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Into the Frying Pot

When Los Gatos Police Chief Larry Todd staged a televised political event in opposition to Proposition 215 late last month, he wasn't representing his community. Not everyone in town endorsed the chief's campaign to deny terminally ill cancer patients legal access to marijuana. As it turned out, Prop. 215 passed in the town of the cats by a generous 68 percent of the vote, an even larger margin than the 65 percent support countywide. ... Felandia's top cop helped organize the Oct. 30 pep rally at Los Gatos High School in concert with White House Drug Czar Barry McCaffery. Now some parents and citizens are in a tizzy over the use of the venerable local high school and its best athletes as political props for the marijuana prohibitionists. ... A Los Gatos police source tells Eye anti-215 organizers asked police and school officials to arrange the event after learning about the Wildcat football team's drug-testing policy. (Coach Butch Cattolico implemented voluntary pee tests at the urging of some concerned parents.) ... During the "rally," U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein and local pols stumped against hemp as jerseyed jocks and cheerleaders stood on stage. More than 400 students filled the bleachers, some of them waving "No on 215" signs. TV cameras and Nikon jockeys recorded the entire made-for-the-media event. Speakers suggested that it was a "community rally," even though some classes were marched in by second period teachers, not voluntarily. ... "We're gathered to express our community's opposition to Proposition 215," the police chief grandstanded before TV cameras. ... But Todd was apparently blowing smoke. ... Resident Jacob Schurman, an AIDS patient and former customer of the San Francisco Cannabis Buyer's Club, complains that the event only gave students a biased and uncompassionate argument. ... Irwin Joseph, parent of two students at the rally, objected to the fact that students were pulled out of class for a one-sided political event. He tells Eye he favors more political discussion in school, as long as his kids get to examine both sides of any issue. "This whole thing was a soundbite," he says. ... Principal Ted Simonson, who personally opposed 215, explained that the rally was intended to teach students that press conferences are carefully orchestrated and very one-sided. "I think it was pretty clear how staged it was," he tells Eye.

Mo' Money

That muffled little click you hear is the Redevelopment Agency this week, quietly closing its briefcase on the sale of a $75-$80 million revenue bond for the coming year. This amount comes in $40-$45 million ahead of what the agency originally banked on, owing to a projected 7 percent growth in tax increments for 1996-97 (big, wet kisses to Cisco Systems, Amtel Corp., Adobe, Stratacom and Hyundai). The new, improved bond, however, leads wags to wonder what the pencilheads over at the agency are planning to do with the piles of money (yours and mind) that they are scheming to scatter around on the projects of the moment. Though the budget's not due out for a few weeks yet, it's a safe bet that a hefty portion will go toward downtown housing, the city investment du jour. With the San Jose Symphony's plans on the drawing board, a lump for the Fox Theater could be forthcoming, as well as an alluring morsel for that opera house/mid-size theater that's been bandied about. Our Ouija board also prophesies that there might be some "acceleration money" for the convention center's as-yet-unclaimed hotel east site, or a hefty incentive for another revenue-generating corporate headquarters, perhaps. If this is Redevelopment's idea of its "sunset" years, Eye plans to wear sunglasses.

Crack Consultant

The election results were scarcely finalized when political consultant Roger Lee called to modestly inform Eye that his company, Strategy Source, had done "very, very well" in this last election cycle. Lee bragged that his firm worked on a number of successful campaigns around the country, including races in Georgia, Missouri, Washington and Nevada. Strategy Source, he pointed out, also designed 10 mail pieces for the Clinton/Gore machine. ... Locally, Lee's biggest success was Elaine Alquist's winning Assembly bid. His biggest loss? Probably Measure G, the failed San Jose junkyard initiative. "Is Roger Lee back?" Lee boastfully asks. "Yes." ... Clean, sober and attending 12-step meetings on a regular basis, Lee says his troubles are behind him, and now it's full steam ahead. "I'm not proud of what my addiction got me, but I'm very proud of what my firm's been able to accomplish," he says. ... He expects to be involved in the '98 San Jose mayor's race and claims to have been approached by several potential candidates. And, he adds, he was recently invited to the White House. Of course, he had to notify his probation officer when he left the state--the remaining legacy of his conviction a few years back for selling crack cocaine to an undercover cop.

Cops Out

And speaking of cops, the election fireworks are over in Milpitas, but there may be some residual uneasiness about who actually endorsed whom. Candidates for city council and mayor in Milpitas didn't let a schism with the officers' union prevent them from claiming support from "police officers" and "public safety personnel" in campaign ads--never mind that on Oct. 18 the cops almost unanimously withdrew endorsements of sitting councilmembers, including mayoral wannabe Jim Lawson and re-election perennial Bob Livengood. The cops wanted the council to discipline City Manager Larry Moore, whom they accuse of interfering with a case of after-hours misuse of city phones. Three other employee unions quickly followed suit. ... A Livengood ad in the Milpitas Post said he was endorsed by "public safety personnel" and quoted a man mentioning he had "added over 10 police officers in the last four years." But the man quoted was not a cop. It was Ralph Moss, president of the firefighters union, which hadn't pulled its endorsements. ... But it was the Lawson promo, which ran in the Post Oct. 24, that went over the edge. This paid political advertisement featured a picture of "Dennis Grilli, Police Officer" talking about Lawson's contributions to public safety in Milpitas. But if you squint hard enough at Grilli's badge on the ad, it shows he's a cop for Santa Clara, not Milpitas. "I'm not a politician," the ad begins, "I'm a police officer who lives in Milpitas." With politician friends.

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From the November 21-27, 1996 issue of Metro

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