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Say no more: San Jose Councilwoman Margie Fernandes hasn't helped her cause as of late.

The Emperor Does No Polls

There are three things Eye has learned about San Jose City Councilwoman Margie Fernandes over the past couple of months: One, she likes the circus. Two, she must watch X-Files. Three, she really wants to be mayor. What else could explain such bizarre behavior? She managed to transform a one-time B-section story about a possibly illegal mayoral poll into a Nova series exploring the mind of Margie. Question: How could she say with a straight face that a poll with a cover sheet reading "San Jose Mayoral Assessment Findings" is not a mayoral poll? Despite her novel defense strategy, which included buttering up members of the county Ethics Board by calling them a bunch of Pandori puppets, the board ruled that the poll broke the law. ... Eye suspects there's more than overextended ambition at play here. For one thing, if she admitted to doing a mayoral poll, she would expose herself to charges of hypocrisy. In a March 13, 1996, memo to her council colleagues (three months before the mayoral poll), Fernandes urged them to limit the campaign season to the six months preceding the election. Her "mayoral assessment" poll was taken 18 months before the official 1998 campaign season. Considering the Ethics Board's ruling, her opponents are likely to level the charge anyway. ... Eye feels obliged to remind those interested that Fernandes refuses to release the poll to the public. Campaign treasurer Chuck Reed argues that his client shouldn't have to reveal her legislative strategy for all to see, including her opponents. Of course, insiders suspect other, more sinister reasons, like not wanting the world to see all the nasty "push" questions asked about other potential candidates. A couple of political gum-flappers say the poll makes reference to septuagenarian City Councilman Frank Fiscalini's age and describes former mayor Tom McEnery as a "downtown property owner." Margie, on the other hand, is called a teacher, an aggressive leader and a crime-fighter.


Please, Not

According to a source well versed in San Jose politics, a West San Jose resident received a call Sunday night from EMH Telemarketing of Sacramento. The 10-minute poll asked, "If the mayor's race were held today, who would you vote for?" The list of usual suspects named included Pat Dando, Margie Fernandes, Frank Fiscalini and Ron Gonzales. The poll then went on to ask, "Would you be more or less likely to vote for a candidate if they were endorsed by ..." The pollsters then rattled off institutions like the Chamber of Commerce, the Homebuilders Association, police and firefighters and labor unions; they also included familiar names such as former mayor Tom McEnery, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, and retired Congressman Norm Mineta. As might be expected, the Dando, Fernandes, Fiscalini and Gonzales camps all denied having anything to do with the poll. This, of course, is perfectly reasonable considering the recent Fernandes flap. Could anyone really be so brazen? Spin-meisters feverishly speculated that Gonzales seemed the most likely suspect because pollster John Fairbanks is known to use EMH. Fairbanks, by the by, has done polling for Gonzales in the past. But he's also done polling for many other South Bay politicians like McEnery, Susan Hammer, Pete McHugh and Mike Honda, Gonzales damage-controller Jude Barry retorts. Whether Fairbanks actually designed the poll remains a mystery, as is who paid for it. Eye was unable to contact Fairbanks by press time.


Out and Gone

Silicon Valley's independent gay newspaper, OutNOW!, forever stopped the presses Aug. 26. The spirited paper, run by one man show Chris Thomas, began circulating 4 1/2 years ago and has dished up independent coverage of San Jose's gay community, offering ongoing updates of anti-gay legislation in Sacramento, advertising for gay-owned businesses and AIDS outreach. What will be missed in OutNOW! is Thomas's refusal to toe party lines. In one issue he could take San Jose police to task for targeting the gay community for drug busts, while in the next paragraph suggest that the gay world had to take a hard look at its drug problem. He edited a series examining sexual morality in gay male culture, concluding that gay men need "to become less promiscuous and more relationship-oriented." "OutNOW! was a wonderful source of information," says Tom Myers, spokesman for AIDS Resources, Information & Services of Santa Clara County, which regularly advertised in the paper. "Chris asked questions of the community. Sometimes they were questions people didn't want to hear." Myers says Thomas took an editing job in his hometown of Terrehaute, Ind. Interested readers can check out back issues on the paper's still-functioning Web site.



Vote of Thanks: Al Gore applauds Peninsula real estate developer George Marcus' generosity.

Donor's Club

Congratulations to Peninsula real estate magnate George Marcus for making it to Al Gore's exclusive list of rich people called from his White House office. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Gentleman George generously wrote six checks totaling $122,500 at Gore's request. As the presidential race heated up, Marcus co-hosted a $2,500-a-couple fundraiser with Mayor Susan Hammer at Marcus' splendid two-acre Los Altos Hills manse. Marcus didn't return repeated phone calls, perhaps fearing Eye wanted money. ... Local politicians also court Marcus's wallet. Last year, outgoing supe Ron Gonzales dubbed Marcus one of his going-away party's co-chairs. Insiders suspect that Marcus will be among Gonzales's top fundraising sources. ... Sen. John Vasconcellos was recently spotted dining at Marcus's Greek restaurant, Evvia, in Palo Alto. Apparently, the two men traded pleasantries and not checks, though Vasco will need it if he ultimately decides to run for governor.


Excuse Our Dust

To say the least, SoFA-lite Fil Maresca was surprised to hear the sound of jackhammers in his neighborhood, just days before this year's SoFA Festival street fair. And indeed, city construction crews are tearing up sidewalks near First Street and San Salvador, the heart of this Sunday's celebration, which is expected to draw 15,000 gen-Xers into downtown. Maresca and other SoFA dandies have spent a year coordinating the event with the city's office of cultural affairs, and Maresca pulled a permit to close down SoFA streets. But public works luminaries apparently don't have a clue about what the old left hand is doing. As a result, Maresca had to move the festival's art stage to a parking lot down the street because construction wouldn't be finished in time. "We still don't know what state it will be in on Sunday," sighs Maresca, "but we're going to put a cyclone fence around the pit of gravel. It'll be quite an attraction." Meanwhile, at the tonier end of downtown, the Redevelopment Agency is feverishly working to finish streetscape improvements around San Pedro Square--a.k.a. McEneryville--for the upcoming Brew Ha Ha Festival. Eye hears that construction should be all done by the time the festival and hockey season are in full swing.


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From the September 18-24, 1997 issue of Metro.

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