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[whitespace] Jude Barry For BART's Sake: Measure A strategist Jude Barry is confident Mayor Ron Gonzales remains a credible pitchman for bringing BART to San Jose. And he's got a poll to prove it.

Public Eye

Scandal Relief

SCANDAL SHMANDAL. Mayor Ron Gonzales, who just one month ago admitted to having an affair with a member of his staff, will have a high-profile role in selling the season's hottest ballot measure to voters. At least that's what a top campaign official for Measure A, a proposed transit tax that will help bring BART to San Jose (among other things), is telling Eye. "Will [the mayor] have a visible role in the campaign? Yes," says Jude Barry, Gonzo's majordomo running the Measure A campaign. "His [polling] numbers are still good." Insiders have been speculating that the mayor's numbers have dropped by double digits since the scandal. Barry coyly refuses to say whether the campaign's latest poll--done immediately after the scandal broke--shows the mayor's popularity down from previous polls. But he did let Eye take a peek at the poll, which shows Gonzales still faring about as well his predecessor, Susan Hammer. It also shows the mayor doing twice as well as Measure A's top naysayers, supervisors Blanca Alvarado and Jim Beall. What the Judester won't talk about is exactly how visible the mayor will be in the campaign. For instance, Barry refuses to speculate whether Gonzales would appear in television commercials. "I'm not going to discuss details with you," Barry clucks. ... Polling done over the past few months has repeatedly shown voters overwhelmingly in favor of raising the local sales tax to bring BART to San Jose. At first, Gonzales seemed like the obvious person to sell the tax to voters. But after the scandal broke, Measure A proponents weren't so sure. Despite BART's popularity, the measure needs a two-thirds majority, leaving no room to risk an unpopular pitchman hurting its chances. It still remains to be seen exactly how visible the mayor will be in the campaign--will he be on TV or just brochures? But the fact that Measure A strategists aren't hiding him suggests Gonzales remains a credible pitchman for BART and maybe even a contender for higher office still.

Debate Flake

Are campaign handlers for Democratic congressional wannabe Mike Honda trying to keep their boy under wraps? That's what Honda's Reep opponent, Jim Cunneen, is saying. Cunneen linguists have been sending out caustically worded press releases accusing Honda of continually bailing out on debates (six of them at this point, they say). Last week, for instance, Honda flaked out on a scheduled gab contest at Three Flames Restaurant because of a "scheduling conflict," which turned out to be a fundraiser in Los Angeles. "They're keeping him hidden," theorizes Kevin Spillane, Cunneen's main consultant. "They're afraid of what he's going to say next." Jennifer Van der Heide, Honda's pixyish propagandist, insists the Three Flames debate was the first time her boss missed out on a scheduled forum. Van der Heide says that by the election, Honda and Cunneen will have participated in about a dozen debates, giving voters plenty of chances to check them out. "Al Gore and George Bush aren't debating as much as Honda and Cunneen," Van der Heide sniffs. ... But privately Hondistas concede that intellectually their boy isn't the sharpest knife in the drawer. And Honda hasn't exactly distinguished himself during the campaign. During a debate on KGO, Honda confessed he hadn't really been following the antitrust case against Microsoft very closely. He also referred to the area in which we live as "Silicone" Valley. ... By the by, Honda did at least send campaign aide Jill Sherman in his stead to the Three Flames forum. Sherman introduced herself by saying, "Hello, I'm Mike Honda and this is what happens to you when you run for public office." A heckler quickly shouted back, "It's an improvement!"

Party Pushers

Republican George W. Bush promises to restore honor and decency to the White House, but he apparently won't be bringing any manners along. A week ago a Bush campaign worker literally pushed Assemblygeek Ted Lempert (D-Palo Alto) off the Sequoia High School campus (in front of a reporter, no less). ... It all started during Bush's visit to the aforementioned high school in Lempert's district last week. Lempert showed up outside the event to talk a little trash about school vouchers and praise Democratic nominee Al Gore. While badmouthing vouchers to a reporter, Lempert caught the attention of a Dubya gatekeeper who interrupted the interview and told Lempert to beat it because he lacked the proper credentials. But the mighty Ted resisted and repeatedly demanded to know the Bushwhacker's name. That's when the ruffian, according to Lempert, "put his arm on my back and started pushing me toward the exit." Lempert concedes he left without anything more than a bruised ego, but says he still found the episode disconcerting. " [The Bush aide] was amazingly obnoxious and unprofessional," he concludes. Bush spokesgal Lindsey Kozberg was not familiar with the incident, but assured Eye Lempert would have not been singled out for a partisan reason.

Son of a Gun

Judicial temperament he doesn't have. But fortunately for attorney and East Side Union High School District trustee David Cortese, he is running for San Jose City Council and not judge. Cortese recently informed Eye it was "full of shit" when Eye read him the opening sentence from a June 21, 1997, letter he wrote to the Mercury News editor: "Your editorial support for a statewide ban of 'Saturday night specials' is wrong." Apparently, Cortese had forgotten about his earlier for-the-record critique of gun control. Eye jogged his memory by continuing to read his screed, which went on to say that as a school trustee he has never had to expel a student for bringing a junk gun on campus. In his missive, he also extolled the virtues of using guns for self-defense. ... Cortese has grown a little sensitive about the topic because his opponent, Eddie Garcia, is portraying him as a gun nut. In order to clear things up, Eye asked Cortese to explain his position on things like banning junk guns. After performing some basic evasive maneuvers, Cortese bravely took the position that gun regulation was a matter for state and federal authorities, not city councilors.

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From the October 5-11, 2000 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2000 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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