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Carpool to Mars

Palo Alto trial lawyer Richard Alexander was more than a bit surprised last week when he stepped out on his front lawn just in time to greet President Bill Clinton's arriving motorcade. "POUSA is right outside," Alexander gushed, using what he said he learned was the Secret Service vernacular for President of the United States of America. "I just shook the POUSA's hand and we got our picture taken," Alexander jargoned, moments after Clinton arrived for a $25,000-per-person dinner benefiting the Democratic National Committee. The meal was hosted by unregistered voter Steve Jobs, who lives across the street from Alexander. ... And yes, that was Lockheed Martin deal-cutter Norman Mineta who ambled out of the presidential limo right behind Clinton after having accompanied the chief exec on the ride from San Jose to Palo Alto. No word on what Mineta and Clinton may have yammered about, but Eye notes their meeting took place on the very same day that NASA, aided by Lockheed Martin scientists, announced the discovery of fossilized life on a Martian meteor. ... There probably isn't any connection between the Clinton-Mineta powwow and any pending federal contracts. After all, Lockheed Martin hired Mineta, Eye watchers will remember, because of his expertise on transportation issues and not because he occasionally has some rather interesting carpool partners.


Forgotten Oldie

Ed Zschau is no longer singing the same old song. Literally. In the truth-is-stranger-than-fiction category. Eye enters the remarkable turnaround in the fiscal policies of the musically inclined former Silicon Valley Republican congressman and current Reform Party vice presidential candidate. Zschau, who surprised many of his friends and associates when he accepted the invitation to join former Colorado governor Richard Lamm's uphill race against Ross Perot, is now offering lip-quivering pledges to resist GOP calls for additional federal tax cuts, citing what he says is a responsibility to future generations. ... The irony here is that tax cuts, specifically cuts in the capital-gains tax rates, originally propelled Zschau to prominence as a spokesperson for Silicon Valley's high-tech CEOs almost 20 years ago. You may recall, way back during his supply-side days, Zschau even recorded a whimsical musical parody, "The Capital Gains Blues," that was instrumental in helping him raise money from donors interested in reducing their taxes. But during the new conferences that preceded last week's Reform Party convention, Zschau repeatedly agreed with Lamm that additional tax cuts would now be unwise. So we're guessing that during this campaign Zschau probably won't be mailing out many cassettes of his old song.


Pushy Parents

Parents in the Milpitas Unified School District have been put on time out, or so it seems, after a noble but failed experiment in classroom participation. When Milpitas parents created the Parents Assisting Children's Education (PACE) program five years ago, it had all the makings of a good idea. "We wanted a program where the teacher would implement the standard Milpitas curriculum, but would accept input from parents," explains Debbie Eitner, whose daughter would have been a fifth-grade PACE student next year. ... Except for one little behavior problem: those overly helpful parents. "The intent of the program was to be a partnership," translates Chuck Perotti, superintendent of Milpitas Unified School District, "but it got to be far more than that. The parents got heavily involved in the day-to-day decision making. All well-intentioned--but the teachers found it difficult." ... The situation apparently got so bad, teachers were threatening to quit, inspiring the Board of Education in July to shut down the PACE program and quickly design another program, Kidville, which allows for downsized parental input. "We do have several parents who can be very assertive," Eitner concedes. "Sometimes their tact is not always the best." ... One former PACE parent Eye spoke with, LouAnne McKeefery, now sends her children to a private school. "If you can't afford to buy your way out, you have to deal with them," she says of the district. "And they know that." PACE teachers were still in summer recovery, unavailable for comment.


True Colors

In Tuesday night's showdown at the county building, where hundreds turned up to witness the supes' unanimous vote in favor of establishing a county domestic partnership registry, attendees pinned bright pink or blue signs to their chests indicating their preferences on the issue. ... Undeniably colorful, it wasn't always pretty. Provoked by the pinks' brazen blasphemies, some blue meanies struggled to heed Pastor Peter Wilkes' advice that "our activity must be in love, especially toward our opponents." ... Dianne McKenna set the chamber crowd straight, if you'll pardon the expression, at the beginning of the evening, demanding compliance with a quiet policy. Rather than hoot and holler, the masses created seas of pink and blue, tacitly waving (at least most of the time) their colored badges through the air to show support for various speakers. Latecomers, however, were redirected to the courtyard where they freely engaged in music making, circular prayer groups, Bible studies and political debates. And in the lobby, a six-foot tall, blonde transexual called a young, Christian woman "bigot" and "hate-monger," to which she replied over and over: "We love you, Jesus loves you." But even good Christians sometimes find it hard to turn the other, well, cheek. When the transgendered citizen advocate turned her back so that her posterior invaded the Bible banger's personal space, God's child nearly lost it. "If you don't get your ass out of my face," she blurted, "I'm gonna kick it."


Junk Mail

This may be the age of online communcations, but Eye's mailbag continues to bulge with the printed word. Last week's missives include two press releases--dated the same day--from Margie Fernandes, who wants to be Mayor in 1998. In one, she establishes her law and order credentials by praising the arrest of a murder suspect in a highly-publicized liquor store holdup. "I think I am feeling like the rest of the Berryessa community when I say I'm pleased that San Jose's streets are safer now," she campaigned. In the other, she pats herself on the back for placing a campaign reform advisory measure on the November ballot. "The amount of money spent on our local campaigns continues to spiral upward," she moaned. ...Curiously, Margie's latest campaign disclosure statement shows that she burned through a cool $53,000 between January and June--even though she ran unopposed in the March reelection. "I and other candidates do what we have to do to get elected," she explained.


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From the August 15-21, 1996 issue of Metro

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