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[whitespace] Assessor Party Animal: Assessor accesses political Gore

Public Eye

Unspotted Al

Extrapolitical County Assessor LARRY STONE, a proud and feisty New Dem, recently returned from the Democratic Leadership Council's "National Conversation" in New York City all charged up with ideas about how, if his party works together and finds just the right face, it could steal the presidency back from the "compassionate" conservatives in 2004. Or at least in 2008. ... During the July 28 through 30 function, Stone--who pointed out to Eye that his trip to the Big Apple was not on the taxpayer dime--tossed back the sauce at a private reception with former Playmate of the Year and New Dem exemplar BILL CLINTON. In the house with party pals like Indiana Sen. EVAN BAYH and Senate Majority Leader TOM DASCHLE, Stone yukked it up over Bush zingers by N.Y. Sen. and former political Yoko Ono HILLARY CLINTON and the last presidential race's almost-Jewish-VP JOE LIEBERMAN--"George Bush is trying to repeal the laws of arithmetic," and "Washington, D.C., is an evidence-free zone." ... But despite these and other centrist bonding exercises meant to empower the damaged party, the Dems mostly criticized one of their own. "There's an undercurrent of concern about what Al Gore will do," Stone understated. Former VP Gore was notably absent from the party's party despite his invite. He announced in June that he'll announce in January whether he'll shoot for the 2004 presidential seat. Stone said he and plenty of other midroad party members hope to see Gore not run. Not only is Stone critical of Gore's beard-today-gone-tomorrow approach to campaigning, the taxman also attacks Gore's "unfortunate" anti-capitalist 2000 campaign message. "Gore went left at Albuquerque," laments the Democratic taxman, who says he's rooting for potential fresh-face candidate Mass. Gov. JOHN KERRY for prez in 2004.

Chasing Gonzo

It's hard for Eye to get misty over the whining of its competition, but alas, the Mercury News is sick and tired of the mayor playing hard to get. So says Ron Gon's mouthpiece DAVID VOSSBRINK, who told Eye that Merc scribes recently alerted him to their heightened devotion to interviewing actual big wigs and not the professional media handlers who answer the phones at San Jose's Kremlin. ... There is, of course, a fine line between access and stalking. The newshounds went so far as to request Gonzales' home phone number, Vossbrink told Eye. (They did this obviously in order to quote the elected newsmaker in his underpants.) The reply? Well, no. "The city editor wants access to the mayor 24/7," Vossbrink says. "He can't have that. But he can have access to the staff 24/7." There, there Mercsters, you're probably not alone. Surely there are other papers out there without the mayor's home number.

Under God Complex

In the early 1950s, the United States added an important clause to the Pledge of Allegiance, placing the custody of our nation "under God." As most Eye watchers know, all went smoothly with uninterrupted divine protection, until this spring. At that point, the 9th Circuit Court expressed its thoughts on the constitutionality of the clause, causing national uproar and probably annoying God. Congress quickly voted their endorsement of the phrase, in a sort of a sidestep of the First Amendment's rather difficult-to-misinterpret idea that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." It's not a God, it's God, our legislators argued: thus echoing Homer Simpson's attempts to convince his vegetarian daughter Lisa that dinner wasn't "a lamb, it's lamb!". ... Still, the valley's contingent of atheists--rallying around the website www.Godlessgeeks.com--is reopening the furor by inviting down Dr. MICHAEL NEWDOW, the Sacramento physician who was the plaintiff in the "under God" case, to speak at a local gathering. On. Aug. 22, at 7:30pm at Le Petit Trianon, 72 N. Fifth St. in downtown San Jose, Newdow is slated for a panel discussion with representatives of other faiths. Spokespeople including Dave Kong, state director for American Atheists, MARK PORTER of the Valley Bible Church in Pleasanton, ASHA PRAVER, a practitioner of Paramhansa Yogananda, and FRED CAPP of the Baha'i church. Eye predicts that Newdow will be able to hold his own. Who'd know the will of God--or the absence of God--better than a man who works in a hospital's emergency room?

Battle of the Twit

Last December, those nice folks at our favorite shamelessly reactionary rag, The National Review revealed its dark expectation for progressive San Fran-based web news source Salon.com. "National Review Online will feast on the rotting carcass of a defunct Salon.com," predicted NRO Editor JONAH GOLDBERG. In an early August twist of fate--that proves to lefty web news readers that the world will end very soon--Salon Media Group Inc. is asking its shareholders to allow a reverse stock split. Eye's trusted wonks explain that this market play maneuver is precisely the opposite of what a successful company does. Instead of confidently dividing up their stock shares and halving the price, Salon wants to consolidate and hike share worth to keep its stock value above the Nasdaq's minimum $1 level. That leaves the market tides less stock to play with. "It's not a good thing," San Jose State assistant accounting prof HOWARD TURETSKY confirms for Eye. "It seems to me the stock [will] go down again." In other words, NRO's Goldberg could have stumbled across a truth. Salon's stock is in the can (it's worth 7 cents as of Aug. 12) and the improbable venture is struggling to fight the stock market's shameful delisting process. When Eye called Salon for comment, an unidentified Salonee referred the call to a delightedly toned press release announcing that investors promised the company $714K. But Salon President MICHAEL O'DONNELL said in an Aug. 2 report on Yahoo! that his company lost $1.7 million in 2001. Yahoo! reported on Aug. 9 that Salon's total deficit is $78.3 million. Eye now offers this prediction: As NRO goes to piss on Salon's grave, the NRO will zip up its tiny manhood and cry out in pain. But nobody will care.

The Six-Year Itch

After getting crushed in the 22nd Assembly District primary last March, ROD DIRIDON Jr. took a few months off to relax, catch a couple of ball games and figure out what the frig he wants to do with his life. One thing the young Santa Clara councilman mulled over was running for mayor of Santa Clara. A lot of folks were talking about it, including Eye, and some local political geniuses gave Rod pretty good odds of triumphing over fellow councilmates JOHN McLEMORE and PATTY MAHAN. But the word came last week: no mini-Diridon, no sequel. Junior told Eye he'd polled constituents about a month ago to gauge his post-Assembly-run huggability--he's still huggable--and even got a few mayor-race endorsement offers from some Santa Clara pol buddies. But instead, Diridon says, he's taken a job as general manager of Flexcar, a new car-sharing company out of Seattle that approached him while he was a free agent. Diridon says he's jazzed about the new gig, which, in a down-with-pollution sense, is like carpooling, only without the annoying social aspect. "It's really the missing link in the transportation puzzle," he gushes. "The company has a huge social mission." But hey, Rod, Eye inquired, what about carrying on the family legacy? "For some people, it's about holding elective office," Diridon muses in a way that suggests he's stroking his chin on the other end of the line. "For me, it's about affecting positive change in the community. And I'm 32, so there'll always be time to hold office." Right now he feels stumping for the commie auto wave is where he can do the most good. Notably, however, Diridon recently filed papers with the state to create a committee called Friends of Rod Diridon 2008. According to the reports released two weeks ago, Diridon has just over $100,000 in the account--leftovers from the primary--which he says he'll be "putting aside in case I decide to run for Assembly again." Would that happen to be, as the name suggests, in six years? That's when Mountain View Mayor SALLY LIEBER, who beat Rod in March, will have to give up the seat she's almost certain to win in this fall's general election. Not necessarily six years, Rod replies, adding that the name of the committee will be changed. Eye can safely predict it'll be something that sounds a little more ambiguous.

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From the August 15-21, 2002 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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