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[whitespace] Charlotte Powers Top Bulling: Councilwoman Charlotte Powers displayed her four-letter vocabulary during a taped meeting of the Rules Committee last week.

Public Eye

Charlotte's *$&@! Web

FORTUNATELY FOR Eye, the most pivotal moments of San Jose city government are tape-recorded for historical posterity. If they weren't, Eye might never have heard San Jose Councilwoman Charlotte Powers, the sweet 62-year-old grandmother of eight, bark "Bullshit" twice at Vice Mayor Frank Fiscalini during a public meeting of the Rules Committee last week. "It was the hot topic in City Hall," murmurs one council aide. "I don't recall a time when such interesting and colorful language was used by a council member at a public meeting." ... At issue was a proposal by Powers and Councilwoman Cindy Chavez to form--after years of mounting complaints from drivers and the airport--a Taxi Commission where cab drivers could air their complaints. When Fiscalini, who chairs the Rules Committee, arrived at the part of the agenda featuring the taxi proposal, he announced that the issue had been "dropped." When Powers asked why, Fiscalini stammered something about Mayor Ron Gonzales having discussions with Chavez. Powers then audibly interrupted with a simple "Bullshit." A female voice then asked Powers, "Didn't Cindy's office talk to you?" "Not about dropping the issue," Powers replied, adding another "Bullshit" after a pause, and then said, "I'm sorry, you guys. I'm ticked off." ... Word of Powers' displeasure quickly made its way to the desk of the mayor's major-domo, Jude Barry, who tells Eye that all is copacetic now. "It was all a simple misunderstanding," Barry insists. According to Barry, Powers mistakenly thought that the mayor had instructed Fiscalini that the whole issue of taxi-driver complaints was being dropped. Actually, Barry says, the mayor didn't want the entire issue buried. Rather, he preferred appointing a task force to examine the issue first, something he had discussed previously with both Powers and Chavez, Barry says. Powers concurs that all is well now and that the matter has been cleared up. Nonetheless, Councilman John Diquisto, the retired firefighter generally considered the council's resident expert on four-letter words, lauds Powers' colorful use of the cow-family vernacular. "Good for her," Diquisto gushes. "That's what we need around here--less bullshit."

Mixed Signals

Republican Party leaders are urging San Jose City Councilwoman Pat Dando to reconsider her decision not to run for the Assembly next year. And apparently Dando isn't telling them no just yet. "She's sending mixed signals," reveals a well-connected Sacramento Reep. Dando, widely considered a shoe-in to win the seat being vacated by Assemblyman Jim Cunneen, surprised insiders last month when she announced that she would seek re-election to the City Council. At the time, she said she wanted to stay near her elderly mother, who lives in Dando's Almaden Valley home. Immediately after Dando bailed out, moderate Reeps like Los Gatos Councilman Steve Blanton and Monte Sereno Councilgal Suzanne Jackson hastily began putting out feelers for their own Assembly candidacies. But some prominent party animals don't think either Blanton or Jackson would be nearly as formidable as the Patmeister, who barely lost in her bid for mayor last year. Tab Berg, a senior account executive for McNally Temple, the Sacramento-based political consulting firm that ran Dando's mayoral campaign, tells Eye that former Gov. George Deukmejian called him this weekend looking for Dando's phone number. Despite pressure from above to reconsider, Dando aide Erik Schoennauer insists that his boss will be on the March 2000 ballot as a City Council candidate.

Elephant Talk

The news of Congressman Tom Campbell possibly ditching his post has emboldened many a cowardly Democrat--previously too afraid to challenge an incumbent--to float patched-up trial balloons. The most surprising name to surface this week is that of Norm Mineta, the former congressman who abandoned the very same seat midterm in 1995 to take a higher paying job with Lockheed Martin. But apparently rumors of Mineta's resurrection have been greatly exaggerated. A confidant of Assemblyman Mike Honda's, a Mineta protégé, says that the retired congressman called Honda recently "and asked him to consider running [for Congress]." Further proof: Susan Fitts, Mineta's former district chief of staff, says she spoke to her old boss shortly after hearing about his rumored return. "He was very definitive that he was not going to be running," reports Fitts, who now is the director of the county's office of public communication.

Just Quote Me

Cupertino City Councilman Michael Chang got into some hot water with Sheriff Laurie Smith recently. No, not for any criminal activity, but over the unauthorized use of her name on his campaign website (michael-chang.org). Smith says she got a call from someone informing her that she was quoted on the site giving Chang kudos for his record on public safety. "Not only did I not endorse him," Smith clucks, "but I didn't give him a quote either." Which, of course, means Chang made up the quote from thin air (actually, a rather common practice in crafting campaign literature). By the time Smith called Chang to complain, she says, her name had already been removed from the site. According to Chang, the webmaster mistakenly took information from a draft brochure which hadn't been approved for public consumption yet. Chang says the offending reference was removed within 24 hours after being accidentally posted. "It was an honest mistake," Change assures Eye. Now the site features Andrew Zander, a public safety commissioner, gushing, "Michael has made Cupertino a safer city."

Reverse Tokenism

Even though the primary is five months away, it's a bit late in the campaign game to launch a City Council candidacy. The Chamber of Commerce has already made its endorsements and organized labor just held candidate interviews last week. Still, Patricia Martinez-Roach says she isn't worried. In fact, she considers herself the obvious frontrunner in the race for the Evergreen City Council seat. "I have a very strong base in my district," explains the confident candidate, now in the middle of her second term on the board of trustees of the Eastside Union High School District. Martinez-Roach likes to point out that she came in first in the 1992 primary for the same District 8 council seat. Of course, she grudgingly concedes that she lost in the general election to the infamous Kathy Cole, who was recalled two years later. ... Martinez-Roach will go up against three other council aspirants, including David Cortese (whom most insiders consider the frontrunner), her rival on the Eastside school board. Ironically, Martinez-Roach's entry into the race arguably benefits Cortese the most. That's because the other two candidates--cable guy Eddie Garcia and Maria Fuentes--are also Latinos, meaning that Martinez-Roach will further split the trio's presumed ethnic voting base, thus bolstering Cortese, the race's token white male.

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From the October 14-20, 1999 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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

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