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Ticket Pusher: Sen. Barbara Boxer invited 36 donors to watch the Rolling Stones with her in her luxury box for $1,000 apiece.

She's So Cold

The genie handling Sen. Barbara Boxer's re-election campaign recently hit upon a clever fundraising ploy: The campaign reserved two adjoining luxury boxes at the Oakland Coliseum for last weekend's sold-out Rolling Stones concert, hoping to sell 36 tickets to wealthy rockers at $1,000 a pop. But one week before the novel rock & bankroll fundraiser was to take place, campaign staffers were desperately calling up prospective ticket-takers to get their ya-yas out with Barbara while watching Mick Jagger and Keith Richards do their stuff. ... One local Democratic partyer contacted by the Boxer campaign-scalper two weeks ago was told there were "only" 28 tickets left and he should buy one before they were all gone. It seemed a bad omen for the politically vulnerable Boxer's future fundraising prowess. If she couldn't get rid of Stones tickets, how could she sell tickets to those awful rubber-chicken fundraisers to come down the road? Boxer media massager Roy Behr assures Eye that his client eventually did get some satisfaction. Nearly all the tickets were sold by concert time, thanks to a last-minute rush, Behr insists. ... Meanwhile, Eye has learned that Boxer recently tried to come to the rescue of ex-Supervisor Rod Diridon's local transportation think tank at San Jose State University after being contacted by ex-Congressman Norm Mineta, the research institute's honorary co-chair. Under an early version of a federal transportation bill in the Senate, Diridon's think tank would lose its current $250,000 annual funding guarantee and would have to compete with other universities for a public subsidy. Boxer managed to insert an amendment protecting Diridon's livelihood, though she couldn't boost the institute's funding up to $1 million a year, as Diridon apparently wanted, according to a Beltway source. But Diridon hasn't been spared the rod yet. The House and Senate will revisit the issue in the spring.

It Pays Not To Be Mayor

For the eight years he served as mayor of San Jose, Tom McEnery was prohibited from voting on many downtown redevelopment projects because he had a conflict of interest, namely a half-block of downtown property known as San Pedro Square. Conceivably, a project could enhance not only the quality of life in the downtown but also the value of McEnery's land. Now that he's been out of office for seven years, McEnery is demonstrating that it pays not to be the mayor--at least if you're a downtown landlord. McEnery and his brother, John, have negotiated a deal with agency staff--including the Macster's friend and professed alter ego, Frank Taylor--to provide a low-interest $900,000 loan and a $200,000 grant to rehabilitate an apartment building the brothers own in McEneryville. The rehab project would be put on a fast track, with construction beginning by the end of the year. The City Council, sitting as the redevelopment board, is scheduled to vote on the staff-negotiated deal this week. Among those voting will be McEnery's old aides David Pandori and Pat Dando. ... McEnery, meanwhile, is livid about what he considers a press witch hunt. (Monday's Mercury News story ran with an above-the-fold headline: "McEnery conflict issue may return.") Throughout Eye's brief interview with him, McEnery repeatedly snapped, "Next question," and "What else?" "I'm just flabbergasted," McEnery fumed, "that I can be out of office for seven years and have questions like this raised. ... Have I gotten any preferential treatment? No." The Macster says he and his bro are putting $5 million of their own money into the project. ... The disclosure of the $1.1 million redevelopment deal may provide a clue to why McEnery has stalled about officially announcing his mayoral candidacy. An announced candidate for mayor--instead of a possible one--would no doubt have more trouble rationalizing that this deal doesn't present a conflict of interest. Nevertheless, it's an issue that haunted McEnery during his reign in City Hall and, if he runs for top dog, could hound him again as a candidate.

Casting Changes For Downtown Seat

In just a few short weeks since Eye first reported on the growing list of possible downtown City Council candidates lining up to fill the feisty britches of term-limited David Pandori, the lineup has radically changed. Enter Cindy Chavez, a former aide to Supervisor Ron Gonzales and an operative for the South Bay Labor Council, where she rubs elbows with the likes of union heavy Amy Dean and local Democratic chief Steve Preminger. Chavez says, yes indeed, she's in for sure. Stepping aside, according to Chavez, are wafflers Sean Morley, a policy wonk for Mayor Susan Hammer, and Ben Tripousis, hatchet man for Councilwoman Margie Fernandes. The Tripster is throwing his support behind Chavez, she reveals. With Morley and Tripousis apparently out of the picture, Chavez is in a good position to become the Hammer camp's choice, one of her boosters boasts. ... The 33-year-old San Jose State alum is following in the carpetbagging footsteps of her old boss, Gonzales, who moved to San Jose from Sunnyvale five years ago with the intent of running for mayor. Chavez admits she just moved into the downtown council district in June, though she insists that she didn't relocate in order to run. But she'll no doubt get slapped around with the carpetbagger label by would-be opponents like Erik Schoennauer, who waxes nostalgic about his downtown family roots, dug in deep by former planning director and daddy Gary Schoennauer. One downtown regular when told of Chavez's intent to run smirked, "Cindy who?" Eye-watchers will recall that the carpetbagger tag hurt candidate Pete Carrillo in 1990.

I Tolded You

The morning after Eye alerted the city's Office of Cultural Affairs to a spelling mistake in its unfinished $200,000 downtown public art project, a team of government stiffs and artist Kim Yasuda was spotted near the Pavilion busily correcting the error. The terrazza and bronze sidewalk engravings along the Paseo de San Antonio corridor are a tribute to Dr. Ernesto Galarza, a local educator and early mentor to César Chavez. Until this week, the engraving in front of the UA Theater read, "Él hablababa los trabajadores en español y a los legisladores en inglés." ("He talked to the workers in Spanish and to the lawmakers in English.") Unfortunately, there's no such word as "hablababa." The artist no doubt meant to use the word "hablaba," the past tense of "talk." ... The equivalent suffix-proliferation in English would produce "talkeded." Eye hopeses the mistake has been correcteded.

Right of Refusal

Five months after the Mercury News' venerable publisher, Miami-based Knight-Ridder, took control of the Monterey County Herald and crushed its union, the paper is still trying to keep a lid on the controversy. Last week, a representative of the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, champion of free speech, walked into the Herald's business office with $500 check in hand, looking to place a not-so-free advertisement. The ad announced the time and place of a town hall meeting provocatively entitled: "Wither the Monterey County Herald?" The clerk looked at the ad and said she would have to check with management before she could place it. The Herald officially refused to accept the ad later that day. Pat Keil, who was imported from a Knight-Ridder paper in St. Paul, Minn., and installed at the Herald, denied any kind of censorship to a local television crew but said the paper has the right to refuse ads. Richard Criley, director of the ACLU's Monterey chapter, says the group hasn't yet referred the matter to the lawyers. "We're interested in the court of public opinion rather than filing a lawsuit at this time." When Knight-Ridder took over the Herald last summer, all the employees were fired and re-hired in order to nullify their union contracts. The Merc's reporters are represented by the same union--the San Jose Newspaper Guild. Last August, 360 Merc employees staged a walkout in support of the fired Herald employees.

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From the November 20-26, 1997 issue of Metro.

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