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Deputy Dawg: Sheriff underlings jockey for top slot.

Public Eye

Shooting Stars

Our fine county's normally extroverted sheriff, Laurie Smith, remains uncharacteristically tongue-tied this week over all that loose talk about her next career move. The reports that she's in line to replace Dwight "Spike" Helmick as the state's top cop, which are spreading faster than a California wildfire, have already set off a scramble in deputy sheriff circles for her still-warm seat. Although she hasn't officially been offered a job--and it's not even a sure bet that she'll accept the lower-paying position if she's asked--the appointment of a member of the superior sex as California Highway Patrol Commissioner would be history-making. It would also let Smith and her husband hang out closer to their vacation home in Tahoe. ... Smith chummed up with Arnold Schwarzenegger even before his run to replace Gray Davis, escorting him around town to stump for his successful Prop. 49. While it's clear that they're buds, following an October meeting with the governor-elect, Smith refuses to spill the beans about which job, if any, Schwarzy may have offered her. The inside line is that she's a shoo-in for the $132,000-a-year position at the agency, which in addition to writing speeding tickets will provide security for the former bodybuilder. ... Outgoing CHP chief Helmick has held the position since former Gov. George Deukmejian appointed him more than a decade ago. Helmick turns 59 in December, one year away from the age at which uniformed officers generally must retire. (Though, as commissioner, he doesn't have to retire, and he's vowed to stay on if asked.) Instead of sharing her plans, Smitty talks up how great her favorite new governor is because he asked her opinion about law enforcement issues. Neither she nor Schwarzy's press people admit to engaging in negotiations. Nevertheless, the eager beavers who'd like to replace the well-liked top cop, Eye's spy leaks, are drooling and hyperventilating a little already at the prospect that they could score the prestigious $181,073-a-year county gig. "I'm not just thinking about it," says Deputy Sheriff's Association pres Jose Salcido. "My intentions are to apply." Salcido, a 27-year veteran of the county Sheriff's Department, cites his business B.A. and public administration M.A., both from San Jose State University, and declares, "I'm capable of doing the job." Of course, he'll have to wait until after Smith leaves, the Board of Supes appoints him and then the voters keep him in office when election time rolls around.

Art History

Emotions continue to run high over the San Jose Symphony, which died a couple of years ago, then re-emerged under a new musical director with help from the ballet and now seeks to establish a new identity. And nothing says "bigger picture" like the portraits of the people who've championed musical arts in this town. So, when some of those went missing, leaving a trail of nothing along a wall at the Center for the Performing Arts, it's no wonder longtime ballet booster Rachel Spivack's blood percolated. Spivack called Eye to report the removal of photos of a cellist, a harpist and several other symphony members, as well as the pictures of her longtime employer, ballet founder Karen Loewenstern, and ballet artistic director Dennis Nahat. ... Local photographer Paul Tumason, who photographed these notables more than a decade ago and values the portraits at between $2,000 and $4,000 each, says he isn't bothered that he was asked to take them down. But Spivack was. "We're trying to get back the symphony, right? Isn't that what we're trying to do?" the ballet volunteer poses rhetorically. Former San Jose ballet executive Andrew Bales, now president of Symphony Silicon Valley, says he started taking those photos down two years ago to get rid of the "ghosts" of the old symphony and "to keep the aspect of the morgue of the old symphony from lingering over the whole thing." Bales says no one complained to him about the missing photos. Spivack, who notes that Loewenstern helped bring the Cleveland Ballet to San Jose, celebrated a victory in her former boss's honor on Monday, Nov. 3. It turns out that her call to the office of Mayor Gonzo (whose picture currently stands guard at the CPA) to complain about the vanished artwork made an impact, and Tumason was marching over to put Loewenstern's portrait back up.

Ronning Around

When Assemblymember Rebecca Cohn recently opted out of her Senate bid, she didn't only cause problems for Supe Jim Beall by foiling his easy claim on her vacated seat. Sacramento rumblers say that Cohn's mind change also stranded the Democratic establishment, whose members are now scrambling for someone to challenge Republican Abel Maldonado in the race. Furrow-browed insiders are talking about San Jose Mayor Ron Gonzales as a cleanup candidate. They'd be banking on Gonzales' Latino name and hoping it isn't too big a deal that Mayor Long Shot would have a rough time capturing the wife vote. "We're so desperate that we want Gonzales to run even with his scandal problems," a Sacto Dem confessed within extended earshot of Eye.

Peace of the Action

Today's Peace Movement generally lulls Eye into a coma. Judging from the frustration of pacifist operatives, this '60s relic apparently has that same affect on the politicians it hopes to influence. In fact, Nathan Britton, political director for Northern Cali's Peace Action, admits he's a little jealous of NOW, the NAACP and, ironically, the NRA. (He didn't mention the Log Cabin Republicans.) Besides the acronym thing, those lobbyist groups wield influence over the promises legislators make. So, Peace Action whipped up a new philosophy out of special-interest envy. "We need to be better at showing that we're not just right in principle, which we are, but that to ignore this position is untenable politically," says Britton. That sounds like a threat, which, if not harder to sleep through than bongos, patchouli and speeches made through bad PA systems, at least makes it more fun to stay awake. Peace Action currently wants anyone besides Bush for president in 2004. The upstart antiwar orgy plans to infiltrate San Jose on Nov. 8 with its "campaign for a new American foreign policy." It has already eked out endorsements from San Jose state officials, like sworn enemies Sally Lieber and John Vasconcellos. Peace Action convinced U.S. Rep. mike honda to sign its pledge for a kinder, gentler, less murderous foreign policy, and is still working on Zoe Lofgren. Peaceniks intend to raid downtown's Paseo de San Antonio (between Second and Third streets) on Saturday at 11am to distribute propaganda about Democratic presidential candidates.

Low's Tide

Eye had a chance to sit down this week with Campbell's latest political newbie, 20-year-old Evan Low, and ask him a few questions about his planned run for one of the two Campbell City Council seats that will be open in 2004. Low, slim and pleasant-enough looking (though a little on the preppy side), turned out to be not yet the sleazy politician, but more like one of those kids back in high school who volunteered for everything--and made sure everybody knew it. ... A fourth-generation Chinese-American who speaks more Spanish than Chinese, the overachiever graduated from high school in 2001 and De Anza College in '02 and finishes San Jose State University by the end of '03. Already at his tender age, he's got some credentials to show: He was named one of the most influential Asian/Pacific Americans under the age of 30 by politicalcircus.com; he received the Asian-American Hero Award by county Supe Liz Kniss; he's collected endorsements from Cupertino Mayor Michael Chang and Campbell's downtown business association. "This is a serious election--I am running a serious campaign," he says "I've already gotten numerous endorsements, so this isn't something where I go and say, hey, I've just graduated college, I'm going to run. This is a serious campaign." Is the 20-year-old worried that he might not have enough experience to hang with the big boys in City Hall? "I'm not worried about that at all," he retorts. "I had an internship with [current Mayor] Dan Furtado, and we went over [everything] quite extensively. You can see that people have voted for Arnold Schwarzenegger, for example--he was totally out of the political loop. Also, Ronald Reagan and Jesse Ventura. But the people elected them, and [to] the highest position. And this is the local level; there's a neighborhood feel in Campbell."

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From the November 6-12, 2003 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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

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