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Cease to Amaze: The Mercury News accidentally posted its exclusive on Mayor Ron Gonzales on its website a day before it was supposed to appear in the paper.

Public Eye

Post Haste

INTERNET GOSSIP Matt Drudge has made a career out of shamelessly stealing scoops from other news outlets. But the Mercury News managed this week to Drudge itself by mistakenly posting an exclusive piece on San Jose Mayor Ron Gonzales' love life on its website Monday morning before the story appeared in the paper Tuesday. Merc editors, upon realizing the mistake, hastily yanked the story from the web, which quoted anonymous sources saying the mayor and 26-year-old aide Guisselle Nuñez planned to continue their romance despite a public pronouncement to the contrary. (A month earlier, after Eye reported the rumored tryst between the two, the mayor held a confessional press conference and claimed he and Nuñez had "ceased" their relationship by mutual agreement.) ... The story apparently wasn't supposed to appear in the regular version of the daily until the following day. Immediately after editors took the story off the website, the conspiracy theorists went into high gear, speculating that the mayor had successfully pressured the paper to back off. Others suspected Publisher Jay Harris put the kibosh on the story because it didn't meet his Ivy League standards. But when Eye contacted Executive Editor David Yarnold in the early afternoon Monday, he insisted it was simply the result of someone accidentally posting the bombshell on the website on the wrong day . ... But as fate in these fast times would have it, in the two or three hours the story was online, KGO radio picked it up and reported the scoop--forcing the Merc to repost the story on the web at 3:30pm (in time for the evening news). Yarnold later made a cameo on KTVU, along with Richie Cunningham look-alike, reporter Noam Levey, to lay claim to their scoop ... The City Hall fallout from the story so far seems to be renewed rumblings among councilmembers that some kind of censure or reprimand of Hizronner is in order. Among the disenchanted colleagues, Eye hears, is one-time Gonzo staffer Cindy Chavez, who remains friends with the mayor's estranged wife, Alvina.

Negative Feedback

The folks over at campaign headquarters for Demo congressional aspirant Mike Honda weren't surprised that the San Jose Mercury News endorsed Honda's Reep opponent, Jim Cunneen. They've been predicting as much since Honda won the party's nomination in March. What they didn't expect was to see Honda's mugshot reversed--printing the negative image instead of the positive one--on the editorial page, making Mr. Mike look an Ozzy Ozzbourne disciple. "They [the Merc editorial board] ought to give a dual endorsement now because of that," a Hondista demands, "running a picture making [Honda] look like Satan." On Tuesday, the Merc's elder statesman ran an apology to Honda, telling readers, "Like acrobats, newspapers make their worst mistakes in public." The paper also ran a positive-print photo of Honda, letting readers know what the candidate looks like when not under the influence of the devil.

Quid Pro No

Harley-riding Hollister troublemaker J.J. Vogel is keeping mighty busy these days. The Reform Party's favorite bus mechanic is running for both the Assembly and the Hollister City Council. Vogel concedes he doesn't have much of a chance to win a voter-authorized trip to a Sacramento seat, which is why he is also running for city council, a race he believes he can win. ... For a couple of weeks, J.J. did contemplate dropping out of the Assembly race. He even started negotiating with his Reep opponent Jeff Denham to cut a deal where Vogel would endorse Denham and Denham would endorse Vogel's council candidacy. But the irascible J.J. didn't like a press release drafted by the Denham campaign--he apparently thought it too rah-rah--and negotiations broke down. Denham, meanwhile, tells Eye that Vogel got uptight because Denham wouldn't promise to endorse Vogel for council. ... Vogel later began grousing that Denham was mistakenly telling people that J.J. had quit the Assembly race and had become a Jeff-man. "Reports of my imminent departure from the 28th district State Assembly contest," Vogel clarified in a little-noticed press release, "and endorsement of Jeff Denham are flat-out untrue. ... I am staying on the State Assembly ballot because I want to provide voters with a 'none of the above' option." So a vote for J.J. is a vote for nobody. ... For his part, Denham denies ever telling people he had Vogel's endorsement or that he was no longer in the Assembly running. "Sometimes," Denham muses, "I think J.J. just likes to see his name in the press."

The L.A. Vote

Don't you wuv us anymore, Tom? Rep. Tom Campbell (R-San Jose), who is trailing badly in his ill-chosen race for U.S. Senate against broken-legged Dianne Feinstein, appears to have forgotten his local constituents in his quixotic campaign quest. This week the Campster unveiled his first major ad of the general election cycle, attacking DiFi for her support of the war on drugs. But Silicon Valley viewers won't be seeing the ad. At least not for a while. Campbell's campaign Svengalis have chosen to begin airing the spots only in Southern California, the Central Valley and Sacramento, but nowhere in the Bay Area. "Our focus will be in other markets," confirms Peter B. Collins, Campbell's media guru. "We want to introduce Tom to people who don't know him yet." (So they can see what valley dwellers have known for years--that he's a nice but dull nerd.) More cynical observers say the cash-strapped Campbell campaign is simply trying to boost his name ID elsewhere in the state for another senate run in four years.

Mobile Yokel

Those listening to KQED Radio's Forum program last week might have heard Assemblygal Audie Bock (I-Oakland) participating in a candidate debate via her cell phone--while driving over the Bay Bridge in traffic. What listeners may not have realized is that Bock is contemplating introducing legislation that would prohibit cell phone use while driving. ... Bock later called Eye--from her cell phone, of course--to explain what happened. "They [KQED producers] insisted," Bock insisted, "on calling me in my car while I was on the Bay Bridge. I said, 'You guys are going to murder me politically.'" Bock also confessed that she is a "flagrant" cell phone user in her car. "I'm one of the worst offenders," she admitted. ... During the phone interview with Eye, Bock warned, "You may lose me. We're going through a tunnel up here." She quickly clari- fied, "I'm not driving."

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From the October 19-25, 2000 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2000 Metro Publishing Inc. MetroActive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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