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For the Record: Nagging questions and a phone call from Eye persuaded Cupertino mayor John Bautista to spill his guts.

Conflicted Signals

Three months ago, Cupertino Mayor John Bautista cryptically revealed that he had a conflict-of-interest and probably couldn't vote on a controversial 178-unit housing project proposed by the San Jose Diocese. Bautista's good-faith disclosure only went so far--he refused to reveal the nature of the conflict. "I just don't want people to know what goes on in my personal life," Bautista sniffed at the time. Without Bautista's support, the Diocese project, eight years in the making, didn't have the votes to pass. The O'Brien Group, the Diocese's development partner, even had its attorneys research the law, coming to the self-serving conclusion that Bautista could indeed vote. Cupertino City Attorney Charles Kilian, however, opined that Bautista did have a conflict under common law. Earlier this month, Bautista announced he would seek a ruling from the Fair Political Practices Commission, but then changed his mind. Meanwhile, the public still didn't have a clue to what all the fuss was about. Well, persistent pestering by reporters finally persuaded John-John to spill his guts this week. "I don't want anyone to think there's something I'm trying to hide," Bautista told Eye. "I think it's a pretty innocuous situation." Here's the skinny: Earlier this year, Bautista and his wife, Marilyn, both attorneys, entered a Price Waterhouse lottery to buy a home in the exclusive Vintage Oaks development in Menlo Park. It just so happens that the O'Brien Group is a partner in that project. The lucky Bautistas, who bid above the asking price, won the lottery and put a down payment on a house. Bautista won't say how much he paid for his new shack, but homes in one phase of the development start at $1 million. Bautista is stepping down as mayor later this year, though he has strongly hinted that he wants to run for higher office in the future. And what about the Diocese project? Looks like it just might make it after all. The city is expected to delay a vote on the project until after the November elections, when a new lineup on the City Council could very well give it the go-ahead.


Loose Lips

Los Altos Planning Commissioner Gloria Bauer recently got booted from her post for using the F-word at a joint meeting with the City Council. Apparently, when Mayor Francis La Poll (whom Bauer previously ran against for City Council) told her to sit down as she was about to leave the meeting, the frontal lobe of Bauer's brain--the area that tempers the id--lost control of her tongue. Bauer psychoanalyzed one city planner as a "goddamn fucking passive-aggressive" and anointed planning chief Larry Tong with the new title "fucking planning director." "I just lost it," she recalls. "It was like some wild woman was possessing me." Four days later, the council held an emergency Sunday night meeting and voted 3-2 to oust Bauer for being "abusive, profane and obscene." Bauer explains that she was at her wits' end because Tong and councilmembers seemed to be ignoring her well-known complaints about the city's planning process. "I'm having a hard time taking this thing seriously now," confides Bauer, a retired real estate agent who served for nearly four years. "I was upset at the time, but now it all seems so comical." Her sympathetic commission colleagues later gave her a cheeky farewell card with a mock street sign on it that read: "Welcome to goddamn Los Altos. Have a helluva time and spend a shitload of money." The city is still advertising to find a replacement for Bauer. Applications may be submitted to the Fucking Planning Director.


Job Nobbers

The Mercury News recognized recruiting is big business six years ago when it dumped Westech's insert High Tech Careers Magazine to make way for its own career-recruiting section. Two years ago, the Mercury News decided to hold its own recruiting event, the Talent Scout Career Fair. Now Westech, the 16-year-old grandaddy of Silicon Valley recruiting, is crying foul. Westech say the Merc has targeted the firm unfairly by raising the paper's per-line advertising rate from $5.65 to $14.52 this year. Under the new pricing scheme, Westech's standard one-page ad to promote the October job fair will cost $76,000. The same ad cost only $27,000 in August. Westech president Fred Faltersack writes in a steamy letter to fair participants, "The only thing I can guess is that since they have been attempting feebly to enter the job fair business for the past two years with their Talent Scout Fair, this is their way to compete--by pricing Westech out of the San Jose Mercury News." Faltersack sent bills to this October's Career Expo exhibitors with an extra line item reflecting the increase. In addition to charging the $3,950 booth rate--which they point out hasn't changed in four years--they are also imposing a $520 "San Jose Mercury News surcharge" per booth for the additional cost of advertising. But don't blame Westech, Faltersack writes. Blame the Merc. So far, Faltersack says he's been sent copies of dozens of letters mailed to Merc publisher Jay T. Harris by disgruntled Westech clients.



Still Alive: Congressman Tom Campbell visited Fidel Castro in August.

Secret Mission

The news came not from the office of Reep congressman Tom Campbell, but from Radio Havana. An Aug. 28 story denying rumors of Fidel Castro's death contained a brief footnote that Campbell and South Carolina Congressman Marshall Sanford were in the Communist stronghold on an official visit. The Campster, a member of the International Relations Committee, explains that he doesn't issue many press releases and didn't see the need for one in this case. According to Campbell, he went to get a close-up look at the Cuban health-care system and the impact of the U.S. economic embargo (which Campbell supports lifting). He and his wife, Susanne, spent one week on the outskirts of Havana in a house kept by the Cuban government for visiting dignitaries. Though he didn't smoke any stogies, he did chat with Castro (who, Campbell notes, seemed to be in fine health) for 90 minutes at a cocktail party. Much of the time, recalls Campbell, the aging Cuban dictator simply "looked and nodded."


Whoopee Caution

Eye has learned that on Monday Mayor Susan Hammer, Councilman Frank Fiscalini, Redevelopment czar Frank Taylor, and Planning Director Jim Derryberry worked out a plan behind closed doors that won't exactly save the Jose Theater, but salvages more than did the previous proposed wreckfest. According to Hammer's spokesman, Kevin Pursglove, the modified housing project will retain the facade and lobby, while gutting the stage and theater. Fiscalini notes that the theater's former space will be restored later for another use like a museum, art gallery or rehearsal hall. Under the new design, there will nine fewer living units, but the city is sweetening the pot for developer Jim Fox, giving him another $2 million on top of the $10 million already promised. Preservationist Pauline Sorter says she wants to see the details of the plan, but is cautiously optimistic. "It certainly would be better than tearing it down and just retaining the facade," Sorter opines. "It's good news, but I'm not jumping up and down screaming, 'Whoopee!' "


Public Eye welcomes tips. Leave messages 24 hours a day by calling 408/298-7818 and then pressing 2, followed by 412, to reach Eye's voice mailbox. Send email messages to eye@sjmetro.com.


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From the September 25-October 1, 1997 issue of Metro.

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