charged for duplication are to be the actual cost of making the copy and the cosst (sic) of the person running the machine." One problem: Assuming it takes about two minutes to make the average copy, the county's formula would result in the clerical staff person running the copying machine making $101,000 a year. As Eye contemplated a profitable career in the challenging field of clerical work, county officials hastily apologized for the mathematical error and promised to revisit the copy fee.


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From the July 31-August 6, 1997 issue of Metro.

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