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[whitespace] Breaking the Pledge: Los Gatos Councilman Steve Blanton is running for a third term, something he promised not to do eight years ago.

Made to Break

Eight years ago, a sweet, baby-faced Los Gatos Town Council candidate named Steve Blanton promised to serve only two four-year terms--a self-imposed term limit, if you will. Ahh, funny how those idealistic campaign promises so often go the way of half-hearted New Year's resolutions. Two weeks ago, Blanton filed papers to compete for a third term. "I remember saying what I did in 1990," he acknowledges, "but I'm faced with a dilemma of honoring that or letting everything slide that I've done since I've been on the council. Term limits are generally a good idea, but they should apply to everyone." Eye became suspicious of Blanton's intentions earlier this year when letters started pouring into the Los Gatos Weekly-Times from purported Blantonistas begging Steve-O to run one mo' time. (Indeed, Blanton claims he reconsidered his stance after supporters asked him to give it another go.) One theory for Blanton's reversal has it that he wants to keep his name in the public sphere and run for the Assembly seat held by fellow Reep Jim Cunneen in two years. That's plausible, though Blanton's rising star took a nose-dive when he got creamed in his recent bid for the supervisorial seat now occupied by Don Gage. Others said to be looking at Cunneen's desirable seat include San Jose City Councilmember Pat Dando, Supe Jim Beall and Foothill-DeAnza trustee Dolly Sandoval. ... While we're on the subject of term limits, Murphy Sabatino is busy whipping up a batch of incumbent repellent to stop some county supervisors from adding another four-year term to their offices. ... Sabatino, who led the original term-limits campaign, is making calls and putting together a coalition. He astutely observes that the same politicians who claim to need more than eight years to learn their jobs--e.g. supes Pete McHugh, Jim Beall and Blanca Alvarado--previously spent more than a decade building their résumés on their local city councils. "How much more goddamn time do they need?"

Landmark Ruling

A flier posted in San Jose City Hall recently beckoned bureaucrats "who want to go beyond their current level of performance" to attend a special workshop. The workshop, held at the home of a city employee, was free, but a followup three-day seminar being hyped at the workshop came with a $350 pricetag. Not to worry, the flier soothed: The seminar is an approved "educational" workshop, and thus the city will cover 80 percent of the bill. The event sponsor: Landmark Education Corp., the personal-growth pushers featured in a Metro cover story last month. To refresh porous memories, Landmark is the kinder, gentler for-profit successor to est, Werner Erhard's once popular '70s brainchild that drew criticism for heavy-handed tactics like urination-deprivation. ... So exactly how do taxpayers benefit from sending city employees to three-day psychobabble marathons? Well, explains city spokesguy Tom Manheim, the so-called "Forums" develop interpersonal skills. "Getting along with others as a supervisor or an employee is important," Manheim says. He adds that Landmark has been accredited by a well-known training and education association based in Washington, D.C. Nevertheless, Eye finds it curious that the Human Resources Department--where Landmark converts are said to reside high atop the bureaucratic food chain--made the call to designate the company's workshops as legit educational expenses.

Unclear Cut

Former Assembly candidate and business columnist Hal Plotkin returned to his Palo Alto home the other day to find one of his "irreplaceable" 60-year-old oleander trees sawed to the stump. What Plotkin discovered next made him even more furious: The tree fell victim not to nihilist vandals, but nihilists in the public works department. Seems that the city had closed off part of the street to work on sewers down the block from Plotkin's house. According to Public Works Director Glen Roberts, "someone" had ordered the tree cut because it might have impeded big city trucks needing to pass by during the six-hour operation. When Plotkin tried to find out exactly who mutilated the tree, which technically is on city property, Roberts refused to disclose the information. "We know about Bill Clinton's sexual tastes, but the identity of the person who cut down this tree is a state secret," huffs Plotkin.

Pescadores Recusal

Shortly after news stories on an all-male golf and fishing club called Los Pescadores appeared, a lawyer for Avant! Corp. came up with a novel stalling tactic. Attorney Cristina Arguedas moved to have two club members, judges John Ball and Leon Fox, disqualified from hearing the trade-secrets theft case. She argued that they were breaking judicial ethical canons by belonging to the men's club. Fox responded with a five-page written answer justifying his membership, whining about "inaccurate" news stories, and explaining why he will be an impartial arbiter of the Avant! case. But Ball, one of the few judges with the guts to publicly defend the Pescadores, was going to have none of that wimpy "answer" crap. The cagey judge threw out Avant!'s motion to disqualify him using an obscure code requiring that such motions be delivered either directly to the judge or to his clerk, "provided that the judge is present in the courthouse or in chambers." Ball wasn't in court the day Arguedas filed the motion. After tossing aside the disqualification attempt, Ball immediately read another order pertaining to something else, giving attorneys no time to object or ask questions. Eye's got to hand it to Judge Ball--that Pescador has some real big cojones.

Goodbye, Gordy

Last Saturday 100 or so mourners gathered at Church of the Chimes to mourn the passing of South Bay campaign operative Gordon Reynolds, who died from colon cancer last week at the tender age of 47. Political consultant Rich Robinson interrupted his boat-cruise vacation to deliver the eulogy, which was followed by an hour of Gordy stories involving the girls' softball team he coached, politics and his sense of humor, something Eye knew about firsthand. Just three months before his death, Reynolds promised Eye he would never again proofread campaign material "while watching the Spice Channel" after a mailer for Sheriff Chuck Gillingham stressed the candidate's commitment to pubic safety. ... Among those attending were supervisors Blanca Alvarado and Jim Beall, ex-newscaster Jan Hutchins, Gillingham and sheriff candidate Laurie Smith. (Supe Pete McHugh couldn't attend due to a prior commitment. Reynolds served as McHugh's first chief of staff.) Reynolds successfully guided the latter two into the November runoffs before the cancer hospitalized him. Even in the hospital, his friends say, Reynolds kept making campaign calls.

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From the August 13-19, 1998 issue of Metro.

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