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Steppingstone: Downtown SJ Councilman David Pandori leaves office next year, and there will be no shortage of applicants for his job.

Career Building

Since the advent of district elections in San Jose, the downtown City Council seat has been a steppingstone to the mayor's office. Witness the ascension of Susan Hammer and Tom McEnery. Even the seat's current holder, the universally beloved David Pandori, waxes unrealistic about running for mayor next year after term limits force him from his present job. With that kind of career upside, it's no surprise that fools are rushing in to contemplate a run for the downtown seat. Here, then, is a list of potential ladder-climbers: Ben Tripousis, a former aide to Delaine Eastin, was brought in earlier this year to help Margie Fernandes get ready for the mayor's race. Now that his boss has changed her career plans, Tripousis says he might change his. ... Also floating trial balloons are Tripousis' City Hall colleagues Sean Morley, a mayoral policy wonk, and Erik Schoennauer, Pat Dando's spinmeister. Neither has made a final decision, though both bravely venture that they're thinking about running. Knowledgeable wags doubt either will run. Morley still has a few more months left at law school and just got engaged. Meanwhile, Schoennauer might be too busy working on someone else's campaign--Dando's or McEnery's, depending, which one runs for mayor--to run for city council. ... A familiar name floating around is District 3 general election loser Pete Carrillo, who tanked in 1990 after this column uncovered a phony degree on his résumé. Carrillo, with his relatively decent name i.d. and fundraising ability, has to be considered a credible candidate, even if he does lack credibility. ... An interesting addition to the race would be Planning Commissioner Tony West, the assistant U.S. attorney who went to Stanford Law School and Bellarmine before that (the private school where lots of San Jose Rotarians were bred). Other names being bandied about include 1990 candidate Paul Wysoki, event promoter Fil Maresca and French restaurateur and former parking commission chair Abi Magamfar.

Political Theater

Don't believe that the final chapter has been written on the landmark Jose Theater just yet. Though the City Council voted 8-3 to gut the theater, history buffs with the Preservation Action Council are caucusing with their attorneys about suing the city in order to block the bulldozers. "It's safe to say there's reasonable cause to file a lawsuit," says PAC legal expert Tom Simon, who says the City Council ignored alternatives in the environmental impact report.... FYI: The three land-owners and developers involved in the Jose demolition--Barry Swenson, Jim Fox, and Chester Wang--poured at least $12,500 into council and mayoral campaigns over a two-year period through the 1996 primary. Swenson also sold a downtown fixer-upper to councilman David Pandori. Pandori notes that he's opposed Swenson before, most recently over the builder's proposed artist loft project by Ryland Mews.... Another beneficiary of Swenson's generosity, Pat Dando, voted against the project, in what may have been a calculated attempt to distance herself from her former employer, the Redevelopment Agency.

Following the Money

Disinformation specialists with the Willow Glen Business and Professional Association initially claimed they were scaling back this year's Founders Day celebration in part because last year's festival lost money. But when a pesky reporter from the METRO-owned Willow Glen Resident asked to see financial documents showing the festival was a money-loser, association officials refused. Business manager Demetri Rizos and board president Kathy McDonald went so far as to say there were no such documents. They conveniently forgot about a financial report they filed this March with the city's Office of Cultural Affairs--which had given the WGBPA a $6,000 grant--in which the association reported inflated figures from last year's festival. In fact, WGBPA's creative accounting report obtained from the city by the Resident showed that the previous festival turned a tidy profit. In reality, however, the association couldn't account for an $8,000 shortfall in beverage sales. Association board members weren't sure if the cash had been stolen or the discrepancy stemmed from poor accounting. Either way, nobody called the cops to file a report. Later, when confronted about his apparent attempt to cover up the apparent disappearance, Rizos nervously apologized: "I didn't think of the grant application. I honestly didn't think of it, and I'm not sure the figures on the report were accurate, anyway."

Of Thee I Ching

San Jose's aging boy wonder of the '80s, former Mayor Tom McEnery, is telling friends now that he wants his old job back. Of course, that's far from an official announcement, and McEnery has coyly said before that he might wait until March to file his candidate papers. A source, apparently fed up with waiting, consulted the I Ching (the ancient Chinese oracle of chance and change) and informs Eye that the Macster's chances of winning are 70-30 in favor. "But since things could change suddenly, you need to act fast, before the moment passes you by," the I Ching reportedly revealed. A Mac run would complicate things for his former aide, Pat Dando, who has picked up momentum with Margie Fernandes' departure. Dando's decision to run may come down to how charitable she feels. After all, McEnery needs a job, and Dando already has one.

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From the November 6-12, 1997 issue of Metro.

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