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Candidate Schoolers: They're so cute when they just start out.

Public Eye

School of Lies

It was back to candidate school on Thursday, Sept. 12. And to Eye's delight, this second session reaffirmed an important lesson about the public realm: Lying is legal, and patriotic. Candidate school, put on by the San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce and PG&E, and organized by political consultant JAY ROSENTHAL, reared its head (and dissatisfactory sandwich-centric catering, as highlighted in Eye's earlier coverage scolding responsible parties, man-about-politics JUDE BARRY and Chamber head JIM CUNNEEN) in December. The two-hour function was a public primer meant to get political wannabes up to speed on the micromanaged minefield of embezzlement and other dumb mistakes that translate loosely into "campaigning for elected office." It's a popular event. The jaundicey-lighted school room/chamber building basement below South First packed in more than 40 "students." About 75 percent of those were men--a figure that's out of proportion with San Jose's gender breakdown--about 51 percent male, 49 percent female, city spokesguy TOM MANHEIM told Eye--suggesting a continuation of the comfy hunting-gathering tradition of a male-dominated power structure. City Councilman FORREST WILLIAMS reached Chamber and audience member JERRY HILL with his soul-searching instructions. Williams directed the future and current elected hopefuls to ask, why am I doing this? Ego trip? Power? These were bad reasons, Hill said. Hill told Eye that his public servant experience as a Sunnyvale Park 'n' Rec commish grew out of his "real desire to have great neighborhood parks." Getting back to Eye's sense of the event's main focus--the role of lying, politically inclined lawyer ASH PIRAYOU, campaign sultan JEFF JANSSEN and former Santa Clara County supervisor and Campaign Ethics Foundation smarty-pants SUSANNE WILSON gave separate miniseminars that together equaled a crash course in how to avoid the big house ... at least before the primary. Wilson handed out copies of a pledge for audience members to sign and return as a prelude to their securing candidate endorsement interviews with the Chamber. The pledge makes various promises about being sincere and frank rather than dishonest and unethical. ... In response to this one-page itemized handout, an astute audience member, whose name tag read ALKESH DESAI, asked the excellent question--why is this a pledge and not a law? The answer, of course, is that lying falls safely in the freedom of speech category, guaranteed by one of them Constitutional Amendments. As always, Eye is eternally grateful to the country's founding dudes.

Or Not To Be

RUSS DANIELSON is no big shot, the Morgan Hill office-supply store owner tells Eye. That's for sure, confirms local twice weekly, the Morgan Hill Times. You see Danielson is the sole Morgan Hill representative on the Coyote Valley Specific Plan Committee, a task force assembled by the San Jose City Council on Aug. 20. That makes him the town's one voice in the controversial Coyote Valley development conversation. And apparently he's not good enough for the Times. In fact, according to an Aug. 30 Times headline, "Morgan Hill absent on Coyote task force," Danielson, who lives in San Jose but works and volunteers in Morgan Hill, doesn't even exist. San Jose Mayor RON GONZALES picked Danielson, a Morgan Hill Unified School District Board trustee and owner of Jody's Junction Stationers on East First Street, to represent the South County community since Coyote Valley falls within Danielson's district. (Also in his district, about 50,000 residents and plenty of cows, trees and dirt.) "It is clearly very important to have the school board represented on this task force," says Gonzoguy DAVID VOSSBRINK, explaining that schools are one of the basic services headed for impact by any upcoming development. So who is good enough for the Morgan Hill Times? Morgan Hill Mayor DENNIS KENNEDY will do nicely, thank you, the paper asserts. But no, the Times can't have that. "Ron Gonzales didn't want a bunch of mayors from small towns in there yapping," Danielson says. Perhaps Eye's mention will be the one that transforms Danielson from a nobody into a somebody.

Don't Fear The Reefer

And speaking of untruths, in October 1999, one year before acquiring the U.S. presidency, then-Texas Governor GEORGE W. BUSH made one of his trademark campaign statements about medical marijuana."I believe each state can choose that decision as they so choose," he said, as quoted in the Dallas Morning News. But that has turned out to be a lie. In 1996, Californians chose Prop. 215 authorizing the medical use of cannabis. On Sept. 5, George's pot police, the DEA, smashed that choice with an armed invasion of the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana (WAMM), Santa Cruz' nonprofit model medical marijuana garden. ... More important than that old, traditionally Republican ticket item of state's rights, the Santa Cruz crackdown demonstrates the selective enforcement of the law when it comes to drugs. Witness this: "My morning begins at 3am, when my wife wakes me up, sick to her stomach and vomiting her guts out from the AIDS medications she had to take the night before," a WAMM supporter tells Eye. His wife contracted AIDS from a tainted blood transfusion. "Twice a day she's taking poison to kill the virus." The poison is fistfuls of federally OKed pharmaceuticals. Marijuana from WAMM had helped this patient by buffering the awful side effects of her legal meds, "and we've got 250 people who are like this," the source continues. "It's like a funeral that doesn't end." The DEA agents pointed guns at sick people, paralyzed and in wheelchairs, and cuffed and arrested (but didn't charge with crimes) WAMM operators VALERIE and MICHAEL CORRAL. Bush's police burned up the year's worth of crops and backed up their assault with the excuse that the Corrals had guns on the premises, which sources tell Eye were inoperable family heirlooms that were not loaded and had never been fired. ... Santa Cruz city officials bravely invited WAMM to distribute pot for medicinal use to sick people in the City Hall courtyard on Tuesday, Sept. 17, as a political statement supported by Santa Cruz Mayor CHRISTOPHER KROHN, Vice Mayor EMILY REILLY, City Councilmember TIM FITZMAURICE and County Supervisor MARDI WORMHOUDT. Carmel's U.S. Rep. SAM FARR called the DEA's action "truly outrageous," and, along with Cali House Dem Whip NANCY PELOSI, pledged support for New York's U.S. Rep. MAURICE HINCHEY's plans to curtail the DEA's ability to violate state medical-marijuana legalization laws. Also, San Jose U.S. Rep. MIKE HONDA just signed on as a co-sponsor of the States' Rights to Medical Marijuana Act H.R. 2592, introduced by Mass. U.S. Rep. BARNEY FRANK and referred to a U.S. House health subcommittee in July 2001. Hopefully the feds kept honest track of the amount before they burned it up. There could be some serious haggling when lawsuit time begins, and Eye would hate to see the taxpayers foot the bill at inflated street values.

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From the September 19-25, 2002 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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