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[whitespace] Susan Shick Welcome to the Palm-Tree Jungle: New Redevelopment Director Susan Shick did not protest the firings of two agency execs loyal to her predecessor, Frank Taylor.


Public Eye

Instant Karma

DURING THE DECADE Jim Forsberg served as the San Jose Redevelopment Agency's second-in-command to Director Frank Taylor, he seemed to relish his role as Taylor's hatchet man. No one knows this better than Mark Patrosso, who spent two years as the agency's project manager for the Biblioteca Latinoamericana. One January morning this year when Taylor was conveniently on vacation, Patrosso says, Forsberg summoned the Biblioteca project manager to his office. "We've all talked and we have decided you're no longer a good fit with the agency," Patrosso recalls Forsberg telling him. "I got the feeling that he [Forsberg] thoroughly enjoyed telling me this," Patrosso now says. "He almost had a smirk on his face." The agency offered Patrosso three months' severance pay. By the time he returned to his office later in the day someone had thoughtfully placed boxes next to his desk so he could pack his things and be gone. ... Perhaps it was nature's way of bringing things full circle when acting agency chief Richard Rios, in his final week as interim director, turned the tables on the agency's executioner and told Forsberg last week that his services were no longer needed. With Taylor gone, Forsberg was indeed "no longer a good fit with the agency," a vestige of the past. Rios also fired Carol Beddo, Taylor's assistant of four years who spun the press, or tried to, anyway. ... Since the firings, reporters have been peppering Mayor Ron Gonzales and his inner circle with questions about whether the mayor had any involvement in pulling the trigger on Forsberg and Beddo. Mayoral spokesman Dave Vossbrink insists that the decision was made solely by Rios--the mayor's handpicked interim director of the agency--without input from Gonzales. But make no mistake: No one in the mayor's office is shedding any tears for Forsberg or Beddo, whom Gonzo's advisers considered first-rate Taylor cronies. ... New agency Director Susan Shick, who started work this Monday, tells Eye that Rios told her of his plan to can the pair of rogue warriors about six weeks ago. Shick says she advised Rios that "he should make the changes he thought necessary." One City Hall wag suggests that Rios did Shick a favor by taking care of the dirty work she probably would have had to do at some point anyway.


Senate or Bust

Now that Assemblyman Ted Lempert (D-Palo Alto) has announced he won't challenge incumbent state Sen. Byron Sher (D-Palo Alto) next year for the Democratic Party nomination, insiders are wondering what he'll do next. The lame-duck Lempert reveals that he might still run for the state Senate seat in 2004 when there is no sitting Democratic incumbent. And he insists that he has no aspirations for a gubernatorial cabinet appointment or judgeship, jobs that state party leaders tried to entice him with so he wouldn't challenge Sher, he says. "My answer was always, 'No, I'm interested in running for the state Senate," Lempert recalls. Lempert, a champion of charter schools, says he hopes to form a private web-based educational advocacy group after he finishes his term next year.


Traffic Belief

Is Supervisor Jim Beall preparing to make a bid for Congress? Consider this: Beall recently convened a meeting of his campaign finance committee--including Homebuilders' Association chief Mark Lazzarini, former mayoral budget director Bob Brownstein and HMH Inc. president Jim Harper--and unveiled a plan to revive SCA 3, a proposed state constitutional amendment that would have made it easier for counties to raise sales taxes to fund local transportation projects. Beall reportedly asked those in attendance to cut him a $250 check so he could go out and inform the public about the importance of SCA 3 and solving local traffic gridlock. Because Beall hasn't opened a congressional campaign account, the checks would have to be made out to his supervisorial account and used to communicate with constituents. Fortunately for Jimbo, a goodly portion of his supe district overlaps with the 15th Congressional District. It wasn't lost on insiders that Beall, who chairs the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and considers himself something of a transportation guru, can raise his public profile by reaching out to valley voters suffering from traffic fatigue. Beall might even be able to sneak a couple of swipes at his old rival Assemblyman Jim Cunneen, who voted against SCA 3 under heavy pressure from his fellow Reeps. Cunneen, of course, is poised to make a go for the same congressional seat in which Beall, a Democrat, is interested. Officially, however, Beall remains undecided. "The jury is still out," says Van Parish, Beall's chief of staff.


Helpwanted.com

According to mediagossip.com and sources at the Mercury News, eight newsroom staffers have left the paper in recent times to join dot-coms, including business-page columnist Adam Lashinsky (TheStreet.com), while at least another nine online editors and producers have left for jobs and bigger bucks at the likes of CNET, Yahoo, Excite and Women.com. Stephen Buel, a former Metro editor who left the Merc for a job at the Internet company Cybergold, suggests that the exodus is a matter of simple economics. "They can actually make much better wages than they're accustomed to," he says. Metro hasn't been immune to high-tech defectors. Earlier this year, web managing editor Trystan Bass took a job at a dot-com called Riffage and longtime photographer Chris Gardner joined Buel at Cybergold. Later this month, senior writer Michael Learmonth heads for the Industry Standard, a magazine dedicated to covering the Internet economy. Speaking of departures, Chris Nolan, the high-tech scribe who had her column axed earlier this year for making an insider stock deal, resigned from the Merc this week. Industry sources say she is being courted by that paragon of responsible journalism, the New York Post.


Heterodoxy

When Santa Clara County Supervisor Don Gage ran for his current post in 1997, he adamantly opposed a domestic partners registry for county employees, to the consternation of local gay-rights activists and the delight of homophobes like South Hills Church Pastor Peter Wilkes. But despite fears that Gage would be the left-leaning Board of Supes' resident Neanderthal, the Gilroy Republican has proven himself a reasonable moderate, even earning the support of organized labor for his 1998 re-election. Nonetheless, Gage is still a devout Christian and a bit old-fashioned, which means he doesn't always agree with his more liberal colleagues on social issues. That became evident this week when he was the only person on the five-member board to vote against a resolution condemning the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, the ballot initiative that would outlaw gay marriage in California. In fact, Gage tells Eye he plans to vote in favor of the gay-marriage ban when he casts his ballot at the polls next year. It's not that he views homosexuality as a sin, he says. "It's my value system," Gage explains. "I was brought up [to believe] that marriages are between people of the opposite sex."


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From the November 4-10, 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.




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