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The Fly

Do You Get What You Pay For?

District Attorney candidate MARC BULLER has his mind on his money, that much is clear. But whether his money will be on anyone else's mind is the source of much talk right now, since Buller has hired the Collins-Day consulting firm to manage his campaign accounts. Some are going so far as to say that Buller is hoping to kill two birds with one checkbook: keep his piggy bank tidy, and maybe score a key endorsement in the process. See, one of Collins-Day principals is JOHN COLLINS, husband to six-term U.S. Rep. ZOE LOFGREN. Lofgren's endorsement would no doubt go a long way to boosting Buller's candidacy; Buller, though, says he hired Collins-Day only because the firm was "the most competent to do the job needed to be done." Collins, meanwhile, says Buller is "a fine gentleman, probably" but says neither he nor his wife is likely to publicly back Buller. "I don't hire out my endorsement," Collins says.

Who's Getting The Business?

After former San Jose Councilmember PAT DANDO was successfully glad-handed into her new job as head of the Chamber of Commerce—and out of the mayor's race, thus lowering the probability of a business-candidate vote split—the question quickly became: who would get the backing of business, CHUCK REED or DAVE CORTESE?

Or would business leaders recruit yet another candidate to face the three councilmembers already in the race, especially CINDY CHAVEZ, who was employed by the South Bay Labor Council? Reed says that with his business pedigree to back him up, he's not worried. The District 4 councilmember was a Chamber board member for eight years, serving one as board president. He also helped form COMPAC, the chamber's political action committee. Reed, an attorney, even worked pro bono when the Chamber intervened against neighborhood groups fighting the city during a dispute involving an airport environmental report. When it comes to business experience, Reed says, "nobody can touch me." But wait! Not so fast, says the chair of the COMPAC, attorney BERNARD VOGEL III. He says even Chavez might eventually be COMPAC's choice after the board interviews candidates next spring. "Cindy has definitely reached out to the business community," Vogel says. "She's shrewd enough to know that labor's answers aren't the only answers for San Jose." Which leads to the question: Does anyone believe labor and business would endorse the same candidate in the mayor's race? It may not be such a stretch, says COMPAC member MIKE FOX JR., who points out that both the Chamber and the Labor Council endorsed MADISON NGUYEN in the District 7 special election. Fox, who owns a beverage wholesaler, says that though the Chamber's endorsement is important, even it can't hope to speak for all of the wide variety of business interests in the city. "Developers will contribute to all the candidates," he says.

Caught on the Flipsyde

By now, regular readers of the Merc are familiar with its longtime critic/harmonica player BRAD KAVA and his occasional mentions of his bar band DOGHOUSE RILEY (opening for EL TRI, playing with PAT TRAVERS, etc.). Well, it seems that his band is trying to take it to the next level. A little while ago, ROBERT HAYES of Campbell management company Sound Management told Fly that he's helping Kava license some of Doghouse Riley's songs. Hayes had much success with licensing his roster's songs for movies, television shows, commercials and the like. Remember SMASH MOUTH's "All-Star" in the opening sequence of Shrek? That was Hayes. Bands can make $20,000 for a 20-second snippet in a Depends commercial. It's a good chunk of change if you know how to work it and Hayes is a master. Maybe Doghouse Riley's barroom blues music will be heard in a future MTV episode of Road Rules Challenge. So it seemed odd to Fly that Kava wrote such a glowing review of Sound Management band FLIPSYDE last month. "I suspect that come February, you will know the story of Oakland's Flipsyde and its tunes," Kava wrote. "By then, I am betting, this hip-hop aggregation that uses a live band will be one of the hottest groups in the country." Hmmm. Does that sound fishy to you? Fly wanted to ask Kava about it, but was stymied by Merc editors who quickly went on high alert. KATHARINE FONG, a deputy managing editor and Kava's overseer, did respond, but first there was an unexpected reappearance from Hayes, who changed his tune. "There's no info here," a noticeably agitated Hayes told Fly in an unsolicited phone call. Clearly, someone had suggested he needed to do some damage control, but he only dug himself into a deeper hole, giving Fly more information—in between a few f-bombs—about his relationship with Kava. "I heard a demo of his [Kava's]," he continued. "I don't know if there's a song on the demo that I can license, if it works out. I have lots of artists [and demos]." OK, so what we seem to have here is a music critic who writes a sparkling review for a band managed by a company that also possesses a demo compiled by the band of that same music critic. Conflict of interest, anyone? Ms. Fong? "My understanding is that Brad did not know that Robert Hayes managed Flipsyde initially," Fong said. Fly politely asked her to try again. A week later, she did: "I know this will not satisfy what you are trying to do," she said, "but as far as the Mercury News is concerned, we did look into it, we did talk to him [Kava], and there was no conflict of interest." In retrospect, would Fong have encouraged Kava to note his own association with Sound Management in the Flipsyde review? "We were not obligated to put that in the Flipsyde piece," Fong answered.

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From the August 24-30, 2005 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2005 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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