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[whitespace] San Jose mayor Ron Gonzales
POWER SURGE: Councilmembers took a bite out of San Jose mayor Ron Gonzales' power.

Public Eye

Evaluating Evaluations

OFTEN, IN SOUTH BAY politics, disagreements are quiet and confrontations are polite. That appears to be the case with a recent face-off between San Jose Mayor Ron Gonzales and the other 10 members of the City Council. In a closed session meeting two weeks ago, Gonzales agreed to rewrite the rules for performance evaluations of the six top city officials that report directly to the council. At first, the mayor wanted to keep doing things the way they were done last year and before he took office, arguing that his vote was worth as much as the rest of the council combined. But from what Eye hears, Councilman Chuck Reed spoke up, saying the mayor should be just one of 11 votes, as outlined in the city charter. Asked about his stance, Reed says it's pretty plain that "these people work for the council." Ever the egghead attorney, Reed reaches for his copy of the charter, which he apparently keeps at arm's length, and reads from Section 5.0.2: "The mayor shall possess only such authority over the city manager and the administrative branch as he or she possesses as one member of the council." ... Reed confirms that he wanted the modification, but says he wasn't the only one, and "eventually, everyone agreed"... In the end, the mayor dropped his objection. "We eventually came to what appeared to be a unanimous agreement," Reed says. "It was all very cordial." Though Councilwoman Cindy Chavez downplays the importance of the change, calling it "not that significant," one insider says otherwise: "This is a big power shift in San Jose politics. It's a council that is proving itself to be far more independent. Ron's power is being stripped away, and they're using the city charter to do it." What's all this mean? Instead of keeping the mayor happy, department heads now must keep the council happy, too, if they want any merit pay increases. To codify the process, ratings are linked to raises. A rating of 100, then, gets a 10 percent raise, while 69 or below gets 0 percent. For the record, councilmembers--and the mayor--are in the process of evaluating the six employees affected: city manager Del Borgsdorf, city clerk Pat O'Hearn, city attorney Rick Doyle, city auditor Gerald Silva, independent police auditor Teresa Guerrero-Daly, and redevelopment evictress Susan Shick.

Watsonville's KPIG will keep its format after being sold to a new owner.

Snout and About

One week after Metro published a cover story lauding its pig-headed individuality ("This Hear Pig," Sept. 27), Watsonville radio station KPIG was sold off, in a multistation deal, to a Los Angeles corporation. As of October 1, KPIG is owned by Mapleton Communications, along with four other FM stations: KBTU, KCDU, KMBY and KHIP. All the stations, including KPIG, were previously managed by Monterey-based New Wave Broadcasting.... PIGheads fear not, the station won't be wallowing in Hollywood anytime soon: station managers say the new owners like the existing format and want to leave it unchanged--as well they should, considering the station's success. Currently, KPIG brings in an estimated $1 million in advertising sales per year. Insert piggy bank joke here.

Rebecca Cohn
Kathy De La Torre
Rebecca Cohn recently lost a key staffer.

Separate Ways

Assemblywoman Rebecca Cohn's district director bailed out of the office last month, after less than a year on the job. Diane Tripousis, who also worked on Cohn's campaign, says the schedule was getting to be too much. "I didn't want to be working that many hours," Tripousis says. "It was a job that required a lot of time and was requiring me to be away from my family more than I wanted." Tripousis assures Eye there were no hard feelings. She's now working for San Jose attorney Ash Pirayou, whose specialty is campaign finance law, and as a paid staffer for Cohn protege Sally Lieber, who's running for Elaine Alquist's Assembly seat... Though Tripousis says things were great with her former boss, Cohn doesn't enjoy the best reputation among Capitol staffers, or even fellow Democratic lawmakers. "It's not at all surprising that good people like Diane would be jumping off that boat," assumes one political insider who has worked with Cohn in the past. "Rebecca is very difficult to work with and can be very demanding." Tripousis will still be working with Cohn, in a way: Cohn is a client of Pirayou's.

Shoe Stoppers

Strolling into the Robert F. Peckham Federal Building last week, Eye set off the metal detector alarm by way of its bulky steel-toed shoes. Eye was politely asked to back up, remove the shoes and try it again, this time in socks. One security officer held the dubious distinction of picking up Eye's perfume-challenged footwear from the floor and checking it through the x-ray machine. "Those are some big metal blocks you got in your shoes," the officer noted. "Boy, that's nuthin' but metal." ... After getting the all's-clear, and lacing up on the other side, officers told Eye that since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the feds have pumped up the protection to include shoe-sniffing shakedowns. Guards estimate they inspect about 20 pairs of shoes each day. "Everyone from delivery guys to gals who wear heels," said one. "The only complaints come from a few ladies who come in and out a lot, so they're taking off their shoes each time--who knows what they can be carrying in there, right? Every one else has been kind about it, though." ... No one is sure how long the sole-searching will last, or if it will ever go away. But for the near future, Eye suggests potential visitors to the federal building leave their boots at home, and take a minute to slip into something a little more comfortable.

Running on Empty

The buzz around City Hall this week is that Jose Posadas, a policy aide to District 3 (Downtown) Councilwoman Cindy Chavez, is gearing up to challenge incumbent mayor Ron Gonzales for San Jose's top spot. Posadas, who has been with Chavez since she took office almost three years ago, says he ended his tenure Friday and will pull papers this week. For those who know Posadas--Eye included--the news comes as a bit of a surprise. Posadas doesn't come across as the usual type A personality. Instead, he's known around City Hall as being consistently soft-spoken, well liked, quiet and hard-working.... "I made a choice in my life that this is what I needed to do," Posadas explains. The 36-year-old says the city isn't going in the right direction, and residents know it. "Because of the work that I've done out in the community, it's given me a sense of how the community feels about the direction the city has taken under Ron. They believe there needs to be a change in the leadership at City Hall." But why is he running--when even sitting councilmembers won't give it a shot? Posadas, who has never run for public office, says he's undeterred. "Even though a lot of prominent people were being considered, I think there is a lot of support for someone who can run against Ron, and I intend to take advantage of the connections that I've made over the last three years." (Same for Gonzales, Eye predicts.) Posadas says he plans to build support among the community groups, neighborhood associations and small businesses that he says have been locked out of City Hall since the mayor took office. But even though he put in those years with Cindy, he probably won't be getting any endorsements out of it: Chavez has already endorsed Gonzales.

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From the October 4-10, 2001 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2001 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

For more information about the San Jose/Silicon Valley area, visit sanjose.com.

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