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[whitespace] Odd Couple: Insiders say Councilwoman Pat Dando might be tapped to be the city's vice mayor.

Public Eye

Keep Your Enemies Closer

TWO YEARS AGO, Ron Gonzales narrowly defeated Pat Dando in a bruising battle for mayor. In the March 2000 primary, Gonzales-backed city council candidate Nancy Pyle attacked Dando repeatedly, with the mayor's tacit--if not explicit--approval. But now, believe it or not, City Hall watchers are betting that Gonzo will name the Patster as the city's next vice mayor after elder statesman Frank Fiscalini steps down next month. ... Gonzales hatchet man Joe Guerra refuses to dignify the rampant speculation, saying, "I won't comment ... at this point." Dando also remains conspicuously mum on the topic. ... One theory has it that Dando cut a deal with the mayor at budget time to get the post. That's when Dando flip-flopped on the issue of children's health care to conform to the mayor's views. Then there are those less conspiratorial theorists who say it's simply smart politics on the mayor's part. "By appointing Dando vice mayor," opines a well-known local political strategist, "he turns a critic into an ally." Should the speculation prove true, it would be reasonable to infer that, one, Dando doesn't intend to run for mayor in two years and, two, Gonzales doesn't think she'll run against him. But other City Hall insiders predict Dando does indeed want to run for mayor in 2002 and say by appointing her vice mayor, Gonzales would make it harder to take him on. Why? Because, the thinking goes, Gonzales would be able to keep a short leash on Dando and prevent her from upstaging him. ... Of course, all this could be premature speculation. The real top contender for the post, council sources say, is Councilman George Shirakawa Jr. From a loyalty standpoint, Shirakawa would be a more logical choice than Dando--he backed Gonzales in the 1998 mayoral race and was allied with Gonzo even before that. "I've had some discussions with the mayor's staff," Shirakawa admits. "I'm giving it my full consideration."

Home Base

Ever since Mayor Gonzales filed for divorce from his wife in the summer, the mayor's gatekeepers have refused to disclose where he is staying, as if doing so might threaten national security. The only thing they would say was that the mayor of San Jose--who used to be the mayor of Sunnyvale, once upon a time--was still indeed living in San Jose. After doing a little snooping, Eye has learned that Gonzales is living with his sister near Valley Medical Center. At least Gonzales listed his sister's address on his new voter registration form. That means he cast his absentee ballot in City Council District 6. Mayoral mouthpiece David Vossbrink confirms that the mayor voted for council candidate Ken Yeager, whom the mayor endorsed. As for why the mayor has kept his address such a secret, Vossbrink replied, "He was living with family and he was very sensitive about protecting their privacy." But Vossbrink did at least disclose that the mayor has just moved into a bachelor pad downtown (that would be District 3), in Paseo Plaza with young developer pal Ryan Hubris.

Care Baer

Supervisorial candidate Dolly Sandoval may have finally conceded defeat to Palo Alto Mayor Liz Kniss, but Sandoval is still smarting over a late-innings hit piece apparently paid for in part by a Kniss backer. Sandoval and her consultant say that Palo Alto developer Jim Baer--or, at least, Baer-affiliated companies--kicked in $11,000 to help pay for the mailer, which described her as "Dolly 'San Jose' Sandoval." Baer could not be reached for comment. Eye-watchers will recall that earlier in the election season Baer booted Sandoval's campaign out of a building he owned once he discovered she planned to share the office space with Democrats running in partisan races. At the time, Baer told reporters he prefers to stay out of local, nonpartisan races. "For some who says he doesn't get involved in local politics," Sandoval grouses, "this sure seems hypocritical." ... According to campaign records, the hit piece--which suggested Sandoval was beholden to San Jose, not the North County district where she ran--was paid for by Citizens for Accountability in Government, a self-described "coalition of concerned Santa Clara residents and property owners." Ironically, the address listed for the committee of "Santa Clara residents and property owners" is in Mill Valley.

Jose What?

Redevelopment Agency officials are finally considering some proposed uses for the historic Jose Theatre, one of which is a movie house showing Spanish-language films. Oldtimers may recall that before it closed down, the Jose used to show Spanish-speaking movies. (REAL oldtimers will remember when the Jose used to be a vaudeville venue featuring the likes of Fatty Arbuckle.) ... Michael Pryfogle, head of Mi Cine Ventures in San Francisco, says his nonprofit organization would also run artsy flicks as well as Latino films in English. Pryfogle assures Eye the films won't be lame "Spaghetti westerns dubbed in Spanish," but quality Latino-produced movies. ... Others interested in using the theater are the guys behind the Improv Comedy Club and the San Jose Jazz Society. Agency luminaries are interviewing potential tenants next month. Not in contention is MACLA, the Latino Arts group with connections to former Mayor Susan Hammer that once was considered the top candidate to use the space.

Split City

Newly inducted San Jose City Councilman Chuck Reed caused quite a stir at his inauguration where he promised that he would leave office "with his family intact." Audience members couldn't help but look over at Mayor Ron Gonzales, who is going through a very public divorce. But Reed insists he wasn't taking a potshot at the mayor or trying to distance himself from Gonzales. "There was no ulterior motive," Chuckles declares. "It was a resolution I came to 23 months ago primarily in response to Margie's divorce." The "Margie" Reed is referring to is his predecessor Margie Matthews, formerly Margie Fernandes. Shortly after dropping out of contention in the mayor's race in 1997, she and her ex-husband, Paul Fernandes, split up for good on Christmas Day, according to divorce court records. Earlier this year, the 54-year-old divorcee resigned her post five months before the end of her term to take a job in Los Angeles.

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From the November 23-29, 2000 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2000 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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