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[whitespace] Rebecca Cohn Just Peachy: Rebecca Cohn roped Herb Wesson, a good bet for the next Assembly speaker, into hitting a fundraiser at her Saratoga home last week.


Public Eye

Two-Way Courting

ASSEMBLYMAN Herb Wesson (D-Los Angeles) was in town last week for a fundraiser at the home of Assemblywoman Rebecca Cohn (D-Saratoga). The event was notable because Wesson is a rising star in Sacramento, if not the rising star. When Assembly Speaker Robert Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) is termed out next year, pol watchers say, Wesson is the slam-dunk candidate to grab the gavel from him (Hertzberg, by the way, helped Cohn during her campaign). ... Wesson's presence was most likely due to a couple things: First, he was doing a favor for a member who's going to be one of the votes he needs if he wants to ascend to the speaker role, and second, Democrats are doing whatever they can to hang on to Cohn's formerly Republican (i.e., Jim Cunneen's) 24th district to make sure it doesn't fall back into the paws of the elephants. And along with Wesson and Cohn cozying up to one another, Assemblyman Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) was also spotted in the crowd of a couple hundred at the poolside event, along with a mix of labor types, education folks and elected officials from the West Valley. Cohn's husband, Ron Cohn, who is highly regarded for his abilities in the kitchen, treated guests to homemade brownies, and Cohn reportedly dished out a couple of her own ice creams: peach and cinnamon. ... Speaking of upcoming Assembly races, there have been whispers from in-the-know Republicans over the last few weeks that Republican Jeff Denham was considering a rematch with Assemblyman Simon Salinas (D-Salinas), who beat him last year in the race to succeed outgoing Republican Pete Frusetta in the 28th district. But when Eye got Denham on his cell phone and mentioned the whispering, the notion just got a big laugh out of Denham. "Well, it hasn't been whispered by me," Denham said. "I'm waiting to see what redistricting looks like before I make a decision. The district could be very different." Denham did confirm that he's building a new home in King City, which could be shuffled around when the lines are redrawn. And he's still involved with politics: Denham spoke Monday to a group of Young Republicans in Salinas.

Pokey Platform

It's not often that a San Jose mayoral candidate calls Eye to talk about getting arrested, but it happened last week. Wearing his Los Angeles Marathon medal around his neck, Luis Garza says he was jogging from one bar to the next at Fourth and Taylor streets late Thursday night when police took him to the nearby County Jail on a public intoxication charge. "I was just jogging along when the police pulled me over and used me as a practice dummy," Garza charges. Garza admits he "had a couple beers" and says that when the officer asked him if he was drunk he said he was "not drunk enough." ... Police spokesman John Carrillo, however, tells another story. According to the police report, an officer saw Garza crossing against a light, and when he pulled over to the side of the road, Garza "immediately started cursing and challenging his authority." When the officer got out of his car, Garza threw his cowboy hat to the ground and took off his jacket as if preparing for a fight. When Garza didn't follow orders during a pat-down, the officer wrestled him to the ground. The report also notes that Garza was unsteady, had slurred speech and a heavy odor of alcohol. What's worse, Garza alleges, is that his jailers kept his cowboy hat ($150) and suede coat ($250). ... Garza was a mayoral candidate in 1990, but was aced out in the primary after getting just 1,869 votes. This time, he's getting an early start: City clerk Pat O'Hearn confirms that the candidate filed his intention statement in April. And the fact that he was in a holding cell in the middle of the night didn't stop Garza from telling fellow jailbirds that part of his platform calls for better police services and remodeling the jail (even though, Eye should note, it's technically a county facility). Apparently unimpressed, jail guards moved Garza to a different cell.

Survey Says ...

Unionistas are fuming over a survey that went out to county employees Friday. Part of the reason for the $50,000 pulse-taking effort, which is being administered by an outside consultant, is to get some kind of response on what it can do to get and keep workers. Deputy County Exec Leode Franklin says the recent boom made recruiting and retention difficult. ... The survey in question addresses several issues, from commuting and child care to office supplies and voicemail. But it's the questions in the compensation and benefits section that drew the ire of officials down at the SEIU Local 715, to which about half of the county's 16,000 employees belong, and about a half-dozen other unions ... Some questions are off-limits, according to a union memo that went out to shop stewards last week. "We believe all the questions about benefits, wages and PERS are inappropriate and illegal," the memo charges. "After all, we are currently in negotiations over a contract extension regarding exactly those items." The union has also filed an unfair labor practice complaint with state labor regulators. County supervisors authorized the survey June 26 over the objections of labor leaders after County Counsel Ann Ravel said it was clean, legally speaking. That still doesn't fly with 715's work-site organizer Gabriel Hernandez, who says, "It's very disrespectful that they wouldn't listen." Results won't be in until September, but in any case, the survey won't be wasted, Franklin says, even if it gets a response rate as low as 40 percent. But one manager upstairs at 70 W. Hedding calls the tactics overly aggressive: "Basically what they want is to destroy the survey, and now they've done it."

Council Crowd

Palo Alto's august, all-white City Council might look a little different next year. With five of nine seats open this fall, Hillary Freeman is making a bid that could make her the council's first African American woman, while Chris Kelly would be by far the council's youngest member by more than a decade if he wins. Freeman, 44, is a manager at software maker SAS Institute and boasts a history of neighborhood activist-type involvement with local schools, volunteer groups and nonprofit boards. Kelly, 30, joined Bill Clinton's campaign in 1991, then joined the administration as a policy analyst for a couple years. He is now the Chief Privacy Officer for Excite@Home. College Terrace neighborhood activist Pria Graves has also confirmed that she'll be looking for a seat. They'll be going up against three incumbents: Victor Ojakian, Jim Burch, and Mayor Sandy Eakins. The other empty seats belong to Gary Fazzino, who is termed out, and Lanie Wheeler, a former councilmember appointed this year to fill the seat left empty by Liz Kniss. Filing ends Aug. 10, but it's almost certain that more names will pop up before then.

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From the August 2-8, 2001 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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

For more information about the San Jose/Silicon Valley area, visit sanjose.com.




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