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[whitespace] Linda LeZotte
Where is Everyone? Because San Jose City Councilwoman Linda LeZotte (above) and four other council members flaked out, this week's council meeting had to be canceled.

Public Eye

Missing in Action

SOME MEMBERS of the San Jose City Council apparently have forgotten that their month-long annual summer vacation in July ended a few weeks ago. The scheduled council meeting on Aug. 29 had to be hastily canceled because so many councilors were either traveling or had "scheduling conflicts" that the 11-member body wouldn't have a quorum. And it's not like this was going to be a dull meeting. The agenda originally included the touchy topic of how to spend tobacco settlement money, which caused a furor during the budget process. ... As for the whereabouts of our fine elected city leaders, here's a rundown. Downtown Councilwoman Cindy Chavez, who went to Ireland for 10 days in July, is in Africa on a trip she arranged less than a month ago. Cambrian Councilman John Diquisto, a retired firefighter, is in beautiful Baja, Mexico--a trip he takes annually--training locals how to use fire engines donated by the city of San Jose. Lame duck councilgal Charlotte Powers, who visited San Jose's Irish sister city in July, is traveling to Connecticut and Chicago to interview prospective money-managers for the police and fire pension fund. (Another member of the Police and Fire Retirement Board as well as two pension-fund staffers are accompanying Powers.) ... Meanwhile, East Side Councilman Manny Diaz cited in an Aug. 24 memo "an unforeseen scheduling conflict" for his absence. That "unforeseen scheduling conflict," Diaz tells Eye, is an appointment he made long ago with Kaiser to undergo a minor surgical procedure. Finally, Linda LeZotte informed her colleagues just four days before the meeting that she couldn't attend because of unidentified "personal business." She also asked for an excused absence so she wouldn't be docked $100 for flaking out. ... In fairness, the council is currently shorthanded because of Margie Matthews' recent resignation. Still, is it really that hard to make time for one meeting a week? "Frankly," grouses a City Hall workaholic, "it's embarrassing to the city."

Las Hermanas

San Jose's first lady, Alvina Gonzales, almost caused a few cases of whiplash last week when she showed up at the Chamber of Commerce's annual barbecue bash at the Historical Museum as the guest of her recently estranged hubby's political nemesis, Supervisor Blanca Alvarado. Eye-watchers are well aware of the recent friction between Alvarado and Mayor Ron Gonzales over the mayor's BART-tax plan, which the East Side supe bitterly opposes. Chamber guests were even more astonished to see the future ex-Mrs. Gonzo sporting a name tag saying, "Alvina Gonzales--Office of Supervisor Alvarado," suggesting she was literally working for the enemy. ... All this, with separated hubby Gonzales right across the room! But Sylvia Gallegos, Alvarado's policy Svengali, tells Eye that Alvina isn't actually working for her boss. Gallegos blames the confusion on a mix-up at the event's sign-in table where the name tags were doled out. "Blanca's [just] supporting her Latina sister in her time of need," Gallegos explains. ... For those still wondering, several sources who attended last week's fiesta say the mayor and his wife kept their distance from each other and didn't exchange so much as a hello. A wag present snickers that perhaps the mayor's two well-built bodyguards were in attendance "to protect Ron from Alvina."

Bleeding Liberal

If she seems a little emotional right now, well, it might be because it's that time of month for state Sen. Liz Figueroa (D-Milpitas). At least that's what she told a sizable audience on the cramped Senate floor last week while saying goodbye to her retiring colleague, Sen. Tom Hayden (D-Santa Monica). According to state legislative sources who heard her speech, Figueroa told everyone about how she awoke with tears in her eyes earlier in the morning. Surprised listeners then heard Figueroa openly speculate that the cause of her distress might have been "PMS," or premenstrual syndrome. Ultimately, Figueroa concluded, she was emotionally overwhelmed not by PMS, but by the sad task of having to say farewell to her dear friend Tom Hayden. "It was unbelievable," exclaims one baffled capital curmudgeon, who felt like Figueroa had shared a little more information than he really needed to hear. "If anyone had been tuning in they could have heard Liz go on about her menstrual cycle."

Sheep's Clothing

Not too long ago, developer Lew Wolff, the builder with wrecking-ball cojones, was howling at San Jose redevelopment officials to demolish the historic Montgomery Hotel in order to make room for the expansion of the adjacent Fairmont Hotel. Officials instead decided to save the Montgomery by literally moving it out of the way (and spending $12.7 million to do so). Afterward, eight developers formally expressed interest in rehabilitating, including Wolff. Wolff's offer might have qualified him for a chutzpah award, but it wasn't enough to persuade Redevelopment Agency Director Susan Shick. The agency has narrowed down the field of contestants to two finalists and Wolff isn't one of them. "The agency," speculates one City Hall wag, "is probably afraid he's going to blow it up." ... By the by, the two remaining players are Divco West (which is currently working with Cisco Systems to get city approval for the tech giant's proposed billion-dollar research campus in Coyote Valley) and a partnership involving Personality Hotels, which runs a quintet of boutique hotels in San Francisco's Union Square.

Right Turn

"We need to take Congress back from the right-wingers." That's been the rallying cry for Democrats around the country and here in Silicon Valley with the closely watched matchup in the 15th Congressional District between Assembly dudes Mike Honda (D-San Jose) and Jim Cunneen (D-Campbell). But after a new TV ad for Honda started airing earlier this month on cable, local voters might be confused as to who is the conservative in the race. The ad boasts that Honda has a 100 percent approval rating from the "California League of Conservative Voters," a puzzling assertion given his liberal credentials. Of course, what the ad-makers meant to list was the California League of Conservation Voters, an environmentalist organization. Cunning Cunneen consultant Kevin Spillane couldn't let the error go without comment. "Mike Honda has been trying to reinvent himself politically," Spillane chortles, "but this is ridiculous. ... At this rate, the only thing left for Mike to do is switch parties." ... Vince Duffy, Honda's media massager, says don't blame the Honda campaign for the goof because it was produced by the state Democratic Party. "We had nothing to do with it," Duffy huffs.

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From the August 31-September 6, 2000 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2000 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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