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[whitespace] David Cortese Name Brand: David Cortese is still widely considered the front-runner in the District 8 City Council race, but his campaign has recently suffered a couple of setbacks.

Public Eye

Rope and Cable

NEARLY EVERY objective political prognosticator in San Jose agrees that David Cortese is the obvious front-runner in the race to succeed Evergreen Councilwoman Alice Woody next year. He has the benefit of a familiar surname and connections to deep-pocket developers and builders. But even though the primary is five months away, the Cortese campaign has already suffered a couple of significant setbacks. ... Last month political consultant Ed McGovern, the man who ran the 1992 ballpark campaign and now shills for Bay 101, suddenly resigned from the Cortese campaign. The reason: McGovern had been offered a lucrative lobbying contract with AT&T. In and of itself, a lobbying contract with AT&T didn't cause McGovern to quit. What did was the fact that McGovern would now be dealing extensively with a government affairs employee in AT&T's cable division (formerly TCI) named Eddie Garcia, who just so happens to be running for the Evergreen council seat, too. "It was an awkward situation," McGovern recalls. To make things worse, McGovern bailed out right near the official start of the campaign season on Sept. 9, the first day candidates in San Jose can raise money. "It caught me by surprise," Cortese concedes. "We had an expectation that Ed would be involved and that the issue of consultants had been resolved." Some in the Cortese camp wondered aloud whether the Cable Guy had effectively bought off McGovern by getting him a sweet deal. McGovern, however, says Garcia had little to do with his landing the lobbying contract. Cortese is still looking for someone to replace McGovern and team up with co-campaign consultant Vic Ajlouny. ... Soon after the McGovern intrigue, Cortese suffered another disappointment when the Chamber of Commerce's political action committee gave a dual endorsement to Cortese and Garcia. "It kind of shocked me," confides Chamber PAC board member John Neece. "I thought it was going to be Cortese all the way." According to Ajlouny, the Chamber's two-thirds-majority requirement tripped up Cortese's chances for a sole endorsement. ... One piece of good news emanating from the Cortese camp this week: The Evergreen front-runner raised more than $30,000 in the first reporting period, compared to the $19,000 Garcia is boasting. The campaign manager for the other candidate, Maria Fuentes, refused to disclose how much she had raised, which probably means she didn't do too well.

Dispensed Niceties

Last week Eye's cohorts at Metro unwittingly honored a pair of longtime political operatives with an award in the Best of Silicon Valley issue. Ben and Diane Tripousis' survey won Most Congenial in the first-ever Fillers in Fine Form category, thanks to the couple's earnest, informative responses to the Readers' Survey. But did Ben, former aide to Congressman Pete Stark (and later to Margie Fernandes), and Diane, one-time assistant to transportation kingpin Rod Diridon, suspect that they were being primed with flattery only to be pumped for insider information later? "Not in the least!" exclaims Ben, who now works on transportation policy in San Jose's public works office. "We were actually both sort of dumbstruck. ... The blurb you wrote about us was so nice!" Anyway, some interesting things Eye learned about the Tripousises: (1) They really are relentless valley boosters. (2) They are good people to invite out drinking and then trick into being the designated drivers; they are quite conscientious in this regard, as evidenced by their stated opinion on the best margaritas: "Sinaloa's Restaurant in Morgan Hill: Pick a designated driver before ordering your first round ... great food, too!" (3) Stay away from their house on pizza night. Their response to Best Pizza was "Pizza Chicago. 'The Al Bundy' is the best, but be sure that your special someone also likes roasted garlic!"

Wiped Clean

Toilet-paper theft doesn't exactly rank among the country's most egregious crimes. Nonetheless, San Jose fire Capt. Dick Santos is making a stink about a retired white firefighter who allegedly stole a bunch of toilet paper from his former firehouse earlier this year. Santos claims that authorities didn't punish the suspect--who Santos says is a former higher-up in the firefighters' union who has relatives in the police department--because of his connections. "If it had been me or any other minority firefighter," rants Santos, who is Portuguese, "he would have been fired." Of course, the department couldn't fire the suspect, since he was already retired, but Santos suggests that the cops should have at least charged him with a misdemeanor. According to Santos, the suspect was spotted by a witness leaving the station with a big box of TP and other sundries. A fire captain says that the case was ultimately turned over to the cops. Police spokesman Rubens Dalaison tells Eye that prosecutors concluded there was no evidence showing that a crime had been committed and the case has been turned over to the city attorney's office as a personnel matter. Santos claims that authorities have effectively flushed the case into oblivion. "It's the same old shit," he says, no pun intended.

Fast Track

Just when it looked like ex-Supe Rod Diridon's proposed railroad museum at the county fairgrounds was going to be derailed, Almighty Rod produced a miracle Tuesday--a four-vote majority on the board of supes to tentatively proceed with the troubled choo-choo project, albeit a scaled-back $2.2 million version. The lone dissenter, surprisingly, was Blanca Alvarado, an honorary co-chair of the California Train & Railroad Corp., the Diridon-led nonprofit sponsoring the museum. Alvarado seemed annoyed that Diridon failed to produce a marketing study that CTRC regularly cited, but which mysteriously couldn't be found. "It's kind of funny," chuckles one wag, "because he [Diridon] probably made her honorary co-chair to secure her support in the county."

Royal Flushed

Though it's still registered to Greg Royal of Plano, Texas, the Internet domain silliconvalley.com now refers to mercurycenter.com, webpage of the Mercury News. Royal registered the domain in May and linked the site to his entertainment portal cafecrowd.com. "I chose it because Sillicon Valley is a great name for a parody of the industry," Royal says. "I've been in it 10 years and it's an endless source of amusement for me." But the Merc caught wind of the site and last month filed suit against Royal, alleging that the M.B.A. student was diverting traffic with "an obvious misspelling of siliconvalley.com" and was mimicking the "look and feel" of the Merc's website, siliconvalley.com. "I didn't take the 'look and feel,'" Royal argues. "That comes from my other site." Royal's other site, cafecrowd.com, led today with this news story: "Fitness Experts: Howard Stern, Kate Moss Have Worst Celeb Butts." But rather than have Johnny Cochran defend his right to use the name, Royal decided to sign over the domain to the Merc for no compensation. "I still believe Silicon Valley is a generic term," he says. Little did the suits who filed suit know, the squatter squashed might be the Murky's biggest fan in Texas. "I'm a big fan of the Mercury News," Royal insists, straining credibility. "I've been reading it for years. People like Dan Gillmor. That e-tattler was hilarious."

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From the October 7-13, 1999 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 1999 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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