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Labor Delivers: Terry Gregory grabs huge lead in SJ's District 7.

Public Eye

Elective Surgery

Welcome to Republicanland! Or Hell to some. Democrats everywhere bowed their heads in defeat on Nov. 5 as the GOP raked in the victories. "I'm sad about the results nationally," City Councilmember Cindy Chavez told Eye at the Democrats' election night party at San Jose's Labor Temple. ...The left scored at least one victory locally, where labor trumped business in the race for San Jose's District 7 City Council seat. Out at the Labor Temple, Eye caught up with likely winner Terry Gregory who was all smiles as he took a quick and solid lead against opponent Ed Voss. "I'm ready to get on with it," Gregory said, admitting that he was worn out by all the precinct walking. Local Dem luminary, Congressman Mike Honda, stood beside Gregory while labor chief Amy Dean spoke to the crowd about her favorite causes--living wage and making fun of Chamber head Jim Cunneen. Afterward, labor-friendly councilmember Chavez hugged Dean and told the crowd, "No one makes me prouder to be in the labor movement than Amy Dean." The labor/Dem lovefest offered up the finest in picnic cuisine--wieners, tri-tip steak and Bud, not Coors. ...Meanwhile, Gregory's private party, in the downtown San Jose Victorian of Parris Correa and Tom Cochran, was a hotbed of anticipation--where supporters and downtowners nibbled on barbecued chicken, veggies and homemade chocolate cake and chatted about the election results on the TV--public park theft in Measure E, and the city's increased hotel tax in Measure F. But as of 11 pm, the only sighting of Gregory, who held a 20-point lead for the hotly-contested District 7 council seat, was in the form of cardboard cutouts of the candidate mounted on skewers created and stabbed playfully into platters of cookies and coldcuts by 14-year-old supporter Monique Melchor. Party hostess Correa, who works for labor lady Dean, told Eye the competition in the small district was fast and furious in the final days, and that she was bumping into precinct walkers from Ed Voss' campaign on the sidewalk. "We'd just kind of smile and say hi to each other," she said, "and then wave good-bye." She credited well-organized armies of union workers for getting out the vote. ...The mood was understandably more somber at Voss' favorite haunt, the Los Lagos Golf Course, where cheese, wine and disappointing early returns lent a quieter tone. This was fitting as Voss was always a quiet boy, his mother told Eye. Incidentally, his mom's name is Audrey Gregory. However, she assures Eye she's not related to Terry. City Councilmember Linda Lezotte and NAACP man Rick Callender showed up to support Voss. Asked for his feelings about his early trailing in the returns, Voss said he was frustrated that the computer wasn't giving him the data he wanted.

Ed's Head: Biz candidate trails behind.


San Jose's own eBay--a real, live, still-successful dotcom--is outgrowing its digs. This raises concerns about the city's grasp on a company that, along with contributing to the local economic foundation, has helped give the so-called capital of Silicon Valley its identity and self-esteem. "During the past couple of months, there have been numerous rumors about office space at eBay in San Jose," states a company memo signed by chief Meg Whitman. "Specifically, there has been speculation that we might be moving." Well, it turns out that's a mighty "might." ... "We will more than likely run out of space within a one- or two-year period," confirms eBay spokesguy Kevin Purgslove. He says the company is "keeping its options open" for what to do when it can no longer fit into its multibuilding office park on Hamilton Avenue within a one-block radius of two Starbucks caffeine dispensaries. But he says that it's too soon to talk about a potential move that's still a few years away. Whitman's memo takes on a more urgent tone than does Pursglove. "Since substantial lead time is needed to bring new facilities online, we will be making important decisions over the next few months about where we will operate the business functions currently in San Jose and Mountain View." Whitman, in her memo, assures worker bees that she is keeping an open mind. "I see this as an opportunity to take a holistic approach and develop a long-term facility growth plan based on the needs of the business, our community and you." This news should be no big surprise to anyone paying attention, since eBay is after all a company whose online net profit grew by 73 percent from a year ago, and which expects to make up to $381 million in the fourth fiscal quarter, while other companies like Sun Microsystems and Adobe Systems continue to lay people off. Eye called the city to find out what its leaders are doing to keep eBay around. It turns out that the space-shortage situation seems to have caught the city off-guard. David Vossbrink, the mayor's spokesperson, said he hadn't heard about the web-trade company's impending overgrowth. "We're not necessarily involved with most private commercial companies out there," he tells Eye. The Office of Economic Development, Eye hears, is on it, with the helpful suggestion of the Sobrato Building.

Strike Out

What's not to be mad about? That's a question SEIU's Local 715 might well be asking if Eye didn't. The Service Employees International Union chapter, which represents about 24,000 public and private sector workers in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties, is currently in hyperdrive complaining about and battling various employers. On Tuesday, Oct. 29, the union's nonmanagement court workers voted to strike if mediation with the court administration fails. On Wednesday, Oct. 30, Local 715 Stanford Hospital employees also voted to strike if their talks bottom out. And the local's members in the County Assessor's office are pissed at their department leader, union whipping boy Larry Stone--the only county office head who forbids his employees to man the polls for the Nov. 5 election without loss of their regular county paycheck. "I have what I would describe as a sort of a strained relationship with SEIU 715," Stone confesses. That said, Eye spoke with union members and found that they're even annoyed with each other. "We're kind of getting the wrong info out there," says one court processing clerk who asked to remain nameless. The clerk blames union leaders and the media for misstating the problem with contract negotiations between workers and the courts. "It's not about the money," the clerk says. "It's that they want to take our benefits away, and they want to take our job security away." But Jackie Molloy, a courtroom clerk, disagrees. "The pay is certainly a primary issue," she says, noting that the approximately 650 court workers in her union are bound to differ in opinion. Ultimately, though, Molloy points out, "93 percent of us rejected the contract offer, so we were certainly united in that."

He Came Back

Eye witnessed Arnold Schwarzenegger make a cameo in a south San Jose public library last week to tout his poll-favored Proposition 49, the sheriff-approved bill that would provide California kids with after- and before-school programs with no apparent cost to taxpayers (accept in the loss of general funds for other public programs). With dozens of starry-eyed kiddies from nearby Simon Elementary patiently waiting cross-legged in the library, the Terminator pulled up in a black SUV about an hour and a half late. No problem, though. This was Arnold. San Jose Mayor Ron Gonzales quickly waddled over to greet his discernibly fitter guest and, amid clicking cameras and gushing fans, led him inside. Despite being the Kindergarten Cop, Big Arnold appeared rather stiff and uncomfortable once among the young 'uns. After making his pitch with the kids at his feet, he turned to leave but, perhaps realizing the magnitude of the photo-op potential, came back to crouch down and deliver a few high-fives. And finally, to make the moment truly Arnoldesque, he was gracious enough to provide the requisite warning, "I'll be back."

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From the November 7-13, 2002 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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