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Mexican Muzzle

Did the Mexican Heritage Corporation exclude the Hispanic press from sponsoring the Mariachi Festival? MHC chairman Fernando Zazueta says no. But when another board member, Gil Hernandez, wrote San Jose Councilman Manny Diaz suggesting a public meeting to clear up the issue, he was unceremoniously booted from the board. Last week the MHC voted to dump Hernandez after 14 years of service after he called for a meeting between Hispanic leaders, editors of the Hispanic press and the Nuevo Mundo. "The intent was to punish me publicly for speaking out," Hernandez says. Editors of La Oferta Review, El Observador and Alianza Metropolitan News all complain that Hispanic cultural organizations exclude them by signing sponsorship agreements with the Mercury News' 16-month-old Spanish-language weekly, Nuevo Mundo. The MHC's most prominent leaders, chairman Zazueta, president and résumé padder Pete Carrillo, secretary Joe Coto and treasurer Victor Garza are also members of Nuevo Mundo's advisory committee. But they aren't the only ones touchy about sponsorships. The American GI Forum also claims it has not signed an exclusive agreement with Nuevo Mundo for the Mexican Independence Day festival this month. But when Mary Andrade, editor of La Oferta Review, asked for a guarantee in writing, she apparently got a tongue-lashing from an enraged GI Forum staffer, Abel Cota. Cota accused Andrade of lying to a writer at Hispanic Magazine, which ran a story last month about the sponsorship tiff between Nuevo Mundo and the local Hispanic press. Cota, surprise, surprise, served as a "consultant" to the Mariachi Festival this year. "The GI Forum is very powerful in the MHC," Hernandez says. "They would like to see Mary and Frank [Andrade] go away."

Brain Delay

Another self-imposed deadline bites the dust. First, San Jose City Councilman Frank Fiscalini fudged his New Year's deadline to decide whether to run for mayor again. Now, ex-mayor Tom McEnery is backing off from his plan to announce his career plans by the end of summer. McEnery has been telling friends that he'd make a final decision by Labor Day. However, when Eye buzzed the Macster this Monday, he waffled. Initially, he said it was "a fall decision." Then when Eye asked him if that meant he'd announce by the end of the year, he became more vague. Why, in 1982 he didn't announce until March and he still won the primary, McEnery thundered. "It's not a question of timetables with me," he reasoned. "It's a question of Why do it?' " Perhaps the indecision is contagious: Fiscalini and McEnery were spotted lunching together last week at Blakes. ... Though insiders have been all abuzz pondering the question, "Will McEnery run again?" the "why" question has gone unasked. The Macster has no clear answer yet. In fact, that's what he's going to be figuring out for the next few days, weeks or months. McEnery detractors say his renewed mayoral ambition stems from midlife boredom. That, however, does not a campaign message make. For McEnery to make a comeback, he would need to find something in the city that needs to be fixed. As one adroit pol observed, "Can San Jose's biggest cheerleader run as San Jose's biggest critic?" ... Waiting in the wings while McEnery dawdles is City Councilwoman Pat Dando. Dando, a former McEnery aide, says she won't run against her old boss. Word is that she's been too busy these days tending to her sick mother to contemplate her career ambitions.

Reindenting Gov't

New Sunnyvale City Manager Bob LaSala got a crash course in California driving when he rear-ended a female flight attendant on her way to work while in his city-owned sedan three weeks ago. The 4:35 pm weekday fender bender on Fremont Avenue caused about $4,000 in body damage to the city manager's brand-new, specially ordered, $24,600 Pontiac Bonneville--the city's most expensive non-police car. LaSala, the stewardess and her car escaped injury. According to the city manager, he became confused while sitting at a busy intersection. He mistakenly responded to a green light at the next intersection while his light remained red. "It's the first automobile accident I've had in 22 years," LaSala laments. "As luck would have it, it happened in Sunnyvale." LaSala, who hails from Florida, replaced longtime City Manager Tom Lewcock in July. (Lewcock used to get a $325-a-month car allowance to drive around his own personal car on city business.) City information fountain David Vossbrink estimates it took the city four to six weeks to track down a bare-bones Bonneville without any extra amenities, apparently an unusual request for a classy chassis. LaSala got the no-frills full-sized sedan as part of his contract with the city. Most jalopies in the city's fleet are compacts and subcompacts such as Ford Escorts and Ford Festivas.

Lofty Pettiness

It appears that downtown San Jose just isn't ready to be a home to artists, what with their outlandish fashion aesthetics, loud painting and unconventional notions, so who could blame neighbors in the Ryland Mews condos for going ballistic over a proposed 34-unit loft project next door? Condo-dwellers, including former San Jose Councilwoman Judy Stabile, lobbied, schmoozed and hissy-fitted until downtown council rep David Pandori withdrew his support for the lofty concept, effectively ringing its death knell. Sensing the direction the political vanguard was headed, loft developer Barry Swenson and company decided to discard the loft project and avoid a showdown with the Planning Commission, where countless other potential projects for the firm still loom. According to Marianne Bacigalupi, an associate of Swenson's, the company now plans to lease the space out--end of story. Too bad. The building was designed by famed San Francisco architect David Baker, and promised to complement the city's investment in its core architecture. And given the unusual layout of the land--between two high walls and near the train tracks--the project promised to be a nice fit. Ryland Mews folks, however, squeaked about everything from the height of the ceilings to the closets not being big enough, invoking the term "loft-dweller" on several occasions. At least three of the project's most vocal opponents may have had other motives: Their downtown views would be blocked by the two-story building, our sources report. One Ryland resident not happy about the project's demise is PR specialist Dan Orloff, who blames a vocal minority for toppling the proposal. "Never would I have expected to encounter such a NIMBY-like response from our so-called downtown pioneers," Orloff huffs.

Shameless Self-Promotion

Assemblywoman Elaine Alquist boasts that she represents the heart of Silicon Valley. Eye just hopes that she doesn't represent its mind. To wit: An absurd Aug. 28 "news release" her office issued last week allegedly honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the 34th anniversary of his famous "I have a dream" speech. To wit: "This morning, Assemblywoman Elaine Alquist, D-Silicon Valley, announced that she would take time today to remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the American struggle for civil rights."

Take time to remember?

How bold.

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From the September 4-10, 1997 issue of Metro.

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