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Close to the Vest: Even SJ Councilman Frank Fiscalini's wife, Joan, doesn't know what his career plans are for '98. "I wish I knew," she sighs.

Sounds of Silence

A couple months ago, he doesn't remember exactly when, heavyweight East Bay political consultant Larry Tramutola chatted with San Jose City Councilman Frank Fiscalini. "We had a nice conversation, and that's it," Tramutola says, adding that he probably won't work for any South Bay candidates next year. Fiscalini, has publicly vacillated about running for mayor next year, kissing off his previous New Year's deadline to make a decision, remaining silent ever since. During their exchange, Tram sensed that the septuagenarian politician was reluctant to subject himself to the hardscrabble world of electoral politics after catching some ugly mud in 1990, flung by Susan Hammer's political consultants, Roger Lee and Carol Beddo. Tramutola also agrees with the insiders wisdom that Fiscalini chief aide Joe Guerra wants his boss to run more than the old man does. "Guerra is like the guy holding the carrot in front of the mule," one wag muses. ... Eye suspects Fiscalini won't run next year. Sorry, Frankophiles. Here are a few reasons why: One, he hasn't advertised any major endorsements. Mayoral aspirant Margie Fernandes snagged Congressman Norm Mineta to co-chair her campaign, while Ron Gonzales has got U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein backing him. Two, he lacks a clear message. In 1990 he ran as a political outsider; now he's a City Hall regular. Three, he hasn't even told his wife, Joan, what he plans to do. "I wish I knew," she sighs. In fact, Joan reports, she and her hubby just got back from a little trip to San Bernardino, where Frank mentioned not a word about running for mayor. "I'm not sure he even knows what he's going to do," Joan says. ... The official line from Fiscalini's office, via Guerra, is that it's too early to decide one way or the other.

Consultant Shopping

Meanwhile Ron Gonzales has been talking with a few consultants and operatives, including Rich Schlackman, a hired gun for Demo congressional races, regarding his desire to be mayor of San Jose. According to Schlackman, he approached Gonzales, the former Sunnyvale mayor and county supervisor now working at Hewlett-Packard. "I'm particular about who I go after," Schlackman shrewdly brown-noses. "I like his ability to go in and out of government. It shows he's a real-world person." Eye suspects that Schlackman also liked Gonzales' penchant for raising and spending moolah. ... Gonzales has also held preliminary chats with S.F. consultant Mary Hughes--who recently wed a former client, Supervisor Joe Simitian--as well as media massager Joe Trippi. Trippi may be familiar to South Bay politicos for his much-criticized work on the failed congressional campaign for Jerry Estruth a couple years ago. Trippi's television spots relentlessly tried to portray moderate Reep Tom Campbell as a Newt Gingrich puppet, a tactic that backfired when Campbell went out of his way to prove how moderate a Republican he really is. Jude Barry, Gonzales' right arm, stresses that all talks are in the very early discussion phase right now and adds that he and his old boss plan to shop around. Other insiders assumed Barry himself might run the show, but the Judester says he's too busy with his job at Santa Clara University and his 1-year-old baby to be the man. Nevertheless, look for Barry to be doing more than changing his baby's diapers. ... As for the other mayoral aspirants, Republican Pat Dando has also been making the rounds, but her office only admits to having spoken with Los Angeles hothead Ron Smith. ... A name that probably won't be popping up in next year's race is Joy Alexiou. Alexiou ran developer-lobbyist Pat Sausedo's less-than-successful primary campaign for supe a year ago and then joined the California re-election team for President Clinton and the Democrats. Alexiou has taken a public relations job with Valley Medical Center, where a clean campaign merely involves bleach and disinfectant.

Raza Relations

While UC-Berkeley struggles with the end of affirmative action, a local university is coping with a racial uproar of a different stripe. Students at the National Hispanic University, a four-year institution on Story Road, have accused the university of going overboard in its mission to provide a faculty "made up [of] a high percentage of Hispanic role models." In an open letter addressed to university president Raul Cardozo, 24 students questioned the departure of popular English literature teacher Cynthia Andrzejczyk, who is white. "Dr. Andrzejczyk ... won the Outstanding Faculty Award two years in a row, chosen by students who value her," the letter states. "We question if the university is trying to hire faculty members that are La Raza only?" ... Prez Cardozo calls the controversy a misunderstanding. "I'm reorganizing key functions of the department," he explains to Eye. "Unfortunately, students heard about it and thought she got fired." Andrzejczyk wouldn't talk to students about the reason for her departure. Cardozo, who came to the university from Chabot College two months ago, plans a meeting to smooth over tensions when students return in September.

Last to Know

City Auditor Gerald Silva just assumed he'd still be working in City Hall this year, but City Attorney Joan Gallo had other plans. Gallo apparently wanted more space for her department, which operates in the same building as the auditor. So budget wonks for City Manager Regina Williams and Mayor Susan Hammer earmarked $130,000 to pay for the auditor to move out. The only problem was that neither Gallo nor anyone else bothered to tell Silva until city budget expert Larry Lisenbee passed along the news sometime in April. "[Lisenbee] just said, îI don't know how much you know about this, but Regina told me to put some money in the budget for you to relocate.' " At first, Silva didn't want to move. "He fussed a little," recalls Bob Brownstein, the mayor's budget chief, "but that's life." Gallo says she didn't inform Silva directly because she just assumed that he was "in the loop." As luck would have it, Silva found a place across the street from City Hall that the city is leasing for $168,000 a year. Silva says he likes the place--it has air conditioning that actually works. But the city had one more little surprise for Silva. Management approved his new digs on the condition that the auditor would share a conference room with all city departments. And he would have to buy new furniture for the conference room--using his own office funds.

Fun Prohibited

Even the so-called affordable one-bedroom units in Villa Torino, the new luxury apartment building downtown, rent for $1,200. And what privileges do the generous tenants of this redevelopment-assisted $27 million housing project get for their money? Hard to say. However, here's a list of what they can't do for their money: no sitting on the grass, no pets, no frisbee, no plants on the balcony railing. Skateboards, tricycles and bicycles are prohibited at all times, in all places. No trailers, motor homes, campers or boats are allowed in the parking lot. Not much left to do but cuddle up on the couch with a brewski and watch the boob tube--as long as it's not connected to a satellite dish. Management has banned those mini-satellites that some tenants had attached to their balcony railings. "Yeah, those satellites are a problem," apartment manager John Tacci agrees. "And they're definitely coming down."

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From the August 14-20, 1997 issue of Metro.

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