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Zoe and Tell: When the Starr report hits the House Judiciary Committee, S.J. Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren hopes the issue rises above 'salacious sex.'

Bum Smear

Say it ain't so, Zoe! Was that Zoe Lofgren they were quoting on CBS' 60 Minutes last week, calling President Bill Clinton a bum? That would be bad news for the president indeed, since the San Jose congresswoman sits on the House Judiciary Committee, which will have the first crack at Ken Starr's impeachment report. Lofgren says she is tickled to be mentioned on her favorite news program ("I hope my father was watching!"), even though they mispronounced her first name (no "eeeee" at the end), and they got the quote wrong. "I never called Clinton a bum," she says from her Washington home. "I said that if you vote for a President and in the next year you think he's a bum, you can't do anything about it. That's not the purpose of the impeachment process." But having stabbed many of his women supporters in the back with his "Oh, never mind, I really did it" speech, Clinton shouldn't see Lofgren as a friendly face on Judiciary. "I don't count myself as a supporter of the President," Lofgren says. "I voted for Tsongas in '92." And the White House can hardly take comfort in Lofgren's frequent paraphrasing of Founding Father Benjamin Franklin, something to the effect that impeachment is actually kind to a president, since the only other alternative is assassination. Still, even though Zoe is personally put off by the peep show at 1600 Penn ("yuck" is how she puts it), the congresswoman promises to give Bill a fair shot, and even hopes that the debate can move away from "salacious sex" to "broad Constitutional issues." (Eye wishes her lots of luck with that.) Meanwhile, a longtime Peninsula political observer says that Lofgren's history might provide a ray of hope for Big Bill. "When Zoe was a Santa Clara supervisor, she was always working on politically unpopular causes," the source recalls. "Like increasing services for mentally ill people--which is a group that doesn't vote big or give money." Then, he mused: "Maybe she feels the same way about Clinton."

Miami Advice

As they pack their boxes for the move from Miami to Woodside and Saratoga, Knight Ridder executives Tony Ridder and Polk Laffoon, respectively, are busy trying to quash a rumor that the Miami Herald is about to be sold. The speculation was fueled by a published report in the Chicago Tribune on the Herald's financial woes. as well as the resignation of the Herald's publisher and parent-company Knight Ridder's impending move to the West Coast. When asked if there is any conclusion to be drawn from this conspicuous confluence of events, KR spokesman Laffoon exclaims, "Oh, my Lord. Trust me. No. The Miami Herald is an enormously prosperous and successful institution." (Now, when Laffoon says, "Trust me," one can't help but think back to the day when he passed himself off as the Merc's new publisher to Metro reporters when, in fact, Jay Harris was the man.) ... Small-time Florida newspaper broker Chuck Berky says he's heard the rumor, but says if it's true it's not stopping the Herald from acquiring small community newspapers in the Miami area. "I know for a fact that somebody at the Herald has been looking to possibly buy some local publications," Berky says. "I'm not so sure that would be happening if the Herald were for sale." The rumor has bounced around the Washington Post, where some staffers seem to be convinced publisher Katherine Graham has her eyes set on Miami. The Post publishes the International Herald Tribune, probably the most popular American newspaper in Europe. The Herald has a similar strategic position in Latin America, where the Miami Herald is probably the best-read English-language newspaper. Berky says he heard vultures from Freedom Newspapers were circling above.

Sidekick Wanted

The office chair is still warm, but since Assistant Chief Walt Adkins announced his retirement Friday speculation is churning faster than a Frappuccino about who will succeed him as SJPD's second-in-command. New Chief Bill Lansdowne maintains that captains and deputy chiefs will be considered, but that all candidates will have to "test for the position." This would give Lansdowne four deputy chiefs and a dozen captains to choose from. But department insiders say Lansdowne is unlikely to tap a captain to leapfrog into the assistant chief's chair. Such a move, they say, would convey a vote of no confidence to the four deputy chiefs, Dan Ortega, Mike Miseli, Tom Wheatley and Adonna Amoroso. Of the deputy chiefs, Amoroso and Wheatley appear to be the favorites. Amoroso is the department's highest-ranking woman and Wheatley was considered a strong inside candidate for the chief's job. ... Meanwhile, some calculator-wielding observers have figured out that as chief in San Jose, Lansdowne is earning about 73 cents for every dollar he would have made in Richmond. Confused? In Richmond, he made $120,000 as chief and collected a $74,000 pension from his 28 years in SJPD. When he came back to San Jose, he stopped collecting the pension and his total compensation decreased from $194,000 to $143,000. But Lansdowne stands to increase his pension in two years when he reaches 30 years in the SJPD. Then, his pension jumps from 72 percent of his salary at retirement to 80 percent, the maximum. Since the chief has no set contract, he can quit any old time he feels like it, including that magical time in less than two years when he hits the rosy 30-year mark. For the record, Lansdowne assures Eye he doesn't mind taking a pay cut for his "dream job" and plans to keep it five to eight years, regardless of the numbers. Newsflash to mathematicians: money isn't everything.

River Dunce

Were it not for the heroism of cowboy Kirk Lovely, of the SJPD horse mounted unit, Sunday's Fiestas Patrias celebration might have had a body count. Lovely and three other mounted police were patrolling the Guadalupe River at the San Carlos Street bridge when Lovely responded to the sputtering cries of a homeless man stranded in the middle of the river. Without a thought for his own safety, Lovely dismounted his horse and plunged into the river--boots and all--to drag the man to safety. "You know, those uniforms are not exactly Speedos," observes one impressed officer of the starched blues. "When you jump into a pool with one on, you realize that." Thanks to Lovely's quick action, the victim was breathing and talking when he made it to the muddy shore. No doubt that was a relief to those bracing themselves for the task of going lip-to-lip with the man, should he need to be revived. But unfortunately for the victim, he's in hot water now, as Lovely et al. quickly read the man his rights and arrested him for public drunkenness. ... Water rescues are pretty common beneath the bridges, says cop talker Louis Quezada. "They're under these bridges and they're pretty mobile," he says. "When they start drinking, sometimes they fall in."

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From the September 17-23, 1998 issue of Metro.

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